Who is the Kanye West of the NBA?

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By ALYSHA TSUJI
College Contributor Network

Ruthless confidence is generally an unpopular characteristic to possess. It takes a special type of person to own the idiosyncrasy. A prime example of a popular figure who does just that is Kanye West. I've written before about how his arrogance propels him to greatness.

He talks about himself in third person, he raps about himself in third person, he calls himself a god and you can clearly tell through his performances that he doesn't care about you. He's going to do whatever he wants whenever he wants, and you're going to like it.



Now some might say, "Well, I don't like Kanye. Actually, I hate him quite a bit," but it doesn't matter. Because the media adores him. Yeezus can't step out of the limelight even if someone tried to shove him out of it. Whether you like him or not, if you're a fan of music, you will hear his songs. You will hear your friends talk about his latest interview on Ellen or his latest awards show stunt or his latest Twitter rant.

Every sport, every team, every social circle, every rock band, every family has an individual who carries a piece of the Kanye West persona -- let's call it the Yeezus gene.

Who in the NBA holds it?

To be an athlete, you have to be a little cocky, so professional sports leagues aren't short on Kanye comparison candidates.

Close but no cigar

Lance Stephenson almost fully took on the Yeezus gene in the playoffs last year when he blew sweet nothings into LeBron's ear.




If Stephenson and the Pacers had knocked off Miami in the playoffs, he might've been my selection for Kanye of the NBA, but that didn't happen. The ear blowing backfired, and now Stephenson is on the under-.500 Charlotte Hornets. He may still be a crazy haughty shooting guard; however, his numbers have trailed off, and he has yet to win any championships.

Kanye stands behind 21 GRAMMYs. The awards ratios don't add up here.

The King, the Chosen One, the four-time league MVP, two-time champion and two-time Olympic gold medalist, LeBron James, would be the by-far most obvious pick for the Yeezus gene. Comparisons have already been drawn. And the two directly crossed paths through the "Forever" music video that Kanye, Lil Wayne, Drake and Eminem spit on for LeBron's "More Than a Game" documentary in 2009.

The reason LeBron isn't the Kanye of the NBA is because he's too publicly nice. In any other situation that would be a positive factor, but in this instance, it doesn't help his case. He pulls heartwarming stunts like this one:



Kanye would never do that. Kanye would grab the mic as if he were going to congratulate the fan and then instead spout an unexpectedly truthfully harsh speech about how the NBA is racist, or how about it's not providing equal opportunities for the lower classes of society.

The runner-up

He helped push the Celtics to a championship in 2008. He's also a two-time member of the All-NBA Defensive First Team, and led the league in assists in back-to-back seasons (2012, 2013). Rajon Rondo is NBA's Kanye No. 2.

His confidence levels top the charts. As the Celtics success sharply declined, Rondo turned into Boston's scapegoat -- the high-maintenance superstar, the overrated point guard -- to the point where he was traded to the Mavericks. Those accusations may not have been 100 percent true, but the team's act of trading him probably means he doesn't have the type of personality that could foster growth in young players. Neither does Kanye. Patience isn't part of their vocabulary.

And just as Kanye's spontaneous outbursts twist in such a way that result in only adding to his legendary status, the trade wound up being the best thing possible. The Mavs are in the running to venture deep into the postseason, while the Celtics enter rebuild mode. Rondo gets to chill with Nowitzki, Chandler Parsons, Monta Ellis, Amare Stoudemire and Mark Cuban.

The reason Rondo must settle for second-best in the Yeezus gene pool is simply stats based. His averages aren't in the double digits. You can't reach "I am a God" levels with nine points per game. Sorry, Rajon.

The champ

In an alternate universe where Kobe defies age and injury, he would fill this spot with a crown atop his head, a weighty gold medal around his neck and a blinged out trophy in his hands. Black Mamba at his peak equals Kanye. They both possess that arrogant charm with a swagger that makes you either love to love them, or love to hate them. And they have all the accolades to back it up.

(I would say Michael Jordan over Kobe, but the meat of MJ and Kanye's careers are spread too far apart.)

Sadly, we live in the real world where 18 years in the NBA will chew you up and spit you out. So I'll have to go with the guy that Kobe says, "plays mean like I did": Russell Westbrook.



For years he played as the No. 2 to Kevin Durant. You could see him squirming out on the court. KD was MVP. Westbrook wanted to dominate, but he was forced to share. This season, KD fell to injury, and Russ got his chance to SHINE BRIGHT LIKE A DIAMOND. He is busting through presses, scoring at will and rubbing his success all up in everybody's faces.

Yes, it's true that Oklahoma City is flirting with the eighth playoff spot with barely a month of games left. I just dare you to watch Westbrook slash through the key and tell me he doesn't have a championship ring in his near future.

Kanye has had his ups and downs, and throughout it he did whatever he desired. At its worst, he left the country to clear his head, but he kept making music. Westbrook's set to follow the same path. He's posting career-high averages on the season. His team may be trailing in the standings, but he'll keep grinding.

Plus, I haven't mentioned Westbrook's fashion game -- GQ spreads and True Religion modeling deals -- and his run-ins with the media.

Russell Westbrook is, without a doubt, the Kanye West of the NBA.

Alysha Tsuji is a senior Journalism major at Pepperdine University. Her passion lies in sports media, namely when it comes to covering the NBA. Follow her on Twitter: @AlyshaTsuji​​​






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