Here’s A Mixtape For Brook Lopez

lopez with cusak 2–b+w

It’s hard to figure out what Brook Lopez did to deserve what he got. He came into the league a pretty un-hyped 10th overall pick, performed at a high level and stayed humble throughout. Yet, it was never good enough. People didn’t talk about him often, but when they did, he wasn’t doing enough.

His first few years were clouded by desolation, misdirection and strawmen. For his debut season, he was transplanted to the ruinous East Rutherford swamps, an inhospitable territory laid barren by Bruce Ratner and Jason Kidd. He responded with a season worthy of the All-Rookie first team and enough laidback, goofy charm to begin thawing the cold, dead hearts of Nets fans. His second season was a legit breakout, putting up 18.8 points, 8.6 rebounds, 1.7 blocks and shooting 50% from the field and 81% from the line -— all at the age of 21. But the chorus -— outside of Nets fans -— was that he was putting up empty numbers on a 12-win team. Kinda true, but also, those are just plain good numbers. Whatever. Brook never wavered from his bro’d-out stoicism. Then the guy somehow sidled his way into the role of the non-rebounding, injury-prone trade piece for the best center in the league. He wasn’t actually any of those things, but they were the only buzz-phrases to define him for 18 months or so.

But then his feet healed, he vanquished the Epstein-Barr virus from his system and Dwight Howard continued his slow descent into being the worst. And now as we look back semi-fondly on the Brooklyn Nets first playoff run, we see a seven-game series in which Brook secured his place as the best player on a one-day strong playoff team (unless Deron grabs that mantle, in which case we won’t be mad). As the longest-tenured Net, he’s the closest thing we have to “our guy.”

But through it all, Brook keeps his distance. He’s the reserved, sage bro in the corner, debating alternate Batman histories and gauging every angle in his bank shot repertoire.

Brook, we’ve been crushing on you for years now, but no one believed us. No one believed that you were the guy we knew you were, the guy you proved yourself to be this season. Basketball minds refused to believe in things that were fact, but they cannot ignore your prominence any longer. Even though it’s still early in your career, this first Brooklyn season and postseason are heavily weighted arguments in determining your perception league-wide. But your work is just starting. This year was a breakthrough, but now you need to do it again. Fans and coaches and players and pundits aren’t going to taste the stock before the soup is finished. I’m pretty sure you don’t care about this at all, but carrying your team (yeah, your team) next year like you did this year will nudge the needle ever-closer towards “Nets Great.” I know, we’re getting way ahead of ourselves. Don’t want to move too fast. But that’s just what you do to us. You make us feel young again, and not only because that’s when seven-footers still existed in the NBA. Hope you like this tape, whether you bump it on the subway or that crazy bus elevator at Barclays that people talk about. Thanks for a great season.

Animal Collective, “Brother Sport”
“You’re halfway ’til you’re fully grown. You’ve got a real good shot.”

Nude Beach, “You Make It So Easy”
“’Cause it’s not my fault that you thought that I might be somebody else.”

Art Brut, “DC Comics And Chocolate Milkshake”
“I guess I’m just developing late.
 DC comics and chocolate milkshake—I never got over that amazing taste. 
I’ve been accused of some things,
 I’m not sure what they’ve meant:
 Peter Pan syndrome and arrested development.”

Alex Bleeker and the Freaks, “Don’t Look Down”
“Don’t look back at the way we met, don’t look back at me now. Don’t retract all the things you said.”

Tanlines, “Brothers”
“Take the stairs, make mistakes, just make up for them. On the spot, don’t pretend.”

Yuck, “The Wall”
“Tryna make it through the wall. You can see me if you’re tall. Well, if you’re tall, looking over.”

Lambchop, “Nice Without Mercy”
“And the sky, it opens up like candy. And the wind it don’t know my name. And the warm comes back even though I thought it would not. Yeah.”

Panda Bear, “Bros”
“Hey man, what’s your problem? Don’t you know that I don’t belong to you? It’s hard and hard enough to keep it up when everything is so new.”

Cass McCombs, “Eavesdropping On The Competition”
“You said if you could only get through life without one opinion, you’d be fine… Now you’re free as the ferry out of Galveston.”

WU LYF, “We Bros”
“So maybe we will fail, fail to not see. Maybe we will fail, but at least we will be free.”