“I’m a big Donny Hathaway fan.”
Victor Oladipo could probably write a novel based on his roller-coaster of a career. After being drafted by the Orlando Magic as the No. 2 pick in the 2013 NBA Draft, he was championed as the next premiere guard to enter the league. Couple his aerial acrobatics with his wiry frame and you had a player destined to cause havoc on the hardwood.
Two years after being drafted by Orlando, he was traded to Oklahoma City. In hopes of building a promising foundation with Russell Westbrook in OKC, the Thunder secured Oladipo by gifting him a four-year $84 million contract in 2016. After a sporadic showing in the 2017 playoffs, the Thunder ousted Oladipo in a blockbuster trade to the Indiana Pacers for perennial All-Star, Paul George.
Despite changing area codes for the third time in his career, playing for the Pacers is a bit of a homecoming for Oladipo, having spent his college years in the Hoosier State. With a strong sense of faith, Oladipo seems ready to conquer the 317 all over again. But, before he begins his journey this season, he surprised fans with his singing abilities last week when he released his debut track “Song for You.” Serving as an ode to Donny Hathaway’s original track, Oladipo’s contemporary flip conveys his prowess as a vocalist.
Billboard caught up with Oladipo to speak about his recent rendition, musical aspirations, dream collaborations and what he plans to prove this season for the Indiana Pacers.
How did “Song for You” come about?
Victor Oladipo: Well, you know, I’m a big Donny Hathaway fan. I’ve always been singing since I was like five-years-old and it’s just been a passion of mine to just do some kind of music when I had the chance to. So I wanted to remake it and show respect to Donnie, but at the same time, put a little twist on it at the end. It was a pretty cool experience. I’m glad it turned out so well.
What have your teammates in Indiana been saying about the record?
You know, a lot of them congratulated me and were telling me how good it is and stuff like that. So it’s pretty cool man, just to have a gift and being able to share it. There’s nothing like it. Like I tell people all the time, ‘I don’t sing, I hoop.’ But I love singing. It’s something that’s fun for me and to be able to have a gift and share it with the world is an amazing feeling. I’m just trying to enjoy it as I do.
Do you have a bunch of records stashed away that you plan on releasing soon?
I don’t know. We’ll see. We’ll see how it goes. I’m looking forward to it. Maybe. We’ll see how chips roll as they may. We’ll see what happens.
Have you thought about the difficulties that you may face trying to balance basketball and music if you do elect to pursue a career full-time?
Nah, not really, because basketball is my love. That’s my passion. That’s all I do. It’s who I am. That’s really what I’m focused on right now. There’s an opportunity for me in Indiana and I’m going to make the most of it. I’m kind of just going to sprinkle those music dreams in as it goes, but really [basketball] is my main focus right now. I’m looking forward to the opportunities that lie ahead and trying to do something special.
If you could collaborate with three artists at the moment, who would you choose and why?
This might some random, but I would go in and try to do something with Jamie Foxx. He’s just so talented as a person. He’s a talented human being. So I feel like me and him can come out with something very unique. My second choice would have to be Beyoncé because she’s just the best. When it comes to female artists, she’s the best, so why not try to go and learn from the best, you know what I mean? That’s a dream of mine. If I had to do a third one, randomly, it’d be Taylor Swift because that’s just reaching another part of music that’s intriguing. She’s just one of the best right now out there, so I’d love to do something with her. It’d be a dream of mine to do something with Taylor. Those are my three.
Switching over to basketball, you’ve done some magical things with the Indiana Hoosiers in college and now you’re with the Indiana Pacers this season. How does it feel to be back in the place that raised you?
It feels good. It’s kind of amazing how you find yourself kind of to where it all started and how God kind of puts you in positions to be back to familiar places and see familiar faces. I’m looking forward to the opportunity of what lies ahead. You know, it’s a great situation for me. I’m looking forward to go in there and doing something special. It’s been a crazy ride so far in my basketball career, but I’ve been working really hard. I’m looking forward to seeing what lies ahead.
What’s one word you would use to define your career at this present time?
Probably roller coaster. I mean, two years in Orlando, was a lot ups and a lot of downs, then I got traded to Oklahoma [City], then I get traded again. So a lot of twists and turns, but it’s all a part of life. I mean, my story has been the same way, a roller coaster. I’ve learned a lot in every area that I’ve been to. I feel like my life has been a process and it’s just setting it up for something big to come. Like I said, I’m prepared for the situation that lies ahead ’cause if I wasn’t, I wouldn’t be here. So I’m looking forward to the opportunity.
Were you able to speak to Coach Crean — your college coach — as far as coming home to Indiana?
He was one of the first people I spoke to when the trade [with Paul George] happened. He called me right away. We talked for a long time. He’s always gonna be in my corner. He’s always been in my corner since I was in high school. He believed in me when no one else did and he still does to this day. He’ll always be a coach, father figure, or whatever you want to call it to me. I’m just glad to have him in my corner.