...Like Alonzo Mourning

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There are basketball players who mean something to hip-hop because they just pretty much are hip-hop. There are basketball players who are ardent and even intermittently artful practicioners of hip-hop but who don't mean all that much to hip-hop or basketball. It's complicated, but it's not necessarily all that complicated: long before Biggie's crack rock/wicked jumpshot couplet, basketball and hip-hop shared some significant something, a defiant and aspirational and intermittently self-defeating and exhilaratingly determined expressiveness; a passionate individualism half-subsumed in an embattled and equally deeply felt communalism; a goofy seriousness and grim glee and other fascinating things. To reduce it to race is tempting and not entirely wrong, but it also excludes some of the most undeniably hip-hop basketball players ever to play and anyway it shortchanges the undeniable and bigger-than-that mutual artistry that links the two.

So it makes sense that rappers would rely on basketball metaphors, from the passing "and to top it off Starks got ejected" to the full-on transference on display in Don Trip's "Allen Iverson," which is linked above. The basketball/hip-hop relationship makes double-sense, though, when it involves a player whose last name itself offers multiple punny opportunities on top of all other metaphorical utility. Alonzo Mourning is not as hip-hop as Allen Iverson, because basically nothing on earth is as hip-hop as Allen Iverson. But Alonzo Mourning could not have been more convenient for hip-hop if he'd been named Rap-De-Rap Jones.

And so, through a long career with more ups than downs and a very serious health scare and a confrontation with Kenyon Martin and seven All-Star games and a pair of Defensive Player of the Year Awards and a great deal else, Alonzo Mourning has remained a hip-hop constant. It's convenient, but it also makes sense. Just saying dude's name feels good; the phonics are impeccable. So deploying the syllables "Alonzo Mourning" in even the most obvious morning/mourning or your-family-will-be-sad-because-of-what-my-raps/actual weapon-will-do-to-you works, too. And so, via Classical buddy Skinny Friedman's heads-up and the compilation work of Canadian rapper Young Braised, here are two decades of rappers mostly making the same two plays-on-words on Alonzo Mourning's name in hip-hop. It takes about two minutes, and (thankfully) has Pacewon in it.

It had to be done, I guess, but the kidney thing really needed mentioning? Eh, all in the game, I guess.

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