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Sports curses come in all shapes and sizes. They can involve livestock, soup commercials, magazine covers and, frequently, the selling of star players.

In recent years, the rapper Lil B has made a name for himself in the sports realm with his curses — most notably on James Harden of the Houston Rockets — but it appears he has some new competition: the rapper Ja Rule.

It all started on Saturday, when Ja Rule was performing at halftime of a game between the Minnesota Timberwolves and the host Milwaukee Bucks.

The performance came on the 17th anniversary of Ja Rule’s collaboration with Ashanti, “Always Be On Time,” hitting No. 1 on Billboard’s Hot 100. But the show came under criticism immediately because of a somewhat misleading video of the crowd reaction and another one showing an unexpected guest: Giannis Antetokounmpo, the Bucks’ star forward, who came out to begin warming up for the second half while Ja Rule was still performing on the court along with a group of dancers.

The rapper initially shrugged off the criticism, but his tone changed when the Timberwolves decided to mock the performance on social media. In a post to Twitter, the team said “We too were hustled, scammed, bamboozled, hood winked, lead astray!!!” The post was a reference to an earlier post by Ja Rule about his role in the ill-fated Fyre Festival, a luxury music event in the Bahamas that failed spectacularly in 2017.

The rapper was not amused.

The potential effects of this particular curse are unclear, though. The Timberwolves have existed as a franchise for 30 seasons and not only have not won a championship, but they have only made it out of the first round of the playoffs once — in 2004. They are 28-31, putting them just outside legitimate playoff contention, and the notion that Karl-Anthony Towns is departing anytime soon — as Ja Rule suggested with “AND KAT IS LEAVING!!!” — seems unlikely, as he has signed a five-year contract extension that kicks in next year and guarantees him nearly $160 million.

Of course, logic does not have to play a role in sports curses. The Chicago Cubs endured the so-called Curse of the Billy Goat for more than 70 years after the team asked the owner of the Billy Goat Tavern, William Sianis, to leave a game because his goat was bothering fans. That the team had not won a World Series in more than 30 years before the episode was treated as mostly irrelevant.

Other popular curses have included one in which the athletes endorsing Campbell’s Chunky Soup seemed to become injured at an extraordinary rate. Another claimed that athletes had their performance fall off after appearing on the cover of Sports Illustrated.

The most famous, of course, is the Curse of the Bambino, which doomed the Boston Red Sox to lose after selling Babe Ruth to the Yankees in December 1919. The jinx is credited by some with keeping the Red Sox from winning a World Series for 86 years, despite the first year of that stretch coming before the team sold Ruth, and the fact that the curse was barely mentioned in popular culture before George Vecsey wrote a column about it for The New York Times in 1986. Dan Shaughnessy of the Boston Globe also wrote a book in 1990 that popularized the phrase.

At the very least, the talk of Ja Rule’s curse was good news for Lil B, who spent part of the weekend trending on Twitter. He celebrated by retweeting various people saying Ja Rule was simply stealing a tactic that Lil B had already perfected.



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