Warning: Story contains coarse language
The championship hopes of 15 teams were once again dashed in this year’s NBA playoffs, with only the Golden State Warriors experiencing the triumph that comes from lifting the Larry O’Brien Trophy high in the air.
Music is perhaps therapeutic for the squads that fell short in their bid to capture the title. Some teams made a valiant effort to knock off the league’s juggernauts, while others failed to register a single victory.
The following songs epitomize all of their respective runs, including that of the champion Warriors.
“No time for losers, ’cause we are the champions of the world.”
This one is pretty straightforward. The Warriors were the undisputed champions of the 2016-17 season, launching a devastating 16-1 run through the playoffs for their second title in three years. They even blasted the timeless Queen classic right after the final buzzer sounded on Game 5.
“Bitch, sit down, be humble.”
There’s no bigger fan of the raspy voice of Kendrick Lamar than LeBron James, so it’s only fitting to pair the two moguls together. But as the song instructs, the Cavaliers must sit down and be humble after losing in The Finals to a Warriors side they spent all season talking smack to.
“I focus on the pain, the only thing that’s real.”
The mournful crooning of Johnny Cash captures how every Spurs fan felt after Zaza Pachulia shuffled beneath Kawhi Leonard‘s already injured ankle in the Western Conference final. With Leonard hurt, the Spurs got swept.
“I get knocked down, but I get up again – you are never ever gonna keep me down.”
The annoyingly catchy song by Chumbawamba embodies the Celtics to a tee. They got knocked down repeatedly throughout the playoffs, dropping games to the Bulls and nearly blowing it against the Wizards, but they got up again and even took a game off the Cavaliers.
But for the most part, the Celtics proved little more than a minor annoyance and were quickly forgotten after they were bounced, much like Chumbawamba (seriously, can anyone name another one of their songs?).
“Beef is when I see you, guaranteed to be in ICU.”
The Wizards love themselves some ’90s rap, and they definitely love beefing with other clubs. The first round featured “double MMA” between Markieff Morris and Paul Millsap, followed by a continuation of their bitter rivalry with the Celtics that featured a failed funeral game and a dagger three in Round 2.
“It feels like the first time, feels like the very first time.”
Utah used to be a playoff staple, but this core had never made the playoffs before, so everything felt new. The Jazz got timely contributions from veterans Joe Johnson and Boris Diaw, Rudy Gobert gutted through a knee injury to eliminate the Clippers, and Gordon Hayward proved himself as a No. 1 option. Not bad for a newbie.
“Oh man, oh man, oh man, not again.”
The Raptors tried everything in their power to gear up for the Cavaliers, but found themselves thoroughly outmatched by LeBron in back-to-back years. Hometown legend Drake was even in attendance for Game 3, if only to catch James for a drink.
“Partner, let me upgrade you, flip a new page, introduce you to some new things.”
Beyonce, the pride of Houston, said it best in her 2006 single with Jay Z. The Rockets should let general manager Daryl Morey upgrade them, because the talent beyond James Harden really was lacking. Upgrading on Harden, who has endured his fair share of playoff failures, should also be a consideration at some point.
“You can past the test, just move on up to a greater day.”
The Bucks lost in the first round, but they can rest knowing their future is bright. Giannis Antetokounmpo was one of the best players in the postseason and they didn’t even have Jabari Parker available. Milwaukee will be back and moving up the East standings very soon.
“And the fakers gonna fake, fake, fake, fake, fake, baby, I’m just gonna shake, shake, shake, shake, shake.”
Russell Westbrook is a Taylor Swift superfan, and the two share the same pettiness about their exes. Westbrook was eliminated in the first round of the playoffs, but he can shake that off quickly – just as he brushed past the loss of Kevin Durant – since he will most likely win his first MVP award in a few weeks.
“You’re my friend – summer friends don’t stay.”
After feuding all year, the Three Alphas finally put their egos aside for the playoffs and delivered two upset victories over the No. 1 seed. Everything looked good for the grumpy trio of Rajon Rondo, Jimmy Butler, and Dwyane Wade, but it all fell apart with Rondo’s injury and they lost four straight.
Though it was a fun fling, don’t expect the chemistry to last. As Chicago’s very own Chance the Rapper says, they’re just summer friends, and those don’t stay. It would be a shock to see all three back in the same uniform for next season.
“You’re simply the best, better than all the rest.”
Paul George held his head high after what might be his last playoff push with the Pacers. George said his club did the best against Cleveland of any Eastern Conference opponent, and at least by point differential, George was right.
Congrats on being the best of the rest, but he still got swept in the first round.
“Oops! … I did it again, I played with your heart, got lost in the game.”
The Grizzlies must be so sick of the Spurs, who have eliminated them in three of their last five playoff runs. Granted, the Grizzlies were the underdog each time, but it’s heartbreaking to see the Grit and Grind crew ripped apart each time by the Klaw.
“Life way too hard, am I dreamin’? Highway to hell and I’m speedin’.”
It’s unclear how diehard fans like rapper Vince Staples continue to stick by the Clippers. That pesky Clippers curse will never die, the latest episode being the Blake Griffin injury that led to a first-round exit. All that’s left is a depressing summer in which the Clippers could either overpay for a core that can’t even get past the second round, or let everyone walk and have nothing.
“You need to git up, git out, and git somethin’, don’t let the days of your life pass by.”
Look, the Hawks have done this before. They’ve been to the playoffs every year for a decade, yet they’ve never once threatened for the title. This year’s run lasted all of six games before they were bounced by a flawed Wizards side. Will the Hawks ever rebuild, or will they do what they always do and just do enough to get by?
Heed the wise words of Atlanta’s own OutKast. It’s time to change.
“I’m glad you came, I’m glad you came.”
Seriously, thanks to the Blazers for coming out, for puffing their chests against the Warriors, and for getting swept in the blink of an eye. It was a pleasure. Let’s do the same thing again next year.