It's a long story, and it starts a fairly long time ago, but I will tell it to you as quickly as I can. In 2006, three friends and NBA fans, inspired by the Ultramagnetic MC's ultra-long rapped tribute to the 1989 NBA All-Star team—it's extremely real and extremely detailed; Kool Keith shouts out trainer Ray Melchiorre—decided to take their own crack at it for that year's team. And then they did it again the next year, and then they just never stopped. Their names are Beau Alessi, Brian Richardson, and Doug Schrashun, and they are doing exactly what they should be doing. I would go so far as to say that they are sports heroes.
What they are not, really, is rappers. They know what they're doing as musicians—Alessi and Schrashun are in the bands Robot Princess and Miniboone, respectively—but the music is not necessarily what this project is about. Neither is the opportunity to pay four bars' worth of tribute to Pau Gasol every year around this time, although the three continue to embrace that (self-issued) challenge with panache and moderately improved artistry. They are 11 years older (and notably better at rapping) than they were when they began. Richardson, a schoolteacher, now lives in Philadelphia, and is a father; Alessi and Schrashun live in Brooklyn. The song has become an excuse to reunite, screw around, and try to find things that rhyme with "DeMar Derozan." This year's version is leaner and shorter than its recent predecessors; it features roughly as much style-hopping, slightly fewer beat changes, and the first documented use of the words "eggplant emoji" as a punchline in this or any other song. What is most important about it, as always, is that it exists.
They do not plan on stopping, and we can only fervently hope that they won't. "I hope my offspring get to roll their eyes about this dumb project Dad gets so excited about each year when they're sullen teenagers," Richardson told me when I first wrote about them, back in 2014. We are a year closer to seeing that become a reality. Who we will be when that happens, and where, is something that is not ours to know right now. But it is reassuring, and inspiring, to know that these three dudes will be rapping as well as they can about Ben Simmons, together, when that day comes.