Monday, December 9, 2013
Putting the Young Season Into Song
You might know that in recent days, the Dallas/Ft. Worth metro area, of which I am a resident of, has been hit with a good amount of ice, sleet, and freezing rain. And while the storm has passed, the temperature has stayed below freezing, causing travel nightmares and knocking out power for many.
(Cue people from the Northeast, Midwest and Mountain West cackling over Texas freaking out about temperatures in the 20s.)
So, unless absolutely necessary, most everyone I know stayed in this weekend. Since the weather kept 25-year-old, single me in on a Friday night, I found other things to keep myself busy, such as watch the MAC Championship Game and the Baylor/Kentucky basketball game from AT&T Stadium in equally icy Arlington, Texas. But one of the things I ended up doing with the newfound time in was do what many other music lovers are doing at this time of year: compiling a list of the best albums of the year.
As I sorted through the list, which kept expanding and expanding as the evening went on and I remembered more good music from the last 12 months, I realized that there are some tracks on the respective albums that relate to the young NBA season. So here are five songs that I've associated with teams so far.
Drake — "Worst Behavior"
Regardless of whether or not you've heard "Nothing Was the Same," you probably knew where this was going when you read the song title. To call Brooklyn's season a dumpster fire would be to compliment dumpster fires everywhere. Right now, Brooklyn's season is a napalmed and carpet-bombed dumpster with the entire block in a blaze, as well.
No one could have imagined such an awful start to the season for the Nets even in a worst-case scenario, what with two future Hall of Famers, the league's top offensive center, a top-10 point guard (and top-five on talent) and a solid shooting guard. Yes, there have been injuries, but Jason Kidd is clearly in over his head and Dray Blatche of all people is outplaying Kevin Garnett. They can't score, can't defend, can't run and can't rebound. Plus, Billy King completely mortgaged the team's draft future to get Joe Johnson, Paul Pierce and Garnett.
Portland Trail Blazers
Disclosure ft. Sam Smith — "Latch"
"If there are boundaries, I will try to knock them down," British angel-voiced singer Sam Smith belts in this collaboration with the amazing dance duo Disclosure. Right now, the Blazers are acting like the boundaries are endless for their season, and like no one told them they were supposed to be third or fourth in their our division. Portland is at the very top of the Western Conference after winning 15 of 16 before Saturday's loss to Dallas and a Monta Ellis buzzer-beater.
The Blazers have had the most consistent starting lineup in the league, with a Damian Lillard/Wes Matthews/Nic Batum/LaMarcus Aldridge/Robin Lopez group starting every game of the year so far. In the nearly 20 minutes that group averages on the floor together per game, the five players outscore opponents by 11.3 points per 100 possessions and shoot 44 percent from behind the three-point line.
College hoops nerds like myself aren't surprised at all that Damian Lillard is a star and was Rookie of the Year last year. But what is surprising is just how stellar he is from behind the arc. This season, he's hit a Steph Curry-esque 42 percent of threes, better than any season of his college career at Weber State. LaMarcus Aldridge also looks like he's rebounded from a disappointing 2012-13 season, averaging 20 shots a game for the league's most efficient offense.
Los Angeles Lakers
David Bowie — "Where Are We Now?"
Yes, it's 2013 and I have a David Bowie song on here. I'm traditionally against loving new music from artists 30-40 years past their best work, but Bowie's "The Next Day" is a good album. So maybe, just maybe, Kobe Bryant be at his best after his recent return, like Bowie's recent work. But for now, all I really have to say is, "So?"
Despite the Lakers releasing a ridiculous hype video on Friday to announce Kobe's Sunday return against the Raptors, the reality remains that, with or without him, it's just not that great a team. Yes, the Lakers have successfully treaded enough water to be above .500, but they've been outscored on the season by a point and a half per contest, usually a sign of winning a couple of games they shouldn't have. Right now, L.A.'s biggest pleasant surprise has surely been Jodie Meeks, but he plays the same two-guard position as Kobe. Plus, the Lakers are neither good on offense nor defense compared to league averages, and Pau Gasol continues to disappoint under the up-tempo style of Mike D'Antoni.
Daft Punk ft. Pharrell — "Get Lucky"
I know, it's kind of bizarre to associate one of 2013's quintessential jams with a team that was 9-12 as of Sunday. But hear me out. Somebody has to win the Atlantic Division and claim the fourth seed in the East. Right now, the Celtics look as good as anybody in in that five-team mess, especially when considering that this is a complete rebuilding year.
Furthermore, it's clear that Brad Stevens can absolutely coach, and coach at a high level in the NBA. While I thought Stevens would be a good NBA coach, Boston still took on a massive risk by employing a college coach that never really had surefire NBA-caliber athletes at his disposal at Butler (Gordon Hayward aside). But now, when you consider all the draft picks that the Celtics will have thanks to the Garnett and Pierce deal, plus the possibility that a Rajon Rondo trade could bring more pieces, the future looks bright, and could somehow end in a playoff campaign not even 12 months after trading away two legends.
Indiana Pacers and Miami Heat
Phoenix — "Entertainment"
It hasn't been the best week or so for Miami, as the two-time defending champs lost by double digits to Detroit and Chicago, while the Pacers got road wins at the Clippers and the Spurs during their second-longest Western road trip of the season. And over the weekend, rumors floated that Dwyane Wade's knee issues could cause the team to trade the three-time champion. That frankly seems preposterous, since no one the Heat could get could possibly fit into Miami's system like Wade does, especially on offense.
However, Miami often looked its dominant best during a 10-game winning streak that ended with the Detroit game. Once Wade returned Saturday, Miami won at Minnesota by 21. Tuesday, the Heat and Pacers hook up for the first of four meetings this season, all of which can be seen on national TV (assuming you get NBATV). With the Western Conference so loaded with quality and varied playoff matchups year after year, and the putrid state of the East from three to 15, this is the league's best rivalry and it's not close. The four games these two play over the next five months should, barring catastrophic injury, merely be the appetizer to another seven-game series in the East Finals, something every basketball fan should want to see again.