Earlier this year, I set forth on the monumental task of assigning a Springsteen song loosely associated with every NFL team. It was a gauntlet thrown by nobody, and I was happy to accept the non-challenge. Now, with the NBA playoffs just around the corner, the time has come to grant a Springsteen song to every NBA franchise. Behold!
Atlanta Hawks - "Outlaw Pete"
Immediately, we are starting with one of those songs that is an extreme stretch. Basically, there's one line mentioning hawks in the song: "He watched a hawk on a desert updraft, slip & slide". Sorry, Bruce just does not do a lot of songs set in Atlanta, but this one is at least less of a stretch than "One Step Up" was for the Falcons.
Boston Celtics - "Death To My Hometown"
As spotlighted here a few months ago, Bruce mixed in the Celtic-style chanting to enhance the atmosphere of "Death To My Hometown" to give it that "populist riot" sound he was looking for. Aside from the Celtic-Celtics connection, the song has a revolutionary tone that fits well into the Boston region's history.
Brooklyn Nets - "My Hometown"
This was a difficult one to choose, because there aren't any Springsteen that mention Brooklyn (nor nets). However, when I settled on "My Hometown", I couldn't believe I didn't think of it earlier. The narrator talks to his "old man", and the Nets are filled with old men. There were fights between the "black and whites", and, while the Nets represent racial harmony, their team colors are black and white. And, I live in Brooklyn, and they are my hometown team. (Yes, I understand not everyone who reads this blog lives in Brooklyn. But still, don't they feel like your hometown team? No? Moving on.)
Charlotte Bobcats - "Working On The Highway"
This is pretty straight forward: it is the only Springsteen song with a shout-out to Charlotte.
Chicago Bulls - "We Take Care Of Our Own"
Another song with a simple shout-out to the city. It could also be used for the Pelicans, but we'll get to them later.
Cleveland Cavaliers - "Youngstown"
While not referencing Cleveland or being cavalier directly, we'll settle for a song based in another city in Ohio. This despondent song fits nicely with the constant heartache that the Cleveland sports fan has felt the last several decades.
Dallas Mavericks - "Sinaloa Cowboys"
This was the most difficult pick for me. I tried to find something about Dallas, then something about mavericks, then something about Germans in honor of Dirk Nowitzki, then something about shark tanks in honor of Mark Cuban. Alas, I'll fall back on Dallas being the home of various cowboys. Since I used "Black Cowboys" for the Dallas Cowboys last time, I'll go with Bruce's other cowboy song this time around.
Denver Nuggets - "Further On (Up the Road)"
With no songs about Denver or nuggets, I decided to go with songs that mention "gold". Here, Bruce sings "the miles are marked in the blood and gold". While there was a plethora of songs to choose from, I decided to go with this one because it is about going UP a road, and Denver is very far up (something like a mile, give or take).
Detroit Piston - "The E Street Shuffle"
Very easy choice, as Bruce recognizes the "Detroit muscle". I'm not exactly sure what that refers to, but it is a great song and a fine choice for this team.
Golden State Warriors - "Chimes of Freedom"
Yes, I know this is a Bob Dylan song, but I love the line "Flashing for the warriors whose strength is not to fight". Covers were used in the NFL list, and they will be used in this list. If you have a better suggestion, let me know (politely! We all love each other here!).
Houston Rockets - "Seeds"
For some reason, I always think of "Seeds" as an instrumental song. I guess that classic bluesy riff is the only thing that sticks with me after listening to it. However, it does have some solid lyrics, including this one for the Houston Rockets' fans: "Man now I live on the streets of Houston town...."
Indiana Pacers - "Racing In The Street"
The Pacers were named after the pace cars used in the Indianapolis 500. It is one of the only times I can recall that a sports team was named after another sport (well, if you consider car racing a sport). Anyway, here's a song about racing cars for the car racing capital of the world. Have I said car racing enough? Race cars. Cars. Racing. Vroom.
Los Angeles Clippers - "I Wanna Marry You"
OK, this is another one I had to pull out of my nose. "Now honey, I don't wanna clip your wings..." Get it? Clip? Clippers? Ah, you are a great sport for reading this far.
Los Angeles Lakers - "Spirit In The Night"
For the team originally from the land of many lakes, I'll give them the song featuring the most famous lake in Springsteen lore: Greasy Lake.
Memphis Grizzlies - "Johnny Bye Bye"
It may be one of Springsteen's shortest songs, but it is the only song that mentions "Memphis". And leaving Memphis. And Elvis dying. Sorry Grizz fans.
Miami Heat - "Murder Incoporated"
I really like the line "dealing with the heat you're feelin' down on the killin' floor." I hate Miami, and feel ashamed giving them such a bad-ass song, but I have to follow the arbitrary rules I made up for this endeavor.
Milwaukee Bucks - "Meeting Across the River"
It says it all in the opening line. "Hey, Eddie, can you lend me a few bucks?" What can I say? It's tough to find songs about the good land.
Minnesota Timberwolves - "Valentine's Day"
"Of the skies and the rivers the timberwolf in the pines..." This song mentions a timberwolf! How many songs can you say that about?
New Orleans Pelicans - "The Hitter"
I would've loved to use "We Take Care Of Our Own", but that already went to the Bulls. So, I'll use another song that mentions New Orleans. "With the police on my back I fled to New Orleans..."
New York Knicks - "New York City Serenade"
It's the same song I used for the Jets, and I'll assign it to the Knicks as well. I'd like to trash-talk now, since I hate the Knicks, but, as a Nets fan, I know anything that could go wrong will go wrong, so I'll refrain and just listen to this song.
Oklahoma City Thunder - "Thundercrack"
This was easy. I could've gone with "Thunder Road", but I figured hipsters like Kevin Durant and Russel Westbrook would enjoy a deeper cut from Springsteen.
Orlando Magic - "Magic"
Congratulations, Orlando Magic fans! You are the only team on this list that Springsteen named a whole album after!
Philadelphia 76ers - "Streets of Philadelphia"
These last three songs were disturbingly easy.
Phoenix Suns - "This Life"
"Then a million suns cresting where you stood..." In fact, this whole song talks about the cosmos, with billions of years and stars and telescopes what not. The opening sounds like one of those trippy late 60s Beatles songs. I guess this song makes as much sense for the Suns as having a gorilla for a mascot.
Portland Trailblazers - "Lost in the Flood"
This is a tough but fair choice for the Portland Trailblazers. "Well that blaze and noise boy, he's gunnin' that bitch loaded to blastin' point..."
Sacramento Kings - "Badlands"
One of my all-time favorite song lyrics for one of my all-time neutral teams: "Poor men want to be rich, rich men want to be kings, and a king ain't satisfied 'till he rules everything."
San Antonio Spurs - "Silver Palomino"
A solid-yet-boring song for a solid-yet-boring team. We've also got the line "I'd give my riata and spurs if I could be forever yours."
Toronto Raptors - "Cadillac Ranch"
For the team named after Jurassic Park, here's Springsteen's only song that mentions dinosaurs that are tearing up highways.
Utah Jazz - "The Promised Land"
We're getting to the end, so let's go with a great song set in Utah desert. Why not?
Washington Wizards - "Does This Bus Stop At 82nd Street?"
Finally, we reach the end with wizard imps and sweat-sock pimps. The most strangely named basketball team gets the Sprinsteen song with some of the strangest lyrics.
So, there you have it. Enjoy the last few weeks of the regular season and playoffs, everybody!