Michael Jordan, certified hardwood legend, is back in the headlines during March Madness, but for reasons other than basketball. Earlier this week, rapper Victor Santiago Jr. (aka N.O.R.E. or Noriega) blasted the six-time NBA champion, claiming the 53-year-old hall-of-famer is an unabashed hater of hip-hop.
N.O.R.E., 38, told listeners of the Rap Radar podcast that Jordan once “blew off” a cadre of Def Jam recording artists, including prime-acts Redman and Method Man, during a 1999 Christmas party for the label. Santiago further claimed “His Airness” selectively hob-nobbed with affluent impresarios such as Sean “Jay-Z” Carter at the event.
When reached for comment on the matter, Jordan’s representative Estee Portnoy relayed to Fox Sports that Jordan enjoys all music and the contrary allegations were patently false. Portnoy further expounded upon the hullabaloo to FOX stating.
“MJ wasn’t at this party, doesn’t know N.O.R.E., and is a fan of ALL music. Drake is in his brand, and Nelly is a partner of his with the Charlotte Hornets.”
Indeed, multi-platinum recording artist Aubrey “Drake” Graham beamed with personal pride after signing a 2013 deal with Brand Jordan. This partnership has allowed Jordan and Drake to collaborate on various popular shoe designs. Drake, whose current net worth is valued at $75 million, explained his unbridled joy of working with Michael Jordan to the iconic Rolling Stone magazine.
“You know, growing up, I’m sure we all idolized this guy – he goes by the name of Michael Jordan. So today, I came to Portland, Oregon and I officially became inducted into the Team Jordan family.”
Jordan’s working ties with the hip-hop community further extend to accomplished rapper/mogul/entrepreneur Cornell “Nelly” Haynes. Jordan kept “the mayor of Nellyville,” on board as part of the team’s new ownership group in 2010, after Jordan acquired majority stake in the franchise from BET founder Bob Johnson.
N.O.R.E.’s comments pertaining to Jordan’s personal musical preferences notwithstanding, the game of hip-hop has certainly paid deep homage to number 23. The following compilation of lyrics from various rap artists demonstrate the community’s attachment and affection for the six-time Finals MVP.
- R. Kelly/Jay-Z “The Best Of Both Worlds” 2002: “It’s not even close, just leave it alone, I’m Michael Jordan, I play for the team I own.
- Jadakiss, “What If” 2009: “What if hate run through me? And what if Portland would’ve drafted Jordan, instead of Sam Bowie?” (What Blazers fan doesn’t “hate” that tragic turn of events?)
- Jay-Z “Hola Hovito” 2001: “And with the third pick, I make the Earth sick. M.J. Him Jay, fade-away, perfect.
As can be seen by this small sample of word-smithing tribute, Michael Jordan’s legacy as perhaps the greatest athlete of all-time is deeply ingrained in the annals of hip-hop lore.
Jordan, who celebrated his 53rd birthday on February 17, is the only former or current NBA player to attain billionaire status. En route to that lofty status, the iconic owner of the Charlotte Hornets has forged a legacy of dogged personal privacy.
M.J. exploded onto the national scene in March of 1982; leading Dean Smith’s UNC Tar Heels to the 1982 NCAA championship. Since that time, Jordan has garnered a vast array of personal, professional, and athletic accomplishments.
That N.O.R.E.’s remarks reverberated so resoundingly the world over speaks to the multitudinous specter of Michael Jordan’s global reach.
[Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images]