Kendrick, Kobe and Phil


When Phil Jackson tweeted this to rapper Kendrick Lamar, it wasn’t much of a stretch to imagine the Zen Master tweeting this to Kobe Bryant just a few years ago.

Kendrick Lamar, if you don’t know, is a precociously talented young rapper from Compton, who dropped a potentially game-changing rap verse last night.

Kobe Bryant, as all of you know, was a precociously talented young basketball player who once dropped a potentially career-changing 81 points on the Toronto Raptors.

Phil tweeted at the rapper because, in his (explicit language on link) latest verse, he declares that “if Phil Jackson comes back, still no coaching me”.  (Incidentally, this makes makes him probably the only LA native who isn’t falling head over heels about a return by the 11-title winning coach)

It’s fair to ask, what exactly we are missing out on without Phil to mentor the rapper.

It isn’t a stretch to imagine the tweet being aimed at the baller not the rapper because there are similarities between the two – especially, Kendrick and Kobe circa 2006.  Kobe Bryant and Phil Jackson have often had a rocky relationship and many of the problems between the two may have stemmed from Kobe’s “cocky and sure” attitude that Phil Jackson chastises the rapper for.  Moreover, both Lamar and Bryant were young and believed to be the future of the game. Both were geographically based in the city of Los Angeles . But both would be kings across the coast: in his rap, Kendrick boldly declares himself to be “the king of New York” while Kobe would become King of New York with his record breaking 66 points in Madison Square Gardens.

Both rapped, or whatever you want to call what Kobe did. I assume Kendrick has played the occasional game of pickup. So there’s that.

Both are students of the game. Kobe Bryant has admitted to having “stolen all of [his] moves” from Oscar Robertson. Eglin Baylor and co. Kendrick Lamar meanwhile, gives respect to Jay Z as he ‘steals’ Jay Z’s “Where I’m From”. Where Jay Z says “I’m from where [*****] pull your card, and argue all day about/ Who’s the best MC: Biggie, Jay Z and Naz” Kendrick raps: “I heard the barbershops be in great debates all the time/ about who’s the best MC – Kendrick, Jigga and Nas”.

Finally, where Kobe sweeps past Baylor and Jordan and everyone else but Wilt on the all-time game-high, Kendrick annihilates “Pusha T, Meek Mill, A$AP Rocky, Drake Big Sean, Jay Electron’, Tyler, Mac Miller”, verbally sweeping them under the rug in his verse as he looks to become the greatest in the game.

There is, however, a difference between the two. Kobe’s 81-point coming out party forced Phil to admit “I trusted him, and he trusted me. This was a moment in a relationship that has certainly endured its share of turmoil.”

Kendrick’s coming-out party , on the other hand, only brought the  ire of Jackson. Can their relationship be  fixed? What rap knowledge can Phil Jackson impart on the young up and comer? Can Kendrick really not be coached?

Will Kendrick Lamar ever learn the ways of the triangle? Or to trust his fellow rappers?

Kobe and Phil was a great pairing. Kendrick and Phil may be just as fun.