There are a lot of weird things about sports. Employees for companies can engage in physical confrontations with each other without HR meetings being set up, representatives for those same companies can shame customers for not paying them money and get away with it, and said customers pledge lifelong loyalty* to these companies and will fight others for disagreeing. Honestly, a whole article or even series of articles could be written about just how odd it is to root for a team, but I want to focus on one thing: we love when famous people talk about our favorite team.
Jay Bilas doesn’t know nearly as much about Marquette as you and I - he can’t keep track of every team with that level of intensity - but if he mentions that Markus Howard is a good point guard, we feel special as if he is giving us a shoutout. But Jay Bilas is paid to be a basketball nerd. He even went to law school like a total dweeb (I actually highly admire you, Jay. Don’t sue me). Point is, I want to hear about cooler people mentioning our favorite players.
You know who’s cool? Rappers are cool! Some of them even like sports! Some of these rappers have even mentioned athletes that have attended Marquette! Alright, don’t get too riled up with those exclamation points. Thus, we now present to you the definitive ranking of Marquette Golden Eagles basketball players mentioned in rap lyrics.
5. Doc Rivers in Coming of Age by E-Dubble
You thought this was going to be a list only consisting of references to Dwyane Wade, didn’t you? I’m a published blogger. I have more integrity than that. Anyway, this would’ve been rated a lot higher if it had to do with Doc Rivers The Player or if the song/artist were more well known, but popularity of the song was one factor here. Regardless, I probably wouldn’t have included it if it weren’t so perfect.
I didn’t know who E-Dubble was before making this list. He unfortunately passed away in February from an infection, but not before he gifted us with “Looking for the give and go/I be setting screens so mean Doc Rivers called.” What’s great is that these are the only two references to basketball in the whole song and they’re probably the first two things your coach taught you in kindergarten. Of all the skills he could possibly lord over his inferiors, his screen-setting ability will be what gets him into the NBA. Playing 3 minutes a game on the Spurs for the sole purpose of setting screens is my new goal in life.
4. Jimmy Butler in Jimmy Butler Is Your Father by Froggy Fresh
In my extended research for this, I stumbled upon this song and played it in my living room. My roommate yelled from upstairs, “KRISPY KREEEEEEME” and I just thought he wanted donuts. Apparently this guy used to go by that name and made a song called “The Baddest” that is equally as absurd as the linked song. Songs like this are amazing and are made better when they cradle the line between “This guy is intentionally being dumb” and “Wait, he’s actually serious.” It’s a 3:42 ESPN comments section. It’s braggadocious, it’s absurd, it’s worthless, it lowers the bar for what people need to do in order to become well-known rappers and de-legitimizes those who excel at it with multi-layered lyrics with profound messages.
Despite all this, I would be blaring this song every day for the rest of my life had the Bulls beat the Cavaliers in their 2015 playoff series. This was released just after the series was tied at 2 and then the Cavs won the next two games. I blame Froggy Fresh and everyone on the Bulls except for Butler, who contributed 2.7 Wins Above Replacement, per Basketball Reference, over the course of the playoffs that year.
3. Steve Novak in Lady Killers by G-Eazy
I’m sure a lot of your read the title and thought, “Wow. This guy must know a lot about rap to have all these lyrics available at the top of his head,” and a lot of you are giving me way too much credit. My research was typing in every Marquette player I could think of into my Genius app and going through their mentions in songs. Took maybe 30 minutes. I got through most of the NBA players and had a list of 5 made, but I decided to search Steve Novak anyway. Sure he was never nearly as relevant as Jae Crowder, who didn’t have any mentions, but maybe he has an obscure mention somewhere. Turns out he’s mentioned in a fairly popular song by two well-known artists. I definitely had this on a Spotify playlist, too, but I never picked up on this somehow. Huh.
Anyway, the Oakland native in this song states, “And now I’m going for that three like Steve Novak.” The “three” that he is referring to is NSFW, and that’s all I’ll say. This is an odd reference. On one hand, Steve Novak is eighth in NBA history in career 3PT% and he averaged about 2.5 three point attempts for every two point attempt during his NBA career. He made a living off of hoisting threes and making a whole bunch of them. On the other hand, is Novak really the most well-known option he could’ve gone with? Other notable three point shooters include Kyle Korver, Ray Allen, Reggie Miller and Paul Pierce, all are way more well known than the player who never spent more than 2 seasons on a team. I guess a couple lines before he mentioned a Kodak, but I’m sure a professional rapper could come up with a different rhyme scheme, especially since those players have last names that are easier to rhyme. Or maybe I’m looking way too into this and none of this really matters. Eat at Arby’s.
2. Dwyane Wade in Gotta Have It by Jay Z and Kanye West
There’s no video available for this one because no one has Tidal and you really need to let this go, Jay Z.
Did Watch The Throne meet the hype? It had some real hits on it, this one included, but it didn’t set the world on fire given the hype of having two of the best rappers of all time making an entire album together. Let me know what you think in the comments. I go back and forth.
Here, they use the patron saint of Marquette hoops as a means of communicating with us how they’re hated on a lot.
Wade and LeBron James famously were teammates on the Miami Heat with Chris Bosh in the early 2010s, winning some titles and drawing haters. I just love that one of the best players in NBA history lived in the same room in O’Donnell as me**, openly loves Marquette, and is someone that Jay Z feels like he can relate to. I do wonder where he ranks on the list of all athletes in terms of number of mentions in rap songs/how far down the list you would have to go until a non-basketball player is on that list. I imagine Wade is pretty high on said list, and this somewhat leads into the best Marquette mention ever.
1. Dwyane Wade in The Glory by Kanye West
Despite my best efforts, I have to confess this list isn’t entirely objective. Unfortunately, my journalism credentials have to be stripped before I can tweet complaints about airport layovers or write a longform piece about how millennials are destroying [insert industry here], but hey, at least I’m honest. The Glory was the first rap song I ever learned all the words to because the guy who drove me to high school freshman year started every trip with either this song or Bittersweet Symphony. I first thought about Marquette athletes in rap songs around my freshman year at Marquette solely because of the line, “In two year Dwayne Wayne became Dwyane Wade.” Dwayne Wayne was a character on A Different World, I guess? I have no idea what that show is. I can’t emphasize enough how much I’ve relied on Google for some of the simplest information here. Because of my lack of knowledge about the guy, I had no idea what the point of this line was. I cold-emailed Shea Serrano, author of The Rap Yearbook, a reading requirement for anyone who finds the concept of the article even mildly interesting, to help me decipher this one. His response, “[H]e's saying he went from being a skinny and regular guy into a superstar.” Thanks, Shea!
If you’re currently shouting at your screen about what lyrics got left out of this list, well, that’s what the comments section is for. Argue away, y’all.
*- This is the greatest video ever made.
**- He didn’t.