Cards Depicting the Hip-Hop and Hoops Connection
Welcome to a celebration like no other – a tribute to the 50th anniversary of hip-hop. In honor of this momentous anniversary, we’re looking at the two most important American creations of the late 20th century: modern trading card collecting and hip-hop. Join us all month (and beyond) as we spotlight how hip-hop and the Hobby have connected to create singular and enduring cultural moments.
At the crossroads of hip-hop and hoops, legends are made. Think of Damian Lillard’s mic skills or J. Cole’s baller dreams. Let’s rewind a bit—remember when Shaq dropped bars or Master P’s NBA ambitions? Basketball courts have been name-dropped in rap’s greatest hits, from Biggie shouting out Pippen to Jay-Z tipping his hat to MJ. So, here’s the deal: we’re diving into a slam dunk of a list— the top 10 cards based on a combo of value, player/subject popularity, and inclusion of relics and autos that brilliantly bridge hip-hop and basketball.
Check out all of our Hip-Hop & the Hobby coverage here.
Hoops and Hip-Hop Top Cards Numbers 10-6
#10: 1991 NBA Hoops Basketball Card #325 Will Smith
Imagine if the Fresh Prince hadn’t bricked that jumper in the opening credits of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. Sure, he eventually became the star player for Bel-Air High’s basketball team (I even snagged a replica of that jersey!), but we can’t help but wonder: what if he had nailed that shot? He probably wouldn’t have gotten spun around on the top of a guy’s shoulders like a DJ Jazzy Jeff record. But hey, if he hadn’t, we might’ve missed out on the 1991 NBA Hoops Basketball Card #325 featuring the esteemed actor and the emcee behind hits like “Gettin’ Jiggy Wit It,” “Miami,” “Parents Just Don’t Understand,” and “Summertime.” Remember, kids: Stay in School!
#9. 1999-00 Topps Chrome® #113 Ron Artest RC
During the 2004-2005 NBA season, Ron Artest – aka Metta World Peace and now known as Metta Sandiford-Artest – pulled one of the most head-scratching stunts in basketball history. Early in the season, he decided to hit the pause button on his Pacers career, seeking a month off to allegedly promote his rap album, My World. Embracing his rap alter ego “Tru Warier,” Artest certainly lived up to the moniker’s warrior spirit – though maybe not in the way Indiana Pacers fans would have liked, nah mean Detroit? Bold? Absolutely. Unexpected? Definitely. A classic Metta move? Oh, for sure!
Fun Fact: Artest is the cousin of Capone from the rap group Capone-N-Noreaga and is a native of Queensbridge, the same New York housing projects that produced MC Shan, Marley Marl, Roxanne Shante Nas, and Mobb Deep.
#8. 2001 Topps Pristine #108 Tony Parker
When Tony Parker wasn’t breaking ankles on the NBA court, he was spitting bars in French! Yes, the San Antonio Spurs legend and four-time NBA champ tried his hand at Le Rap, releasing his album, TP, in 2007. With tracks like “Balance-toi” and “Premier Love,” maybe he was also shooting for MVP in Le Hip-Hop. While it’s debatable whether his rap game was as strong as his mid-range jumper, all props to TP for serving hoops and hip-hop realness. It would’ve been hilarious if he spit a few bars at his 2023 Hall of Fame Induction.
#7. 1994-95 Topps Finest #286 Jason Kidd RC
Whether fellow Bay Area compatriot Money B ghostwrote “What the Kidd Did” matters not. That was J-Kidd in the booth, cookin’ on the mic. The Hall of Fame floor general made his rap debut on the 1994 album B-Ball’s Best Kept Secret, which featured NBA players Cedric Ceballos, J.R. Rider, Gary Payton, Brian Shaw, Dennis Scott, Dana Barros, and Kidd, among others. There are varying opinions about Kidd’s debut song, but we can’t lie. The line “Steady flossin’ with cash earned from hittin’ Mashburn” is absolute heat. Have to respect the authenticity of the bars—no cap from the Kidd.
#6. 2005-06 Topps Luxury Box Industry Anchors Allen Iverson and Jay-Z Dual Relic /99
Combine the greatest baller to bridge hip-hop and hoops on a dual relic with the most influential MCs of all time, and you get a must-cop card. Representing the sports-rich area of the East End and Downtown Newport News, VA, AI is also deep in the city’s hip-hop history with the likes of Cru Thik and BorNaturals. He even flexed his rap skills on the ill-fated Jewelz project. The Hip-Hop CEO and the NBA hip-hop GOAT on the same card – priceless.
Check out Hoops and Hip-Hop, Vol. 2, to see the top 5 cards.
Where Hip-Hop and Hoops Meet Trading Cards