So what does Rotnei Clarke have to do with the Wizards, Wale and the Redskins?
Well, for one, the sharp-shooting Clarke worked out for the Washington Wizards on Monday, along with five other players—Tyler Brown, Miguel Paul, Angelo Sharpless, Gregory Echenique, and Ehimen Orukpe. It was the first pre-NBA Draft workout the Wizards conducted this year at the Verizon Center.
Clarke, a 6-foot guard from Butler, said the workout “went really well,” his humble demeanor being sure to mention that he appreciated the opportunity. He doesn’t have any other workouts scheduled at the moment, but indicated that the Indiana Pacers and Atlanta Hawks were interested in taking a look. ESPN.com’s Chad Ford (Insider) ranks Clarke, who will turn 24 in July, 98 on his list of Top 100 2013 NBA Draft prospects.
It’s been debated to the point of irrelevancy. Most will tell you, Jay-Z over Nas, especially with the back-minded consideration that the former has Beyoncé on his arm. And Kelis probably hates Nas… So. Much. Right. Now!
It was always mostly about lyricism, amongst the variety of other factors that go into one’s musical experience. I still personally struggle with the debate. They are the two best rappers alive, and for my money, not alive, too (at risk of committing hip-hop blasphemy in not buying into the over-inflated value in the lives and skills of Tupac and Biggie after death).
If Jay-Z’s debut album, Reasonable Doubt, is a 9.8, then Nas’ debut, Illmatic, is a 9.9—I’m hesitant to give anything, even LeBron’s basketball skills, a perfect 10. Ask me in the early-to-mid-2000s (Blueprint albums to the Black Album), and I’d be more inclined to say Jay-Z. Ask me later in my timeline (Street’s Disciple/Hip Hop is Dead to Life is Good), and I’d be more inclined to say Nas (including up to this very day).
I’ll concede that some of Nas’ lows are lower than Jay-Z’s lows, and that Jay-Z’s overall career is more decorated. And I might also find some irony that Nas’ “Ether” effectively killed the mano a mano battle between the two (although Hova’s “Blueprint 2” retaliation off the Blueprint 2 album was pretty badass).
Home fans didn’t even let Andray Blatche take the floor, miss a long jumper or two, before they started booing him last night. They let loose on him during pre-game introductions and just about whenever he touched the ball in the early going. Blatche missed a 21-foot jumper 22 seconds into the game, a 19-foot jumper about two minutes later. Relentless. And after a bumbling travelling violation midway through the first quarter, Blatche saw Trevor Booker waiting to check in and started sulking toward the bench. Problem was, Flip Saunders was sending Booker in for McGee instead. Keep playing 7-Day, was the presumed message.
When asked if Blatche earned the “moans and groans” of the crowd, Saunders said, “I’m sure he did, but I give him credit because he played through it.” Sometimes to success, sometimes not. Midway through the second quarter after a steal, Blatche found himself all alone on the break. No off-the-backboard dunking like JaVale McGee, but rather, simply a barely made layup.
“If ‘Dray would have missed that layup…” jokingly chimed in Nick Young several times while Blatche, with an uncontrolled sheepish grin himself, was giving his post game interview with the media, the ability to be laid back about the whole scene thanks to a 105-102 Wizards win.
Blatche didn’t make his first jumper until the third quarter, one that brought the Wizards within six points at 59-53. Fans barely knew how to react… pre-packaged cheers were muted by surprised golf claps. But 7-Day Dray got an ‘atta boy’ from his coach in the way he battled against bruising Thunder big man Kendrick Perkins. No one knows if the boos motivated Blatche to 12 points, 10 rebounds, four assists, four turnovers, two steals, and one block in 34 tough minutes back in the starting lineup. Or maybe it was a Marine.
[Wizards, Wall & Wale... highlights from Fan Fest...]
The hope is that the fun of last Saturday’s Fan Fest at the Verizon Center was not just a reprieve from things to come for the Washington Wizards after Friday night’s debacle against the Philadelphia 76ers.
Tonight, the Wiz Kids will get a chance for preseason redemption in the City of Brotherly Love, as well as in front of a national audience on NBA TV. It might merely be a minor speed bump en route to a shortened 66-game season slate, but when the next game on December 26 counts, it’s not a bump to be taken lightly.
So before people pile on how bad this Wizards team might be, or rather, lack of evident improvement in this season from the last, let’s give John Wall’s bunch a chance to digest Flip Saunders’ harsh words, to think about their film session that didn’t lie, and for the fearless point guard leader himself to stand by his words of inducing better offense and more astute defense.
But aside from franchise development angst, Wizards Fan Fest was a pretty great event. After about 15 minutes of rest after practice, the team took center court in the Phone Booth for an exhibition display. The feature was two 15-minute, running-clock scrimmages — light in their demeanor, as expected — that brought this NBA follower back to summer exhibition basketball action — little defense and dunking galore. (Actually, with exception, Capital Punishment surprisingly melded entertainment and competitiveness.)
Since last summer, McGee has been building and posting instrumentals to Reverb Nation (a platform for independent musicians, producers, and venues to collaborate and communicate). Big Daddy Wookie, known as JMAC on Reverb Nation, has produced over 25 Hip Hop and R&B tracks and attracted over 86,000 fans online. He has favorited “Dumb It Down,” a JMac Produktion by the Co-Op. (I believe he was featured in the song, but I have not been able to confirm.)
D.C.-area rapper Wale has been covered quite a bit on this site. But he wouldn’t be if I didn’t think so highly of his music. I mean, Soulja Boy was flown in for a Wizards-Cavaliers playoff game in 2008 and I barely mentioned it … because it’s friggin’ Soulja Boy. He is absolutely terrible.
First Wale just wasn’t that into the Wizards, rather he rooted fo the Cleveland Cavaliers. Then his fandom for the Denver Nuggets, as well, came to surface. “I gotta be honest, I’m not the biggest Wizards fan,” Wale once said, putting his hometown team further away than the back seat, shutting them in the trunk instead. Of course, Andray Blatche cautioned us not to believe that Wale really wasn’t a Wizards fan. And maybe Blatche was right, Wale did show up for a decent share of games last season, in the on-the-house seats the team makes available for VIPs.
The reality is also that the Wizards haven’t had anyone with huge star power for some time. Wale was unheard of on the music scene the last time Gilbert Arenas was relevant. Now the rapper is readily expressing his excitement that John Wall will be part of a new generation of stars in D.C., the “freshman class” (and Donovan McNabb). And the difference is that Wall’s hype is propelled by basketball talent, not by a $111 million contract. Fans loved Arenas when he was on top, but Wall is seen as one who will change the direction to the franchise, rather than someone putting up numbers in a high-octane offense.
Wale … Washington, D.C.’s first rapper with nationwide worldwide appeal. Some people were a little ‘comme ci, comme ca’ on his debut studio album, Attention Deficit, but I thought it was pretty damn good. Count me a fan of Wale’s music.
The other thing you gotta appreciate about Wale is that he passionately represents the District of Columbia … well, almost.
You’ll often find him talking about the Redskins or using Ovechkin in one of his raps or wearing a Nationals ‘Curly W’ hat. He even sat in the “celebrity” seats at a handful of Wizards games last season. But that’s where Wale’s fandom of the Wizards kinda comes to a halt, at a courtesy attendance via free court-side seats … until now.
When I first learned about Gilbert Arenas and guns on Christmas Eve, way back when it was as “innocent” as him getting the firearms out of his humble, grotto-encased abode because he didn’t want them around his new kid when he already had another kid for a couple years, I tweet-dedicated a Christmas song to him … Onyx, Throw Ya Guns.
As it’s becoming apparent, this Wale/Wizards thing has become a pet project. I “exchanged” tweets with Wale once (more like baited him into responding), sending a reply when he tweeted his support for the Cavaliers during the playoffs last May.
Via his Twitter account, McGee aka Big Daddy Wookie, has been posting new songs on Reverb Nation, a web platform for musicians/producers to upload tracks and possibly collaborate with others.
One can only assume that the artist to whom JaVale is linking, “JMac” from Flint, MI, is young Epic Vale himself (oh, and the fact that the picture above is also posted there … and he’s also confirmed it’s him via Twitter).
But don’t take my word for it, go listen for yourself … (there is a music player of his tracks below, but you might not see it if you are using a reader/aggregator.)