Common is anything but.
The Chicago-bred rapper – who as a kid was a ball boy for the Chicago Bulls – acts, raps, gets politically involved and plays hoops. He has two new films out -- "LUV" and "Movie 43" -- and he’s working on a new album that he expects to drop sometime in September.
We chat with him about the Bulls, the Bears and why President Barack Obama needs to stay up on his hoops game.
How are you feeling about Derrick Rose not playing the season so far? Are you excited about him coming back?
First of all, I love him because he’s a Chicago-bred athlete. Obviously I don’t want to see him injured. I think he’s doing right by taking his time and getting himself healthy the way he should, because he wants to be able to come back and be at his best and it’s good that he’s giving himself time to heal. I think it’s going to be exciting when he gets back. I think he’ll be able to get back to full form just because of what type of work and what type of heart he’s got. I did root for the Miami Heat, because I really liked that they stood up for a lot of things, like what happened with Trayvon Martin. They, as a team, wore their hoods, which was a real big statement and when the situation happened in Newtown, Conn., they brought their kids, their children onto the floor.
I can see why you liked that. You’re socially conscious; is it important that athletes step up and take those roles on more?
Yes. I love that for them to stand up for things that’s socially conscious and aware. That touches me and moves me and I love their team for that, so I root for them point blank. I like good ball players with heart. I really love and respect that because one of the people that made me want to really do something was Muhammad Ali, and he always stood up for things. He sacrificed his career for what he believed in, and to see athletes in this day and age, I know they have a lot of finance and stakes, but just to say anything and speak up and just to be individuals … and to speak up for things that happen in the world, I love it.
Are there any point guards that you love to watch now that D. Rose has been out?
I love Rondo, I love Chris Paul, I definitely like Russell Westbrook.
The Bears just hired Marc Trestman to replace Lovie Smith, and the narrative the day after was focused on how there were no minority head coaches hired. Does that disappoint?
I definitely would like to see black head coaches. It would be great to see Latinos too, just minorities in general. But it has to be someone that’s equipped for it; there are definitely great black coaches out there and I know there have to be great Latino coaches out there. It does bother me that we didn’t see any hirings of any minority coaches, and I hope that us talking about it will raise the issue and make the league pay more attention.
That said, are you looking forward to a new era of Chicago Bears football?
Definitely. I thought Lovie Smith was good for the Bears. They were working on getting to the place they needed to be and some things just didn’t go right for them. I am looking forward to them getting better and doing better. And just like basketball, I kind of like different players in football. I love Adrian Peterson, I like Tom Brady and I like Ray Lewis, so I cheer for those guys when I see them playing.
Who [did you want] to see in the Super Bowl this year?
San Francisco and the Ravens will be a great Super Bowl. I actually thought that was going to be the Super Bowl last year, so maybe this is divine time that Ray Lewis gets to end his career off in the Super Bowl, and at the same token you’ll get to see the Harbaugh bowl.
When was the last time you hooped?
I hooped a week and a half ago. Because I was in that movie ["Just Right," in which he played a New Jersey Nets star] everybody wants to play me hard. Like, they want to go extra hard against me. So this dude kind of bumped up on me and kind of messed up my shin for a second, so I ain’t finish the whole game. But I was killing ‘em.
What would your warm-up music be?
"Shook Ones" by Mobb Deep.
Why is that?
Because it gets me charged, like I’m going to war. I need that energy when I’m out there on the court.
Rose is coming back in the spring; what’s the vibe like in Chicago?
I think people are excited. The Bulls are playing well even without D. Rose, their superstar. So people definitely believe in the fact that the Bulls will be somewhere in the playoffs doing well. People are just waiting, they’re anxious because without your superstar, you’re seeing the other players develop, but you want to see that star out there connecting the team.
Will we see you play in the celebrity All-Star game this year again?
No, 'cause I’m going to Brazil. I’m going to miss the game, actually. I’m really sad. I want to get the MVP trophy.
President Obama loves playing basketball. Think you can take him?
Oh, for sure. I definitely could. If he just allows me on the court, I’m there. And I will not hold back 'cause he’s the president, with all due respect. You know?