The former prison guard came to the defense of his “Fitted Cap” collaborator after Cole’s fellow league athlete, AS Salé guard Terrell De Von Stoglin, raised concerns that the artist’s “disrespectful” presence on the Basketball Africa League’s (BAL) Rwanda Patriots Basketball Club means one less spot for a more deserving athlete.
“I think there’s a negative and I think it’s a positive [to J. Cole’s league 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 who COVID stopped their career 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, I feel like its very disrespectful to the game, and it’s disrespectful to the ones who sacrificed their whole lives for this.”
J. Cole made his BAL debut in a May 16 game against Nigeria’s River Hoopers, during which he ended up scoring 3 points in the 17 minutes that he played. The Patriots claimed victory as well, with a final score of 83-60.
Stoglin’s opinion made its way back to “The Boss” himself, and the “Hustlin'” rapper responded in his Instagram Stories and urged the more seasoned player to have a little compassion, instead of being the Black man putting another Black man down.
“So I saw a young brother had an opinion about J. Cole playing basketball in they basketball league and I got an opinion too,” he began. “In no way is this meant to be disrespectful, but first and foremost shouldn’t no Black man’s dreams be censored nor limited, you know what I’m saying? And coming from a brother, I’d think you would understand what building these types of relationships can do for the business, for the eyes on the industry.”
“If your father owned the team and he had to decide between you and Cole, I believe he would find it honorable if you step down and let J. Cole bring what he bringing to the industry and more importantly brother, you should be there to support the brother,” he added. “If he made one point on the first game, by the time he gets to the tenth, you should make sure he making six a game…”
The Maybach Music Group executive expressed that if the tables were turned and Stoglin decided to try his hand at a different career, he’d have Ross’ full support. “More importantly, brother, if you ever had a dream of being in the music industry, or any of the other industries that we a part of, I wouldn’t hold that against you brother. Just bring something positive to the table … we’ll support you, brother, and that’s what it’s about.”
Fans had mixed feelings about Ross’ message, with some understanding his views on not limiting yourself or other Black people, while others sided with Stoglin and felt J. Cole’s inclusion in the league was nothing more than special treatment.
“If he wasn’t famous would they have let him play NO”
“JCole first love always been basketball the real ones know that”
“I agree wit ole dude cause it’s ppl who work their whole life away to play basketball but since it’s j Cole he got the opportunity?? Same with all these celebrity boxing matches.”
“Stop hating because his life doesn’t fit YOUR limited idea of success 🗣🗣”
The debate can be paused for the time being, since the “No Role Models” artist has exited the league and Rwanda to return home due to a “family obligation,” according to ESPN. Although his decision to step away from the league comes on the heels of the conversation questioning his legitimacy, Cole reportedly fulfilled his contractual obligation of three to six games.
During his brief time in the BAL, he scored 5 points, 3 assists and 5 rebounds in the total 45 minutes he played across three preliminary games.