by Lang Whitaker

Before we get to my All-Star selections, a few other things first…

• Just finished a new issue of SLAM about 2 hours ago. Another dope, dope cover. Somehow we keep outdoing ourselves. I think that’s all I can say about it for now. More in a week or so.

• If you don’t follow me on Twitter, you should. Yesterday I tweeted upon the arrival of a box from Li-Ning, the Chinese shoe company, which sent me a pair of signature shoes from Jose Calderon and Baron Davis. The Baron shoes are particularly fresh. A bunch of people on Twitter were asking me how to get a pair. Well, here’s how you do it.

• Here’s this week’s Internet segment of The Beat from NBA TV. I managed to work in a shoutout to The Air Up There (the streetballer, not the movie).

• Last weekend, Wifey was out of town at the Golden Globe Awards for her job, so I spent the entire long weekend sitting on the couch, writing (my book is due March 1) and watching TV. And sometimes doing both at the same time.

On Sunday I was watching the Vikings/Cowboys game, mostly because it’s always funny to watch Tony Romo play terribly in a big game. At one point the Fox cameras cut to a shot of Prince in one of the luxury boxes. Which was amusing because it was Prince at an NFL playoff game, which is kind of like your grandmother going to a strip club or something equally non analogous.

I immediately tweeted that Prince should write a fight song for the Vikings to use during the playoffs, you know, in the great tradition of “The Super Bowl Shuffle” or “The Dirty Bird.” Those were really novelty songs, but imagine what Prince, one of the great music minds of all-time, might do if he wrote an NFL fight song?

My tweet got re-tweeted a bunch, and then the idea I spawned got picked up by a Minnesota website. Apparently people started talking about this idea in Minnesota, and then, last night, the unthinkable happened: It was announced that Prince had written a Vikings fight song! Myles Brown, our man in Minneapolis, emailed me that this was actually happening. I told Myles that the Vikings should bring me in to New Orleans for the game against the Saints this weekend — perhaps I will have more amazing ideas that could help the team — although I allowed that I really didn’t care that much about it. As Myles said: “Yeah, it probably won’t happen. But even if the song is bad, technically you inspired PRINCE. PRINCE!”

I’m not so sure about that; I don’t think Prince follows me on Twitter. And in an email, I told Myles that if the song was terrible, I wanted no credit for it. Well, the song was debuted on the news in Minneapolis last night and…well…listen for yourself…

I’m not sure what happened, but Prince obviously didn’t get what a fight song is supposed to be. The flutes, the choir of voices, the general medieval feeling of the song — Prince may have written this song for actual Vikings. I apologized causing this to former SLAM Ed. Tony Gervino, who is a die-hard Vikings fan. Tony wondered if perhaps the song was actually written by Prince Andrew. To me it sounds as if it should be performed by people in jester costumes. Or people at a Renaissance fair.

Honestly, though, I can’t stop listening to it because it just might be a Best Thing Ever. It makes me laugh every time I hear it. Imagine the Vikings sprinting out onto the field with that playing. L. O. L.

So, I’m sorry Vikings fans. I didn’t mean to cause you grief. Maybe Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis can remix it. Or Morris Day. Either way, I am now cheering for the Vikings to win, just so we can keep talking about this song for the next two weeks until the Superbowl.

• In better music news, the other night, SLAM contributor Bonsu Thompson invited me out to a screening of a documentary called Still Bill, a biopic about Bill Withers. If you don’t about Bill Withers, he recorded some of the biggest songs of the ‘70s and early ‘80s (“Lean On Me,” “Just The Two Of Us,” “Ain’t No Sunshine”), but he hasn’t released an album or performed live in about 20 years. This documentary tries to get to the bottom of why he dropped off the face of the music map.

Check the preview:

Still Bill Trailer from B-Side Entertainment on Vimeo.

Still Bill is coming out on DVD in a few months, and I highly recommend it.

• The All-Star starters were announced last night, and people are all already angry about Allen Iverson being named a starter. But why? Allen Iverson may not be the player he once was, but he is still a star, one of the biggest stars in the League. If anyone is an All-Star, Allen Iverson is an All-Star.

So, considering the starters are now set in stone (unless there’s an injury), here are my picks for the All-Star reserves…

EASTERN CONFERENCE
STARTERS
Allen Iverson
Dwyane Wade
LeBron James
Kevin Garnett
Dwight Howard

I guess there’s a chance that KG won’t be healthy for the game, in which case I think Chris Bosh would/should start for him. Either way, Bosh is one of my seven reserves.

Either way, you want two back-up guards, and I’m going with Rajon Rondo and Joe Johnson, both amazing players on great teams. For two back-up forwards, I think you have to go with Gerald Wallace (18 and 11!) and Bosh. For a back-up center, in my mind it’s either David Lee or Al Horford. Lee is averaging 19 and 11, while Horford is averaging just 13.7 and 10 (on about half the touches Lee gets on offense). Either way, I’m going with David Lee.

That leaves room for two more players, and I’m taking Josh Smith and Derrick Rose. The main guy getting screwed here would be Paul Pierce, but the Hawks are basically even with Boston in the standings and are 3-0 against them this season — again, it’s not a rivalry, though. And I don’t think the Celts deserve to have 3 players and Atlanta only 1. I would probably pick Mo Williams over Rose, but he’s out for a month with a bad shoulder. So no Mo. The other Eastern Conference power that gets screwed is Orlando, with just one player, but . The only other player who I think could be considered deserving is Antawn Jamison. He’s averaging 22 points per, but he’s doing it on a horrible team, which to me isn’t that impressive. Also, he’s boring.

BTW, there’s a very real chance that Mike Woodson could end up coaching the Eastern Conference All-Star team, which could be another Best Thing Ever. Mike Brown’s Cavs have the best record, but there’s a rule a coach can’t coach in back-to-back All-Star games. And the Hawks and Celts are basically tied for second-best record in the East right now. I’m not sure I can appropriately  process this if it were to happen. Would Woody only play 8 guys? Would he get upset about the team’s defense? Would he get into an argument with Josh Smith if he makes the team? Would Woody get a T? Would Joe Johnson log 40 minutes?

Looking further, I think the possibility of Woody ending up as coach is pretty remote. The coach is picked based on their team’s records as of January 31. Right now the Hawks are 27-14, but between now and Jan. 31, they have games at home against the BETcats and the Celtics, and on the road at San Antonio and at Houston. The Celts are currently 27-13, and between now and the 31st they host the Clippers then have a back-to-back at Orlando and at Atlanta. What if that Hawks/Celts game next Friday decides who gets to coach the Eastern Conference All-Star team?

Anyway, with my roster, the East has at least one All-Star from each of the top eight teams, and 9 of the top 10 teams. And imagine if the ran a lineup of Rose, Wade, Wallace, Smoove and Bron?

WESTERN CONFERENCE
STARTERS
Kobe Bryant
Steve Nash
Carmelo Anthony
Tim Duncan
Amare Stoudemire

It’s hard to argue with any of these starters, although Mark Cuban did, tweeting after the starting line-ups were announced that because Dirk didn’t make the starting line-up, we need to change the way starters are elected. Um, sorry, but no. I assume Mark wants Dirk in over Duncan, but as long as the greatest power forward in the history of basketball is playing, even if he is playing mostly center these days, I will vote for him over any other power forwards.

Anyway, Dirk is a lock to be a reserve, and I’m picking him and Kevin Durant as my two back-up forwards. My reserve guards are Brandon Roy (leading the 26-17 Blazers in PPG and APG) and Chris Paul. Paul just missed getting voted in, leads the NBA in assists per game and assist-to-turnover ratio, and has the Hornets 3 games over .500 despite the team literally giving away players to get under the luxury tax).

For a reserve center, I’m sorry Pau Gasol, but I’m going with Chris Kaman. Kaman is averaging 20 and 9 and has played 38 games. Gasol is averaging 17 and 11 and has played in 25 games. Kaman will be much more fun on interview day, and if the NBA is concerned with getting more foreign guys on the team to increase worldwide appeal, well, Kaman joined the German national team a few years ago.

We need two more players to round out this team, and I think Zach Randolph deserves a slot. Zach is going at a 20 and 11 clip, and he’s got the Grizz playing over .500. To me, the last slot comes down to Gasol, Billups or Deron Williams, and I’ll go with Deron. His 19 and 9 are tough to ignore, and to me, Pau and Chauncey don’t make my roster because their teams are already represented.

So, my Western team has a player from 9 of the top 10 teams, just like my Eastern team. I know there are deserving guys who I did not choose. Hopefully I did not hurt their feelings.

• That’s it. Fri-Day! Yes! Have a great weekend everyone and catch you all next week…