All Balls Don’t Bounce

Completely Random Sports Non Sequiturs From A Completely Random Hip Hop Head

Archive for the ‘hip hop’ Category

Wonder Bread

Posted by hiphopmama on June 5, 2009

I know I’m a few days late on the blog circuit with this, but shit is funny as hell so I’m posting it anyway. Kno of Cunninlynguists put together this hie-larious spoof of Kanye’s “Amazing,” which was chosen as the official theme song for the NBA playoffs. Never mind that the original track was just one of the collection of overhyped songs on his latest Auto-Tuned massacre, the NBA had to have it. Luckily, Kno rescues it from complete irrelevance with his interpretation, “Caucasian,” which is pretty self-explanatory. Just watch.

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Weezy’s Take

Posted by hiphopmama on June 4, 2009

Shouts to Diana on this one. Here is the estimable Lil Wayne weighing in on the best player in the league debate via rap song. The answer? Kobe, obviously. Apparently dude grew up a Lakers fan, which elevates him ever so much in my eyes. Maybe Tha Carter III was a classic after all.

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ABDB PSA

Posted by hiphopmama on April 22, 2009

Please pardon the quasi-political posturing, but it’s time for an All Balls Don’t Bounce editorial here. Let’s just say this one’s been coming for a while now.

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I am beyond tired of hearing avowed basketball fans declare that they are “finished” with the NBA because of how much it has “changed.” It’s always shrouded in philosophical musings about the direction the game has taken the last few decades and their discontentment with the new image of the league when it’s really about the stylistic choices and cultural allegiances of the current crop of elite players. 

Let me be clear. I do think the game has changed since the 1970s and ’80s – what cultural phenomenon doesn’t? – but not nearly as much as today’s bellyachers would have you believe. Contrary to their common mantra, individual play has not taken over the game like the Blob oozing its way across a pristine city. The seemingly limitless heights of athleticism today’s players achieve has made play more spectacular, and the street ball craze has resulted in some new tendencies taking hold, but the fundamental way teams – note that word, TEAMS – play the game is essentially unchanged. Coaches still instill team identities, run team plays, shuffle their line-ups in a chess match with the opposition, and do their best to maximize the potential of a given group of players. The game has certainly gotten less dirty, as changes in the rules have given the referees license to protect the offensive player much more than in years past, but the team concept has not disappeared as a result of these minor adaptations. The most important player on the team today, far and away, is the point guard, and teams’ futures often rely solely on having a stellar playmaker who averages double-digit assists. Chicago, New Orleans, and Utah are just a few whose current and future successes derive from a player who epitomizes unselfish play.

What then are these supposed fans complaining about? It shouldn’t be too hard to figure out with the changing face of today’s game. It’s the attitude that comes along with the incredible ability that old guard fans can’t stand. I’ll be honest – I don’t particularly care for Rasheed Wallace either. He has never committed a foul in his life and apparently never heard the story about the boy who cried wolf. But I don’t have anything negative to say about Allen Iverson, who has been vilified as everything that is wrong with the NBA today. He has gotten into his squabbles with the law – as have plenty of other players both past and present – but it is not his legal troubles per se that have enraged the viewing public. It is the nonchalance with which he blows off the wider society’s standards for judging him by, say, hosting a big party while under house arrest. It is his undeniable cachet with young fans who admire his swaggering, posturing, tattooed frame flying down the lane, as undeterred by seven-footers as by the conventional wisdom that contrition is in order when being hounded by the media, or that you must shrug off any achievement on the court, no matter how spectacular. Yes, players like ‘Sheed go overboard with the whining, but that doesn’t mean others like Iverson don’t have the right to celebrate or draw attention to the fruits of their labors. It’s the product of a culture that values artful talk and doesn’t view it as bragging if it’s true, and it does nothing to detract from the quality of the game itself. You might not like it, but it’s peripheral at most, and if it turns you off from watching at all then you need to face the bitter truth: you’re an old fart, either in reality or at heart. 

The hip hop attitude that pervades so much of the NBA – and I’ll be the first to admit its prominence – is what alienates the old guard of basketball fans, and it is this demographic that David Stern has tried valiantly to maintain. With the institution of a questionable age limit and silly dress code regulations, the NBA as an organization has done its level best to rein in the flashier tendencies of its young professionals. The league still wants to profit from the hip hop image and lifestyle, using it to market itself to young viewers, but when it comes to what players wear on that long walk from the team bus to the locker room, then dammit, I better not see any FUBU or Phat Farm. They’re more than willing to draw revenue from that elusive quality of “street cred” that makes certain players insanely marketable, but Dwyane Wade, take off that silly band-aid and smile for the cameras. True enough, the NBA is a business with an image to uphold, but it’s talking out of both sides of its mouth, both relishing and condemning a cultural movement that it can’t fully control anyway.

I can’t claim to love every addition to the NBA that hip hop culture has made – wtf were players thinking with those damn tights anyway? – but the spirit with which those changes are offered up will always have a special place in my heart. Because what hip hop is all about is the ability of a dispossessed minority to blow off the meaningless impositions forced on them by a dismissive society that has consistently denied them the right to true self-expression. Hip hop says, “Oh you’re going to cut music programs? I’ll invent my own form of music using items I have around my house.” It boasts, “You want to redline my district and build a freeway through my apartment complex? I have the perfect venue in which to make known your treachery.” It reminds, “Your linguistic values are not universal and I am not required to abide by them. What you call taunting I will gladly reclaim as signifying and make it a recognized form of discourse. And I will do it in some of the biggest forums you have created, and you will not be able to silence me because your children will have recognized the power of my voice and begun to see past your ignorance.” Thank you, NBA, for providing that forum, and c’est la vie to the fans who can’t get past their own misconceived notions of cultural superiority. In the words of one Tupac Shakur, “Only God can judge me,” and you ain’t there just yet.

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Em’s Bits and Bites

Posted by hiphopmama on April 22, 2009

Too lazy to write a real post (or form a full sentence, apparently), so I’m going with bullet points. Feel free to appreciate my intellect at an appropriately discounted rate.

  • Surprise, surprise: Derrick Rose was named Rookie of the Year for the 2008/09 season. Not that anyone didn’t see this coming, but the official word is always nice. He was a shoe-in, to be honest, mostly because of the composure he showed at the toughest position in basketball – point guard. OJ Mayo had a great year as a pure scorer at the two-guard spot, but that doesn’t come close to measuring up to the load Rose had to shoulder in running his team’s offense and managing the flow of the game. Plus he just looks so cool out there doing what he does. He’s got the less pompous version of Phil Jackson’s expressionless face. Through the good, bad, and ugly, Rose is unfazed, at least outwardly, which must give the team that follows his lead an assured sense of confidence in tight situations. Case in point games one and two of the Boston series. To quote my loquacious husband on that one: Die Celtics die.
  • In another far from shocking decision, the Mavs’ Jason Terry was named Sixth Man of the Year. As usual with this award, it was handed out to a player who could just as easily be classified as a starter, but Cro-Magnon Man (AKA Mark Cuban) isn’t complaining. Terry is a great firebrand off the bench – when he actually starts the game there – and had a good season, averaging 19.6 points. Another almost-starter who could have been in consideration is the Lakers’ own Lamar Odom, but he started more than the eleven games Terry did due to Bynum’s injury. 
  • Lil Wayne is picking the Lakers to win it all this year. On his blog for ESPN, he also divulged that he’ll be rooting for the purple and gold in their quest for the title, and that “‘Bron Bron” has already been informed of his allegiances. Aww, how nice. ‘Bron Bron must appreciate his honesty. 
  • WTF is wrong with everyone but Manchester United in the Premier League? Does no one else really want to challenge for this thing? Fair enough, Liverpool and Chelsea were taking on class opposition in Arsenal and Everton, but all either could manage was a draw. Chelsea are much guiltier of letting one go in their 0-0 draw at home against Everton, where they really should have found a way to break the deadlock and stay on the pace. Liverpool at least gave a valiant effort against an inspired Arsenal side in a thrilling 4-4 draw at Anfield, but with Manyoo’s win against Portsmouth, United are now three points clear with that dreaded game in hand. They will need to fumble it away in order for Liverpool to catch them now. Boo.
  • Why didn’t GolTV show the Barcelona-Sevilla match today?? I had reminders everywhere to make sure I set it up to record, but the damn thing wasn’t even on. I need a Setanta channel for La Liga and Serie A. Can someone make this happen for me? Pretty please? I don’t waste enough time watching sports yet.
  • There is some great hip hop coming out right now. Aceyalone’s “The Lonely Ones,” The Grouch & Eligh’s “Say G&E!”, Cunninlynguists’ “Strange Journey Volume One,” Mr. Lif’s “I Heard It Today”… If you take it back a little further, you get Brother Ali’s “The Truth Is Here,” k’naan’s “Troubadour,” Drake’s “So Far Gone”… And we’re still waiting on new Busta Rhymes, Freeway, and (gulp) Eminem. I’m not expecting anything from that last one, but one or two good songs would be appreciated. Thank god we’re out of the first quarter of the year, when almost all hip hop life ceases. I can’t live without new music. Fuck MIMS – music is MY savior.

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Ho Hum

Posted by hiphopmama on January 6, 2009

Hornets Lakers

New Orleans 116, LA Lakers 105

(27-6)

I don’t really feel like blogging this one, and I don’t feel bad about shirking my duties, either. I’m depressed enough as it is; I don’t need the Lakers rubbing salt in my wounds. They could have won this game. It was right there for them. They just went cold at a bad time in the fourth and couldn’t find any defensive answers. In true Shakur fashion, though, I ain’t mad at ’em. They’ve had an impressive run of games that started with the win in New Orleans, and they have been ascendant while the other big teams have fallen off. An overtime loss to Charlotte for Boston means that we don’t lose anything in that particular race, although the Magic did win in a riveting affair against the Wizards (sarcasm, anyone?). Here’s all the analysis I’ve got:

Wanna know the difference tonight, compared to the two wins we got in New Orleans? Two words: David West. Chris Paul was out of his mind for much of the game, particularly the first half, but West’s face-up game from the wing simply killed us. It was another example of how effective a perimeter-shooting big man can be against us. Our only other home loss of the year came at the hands of the Pistons, who employed the same tactic mercilessly, with Rasheed inflicting the damage and Iverson playing Paul’s role. Look for that theme to recur. 

One other note: we lost Odom to a scary-looking knee injury in the first half. We’re already missing Luke for a couple weeks, and I haven’t heard the final word on Lamar’s injury, so our once bountiful bench took another knock. The three/four spot used to be our deepest, but it has been depleted to the point that we just have Vlad Rad and Ariza, with Sasha our only backcourt option off the pine. No panicking – we have the depth to roll with it, for sure – but I’ll feel much better if LO gets back in the lineup quickly.

No highlights available yet, which is probably for the best. Instead, just to show that there’s no hard feelings, you get Tupac’s “To Live And Die In L.A.” This man is still the most consistent player Los Angeles ever had, and you can take that however you want.

Posted in hip hop, nba | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Oh-Eight

Posted by hiphopmama on December 29, 2008

Nas "Untitled"

I know this is technically a sports blog, but it does have hip hop undertones. With that in mind, I’m posting a link to my Year In Review 2008 piece for RapReviews.com. It’s basically a glorified top 10 (actually top 12 – I’m all about multiples of 4), running down the best hip hop had to offer this year, with a few other highlights along the way. Check it out if you’re interested, and read up on the other writers’ thoughts as well. It’s a good bunch of people working over there who generally know what they’re (we’re?) talking about.

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