As we wind down the regular season, the NBA is a hodgepodge of teams with varying fortunes. The “haves”, the “have-nots” and even the “never-hads” were all vital ingredients to what was a spectacularly delicious 2016-17 season.
As the infamous quote goes, “there’s a Taylor Swift song for every mood”. Well I believe this also applies to all 30 teams as the NBA season comes to a close. Each team has taken a very unique path over the last six months to get to this point.
To document the differences of each team’s season, I’ve selected what I believe is the most appropriate song for every single club, and my justification as to why that is the best soundtrack for each. (Don’t worry these aren’t actually Taylor Swift songs)
Author’s note: this is installment 1 of 2, which outlines the first fifteen franchises alphabetically. Check back soon for part 2!
- Atlanta Hawks – “No Mediocre” – TI, Iggy Azalea
It feels like the Hawks have finished in the middle of the pack or slightly above average every single year since Bill Clinton was in office. They’re consistently mediocre, and as our good friend (and Atlanta native) TI states so eloquently, “we don’t want no mediocre”.
- Boston Celtics – “Size Doesn’t Matter” – Richard Gibbs
Ok, ok get your head out of the gutter! Now clearly this is a height joke about the C’s leading scorer, Isaiah Thomas, who is about to average the most points in the Boston green and white since a guy named Larry Bird took the court. He’s crafty, he’s dynamic and, yes, he’s diminutive in stature. What isn’t small is the Celtics win total this year, which could actually be big enough to grant them home court throughout the East playoffs.
- Brooklyn Nets – “Rock Bottom” – Eminem
Fun fact: If the Nets were allowed to add last year's win total to this season's record, they'd still only be tied for sixth in the East. After winning 7 of their last 11 games, the Nets have surged to… still last place in the league… Yes, they are so bad that they can win 9 of their final 13 and maintain the best odds at landing the top pick in June’s draft. Well done, Brooklyn.
- Charlotte Hornets – “Stuck in the Middle with You” – Stealers Wheel
Here’s another case of an NBA franchise virtually cemented into the league’s middle class. The Hornets are never good enough to make noise in the postseason, yet never bad enough to draft a franchise-changing player (even though they were 1 pick away in 2012 when Anthony Davis went to New Orleans).
- Chicago Bulls – “Circus” – Britney Spears
It was sad news to hear the Ringling Brothers circus was shutting down this year after almost a century and a half of touring. The good news is the Chicago Bulls are here to fill the void. This season alone the Bulls provided locker room drama, on-court arguing and social media passive-aggressiveness. Now that’s entertainment!
- Cleveland Cavaliers – “Waiting in Vain” – Bob Marley & The Wailers
There’s a lot of waiting going on in Cleveland right now. It seems LeBron James and the Cavs are waiting for the postseason in order to start playing tangible defense again. Meanwhile the fans are waiting for their championship team to start playing like an actual championship team again. We’ll see what happens in the coming weeks. For now, we wait.
- Dallas Mavericks – “I’m Not Finished” – B2K
Despite posting his worst shooting percentage and scoring average since his rookie year, Dirk Nowitzki is still a force with the ball in his hands. While Harrison Barnes and the Mavs are awkwardly transitioning into a new era like a teenager with braces, Dirk remains unguardable when he’s hoisting that filthy, one-legged fadeaway.
- Denver Nuggets – “Who are You” – The Who
Jamal Murray, Juan Hernangomez and Mason Plumlee were probably the most notable additions to the Nuggets this year. Not exactly household names, but Murray indeed has the talent to make a household name for himself sooner rather than later.
- Detroit Pistons – “Young, Wild & Free” – Wiz Khalifa
Stan Van Gundy rolled out a starting lineup with an average age under 25 for most of the year. The gritty Pistons were at their best when they played uptempo and found open guys on the break, which apparently didn’t happen enough as they’ll miss the playoffs for the 7th time in the last eight years.
- Golden State Warriors – “Don’t Forget Me" – Red Hot Chili Peppers
Is it possible? Have the Warriors actually fallen under the radar a bit lately? In the midst of a thrilling MVP race paired with the storylines surrounding Kevin Durant’s health, the “Dubs” are en route to a seemingly quiet 68-win season. That’s pretty scary.
- Houston Rockets – “Fire Away” – Skrillex
James Harden & Company rank 2nd in points per game, 4th in fastbreak scoring, and 1st overall in points from 3-pointers per game. All aboard the Mike Dantoni Express!
- Indiana Pacers – “Stay” – Rihanna
This has to be the song Pacers president Larry Bird has been singing to forward Paul George all season, who is only under contract for one more year. Will George bolt to LA as rumors suggest?
- Los Angeles Clippers – “It’s Time” – Imagine Dragons
Put up or shut up, Clippers. You have a big three. You rebranded the team with jerseys donning the old EA Sports NBA Live logo. Now all you’re missing is the hardware. We all know you can promote the heck out of State Farm insurance and Kia Optimas. Now it’s time to validate your “Big 3” status with a title.
- Los Angeles Lakers – “To Live and Die in LA” – Tupac
To be clear, we are referencing the iconic jam by Tupac Shakur, not the similarly-titled thriller that hit theaters in 1985 starring Willem Dafoe. And let’s be honest, there was definitely nothing “thrilling” about Luke Walton’s first season in charge of the Lake-show. With the third-worst record in the league, the Lakers have done a lot more dying than living in LA this season, but the recent hire of Magic Johnson offers a ton of hope for the future.
- Memphis Grizzlies – “Glory Days” – Bruce Springsteen
The modern NBA is fueled by fast-paced offenses that spread the floor and pour in three-pointers. The Memphis Grizzlies beg to differ. Clinching a playoff berth for the seventh straight year, Marc Gasol and the Grizzlies play a style of basketball that is reminiscent of the glory days of hoops. Ranking 29th in scoring and 3rd in scoring defense this season, Memphis is as blue collar as it gets. They’ll be matched up against the San Antonio Spurs in the first round, a series that I expect to resemble two shirtless Neanderthals wresting in the woods. Oh, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Gasol listened to Springsteen as part of his pregame routine, either.
Christopher Kreider | @krydr1