The resurrected NBA season kicks off (thankfully, finally) on Sunday. To celebrate, we’ve paired each team with a notable album from the past year; the list, with tweet-sized justifications, is below. (NB, although the NBA-savvy of you might have already figured this out: The teams are listed in approximate ascending order, with the last-place team kicking things off and the first-place team all the way at the bottom. Sorry, Cleveland!)
Cleveland Cavaliers—”Weird Al” Yankovic, Alpocalypse: The world needs laughter. While a whole world written in Comic Sans would be intolerable, it’s okay to check in every once in a while.
Charlotte Bobcats—Oneohtrix Point Never, Replica: When a whole bunch of people stand with their mouths open, they might be fascinated. But if they’re not dancing, they might just be appalled.
Washington Wizards—Rihanna, Talk That Talk: Sexier, sunnier, and more upbeat than the recent past would indicate. Is anything behind this new bounciness, or are we all just drunk on love?
Toronto Raptors—Nickelback, Here and Now: These dinosaurs just keep plodding on, conditioned by instinct to stick to well-worn paths. They can be fun in a low-rent sort of way.
Sacramento Kings—Lady Gaga, Born This Way: Passionately devoted fans deserve the best you can give them. “Originality” is overrated, perhaps, but wish the carpet matched the drapes a little more.
Minnesota Timberwolves—The Original 7ven, Condensate: No respect? No problem! Just get a steady rhythm (an underrated goal), add some sick shit skill-wise, and top it all with chilly champagne cool.
Utah Jazz—Red Hot Chili Peppers, I’m With You: Not quite funky, a little too sincere, best days and fun times and MVPs long gone by. But don’t write off their hardheadedness or their resolve.
Detroit Pistons—Kurt Vile, Smoke Ring for My Halo: There are always bumpy roads when irrepressible youth takes over from boring old fogey stogies. A clean controlled burn readies the world for new growth.
New Orleans Hornets—Lil Wayne, Tha Carter IV: Shit got real. Expectations, once so high, are now dashed by fate and the heavy hand of The Man. To rebound is tough… but it’s been done before.
Golden State Warriors—SFJazz Collective, Music of Stevie Wonder and New Compositions: Assemble a crew of talented improvisers. Now dress ’em up and expect a big band swing? Recipe for trouble, and diminishing returns, in the City.
Phoenix Suns—PJ Harvey, Let England Shake: Never turn your back on a rabble-rouser with skills and heart. Sadly, though, a lot of the effort is lost in translation. Authority always wins.
Houston Rockets—Bam Bam, Futura Via: Unless you’re paying careful attention, you won’t know everything going down down here. If you are, you’ll trip out. Surreal times call for psychedelic measures.
New Jersey Nets—Tyler, the Creator, Goblin: Nets: Mostly underwhelming and ugly, despite big energy and cool highlights. What really matters is off in an odd future, across a dirty river.
Milwaukee Bucks—Das Racist, Relax: People never get hurt jumping off a bandwagon; it’s the jumping back on that breaks bones. So shut up, dude, and sit down, man.
Indiana Pacers—Pistol Annies, Hell on Heels: Lose your baggage and invite some new rowdy friends to the party. Don’t worry if someone ends up crying—can’t make omelets any other way.
Atlanta Hawks—Danny Brown, XXX: Underdog mode wins you lots of fans everywhere, especially with your explosive habits. Seems like ANYTHING might happen at any moment… including burnout.
San Antonio Spurs—Anthony Hamilton, Back to Love: Damn right it’s old school, and tons of Pop hooks. But there’s a lot bubbling under the surface, some of it surprisingly progressive.
Portland Trail Blazers—Liturgy, Aesthethica: Massive shrieking doom going down. But maybe transcendence too—and leavened with a funkier beat this time. (Hipster cred for days, which is also a trap.)
New York Knicks—Frank Ocean, Nostalgia, Ultra: Love the scrappiness and new creativity. Bemoan the sloppiness and slow tempos. Big year, big moves, no idea what happens next.
Boston Celtics, TV on the Radio, Nine Types of Light: The template (multiple focal points, grind-it-out sweat equity, brainy passion) has worked in the past. But it’s harder to hear the beat these days.
Orlando Magic—Shabazz Palaces, Black Up: Wasn’t so long ago that everything was cool like that and sexy. Now it’s all fractured; the former smiley-faced superman wove himself some downer threads.
Philadelphia 76ers—The Roots, undun: True believers think this is the big payoff for keeping it real ambitious. Everyone else is like, “What the hell, this shit is backward.”
Denver Nuggets—James Blake, James Blake: Everything we thought we knew turns out to be stunningly wrong. Great risk might equal great rewards. Who needs just one face?
Memphis Grizzlies—Beyoncé, 4: Written off by some, but nothing but soulful hits and hunger here. Everyone can hear the countdown, but dripping too much swagoo to care.
Los Angeles Lakers—Drake, Take Care: Massive stardom everywhere around the globe, yet still somehow marinating in rich kid self-pity. Stumbles will mean fan base checks out earlier than usual. #2ndquarter
Los Angeles Clippers—Jay-Z & Kanye West, Watch the Throne: Hastily concocted tag-team is shiny new toy, tribute to gaudy excess. “Lob City” is the new Paris; they’ll do it 11 times in a row.
Dallas Mavericks—Fleet Foxes, Helplessness Blues: Same strategy as when they were the champs, components more “interesting” now. But madrigals and floppy hair don’t go as far as they used to.
Chicago Bulls—Adele, 21: So old-fashioned and emotional it hurts, rolling deeper than you think. Built to score hard-nosed win after win, at the expense of oohs and aahs.
Oklahoma City Thunder—tUnE-yArDs, w h o k i l l: Everyone wants to love the spunky energetic kid with tons of weapons and relentless futurism. However, things might fall apart; the center cannot hold.
Miami Heat—Bon Iver, Bon Iver, Bon Iver: Bigger splash last time around, better now with more richness and depth. Seems snoozy to predict it now… but you know they’re gonna win.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on December 22, 2011