NBA's Best Hype Men

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Russell Westbrook

Westbrook is equal parts hyper and emotional, making him an ideal candidate to connect with the crowd and keep them vibing.

The relentless energy he brings to every game indicates the kind of stamina that could get him through even the most hectic, hardest-partying cross-country tour.

Hypes For: fellow energetic Cali-born superstar Kendrick Lamar.

Tony Allen

Not only is Allen a persistent force of frenetic movement, but one of the NBA’s most boisterous players, playing in an aura of gritty swag on par with many rap artists.

A guy with the nickname like “The Grindfather” would be a natural on stage, working the crowd like he does every night at FedEx Forum.

Hypes For: Memphis’ own, Juicy J.

Javale McGee

A six-year old in a grown-ass seven-foot body, McGee has become known for goofy gimmicks and sideshow antics as much as, if not more than, his actual play.

Javale would be a hilarious on-stage presence, and no matter how small the venue, and how tall the guy standing in front of you, he’d be easily visible.

Hypes For: Odd Future; so he won’t seem too out-of-place.

JR Smith

Few NBA players have a penchant for partying like JR Smith, which by itself would make him a welcome presence on any rap tour, especially for the bus/afterparty scene.

Having dated Rihanna, Smith’s no stranger to the music scene either, and could even provide guest vocals as an experienced recording artist. (Ok, maybe not).

In either case, JR’s celebration-heavy style – both on and off court – make him an easy inclusion. You can just picture him soaking the front row in Moet already.

Hypes For: French Montana (Does JR ever seem like he’s worried about anything either?)

Joakim Noah

If NBA attributes were translated to the role of hype man, then “motor” would be probably be the most valuable. Most dictionaries should have ‘Joakim Noah’ listed among motor synonyms by their next revision.

One of the most persistent athletes alive, Noah (who also fancies himself a rapper) would make damn sure the crowd got into any song they weren’t feeling.

Hypes For: Bone Thugs N Harmony; because he loves Cleveland so much.

Metta World Peace

Many NBA players immerse themselves in the cultural collide between basketball and hip-hop, but few have jumped in to the extent of The artist formerly known as Ron Artest.

Anyone dedicated enough to the promotion of rap music to ask his team for two months off mid-season to work on his label (and crazy enough to pick a fight with an arena of opposing fans after the Pacers said “no”) deserves a spot here.

Hypes For: Public Enemy. He can sympathize with their plight.

Kevin Garnett

All the chest-thumping, floor-slapping, top-of-lungs-screaming, head-into-the-basket-support-bashing would serve a pretty solid purpose at any event that relies on hype.

Garnett’s occasionally psychotic-looking attempts to rile up himself and his teammates may frighten some of the NBA’s younger fans, but they'd be a beckoning call at a liquored-up concert.

Hypes For: DMX. Feel the angry energy.

Kent Bazemore

Bazemore’s beginning to make a name for himself in the NBA, albeit by starting on a depleted, lottery-bound Lakers squad.

In any case, it builds on Bazemore’s previous NBA notoriety as a YouTube sensation for his impressively enthusiastic bench celebrations. These nicely-timed salutes would be enough of an ego boost to fuel any rapper through a dull set.

Hypes For: Someone who thinks highly of themselves. Hmm. Who could that be…

Nate Robinson

Bouncing around the court like a ping-pong ball on a meth trip, Robinson is a high-energy dose of perpetual motion, whether he’s taking on three defenders by himself, or prancing in celebration afterwards.

Nate Robinson would be the ideal specimen for a hype man, if not for his constant movement being so dizzying. Nobody enjoys a seizure, and between Nate and the lights/pyro, who knows what could happen.

Hypes For: Too $hort (too easy).

Chris Bosh

Of course, this list wouldn’t be complete without the Miami Heat’s resident cheerleader, and someone who’s used to jocking bigger names to get his fame.

Bosh also serves as president on the NBA’s “Awkwardly Enthusiastic Celebrations” sub-committee, so he’d be constant entertainment, and added value to any performance.

Hypes For: Lil Wayne (just kidding).

If you’ve ever been to a live hip-hop show (and really, how many of you haven’t?), then you understand the critical importance of rap’s most visible second-fiddle since this guy; The Hype Man.

For the headline artist to do his thing, he needs the crowd on his wavelength and as amped as possible, so the hype man has to keep the mood up, with enthusiastic interjections and demands for hands to be raised.

It’s a job that requires not only tons of energy but a certain amount of swagger, two things that come naturally to most NBA players. Here’s a look at which ones would rock the stage hardest:


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