Post Rock's NBA Finals Preview

KG and Eddie Vedder both prefer hanging in the background.

There are basically two things that I care about: music and the NBA. If there's ever any chance to combine the two, I jump at it. So with the NBA Finals kicking off tonight I thought I'd take a look at the three best players on each team and assign them an equivalent musical act. It's an inexact science, of course. Feel free to chime in with differing opinions or comparisons for the players that didn't make the cut. Whoever comes up with the best Vladimir Radmanovic comp wins ... well, I can try to steal one of those Fix T-shirts from Cilizza's desk, if you want. (For the record, Lakers in 6.)

Kobe Bryant = Kanye West
Two people who are unquestionably at the top of their respective fields, yet are hated by many because of their selfish, petulant behavior. Kanye's first album was "The College Dropout" and Kobe went into the NBA right out of high school. Of course, Kobe has quieted many of his critics this year, so this comparison is predicting a future in which Kanye continues making great albums and starts to realize he isn't the only person on the planet. At the very least he can at least pretend that's the case, which is clearly what Kobe is doing.

Pau Gasol = Spoon
Everybody loves Pau these days, and he deserves every bit of praise he's received since the Lakers traded for stole him from the Grizzlies. But as NBA diehards, fantasy basketballers and all 29 of the Memphis Grizzlies fans know very well, Gasol has always been this good. Look at his numbers with the Lakers and they are perfectly in line with what he's done the rest of his career. It's sort of the same deal with Spoon. Yes, their recent albums, especially " Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga," are fantastic. But so is everything in their entire catalogue, dating all the way back to "Telephono" and the "Soft Effects" EP. Just because people are finally noticing them now doesn't mean they weren't always great.

Lamar Odom = Grateful Dead
The wildcard. You never knew what you were going to get at a Grateful Dead show, just like you never know what you're going to get from Odom. One night the Dead might be firing on all cylinders, making those hippies twirl with glee. On other nights it could be a mess of going-nowhere jams. (Of course, the hippies still twirled with glee.) Odom has the ability to drop a triple-double - but he's also capable of scoring four points while making too many ill-advised passes. It's hard to know what to expect from game to game. Also, both have their, uh, histories with marijuana.

Kevin Garnett = Pearl Jam
This was a tough one. I sort of wanted to go with Kanye, with the parallel being that both are great but lack the ability to win the big one. But that would involve admitting that music awards are relevant, so that's a non-starter. I sort of wanted to go with Nine Inch Nails, too, because of all the over-the-top screaming and yelling that's clearly overcompensating for something, but that would be an insult to KG. So Pearl Jam gets the nod for one main reason. After Kurt Cobain killed himself, everything was set up perfectly for Pearl Jam to become the biggest band in the world. They were already arguably the most popular band but that's when they had the chance to rise to super-ultra-mega-stardom. But what happened? They made a "difficult" album in "Vitalogy," quit touring so they could fight Ticketmaster and stopped making videos. Now granted, "Vitalogy" is their best record, Ticketmaster is evil and videos are lame. You can't argue with the path Pearl Jam took in terms of doing things the right way, just like KG's unselfish play is the "right" way. But both had the chance to step and up and assert themselves and balked at the opportunity.

Paul Pierce = Jack White
This was the toughest one of the batch and I had to call in some help from a fellow basketball junkie, Ben. His logic - Pierce was immensely talented but held back by a lackluster supporting cast, just like Jack White was held back by Meg. Once Jack White was around some quality players (in the Raconteurs) he's still very good but not quite as great as you'd expect him to be, kind of like Pierce's season with the Celtics. Still, with both the Raconteurs and the Celtics, if there's going to be a big shot or great song, it's going to be White/Pierce who is responsible.

Ray Allen = The Strokes
Both are really, really good at that one thing they do, but outside of that one thing, there's not a whole lot to offer. When Ray Allen's jumper isn't falling, he's hurting you out there. When the Strokes aren't playing brash, three-minute garage rock tunes, they're not worth listening to. Also, if this postseason and "First Impressions of Earth" are any indication, a sudden and severe drop off looks to be in the cards for both.

By David Malitz |  June 5, 2008; 11:49 AM ET Sports
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Whoa, what happened to Celtics in 5?

Radmanovic = Devandra Banhart (beardy/grimy/overrated). I don't want a Fix shirt but if Cillizza has an old concert T from The Fixx, send it my way.

Posted by: Jumbo Slice | June 5, 2008 1:57 PM

Not a player, but...

Doc Rivers=George Clinton

The respective conductors of the madness. Each was/is in charge of a group of insanely gifted players and somehow succeeded in harnessing the egos and the talents to create a gloriously unified sum. And also, let's be honest--neither is truly as great as they're cracked up to be.

Posted by: Adam | June 5, 2008 2:48 PM

Let's go with Sam Cassell and the Steve Miller Band. They both keep hangin' around and collecting big paychecks but they are one-note ponies. Sam continues to jack up jumper after jumper as if he is impervious to any criticism that might come his way. Steve Miller rehashes all his big hits in concert (the last 10 which were pretty much the same song) and acts like all is right with the world. They both need to know when to simply walk away.

Posted by: GSM | June 6, 2008 1:55 PM

Rajon Rondo = My Morning Jacket. both from Louisville. basically i'm just proud of my hometown!

Posted by: msto | June 11, 2008 2:50 PM

Jack held back by Meg? Please. She's what keeps the White Stripes from being just another band with a white guy playing the blues. Her simple stomp beat means the focus is on the songs. I'm sure Jack had plenty of chances to get some sick drummer, but he stayed with Meg. Good career move, I think.

Posted by: Sequoia | June 18, 2008 10:51 AM

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