(Note: This was written prior to the Memphis game and news of the potential Quincy Pondexter trade)
When I’m not slinging cocktails at one of New Orleans’ most popular dive fixtures, or watching and reading about basketball obsessive-compulsively, I’m art directing and writing for the local music magazine, Antigravity. Within the pages of Antigravity Magazine you’ll find anything counter-culture. We cover music (mostly punk, hardcore, indie, folk and hip hop), theater, art, skateboarding and politics. I’m mostly tasked with the design and conceptualization of key clients’ advertising, but I also write features and reviews from time to time.
Music and skateboarding have long been my passion, but are slowly getting pushed more to the background for my love of basketball. I’ve been looking for a way to combine these passions into a singular narrative for some time. I tried writing a piece where I looked at the team (from branding to location to roster) as a band and writing a record review-styled take, but it wasn’t really working out. Finally, I came up with this idea to "redraft" the sound-clips that play in the Smoothie King Arena when each Pel scores a home bucket — let’s hope it isn’t a waste of all of our times.
Luke Babbitt: "Margin Walker" by Fugazi
I’m 36-years-old, so I was a teenager in one of music’s greatest eras —the ‘90s. Great things were happening in grunge, metal, industrial, punk, hip-hop and even mainstream pop. It was an era when you could kind of judge a book by its cover. If someone was wearing all black with black eyeliner, you could safely assume they had a few Love and Rockets or Cure albums in their collection. If they were rocking flannel with some Doc Martens, they probably knew all of the words to Mudhoney’s, "Touch Me I’m Sick." People were referencing things in their fashion choices on purpose. They wanted to be different from everyone else by looking exactly like everyone else in their chosen subculture. Today, this isn’t the case. Now they sell Minor Threat t-shirts at Urban Outfitters and sorority girls have nose rings. It’s a lot harder to judge a book by its cover.
I don’t know Luke Babbitt — have no idea what kind of music he listens to, but his haircut makes me think he’s really into what I’ve termed, "Sincere Youth" music. This breed of sappy mutated post-hardcore/popped-out emo began to evolve in the late ‘90s early 2000s. Bands like Cursive, the Alkaline Trio, Joan of Arc, The Promise Ring, Sunny Day Real Estate (though they were more of the model that the sincere youth bands wished they could be), Hey, Mercedes and Saves the Day packed clubs with black-framed glasses and cardigan sweater wearing young men with existentialist poetry tattooed on their forearms clutching their chests and shaking their Luke Babbitt haircuts to each heart-felt lyric pouring through the PA. I want to believe that Luke is in the locker room listening to Sleepytime Trio 7"s to get hyped for the game, but maybe he’s actually rocking some Ariana Grande. I have no way of knowing for sure, until I catch him at Siberia buying the new Mea Culpa record or on the Sisters in Christ Record Store Instagram feed (Luke, get in touch, let’s go to a show).
Anyway, if you’ve read any of my previous columns, you may already know that I’ve taken to calling Babbs, "My Chemical Small Forward" because his haircut would fit right in at a My Chemical Romance gig. They would have been an easy choice for Luke’s scoring track, but I’m actually not too familiar with their catalog. However, Fugazi were the punk rock Beatles. I worship at the church of Fugazi. I’m more of a late era Fugazi fan (In on the Kill Taker through their final album, The Argument are still heavy in my rotation), but I’m digging deep for Luke’s cut. If you look at the basketball court as a page, the 3 point line could be considered the margin. Luke lives on the edge of the 3pt line, walking the margin for the entirety of his on-court minutes. The connection goes deeper than that though.
"I'm going to set myself up at a window,
This margin walker wants a clear view,
This margin walker wants a clear shot,
And now i'm shooting it right on you."
Hanging on the wing wide-open, waiting for a clear shot, a shot that’s hitting at a 52% success rate, is Luke’s game. Unfortunately, we are often leaving him hanging there at the "window", but Guy Picciotto (vocals/guitar) also tries to give Luke an idea to help him get noticed, "I'm going to set myself on fire." Maybe some self-immolation will draw some attention. Perhaps Guy and Babbs are right that they, "feel like [they are] in the tread of some bastard jealousy" — a jealousy of beautiful flowing locks and a scorching hot left wrist that causes his team to freeze him out regularly. Luke can’t play defense, but he does one thing really well and knows when to pass up a shot to get a teammate a better one — something our other, "flamethrower" hasn’t learned. Get this man a look, or at least a bottle of lighter fluid.
"We Are Underused" by Pavement
John Salmons: "Otha Fish" by The Pharcyde
Honestly, I can’t remember John Salmons’ scoring track. I wasn’t even sure that he had ever scored a basket in New Orleans while a member of the Pelicans. I had to do some research. Apparently he is averaging 0.5 made FG attempts in home games (he’s played in 6 so far). That’s way more than I had expected. Obvious fishy name puns aside, there are a lot of other players we could have spent two-million on that could have contributed just as little. We could have even paid two players to hit on .25 FG attempts a game equaling his staggering lack of impact.
This season, his biggest highlight has been cursing at halftime. There are thousands of fans doing the same thing to relieve the stress as each and every poor coaching decision piles up over the course of the first 24 minutes. Dell, you should have saved your money, but it’s not too late to start looking at those other fish. I’ve got a net and a ESPN Trade Machine addiction, you bring the tuna salad sandwiches.
This classic hip hop track starts with a conversation. One party in said conversation — let’s call him, "John" tells the other person in the conversation, "Yeah, I'ma uh, I'm a just sit in here for a couple of hours." Is there a better description of what John Salmons does on game day (or what he should do)?
The Pharcyde’s album, Bizarre Ride to the Pharcyde was released in ‘92, and while I don’t listen to it nearly as much as I did in the ‘90s, it will get 3-5 spins a year. If Salmons follows my bumper tune advice, I may hear this track that many times without ever dusting off the LP.
Anything by The Zombies
Tyreke Evans: "I’m Your Pusherman" by Curtis Mayfield
The guy that stocks our jukebox at work recently added a Curtis Mayfield record to the box. He explained that it took him so long to do so because he, "finally found one that didn’t have the N-word in it." Be forewarned, this track is not on that record. While this is really an ode to drug dealing, I only chose this for the silky smooth chorus of, "I’m your pusherman, I’m your pusherman, your pusher."
Tyreke is the pacesetter on our team. He’s the main guy who’s looking to get out and run in transition. When he gets a rebound, he flies up the court. That push often leads to a move to the hoop that’s as velvety as Mayfield’s voice (even if the finish isn’t always so pretty), or a kick out to an open shooter in the corner. Sometimes it’s a non-call from a terrible ref, but hey, I think we all love it when we push the pace.
"Cold World" by GZA
GZA’s Liquid Swords is in my top 5 best hip hop records of all time. I LOVE this record and this track. The hook is so silky and raw, like a Tyreke drive through the paint.
"Work Work Work" by Lee Dorsey
I think Tyreke is the sweatiest Pelican by far — one Fox Sports 1 close-up and you know he’s putting in work, work, work.
"Swerve on ‘Em" by Lil Boosie
Lil Boosie is currently locked up, which is similar to the lockdown Monty Williams imposed on Tyreke with his absurd bench role last season — a bench role that continued even after both Eric Gordon and Jrue Holiday were out for the season. Also, a Tyreke drive through the lane is often filled with the adrenaline fueled swerving to the left and right that you’d expect from a Hollywood chase scene, but no matter the direction of the swerve the ball will always be on the right.
"Cold Blooded" by Ol’ Dirty Bastard
If the Pelicans were the Wu-Tang Clan, Tyreke would clearly be ODB. He’s the wild child — prone to irrational acts of self-confidence and total swagger. He chews gum while he plays, what’s more cold blooded than that?
Eric Gordon: "Accident Prone" by Jawbreaker
I’m not sure there’s a better fit on this list than "Accident Prone" and Eric Gordon.
"What's the furthest place from here?
It hasn't been my day for a couple years.
What's a couple more?"
Blake Schwarzenbach (vocals/guitar) is held in high regard in the punk rock community for his ability to make his audience think he’s singing about their life experiences — turns out, he was singing about Eric Gordon.
Jawbreaker is my favorite band. I’ve recently written two long-winded love letters in Antigravity to their albums, Bivouac and 24 Hour Revenge Therapy, as each of them were remastered and re-issued for their respective 20th anniversaries. Dear You is their polarizing follow up to those much beloved records. Being a shitty punk rock kid, you always hated it whenever a band you loved left the world of DIY or indie labels for a major. Dear You and the track, "Accident Prone" were a part of that post-Nirvana/Green Day aggressive guitar rock major label signing spree. There are great tracks on this record — and, "Accident Prone" is one of them, but the energy, aggression and power that Jawbreaker fans had become accustomed to were toned done by an over-polished low-end neutered production. It was clearly the low point in their amazing, yet short-lived career.
In my earlier State of the Roster Address, I admitted that I was very happy when the Chris Paul trade first went down. I had followed the Clippers for a while and had witnessed Eric Gordon playing with energy, speed, strength, a solid handle and a great touch, but what we have now is a shell of that player — much like Dear You is a shell of Bivouac or 24 Hour Revenge Therapy.
I truly feel bad for Gordon. Our Jon Ishop-led training staff reeked of incompetence. We watched misdiagnosis after misdiagnosis until a surgery was scheduled to correct a problem that flared up months prior —ending a season. Prior to the start of this season, Eric Gordon was never fully healthy in his time here, and much of that was a result of mismanagement of his injuries. This has not only diminished his confidence, but also his skillset and the patience of our fanbase. Like the album, Dear You, Gordon still has his game and fire buried in there somewhere, but trainers (or in the case of Jawbreaker — a producer) have done so much damage that we may never see him in his full glory ever again….
"A near miss or a close call?
I keep a room at the hospital.
I scratch my accidents into the wall."
"Damaged Goods" by Gang of Four
"The change will do you good. I always knew it would. You know the change will do you good." Injury woes, bad press conferences and an inflated contract have made this a terrible relationship. Once we part ways, things will surely get better for both parties.
"You and Me" by Archers of Loaf
"I've been so down lately. You've been so low lately. Nothing seems to work out for you and me."
"Build Around Your Heart a Wall" by Shovels & Rope
If you build a wall around your heart, you won’t leave it in places like Phoenix. They like building walls in Phoenix, don’t they?
Anthony Davis: "The Genesis (Instrumental)" by Nas
Nas’ Illmatic is arguably the greatest hip hop record of all time. Anthony Davis is arguably the best player in the league right now, and one day we may be calling him the greatest of all time. We are watching the early days of his promising career, "The Genesis." It’s a match made in greatness.
"Earth People" by Dr. Octagon
Anthony Davis is probably not of this Earth. His skillset combined with his elastic limbs, length and agility, are like nothing we’ve ever seen except in the film, Alien. This track is filled with (Dr. Octagon’s MC) Kool Keith’s nonsensical flow as he abstractly addresses us, "Earth People."
Mute Superstar" by Guided by Voices
If the league’s next superstar only exists on League Pass, does he truly exist?
"The Next Movement" by the Roots
Anthony Davis is ushering in the next movement in the NBA. We were a PG dominant league for the past few seasons, but the jack-of-all trades super athletic big man era is being reborn —AD is its face.
Jimmer Fredette: Whatever his current song is
Sorry, I’ve not been able to figure out what Jimmer’s current track is. I tried Shazaming it, but my phone responded, "No way that's a real song." That being said, I think it’s perfect. I picture Jimmer driving around in a stark and dingy B&W city (think Frank Miller’s Sin City) in a brand new yellow Volkswagen Beetle convertible with a unicorn riding shotgun and a back seat filled with teddybears. As this track blasts from his stereo, cartoon bluebirds circle his head and rainbows pour out of his exhaust pipe painting the city bright, colorful and completely welcoming like some Disney cartoon on acid.
Loved Despite of Great Faults" by Blonde Redhead
This has less to do with Jimmer than it does with all those Jimmermaniacs. I tend to believe Jimmermania has a lot to do with his, "being white" and his amazingly non-threatening vibe. That being said, he is adored like one of the league’s greatest players despite being a pretty terrible defender and not even being a consistent offensive threat. But hey, congrats on all the love. We should all be so lucky.
Anything by Froggy Fresh (formerly Krispy Kreme)
Once Krispy Kreme changed his name to Froggy Fresh giving in to a clampdown from the corporate glazed law firm representing the donut chain, I kind of lost interest in his once brilliant career. You could really slot any of his tracks in there for Jimmer, but I’ve chosen, "The Coolest Guys" for the example because of it’s great basketball references. "Dunked On" is also worthy, but "The Baddest" will always be my fave.
Omer Asik: "Axel F (Beverly Hills Cop Main Theme)" by Harold Faltermeyer
Using the Turkish national anthem because Asik is Turkish is sooooo lazy. I hate it. We’re better than that. Personally, I can’t look at Omer and not think about how much he looks like Judge Reinhold, so this one is a no-brainer for me. HERE'S some bonus footage for you. There was a moment in that episode where the jury — which was made up of basketball legends is introduced like a NBA pregame production, but I couldn’t find a clip of it.
"Drop it Like It’s Hot" by Snoop Dog or Cash Money Millionaires
This is a homage to a typical Omer Asik bobbled interior pass from a penetrating guard. I’m more partial to the Cash Money track, but I can’t find a clip. Everyone already knows the Snoop cut.
"Bricks" by Hurray for the Riff Raff
58% from the charity stripe....
Russ Smith: "Just One More Day" by Otis Redding
Russ Smith begs for one more day on the bench next to AD and crew in reaction to his on-and-off tenure in the D-League.
Jrue Holiday: "I Want It" by B.G.
"I want it, you got it, don't make me have to go in your pocket." A perfect ode to Jrue’s 1.6 steals per game, and B.G.’s best track.
"Datskat" by the Roots
"I know you dig it when I kick it, baby." I love Jrue Holiday, but sometimes he (and really all of our guards) enters the hero ball zone in the fourth. This is a reminder to him that we really like it when he is kicking it out to teammates (mainly, AD) for better shots.
Austin Rivers: "Shimmy Shimmy Ya" by Ol’ Dirty Bastard, but covered by the El Michel’s Affair
Our guards can all be guilty of over-dribbling and trying to dance around their defenders. Sorry Austin, but you are going to be the face of that problem in this piece. Rivers is definitely a Reggie Bush-like shimmyer in the lane. However, he doesn’t have the grit, ruggedness and wild side to truly associate him with ODB, so I’ve gone with the much friendlier El Michel’s Affair version of this classic track. Austin is more of a Young Cleanly Fortunate Son.
"Fortunate Son" by Creedence Clearwater Revival
This is just to satisfy and fuel those crazy conspiracy theorists who like to say Austin is on the team and gets Jimmer’s playing time because Monty Williams is doing Doc Rivers a favor. Put the aluminum foil on your heads, install an IP address blocker and rock out to this —you wackos.
Dante Cunningham: "It’s Bigger Than Hip Hop (Hip-Hop Remix)" by Dead Prez featuring Tahir and People’s Army
You guys may recognize this remix as the monologue intro track from Chappelle’s Show. This choice has little to do with lyrical content and everything to do with the tough as a $5 steak night remixed track. Really, I would just like to hear this on a nightly basis. If Dante did roll with this track and I was the point guard, I’d constantly be trying to get him shots so we could all get hyped to this several times a game.
"Brass Knuckle Sandwich" by Braid
This one goes out to Harrison Barnes’ nose.
"I Ain’t No Joke" by Eric B. and Rakim
He’s old school and when he’s defending you it isn’t funny.
"Glue Man" by Fugazi
Dante immediately clicked with his teammates. He turned the previously raggedy bench unit into a more cohesive functioning part of the team. He’s able to fit in with any collection of players he’s thrown into action with. He’s the ultimate glue guy.
"The Harder They Come" by Jimmy Cliff
Another ode to Harrison Barnes’ nose.
Ryan Anderson: "Hot N Cold" by Katy Perry
"You're hot then you're cold.
You're yes then you're no.
You're in then you're out.
You're up then you're down."
Ryan Anderson is having a weird season. He’s had a few 8/12 from 3pt range games with way too many 1/7 nights sprinkled in between. He has been our most inconsistent player so far this season. He’s super dangerous. He can kill a team when he’s on, but he can also kill us when he’s off. When he’s on, it’s so energizing. When he’s off, he starts taking really bad shots and fails to move the ball — it’s deflating.
"Sure Shot" by Beastie Boys
These are meant to scoring bumper tunes, this one assumes he’s back in form making his open looks and his Jordan-esque spinning fadeaways.
"On Fire" by Sebadoh
"And now it feels like I’m on fire. These words are not the truth. But don’t hold it against me, ‘cuz I know you're lying, too." This one is for those off nights, when he starts jacking up contested shots irrationally because he thinks he will catch fire.
Jeff Withey: "Trapped in a Basement" by Black Lips
"I'm trapped in a basement
And there's no way out
I'm a papa's favorite
Without a doubt"
We need to send a team of first responders to free Jeff Withey from the the pile of rubble and shackles Monty has him buried under and chained to. He’s averaging 0.6 blocks a game while only playing 6.7 minutes. Let him out of the basement and into the block party. Jeff and Luke need to go to an underutilized players therapy session somewhere.
"Invisible Man" by the Breeders
Alexis Ajinca: "How’d You Pin That One On Me" by Dinosaur Jr.
"How'd you pin that one on me?
Haven't even done it yet
How can that be?"
This one gave Eric Gordon and "Accident Prone" a run for its money. When you collect three fouls during player introductions, you have to ask the question.
Monty Williams: "Wrong" by Archers of Loaf
I know, I know. Coaches don’t get a soundtrack, but…….
"You've got it all wrong,
You can't get it right.
Why don't you come down
From off my back.
And won't you get yourself a job somewhere away from me?
Cause I don't want you to see your face anymore.
Cause I don't want you on my case in the morning.
I'm just being honest,
It's the least I could do.
You say I'll never be honest with you,
‘Cause you don't deserve it anyway."
I’m all out on Monty. I was for years. I tried to give him a long leash this season, but he keeps reverting to past disasters. Look, I’m a very calm guy and I realize that basketball is just a game and isn’t really that important in the grand scheme of life, but he infuriates me. My season tickets are dangerously close to the bench and I fear I may one day completely blow a fuse. I was dangerously close last season while Anthony Morrow and his 21pts sat on the bench watching a 12pt lead he built wilt away for the final 8 minutes of a game that we ended up losing to the Spurs.
"End the Reign" by Fishbone
No more skipping on 2 for 1s, no more terrible rotations, no more weird stints in the doghouse and no more waiting until the plane crashes into the mountain to call a timeout.
"Confusion" by Lee Dorsey
This song plays in my head everytime I see a Monty Williams close-up sitting squinty eyed and mouth agape on the bench in a poorly fitted suit.
Dell Demps: "Dumpster Dive" by Black Lips
If Monty gets a song, Dell needs one too.
"I woke up where the sunshine bleeds
Looking in a garbage bin
And I ain't seen some good trash since I
Since I don't know when
Since I don't know when
I went out dumpster diving
Found some dirt painted gold
I kept some dusty silver
All covered up in mold"
Dell is the ultimate dumpster diver. He’s made a habit of looking into other teams and league’s trash bins and bringing arguably useful parts to the roster. Jrue Holiday, Tyreke Evans, Omer Asik, Ryan Anderson, Luke Babbitt, Dante Cunningham and even if it kind of pains me to say it, Jimmer Fredette can all be viewed as guys other teams felt they no longer needed, but have been solid contributors to our team in my opinion. (The National narrative says otherwise.) A cast of misfits in a town that celebrates weirdness. I just wish he would have left John Salmons next to that sour milk carton with his picture on it.
Wasn’t this piece random enough already? But here’s one last thing, can we replace, "Clap Clap Clap Your Hands" with Juvenile’s "Nolia Clap"? Thanks.