by Jake Appleman

I was rummaging through old yearbooks after moving out of an apartment that felt like little more than a metaphorical battle rap—no really, a few miles from the Knicks’ practice facility, the address is actually a metaphorical battle rap—when I found a few signatures from my childhood and then my high school years.

I was stunned by the bile I was keeping inside as a kid, energy that I channeled into sports and being competitive in the classroom, except at the end of the year when I would rate my classmates like a price guide, and then also the bile that came back. The answer was equilibrium, as much as it stung, the idea of one being drunk on writing.

One of the things that makes a yearbook interesting is how students, at times, play follow the leader—like a comment that creates a new perception about the person whose yearbook it is (inside of their own head). It’s elementary school Psychology 101, searing life commentary before the twists and turns of the internet. As a kid, I fired dodgeballs and ran with footballs. As an adolescent, I was likened to a duck.

Since I spent most of last year around Deron Williams and friends (see how DWill suddenly looks like the leader?), I decided to try and bridge those gaps. Williams is a Steelers fan, so I combined STEEL-CURTAIN-ESQUE signatures with deeply imagined (but hopefully balanced, resonant and thoughtful) messages from his hybrid homies in the L.

Regarding the fonts: regular is The Truth according to this post in time; bold is bold, somewhat in the past perhaps; and italics both futuristic and somewhere in between.

***

Socrates’ philosophies and hypotheses can’t define how we were once roomies in Greece CJ Watson

You might not have been Top 50 for much of last season, but you were Top 3-5 post-All-Star, so SLAM will probably rank you somewhere between 16-22 in their annual Top 50. Just letting you know. — Keith Ramon Bogans

I lived in Greece, too. Ghost wrote a column. For SLAM. Hope you’re well. The unexamined defense is not worth improving. — J-Chill

You might as well call me Oprah’s book club. Best of luck this year. — Mr. Jerry Stackhouse

GERRY BRADSHAW

SHAQ ‘OLD SPICE’ LAMBERT

I suppose I have to learn how to translate Kevin Garnett? — Mason Plumlee

I love reunions. Us, man. Us. — AK

Hey boss—I figured Plumlee would be bringing you your plums or apples or oranges or grapefruits or whatever this year—you still want me to get you the Daily News? Or you wanna switch it up? Times, Post, Newsday, Star Ledger, Record, AP printouts, or even the Brooklyn Eagle—lemme know. I mean, if MarShon helped out for parts of two seasons. — Tyshawn

Man, DWill, I been thinkin’: Since we family men and stuff like that, we family men. Kids the most important. Know what I’m sayin’? — Reg

PRESIDENT OF THE PLAYAS UNION (RAPPIN’ 3 TAY)

‘…lyrically, I’d probably be…C…P….3…’ I mean, maybe. It’s not ‘a…V…C…3.’ So I’m actually still not sure. — S “Dot” Sez

You’re not from Chicago, but you can still make ‘illa wafers as long as you’re not rockin’ loafers. — Shaun Livingston

PG—thanks for continuing to having my back. #breakfastclub? — Dray

You know, since I watch lots of NBA TV, I can tell you that I definitely see the Rick Barry in you. Should be interesting now that I have a new coach who’s used to doing more with less. Have a summer. — MarShon

REAL O’DONNELL

Remember: If you ever need help on defense, or with a joking matter, I’ll be there to make sure you’re defending my sense of humor. — Coach Lawrence

Since we’ve been teammates in places like Venezuela and Utah and New Jersey and Brooklyn, I’ll just free associate: Me…ow!…meow…meow-mix…deliveries…UPS…a new Bowflex machine…working out…personal training…working out more…necessary rest…hydration…the number 43…my elbow jumper…macaroni elbows…getting traded to Boston…living in Boston…oh. — Hump

From the passing to the present,how you move the ball, in many ways, defines what we do here. If it’s successful, it’s your playlist. But the stature of that success lies somewhere between Manute and Muggsy. — Coach Kidd

I look forward to working with you. — Alan Anderson

I’ve been here since 1995. I’m just saying. — Assistant General Manager Bobby Marks

You and I can do better next season, right? — Mirza Music

Running and cunning. — Marko Jaric (My contribution to this Nets season. See how I imitated Clyde Frazier?)

FRANCO HAIRSTON

gerald-wall-ACE

SAN ANTONIO HOLMES

Now that you’ve had it your way, are you ready for phase 2? — General Manager Billy King

I still don’t know where in America you can jack someone’s shorts up. — Phase 2

What about…a remote-controlled slinky…that has a twin (also a remote-controlled slinky)…sponsored by Vonage…and it climbs UP stairs…and does the Charleston…and talks like Count Chocula…and performs at halftime when we play opponents with shared ABA history… I’m just spit-balling here.Brett Yormark

MEAN KETCHUP JOE GREENE

The ’13-14 Brooklyn Nets: From Soft Serve to Self Serve in One Linear Mess Hall.Come on everybody, let’s do the conga’. (Mr. Cory Booker, IS THAT SLOGAN OK WITH YOU?) — Marty Markowitz

“5…4…3… — Paul

BERRY FOSTER

2…1…” — Joe

I want to be bad boy. — Toko

Always make Crew mistakes. — KB8

For the record, the author interviewed me when he was 17—for The Record. Predictably, the work was amateur in quality. — Jet

So…you gonna read it? — Brook

Ain’t that fly? — TWIN SWANS

Where should Deron Williams rank in the SLAM Top 50?

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SLAMonline Top 50 Players 2013
RankPlayerTeamPositionPos. Rank
50Monta EllisMavsSG5
49Luol DengBullsSF10
48Ricky RubioTWolvesPG14
47Greg MonroePistonsPF12
46Kawhi LeonardSpursSF9
45Mike ConleyGrizzliesPG13
44Al JeffersonBobcatsC9
43David LeeWarriorsPF11
42Jrue HolidayPelicansPG12
41Anthony DavisPelicansPF10
40Joe JohnsonNetsSG4
39Serge IbakaThunderPF9
38Kevin GarnettNetsPF8
37Rudy GayRaptorsSF8
36Paul PierceNetsSF7
35Ty LawsonNuggetsPG11
34Pau GasolLakersPF7
33Al HorfordHawksC8
32Andre IguodalaWarriorsSF6
31Brook LopezNetsC7
30Zach RandolphGrizzliesPF6
29DeMarcus CousinsKingsC6
28Damian LillardBlazersPG10
27Josh SmithHawksSF5
26Joakim NoahBullsC5
25Roy HibbertPacersC4
24John WallWizardsPG9
23Chris BoshHeatC3
22Tim DuncanSpursPF5
21Dirk NowitzkiMavsPF4
20LaMarcus AldridgeBlazersPF3
19Rajon RondoCelticsPG8
18Marc GasolGrizzliesC2
17Blake GriffinClippersPF2
16Deron WilliamsNetsPG7

Rankings are based on expected contribution in ’13-14—to players’ team, the League and the game.