Universe begins repaying Sonics fans for five years of misery with Hall of Fame inductions

5 Apr

Sonics fans will get to see two beloved superstars of the past be recognized in Springfield this Fall. Gary Payton will join the hall in his first year of eligibility, and Spencer Haywood will join in his…26th year of eligibility. Payton, a nine time all star and All-NBA selection, former Defensive Player of the Year, and one-time NBA champion with not the Seattle Supersonics, *sigh*, was considered a shoo-in as a first ballet HOFer.

Haywood, on the other hand, was considered by many to be one of the best players not in the hall. Haywood averaged 19.2 points and 9.3 rebounds during his 13-year NBA career, including 24.9/12.1 in his five years with the Supes. In his second year, the Sonics achieved their first winning season in franchise history, led by Haywood, Dick Snyder, and player/coach Lenny Wilkens to a 47-35 record. Haywood also won a championship with the Lakers in 1980, but missed several playoff games after being suspended by the team for drug use, and was cut at the end of the season. Haywood is most famous for challenging the NBA’s rule that a player must be four years removed from high school in order to be eligible. The Supreme Court ruled in his favor 7-2, paving the way for future players to join the league straight out of high school, and beginning his career as a Seattle Supersonic. After clashing with coach Bill Russell, he was traded to the Knicks in 1975 for Gene Short, who was widely considered to be less good at basketball than Haywood.

Aside from these inductions, Sonics fans are still having the prospects of an NBA team in the Key next season being dangled in front of them. It’ll be one hell of an opening night, celebrating a five year NBA hiatus by raising recent Hall of Fame inductee Gary Payton’s jersey up to hang next to recent Hall of Fame inductee Spencer Haywood’s jersey. I will probably definitely cry.

Speaking of the relocation saga, both potential ownership groups and city officials presented to a handful of NBA owners and officials on Wednesday. While there were lots of positive things said about both groups, we’ll start really hearing news in 13 days, when the NBA BOG meeting begins and decides whether or not to approve the sale to Hansen.


EDIT: Nevermind, the world is a terrible place.



Happy Holidays – Words, and then a Sacramento update

31 Mar

Good morning blawg family,

Today marks the end of the glorious month of March – a month that gave us madness, a loose arena plan in Sacramento, former Sonic Reggie Evans joining the 20/20 club, and a particularly handsome Sonics blogger’s 21st birthday (ladies, feel free to give me a follow on twitter, @gnarbok). To cap it all off, Rainier popped out for an unusually sunny Cesar Chavez day in Seattle! We may not have a basketball team, but being right smack in the middle of the Cascade and Olympic mountain ranges makes spring in Seattle one helluva treat.

While Seattle gets a healthy dose of sun, former Sonics and Huskies around the league have been shining bright in recent weeks. Nate Robinson has had a terrific month for the Bulls, averaging 16 points and six assists in 30 minutes a game, while shooting a robust 48% from the field and 44% from three. This month’s highlights include 34 points in a loss against Denver a couple weeks ago, and 14 in just 21 minutes in the win that snapped Miami’s 27 game winning streak. In Brooklyn, former Sonic Reggie Evans has also been having a fantastic month, grabbing 15.5 rebounds in just 28 minutes a night. On Wednesday, he had a career night in Portland, with 22 points and 26 rebounds. I like to think of it as a weird kind of revenge game against the team who fired Nate McMillan, Evans’ first NBA coach, who gave the undrafted rookie free agent a shot in the starting lineup for the Sonics in ’02-03. Today, eight days after former Husky Justin Dentmon got a ten day contract with the Mavericks, another former Husky, Justin Holiday, got a shot with the 76ers, where his brother Jrue (UCLA) starts at point guard. And finally, maybe the best news about a former Seattle star – KEVIN DURANT WAS PICTURED SUPPORTING OUR SUBPAR BASEBALL TEAM LOOK LOOK LOOK!!!

2013-03-31 18.27.01

*photo cred @ArashMarkazi

Durant has long shown respect for the city where he played his rookie season, but donning a Mariners hat in OKC, on the eve of opening day , was pretty awesome to see.

So enough about the past and the weather – let’s do a Kings update. Ten days ago, it was announced that billionaire and Warriors minority owner Vivek Ranadive would be joining the proposed Kings investor group, giving them an infusion of wealth that could close the gap between their bid and Hansen’s, after NBA commissioner David Stern acknowledged the Sacramento bid was “not quite there”compared to the $341 million Hansen agreed to purchase 65% of the team for. Two days later, some more highly anticipated news came out, when Sac. City officials announced they had reached a deal with the ownership group on a non-binding term sheet for a $447 million dollar arena. The arena would be owned by the city and operated by the Kings ownership group, and includes $258 million in public financing. While it is still in its early stages, the arena plan looks promising, and the NBA will be hard pressed to turn down a city offering to fund roughly 60% of a $450 million dollar arena.

Hansen countered Sacramento’s moves on Wednesday, by submitting the winning bid of $15.1 million for the7% minority stake in the Kings being sold through bankruptcy court. It’s a surprisingly low figure, in fact it comes out to about 40% of the value of the team using the $341 million figure used to buy the 65% stake in January. Furthermore, it’s not his yet – current King’s minority owners have 15 days to match the offer, and mayor Kevin Johnson says they intend to do so. Even if they passed, the NBA would have to approve the ownership stake at the same time they approve the sale of the 65% share. The Kings minority owners also have first right of refusal to the 65% share, which may or may not lead to an ugly legal battle in upcoming months. There is speculation that if Hansen buys the 7%, he would be included as a minority owner, and therefore, Chris Hansen would have the right to match the bid that Chris Hansen made for the team.

If true, it’s a great move for him, but other reports suggested that the buyer of the bankruptcy share would not inherit first right of refusal. If it were true, you’d imagine there would have been more of a fight for the 7%, as opposed to Hansen being the only bidder.

The city of Sacramento will be giving a presentation to the NBA on Wednesday, where they hope to persuade the Board of Governer’s to block the sale at the Board of Governors’ meeting  two weeks later. We likely won’t hear any news on Wednesday, but rather a whole lot of feelings from Kevin Johnson and various NBA sources. April 19th still remains the date to mark on your calendars, as the fate of NBA basketball in Sacramento will likely be decided then.

Tune in again soon, as I hope to begin doing relocation updates more regularly. Here’s to hoping none of you took my bracket advice!


Advanced Bracketology with Brandon

18 Mar

Hey u guys,

It’s everyone’s favorite time of the year – March Madness! Yesterday was selection Sunday, and we’ve been presented with 64 of the most scrumptious basketball teams in all of the college basketball leagues. So now it’s time for an American tradition as old as America itself – filling out our brackets! Now I hear some of you folks out there saying things like “But I like don’t even watch college basketball”. And that’s okay, neither do I! Bracketology is less about an intimate knowledge of the field and more about developing your own stupid rules for filling out a bracket, telling your friends it was just for the giggles, and getting to tell people you’re a wizard from the future if shit gets crazy and you happen to get it mostly right. Here are my personal rules for filling out a bracket:

  1. Pick schools with really cool names
  2. Pick alma maters of former Sonics /NBA players that I like
  3. Pick schools who share names with former Sonics
  4. By rules 1 and 3, Xavier wins whenever they are in the tournament
  5. Ivy League winner gets to the Final Four unless they run into Xavier
  6. Teams with good cross country programs get an edge
  7. Schools I don’t like lose in the first round (See ya, The Ohio State University, you pricks)
  8. Disregard these rules if I change my mind for whatever reason, make up new ones along the way

Pretty simple. There are lots of fun rules you can make up for yourself. I intend to one day count the number of vowels in the names of all the players on each roster and determine winners solely based on that. Maybe pick teams by who has the best jersey colors. Have fun with it guys. Live, laugh, love. Anyway, here’s the breakdown of my bracket.


#1 Louisville vs #16 NCAT/LIB

This is a play in game and I don’t know either of the teams vying for the 16 seed. However, I think LIB is Liberty, and they are the alma mater of Sammy Chelanga, former NCAA XC champion. Also this is America. LIBERTY!

#8 CSU vs Missouri

I love Cansas State University! CSU!

#5 Oklahoma State vs  #12 Oregon

Two of the best Cross Country programs in the nation right now, but Oregon’s recent success and storied history beats out OK State’s recent success and less storied history.  Oregon.

#4 SLU vs #13 NMSU

I used to work in South Lake Union and it’s a nice area. SLU.

#6 Memphis vs #11 MTU/SMC

Why the hell are they doing play in games for an 11 seed? Can’t they just make one of them a 12 seed and have a 16 play in? Why not just make the first round more exciting and have two #1s do a play in game? Whatever. I like the song “Walking in Memphis” by Marc Cohn so Memphis it is.

#3 MSU vs #14 VALP

I’ve just discovered I can scroll over the abbreviation to see the full school name just in time for a college I’d never heard of. Valparaiso!

#7 Creighton vs #10 Cincinnati

Cincinnati is the alma mater of Danny Fortson and Art Long, the latter of whom was arrested for  punching a university police horse while out one night with Fortson. Cincinnati.

#2 Duke vs #15 Albany

ALBY is a dumb abbreviation for Albany so Duke.

2nd Round

#16 Liberty vs #8 CSU

Turns out Kansas is spelled with a K. For their deception I end CSU’s run here. Liberty.

#12 Oregon vs #4 SLU

Another misinterpreted abbreviation, but Oregon’s ugly court spells a loss for them in the second round. Saint Louis.

#6 Memphis vs #14 Valparaiso

Valpa-raise-the-Lord-o we’re going to the sweet 16! Valparaiso.

#2 Duke vs #10 Cinicinnati

OK punching a police horse is a good enough reason for two straight upsets. Cincinnati.

Sweet 16

#16 Liberty vs #4 Saint Louis

Liberty hasn’t actually even played their way into the tourney so I probably shouldn’t push them too deep oh well whatever. Liberty.

#14 Valparaiso vs #10 Cincinnati

Valparaiso’s cool name continues to propel it through the tourney. Farewell Art Long. Valparaiso.

Elite 8

#16 Liberty vs #14 Valparaiso

This is tough, but I’m going to have to go with Cool name over the 10,000m NCAA record holder. It was a great run Sam! Valparaiso.


#1 Gonzaga vs #16 Southern University

RIP Adam Morrison. Gonzaga.

#8 Pittsburgh vs #9 Wichita State

Not much going on here so shout out to Dejuan Blair, who continues to inspire people by playing professional basketball without ACLs. Pittsburgh.

#5 Wisconsin vs #12 Missouri

Wisconsin Wizards makes so much sense but they did some other stupid team name so Missouri.

#4 Kansas State University vs Boise State/La Salle

Since I already said I liked Kansas State I should probably advance them. KSU.

#6 Arizona vs #11 Belmont

I enjoyed pretending BEL was for Bel-Air so here’s to the Fresh Prince. Belmont.

#3 UNM vs #14 Harvard

Harvard (See above, Ivy League Rule.)

#7 Notre Dame vs #10 Iowa State University

Damn Iowa State you guys put white dudes in the NBA almost as often as Duke. For Fred Hoiberg, ISU.

#2 Ohio State vs #15 Iona

The First Round Exit. Iona.

2nd Round

#1 Gonzaga vs #8 Pittsburgh

It’s a battle between Ronny Turiaf and Dejuan Blair, which sound slike a hilarious game of 1 on 1. So anyway I’ll do a coin flip for this one. Heads, Gonzaga, tails, Pittsburgh. /flips coin. Heads! Sorry Pitt. Zags.

#12 Missouri vs #4 Kansas State

Anthony Peeler and Keyon Dooling went to Missouri so I’m going to assume they have lots of short fun guards who like to shoot. Missouri.

#11 Belmont vs #14 H

Harvard. Final Answer.

#10 Iowa State vs #15 Iona

Iona had a nice XC program and Northshore School District Jr HS Mile record holder Doug Holt wa son their team a few years ago. Love for my suburbs. Iona.

Sweet 16

#1 Gonzaga vs #12 Missouri

Love for my home state and John Stockton. Zags.

#14 Harvard vs #15 Iona

You guys should probably have already figured this out. Harvard.

Elite 8

#1 Gonzaga vs #14 Harvard

Despite the best efforts of the Bulldogs, it turns out they’re all bark and no bite, and Harvard Crimsons their way to a win. Harvard


#1Kansas vs #16 Western Kentucky

There’s something kind of beautiful about Kentucky not getting in when Western Kentucky cemented their place as a 16 seed for the 107th straight year. Kansas wins though because Nick Collison. Kansas.

#8 UNC vs #9 Villanova

My last name is Cunningham and Dante Cunningham went to Villanova. WAIT WAT BILLY CUNNINGHAM WENT TO UNC?! SHIT! Still Villanova.

#5 Virginia Commonwealth vs #12 Akron

Akron is the hometown of Lebron James, and probably has almost as good of a team as St. Vincent – St. Mary High school did in 2003. Akron.

#4 Michigan vs #13 South Dakota State

Michigan because that’ll just be salt in the wound for fans of The Ohio State University. Michigan.

#6 UCLA vs #11 Minnesota

My Dad got stuck in the Duluth airport once and it was a pretty lousy experience and Duluth is in Minnesota so UCLA

#3 Florida vs #14 Northwestern State

Northwestern isn’t a state u idiots. Florida

#7 San Diego State vs #10 Oklahoma

Oklahoma shouldn’t even be watching this they have a pro team to root for and OH GOD THEY’RE SO GOOD I MISS THE SONICS WAHHHH. SDSU

#2 Georgetown vs #15 Florida Gulf Coast

It’s always fun to discover a college you never knew existed. Anyway Georgetown because Patrick Ewing (excuse me, FORMER SONIC Patrick Ewing). Georgetown

2nd Round

#1 Kansas vs #9 Villanova

Sonics connection beats last name connection. Also I’m thin on high seeds so I should probably keep pushing Kansas through. Kansas

#12 Akron vs #4 Michigan

I have extended family in Akron so sure enjoy the Sweet 16 guys! Akron

#6 UCLA vs #3 Florida

Bill Walton >>>>>>>>>>. UCLA

#7 San Diego State vs #2 Georgetown

San Diego has nice weather and DC has Congress so DC clearly needs something to be happy about more than San Diego. Georgetown.

Sweet 16

#1 Kansas vs #12 Akron

Wait I put Akron in the Sweet 16? Kansas

#6 UCLA vs #2 Georgetown

Fight the East Coast bias! Pac-12 4ever! UCLA.

Elite 8

I’ll send a one seed to the Final four just so I can give one of the 14’s another sick upset. Kansas


#1 Indiana vs #16 LIU/JMU

The scrollover thing isn’t working so I don’t even know who the play-in teams are. Indiana

#8 NC State vs #9 Temple

Nate McMillan alma mater Final Four run! NC State

Since I’ve already picked the Final Four team lets speed things up. Cal over UNLV for the Pac 12, Syracuse over Montana for fun name, Bucknell over Butler because I hate white people, Marquette over Davidson because cool name, Illinois over Colorado because I want to go to bed, Pacific over Miami because the Pacific Ocean is kind of a big deal. 2nd round gives us NC State over Indy, Cal over Syracuse, Marquette over Bucknell, Pacific over Illinois. Sweet 16 is NC State over Cal and Marquette over Pacific and you know who wins the Elite 8.

Final Four

NC State over Kansas. Valparaiso over Harvard.

The games don’t even matter, they’re going to announce that Gary Payton will be inducted into the BBHOF at halftime of one of these games, and that’s all that really matters in this world.

National Championship

It was a fun year. We learned about new schools like Valparaiso and Florida Gulf Coast University or whatever. We stuck it to Ohio State. We laughed. We cried. We punched police horses. In the end, we have to very worthy teams in the National Championship game, but sharing a name with the Sonic with the coolest name of all time wins. Despite their omission from the bracket, I pick Xavier to win the National Championship game. Congrats guys!

Thanks for coming y’all. If you’re still reading this, wow there are a lot cooler things on the internet get out there and explore buddy. Stay tuned for my Oscars picks in a few weeks.



EDIT: Turns out I put Mississippi in the sweet 16 thinking they were Missouri. Whatever, they can stay. ?Anyway, here’s a picture of my bracket for you visual learners out there.


Sacramento update and stuff

1 Mar

Greetings faithful disciples,

I’m back after a 3 week sabbatical, which is another way of saying I was busy and did a shitty job of posting things. Luckily, if you are reading this, there is a high probability that you are my dad, so I’m not letting down anyone that I haven’t already disappointed (sorry I’m not a doctor, pops).

So as I’m late to the show, I’ve missed the opportunity to gush over Gary Payton, among other things. Payton was elected as a finalist for the Basketball HOF, and will almost surely be announced as a first-ballot hall of famer on April 6th. Also a finalist is Spencer Haywood, the first Sonics superstar and the last to have his jersey retired by the team. He’s much less of a shoo-in but cross your fingers or dot your i’s or whatever and hope for the best. I also missed 2/20/13 – the ten year anniversary of the trade that ended Payton’s 999 game career as a Supersonic and brought Ray Allen to Seattle. I still remember in great detail everything about that afternoon: thinking my friend’s brother was trolling us when he told us Payton AND fan favorite Desmond Mason we’re being shipped to Milwaukee, trying not to cry, crying.  In the end, as Kevin Pelton pointed out, the trade was good for the Sonics. They landed a notably younger franchise player, a future first round pick that became starting PG Luke Ridnour, and two throw ins who stepped up and were valuable players on shorthanded teams over the next season and a half, Kevin Ollie and Flip Murray (I promise I will someday do a post on the phenomenon that was 2003 Flip Murray).

Anyway, Payton will get announced as a HOFer in 5 weeks, has a birthday in July, and will get inducted in the fall, so I’ll have plenty of time to put him on the pedestal he belongs on later. So that’s enough of the stuff and its time we moved on to the first part of the title.

Yesterday, Sacramento mayor Kevin Johnson announced at a press conference attended by ~3,000 that LA Fitness owner Mark Mastrov was leading a group of investors who ended up submitting a bid for the Kings to the NBA today, and billionaire Ron Burkle would be working with this group to fund an arena. Furthermore, KJ locked up $50 million in corporate sponsorships for the first 5 years in Sacramento, announced beloved former Kings star Mitch Ritchmond would be a minority owner, and that the city also intended to bring back the Sacramento Monarchs WNBA franchise to play in the new arena. Burkle and Mastrov were believed by many to be the “whales” that Kevin Johnson was referring to, and indeed, they stepped up.

This group has many hurdles to clear before the April 19th Board of Governor’s Meeting to approve the Hansen sale. First of all, Yahoo! reporter Adrian Wojnarowski reports that the Mastrov bid is “slightly less” than the $341 million dollar offer the Maloof incubi accepted for 65% ownership of the team in January. This isn’t necessarily shocking, since the lead of the investment team has a net worth barely higher than the Hansen group’s offer for the team. Even if they did approach the bid, you’d think the Hansen/Ballmer group could up there own offer, since, y’know, Steve Ballmer is worth 19 billion doll-hairs (did you guys like that joke? A – yes B- go to hell Brandon). Its hard to imaine the BOG saying “hey, you guys can’t accept this offer because you need to accept this offer for less money srry :/”. Ignoring the differences in bids, the Mastrov/Burkle group has 7 weeks to present an arena plan, buy land for said arena, have the plan approved by city council, state legislature, Obama (more jokes), and the NBA. Its a long process, and the NBA isn’t likely to turn down a group that would begin construction almost immediately for one that has an incomplete arena proposal. When the BOG compares the two bids and proposals in April, Hansen’s will be clearly better on paper.

That being said, Sacramento has nice chances. Their proposal is actually very good on paper, if things move forward as expected. Ripping a team away from a loyal fan base is an ugly process, and its going to be difficult for the BOG to justify relocating when a solid arena plan and ownership group are in place in Sacramento. Even if the Mastrov bid falls short, Kings minority owner John Kehriotis has announced he intends to submit a bid as backup plan, if the Mastrov bid falls through. This is important, given the fact that the King’s minority owners were supposed to have first right of refusal when the Maloofs decided to sell the team. Having a legal right to buy the team seems like an advantage when trying to buy the team. Unfortunately, this is the NBA we’re talking about. A monopoly who denies adults the right to work based on age, caps maximum wages, and is run by a group of lawyers probably isn’t worried about legal obligations.

Anyway, its safe to assume we’ll be seeing a whole lot of plans unveiled for a Sacramento arena in the near future, as they have a lot to reveal before April 19th. Stay tuned, my faithful Supes fans.

Peace, Love, and Respect to John Crotty

AP: Stern says Seattle group has filed for relocation

6 Feb

On Wednesday, David Stern told the Associated Press that the Seattle based ownership group who has agreed to buy the Sacramento Kings has filed for relocation. Not a whole ton to say here — the deadline was March 1st and it is something that had to happen. We’re a long way from moving vans, as Sacramento based groups, mayor Kevin Johnson, and Kings minority owners are all working to make sure the Kings don’t fall into Hansen’s hands. Both the sale and the relocation still need to be approved by the NBA, and although the league has been committed to getting a team to Seattle, you’d think some owners would have reservations about moving its second franchise in five years, especially considering Sacramento’s stellar attendance record, media market size, and the fact that the city agreed to an NBA friendly arena proposal just a year ago. So while this a relatively trivial development, stay tuned, you can expect lots of fireworks and ugly politics in the next few months!

Macklemore song with considerable thought and depth bastardized for kewl NBA ad

1 Feb

Wing$ original lyrics

Wing$ NBA All Star version


When I saw that the NBA/TNT used Macklemore and Ryan Lewis’ “Wing$” in a promotional anthem video for the NBA All-Star Game, I was a little surprised. The song opens with Macklemore recalling getting his first pair of Nikes at the age of seven, and like every kid, believing they’d give him that extra little boost on his jump, that he could soar like Mike, and all the heroes on TV throwing it down in Air Max’s. The song then takes a somber turn with the line “And then my friend Carlos’ brother got murdered for his Fours, whoa.” It goes on to explore the culture and reality of the release of these signature shoes – people were being killed for these hundred dollar gems, these treasures that Nike made up, that they sold to rabid consumers who idolized the men who wore them first.  “Look at me, look at me, I’m a cool kid /I’m an individual, yeah, but I’m part of a movement /My movement told me be a consumer and I consumed it /They told me to just do it, I listened to what that swoosh said /Look at what that swoosh did.”

One of the critiques of today’s NBA is that it is a superstar’s league, glorifying selfish basketball and marquee players rather than good, balanced, team basketball. Personally, I think this argument is generally pretty lazy and unsubstantiated, but I understand why it is out there. When the NBA gained popularity in the 80s and 90s, it was on the backs of dazzling superstar players, first Magic and Bird, and then to really take it over the top: Michael Jordan, His Airness, the man who became a million dollar brand. With the rise of the superstars came the rise in the bottom line, and the NBA did whatever they could to facilitate this. Nike was arguably the biggest benefactor, inking Jordan to a shoe deal, and the Jordans became possibly the most coveted pieces of footwear ever.   This opened the door for the NBA’s top tier of stars to get signature shoe deals. In the 90s Jordans were all the rage, and now special colorways of the newest Kobes will fetch $400+. With all this hype surrounding these players and these signature shoes, no matter how sky-high the price is, there will be people lining up out the door to buy them. And when they can’t buy them, they’ll steal them, from a store, out of a locker, or maybe somebody will get shot, so that they can take them right off his feet. The NBA , Nike, they sold this dream, this culture, and if you want to be like Mike, you MUST have these shoes. “But see I look inside the mirror and think Phil Knight tricked us all / Will I stand for change or stay in my box / These Nikes help me define me, but I’m trying to take mine, off”

So that brings us to the NBA All Star Game, maybe the best example of the NBA putting stars before all else in its marketing efforts. The signature shoes of tomorrow squaring off in the rookie sophomore game. The high flyers showing off their kicks as they soar to the rim in the slam dunk contest. And on Sunday, the 30 biggest stars play an unenthused exhibition game, relaxing on defense so that we get to see those signature shoes propel our idols into the air to finish an alley oop. It seems like this is not to kind of an event to use such a dark song as its anthem. It turns out, it didn’t.

The chorus of the song starts: “I want to fly /Can you take me far away? /Give me a star to reach for /Tell me what it takes /And I’ll go so high.” This chorus, and the ogling in the early stages of the song, are powerful when contrasted with the parts of the song which deal with the darker side of consumerism and greed as it relates to the NBA and Nikes supershoes. They illustrate the childlike passion for the game, and for chasing the dream of becoming one of the heroes on the court someday. But the chorus continues: “I’ll go so high /My feet won’t touch the ground /Stitch my wings / And pull the strings /I bought these dreams /That all fall down.” Here, we see him as he comes to understand that the shoes are a sham,  that he’s just paying to hold on to this grand fantasy that is being perpetuated, and that they don’t mean much at all. “This dream that they sold to you /For a hundred dollars and some change /Consumption is in the veins /And now I see it’s just another pair of shoes.” But the promotional video ignores this entire side of the song. There’s no mention of Nike tricking us, or consumption consuming us, or Carlos’ brother, murdered for his shoes. The video leads with samplings of the verse few stanzas, the lines which glorify the shoes, the thrill of playing in the Nike’s, imagining that you’re just like your hero. The vocals are background to a montage of the NBA’s biggest stars, Kobe, Lebron, Durant, Wade, Westbrook – - even a throwback of MJ at the mention of wanting to be “like Mike”. And then, the chorus, no longer contrasted with dark images of broken dreams. Just a chorus of kids, singing about how they’re gonna fly so high. And then these lines: “Look at me, look at me, I’m a cool kid / I’m an individual, yeah, but I’m part of a movement.” But instead of going on to talk about this movement, it cuts back to the chorus, now mention of this movement to “…listen to what the swoosh said”. Maybe the best contrast is seeing how each video ends. In the original, as he says the last two lines: “Consumption is in the veins /And now I see it’s just another pair of shoes”. He looks toward the ground, sad and disappointed, like he’s watching this fantasy slip away. They chose different verses from the song to play at the end of the NBA video: “They started out, with what I wear to school / That first day, like these are what make you cool / And this pair, this would be my parachute / ….  gonna make me fly”.

By selecting only these lyrics, this version of wings doesn’t lose its meaning, it has its meaning completely reversed. A song that scolded the idea of buying in to this elaborate dream, this greatness that could only be achieved by buying into the clever marketing of billion dollar companies, now invites you to do exactly that. Now the song itself, in its NBA/TNT form, isn’t awful. Had Wing$ never been written in full, this version would probably make a nice promotional song. The atrocity is what the foundation and the message of that song is, and how it was skewed to portray exactly the opposite. It’s like the GOP using “Born in the USA” at conferences. The main difference between these two situations is that Macklemore and Lewis apparently approved this rendition of their work, and were part of the promotion, appearing in the video. It’s disappointing, as Macklemore is hard not to root for, especially for someone from Seattle. I definitely wouldn’t call myself one of the biggest fans of his music, but I appreciate what he did with his music. The messages behind his songs are usually complex and well thought out, Wing$ being a great example. The messages in his music, and his using his platform to inspire positive change, has been a huge part of Macklemore’s identity to date. After seeing this, it’d hard not to question his sincerity, since he so willingly let the NBA bastardize the song and turn a thoughtful critique of the culture surrounding the NBA into an upbeat promotional piece.

“Will I stand for change or stay in my box?”

Good question.


22 Jan

Old, but good tribute to one of the best announcers in the NBA. I highly recommend the audio track, and you’ll notice that the end of the second paragraph explains this site’s name. The Vocal Stylings of Kevin Calabro, 1996


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