Oh man, this idea goes back…could it be 15 years now? Yikes! Back when we thought Bush was as bad as it could get. Back when browsing used CDs at Turn It Up! Records was a Saturday highlight. Back then, my boys and I––lovingly coining ourselves “The Fleet” (taken from the great Battlestar Galactica)––used to roll a J and go for walks in the woods. During these walks, we explored life and the great beyond. We’re all artists, so we’d talk art, music, creating––we’d pontificate. You know, to the degree 17-year-old dudes can pull their brains away from girls, grinders, and surviving high school.
We’d also play verbal games and compete in the most absurd clash of imaginative artist meets frat bro. One of these such games: making basketball teams out of historic musicians. Three of us would draft teams and the fourth Fleet member would play the arbitrator and pronounce the “best team.” (Whatever that means exactly…) So here we are, 15 years later, I’m reviving the game.
The easiest positions to fill were my backcourt. Starting at point guard, I have the great Duke Ellington. (Now this is a conversation for a different day, but anytime I hear anyone talk about the “Greats” with a capital G—Mozart, Beethoven, Bach—you damn well put Duke’s name in there––and it better be early on.) You know I’m not convinced Duke is a pure shooter, just a feeling I have. Maybe he has too much swing to shoot straight? He’s certainly no Steph. But have the words “orchestrator of an offense” ever been more apropos? This mustached mensch is a point genius. I’m thinking prime Rondo with Chris Paul’s leadership. Ellington’s going behind the back, he’s throwing pitch-perfect lobs to the bigs, and firing cross-court bullets into shooting pockets. And rumor has it no one has ever seen him miss a free throw.
And at shooting guard: Prince. Mic drop. Are you thinking I could round out this team with Brian Scalabrine, 2021 Ringo Starr, and the Norman McDonald-green blob character from The Orville and still win the chip? Yeah, me too. As for Prince, we’re talking explosive athleticism. I’m thinking Westbrook minus the intensity, plus a lot more eyeliner. Also a whole lot of prime D-Wade in there for sure. (Speaking of, can we circle back and talk about what Flash did in the 2006 playoffs at some point, please…? :-O )
At the three, I’m taking a young Keith Richards. Reminds me of the Celtics young hero Mr. Jayson Tatum Esq. Just a straight cold-blooded killer. Confidence. Swag. And more than anything: skill. The man will party all night, roll in, smoke a butt, and drop 30 on you like Brown Sugar.
Now my frontcourt is more about the totality of the pairing than the individual pieces. At PF: Thundercat and at C: Brad Wilk. Nothing like getting the chemistry of a rhythm section to anchor your frontline. These dynamos have a lot of Tim Duncan-David Robinson energy.
Brad Wilk, drummer for two of the great rock bands of the last 30 years! Wait what am I saying? Brad Wilk, drummer of one of the great rock bands of the last 30 years: Rage Against the Machine. (You know what I have to say about Rage in 2021? Rage rules.) The man is perilously solid, plays huge, and hits hard. Exactly what I want in my center. Maybe a Steven Adams comp? Actually, they do have similar hair!
So I landed on Brad first. Then I was thinking who am I pairing with a stoic, solid fundamentals center? The answer: T-Cat. Frenetic, suffocating athleticism, wild talent. He’s like bringing the Hulk into the game. I’m thinking a poor man’s Zion. I’m thinking 2025 Ant Edwards.
For 6th man, screw it, I’ll take George Harrison. Would I rather have John? Yes. Would I rather have Paul? Yes. But A.) We couldn’t afford their contracts and B.) that’s just too many guys who need the rock. We need a glue guy coming off the bench. And in my personal life, nothing makes me feel more glued to the world around me than “While My Guitar Gently Weeps.” That said, the dude has won like eight titles and we need that kind of championship acumen on our roster.
PG: Duke Ellington
SF: Keith Richards
C: Brad Wilk
6th man: George Harrison
Strengths: playmaking, athleticism, defense, grit
Weaknesses: shooting, turnovers
Think you can beat this team? Hit me with something.