Dreamville rapper J. Cole is keeping his basketball dreams alive. The Grammy-winning superstar has signed on to play in the Canadian Elite Basketball League, marking the second consecutive season Cole is playing professionally.
Sources: J. Cole is signing contract with the Scarborough Shooting Stars (@sss_cebl) in the Canadian Elite Basketball League, the rap star's second consecutive year playing professionally. CEBL training camp began this week, with season opener on May 26.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) May 20, 2022
The 37-year-old rapper played high school basketball in North Carolina and attempted to walk on to the basketball team while he was a student at St. John’s University. He received a call-back his sophomore year.
“I’ve learned that a fundamental part of my anatomy is this: I have a relentless drive,” Cole wrote for the Players Tribune. “When I really want to achieve something, I dig deep and find the work ethic, the foresight, and the patience needed to make it happen.”
Basketball is a big part of Cole’s life and a large part of who he is, as mentioned in several interviews. He’s played in the NBA All-Star Celebrity game and he played for the Patriots Basketball Club in the Basketball Africa League (BAL) last season, his first professional stint.
Cole was only under contract with the BAL for three games. In three games with the Patriots, he scored five points, had three assists and five rebounds in 45 minutes of gameplay.
The “Off-Season” rapper also has a multiyear partnership with Puma and released his signature PUMA RS-Dreamer in 2020.
Cole’s foray into professional ball is seen as a positive by some. But for players who aren’t also superstar rappers, they see the negative in someone like Cole taking part in professional leagues.
AS Sale star Terrell Stoglin, BAL’s leading scorer last season, was critical of Cole when ESPN asked him in May of last year about the rapper’s impact on the BAL tournament.
“I think there’s a negative and a positive [to J. Cole’s presence]. The negative part of it is: I think he took someone’s job that deserves it. I live in a basketball world. I don’t live in a fan world. I know a lot of guys that had their careers stopped by COVID and they’re still home working out and training for an opportunity like this.
“For a guy who has so much money and has another career to just come here and average, like, one point a game and still get glorified is very disrespectful to the game. It’s disrespectful to the ones who sacrificed their whole lives for this.
“The positive side of it is: it brings a lot of attention, and, I guess, money. I don’t really pay attention to that type of stuff. I’m more [concerned that] he took someone’s job that deserved it.”
Stoglin had a point.
There are players who need these spots, as it is how they support themselves and their families. Cole is taking the roster spot of a player more deserving. But as he said, Cole’s presence is good for business. It’s a double-edged sword.
Another potential drawback is Cole’s presence may cause scouts and teams in other higher level leagues not to take any league that Cole plays in very seriously. That has consequences for all the players involved looking to level up.
If a league wants to bring Cole on it’s well within their rights, but it should benefit all parties involved.