"Did hip-hop ruin the NBA?"
Well, it's a valid question in the same way that "How many dildos does it take to rupture the anal wall?" is a valid question. Sure, it has a question mark on the end, but it was an in-depth mystery only those with low IQs needed to know the answer to. After all, you're never going to need to know how sturdy your anal wall is...unless you're stupid enough to try to jam multiple objects in there.
That's kind of how I view the theory that hip-hop somehow damaged the NBA: It's pretty stupid to assume that a genre of music destroyed a form of sport. It makes about as much sense as saying that breakfast cereal caused the South to lose the Civil War. The blockade, manufacturing base, and general ass-kickery of the Union had nothing to do with it. It had to be Cap'n Crunch's fault.
Still, some people insist that hip-hop had some kind of effect on the NBA. After all, when you go back and watch recordings of 80's basketball games, there were almost no tattoos, no one wore baggy clothes in any setting, and guns weren't as prevalent among pro athletes. Also, players could beat on each other all day and still not fight each other. Nowadays, all it takes is one hard foul to touch off a riot. It's all hip-hop's fault.
But down here on Earth (actually maybe not Earth; the stupid outnumber the intelligent down here. "In reality?" We'll try that.), we realize that part of the problem is cultural change, unless evolving fashion trends is proof of the downfall of society. "The Greeks knew that the end was near when people started wearing shorter and shorter togas." No, sometimes things just get popular, like tattoos and baggy clothes.
No one ever considers, though, that the world has changed since the 1980's. People have changed. They're not like they used to be, because they're quicker to rob, shoot, and kill folks these days. I'd blame Reaganomics before I'd blame hip-hop, but that's too well thought-out, and as Americans, we've always gotta jump on the bullshit answer. So yeah, let's blame hip-hop. Because tattoos, baggy shorts, and senseless violence didn't exist before rap music.
Personally, I always thought that Michael Jordan was to blame for baggy shorts, just like he was to blame for bald heads, and $160 sneakers being part of a viable business model. As for tattoos, I blame pirates.
And that whole "nigga" mentality that seems to have infected the league, well...that's just a lack of strong male guidance. Hip-hop is a reflection of the changing world, not the cause of it. I personally grew up listening to hip-hop and I've never shot anyone that wasn't a zombie or Nazi inside the television. I don't call women "bitches," and I don't have numerous "baby mamas" to be rotated throughout the week. If it made sense for me to be like my musical influences, then why do country music fans buy cars when there are perfectly good horses out there? They wouldn't even have to put the whiskey away before mounting up.
If that line of thinking made sense, we'd have drive-bys at the stadiums, Ron Artest would have been busted for selling coke at his house, and someone would have tried to play through a game with gold fronts. It's really not as bad as people think. Yeah, the tattoos are a bit much, but that's what happens when a trend takes hold: People wear it the fuck out.
Even the NBA has overreacted, by trying to remove all of the physicality from the game, because a fight broke out between two teams that HATED each other. In the 80's, there were times when fights would happen during the game and people wouldn't even get ejected. Now, players can get ejected if the foul just looks like it could have hurt, and they can't leave the bench without signed permission slips.
True, players now react differently to physical play, but wouldn't you if you were used to playing in a non-physical game? If football suddenly said, "quarterbacks can't be touched under any circumstances," and one got hit, don't you think he'd be ready to fight, too? Yeah, in LeBron's generation, they've probably got thinner skin, but the league's not even giving the players a chance to prove that they're not mindless thugs.
People just need to accept that things change. Players aren't gonna look the same as they did in the 80's, and thank God for that, because personal grooming has come such a long way since then, and our government is finally seeing the results of hormone treatments in our food. For better or for worse, the game has changed. The environment around the game has changed. If folks don't like the pace of the game or tendencies of the players; they don't play as hard or they're too flashy, then so be it. But don't blame music because you don't recognize the face of the game any more.
If anything, blame David Stern for some of those stupid rules.