Last week we previewed the NHL season by assigning an album to a handful of teams that we think will best sum-up their 2014 campaign. Our justification is that sports are elementally a series of dashed hopes, and the best thing to soak up those broken dreams is the poetry and pain of others. We’re doing the same for the NBA, so let us guide you down these treacherous paths as best we can. Sure we didn’t cover every franchise, because time is short and metaphors only go so far, but if you’re a fan of one we’ve omitted, go ahead and give us the record you think you’ll be clinging onto this season down in the comments.
If you’re a fan of the Los Angeles Lakers: The Rolling Stones – A Bigger Bang
Ladies and gentlemen, the champs are here! Or they were here, or they’re going to be here. It doesn’t really matter. The Lakers are going to be awful this year. It’ll be 82 games of painful, 123-98 blowouts made of Steve Nash nerve damage, Byron Scott’s caveman-basketball philosophy, and Kobe Bryant steadfastly maintaining that he’s worth the money.
But that won’t change the fact that the Lakers are guaranteed to lead SportsCenter at least three times over the course of the season. We’ll get the same haggard doublespeak about their potential for the 8th seed, Nick Young will continue to say weird things about Iggy Azalea’s butt, and the machine will continue to churn. Once again, the indomitable shadow of the purple and gold will loom over any actual, exciting basketball. It’s the down years where the empires reveal their self-obsession, even if it means killing the sport they ostensibly love.
Congratulations Lakers fans! You guys have become the late-period Rolling Stones. A mediocre, low-ceiling group whose only claim to fame is the name emblazoned across the jersey. Enjoy that awful purgatory! It must be fun to be celebrated simply for existing.
If you’re a fan of the Oklahoma City Thunder: Oasis – Definitely Maybe
Sure it’s working now, but we all know this isn’t going to last forever. Kevin Durant is too gifted of a scorer and Russell Westbrook is too explosive of a talent. Every time Westbrook takes a contested, four-seconds-into-the-shot-clock three it reminds me of Liam Gallagher refusing to show up to a gig. Remember Thunder fans, for every Definitely Maybe there’s inevitably a Be Here Now. The writing is on the wall, and you’re living on borrowed time.
If you’re a fan of the Charlotte Hornets: Weezer – Everything We Be Alright in the End
So this is your attempt for a return to coolness? I have to say, it’s not bad. You picked up Lance Stephenson, the marquee internet-basketball mascot, and invited Ric Ocasek back to the studio. I mean, I’m not sure I believe those lofty accusations that Rivers Cuomo truly means it when he says he misses ‘94, but I’d certainly rather listen to this than Make Believe.
I still have a hard time trusting you, those last couple years almost made me give up on love itself. Now you’re back at our doorstep, telling us to forget about the bad times. I should know better, but you brought back that old nickname and those rusty power-chords. Call me a fool, but I’m back in your arms!
If you’re a fan of the Denver Nuggets: New Found Glory – Resurrection
Everything’s changed, and everything’s staying the same. New Found Glory released a new album this year, and its greatest weakness is also its greatest strength: it’s a picture-perfect New Found Glory album. They’re essentially the same band they’ve always been. They certainly haven’t gotten any worse, but they haven’t gotten any better, either. You know that they’re hardly the best; you know they’re not even the best of their genre. They don’t play smart, but they play hard. And when they stick to what they do well, they do it better than anyone. They’re fast, they’re fun, and they put on a great live show.
Not to mention, both the Nuggets and New Found Glory are hoping for a resurrection this year after some lineup changes: NFG emerged as a four-man group after the controversial departure of guitarist Steve Klein and the Nuggets are finally returning to a full squad following a season-long absence from both Danilo Gallinari and JaVale McGee (not to mention a lengthy absence from Nate Robinson).
If you’re a fan of the Philadelphia 76ers: Scott Walker – Tilt
Scott Walker was a happy-go-lucky pop singer through the ‘50s and ‘60s before he went completely bonkers and started making some of the darkest music known to mankind. Seriously, his work in the ‘80s and ‘90s feels like some horrible, vaudevillian labyrinth. It’s like if you took Tom Waits’ weirdest nightmares and smashed them into a lead-poisoned music teacher. Sure he garnered plenty of critical acclaim, but that hasn’t made his mystery any less inexplicable.
The Sixers have also earned some significant respect from some smart people. They’re literally waging war against the sport of basketball. There are players in their rotation that don’t even have headshots, and it’s been met with thunderous applause. We’re talking about an NBA franchise that’s literally adopted the hashtag “Together We Build.” Congratulations Philly, you’re officially the most avant-garde sports city ever.
If you’re a fan of the Indiana Pacers: The Beach Boys – Keepin’ The Summer Alive
Brian Wilson is insane. Dennis Wilson is about to drown. You can’t keep up this charade anymore. Frank Vogel has become a less-prickish Mike Love, desperately trying to keep the tattered, disintegrating pieces together while everyone else was smart enough to move on. What, you’re going to run your offense through Roy Hibbert? That’s like delineating songwriting duties to Al Jardine. Paul George’s leg is purely hypothetical, Lance Stephenson is perfecting post-modern basketball out in Charlotte, where his toes can touch the sand.
If you’re a fan of the Phoenix Suns: Waka Flocka Flame – Flockaveli
Entirely one-dimensional, but still way too much fun. The Suns practically invented a new version of basketball last year with their breakneck double-point guard backcourt of Goran Dragic and Eric Bledsoe, and they won a bunch of games last year off of teams simply saying “screw it, this is the second night of a back-to-back and I’m tired.” Flocka murdered rap purists and New York elitists with his guttural anti-flow back in 2010, but at least he was honest. He straight-up told Pitchfork that he rapped “hook to hook,” while mumbling his way through an alleged freestyle.
Eventually Flocka’s career dried up as the imitators rose from Flockaveli’s impact. He’s simply not been able to reinvent himself into something essential. I fear the same fate for the Hornacek Suns. Explosive! Exciting! And probably pretty easy to scout. Enthusiasm only gets you so far when the world is constantly coming up from behind.
If you’re a fan of the Cleveland Cavaliers: Dr. Dre – Detox
You know, it’s actually become difficult to track down a legendary, long-delayed album to fit this obvious pigeonhole. Chinese Democracy was released years ago, same with Extraordinary Machine and SMiLE. Detox is the last standing myth, and anyone earnestly awaiting new music from Dr. Dre in 2014 has missed the point by a mile. Still, you have to wonder if Cavaliers fans have convinced themselves they aren’t dreaming yet. The prodigal son returned home, and he brought along one of the best five players in the game with him. That stuff doesn’t happen in real life, and it will probably amount to something much greater than the depleted reservoir of post-millennial G-Funk.
But the anticipation remains. Something great will have to happen for LeBron’s new squad this year, or else it will be a disappointment. It’s easier to hide behind the veneer of release dates and teases than to face the music. Whether they’re ready or not, Detox is dropping Cleveland next week.