Five Musical Moments in the NBA Off-Season

After this year's dramatic NBA season, basketball fans may have to wait a long time before the league's owners and players agree to a new collective bargaining deal. The off-season normally allows fans to speculate over player trades and retirements, but given the current lockout, they'll have to settle for Paul Pierce playing poker, Lebron James dunking on a child and Gilbert Arenas planking. Some of the league's stars, however, are more musically inclined in the off-season. Here's a list of players who are using the summer to channel their love of music.

1. DJ Metta World Peace
Los Angeles Laker Ron Artest has had a busy off-season. In addition to changing his name to “Metta World Peace,” he's appeared in a promotional spot with People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), made plans to play basketball in the U.K., hosted a comedy show at West Hollywood's Improv and guest deejayed on KCRW's Morning Becomes Eclectic. Artest is no stranger to music. He's released one rap record, 2006's My World, and a slew of singles, including this year's guest-heavy “Go Loco.” His stint as a KCRW DJ, however, revealed a softer side to the tough, defensive-minded player. Four out of five of his selections are songs dedicated to his love and respect of women. Among these, blues singer Alberta Hunter's “How Long, Sweet Daddy, How Long?” is Artest's pre-game warm-up song.

2. Der Trommelmann
In my last post, I compiled a list of musical moments in Dallas Maverick Dirk Nowitzki's career. The 2011 NBA champion has been a lifelong student of music with interests in piano and guitar. According to a recent interview with Der Spiegel, it seems Nowitzki has moved on to the drums as his next instrument to master. “You have to achieve a certain amount of motor independence when drumming. Your hands have to ignore what your feet are doing and you can't allow them to get in the way of each other. But if I could learn to do that, it would really help my basketball. If I had known that before, I would have taken up the drums much earlier,” he said. To hear how Nowitzki's one-man band might sound, check out theĀ Dallas Observer's leak of one of Nowitzki's early recording attempts in 2006. The song, titled “Courtside,” is provided below.

3. Delonte West, Freestyle Rapper
Boston Celtic Delonte West is perhaps best known as the player rumored to have slept with the mother of Lebron James. He's also an occasional rapper who loves KFC, as a video which surfaced in 2009 shows the former Cleveland Cav rapping about original and barbecue recipes in front of a KFC drive-thru. This summer's latest YouTube video, featuring stoner emcee Wiz Khalifa, shows West once again showing off his rhyming chops.

4. Hoop Dreams and Shoestrings
“Winning Streak” is a collaboration between Chicago rapper Twista and Chicago Bull Carlos Boozer. The song debuted during the 2011 playoffs, but its triumphalist message arrived too soon when the Bulls fell to the Miami Heat in five games. Like his lackluster performance on the court, Boozer's rap skills aren't impressing anyone: “I used to be another li'l fella with some hoop dreams / Now I got the game laced up, shoestrings.”

5. “Rome Wasn't Built in One Day,” DJ Steve Porter
This last one isn't exactly a performance or recording by an NBA player, but it's a great distillation of Lebron James' 2010-11 season. DJ Steve Porter's last NBA-related video was a humorous cut-up of Blake Griffin's explosive season. Here, he chops up key moments from James' rise and fall in the past year.

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