If it were up to LeBron James, Jay-Z would win the NBA Sixth Man of the Year trophy.
The current playoff matchup between the Cleveland Cavilers and the Washington Wizards has triggered some bitter trash talk between King James and Wizards guard DeShawn Stevenson, with Jay-Z inserting himself into the fray by recording a diss track on James' behalf.
In the midst of his Heart of the City tour with Mary J. Blige, Jay-Z recorded a freestyle rap over Too Short's "Blow the Whistle" that included lines like "I don't even know y'all name/ Too big for you to rap LeBron James" and "I don't know what y'all on/ It's chess, know the difference between a King and a pawn."
The song made its debut at a D.C. nightclub following the Cavs' 36-point loss at the Verizon Center, the team's lone defeat so far this series. James and several Cavs players were at the club and even trash-talked the hometown team from the microphone.
Wiz player Caron Butler, who happened to be at the club, promptly left and let Stevenson know what happened.
The Jay-Z track is only the latest salvo in a beef that first got brewing last month when Stevenson labeled James "overrated." Asked if he had a response, the MVP candidate said, "With DeShawn Stevenson it is kind of funny. It's almost like Jay-Z saying something bad about Soulja Boy."
That led Stevenson to counter: "I hope we play Cleveland [in the playoffs]. I'm going to get Soulja Boy courtside seats...Maybe [James] can have Jay-Z there since LeBron's all on his jock anyway."
As fate would have it, the Cavs drew the Wiz in the first round, and Stevenson did bring Soulja Boy to Washington's first home game, where James was serenaded by chants of "overrated" and repeated spins of "Crank That (Soulja Boy)."
While it is unlikely that Soulja Boy will respond with his own diss track, James and Stevenson continue to go at it. In Sunday's Game 4, Stevenson delivered a hard foul on James—an open-handed smack to the head—that earned the guard a flagrant foul. James responded by lifting up his hands in the shape of a diamond, i.e., the symbol of Jay-Z's Roc-A-Fella crew, which Stevenson's followed by making a throat-slashing gesture that earned him a $25,000 fine.
Hard fouls and hard rhymes aside, James' fans also got into the act by altering Stevenson's Wikipedia entry. Over the weekend, the entry was changed to say he's in a relationship with Usher and that he likes to call himself Mrs. LeBron James, among the less offensive additions. The entry has since been modified in Stevenson's favor, including a self-reference as the "Mr. LeBron James killer."
As far as the Jay-Z track itself, however, the Wiz players actually took it in good stride.
"It's Hova!" said Wiz star Gilbert Arenas. "It's the big dog. It's not like it's somebody else. If I had three people to talk about me in a song it would be Jay-Z, Michael Jackson and Prince. And Tupac and Biggie, let's be for real."
"Jay-Z is a legend. He'll go down in history. I take it as a compliment," Stevenson noted. He later added, "I appreciate Jay-Z for giving me the shout-out."
Though Jay-Z, a minority owner in the New Jersey Nets, isn't supposed to openly court a signed player per league rules, it's no secret that he hopes James will sign with the Nets two years from now when he can opt out of his current contract. The Nets hope to move into a new Brooklyn arena the following year.
In the meantime, the Cavs and the Wiz play Game 5 Wednesday night, and we're still hoping to hear from Soulja Boy.