Atlanta Hawks and Lil Jon
Never known as one to “turn down” his boisterous and explicit persona, the King of Crunk has repped the ATL as hard as anyone over his now decade-plus career.
Even though his songs have rang out in arenas for years, one would only need to imagine the look on David Stern’s face while one of his fellow executives explained what “skeet skeet” actually meant to realize this ambassadorship just wouldn’t have worked.
Miami Heat and The 2 Live Crew
Speaking of sexually explicit lyricists, few rap acts have ever ascended to the levels of controversy attained by Uncle Luke, Mr. Mixx and The 2 Live Crew.
Respectful and subtly-titled songs like “We Want Some Pussy”, “The Fuck Shop” and “Dick Almighty”, would’ve been perfect complements to the NBA’s family-oriented marketing efforts. It’s a wonder they were never approached by the Heat.
New Orleans Pelicans and C-Murder
They say art imitates life, but sometimes it can be the other way around. Take the case of Corey Miller, aka C-Murder, aka the younger brother of No Limit don Master P (who himself actually almost made the Raptors roster back in ’99).
Lots of rappers lace their lyrics with mostly-empty boasting about gang violence, but C-Murder, true to his name, took things to the next level, being convicted in the shooting murder of one of his fans. Thank god he wasn’t involved in the Chris Paul trade.
Memphis Grizzlies and Three 6 Mafia
Another cringe-worthy (read: awesome) NBA partnership would’ve been between the Grizzlies and the group who so infectiously proclaimed their desire to “stay high ‘til I die (i-i-i-i-i-i-i-ie)”.
It may not seem entirely probable that a pro sports franchise would want to align themselves with guys who made a song glorifying the consumption of codeine syrup, but then again this happened, so anything’s possible.
New York Knicks and Cam’ron
Few rappers, or public figures in general for that matter, have ever been as openly obnoxious as Killa Cam, the pink-sporting, purple-smoking Dipset frontman.
After the disbanding of Children of the Corn, and the release of one of rap’s most strangely homoerotic album covers, Cam took on a colorfully criminal public persona, rolling around in Laffy Taffy Range Rovers as one of the godfathers of Cocaine Rap.
He would’ve connected seamlessly with the NBA’s more conservative demographic, as evidenced by his immortal appearance on the Bill O’Reilly Show.
Golden State Warriors and Too $hort
We’ve seen sexually graphic rappers from the Dirty South (and quasi-Dirty South) so far on this list, but any emcee who’s ever offended (or in some cases aroused) the ladies with his lyrics owes a nod to Too $hort.
One of the West Coast’s earliest acts, he gained prominence for his raw style and very, um, forward content. Things would’ve been interesting for any guy who brought a date to a Warriors game.
Los Angeles Clippers (or New Jersey Nets) and Ice-T
Back before the Nets moved to Brooklyn, and before Ice-T (who was born in Newark and raised in LA) played a cop on TV, he was the subject of national controversy for his violent lyrics, most notably the ironically titled song “Cop Killer”.
Even in the pre-Malice at the Palace era where the NBA’s PR went relatively unchecked, something tells us this wouldn’t have flown for too long with the Sternbot.
Chicago Bulls and Chief Keef
Despite having just celebrated his 19th birthday, and only having been on the mainstream scene for a couple years, Keef’s rap sheet is longer than Isaiah Rider's.
Since catching a case for heroin distribution as he rose to prominence, Keef has been nabbed for everything from speeding, to numerous drug violations, and a bizarre semi-shootout with cops in the Chicago streets.
Between his criminal adventures and his tactful use of social media (posting pictures of a woman giving him oral sex to Instagram and mocking a rival rapper’s murder on Twitter), it’s hard to imagine his hypothetical NBA ambassadorship ending well.
Los Angeles Lakers and NWA
Rap’s original bad boys, NWA were America’s proverbial “Worst Nightmare” when they hit scene in the late-80’s with a viscerally violent style that for all intents and purposes birthed the gangsta rap genre.
While Ice Cube and Dr. Dre have since become exactly the type of media icons that could co-brand with an NBA team, their early works - combined with less-accepting, more-racist primitive attitudes towards rap 25 years ago – make NWA a shoe-in for this list.
Detroit Pistons and circa-2000 Eminem
While he’s undertaken a slightly more demure profile in recent years, there was a not-so-distant time when Eminem was inducing regular riots about his misogynistic, homophobic, and generally profane lyrical content. At the time, he also just happened to be unquestionably the biggest rapper in the World.
A proud Detroit native, Slim Shady’s antics didn’t exactly lend himself to the NBA’s corporate profile. While they may not appreciate Drake’s public pleas for superstars to join his team, the mere thought of the Pistons being linked to a guy who paraded on-stage in a Jason mask with a chainsaw and a sex doll while rapping about “homosexuals and Vicodin” would be enough to cause numerous strokes in the league office.