Chris Rock had this comedy bit where he commented that you can tell things are crazy "when the best rapper is a white guy, the best golfer is a black guy, and the tallest guy in the NBA is Chinese." Originally only mentioning the rapper and golfer, the addition of the Chinese basketballer made the quote stratospheric in popularity, and other variations flourished (including mention of Germany not wanting to go to war (in Iraq) and the USA being run by a trio named "Dick, Bush, and Colin"). The funny thing about it now is that kids growing up modernly will not get it. Few today would identify a white "best rapper," the current top-ranked golfer is a little-known white guy (from Australia, no less), and the tallest player in the NBA is a black guy (from Tanzania, no less). So to the modern youth, the gist of the joke must be explained.

When the best rapper was a white guy

"Best rapper" is a wholly subjective title, though when we put that in the same sentence as "white guy" the name Eminem still towers over all comers. So when was Eminem a contender for the title of "best rapper"? Well, he rose to the top with his 1999 album The Slim Shady LP (actually his second album, his first having failed to make waves). He kept going strong with monster albums and hit songs until 2005, when he took a break from recording and performing. Though he made a comeback in 2009, by then other big names had come up in the genre -- Jay-Z, Kanye West, 50 Cent -- so that despite Eminem's continued success, he has generally no longer been spoken of as the "best rapper"; nor has any other white rapper arisen to seize that distinction.

When the best golfer was a black guy

It was in June of 1997 when Tiger Woods first topped golf's world rankings, the first black player ever to do so. He held that top spot, minus a few blips, until late 2010 -- when his philandering ways became public knowledge, and his golf game seemed to fall apart as quickly as his marriage. Though he has since recovered much of his form, and topped the rankings again for a stretch, much hay has been made of the fact that he is no longer considered an overwhelmingly dominant force in the sport. Granted, he may remain golf's most famous face, but he is no longer considered the out-and-out best player.

When the tallest NBA player was Chinese

The NBA career of 7-foot-6 Yao Ming ran from 2002 to 2011 (though it is at least disputed whether Shawn Bradley, who played until 2005, was not just a smidge taller of the two). But the Chinese tower of power was probably more likely to come to mind, since in addition to his weird status as this supertall Chinese basketballer, he was a much more effective player (the tallest ever to appear in an All-Star game, as it happens). His entire career was on the Houston Rockets, which never reached the championship level during his tall tenure there.


The run during which it could be claimed with absolute certainty that "the best rapper is a white guy, the best golfer is a black guy, and the tallest guy in the NBA is Chinese" probably is limited to the brief period following the start of the 2005-2006 NBA season, the first in which Yao Ming was unquestionably the tallest baller in the business. At that time, Eminem was still active and Tiger Woods was at the top of his game (having slumped for a few months between 2004 and 2005). Ditching the Shawn Bradley factor, this period could be extended back to Yao Ming's 2002 debut. But for diehard Eminem fans, it may still be claimed that he was the best rapper even on hiatus, and even against the late-comers, so that this streak would run from Yao Ming's 2002 rise to Tiger Woods' 2010 effective demise.

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