J. Cole is a dual-threat. The Dreamville founder has expertly balanced his hoop dreams and rap dominance over the years, but Cole was all ball and commanded the floor in one of Chris Brickley’s Black Ops Basketball sessions during New York Fashion Week earlier this month. Brickley, a sought-after basketball trainer, posted Cole’s highlight reel to Instagram.
“J a bucket,” Indiana Pacers guard Buddy Hield praised in the comments. “In the Kobe’s too!!” added Minnesota Timberwolves big man Eric Paschall. (Cole was crossing dudes up in the Nike Kobe 8 “What The Kobe” sneakers, for reference.)
NBA players aren’t just fans of Cole; they’re peers. The North Carolina-bred icon played professionally for the Rwanda Patriots in the Basketball Africa League for three games in 2021 before suiting up for the Scarborough Shooting Stars of the Canadian Elite Basketball League for a similarly short stint earlier this year. The 37-year-old left the team in early June to go on tour.
To start September, Cole was revealed as the first-ever rapper to grace the cover of NBA 2K, starring on the cover of NBA 2K23‘s “Dreamer Edition.”
“Three and a half years ago, when he dunked during one of the breaks of the All-Star Weekend Saturday Night, J. Cole, said, ‘Ronnie, I’d love to be in MyCareer and help think about the ideation around that,’” 2K digital marking director Ronnie Singh told Complex in an interview published earlier this month, explaining the origin of Cole’s 2K23 involvement. “I worked with our team on bringing this to life, but it was very fitting to work with him. When we put out that tease [of the 2K23 cover], everybody thought it was going to be another basketball player.”
There’s a strong argument to be made that it was a basketball player.