The 2016 Cleveland Cavaliers, as explained by GOOD Music’s “Champions”
Last night, LeBron James willed the Cleveland Cavaliers to a Finals victory over a vastly superior team in the Golden State Warriors. It was an incredible feat, and it seems less believable the more I think about it. The Cavs have some real talent, but there are also some absolute clowns on that roster, and some of those clowns played minutes late in the fourth quarter of Game 7.
This led me to compare the team to Kanye West’s GOOD Music label, which just released an absurdly fun posse cut called “Champions” that might be just perfect for this moment because of the title and the fact that GOOD Music has plenty of clowns that play in crunch time, too. I think both rap music and basketball benefit from strong personalities. The individuals drive most of the conversation, at the least. That made this string of analogies fun to write, even if they are ridiculous and admittedly completely pointless.
LeBron James ≈ Kanye West
Let’s just get this one out of the way. These two men are undeniably the talent engines of the two groups, or at least the talent manager on a bad day. They like to boost the stature of their teammates/label mates as much as possible by playing the role of a hype man, but then they’ll quickly switch motivational tactics and yell at everyone around them until the product improves. All subtweets aside, they both have dominated their field with forward thinking, brute force and just the right dosage of mania. Of course, they’ve also both potentially been among the most hated people in America outside of politicians or… murderers maybe? I don’t know, I don’t have the numbers or anything, but it definitely feels like that. As for their egos: remember, it’s hard to be humble when you stunting on the jumbotron.
Kyrie Irving ≈ Big Sean
These two are raw talents that are slowly reaching new heights. They might occasionally get in their own respective ways, through ill-advised off balance jump shots or terrible puns, but you forget those moments when they finish at the basket in ways that no one else could/breathlessly rap at top speed without tiring.
J.R. Smith ≈ Travis Scott
OK, any problem that Big Sean or Kyrie have applies tenfold here. You just can’t let these guys have the ball too long. If you do, they will only jack up irrationally confident shots/indefensibly ratchet lyrics. J.R. probably wishes Scott’s “Antidote” came out while he was still playing for the Knicks, though I’m sure that song gave both men some of their best nights filled with bad decisions. Thank Yeezus that 2016 finds them both settling in as respectable role players. When you let Rihanna co-opt your sound and make it sexy, you’re basically stealing the ball in transition mid-third quarter and tossing it your more reliable teammates. Sometimes the path to success is knowing your limitations. Stay low key at the night show.
Kevin Love ≈ 2 Chainz
Ha. What the hell is anyone supposed to make of these two? Do either of them know how they look when they leave the house? Cleveland torching the Eastern Conference with the only occasional help of Kevin Love’s offense is a lot like 2 Chainz crushing his verse on “Mercy” and then dropping “Birthday Song” a few months later. Somehow, both of those stretches seemed too easy. Plus, 2 Chainz’ first few lines on “Champions” are the musical equivalent of getting 2 fouls in the first 3 minutes of Game 6, while Kevin Love’s defense against Curry near the end of Game 7 was as redemptive as a 2 Chainz line that gets me to laugh out loud. You can’t humiliate either of these guys; they tweet through it. If you’re still skeptical of this comparison, please watch those “Droppin’ Dimes” State Farm commercials again. What are the chances that was ghost-written by 2 Chainz? 50/50? That was his “I’m Lovin It.”
Channing Frye ≈ Quavo
Honestly, I’m not sure why either of these guys were late additions to their teams. Quavo’s intro is nowhere near as memorable as what follows, and Frye was a relative nonfactor in the NBA Finals.
Dahntay Jones ≈ Yo Gotti
Wait, who is that again? Wait, HE’S 35?!?
Iman Shumpert ≈ Desiigner
Putting this comparison together makes me wish Danny Brown was signed to GOOD Music since he’s just as odd as the rest of these clowns that Kanye recruited. He also might low key be the inspiration for Imam Shumpert’s hair.
Shumpert could also fit Desiigner’s mold. They’re both long, right? There’s some kind of resemblance. Regardless, Shumpert was mostly a goon out there during the finals. He hit one nice 3 during Game 7, so that could be his “Panda,” I guess? Look, not all of these comparisons were going to work.
Richard Jefferson ≈ Gucci Mane
No, Jefferson didn’t get out of prison recently, but he did suddenly return to relevance because of a friendly relationship with the ring leader. If Gucci is lucky, he could one day go out on top the way Jefferson did, performing at a high level on the biggest stage.
*Bonus* GOOD Music members not on “Champions” that roughly equate to Cleveland Cavaliers with little to no impact on the series:
Tyronn Lue = Pusha T
Pusha T is a truly great rapper, and Tyronn Lue has had a fine career in the NBA as a player and now as a coach, but having the title “President of GOOD Music” or “Coach of a LeBron James-led Cavaliers team” is roughly like being Dmitry Medvedev between Putin presidencies. You’re in a position of power, but you’re still gonna take some orders.
James Jones = Kid Cudi
LeBron brought James Jones along for six straight finals appearances with Miami and Cleveland. That gets Jones on a historically exclusive list of players, one that he has no business being on. Surely, he will now live forever on future useless ESPN Stats & Info tweets.
It’s not clear whether Cudi is still on Kanye’s team after a very public split with the GOOD Music label, but somehow he’s still been on six straight Yeezy projects, including his heavily meme’d BEAUTIFUL MORNING hook on this year’s “Father Stretch My Hands.” That streak will get Cudi mentioned on many superfluous Kanye articles (like this one) for some time. As a result, he will now live forever coming out of beaten-up speakers in college dorm rooms.
 Let’s hope that Pusha handles the money for GOOD Music, at least.