If you’d told me last night that today I’d be writing about the NBA and their Boy Bands… if you’d told me at any point that I’d be writing about the NBA and their Boy Bands, ever… I would have thought it more than a little bit unlikely. But then, that’s one of the beauties of being a writer; being in a unique position to simply roll with whatever comes along.

When I checked in on Belly Up Sports’ Slack channel and found that a battle of the boy bands conversation had been going on Saturday morning, I was beyond tickled. Once our Editor, Penny said she knew I was going to turn the conversation into an article… I mean, I didn’t really have a choice at that point, now did I?

So, come along with me on the first leg of an NBA journey through the hilarious. We’ll share some laughs as we skip along the line of what is strictly reasonable.

Oklahoma City Thunder

Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant and James Harden on the Oklahoma City Thunder

What do we know about the Oklahoma City Thunder? They’re solid. They’ve been solid since the 2009-10 season. Sure, they missed the playoffs in the 2014-15 season, but they still had 45 wins. In the Eastern Conference that year, the Bucks, Celtics, and Nets all made the playoffs with 41 or fewer wins. The Wizards were the 5th seed in the East with only one more win than OKC that season. A solid team, no question.

But, OKC should have been freaking unstoppable the years they had Russell Westbrook, James Harden, and Kevin Durant. Sure, they made it to the NBA Finals that one time. But that group should have been the core of a dynasty! And yet…

O-Town - NBA and their boy bands match for the Oklahoma City Thunder
O-Town – NBA and their boy bands match for the Oklahoma City Thunder

OKC in boy band terms is O-Town.

O-Town was formed in the first season of a show called Making the Band on MTV. O-Town was a group of singers/performers who were handpicked to ‘play’ together in the hopes of dominating the pop charts. They could all sing. And they had late ’90s early ’00s hip hop lite locked down.

You know the style I mean. It was hip-hoppy without being too hard. After all, when they were live they needed to be able to dance and sing at the same time. And it was perfectly designed to show that a group had rhythm but was not so complicated that there was any great risk of them falling out of sync.

And let’s be real O-Town had some good tunes. All Or Nothing, Liquid Dreams!? Come on! What O-Town does not have is a number one hit on the Billboard charts. All or Nothing peaked at #3. Liquid Dreams peaked at #10. Some of their songs that never hit the charts were also not terrible.

OKC’s playoff record, especially recently is much the same. Consistent regular-season performances and playoff appearances but overall, they’ve been so much less than they could have been. Especially during the Har-Rant-Brook years.

Dallas Mavericks

2012 NBA Champion Dallas Mavericks

The MMM-avs are one of two current one-hit-wonders on our list. The MMM-avericks have 21 playoff appearances in 40 seasons, which is not too shabby. They also only have that one NBA Championship in 2011.

You know where I’m going with this, right? H-Mmm… Mmm…


Hanson - NBA and their boy bands match for the Dallas Mavericks
Hanson – NBA and their boy bands match for the Dallas Mavericks

The Mavericks are Hanson. For a little while, you couldn’t get away from that blasted song. Just like when a team wins a Championship, they’re in every conversation… for a while. But when they don’t have a repeat performance in fairly short order, irrelevancy is inevitable.

Toronto Raptors

Artwork of the 2018 NBA Champion Toronto Raptors

The Toronto Raptors are our second one-hit-wonder. Their boy band counterpart is 98 Degrees. Why you ask? That’s an excellent question.

98 Degrees had some really enjoyable songs. I Do (Cherish You), the almost cloyingly sweet, perfect for weddings love ballad. Everyone low-key loves that stuff. Because of You? I’d be willing to bet this was the soundtrack of many an awkward first ‘slow’ dance in poorly decorated school gymnasiums. It was somewhere between up and downtempo. This made it perfect for first ‘slow-dances’ while also being of a sufficient speed that meant you didn’t have to get too close.

The Hardest Thing!? I mean, come on! How often can a group of men sing a song about being a cheater in a way that still makes you think, “Aw, he’s such a good guy“? But 98 Degrees pulled that off too.

And, like Hanson, 98 Degrees do technically have one #1 Billboard hit. But, they couldn’t get there alone. Thank God I Found You is Mariah Carey’s song featuring Joe and 98 Degrees. It’s the kind of thing where you immediately wonder, do 98 Degrees really deserve credit for that #1? Billboard says, “Yes.”

98 Degrees - NBA and their boy bands match for the Toronto Raptors
98 Degrees – NBA and their boy bands match for the Toronto Raptors

For many, absolutely not me, but for many, the Raptors’ 2018-19 Championship was the Kawhi Leonard show with Danny Green and the rest of the Raptors only featured on the track. I cannot overstate how strongly I disagree with this narrative. If you follow the link to the video, you’ll see an even stronger parallel. Mariah and Joe each get a solo verse while 98 Degrees are little more than a glorified chorus.

To add insult to injury, the boys of 98 Degrees just look so darned happy to be sharing the stage with Mariah and Joe. They’re legit just thrilled to have been included. I’m not going to lie, as a Raptors’ fan, the fact that this comparison plays as well as it does low-key hurts my heart.

San Antonio Spurs

Tony Parker, Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili of the NBA Champions San Antonio Spurs

The San Antonio Spurs are known for a few things. One of those things is a system. A system that says, “This is how we do things. It doesn’t matter who is available. As long as there are five bodies to put on the floor it will still work.” To go along with that, the Spurs are an iconic team and Gregg Popovich has a military background.

So, we have to have iconic songs, a system where it doesn’t matter who you put in an open slot, uniforms… Insert Eureka’s face here!

The Village People!

The Village People - NBA and their boy bands match for the San Antonio Spurs
The Village People – NBA and their boy bands match for the San Antonio Spurs

For iconic songs, you’ve got Y.M.C.A, Macho Man and In the Navy among others. In The Navy also covers the military connection. It doesn’t matter who the members of the Village People are. As long as there’s a cowboy, a construction worker, a police officer, a culturally insensitive Native American, a ‘leatherman’ and a military man, you’re good to go. I mean, check out the Village People’s member list on Wikipedia.

I feel like there’s another connection somewhere… it’s right on the tip of my brain. Something to do with Tim Duncan… Hmmm.

Oh well. We’ve gotta move on.

Boston Celtics

The Boston Celtics’ NBA Championship banners

The most important thing we need to know about the Celtics is that they’re the winningest team in NBA history. We’re talking about a team with 56 playoff appearances in 74 seasons and 17 championships. Between 1956 -57 when Boston won their first NBA Championship and the 1968-69 season the Celtics won 11 NBA Finals.

One word. Respect!

Are you either wondering or appreciating how many of those titles were won in back to back seasons? You should be. The answer is eight. EIGHT back-to-back NBA titles.

I don’t care what anyone says; I’m talking to some of you, Lakers’ fans. You know who you are. Those of you who like to cite the Laker’s 16 championships as the reason your team is currently awesome. As if that says a single thing about the team this season. Or last season. Or the season before.

New Kids on the Block - NBA and their boy bands match for the Boston Celtics
New Kids on the Block – NBA and their boy bands match for the Boston Celtics

The Boston Celtics can only be paralleled with the OGs of modern boy bands, The New Kids on the Block. I mean, just the fact that the NKOTB are from Dorchester, MA, less than a 30-minute drive from Boston is a point in and of itself. There has not been a bigger act in terms of singing, dancing white boys than NKOTB.

And speaking of groups of white boys, have you ever done a Google image search for ‘Boston Celtics championship rosters’? I mean, yeah, there are some brothers sprinkled in there. And I know that the Celtics were ahead of their time in embracing African American players… but you know what I’m talking about.

That’s before even mentioning Larry-he’s-not-white-he’s-clear-Bird. And yes, that line was the best thing to come out of Space Jam. This is a hill I’m willing to die on.

Stay tuned for Part 2 of the series. In the meantime, check out the rest of the Belly Up Sports content.

Follow me @auxiliarythings on Twitter for random basketball musings and live tweets during NBA games.

About Author

Jade "Auxiliary Things" Johnson

Jamaican born, Canadian raised lover of NBA basketball. Growing up a basketball fan in hockey nation was... lonely at times. What can I say? I like what I like.

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