The Grammy Award-winning rapper and reality television joined the Atlanta Hawks’ broadcast team Friday night for the first half of their 95-89 loss to the NBA champion Miami Heat.
“This was a phenomenal opportunity,” said T.I., proud that the Hawks built a 46-42 lead during his time on air for SportsSouth. “I really enjoyed myself. I look forward to the next time and doing an entire game.”
After several bouts with the law, including a stint in federal prison on weapons charges, the Atlanta native has become active in the community and frequently attends Hawks’ games. He sat at courtside between play-by-play man Bob Rathbun and analyst Duane Ferrell.
“They did all the heavy lifting,” said the rapper, who was wearing several gold chains and an old-school Hawks cap. “I just chimed in here and there. I have a close relationship, both personally and professionally, with a lot of the guys out there.”
Asked if he had any desire to buy a piece of the Hawks, following the path set by hip-hop star and Brooklyn Nets part-owner Jay-Z, T.I. just smiled.
“I would love to be a part of the organization in whatever way possible if I can make a significant contribution,” said the entertainer, whose actual name is Clifford Harris. “But there’s no pressure. Baby steps.”
T.I. gave a hint of new album, “Trouble Man,” which is scheduled for release on Dec. 18. It includes collaborations with Andre 3000, Cee Lo Green and Pink.
“I’m extremely proud of it,” he said. “I put a lot of work and energy into it. I think it will be the classic album the fans have been wanting me to make. … I wanted to mix it up. I wanted to raise the bar on what’s considered stellar material.”
He also stars with his wife in “T.I. and Tiny: The Family Hustle,” a reality show on VH1. Camera crews from the show trailed him around Philips Arena.
T.I. is hopeful about the Hawks, who overhauled their roster during under offseason in hopes of breaking a history of postseason failures.
“This is a new team, a young team,” he said. “They have a lot of heart, a lot of desire, a lot of talent that can take them deep in the playoffs.”
As for his own athletic prowess, T.I. was frank about his abilities.
There was none of the boastfulness one might hear on his songs.
“I have no organized sports background,” he said. “I’ve done a lot of watching. I’m a professional spectator. I can observe like no one’s business.”