12-time Grammy Award-winning artist, 2018 Pulitzer Prize winner and lifelong Los Angeles Lakers fan Kendrick Lamar paid a visit to the UCLA Health Training Center on Friday for the latest installment of the Lakers’ “Genius Talks.”
The front office introduced these talks almost exactly a year ago, when Tesla founder and CEO Elon Musk visited the team last October, and the team has continued the series with big names like film producer Jeffrey Katzenberg, Olympic champion Allyson Felix and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.
However, of the aforementioned names, arguably none resonated with this young Lakers team more than Lamar. Following practice on Friday, second-year guard Josh Hart talked about how surreal it was be in the same room as Lamar, who he said he was a big fan of growing up.
“It was cool, it was definitely cool man,” Hart said. “I’m a kid from Silver Spring, Maryland, so for me that’s cool. I remember listening to his music in high school and stuff like that, so for me it was cool just to kind of see him.
“I didn’t imagine myself five years ago being in the same room as Kendrick, being in the same room as LeBron and stuff like that. So for me it was really unique because I didn’t think I was going to be here.”
Lamar released his debut studio album “Section.80” when Hart was 16 years old, so it’s easy to understand why Hart is such a big fan. However, that’s not to say the older players on the team weren’t excited either.
LeBron James, who has been well known as a fan of Lamar’s, took to Instagram to show his appreciation to Lamar for stopping by.
But what can a rapper teach a bunch of basketball players? Hart believes there are more similarities than differences between the two fields than some might think.
“It’s funny, because sometimes you don’t talk to other people that are at the top of their craft, and when you talk to them you see the parallels,” Hart said. “When he gets ready for a show, he talks about that he lets all the negativity out. He doesn’t party before, he doesn’t do certain things before a show because he wants to be dialed in, he wants to be focused for him to get his message across in that show (because) people pay a lot of money to go see him. You see a lot of parallels, and that was one of the aspects he was talking about.
“He talked about when he’s working on an album, like six months before he starts working on it, he starts getting into that mindset about how he wants the dialogue to go, how he wants the listener to react to the lines that he’s saying. Stuff like that. For us, obviously we’re not getting in the booth and laying down some bars, even though some of us can, but it’s the mindset that we have to get into. It’s the mindset of doing our roles, how to sacrifice for the greater cause of the team, those kind of things,” Hart continued.
Kendrick! Lakers Genius talks, inspired and humbled Grammy + Pulitzer = rare air! pic.twitter.com/YO9uD3dtSE— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) October 19, 2018
Hart also said Lamar told the Lakers that even though he’s a solo act, his career hasn’t been a solitary journey. He spoke about value of having a team that knew their roles and could work well together, and how in rap or in basketball, that type of mindset could help a group achieve great things together.
“Going out there and sacrificing, holding each other accountable and it being one team. It’s not just one individual,” Hart said. “So those are some of the parallels that he talked about. Obviously we’ll have to switch it up a little bit, but we can really relay it to ourselves and our profession.”
There’s no way to track the effect these talks have had on the team so far, but there’s certainly no downside to being in the presence of someone as talented at their craft as Lamar or the other people that have come and spoken to the team.
And for Lamar, the event was surely a cool chance to get to know the new-look Lakers squad he’ll be cheering for this year. In fact, after this, it wouldn’t be surprising to see K.Dot sitting courtside when the Lakers play their home opener against the Houston Rockets on Saturday at STAPLES Center.
You can follow this author on Twitter at @RadRivas.