The 2013 NBA Rookie Mix-Tape: Kendrick Lamar, Jay-Z, Drake, A$AP Rocky & More

We had a chance to speak with some of the newest players in the NBA last week during the 2013 NBA Rookie Photo Shoot as part of the four-day Rookie Transition Program that wrapped last Friday. While we enjoyed some of the high-jinks during the all-day affair, we also had to talk over a thrumming bass line as hip hop blared in the background for most of the day.

The loud setting plus the incredible lyrical moment from Kendrick Lamar during the debut of the Big Sean track, “Control” last night — featuring a K. Dot verse where he goes after most of his peers in the rap game — synthesized around our rookie mix.

Here’s the part of Kendrick Lamar’s recent verse we’re talking about:

I’m usually homeboys with the same ni**as I’m rhymin’ with / But this is hip hop and them ni**as should know what time it is / And that goes for Jermaine Cole, Big KRIT, Wale / Pusha T, Meek Millz, A$AP Rocky, Drake / Big Sean, Jay Electron’, Tyler, Mac Miller / I got love for you all but I’m tryna murder you ni**as / Tryna make sure your core fans never heard of you ni**as / They don’t wanna hear not one more noun or verb from you ni**as / What is competition? I’m tryna raise the bar high / Who tryna jump and get it? You better off tryna skydive

Yeah. Basketball Twitter exploded when this dropped and Kendrick “got a dream” that he’s battling all the top emcee’s in the game. A lot of the rappers K. Dot mentions in his highly acclaimed battle verse are also some of the favorite emcees / of the NBA’s newest rook-ies. Sorry, but hip hop was king at the NBA’s rookie photo shoot.

Then again, there were a few players we spoke to who also dig classic rock, country, or even some New Zealand tunes. But even those few who didn’t mention some of Lamar’s contemporaries admitted hip hop was the preferred locker-room soundtrack.

And K. Dot himself was one of the most frequently named artists, too.

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The former DeGrassi: The Next Generation actor was mentioned by a host of rookies, specifically fellow Canadian, Anthony Bennett, who told us Drake was his “go-too.” The list of rookies who loved the plaintive rhymes of Canada’s Drizzy was extensive, and since he’s one of the biggest names in hip hop today, it makes sense.

Michael Carter-Williams
Trey Burke
Tim Hardaway Jr.
Glen Rice Jr.
Ricky Ledo

Keep reading to see what players thought about the former minority owner of the Nets.


Like Drake, the HOVA was a huge hit among the rookies, especially his newest venture, Magna Carter Holy Grail. When we asked players whether they listened to any of his older work, a lot of them said yes, but provided mumbled responses we couldn’t quite make out. When we mentioned our affinity with Jay’s faster flow on Reasonable Doubt, most were pretty blasé.