NBA Playoffs 2017: Analyzing Kendrick Lamar record, LeBron James shows talent extends to music criticism

Sporting News
LeBron James has a lot to smile about these days.

LeBron James pauses for selfie during postgame press conference

LeBron James has a lot to smile about these days.

INDIANAPOLIS – Although the degree of LeBron James’ virtuosity was extreme even by his standards in Thursday night’s comeback victory by his Cleveland Cavaliers over the Indiana Pacers, there wasn’t much about it we might not have anticipated. He’s shown his facility as a passer, shooter, rebounder and defender many times before.

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LeBron the music critic, though, was a pleasant surprise.

When all the basketball questions had been pretty well exhausted during his press conference following a 119-114 victory, writer Jon R. LaFollette of Indy’s – an alternative site that focuses on what alternative media generally do, arts and culture and the like – asked LeBron a question about rapper Kendrick Lamar’s latest album.

It seemed a bit odd in the context, but it squeezed out no substantial basketball questions after James had spoken for about eight minutes on the game. And his thoughts on Kendrick’s release, “Damn,” – his fourth album, and the follow-up to his Grammy-winning “To Pimp a Butterfly” -- were insightful and compelling.

The first thing you need to know, though, is that of course James got the tracks ahead of the official release. From Kendrick himself. James said he hasn’t stopped listening since.

“The guy is an unbelievable talent. His wordplay and his lyrics are unbelievable,” James said. “And it hit home for me, at times, because I was a kid that grew up in the inner city and his story of – the notion off – you either play basketball or sell drugs or you got … that’s it. And there’s no out. You become a statistic.

“As an African-American kid growing up in the inner city, there’s no … they don’t believe that you can get out and become something. That’s why I’m able to relate to a lot of his lyrics and relate to a lot of his stories. He’s an unbelievable artist, unbelievable person and I’m glad he’s able to put those words onto a track for all of us to be able to hear it. For me, I definitely appreciate it.”

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