Ranking Nelly’s Sports References In ‘Heart Of A Champion’

1) “I’m like Magic to Kareem, mayne you tell me I ain’t Worthy”

Easily No.1.  This lyric represents how underrated Magic Johnson was, even though he’s the 3rd best player of all time.  There were a lot of haters, especially in the two or three seasons after the 1980 Finals MVP year.  He demanded to be traded and was injured quite a bit.  Kareem’s overrated in NBA history.  He doesn’t win those five Lakers rings without Magic.  The mentioned of James Worthy at the end just caps off an incredible line.

2) “Can’t stop me from scorin so they results are just hackin.  So there’s, three of us, – me, A.I. and Shaq’n.”

Nelly was a machine in 2004, dropping two albums.  He was literally on top of rap.  Kanye dropped The College Dropout, but that the first of many masterpieces from him.  Madvillian dropped one of the most underrated rap albums ever, but it never received much attention.  2004 gave us albums from past-their-prime guys like LL Cool J and Nas (I still love you Nas!).  Snoop Dogg, Emeniem and Nelly owned 2004, just like Allen Iverson and Shaq did.  O’Neal was a beast in the calendar year, putting up 27+ PERs with the Lakers and Heat, and also shot 11 free throws a game (Not exactly a great thing, but is why Nelly made the hacking reference), the 2nd highest mark in his career.  Iverson averaged 30.4 points a game in 2004 with Philly, and still managed eight assists a game.  Defenses beat the crap out of him, reminisce of how teams defend Stephen Curry now (But you still can’t stop them).  That team was a big disappointment, but AI was all they had.  Sounds a little familiar now, aye?

3) “I get Bucks like Michael Redd, tell ’em again.  I get Bucks like Michael Redd, heard what I said?”

A lot of foreshadowing here, which why its No.3.  Redd was making $3 million a year when this song came out.  The season after?  $15.1 million!  2004 was when Redd made his name known, and was placed in the starting lineup by the Bucks, which then led to his only All-Star appearance.  At the same time, I’m not sure Michael Redd was ever good enough to make it into a Nelly song, but rappers love to mention solid starters or worse.  I mean, there’s a song about Jimmer Fredette for crying out loud (In defense, Jimmer’s the best college basketball player I’ve seen).

4) “I’m the one that you’ve been Raven about, like Ray Lewis”

Its a little weak, considering 2004 was a pretty average season for Lewis.  However, I think he’s referencing the previous season, where Lewis amassed 120 tackles and had six (!) interceptions.  This drops to No.4 because there’s not a ton of creativity in the line, but at least has an athlete reference.

5) “I’m shootin out from my reign, with Peyton Manning-type aim”

Ranking No.5 and No.6 was hard.  They’re the two worst athlete references in the song, and even though they’re weak, they’re not the worst of the bunch, since they do at least reference an athlete.  The Peyton Manning reference is better because Manning has one of the most accurate arms we’ve ever seen.  Plus, the words that precede the lyrics are actually something that can happen, unlike “I got the stats of a hall of famer – in just two records.”  Thats just not possible.

6) “I got the stats of a hall of famer – in just two records.  That’s why I’m back up at the Super Bowl, with Julius Peppers”

Typical rapper lyric, saying something thats literally impossible or makes no sense.  However, the Julius Peppers reference earns this lyric the No.6 ranking, mostly because Peppers was awesome that year, and because Nelly was actually part of the halftime performance in the Super Bowl Peppers played in.  So relevance makes a comeback by the end of the sentence!

7) “I think it hard to go change your route, cause you don’t know if I’m blitzin or if I’m sittin and readin, waitin for you to go and trip, drop back and throw up a pick, man”

Oh boy.  Here’s someone who thinks they know Xs and Os but really doesn’t.

Lets break it down piece by piece…

“I think it hard to change your route,”

What wide receiver is changing their route after they break the huddle?

“cause you don’t know if I’m blitzin or if I’m sittin and readin,”


“waitin for you to go and trip”

And back down again.  Trip over what?  The center’s foot?

“drop back and throw up a pick, man”

How does the quarterback trip, then drop back, then throw the ball?  Nelly really didn’t think this one through.

8) “Up, or down ten, I’mma fight to the end”

But hey, at least Nelly tried to throw in some Xs in Os in No.7.  Thats the only reason its not ranked last.  Nelly didn’t put any effort into this lyric though.  No one is trying when they’re down ten, unless someone hits a deep three and his teammates believe he’s getting hot.  But besides that, this lyric is pretty lackluster.