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Tuesday, December 18, 2001
Ice Cube

Special to Page 2

Born O'Shea Jackson in South Central Los Angeles, Ice Cube has been successful in two creative fields. As an actor, he has been featured in "Boyz N the Hood," "Higher Learning," and "Friday" (for which he wrote the screenplay). With N.W.A. -- and as a successful solo performer -- he helped change the face of rap.

Ice Cube
Ice Cube has made his mark as a rapper and actor, but basketball is one of his first loves.
Thoughtful, enigmatic and always outspoken, Ice Cube is also a knowledgable and passionate hoops fan -- and he's got game. Page 2's Todd Gallagher sat down with Cube before a celebrity basketball game at the Staples Center, in which he would score 14 points and lead his team to victory.

1. Page 2: Who's the best hoopster of the old school NWA?

Ice Cube: Me by far. Next is Ren, then probably Dre, then Yella, then Easy.

Easy wasn't too tough in the post?

Ice Cube: Nah, he was more of a sit-down type player -- sit down and watch.

NWA vs. Public Enemy in a game of hoops. Who wins?

Ice Cube: I don't know, I think we'd win off of sheer determination, low-post moves, moves in the paint. I think we're a little bit grimier. They might beat us off conditioning and just sheer up and down the court.

2. Shaq or Kobe?

Kobe Bryant
Cube gives Kobe Bryant the nod over Shaq because Kobe can do everything well.
Ice Cube: I love 'em both, but if you're starting a franchise you have to start with Shaquille O'Neal, no doubt about it. Shaq is the most dominant player in the league.

So is Shaq the best player in the NBA?

Ice Cube: No, Kobe Bryant is. When it comes to the best player in the league, I separate dominance from player. Kobe Bryant can do everything Shaq can do, but Shaq can't do everything Kobe can do. Shaq can dominate you, but Kobe can dribble, pass, shoot ... do it all. Plus Kobe comes to play every night. Shaq takes some nights off. But it's cool, he's my buddy, he's the big guy, he deserves to take a few nights off.

3. How do you feel about the Clippers?

Ice Cube: I love the Clippers. I have a problem with the Clippers owner more than the players. The Clippers have had a lot of talent over the years but never kept 'em, man. I got a problem with the organization on that level. But the players, they're young, exciting ... but the thing is, will they be here long enough to jell and become a winning franchise? Until then, they're just kind of like the little brother of the Lakers.

4. What NBA guy is junk but nobody knows it? Who's stealing paychecks?

Ice Cube: Well, I don't think this is nothing nobody's said before, but Juwan Howard and Derrick Coleman.

And who's great nobody knows about?

Doug Christie
Doug Christie is an underrated talent who could use more pub.
Ice Cube: I like Doug Christie a lot. He does a lot of good things out there. Wish the Lakers had kept him.

5. Is the harping on the importance of college basketball players needing to get an "education" racial? You never hear anyone suggesting Wayne Gretzky needs a degree.

Ice Cube: Well, it could be. I think it's a really a crock when college coaches and college universities want the big names to go to their schools to make them all kind of money instead of going to the pros. Is it racially motivated? A lot of things in this country are. The thing is, you don't need to be a college graduate to be educated. You can be self-educated. Some of the richest men in the world didn't graduate from college.

Including a number of NBA owners. But why isn't it an issue with them? You never hear people asking Jazz owner Larry Miller if life doesn't mean anything without an education.

Ice Cube: Exactly. Because the players are the ones getting used, the players are the pawns. They run them through college, the college pimps the players, who sell all their products and merchandise, help them go to the Final Four. But if a kid wants to drive an SUV around the corner two or three times, they want to suspend them and keep them from playing. It's bull. It's all about who rolls with it and who lets it go.

What about the coaching situation in the NBA? Virtually all of the coaches are white. Certainly there are enough qualified candidates of any race, especially considering the predominance of black players.

Ice Cube
Cube starred opposite George Clooney and Mark Wahlberg in "Three Kings."
Ice Cube: Well, a lot of people in the back of their minds think the league is too black anyway. That's why you get an onslaught of European players that aren't as qualified to play as the kids over here in the CBA or whatever. The league has to keep some kind of face. Maybe they scared they're going to lose their audience.

So you think it's a business decision by the teams to placate the fans?

Ice Cube: No doubt. Some whites have to play and be a part of the game. Not sayin' the white kids aren't good or aren't qualified to ball, but that's why you see so many white coaches -- because there's so many black players

6. What's your favorite song?

Ice Cube: Of all-time? "Knee Deep," by Phunkadellic.

What acting role are you most proud of ... and I'm not accepting "Anaconda" as an answer?

Ice Cube: You're not accepting "Annaconda" as an answer? Well then, "Boyz N the Hood," just because it was the start of everything. The message that the movie was getting out, and it just kinda launched my movie career.

7. Where does the name Ice Cube come from? Because you're so cool?

Ice T
Just to review, folks: This is Ice T, not Ice Cube.
Ice Cube: Yeah, my brother gave it to me when I was little, because I was too cool for my age. I was always trying to talk to his women.

Do people often get you confused with Ice-T?

Ice Cube: Yeah. Some people call me Ice-T, but I'm sure some people call him Cube.

8. Exactly how often do you "mess around and get a triple double"?

Ice Cube: How often do I get a triple double? Every other time I play.

9. You actually left a career in architectural draughtsmenship to join NWA. Do you regret it?

Ice Cube: Yeah, every day of my life. I should have built the Staples Center. Now, I'm just playin' in it in the game. Nah, not at all, it's just somethin' I did to have somethin' to fall back on, and I'm lucky I ain't never had to fall back.

As I'm sure you're aware, there's a prominent belief that rappers are just how they appear in their videos. Obviously, this isn't the case, but how great is the distinction? How glamorous is the lifestyle of a prominent rapper?

Ice Cube: It's a mix. You start out wanting the fame, the money, the glamour, but then when you get it, you start wanting other things. I mean for some guys, they chasin' the ghetto style, the bling-bling style, but then what? Then once you get it, you want to be normal. You know, you spend all yo' time comin' up tryin' to get people to notice you and stand out, but then once you do, you spend all your time tryin' to be normal.

Ice Cube
Ice Cube's recently released Greatest Hits album shows the growth of his music.
How quickly does the allure of fame run off?

Ice Cube: Well, you can't care about that stuff. It's like, first the public loves you, then they get sick of you, then you spring back up again. You're always fallin' on and off the radar ...

Yeah. If you love your work that's all that matters.

Ice Cube: Absolutely, because you can never worry about what everyone else is thinking.

You've done some controversial work in the past. Does all of it still ring true to you?

Ice Cube: Have I done records I regret? Of course, I have. With every article you write, do you hit it on the head? Do you ever write something where you're like, "Man, I shouldn't have said that"? With records, y'all get to hear what I said at 18, 21, 22, 23, 25, 27. Now I'm 32. Think about what you thought when you were younger and what you think now. So it's all growth, man. Still, there's a lot of people who think what you say in your songs represents who you are. Well, my records are just a hint of who I am. That's why they don't have "The Cube Show" like "The Truman Show."

10. If you could shoot like Larry, pass like Magic, or dunk like Vince?

Ice Cube: Mmm ... shoot like Larry, I'd say, right?

Yup, it sets up the whole game.

Ice Cube: Yup, you can do anything you want out there if people respect your shot.