A few days ago the Detroit Pistons twitter account offered J. Cole a tryout. What if we told the history of the Pistons using some of the hip-hop icon’s best songs?
If it weren’t for 2020, this would be absurd news, but it is looking more and more like J. Cole might just be taking his talents to the Detroit Pistons next season. In a collaboration with Puma, J. Cole released a signature shoe and also made clear his very real intentions to make an NBA roster.
Now this isn’t the first time a rapper has made a run at the NBA. Master P did it back in the late 90’s. I mean back in 2010, Drake spit these lines on Thank Me Later:
“I swear music sports and music are so synonymous….cause we want want to be them and they want to be us”.
Maybe it’s true that every rapper wants to be in the league and every NBA player wants to be a rapper? We’ve seen many players try their hand at rap, but rappers are rarely talented enough on the hardwood to make a roster let alone play respectable pick-up.
However, in the past few years J. Cole has done more than prove himself on the mic. He is now known the rapper with the best hoop game (maybe 2 Chainz or Quavo have something to say about this…).
For now, I’m just going to count on J. Cole being a future Piston.
With that being said, in honor of the now 35-year-old Detroit Pistons superstar Jermaine Cole, here is the history of the franchise as told by our very own Young Simba.
1987-1988 Season: “Before I’m Gone” (2010)
In 2009, J. Cole found himself in a familiar place. He had released a couple of critically acclaimed mixtapes and had signed a record deal with Jay-Z’s ROC Nation, but was still being slept on and needed to prove himself even more.
Before the 1987-1988, season the Detroit Pistons were not getting the respect they deserved. They overcome many different mountains, but had one goal left to accomplish: the NBA title.
The Detroit Pistons 1988 championship is J. Cole’s Friday Night Lights mixtape. They had proved themselves already, but this was them finally receiving their crown. And before they were gone they would leave their mark on the game.
1988-1989 Season: “Fire Squad” (2014)
The rap game will never forget the moment Firing Squad dropped and the NBA will never forget this moment this Pistons team won back to back.
Coming off many in the industry, J. Cole decided it was time for his magnum opus. With the release of his album 2014 Forest Hills Drive, Cole reminded the game why he was on top. One of the more buzz-worthy songs was Firing Squad, an almost 5 minute stream-of-conscious, name-dropping warning shot.
Fresh off the NBA championship, the Pistons waisted no time in this season, winning 59 games on their way to the number one seed in the East. In the Finals, the Portland Trailblazers stood no chance as the “Bad Boys” won easily 4-1.
“Ain’t a way around it no more, I am the greatest.”
2003-2004 Season: “Knock Tha Hustle” – Cozz feat. J. Cole (2014)
The 2004 Detroit Pistons were known for one thing: going to work. J. Cole proved again with his feature on Cozz’s Knock Tha Hustle that he would always be about the hustle, even it met sacrificing an incredible verse to be used on a teammates song.
See that is what also made the 2004 Pistons great….teamwork. Some nights Chauncey Billups would dominate you. Other nights it would be Richard Hamilton or Rasheed Wallace, maybe even Tayshaun Prince. And if all else failed you had Ben Wallace to swat one into the fifth row.
J. Cole swatted this song into the fifth row with one of his best verses of his career.
The Pistons won the title in 2004 because the Lakers couldn’t knock their hustle and their embodiment of the word “team”.
2004-2005 Season: “No Role Modelz” (2014)
The 2005 Pistons were still angry. They had just beaten a super team in LA to win the title, but people thought they still had something to prove?
The Pistons would rip through the regular season, despite a little speed bump known as the “Malice in the Palace“. They would go on to lose to the Spurs in the 7 games.
Admittedly, the connection for this song is a bit of a stretch. In the same vein as the “Bad Boys”, these Pistons didn’t care if they were role models. It was just about winning.
Audibly, this tracks thumping base, rumbling drums, and accent sample guitars give it a hard hitting sound that’s reminiscent of this team’s style of play.
2005-2006 Season: “ATM” (2018)
This song can give you whiplash. It’s fast, relentless, and features J. Cole talking about racking up the accolades, income, and all that comes with fame.
The 2005-2006 Pistons could not stop winning. They were a force through the entire regular season, winning 64 games. They became on of the few teams in NBA history to send four players to the All-Star Game. Ben Wallace won Defensive Player of the Year.
Following the message of J. Cole’s ATM, the Pistons racked up all of the accolades on paper, but failed to reach the goal that really mattered.
“Will I fall or will I fly?” was Cole’s question. The Pistons ended up falling to the Heat in 6 games in the Eastern Conference Finals after flying all season.
2013-2014 Season: “Let Nas Down” (2013)
In one of the standout songs on his 2013 album Born Sinner, J. Cole walked listeners through his feelings on the fact that his pop hit Work Out reportedly made hip-hop legend Nas feel as though he wasn’t living up to his potential.
And let me tell you something, this Pistons team was a disgrace to all the legendary teams that came before it. They went 29-53 after an offseason where then General Manager Joe Dumars signed Josh Smith and traded for Brandon Jennings. The expectations were decently high, but the team fell on it’s face.
If you ask me, Joe Dumars owes us a 4 minute and 37 second love letter to the game apologizing for his past transgressions to the legends. I mean, J. Cole gave us one.
2017-2018 Season: “A Star is Born” – Jay-Z feat. J. Cole (2009)
Pretty simple connection here. At the 2018 trade deadline, the Detroit Pistons finally got their star, Blake Griffin.
Griffin is easily the biggest star the Pistons have had in years.
In similar fashion, Jay-Z introduced the world the next big star with J. Cole’s feature on this song from The Blueprint 3.
Now there may be some deeper comparisons here along the likes of The Blueprint 3 was Jay-Z on his way down from his prime similarly to how Blake Griffin had already reached his prime in Los Angeles before be trade to the Pistons, but that is neither here nor there.
The Blueprint 3 is underrated, just like Blake Griffin. And I see Blake Griffin as more of a 4:44 anyway.
2020-2021 Season: “Dollar and a Dream III” (2011)
Now I know there are many “Dollar and a Dream” songs, but this was choice here because this was released commercially on Cole’s debut album Cole World: The Sideline Story.
The upcoming Pistons’ offseason and ensuing 2020-2021 season have two common things: a dollar and a dream.
Dollar? The Pistons have the most cap space they have had in years – $34.9 to be precise.
Dream? This is all about how the Pistons use that cap space and other assets such as a potential top draft pick.
Could a line-up that includes LaMelo Ball and Brandon Ingram be on the horizon? Maybe Fred VanVleet? Do we keep Christian Wood? One can dream.
But the real dream is that the Pistons get back to playoff contention real soon. If what it takes is bringing in Jermaine Cole as a undrafted free agent, then let’s do it.
“I got a dollar and dream…just a dollar and a dream.”