J.Cole can hoop.
That was purely evident in NYC on Thursday when the Dreamville lyricist took to the basketball court.
The first signee of Jay-Z’s Roc Nation label in 2009, Cole’s debut album Cole World: The Sideline Story shot up to No. 1 on the Billboard 200 and earned him a Grammy nomination for Best New Artist.
On Thursday, he joined the Atlanta Hawks’ Trae Young, Utah Jazz’s Donovan Mitchell, Memphis Grizzlies’ Jaren Jackson and NBA free agents Carmelo Anthony and J.R. Smith, J.Cole hit some pretty big shots from downtown.
The North Carolina native even hit a game point during one of the pick up basketball games.
For those tardy to the party: Judging from social media, Manhattan’s Life Time Athletic is the spot.
The reason? Black Ops!
Run by notable hoops personality and trainer, Chris Brickley
It’s New York’s spot for the open run for professional basketball players.
LeBron James, Russell Westbrook and other notable NBA All Stars have all played in pick up games at the popular NYC spot.
While J.Cole was not the first rapper to grace the court for Black Ops (Meek Mill did it last summer) Cole brought his A-Game.
While it has often been said that rappers want to be hooper and hoopers want to check rhymes on the microphone, J.Cole has played basketball. Not only was he a walk-on at Queens, NY’s St. Johns University, he also played for Fayetteville, North Carolina’s Terry Sanford High School.
“I was always in love with basketball as a kid,” J.Cole told Sports Illustrated in a 2013 interview.
“But I thought I was way better than I really was, because I didn’t have a male figure around to show me how to actually play. Me and my brother just kind of figured it out playing rec ball.”
Cole ultimately chose music over ball. “I would have had to turn into this guy who had to practice two or three times a day and wake up at six in the morning,” he said.
“Plus I was in love with music and I knew I wanted to rap. So I had to make a decision that I knew was going to change the trajectory of my life. I called my coach from high school. I called one of my friends who was a star player in high school. And I didn’t go the next day. In my mind, I’d have made the team. Who knows what would have really happened? But I knew I wasn’t ready for that type of commitment and that lifestyle.”
Back in February, J Cole performed in front of a sold-out crowd during NBA All-Star Weekend in Charlotte, North Carolina. He also participated in one of Dennis Smith Jr’s dunk attempts during the All Star Saturday Night Slam Dunk contest.
The collaboration caught the eye of Dallas Mavericks owner, Mark Cuban.
“I was really happy for him,” Mark Cuban told NBA scribe, Landon Buford.
“You can tell that he really didn’t practice, so I wish he would be done some practicing. I’ll tell you though when J Cole put up that lob, and he finished that was sweet it, I thought it was over then, Diallo jumping over Shaq like that was impressive.
Other notables in attendance for Chris Brickley’s Black Ops on Thursday was the New York Knicks’ Julius Randle and Dennis Smith Jr., Toronto Raptors forward Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Indiana Pacers guard TJ Warren and current NBA free agents Shamorie Ponds, Rawls Alkins, Lance Stephenson and Derrick Williams.