Special to Page 3

Page 3 asked NBA analysts Greg Anthony and Dr. Jack Ramsay to weigh-in on the influence hip-hop has on professional basketball.

Greg Anthony
Greg Anthony, a former Runnin' Rebel, was in the league during the rise of hip-hop in hoops.
Has the influence of hip-hop been good for basketball?

Greg Anthony: For the most part, it's been positive. But as with most things, there are some negative stereotypes attached -- mainly by those who don't understand the true art form of hip-hop and where it's coming from, from a cultural standpoint. Hip-hop is the urban equivalent of rock n' roll. In the '50s and '60s, the generations that didn't grow up with rock n' roll didn't understand it. Typically things that we, as a society, don't understand, get attacked and accused of being irrelevant and/or unproductive.

That said, there are also areas of hip-hop that I'm uncomfortable with and won't let my kids listen to until they reach a certain age. But as society evolves, we must evolve with it. It wasn't that long ago that network television wouldn't show Elvis Presley dancing from the waste down.

Dr. Jack Ramsay: Hip-hop seems to have generated a looseness in the execution of the basics of basketball. It has altered the objective of the game, which now seems more focused on entertaining than achieving a team goal.

What does hip-hop's influence do for the image of the league?

Greg Anthony: The league, in its effort to draw young people to the game -- they are its future -- needs to keep a firm grip on both the present and past. So there's a generation gap that needs to be bridged. Hip-hop is here to stay. So, the league understands that it has to continue focusing on the game while getting folks to understand that we live in an age of exposure. That means the NBA has to work that much harder to insure the focus remains on the game and not its image.

Dr. Jack Ramsay: My opinion is that hip-hop lessens the image of the NBA. It lends to associating the NBA with street ball -- which really isn't basketball.

Jack Ramsay
Dr. Jack Ramsay knows a thing or two about the game of basketball.
Who should the NBA be marketing to?

Greg Anthony: The game needs to be marketed globally and to the specific markets. That means, taking a young audience into consideration. So, hip-hop plays a huge role -- its synonymous with the youth culture of the game. Just look at how different sponsors market. You see hip-hop artists coming out with their own shoes and clothing lines, etc ... My generation was probably the first to experience, and live and breathe hip-hop. But today's generation is really growing up with it. And the NBA has done a good job of integrating them into the fabric of the game.

It similar to the civil rights movement. Blacks and whites, while different in many ways, also shared many similar interests. So while there's a complexity of issues involved with marketing the NBA, there's one common bond at the end of the day -- the game. So, it comes down to keeping focus on the game and its strong personalities, who have the ability to take it to even greater heights.

Dr. Jack Ramsay: The NBA needs to continue to focus on the broad spectrum of basketball fans, both young and old.