A continuation of Part I, which can be found here.
In all honesty, I was hoping it wouldn’t come to this. I thought last week’s column would be the wake-up call that Eastern Conference GMs everywhere needed. “He’s right,” they would say, “this is not basketball. I have betrayed the very sport that gave me everything I call my own. What a grotesque beast I have wrought!” Then they would gouge their eyes out, Oedipus style.
Unfortunately, my plea has fallen on deaf ears and ungouged eyes. Eastern Conference basketball is every bit as rancid as it was a week ago; it seems GMs were too busy watching the Golden Globes on repeat to listen to my advice. They may not be doing their jobs, but I will continue to do mine. In consultation with academia’s most venerated critics, I offer you another defense of the Eastern Conference as performance art:
Brooklyn Nets – 2007 Britney Spears
The Brooklyn Nets relocated from New Jersey in 2012 into a state-of-the-art new arena, with rap mogul and part-owner Jay-Z as perhaps their most visible public face. Nobody really cared that he only owned about .00001% of the Nets more than I do, but he eventually had to sell his share of the team as his business interests expanded to include the representation of athletes. Britney Spears also knows a thing or two about being involved with (in)famous rappers, having been married to Kevin Federline for multiple years, over which she gave birth to two children who are genetically an entire half Kevin Federline. For those keeping score at home, this analogy hinges completely on an apples-to-apples comparison between Jay-Z and Kevin Federline as rappers.
Jay-Z left the Nets at a time where the sheen of their novelty was beginning to wear off. They had a solid roster of well-known players, but they were old, and they weren’t good enough to be serious championship contenders. Since then, things have only gotten more drab, and everyone’s older, and the team is even less of a championship contender. The realization that your youth is behind you can be a tough one. A number of pressures got to Britney after her split from K-Fed, and she had a highly publicized breakdown, which, for some reason, the media mocked incessantly, despite the dark realities at play. As the Nets slip further and further into the morass of age, this observer says that they will crack. My bold prediction: by the end of this season, the Nets will decide that they are a Jazzercise team and not a basketball team and will forfeit all remaining games to don spandex and do calisthenics.
The Charlotte Hornets – 1993 Prince
In 1988, the expansion Charlotte Hornets took the league by storm with their really bright jerseys. Also, around this time, Prince was near the peak of his cultural ubiquity, after having both starred in cinematic masterpiece Purple Rain and released a string of popular and well-regarded albums that remain in the pantheon of pop music. Prince continued to ride this wave through the early 90s. Between then and now, however, things have been a bit strange. In 1993, Prince famously died and reemerged as a new man who was known only by an unpronounceable symbol. The Hornets, too, had a reincarnation, as they relocated to New Orleans, leaving their city without a team. What happened next sounds fake, but bear with me: the NBA let a guy named Bob start a new team in Charlotte and call it the Bobcats, and that team went on to have several seasons which ranged in success from “historically unprecedented disaster” to “mediocre.”
Unpronounceable Symbol Prince, too, had his struggles making anything anyone wanted to listen to. After all, do YOU know any songs released by Prince during this era? This story has a happy ending, though: Prince eventually turned back into Prince and the Charlotte basketball team turned back into the Hornets, as God intended. After restoring his name, Prince has had some good moments: his Super Bowl halftime performance was arguably the greatest of all time, and he even released an album (in 2014!) that got a good number of positive reviews. There is hope for the new Hornets (just not now, because they’re 15-25 and start Bismack Biyombo). It remains to be seen if Lance Stephenson will wear assless pants to any league functions.