Britney Spears, the basketball of human pop stars.
The Toronto Raptors open their season tonight at the Air Canada Centre against the Boston Celtics. It's the start of many things: new hopes for hoops fans, Rudy Gay's first full season in the red and white, the chance of free Pizza Pizza two or three times a week.
It's also 41 home games at one of the league's best stadiums, complete with a rollicking soundtrack of the latest, greatest music. Except, it's not always the latest or greatest -I'm expecting a handful of tracks from Jay-Z's very mediocre Magna Carta Holy Grail to make the cut. And those same tunes get awfully repetitive.
And let's face it, Raptors organization, whatever formula for music selection you've been using hasn't worked yet. I'm not suggesting Lose Yourself or anything, but if I hear the opening three notes of Tyga's Rack City one more time...Same goes for Clique and Mercy.
So, here, Toronto Raptors, my opening-game-day gift: five songs that I think could really help you climb up the Eastern Conference ladder this year.
Numbers On The Boards by Pusha T
Yeah he might be a baller, but in Numbers On The Boards, basketball is a metaphor for the other stuff that Pusha's good at (and I don't just mean rapping). Still, the sentiment is there. This is far and away the most obvious choice for Kyle Lowry to dribble down the court to for ten seconds before the music cuts out. The buzzing beat is spliced with screaming fandom, and yeah, we need numbers on the boards. We also need straight-up boards (Raps were 28th in the league last year in RPG). Amir Johnson can't do it all himself.
These Eyes by the Guess Who
A big criticism for these new-look Raps: we're starless. But Rudy Gay, acquired last year, was supposed to be our big star. And he's the biggest name we got. And he seems game to engage the city - sitting front row at fashion week, appearing in Drake videos and such. So this is my song for you, Rudy Gay.
Because a lot of non-basketball people don't know that Gay was playing with a pretty big handicap last year. He couldn't see. (You know how your whole day is messed up when you forget your glasses and it feels like you can't do anything right? Try shooting 3s like that.)
Thank goodness, Gay got laser-eye surgery during the off-season.
Also, is there a more Canadian song than this Guess Who classic? (Maestro's Stick To Your Vision, which samples it, also works.) It's perfect. Come on, Rudy. This heart could not accept and pretend that you aren't going to be twice as effective on the floor this year.
Fire by Big Sean
There are things the Raptors are good at. Free throws, for one (fifth-best team last year). And in 2012-13 they had the third-lowest turnovers in the league.
But scoring is not one of these things. Not at all. Nobody needs to tell them that they need more Fire! Fire! Fire! Fire!, as the song goes. We already associate fire with basketball (thank you, NBA Jam). And I can't actually think of a better song to run onto the court to. Or, to make a cheesy, season-preview video montage to.
Worst Behaviour by Drake
After Drake became an official Toronto Raptors ambassador and Amir Johnson scooped up HMV's entire selection of Nothing Was The Same albums, the ACC can't very well ignore the man. The very obvious choice is Started From The Bottom. And let's face it, there isn't much further from the bottom than not making the playoffs since 2008. But to be fair, the "now we're here" part doesn't really fit. Degrassi to OVO Fest is one thing; but going from 11 in the Eastern Conference in 2012 to 10th place in 2013 isn't much of a climb.
So how about the uber-motivational anger of Worst Behaviour? "Yeah, back and forth across the borderline/ hate to leave this city but I've got to do the overtime/ gone all the time even the important times/ I should let you know ahead I'm comin' back on my worst behavior."
It's like Drake wrote it for them.
Plus, how satisfying is it going to be when they finally do make the playoffs and sneer "Mufucka nevah luuuhd us" when the bandwagoners jump on.
Work B**ch by Britney Spears
The Spurs have a terrifying head coach (Gregg Popovich). The Heat's ever-sweating, rapidly aging Erik Spoelstra looks to be in a constant state of near-collapse, or, at least, like he's battling a bad case of diarrhea.
Goodness knows I love Raps head coach Dwane Casey, but I don't think he puts the fear of god into those guys. So, leave it to Britney to play bad cop here. You Better Work, B**ch should be the Raptors anthem.
You want a playoff spot? You want a winning record? You want to erase the memory of Primo Pasta and Sauce for ever and ever? You better work, b**ch.