The Notorious B.I.G. playlist for the Cavaliers

04.21.10 8 years ago 8 Comments

If the Lakers are going to get a Jay-Z tribute, I’m not letting the true King of New York get ignored. All due respect to Jay’s grind, but Notorious B.I.G. drew up the rough draft of the blueprint Hova has since mastered to become the biggest name (and richest MC) in hip-hop.

For two years now the world — well, the world outside of Orlando, Dallas and a few other NBA cities — has wanted to see a Lakers vs. Cavaliers matchup in the NBA Finals. So if our boys at Lakers Nation feel Jay-Z will inspire their team to make it happen, maybe Biggie helps Cleveland live up to their half of the deal:

Song: “The What”
Album: Ready to Die
Like B.I.G., LeBron is a rare, possibly once-in-a-generation talent who could very well go down in the annals of his field as the greatest of all-time. But there’s a reason why “The What” is considered perhaps Biggie’s best track: Because of the chemistry and teamwork on display between Biggie and Method Man. The song would still be ill with B.I.G. flowing by himself, but throw in Meth and it’s an all-time classic. I’m not saying LeBron (8.6 assists per game in the regular season) is a ball-hog and needs to learn how to share; it’s just a reminder for him that he’s not going to win a championship by himself and shouldn’t try to. And that everything you get, you got to work hard for it.

Song: “Warning”
Album: Ready to Die
“There’s gonna be a lot of slow singin’ and flower-bringin’ / if my burglar alarm starts ringing / What ‘cha think all the guns is for? / All purpose war got the rottweilers by the door.” Shaq is Cleveland’s guard dog. His 10-12 points and 6-7 boards per game aren’t as important as his mere presence in the paint. Your defense has to pay attention to Shaq when he sets up on the block and calls for the ball, and offensively you have to know where he’s at when you’re attacking the rim. He’s too valuable to waste fouls being the enforcer; he’s more the intimidator. (Or of course I could have gone with “You Can’t Stop the Reign,” the Shaq/Biggie collaboration released in ’97. Check it out at the end of the column.)

Song: “Breakin’ Old Habits”
Album: Duets: The Final Chapter
Jamison may have gotten too comfortable playing in meaningless games with the Wizards, where he’d jack shots without forethought and was always guaranteed enough touches to go for his nightly 20-and-10. Now he’s got to break those old habits and play within a system where he won’t get the ball as much while stepping up his defense. So far Jamison has done a solid job, but the real pressure games haven’t begun yet.

LeBron James (photo. Nike)

Song: “Respect”
Album: Ready to Die
Drafted in the second round. Traded by the team that signed him to a big long-term contract one year into the deal. Overlooked as an All-Star until the last minute (when he was named as an alternate), and still not considered really an All-Star by some critics. Mo has enough reasons to play with a chip on his shoulder, and even more right now since he was partially blamed for Cleveland’s postseason exit last year. He’s got another shot to pull his weight and earn his respect.

Song: “Machine Gun Funk”
Album: Ready to Die
Delonte is my guy, but he walked into that one.

Song: “Hustler’s Story”
Album: Duets: The Final Chapter
Some say hustle is a skill on the basketball court. And some say hustle is the only skill Varejao has. While the truth is that AV brings more to the table than just sweat and six fouls — namely rebounding, team and individual defense, making the right pass and setting picks — his biggest haters will never see him as more than a flopper with dirty tactics. Well, they said the same thing about Manu Ginobili, and he’s got three rings that argue otherwise.

Song: “Hope You N***** Sleep”
Album: Born Again
On this side of the ocean, AP isn’t the guy you center the defensive game plan around. But if you leave him wide open, he’ll make you pay. In the regular season Parker knocked down 41% of his threes in his first year with the Cavs, and in Game 2 of their first-round series with Chicago he hit three triples when the Bulls lost track of him. One of Cleveland’s problems in the ’09 playoffs was their shooters failing to deliver consistently on their open looks. Between LeBron and now Shaq commanding so much attention, all Parker has to do is keep the defense honest.

Song: “Last Day”
Album: Life After Death
Win or lose, this might be the end of the road for Big Z, whose contract is up after this season when he’ll be 35 years old. Considering he’s got the feet of a 65-year-old and the lateral movement of a doorknob, he’d like to win a ‘chip and call it a career in the only NBA home he’s ever known.

Song: “I’m With Whateva”
Album: Duets: The Final Chapter
As the utility role player, Moon’s job description is to do whatever Mike Brown needs him to do, which could change quarter-by-quarter. It could be slashing and finishing above the rim, defending an elite scorer, or using his vertical to get rebounds. In Game 2 against Chicago, it was knocking down threes. Already the most visible and enthusiastic cheerleader on Cleveland’s bench, Moon’s efforts on the court will be an X-factor in this title hunt.

Shaquille O'Neal (photo. Chenoa Maxwell)

Song: “Juicy”
Album: Ready to Die
The anthem for the young dude who has achieved his dream. Hickson might not like that his PT has dropped so drastically since Jamison’s arrival and Shaq’s return, but hopefully he’ll keep his eyes on the prize and realize it’s about playing a role right now. Because he will be called upon at some point and he’ll need to be ready. Remember, J.J., you’re still young, rich and relatively famous. Your time will come.

Song: “Dead Wrong”
Album: Born Again
Did you know this is the first time Telfair has been to the playoffs? And if this postseason experience doesn’t motivate him to work out whatever he needs to work out and begin living up to his potential, nothing will. Right now Bassy is clocking DNP-CD’s while watching Derrick Rose (the ’07 version of ’04 Telfair) shine as a franchise player. In the next round the Cavs will likely face Boston, where Bassy would be watching Rajon Rondo (whose scholarship offer from Louisville went to Telfair) in action. If they make the conference finals, Cleveland could face Orlando or Atlanta, where Bassy would watch Jameer Nelson or Mike Bibby, overachievers who made the most of their talent and have answered some of the same questions Telfair faces as a pro. If the 24-year-old Telfair can still become a productive NBA starter and prove his naysayers wrong, it’ll happen in a gym this summer after spending this postseason watching what could have been.

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