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It’s Been A Long Time: Eric B and Rakim Welcome Back the NBA

FINALLY! The leaves are changing color. The temperature is dropping. The sun is hitting the earth at a slightly different, less intense angle. And it all means one thing: NBA Basketball is back! It’s been a long time. And because “It’s been a long time,” there’s only one way to appropriately get ready for this season: A Wizards Heavy NBA Season Preview based on a verse by verse breakdown of Eric B and Rakim’s epic, often sampled but never duplicated, “I Know You Got Soul”. So plug in your eyeball’s, cause here it go!


It’s been a long time, I shouldn’t have left you
Without a strong rhyme to step to
Think of how many weak shows you slept through
Time’s up, I’m sorry I kept you”

To Wizards Basketball. To John Wall. To Bradley Beal. To Hoop District’s in-depth analysis using just 140 characters, like this:

Absence makes the heart grow fonder. But you know what makes that growth torturous? When videos like this pop-up on the Internet!

I mean c’mon Internet. That’s just not fair. Already missing the object of our affection, and suddenly there’s a video of Bradley Beal, sweaty, going hard, clearly working to improve his performance and stamina during his time away! Since that video surfaced, my mind has been running wild, imagining the Wizards new offense with Beal playing on a whole new level. All-Star? Sure! All-NBA team? Why not? I know, I know, it’s just a workout. But that’s the point. Without Wizards basketball, all we can do is imagine Wizards basketball.

And Beal isn’t the only one. Kris Humphries’ developing three-point range? Nene accepting a bench role? Will we be able to replace #KSLife? (Replacing Kevin Serpahin won’t be a problem. I meant, literally replacing our beloved Twitter hashtag).

And outside of DC is just as wonderous: Can Steph Curry improve on his ridiculous season, both his actual NBA performance, and his Internet performance? Can Billy Donovan do enough to keep Durant and Westbrook together? Can Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving stay healthy? Can LeBron James be stopped by anything other than cramps? How freak’n good are the Spurs going to be with LaMarcus Aldridge? Who is going to be the RANDOM 50 point scorer this season? We’ve spent all Summer wondering. It’s about time to find out.


“Thinking of this, you keep repeating, you miss
The rhymes from the microphone soloist
So you sit by the radio, hand on the dial, soon
As you hear it, pump up the volume
Dance with the speaker ’till you hear it blow
Then plug in the headphone cause here it go”

To the DC Area. Let’s step up the passion. We know it exists. We hear it on talk radio. We see it on Twitter. We know there’s passionate Wizards fans all over the place. Let’s bring that energy to a whole new level this year. If you’re watching at home, buy a bigger TV. If you’re listening to a Dave Johnson and Glenn Consor’s #RadioParty, pump that ish up so loud, every car in every 2000X zip code can hear it. And if you’re at the Verizon Center, come early, and get LOUD! Let’s make sure our gym, our atmosphere, and all of Chocolate City is Superior to Oklahoma City in every possible way. We can do this.


It’s a 4 letter word when it’s heard, it control
Your body to dance (You got it) soul
Ditects the tempo like a red alert
Reaches your reflex, and let it work
When this is playing, you can’t get stuck with
The steps, so get set and I’m a still come up with
A gift to be swift, follow the leader, the rhyme will go
Def with the record that was mixed a long time ago
It can be done but only I can do it
For those that can’t dance, just clap your hands to it”

Swift. Leader. Tempo. Dance. To our 4-letter word, W-A-L-L.

I could try to tell you why this is John Wall’s season, but let me let John Wall tell you.

This is John Wall’s season because John Wall says so. Lead the league assists? I believe so. MVP candidate? I believe so. Win the East? I believe so. Why? Because John Wall believes so. And unlike many “leaders” (see Anthony, Carmelo), Wall doesn’t just talk the talk. He walks the walk. And he’s already started in preseason.

That’s in preseason! Dude is locked in. And he will have to be. The Cavs will have Kyrie and Love back, and still have LeBron. The Heat will have Bosh back, and the first time they’ll have their new core together of Wade, Bosh, Dragic, and Deng. Add highly touted rookie Justice Winslow, and a sane Hassan Whiteside, and that team will be a force to be reckoned with. Orlando’s young core should all improve, and returning a healthy Aaron Gordon and sharp-shootong/highlight making Croation Mario Hezonja make them an intriguing team to rise up the Eastern Table. And even if they don’t rise up the table, they’ll at least rise above the rim. Here’s proof:

And here’s the two making Magic:

Basically, there won’t be as many off days in the East. And with Paul Pierce gone, it’s up to John Wall to bring the leadership, and ensure the intensity is there every night, for 82 nights. The NBA season is looong. A lot of guys will be in the MVP conversation after 1-2 months. But there’s a reason the same guys are always in the conversation after 82 games. Greatness, night after night, even in Charlotte on a Sunday afternoon on the second night of a back-to-back. For the Wizards to be great, John Wall has got to be great. And he looks ready to be just that.


I start to think and then I sink
Into the paper like I was ink
When I’m writing, I’m trapped in between the lines
I escape when I finish the rhyme.
I got soul”

To the Wizards actual performance between the lines, when the real season starts.

Randy Wittman and his staff having clearly done a lot of thinking this off-season, and composed a new, faster, more efficient system. We saw the early stages in last year’s postseason, and we’ve seen the framework already in the preseason. Kris Humphries is shooting 3’s, Nene is coming off the bench, and the wing players are doing less settling for mid-range jumpers, and doing more attacking or 3-point shooting.

Look at these 3-point shooting numbers during the preseason (NOTE: Some of these are literally ridiculous, but demonstrate the shift in the Wizards mindset):

3pt stsa

If you didn’t laugh out loud when you saw Drew Gooden’s number there, it just means you watched the preseason closely, and already knew that.

Clearly, the Wizards intend to shoot more 3’s, particularly with their big guys (as evidenced by Gooden and Humphries) and in transition (as evidenced by Beal and Neal). But intent and execution are two completely different matters. What happens when the games start to matter? Do the Wizards sink back into old habits, or do they put all their practice into practice? We know they have the right idea. We know they’ve put in the work, and have the talent. Now let’s see what happens between the lines.


Picture a mic, the stage is empty
A beat like this might tempt me
To pose, show my rings and my fat gold chain
Grab the mic like I’m on Soul Train
But I wait cause I mastered this
Let the others go first so the brothers don’t miss
Eric B. break the sticks (you got it)
Rakim will begin when you make the mix
I’ll experiment like a scientist
You wanna rhyme, you gotta sign my list
Cause I’m a manifest and bless the mic I hold
You want it next? then you gotta have soul
Cause if you ain’t got it, I’m a make an encore
Take the mic, make the people respond for
The R, cause that’s the way it’ll have to be
If you wanna get on after me”

To the defending NBA Champion Golden State Warriors.

They’ve got the rings. They’ve got the gold. And they fully intend to put on an encore performance. And if you were anticipating any drop-off in intensity or swag from the Warriors and Steph Curry, this clip should put that thought to rest:

Basically, it’s the Warriors mic to drop right now. And if anyone is going to take their spot, it’s going to take something special. The Warriors have gotten ahead of the NBA pace-and-space revolution courtesy of two historically great shooters in Curry and Thompson, and two of the ideal fours for modern NBA ball in Draymond Green and Finals MVP Andre Iguodala. While the rest of the league was/is looking for “stretch-4’s”, the Warriors have transitioned to the next level with “playmaking 4’s” and even “playmaking 5’s,” guys who can not just space the floor, but also turn into attackers, and create assists within that same space they provide.

Not surprisingly, the Spurs also have guys to play this role, like Kawhi Leonard Boris Diaw. Kevin Love MIGHT be able to do this for the Cavs. LeBron surely can when they go small. Same for Durant if OKC plays him at the 4. God knows what Anthony Davis will do this season.

At some point this season, we will ask the question, who can fill this role for the Wizards? We saw Paul Pierce do it in last season’s playoffs, but Pierce is gone. Hump and Drew will shoot, but they can’t fill the play-making void at the four that Pierce has left.

That leaves the Wizards with one guy: Otto Porter. Is he ready? He looked ready in last years post-season. He’s looked ready in this years preseason.

Let’s hope he’s ready.


Think about it, wait, erase your rhyme
Forget it and don’t waste your time
Cause I’ll be in the crowd if you ain’t controlling it
Drop the mic, you shouldn’t be holding it
This is how it should be done
This style is identical to none
Some try to make it sound like this but you’re getting me
So upset that I’m wet cause you’re sweating me
I drip steam like a microphone fiend
Eager to MC is my theme
I get hype when I hear a drum roll
Rakim is on the mic and you know I got soul”

To LeBron James, Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, Anthony Davis, James Harden, Kawhi Leonard, John Wall, Chris Paul and Blake Griffin.

If anyone is going to topple the Warriors, and take the mic from Steph Curry, these are the guys that are going to have to do it. The NBA is full of incredible players, but these are your creme de la creme, and they are the guys everyone who is not them want to be. The best player in the league. The best scorer in the league. The best all-around player in the league. The best defensive player in the league. The best leader in the league. The best athlete in the league. The best passer in the league. The most intense player in the league. The MVP. Everyone will have their own opinion on who’s who, but those guys (along with Curry) are the only ones in the conversation. And trust me, that conversation will be fluid. As the season goes along, guys will go up and down, performance will go up and down, and the volume of arguments nationwide will go up and down. New teammates, new coaches, and new systems will play a part. Hopefully injuries won’t (but probably will).


I got soul (you got it) that’s why I came
To teach those who can’t say my name.
First of all, I’m the soloist, the soul controller
Rakim gets stronger as I get older.”

To the young guys trying to make a name for themselves, and to the veterans trying to keep a name for themselves. Otto Porter is trying to make the leap from an unproven role player to a reliable, productive, two-way play-maker. Kelly Oubre Jr. is trying to find some playing time on a team with a lot of perimeter talent. Bradley Beal is trying to go from “future All-Star” to “All-Star.” On the flip side, Hump is trying to expand his shooting range to stay relevant. Nene is trying (we hope) to recreate himself as a dominant 6th man. And that’s just on the Wizards.

Across the league, young unknowns will be growing into future stars. Can Andrew Wiggins and Karl Anthony Towns turn the Wolves into a competent NBA team? Just how ready is Emanual Mudiay? (I think he’ll win Rookie of the Year). Who the hell is Mario Hezonja?? (My sleeper pick in the Rookie of the Year race).

And across the league, veterans will be trying to fight off the young guns push. Does Melo have anything truly great left? How much longer can Chris Paul be Chris Paul? Will Dwight Howard ever be 100% again? And of course, can Tim Duncan really keep doing this??? I mean seriously, look at this. This is a list of Tim Duncan’s PER 36 MINUTE stats, scrambled, so that the list is in no particular order, by season, for all EIGHTEEN SEASONS:

19.4 Pts, 11.0 reb, 2.5 ast, 2.3 blk
19.9 Pts, 10.5 reb, 2.2 ast, 2.3 blk
21.5 Pts, 11.5 reb, 2.9 ast, 2.1 blk
20.6 Pts, 11.3 reb, 2.8 ast, 2.2 blk
22.6 Pts, 11.3 reb, 3.3 ast, 2.2 blk
21.3 Pts, 11.8 reb, 3.6 ast, 2.7 blk
21.9 Pts, 12.2 reb, 3.0 ast, 2.6 blk
21.9 Pts, 12.0 reb, 2.0 ast, 2.8 blk
19.2 Pts, 11.4 reb, 3.3 ast 2.1 blk
21.1 Pts, 11.2 reb, 3.6 ast, 2.5 blk
20.5 Pts, 12.0 reb, 3.0 ast, 2.1 blk
20.7 Pts, 11.4 reb, 3.8 ast, 1.8 blk
20.6 Pts, 11.6 reb, 3.6 ast, 1.7 blk
17.1 Pts, 11.3 reb, 3.4 ast, 2.4 blk
19.7 Pts, 11.5 reb, 2.9 ast, 1.9 blk
21.3 Pts, 11.9 reb, 3.2 ast, 3.2 blk
18.7 Pts, 12.0 reb, 3.7 ast, 2.3 blk
17.3 Pts, 11.4 reb, 3.7 ast, 2.4 blk

Now, try to guess which season is which. Can you put them in order? Can you guess his rookie year? Can you guess his MVP years? Can you guess the Spurs championship years? Can you guess his All-NBA First team years, or All-NBA Defense First team years? I’m guessing no. So I’ll help:

97-98: 19.4 Pts, 11.0 reb, 2.5 ast, 2.3 blk, All-Star, All-NBA 1st Team
98-99: 19.9 Pts, 10.5 reb, 2.2 ast, 2.3 blk, Finals MVP, All-NBA 1st Team
99-00: 21.5 Pts, 11.5 reb, 2.9 ast, 2.1 blk, All-Star, All-NBA 1st Team, All-Defensive 1st Team
00-01: 20.6 Pts, 11.3 reb, 2.8 ast, 2.2 blk, All-Star, All-NBA 1st Team, All-Defensive 1st Team
01-02: 22.6 Pts, 11.3 reb, 3.3 ast, 2.2 blk, All-Star, MVP, All-NBA 1st Team, All-Defensive 1st Tm
02-03: 21.3 Pts, 11.8 reb, 3.6 ast, 2.7 blk, AS, MVP, Finals MVP, All-NBA 1st Tm, All-Def 1st Tm
03-04: 21.9 Pts, 12.2 reb, 3.0 ast, 2.6 blk, All-Star, All-NBA 1st Team
04-05: 21.9 Pts, 12.0 reb, 2.0 ast, 2.8 blk, All-Star, Finals MVP, All-NBA 1st Team, All-Def 1st Tm
05-06: 19.2 Pts, 11.4 reb, 3.3 ast, 2.1 blk, All-Star
06-07: 21.1 Pts, 11.2 reb, 3.6 ast, 2.5 blk, All-Star, All-NBA 1st Team, All-Defensive 1st Team
07-08: 20.5 Pts, 12.0 reb, 3.0 ast, 2.1 blk, All-Star, All-Defensive 1st Team
08-09: 20.7 Pts, 11.4 reb, 3.8 ast, 1.8 blk, All-Star
09-10: 20.6 Pts, 11.6 reb, 3.6 ast, 1.7 blk, All-Star
10-11: 17.1 Pts, 11.3 reb, 3.4 ast, 2.4 blk, All-Star
11-12: 19.7 Pts, 11.5 reb, 2.9 ast, 1.9 blk
12-13: 21.3 Pts, 11.9 reb, 3.2 ast, 3.2 blk, All-Star
13-14: 18.7 Pts, 12.0 reb, 3.7 ast, 2.3 blk
14-15: 17.3 Pts, 11.4 reb, 3.7 ast, 2.4 blk, All-Star

In case you didn’t notice, I didn’t scramble the first list. I didn’t need to. The guys consistency of production is absolutely astounding. Pop controls his minutes, but Duncan can still control a game. If it weren’t for Ray Allen’s single greatest shot in NBA Finals History, we would’ve been talking about that Duncan game (26 points in first half) as one of the greatest games by a veteran at the end of his career in playoff history. And that will now be THREE seasons ago. Pay attention to the young guys, enjoy the new blood. But don’t take the old guys for granted.


Constant elevation causes expansion
I write my rhymes while I cool in my mansion
Then put it on tape and in the city I test it
Then on the radio the R is requested
You listen to it, the concept might break you
Cause almost anyone can relate to
Whoever’s out of hand, I’ma give ’em handles
Light ’em up, blow ’em out like candles
Or should I just let ’em melt?
Then give ’em a hand so they can see how it felt
I’m not bold just cause I rock gold
Rakim is on the mic, and you know I got soul”

To the NBA on the Internet! Highlights. Vines. GIFs. Instagram posts. Twitter posts. No sport is better for the internet world than the NBA. I mean seriously, it’s only the preseason, and we’ve already got elevation, handles, assists, and excitement all over the place.

First, courtesy of the Wizards:

Bradley Beal supplying the Elevation:

Otto Porter providing the handles (And lighting up the bench)

And of course, John Wall makin em melt:

And the rest of the league wasn’t to be outdone:

You know Russ will ALWAYS bring it:

The Beard doing bearded things:

Steph Curry throwin flaming candles:

And of course, you’ve got Lebron, just coolin in his mansion:

It’s going to be a fun season.


Now I’m a stop to see what you got
Get off the mic before I get too hot
I want to see which posse can dance the best
It should be easy cause the beat is fresh”

To @easymoneysniper, who’s game is going to feel fresh, and remind us just what Kevin Durant getting hot really looks like. After winning the MVP, injuries plagued KD, leaving him sidelined, while the NBA universe became infatuated with Steph Curry, Anthony Davis, James Harden, Russell Westbrook, and became infatuated with LeBron all over again in the Finals.

Stop.

Kevin Durant is still KEVIN DURANT, and he looks like he’s ready to return with a vengeance.

If you don’t think KD wants to remind the world that he was arguably the best player in the NBA before he was hurt, you’re crazy. If you don’t think KD is going to come out on fire, trying to carry OKC back into the contender conversation, you’re crazy. If you don’t think KD is going to be the front-runner for MVP after 30 games, you’re crazy. The above highlight from a preseason game should be enough to let you know that KD is locked in, but if you still have doubts, here’s an Internet that has leaked that already previews how Kevin Durant is going to start this season:

Did I mention it’s going to be a fun season?


“Now if you’re from Uptown, Brooklyn-bound
The Bronx, Queens, and Long Island Sound
Even other states come right and exact
It ain’t where you’re from, it’s where you’re at
Since you came here, you have to show and prove
And do that dance until it don’t move
Cause all you need is soul self-esteem will release
The rest is up to you, Rakim’ll say “peace”

To Kevin Durant again. Specifically to his impending free agency, and the #KD2DC movement. Because in his case, it’s about where he’s from, and where he’s at. Can OKC do enough to convince him to stay and believe he can win championships there? Does he really want to come home to DC if the situation is right?

The Wizards will have to show and prove, and improve. Because one of the reasons we want Kevin Durant is because we know that Kevin Durant is all about winning. The Wizards have to prove that they are ready to be a winner, with or without him, like John Wall said. They have to show heart, they have to show passion, and they have to win. Kevin Durant isn’t going to came back to DC because he wants to make a team a contender. He’s going to come back to DC because he wants to make a contender a champion. And he wants to make them a champion more than once.

Which brings it all back to the Wizards. This is a huge season. This is the season to prove themselves. This is the season for John Wall to prove he’s MVP caliber, for Bradley Beal to prove he’s an All-Star, for DC to prove we’re a passionate basketball city, and for the Wizards to prove they’re a legit Eastern Conference contender. The time is now. Prove it to us. Prove it to themselves. And prove it to Kevin Durant. And maybe, just maybe, that will be enough for KD to say “peace.”

It’s going to be a fun season.

we are Hoop District

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