Rapper Master P Signs With IBL Team
Rapper Master P Signs With IBL Team
Nov. 12, 1999
SAN DIEGO (AP) _ Where do multimillionaire entertainers go to live out boyhood dreams of playing professional sports?
Apparently, San Diego.
Rapper Master P, whose real name is Percy Miller, agreed Thursday to a one-year contract with the San Diego Stingrays of the new International Basketball League.
Earlier this year, country music superstar Garth Brooks joined the San Diego Padres for spring training.
It's not about the money, they say. It's about playing ball.
``If it brings publicity to San Diego and their professional leagues, that's good,'' said Miller, whose album, ``Only God Can Judge Me,'' is currently one of the top sellers nationwide. ``I'm doing this because it's my dream to play in the NBA. This is going to help me get there.''
Miller, a 6-foot-4 guard, has twice been rejected by the NBA. He was with the Toronto Raptors in training camp, but was waived in October. He was cut by the Charlotte Hornets during preseason tryouts last season.
``The NBA wasn't ready for me as a person,'' Miller said. ``Some people were fearful of my success. Because of the money, they wondered, `Is he going to show up? Is he going to practice?' It's like a liner note above my name: `What's he going to do?'''
For Jim Sims, Stingrays president and general manager, the answer is simple.
``He's in San Diego so he can clean up the things he needs to do so he can make it in the NBA,'' said Sims, who described Miller as a good shooter. ``While he's here, he'll help the league, he'll help the Stingrays, he'll help the community and he'll help himself.''
IBL contracts are for one year, with an option. The maximum salary is $100,000. Sims wouldn't disclose Miller's salary, but he said it would be near or at the maximum. However, the money will go to the IBL's college tuition program.
Miller, who has an endorsement deal with Converse, has also agreed to supply sneakers to all eight IBL teams, he said.
The Stingrays drafted Miller in July and retained his signing rights. Coach Smokey Gaines said Miller will probably play about half of the 64 games, allowing him to pursue NBA stints.
Miller's so serious about making the big leagues he's giving up music to focus on basketball.
``I'm ready to work just like everybody else,'' said Miller, who wore the rapper uniform _ jogging suit and diamond-studded gold chain _ to Thursday's news conference, but proudly held up his No. 7 Stingrays jersey. ``This is my job now. It's my chance to prove to the world that I can play basketball and why I should be in the NBA.''
One of his demands was the No. 7 jersey, in honor of his boyhood idol, the late NBA great ``Pistol Pete'' Maravich, who played for LSU. Miller grew up in New Orleans.
Miller will make his debut on Nov. 20, when he will guard Magic Johnson in a game against Johnson's All-Star team. The league, which starts its inaugural season Nov. 26, includes franchises in Las Vegas, Albuquerque, Cincinnati, Trenton, St. Louis, Richmond and Baltimore.
Miller, 29, said he always wanted to play basketball, but he got into ``gangsta rap'' after ``losing my brother to the streets'' and to support his family.
Miller built an empire that earned him a Forbes magazine ranking of the 10th wealthiest entertainer in 1998 _ $56.5 million, a couple of million more than Brooks.
His label, No Limit Records, had six albums on the Billboard Top 100 last year. He also owns a clothing line, a real estate company and a mall. He produces films. He has his own action figure.
Last year, Miller sold his financial interest in a sports agent business, No Limit Sports. The company represents New Orleans Saints rookie Ricky Williams, a San Diego native; Denver Nuggets guard Ron Mercer and Los Angeles Clippers guard Derek Anderson. Miller said the company will soon represent him.
An all-state high school player in Louisiana, Miller's collegiate career at Houston was cut short by a knee injury. Before signing with the Hornets, he played with the CBA's Fort Wayne Fury.