Most artists promote a new album by making the media rounds, doing meet and greets and other promotional appearances, and hitting the stage to debut their new music.
But J. Cole isn’t most artists.
So instead of bothering himself with any of the above, in the immediate aftermath of the release of his latest project, The Off-Season, Jermaine Propane took his talents overseas to go play professional ball in the NBA-affiliated Basketball Africa League.
And just as quickly as he began his pro basketball career at 36 years of age, he’s hanging up his sneakers and apparently resuming his life as a Grammy Award-winning recording artist.
Rapper J. Cole of the Rwanda Patriots BBC has completed his contractual obligation to the Basketball Africa League and has departed from Rwanda because of a “family obligation,” a source told ESPN’s The Undefeated.
In three games, the Fayetteville, N.C., native amassed a grand total of five points, three assists and five rebounds in 45 minutes of action. And for those who come for his contributions—or lack thereof—on the court, keep in mind his age and the minimal amount of preparation he had prior to making his pro basketball debut.
Fans of Cole, as well as his peers, heaped praise upon him for his willingness to set aside his successful music career and chase his dream despite the odds, while others weren’t exactly supportive or kind.
On Monday, AS Sale guard Terrell Stoglin ripped the “Middle Child” rapper for creating a distraction.
“I think there’s a negative and a positive [to J. Cole’s presence],” Stoglin told ESPN. “The negative part of it is: I think he took someone’s job that deserves it. I live in a basketball world. I don’t live in a fan world. I know a lot of guys that had their careers stopped by COVID and they’re still home working out and training for an opportunity like this.”
He continued, “For a guy who has so much money and has another career to just come here and average, like, one point a game and still get glorified is very disrespectful to the game. It’s disrespectful to the ones who sacrificed their whole lives for this. The positive side of it is: it brings a lot of attention, and, I guess, money. I don’t really pay attention to that type of stuff. I’m more [concerned that] he took someone’s job that deserved it.”
In response to this, rapper Rick Ross took to social media and clapped back on Cole’s behalf.
“In no way is this meant to be disrespectful, but first and foremost, should no Black man’s dreams be censored nor limited,” Ross said. “And coming from a brother, I think you would understand what building these types of relationships would do for the business; for the eyes on the industry, you know what I’m saying?”
He continued, “If your father owned the team, and he had to decide between you and Cole, I believe he would find it honorable if you stepped down and let J. Cole bring what he’s bringing to the industry. More importantly, brother, you should be there to support the brother. If he made one point on the first game, by the time he get to the 10th, you should make sure he making six a game, you understand? If Cristiano Ronaldo bought the team, you would be there for the ribbon-cutting, brother.”
Rapper Royce the 5'9" also lent his support to Cole on Instagram, but took a more insightful approach.
“Listen man, I just want to say that I’m very proud of what J. Cole is doing,” he began. “He’s showing the younger kids that look up to him that you don’t have to just stop at one dream. If you can somehow create enough value for yourself, you can achieve many things and you can do whatever it is you want without limits.”
Personally, I think what Cole was able to accomplish was incredible. Sure, he was a walk-on at St. John’s University prior to blowing up as a rapper, but to become a pro player at 36? With next to no experience beforehand?
It’s never too late to chase your dreams, and hopefully others are inspired by his stint in the BAL and decide to pursue their own goals.