Here we are in the final edition of Up to Bat. You know what that means? We've got about a week until things get underway in this wacky world of the NBA. Finally, media day, training camp and then preseason are just around the corner. Thank goodness. Without anything further from me, I present the Atlantic division:
"You gotta love it though somebody still speaks from his soul
And wouldn't change by the change, or the game, or the fame,
When he came, in the game, he made his own lane
Now all I need is y'all to pronounce my name."
Diamonds of Sierra Leone- Kanye West
ahn-DRAY e-GU-doll-a. Say it with me, e-GU-doll-a. AI 2.0. Iggy. @AI9. Andre Iguodala. Can the man get a break? He's the best player on his team, he got robbed of a dunk contest title, he's tied for best NBA tweeter in my mind and yet he's still got to give a tutorial on how to say his name. With Twitpics of dinner and dessert, weddings and wardrobe missteps, regardless of his fame, Igoudala has remained grounded. You do have to love that the guy has remained real always. Now, I have to come clean here, while I prided myself on saying it right, I found out about mid-April that I had been spelling his name incorrectly for the first year of my career. Thank you, editors. One more time, it's I-G-U-O-D-A-L-A. And, coming into the league where there was another AI on his team, he managed to clear some space and make his own lane as he made Philly his home and won over the hearts of those sometimes heartless fans. Now that the original AI is out of town and @AI9 has that hefty contract to validate its time for you all to know his name because you'll be saying it.
“I let them know we missin' you, the love is unconditional
Even when the condition is critical, when the livin is miserable
Your position is pivotal, I ain't bullshittin' you”
Get By – Talib Kweli
As we head into this season, the Celtics are focused on getting back to the top. Losing to the Magic last year, they were unable to defend their title without Kevin Garnett in the lineup. While word on the street is that KG is healthy and ready to go, until we see him back on the court, baring teeth, growling, dropping mf’ers and, yes, slapping the floor on defense, this passage fits how Ray, Rondo, Pierce and Perk must have been feeling last season without their heart. You know their love for him is unconditional, besides being their emotional leader, he is irreplaceable. For a team like the Celtics where age, mileage and injury is always in the back of their mind, that window for championships is closing. Not only is his persona the catalyst for the team’s identity, his position is pivotal. Without their trio of stars healthy, the Celtics don’t look like they will be cashing in tickets to the finals.
"And could I be a star,
this fame and this game have to change who you are,
could I be the same one who came from a far away life,
just to make it in these Broadway lights."
A Star is Born – Jay-Z feat. J-Cole
Because these Nets are probably going to be Brooklyn Nets in the near future, I felt it appropriate to choose something by Jay. Because the Blueprint 3 just dropped, I wanted to choose a track off of that. A Star is Born felt appropriate for a few reasons. The Nets have so many young guys: CDR, Courtney Lee, Brook Lopez. They’ve got All-Star Devin Harris who came from Dallas, a “far away life” in comparison to NJ and none of their guys seem to have gotten caught up in the fame. Yet. Will the youthful Nets be able to escape the clutches of fame and still find their stardom as they break out and shine brighter than their Broadway-brothers in NYC? With some new faces and a few others who are still feeling their way around Jersey, this is a team in search of an identity. Whether they find it in BK or NJ they’ll find it because a star is born every day. Why not some stars that represent Jay's Nets?
New York Knicks
"Sometimes, relationships get ill/No doubt"
You Got Me- The Roots
There are really so many different lyrics you could go with to describe the Knicks. I wanted to choose something simple, with as few words as possible because really, the state of the franchise has been screaming at us for the past few seasons and there isn’t even a need for words to show the mess that is New York. This little sample is perfect, because really, has there been another franchise with as many toxic relationships as the Knicks in recent history? Latrell Sprewell. Isiah Thomas. Larry Brown. Eddy Curry. Anucha Brown Sanders. Steph. The recurring theme in each of these failed relationships is James Dolan. As long as Dolan holds the reins and the purse strings of the Knicks, relationships will continue to get ill, no doubt about it.
"I'ma kill it, I promise this, I know you mad
I've always treated my city like some shoulder pads
To big homie use a flash if you must
And I swear I ain't askin' for much, all I want is
I want the money, money and the cars, cars
And the clothes, the … I suppose
I just wanna be, I just wanna be successful"
Successful –Drake feat. Trey Songz
When I first heard this song, it felt like the perfect anthem for any rookie in the NBA. A few months later at the draft, guys were singing the chorus as they were in their new suits and watches waiting to take their group photos with David Stern. While the chorus fits this entire Raptors
team with so much to prove, young guys with their futures in front of them and vets hungry to show they can contribute and win, the opening is all Chris Bosh. Bosh
has willingly placed this franchise on his shoulders and hasn’t ever tried to shift the blame or duck out of the limelight. He knows the city isn’t impressed with how last season went, after a crazy start to last season that had people whispering those three magical letters, only to have them trying to muffle swears by the ugly, ugly end, Bosh
wants to kill it and prove he’s deserving of that max deal when summertime comes. He’d also like to make it back into the playoffs. And out of the first round. He’s been the near-perfect superstar when it comes to dealing with the media and attention, he’d just like the results on the court that usually follows. With nine new faces and Toronto’s own as the soundtrack, perhaps this is the season the Raptors