Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Enter The Sandman: Dubbing the Draft's Handshake Mixtape

For the past 15 years, we Yankee fans have been blessed to hear a certain noise emanate from the loudspeakers at the top of the 9th here at our stadium, the House That Ruth George Built. A certain Panamanian pitcher emerges from this second dugout and begins moving – from quick walk to compact trot – to his throne seat, which sits surrounded by his faithful companions. During his confident stroll, an all-too familiar sound from an all-too familiar rock band permeates the Yankee Stadium atmosphere. As Metallica’s “Enter Sandman” raises in volume, the capacity crowd responds, standing at attention to cheer our hero, Mariano Rivera. Enter the Sandman.

Why do we call him that? That’s easy. Because when Mo comes in, he comes ready to put your team to sleep. He’s shutting the door on another Yankee victory, and there’s nothing you can do about it. Period.

How cool is THAT?

While football has passed it in popularity and basketball in sensationalism, baseball remains the only sport that manages to continually do one unique thing better than all other sports. Yes, I’m talking about the at-bat/closer music. Doesn’t every hoops hero deserve to hear their favorite song to get pumped up?

However, after contemplating it for about thirty seconds, I realized that problems would undoubtedly arise. What happens when two alpha dogs exist on the same team? Does Shaq get to hear his rap (no doubt the classic "Kobe, Tell Me How My @-- Tastes) over Steve Nash’s favorite emo band in Phoenix? Will the fracture create a schism in Denver between Chillups and “Stop Snitching, the DVD?” Or, better yet, between Melo and LaLa?

I'm prepared to live with the consequences.

Likewise, I’ve come to the conclusion that every draft pick needs his own entrance music. Think about it. I’m talking about WWF style, loud noises, with the McMahon brothers yelling your name over the loudspeakers. You only get one chance to make it count on draft night. Why not hype it all the way up?

Can you smell-elelelelelel what The Throwback Kid is cooking? (You’d better hope so after all this rain here on the East Coast. My sinuses are strong enough to smell the dead bodies caked up in my neighbor’s garage.)

Instead of scripting a mock draft for you, I’ve decided that every pre-draft diary needs its own flavor, its own way to distinguish itself from an otherwise monotonous sports action-less event. Plus, I think everyone’s pretty much been overwhelmed by the amount of mock drafts out there. As one NBA GM put it, the only thing you can predict about this draft is that it’ll be unpredictable. David Stern, just give me Step Curry or Tyreke Evans and get the heck off my TV set. There’s a whole world of Smart Guy episodes out there for me to DVR. I know you can make this happen.

Anyway, I’ve already met with the players that will be sitting in the Green Room on Draft Night. In order to bolster their draft stock, they’ve allowed me to share their handshake song choice for their big night with NBA fans everywhere. But...I've decided to tinker with their selections just a tad. I mean, you can only have but so many dudes shaking hands to Weezy. Just saying.

Hey, what they know won’t hurt ‘em. Am I right? I said, AMIRIGHT?

Without further ado, let’s cue up the music, and check out the choices from our draft class.

1. Los Angeles Clippers: Blake Griffin – M.A.S.H.’s “Suicide is Painless”

For many draftnicks, Blake Griffin remains the sole glimmer of upside in an otherwise crappy draft class. I loved seeing him in college; heck, I even begged our black college counterparts (Morgan State) to present him a true challenge in the first round of this year’s tourney. Who was I kidding? They were like lambs led to the slaughterhouse. Since there’s no other way to say it, I’ll say it: Blake, you’re a beast. Yes, we know that you play above the rim (sorry, Psycho T), you posterize your foes and you snarl at wiry opposition. Sure, you’ll have to entertain the idea of adding a jumper to your repertoire to become a complete nuisance for defenders from the 4 spot, but no one’s really complaining.

Actually, Blake…we’re all laughing. We laugh at your given name and its valley girl origins. We laugh at your Frankenstein face, noting that it remains shell shocked weeks after you realized that the Clippers (yes, the same team that’s given us studs like Manute Bol and Pooh Richardson) won the draft lottery. And we laugh at the fact that you’ll be counting on guys named Z-Bo and Ricky Bobby to…wait for it…PASS you the ball! (Crowd erupts in laughter) There’s only one way to escape this monstrosity. I once heard a guy tell me suicide was painless. Face it, kiddo: the only thing worse than tragedy is obscurity. Which is what you’ll face as Kobe dominates the headlines.

2. Memphis Grizzlies: Hasheem Thabeet – Christina Vidal’s “Taina” (theme song)

Watching a foolhardy general manager attempt to create a latch on to an outdated basketball talent models is like a woman believing that she can change her man after a few dates. Really? If he’s been putting his soda cans on the coffee table without a coaster for twenty years, what makes you think that he’s going to change after five months? It’s just not going to happen, baby.

The same goes for UConn’s Hasheem Thabeet. As my boy J-Till wrote in his mock draft, if this guy couldn’t abuse smaller defenders on the NCAA level, how can anyone possibly believe that he’ll step his game up once he gets to the big leagues? I’ll add this one caveat: Guys like DeJuan Blair owned Thabeet simply because they taxed his legs tremendously with their lower body weight. Thabeet, as a wiry big man, needs to fill out down low or the bigger post guys will tear him up come November 1st. But, don’t worry Mr. Thabeet. Like Taina, you’ll get to see your name in lights…even if it only stays lit for a few seasons.

Only eighteen months ago, the Grizzlies had one of the best interchangeable centers in the league. Now, they’re scrapping around for spare parts. How is Chris Wallace a GM again?

(Before we continue, I would first like to downgrade Terius “The Dream” Nash’s penalty for breaking man law to a misdemeanor following the release of Steve Harvey’s new complete informational guide to the female world. Let’s be clear: “The Dream” STILL broke Man Law with “Shawty Is a Ten”. But after seeing the composite reaction from Steve Harvey’s new book, “How to Break Man Law and Make Money Doing It” Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man, I had to retract some of my vitriolic statements towards the singer. Why? Well, Steve Harvey broke close to one trillion Man Laws by deciding to write his “tell-all” book on the male mind. The guy even sat on Oprah’s couch.

Ladies, I promise you: Any guy with decent sense could have written up that beauty shop fodder. Seriously. But we don’t because we’re not as stupid as we look. We wouldn’t be caught dead handing out dating pamphlets. Not only would that be an egregious breach of Man Trust, the deviant sole would also be ex-communicated from man life faster than a sexually active priest from the Catholic Church.

Secondly, do you even think for a second that any lady would dare pen an instructional guide for our kind? No way. Once they saw the instantaneous swag we gained after viewing “Want Women Want”, the vault was permanently sealed. Now, we've got a better chance of sneaking pencil shavings out of Attica than of finding out what goes on over there. So Steve, shape up or ship out. And speaking of shape-ups, I personally think you were funnier with the super-sharp line-up. It's time for Mr. Hightower to make his comeback, if you catch my drift.)

3. Oklahoma City Thunder: Ricky Rubio – SBTB: The College Years' “Standing On The Edge of Tomorrow...Today!"

Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome our annual “We Haven’t Seen That Much Video on Him, But Everybody Swears He’s Legit” hoop star of this year’s draft. The only legit video anyone’s seen of this kid was from the Beijing Olympics, where young Rube got the best of an ancient Jason Kidd. (Why didn’t Chris Paul or Deron Williams start again?) Besides that, all we’ve got to go off of with Rubio are some foggy YouTube clips and the words from his PR camp. (Oh yeah, plus his recent disaster workout against the chair) If this guy ends up being a carbon-copy of Yi Jianlian…I won’t be surprised. For reals.

4. Sacramento Kings: Jrue Holiday – Daft Punk’s “One More Time”

The wackiest song with the wackiest music video goes out to the player with the wackiest name spelling for the simplest pronunciation (Drew), who will be playing in the wack-est city on the West Coast. Don’t worry Jrue, there’ll be plenty of folks willing to go cow-tipping with you after your off-season workouts.

5. Washington WizardsMinnesota Timberwolves: Tyreke Evans – Beastie Boys’ “Sabotage”

If you’re a Wizards fan, you’ve got to be bitter about what’s transpired over the last twenty-four hours. You had the opportunity to trade your albatross contract (Jamison’s extension) and the #5 pick to Phoenix for Amare, but instead…you’re getting rid of all of your expiring contracts (also known as “trade bait”) for another electric but erratic backup (Randy Foye) and the rotting corpse of Mike Miller. You just got hosed. And Washington fans wonder why they’ve only won one playoff series in 27 years.

6. Minnesota Timberwolves: Stephen Curry – Jay Z’s “Song Cry”

This song isn’t for Step Curry. This song’s for all the tortured Knick fans, those tired souls who will gather on Thursday night to hear the Wolves snatch our dream guy. I’d bet on a reaction similar to that of housewives everywhere once they heard about Jon and Kate’s pending separation. (What's going to happen to the PLUS 8???)

7. Golden State Warriors: Jordan Hill – Michael Jackson’s “Speed Demon”

Hill’s a stallion bent on racing the other full breeds on this fast-paced team (no homo). I just wish that Baron had a mulligan clause written into the multi-year mistake contract he signed with the Clips last year. That’s why I still use Golden State in NBA 2K8…just to imagine what could have been. I just know that in twenty years, my son’s gonna walk up to me and ask, “Hey Dad, were the Warriors EVER good?” I’ve already picked out my favorite pocket square to cry on for the occasion.

Warriors…come out to play-eeee-aaa. Or not. I hate it when superstars get too greedy.

8. New York Knicks: Brandon Jennings – Snoop Dogg’s “Nothin’ But a G Thang”

Some people will go ahead and argue that Jennings lacks the skills, the jumper, and the size (diese) needed to engineer the point guard position in the NBA. But don’t believe the hate. I love the fact that Jennings can go coast-to-coast and serve up alleys on a platter for our wing guys. Plus, there’s something to be said about a point guard that carries himself with swag. You’ve got to love a guy that’s going to clown his rival (Rubio) by painting him as inferior. You’ve got to love a guy that tells reporters that his natural position is “3-guard”. I mean, we haven’t had a guy with swag this phenomenal since Walt, and New York desperately needs his flat top fade and confident stride to steal the spotlight.

Wait, where you expecting more? Come on, I’m like Tom from MySpace. You’ve gotta come strong to crack my top eight. And since this draft’s so ridiculously weak, there’s no reason to waste any more time once the talented top-five guys leave the Green Room. (Heck, even Jerry Maguire would have trouble locking these Pine Sol prospects into guaranteed deals.) I fully expect the deputy commish to be reading names by the end of the lottery.

Enjoy the NBA Draft, everyone.

Mike Benjamin is an aspiring sportswriter that hails from Queens, NY. You can check out more of his work at his blog, Points Off Turnovers. Make sure to start following him over at Twitter, too.)

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