"99 Problems." "You Don't Know." "Public Service Announcement." If you had to pick a song from Jay Z's monstrous catalog to hype you up before playing in one of the biggest games of your professional career, any of these three selections would do the trick.
LeBron James found his motivation music elsewhere. During a post-game interview on ESPN, after James and the Cleveland Cavaliers stormed back from being down three games to one to defeat the Golden State Warriors and win the city's first sports championship since 1964, studio host Scott Van Pelt asked James how he handled the pressure of bringing a title back to his hometown. The answer? An unlikely selection from Hov's discography:
“I just always go back to the Jay Z song ‘A Star is Born,’” he said. “You guys back in the studio go look it up, listen to it. I just always listen to that and I always stay true to the game. I know what I’m capable of, not only on the floor but also off the floor as well, with my leadership and what I bring to the table.”
"A Star is Born," which is housed on Jay's 2009 album, Blueprint 3, finds Hov walking the listener through a history of hip-hop stars, telling short motivational stories behind their rise to fame - one might wonder if this line specifically sparked a fire inside of LeBron:
"Wayne scorching, I'll applaud him, If he keep going, pass the torch to him"
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Being passed "the torch" is a pressure that James has handled expertly throughout his 13 year career, an expression always closely attached to the question, "Who is the greatest basketball player of all-time?" With an NBA Finals performance that can only be described as "unreal," many fans and critics believe James solidified his place in, at the very least, the top five.
According to The Washington Post, LeBron's statistical output during Cleveland's "do or die" Game 6 of the NBA Finals puts him ahead of Michael Jordan, Tim Duncan and Shaquille O'Neal for the greatest Finals performance of all-time. With this in mind, maybe a line from the record's third verse, where Hov proclaims his "one-of-a-kind" stature in the rap game, did the trick?
"And I am one of one / Can’t you see just how long my run"
Both Jay Z and LeBron James have experienced an incredible run in their respective professions with each man rising to the top and being looked to by the younger generation as inspiration. And like LeBron, Jay Z is constantly debated as being the greatest of all-time. LeBron will almost certainly forever remain in the shadows of Michael Jordan, as will Jay Z with The Notorious B.I.G..
If Cleveland winning their first championship in over 50 years didn't signify the historic nature of Sunday night, Jay Z tweeted post-game, a rarity in itself.
By @brokencool, native Torontonian
Photo Credit: Cleveland.com