A dramatic new NBA season begins tonight (Oct. 17), with the Boston Celtics visiting the Cleveland Cavaliers for an Eastern Conference Finals rematch, and the new-look Houston Rockets heading west to on the returning-champ Golden State Warriors.
This, like any special occasion, calls for some customized playlists — one for each team. As Drake once said best: “Damn, I swear sports and music are so synonymous.”
The major headline for Boston in the offseason was their acquisition of star point guard Kyrie Irving, after he shocked the NBA world by requesting a trade from Cleveland. Thiscame after the Celtics already claimed Gordon Hayward in free agency earlier in the summer. It’s been heavily reported that one reason — if not the main reason — for Irving wanting to depart from his role alongside all-time NBA great LeBron James in Cleveland is that he wants to be the man on his own team — this narrative sparks songs such as “Me, Myself & I” and “All Eyes On You” on this playlist.
LeBron James has been to seven straight NBA Finals, with the last three of those in Cleveland — King James’ hometown, and where his career all began, before leaving for a four-year sojourn in Miami and ultimately returning to Cleveland in 2014. James will be a free agent at this year’s end, which has already sparked speculation that he will again leave Cleveland (hence songs like “Now Or Never,” and “Tha Crossroads”) in 2018.
Cleveland has clashed with the Warriors in three straight Finals, with Golden State winning the first matchup in 2015 and the most recent one this summer (“Bounce Back”). And the most heartwarming headline surrounding Cleveland this season is the reunion of James with his best friend and former Miami teammate, Dwyane Wade (“We Belong Together”).
And oh yeah, Cleveland opens up its season against Boston — you know, where former point guard Kyrie Irving chose to go (“LOYALTY.,” “Fuck You,” “What Goes Around…”).
Golden State Warriors
The Golden State Warriors are the best team in the NBA, and it’s not particularly close. Two-time league MVP Steph Curry, his fellow Splash Brother Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and Kevin Durant, who controversially chose to jump to the Warriors as a free agent in 2016.
Speaking of Durant, he mistakenly tweeted from his official account instead of his alias account in September that he didn’t like playing in Oklahoma City — “Imagine taking Russ off that team, see how bad they were. KD can’t win with those cats.” (Russ meaning Russell Westbrook, the reigning NBA MVP.) The song “Mask Off” on the playlist is just for you, KD.
Aside from that, every song on this playlist is basically self-explanatory: The Warriors are the heavy favorites to win the NBA title for the foreseeable future.
The Houston Rockets are known primarily for their prolific offense (“Shooters”), which is catalyzed by guard James Harden (“Harden My Heart”). In the offseason, former Los Angeles Clippers point guard Chris Paul decided to join forces with Harden in Houston in hopes that a firm point guard will be the final piece needed for Houston to reach the next level of contention (“The Key,” “Chris Paul,” “All In”).
Harden is known for, after making any of his gazillion three-pointers, to celebrate by stirring the pot (“Breakfast Is Ready”), but Harden and the Rockets seem to always get brought down to Earth (“HUMBLE.”) come playoff time by the likes of Golden State or San Antonio in a perpetually stacked Western Conference.
And if you’re wondering why “Countdown” by Beyonce or “Mo City Don” by Z-Ro are on this playlist — just make sure listen to the anthems from the native H-Towners all the way through.