The NBA offseason is by far the most entertaining of all professional sports. Thursday gave us one more reason why.
Amid the NBA Draft hype Thursday, Sacramento Kings power forward Marvin Bagley III declared himself the best rapper in the league while appearing on ESPN’s First Take. He then proceeded to challenge Portland Trailblazers point guard Damian Lillard to a rap battle. Host Max Kellerman hyped him up and Bagley ran with it.
Bagley dropped the first track of the rap battle — No Debate — soon after his appearance on First Take. “No Debate” echoes Bagley’s statement from ESPN hours before — he is the best freestyle rapper in the NBA. Though he didn’t mention Lillard’s name, it doesn’t take a genius to figure out what was going on here.
Lillard immediately dropped two tracks during and after the NBA Draft. He opened his first response with a rather condescending laugh, saying: “This boy done called my name/ Amateur bars man/ Grown man bars is something you gotta deal with.”
Then Lillard proceeds to tear Bagley to shreds, bar by bar.
Lines like “I never seen Floyd [Mayweather] spar with amateurs” in his first track, “MARVINNNNNN???” “This ain’t my style/ I just do music in peace” in “BYE, BYE” shows Lillard almost thought a rap battle was beneath him and didn’t see the need to respond to Bagley.
“I promised not to give this issue no attention/ Recognize when people hype you on a bogus mission,” Lillard raps, but he clearly still feels the need to show Bagley this was his throne. He came out to make a statement.
My personal favorite lines in Lillard’s destruction of Bagley are, ”How a king come to battle knowing the kingdom worthless?” in “MARVINNNNNN???”, and “Little boys get excited and make a tragic exit” in “BYE, BYE”.
I won’t be on first take... but if that’s what he want ... shoot https://t.co/povZmf2a3F— Damian Lillard (@Dame_Lillard) June 20, 2019
The cover art of Bagley’s second track, “Checkmate” — which dropped around 6 a.m. ET Friday, by the way — features a photoshopped picture of Lillard as a baby in Bagley’s arms. He starts the track saying: “Oh you dropped two tracks/ Lemme gon’ hard and burp this lil n—a.”
But given the way this rap battle has gone up until this point, it’s clear it has gone the other way around. Lillard even drops a line in “BYE, BYE” suggesting Bagley sent him a direct message asking for advice.
Bagley’s beats and flow are great and may even be astronomically better than his lyrics, but there’s no doubt Lillard owned the 20-year-old. It’s a good and entertaining rap battle that Lillard easily won, though Bagley held his own.
“I been a cold-blooded assassin/ I don’t just put the ball in the basket,” Bagley says in “Checkmate”. He may be right about his skills, but asserting that he was better than Lillard wasn’t the right way to go. I’m not sure he ever stood a chance.