A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from March 11, 2013
“Ballers want to be rappers, and rappers want to be ballers” (sports adage)

Music and sports intersected so often in the late 1990s and early 2000s that it was often said that “ballers want to be rappers, and rappers want to be ballers.” The term “baller” usually refers to professional basketball players, but it’s also (less frequently) applied to professional football players.

“Today’s conclusion: All NBA players want to be rappers, and all rappers want to be NBA players” was cited in print in February 1999. “Rappers want to be ballers (Master P), and ballers want to be rappers (Allen Iverson, Shaquille O’Neal, Kobe Bryant)” was cited in print in February 2000. The common sports saying doesn’t appear to have been popularized by any one particular person.


14 February 1999, Rocky Mountain News (Denver, CO), “These Nuggets will be fine...ultimately” by Bob Kravitz:
Today’s conclusion: All NBA players want to be rappers, and all rappers want to be NBA players.

Washington Post
The Leaders And Their Packs
A Pro Athlete’s Entourage of Hangers-On Offers Adulation--and Headaches

By Kevin Merida and Hamil R. Harris
Monday, February 21, 2000; Page C01
(...)
They are products of the increasingly evident intersection of the music and sports industries. Rappers want to be ballers (Master P), and ballers want to be rappers (Allen Iverson, Shaquille O’Neal, Kobe Bryant).

Newsweek
A Season Of Shame
By Allison Samuels and Mark Starr
May 28, 2000 8:00 PM EDT
(...)
And the style of proving it is filtered through the flash and attitude of hip-hop culture. Says NFL superagent Leigh Steinberg: “The rappers want to be ballers and the ballers want to be rappers.

Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) & BJJ Forum
Thread: Oscar DeLa Hoya on the Tonight Show?
SweepEm
11-30-2000, 02:56 AM
It was really bad.
My wife was watching The Tonight show with me and commented “don’t boxers have good moves with their feet while in the ring?”
Oscar needs some dance lessons.
The grass is always greener on the other side.
Basketball players want to be rappers.
Rappers want to be basketball players.
Now a boxer wants to be a singing sensation.

Fobes.com
The Business Of Hip-Hop
Hip-Hop’s Shoe Salesmen

Ann Rafalko, 02.19.04, 7:00 AM ET
(...)
And1, an upstart basketball-gear maker with a heavy focus on promoting streetball, has no plans to create a line for a hip-hop star. “We’re about the marriage of hip-hop and basketball,” says Ron Skotarczak, vice president of And1 Entertainment. He sees the moves by Reebok and Nike as “a reaction to the success we have made.” Asked about the connection between hip-hop and basketball, Skotarczak answered with an oft- heard phrase, “rappers want to be ballers and ballers want to be rappers,” meaning sports stars and rappers influence each other in equal amounts.

Google Books
How Football Explains America
By Sal Paolantonio
Chicago, IL: Triumph Books
2008
Pg. 54:
Outside the Atlanta courtroom where Ray Lewis was on trial for murder in 1999, one witness said, “Bailers want to be rappers and rappers want to be bailers. And we all want to be gangstas. It’s all the same world.”

ESPN
Talking music and hoops with rapper Mike Jones
By Jemele Hill
Updated: April 28, 2008, 3:43 PM ET
(...)
Rappers want to be athletes, and athletes want to be rappers. Why is that?
The reason they want to do each other’s profession is that they have haters and critics saying they can’t do it. They just want to prove they can do something different. A lot of rappers want to show people they can multitask.

Slam Online
Wednesday, May 14th, 2008 at 5:12 pm
Catching Up With Murda Mook
By Sammy Newman-Beck
(...)
S: So how do you feel about the tie in with hip hop and basketball?
MM: Well here’s the thing. Rappers want to be basketball players and basketball players want to be rappers. They both got a fixation with the other sport. It’s just that simple. They tie-in in the sense that they both want to be each other. But they don’t tie in the sense that the business is no where near the same. It’s funny though, because you go in the club you always see the two together, or in a rhyme you always see basketball being talked about, you always see Lebron throwing up the ROC sign. That’s how they really tie in.

CNN.com
‘Black Thanksgiving’ commences in L.A. this weekend
by David Aldridge, Special to CNN
February 18, 2011 2:21 p.m. EST
(...)
The old saying is that ballers want to be rappers, and rappers want to be ballers. That’s really, really true.

VLAD TV
Top 30 Athletes Turned Rappers
Aug 29, 2011 | 10:58 AM Written By: Jai
(...)
It’s no secret that atheletes want to be rappers, and rappers want to be athletes, some are better than others, but most should really stick to their day job.

Twitter
Danica Lo
‏@danicalo
All athletes want to be rappers, all rappers want to be athletes. - Shaq
3:52 PM - Feb 19, 2013

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CitySports/Games • Monday, March 11, 2013 • Permalink