Culture of Hoops

A Dedication To The NBA Playoffs

When I’m not busy advancing my career as an emerging sports journalist, I’m spending my days listening to Top 40 radio. Perhaps a better way to put that is when I’m not writing for Baller Mind Frame, I’m working at a sports apparel chain in southwest Florida called JP Sports, where we just so happen to listen to Top 40 radio way more frequently than I would actually prefer. Look, it’s not that the music is that awful (though I’m more an 80’s guy myself), it’s just that I hear these same songs over and over and over to the point where I’m feeling borderline uncomfortable because I have Pitbull, Andy Grammer, and some fella (or fellas?) named Fetty Wap stuck in my head for hours at a time.

Regardless, this crop of pre-Summer and soon-to-be Summer anthems are ingrained in my psyche and for better or worse, they are associated with the 2015 NBA Playoffs because they overlapped. Since that’s the case, I’m going to dedicate a few of these songs (more accurately, the verses to a few of these songs) to some players, teams and events related to the Playoffs and the sure-to-be unpredictable summer to come.

“We’ve come a long way, from where we began, Oh I’ll tell you all about it when I see you again.”
-See You Again

Would you judge me if I told you I get a little teary eyed watching this music video even though I didn’t watch Furious 7 or any of the Fast & Furious movies? Anyway, this song is dedicated to Tim Duncan, who we thankfully will be seeing again next season even though he’s 39-years-old, he played all last season on one leg, and he really doesn’t have anything left to prove. The dude just loves basketball and that works out awfully well because I loved watching Duncan anchor the Spurs defense all last season and carry the Spurs offense in their brief postseason stint. It’s hard to dispute that Duncan isn’t a top five player ever. Very few were ever as good at their peak as Duncan was at his. Only a handful of players have been so good for as long as Duncan has been. Only Bill Russell and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar could claim to be central figures of championship teams more than a decade apart. And if we’re making a list of the all-time best teammates/character guys/franchise building blocks in league history, Duncan has to be one of the first three or four choices you’re making. He absolutely has to be.

“Huh, that how it be, I come first like debuts”
Hey Mama 

This song is dedicated to New Orleans Pelicans forward Anthony Davis, whose Playoff debut wasn’t a tremendously lengthy one, but one that did make one hell of a first impression on the NBA’s big stage. Davis casually averaged 31 points and 11 rebounds per game and shot 54 percent from the field against the league’s best defense and the eventual NBA champion Golden State Warriors in four Round 1 games, which was hopefully enough to show all of the fans who don’t gobble up hundreds of hours of League Pass each year that the evolutionary Tim Duncan is the future of the NBA. And if that didn’t do the trick, surely his appearance in the frequently ran “Pixels” commercial will.

“I can move mountains, I can work a miracle, work a miracle”
Uma Thurman

I dedicate this song to LeBron James, who moved mountains, worked miracles, healed the sick and made chicken salad out of chicken shit during the NBA Playoffs. For a moment, try not to get too hung up on the fact that LeBron wasn’t able to bring Cleveland their first title in over half of a century … for a large and crucial chunk of the postseason, LeBron carried a larger burden than any player in NBA Playoff history. That’s not a matter of opinion either, even though the eye test made it pretty clear that this was the case. It’s been proven by any sort of statistical or analytical measure you could imagine; total production, individual time of possession, percentage of the total points responsible for, amount of production (or lack thereof) from the supporting cast … it’s borderline unfathomable what LeBron did, particularly in the Finals, but unfathomable has been par for the course for LeBron.

Casual observers, haters or people who are just ignorant will always find a way to knock LeBron no matter how high his star ascends. This year it will be for falling two wins short of a championship, or for shooting a poor percentage by normal standards, or for showing some signs of fatigue late in games in the Finals. My advice: just appreciate the greatness. You don’t have to like it or understand it. You can root against him for whatever reasons you have if you please. Just try to appreciate what he’s doing. It will make the whole process a lot more enjoyable.

“She took my arm, I don’t know how it happened, We took the floor and she said”
Shut Up and Dance

And to think if Kelly Olynyk didn’t launch an all-out assault on Kevin Love‘s arm, LeBron might have a third championship ring. I kid. Hey, speaking of injuries …

“Bodies, Let’s use them up til every little piece is gone”
Talking Body

This song is dedicated to all of the guys whose seasons/postseasons were cut short or impacted by injury. That group includes Kevin Durant, Kevin Love, Kyrie Irving, Kobe Bryant, John Wall, Kyle Korver, DeMarre Carroll, Anderson Varejao, Jrue Holiday, Patrick Beverley, Chris Bosh, DeMarcus CousinsWes Matthews, Mike Conley and a long list of others who missed too much time or time that was too crucial to miss. I won’t go as far as saying that we’d have a different NBA champion if we were living in some sort of NBA 2K world where we could turn all injuries off, Golden State was too consistent and dominant all season long, but I can assume that the journey getting there would have been quite different.

“Oh I think that I found myself a cheerleader, she is always right there when I need her”

For the record, this song is my jam, and I’m dedicating it to Los Angeles Clippers owner Steve Ballmer. Maybe he doesn’t walk like a model or ask the Clippers players if they think he’s pretty — I guarantee you during his tenure as Clippers owner Donald Sterling asked at least one player if they thought he looked pretty — but Ballmer is challenging Mark Cuban as the most animated NBA owner. This isn’t a bad thing either. I want more owners that scream like maniacs, dance around like fools and bite their hands when they are nervous. Seriously, I bite my fingernails so I’m not usually one to critique someone’s nervous habits, but what the hell is that double-pinkie chomp that Ballmer was doing?

“You’re always worth it, and you deserve it, the way you work it”
Earned It

Dedicated to the bizarro-world Rajon Rondo‘s: All of the guys who earned themselves a big contract this summer based on their postseason performances. This doesn’t include the obvious big guns, Marc Gasol and LaMarcus Aldridge, who were going to get max deals no matter how the Playoffs went. I’m talking about the guys who had room to change people’s opinions, like Jimmy Butler (I’m not sure if everybody knows this, but Butler is Chicago’s best player), DeMarre Carroll (the Hawks best or second best guy in the Playoffs, depending on how you felt about Al Horford), DeAndre Jordan (the best of all centers in the rim-protection/rebounding/can’t-run-a-play-for-him mold), Khris Middleton (a capable wing scorer and someone who is totally unafraid of taking big shots), Corey Brewer (if back-to-back Finals MVP’s for Kawhi Leonard and Andre Iguodala have taught us anything, it’s that athletic and competitive wing players might be the most valuable type of player in the NBA), and Draymond Green (more on Green to come).

“Now we got problems, And I don’t think we can solve them, You made a really deep cut, And baby now we got bad blood”
Bad Blood

This song goes out to LeBron James and David Blatt, a duo whose relationship was called into question over and over again during the regular season, and even more so during the Playoffs. The whole thing culminated with a scathing Marc Stein column that was released two days after the Golden State Warriors defeated Cleveland in the NBA Finals. Stein called the four-time MVP out for his mistreatment of Blatt, even going as far as saying Blatt had been emasculated by LeBron. Stein was there and I wasn’t (unfortunately), and he’s not the only one who has made these types of claims about LeBron; ESPN’s resident LeBron James expert Brian Windhorst joined the fray, insisting that LeBron “likes having Blatt to kick around.” Even as a lifelong LeBron supporter, I can’t get behind the mistreatment of a coach.

Was LeBron wrong to challenge Blatt in huddles and call his own plays? I don’t think so. Was LeBron wrong to blatantly mistreat his coach and speak publicly about incidents like this? Yes he was. But here’s the thing; the LeBron/Blatt relationship can be salvaged if it is truly as rocky as many have said.  I’d suspect Blatt will be back for a second season, and he’ll once again be at the helm of a title contender. Let’s give this some time. Winning solves almost all problems … even bad blood.

“Married to the money, introduced her to my stove, Showed her how to whip it, now she remixin’ for low, She my trap queen, let her hit the bando, We be countin’ up, watch how far them bands go”
Trap Queen

I’m dedicating Trap Queen to all of the things about the postseason that I’m not sure about, because I’m not totally sure what any of these lyrics mean. When Fetty Wap says “Introduced her to my stove,” does that mean he brings girls back to his crib and shows her where he makes DiGiorno Pizza’s? Or is there some other sort of meaning her? Anyway …

How hasn’t Tony Allen taught himself how to hit a 15 foot jump shot? … How did the Hawks damn near pull off a 20 point comeback against the Wizards with Denis Schroeder, Mike Muscala and Kent Bazemore leading the way? … Why did it take so long for someone to say something as cool as “I called game” after hitting a game-winner? … What caused the Raptors to just roll over and die? (A big bang perhaps?) … Why did Mike Budenholzer turn to his bench sooo much in the Playoffs? … Where is Tom Thibodeau going to end up? … How hasn’t Joey Crawford been re-assigned to the D-League, or Croatia? … What the hell happened to the Clippers in Game 6 against the Rockets? … Why wouldn’t the Thunder and Clippers entertain a Kevin Durant for Blake Griffin swap? … Why would Dwyane Wade want to play for the Lakers? … Why were Matthew Dellavedova iso’s such a big part of Cleveland’s offense in the Playoffs? … How didn’t Stephen Curry get a single Finals MVP vote? … Why didn’t ESPN elect to use GDFR as their Playoff theme song?

“Cause if you’ll treat me right, I’ll be the perfect wife, Buying groceries, Buy-buying what you need”
Dear Future Husband

This song is dedicated to Bob Myers, Peter Guber and Joe Lacob. Fellas, don’t cheap out. Keep this Warriors team together for as long as possible, no matter how many moves you have to make or how much money you have to spend. Just like Meghan Trainor will buy groceries or give a man “kisses” if he treats her well and open doors for her, the Warriors will continue to contend for titles so long as this nucleus stays in tact. The first steps: find a new home for David Lee and pay Draymond Green however much money he wants. Next, do the exact same thing for Harrison Barnes. Just remember, Stephen Curry can enter free agency in two years, and if he sees that the Warriors aren’t willing to spend money to keep a title contender together this could turn into a Kevin Durant situation, where a change of scenery is very much in the cards.

“Way Up I Feel Blessed”

This song is dedicated to Riley Curry, because she’s the real MVP.


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