I was perusing the interwebs late last night when I cam across the tweet above from Chicago emcee Mikkey Halsted. If you don't think that's the kind of statement I'm going to take way too seriously and break down in-depth, you're obviously not a citizen of RefinedHype Nation.
(Should-be-unnecessary-but-necessary disclaimer because people love beef: I'm a big Mikkey Halsted supporter - there aren't many who would list "On My Own" as one of the best tracks of 2010. This isn't a shot, this is a ridiculously detailed analysis of a Twitter comment. Got it? Good, f*cking relax people.)
First, we need to establish the ground rules:
The Field: Anyone who's primary employed in the entertainment industry, from screenwriters to caterers to actors to producers to sound engineers, is eligible. Professional athletes who have also acted/made music (Shaq, Jordan, Iverson, Rondo in "Just Wright" etc.) are disqualified.
The Time Frame: We're only dealing with right now. For example, if Jordan was eligible, we'd be talking about a 50-year-old Jordan, not "Space Jam" Jordan in his prime.
The Game/Definition of "Best": Here's where I wish Mikkey had been more specific - there's a huge difference between one-on-one and a full, official game. For example, Chris Paul is definitely the better all-around basketball player than the now-retired Shaq, but if they were to play one-on-one Shaq would crush him. All he'd have to do is post up every time and grab at least one rebound from a missed Paul shot (ex. check out what Kobe did to Bow Wow).
To take size out of the equation, I'm saying we're talking about a full game. That means it's not just offense we're considering, it's defense, passing, court awareness etc.
How Good is Mikkey Halsted? It's a crucial question, and unfortunately I don't have an exact answer - we'll have to work with what we know and estimate the rest. Mikkey got a scholarship to play college basketball at St. Xavier University (go Cougars), a NAIA school. I have a request into St. Xavier's sports information department for Mikkey's stats (I'll update once I get them), but for now let's give him the benefit of the doubt and assume he was one of the team's best players.
I'm also not exactly sure how old he is, but Mikkey's been around for a minute, and my Chicago connects say he's at least in his late '20s. In other words, even if he's kept in good shape, he's not at his prime. As any former college athlete will tell you, it's impossible to truly recreate the experience of 4 hours of daily practices and workouts, day after day after day.
Considering all that, we'll again give Halsted the benefit of the doubt as say that, right now, he's good enough to play on an average college basketball team, but not start. I think that's a reasonable best case scenario. So that's our benchmark, now can we find anyone better?
The Contenders: The most obvious place to start looking for contenders is to try to find other musicians/actors etc. who were former college athletes. Denzel Washington played some college ball, but he's far too old now to be taken seriously per our Time Frame rule. The same goes for former "Hill Street Blues" actor Michael Warren, who played for John Wooden's legendary UCLA teams. More recently, Jim Cavaziel (aka Jesus in "The Passion of the Christ") played college ball and was considered a legit NBA prospect, but he blew out his knee - we'll assume he's lost a step.
On the rap side, we hear a lot of stories of guys who played high school ball (Cam'ron, Ma$e, etc.) but no one that made it to the pros or college. Recent Maybach Music signee Stalley was recruited out of high school, but an injury derailed him as well. (And, no disrespect, but I've seen him recently. He could probably still beat me, but that's not saying much.) At 6'8, Shane Eli's literally the biggest rapper I've ever seen, and if this was one-on-one I'd have to put him in the mix, but he played college football, not basketball, so I can't put him ahead of Mikkey.
Even the almighty Google has its limits, I'll have to turn to the power of crowd sourcing. Anyone else out there have some examples?
The Unknowns: As Mikkey said, we're counting anyone and everyone here. Unfortunately there's no database containing the athletic background of every director, best boy and mixer in the entertainment industry, but we at least have to acknowledge the chance that there's an unfound gem out there. There's got to be at least one NBA prospect or bench player who got hurt/went to jail/dropped out etc. and ended up as an actor, screenwriter etc., right?
The Wild Card - Master P? - I've written about this before; everyone likes to treat Master P's basketball career as a joke, but he tried out for two NBA teams! That's no joke - he may not have been good enough to make the regular season roster, but he put up decent numbers in the preseason, and a legit NBA tryout is a lot further than any other rapper out there's ever gotten. Until I see proof otherwise, he's the only rapper to ever cash a check from a NBA team.
We've got to go back to our Time Frame rule though. Percy's time in the league came about a decade ago, so how good is he now? Well, considering Halsted's time at St. Xavier's was also a few years back, and that Master P in his prime was at least (but probably better) than Mikkey in his prime, it's safe to say P would be able to give Mikkey a serious run for his money on the court.
Actually....that reminds me. Another contended would have to be Master P's son, Lil Romeo. Like his father, it's easy to dismiss Romeo Miller as a joke, but he did grab a scholarship to USC, a Division 1 school with recent March Madness success (before the sanctions). True, he was only a bench player at USC, but at 21 his youth makes him a worthy opponent.
Conclusion: Unfortunately our conclusion isn't very conclusive. I don't think we can say that Mikkey Halsted is the best baller in the entertainment industry, but we also can't say he's not the best baller in the industry. So, again, I'm depending on the people out there to offer up some additional evidence. Let's have at it people - there are some questions in life to important to go unanswered.