93 Till Infinity: The Notorious B.I.G and NBA History
To celebrate the birthday of the late great Christopher Wallace aka Notorious B.I.G aka Biggie Smalls, I wanted to take a trip down memory lane and remember all the times Biggie crossed over into the my NBA world.
Outside of old school hip-hop fans and Source magazine readers who saw Biggie in the ‘Unsigned Hype’ feature back in March of 1992 or the lucky few who heard him say, “slammin’ mcs like Scottie Pippen” on his demo tape, old school NBA fans probably heard Biggie rap before most rap fans. On the last track of the landmark NBA Jam Session VHS that came out in 1993, there was a song called Jam Session which featured Heavy D, Troo-Rula and Biggie Smalls.
On the track, the future GOAT of hip-hop once again name-dropped the NBA GOAT’s teammate by saying, “I’m stripping like Scottie Pippen giving the serious butt kicking, breaking bones like Karl Malone, yeah I’m flippin.”
Other players Biggie mentioned included Isiah Thomas, Bill Laimbeer, Tom Chambers, Patrick Ewing, Michael Jordan and hip-hop favorite (I’m kidding) Danny Ainge: Getting’ that close range like Danny Ainge, nobody is stranger.
Later on that year, Biggie made a more memorable appearance on the Supercat remix of Dolly My Baby, which featured Puffy wearing an Orlando Magic Shaq jersey, delivering one of the worst verses in hip-hop history. Thankfully, Biggie made us forget about it by delivering his first classic verse.
“I love it when you call me Big Poppa. The show stoppa, the rhyme droppa.”
Less than a year later, Biggie dropped the masterpiece Ready To Die, which featured the line, “I’m slamming niggas like Shaquille, shit is real” on a song called Gimme the loot.
For the next couple of years, Shaq did a lot of slamming as he quickly became one of the best in the game while Biggie quickly became known as the best rapper in his game. Then in 1996, the two collaborated on the first single and title track off Shaq’s third album You Can’t Stop The Reign.
Unfortunately, Biggie wasn’t in the big budget video for the single but here’s a fan cut using footage from the Get Money video by Junior Mafia.
The recording session for the single would end up being the last time Shaq saw Biggie.
On March 9th 1997, Shaq was planning to meet up with Biggie in LA at the Soul Train Awards after party but fell asleep at his hotel. During the time he was asleep, Biggie was shot and killed. A few hours after his death, Shaq’s mom called him and told him the news.
Biggie’s follow-up album, Life After Death was released a couple of weeks later. It was hailed as another masterpiece and I still remember skipping class to get to a Sam Goody at 10 am on a Tuesday to get the first copy from the store.
One of the best tracks on the album was a song called, I Got A Story To Tell. In it, Biggie mentions a member of the New York Knicks getting robbed. And for almost two decades, it was an online mystery who the Knick was. Most thought it was either Allan Houston, Larry Johnson or Hubert Davis.
The sh*t she kicked, all the sh*t’s legit
She get d*ck from a player off the New York Knicks
N*gga tricked ridiculous, the sh*t was plush
This establishes who he was violatin’. Notorious B.IG.’s Life After Death was recorded between September of 1995 and January of 1997. So that is the window of time we’re starting with.
We f*cked in his bed, quite dangerous
I’m in his ass while he playing against the Utah Jazz
Assuming this happened in NY, the New York Knicks played the Utah Jazz at The Garden on November 12, 1995. This was the only time the Jazz played the Knicks on their home court all season. So even if you want to debate the who, this is definitely the day somebody got the bedroom intruder treatment.
My 112, CD blast, I was past
She came twice I came last, roll the grass
**112’s debut CD was released in August of 1996, but was recorded between 1995 and 1996. Did Biggie have an advance? Very possible. If Big Poppa was rolling around with theme music to smash to (remember it was HIS 112 CD) chances are it was CD-R written on with a sharpie from the studio.
I’m up in this b*tch player this b*tch fucking run them old Knick ass n*ggas and shit,
I’m up in the spot though. One of them six-five n*ggas, I don’t know.
Also in 1997, Puff Daddy released the single Victory featuring Busta Rhymes and the late Biggie. As expected, Big was the highlight of the song with lines like this.
Real sick, raw nights, I perform like Mike
Anyone — Tyson, Jordan, Jackson
Action, pack guns, ridiculous
And I’m, quick to bust, if my ends you touch
There’s not much to say about the following decade, but in 2014, I had the opportunity to interview Biggie fan Jamal Crawford, who happens to have lyrics to the Biggie song, Sky’s The Limit across his right arm.
Stay far from timid
Only make moves when your heart’s in it
And live the phrase Sky’s The Limit
You can go to the 28 minute mark of the following video to hear Jamal talk about the lyrics and the greatness of Biggie.
Then in 2016, on an episode of the ESPN show ‘Highly Questionable,’ guest rapper Fat Joe (who was a much better rapper during the 90s) revealed the Knick in I Got A Story To Tell was the late great Anthony “Can guard any position” Mason, who was featured in the rap video ‘Best Kept Secret‘ by underrated 90’s rapper Diamond D. The revelation kind of ruined the fun we all had trying to figure out who it was and it kind of hurt finding out it was one of my favorite Knicks ever, especially since I was planning on doing an interview with Mase in New York at the 2015 NBA All-Star game, missed my chance and he passed away two weeks later.
The ending of this story goes back to where it all began. On March 12th of 2017, in a game against the New York Knicks, the Brooklyn Nets honored the greatest rapper of all-time with ‘Biggie Night’ at the Barclays Center.