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The Song Remains the Same

The Wine & Gold Talk Tunes

The Wine & Gold Talk About Tunes

NBA players are often fictionalized as boastful, boisterous individuals who feel they can do anything.

But, as usual, the actual truth is completely different. And though they’re well-paid for their abundant talents, they also know their limitations – especially when it comes to music. At the highest levels, musical talent is one of the only God-given gifts that – like the players’ own – you either have or you don’t.

(That’s not to say anyone can’t show off their pipes or learn an instrument – and, like all of us, the current Cavs have aspirations. Walter McCarty has sung the National Anthem at All-Star Weekend. Our own Jim Chones played it on bass before a home game at The Q.)

Players’ tastes are mostly rap, R&B and hip-hop, but there’s also a wide range of everything from John Coltrane to Portugal the Man to Outkast – and that’s just Channing Frye’s mix.

Whatever they’re listening to, music plays a major role in pro athletes gameday ritual. It’s a rarity to see a player at any level getting off the bus without a set of headphones on. And how the tunes tweak their mood might be the difference between an outstanding performance or a total dud.

With the 61st Annual Grammy Awards set for this weekend, sat down with some of the current Cavaliers to talk about how music affects them – in life and in basketball …

Jordan Clarkson enjoys listening to Travis Scott in his buds as he arrives to the arena.
Photo by Jeff Haynes/NBAE via Getty Images

Who’s your favorite current artist or genre right now?

Jordan Clarkson: My favorite current artist would be Travis Scott right now. He has a good album "Astroworld." He's had a few good albums.

Cedi Osman: Right now, Justin Timberlake. I listen to him a lot. He's one of my favorite artists.

Channing Frye: Man, I listen to so much different music. It was one of Richard (Jefferson)'s pet peeves -- because on shuffle you would get like anything from John Coltrane to Outkast to Deadmau5 to Snoop to Kendrick Lamar to WuTang to Young Jeezy.

Like, I grew up with a lot of different music, so it just depends on my mood. Like at night, I like to listen to Spotify: The State of Jazz. And then if I'm with my kids at the pool, I'll listen like Nu-disco. And then if I'm working out, doing cardio, I'll listen to a lot of EDM, house music.

Collin Sexton: My favorite current artist right now is Meek Mill.

Larry Nance Jr.: My favorite artist right now is Logic.

Who’s your favorite musical artist of all-time?

Osman: Of all-time? Michael Jackson. I mean, he's the King of Pop.

Clarkson: I don't have a favorite artist of all-time. I'm all over the place with my music.

Nance Jr.: All-time would be J. Cole.

Frye: My favorite artist of all time would be John Coltrane. I love Outkast, as well. Obviously, I grew up in the Snoop Dogg West Coast rap era. I like Amy Winehouse.

And then one of my boys is, like, in Portugal the Man. That's my guy. So those guys are great dudes. I love their music. I liked their music before they got famous, and now they're just evolving.

Sexton: All-time? I like Tupac. I like Jay Cole, too. Those two.

David Nwaba: I like J. Cole. NBA YoungBoy is good as well. But no real favorites, per se.

What was your first concert?

Frye: “Power Jam 14” in Phoenix. It was Flipmode Squad, Black Eyed Peas (before Fergie). We had Blackstar, we had Cypress Hill, we had Public Enemy. I think Nas came out too. It was crazy.

Osman: It was here at The Q! We went to the Justin Timberlake concert and it was amazing! It was really good.

Nwaba: I've actually only been to one concert in my whole life, surprisingly. It was Kendrick Lamar. I saw him in Chicago at the United Center -- and it was really good.

Sexton: My first concert was a Future show. They brought Gucci Mane out; it was pretty cool.

Clarkson: My first concert was probably Coachella. Travis Scott was headlining. I think the Weekend was there too. My boy, Tyler the Creator. A$AP Rocky. It was a good lineup, but that was probably my first time going to a concert.

Nance Jr.: My first concert ever was my freshman year of high school, at Blossom, and it was Lil Wayne and Young Money. It was wild.

Channing Frye has a very eclectic music playlist.
Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images

If you could play one musical instrument, which one would it be?

Zizic: Guitar, maybe.

Sexton: The drums. Rhythm is just like basketball – the dribbling and shooting.

Is there a guilty pleasure song anywhere on your shuffle that your teammates might tease you for?

Nance Jr.: Well, I love any and all Bruno Mars. I don't feel bad about that. I also love some Maroon 5 every now and again. But I guess Whitney Houston would probably be the guilty pleasure.

You can't say anything bad about her, but like if my teammates heard it they'd give me a little something.

What’s your ‘sing-in-the-shower’ song?

Clarkson: I'm not a "sing-in-the-shower" kind of dude.

Sexton: I sing in the shower, and it sounds amazing. But then I try when I got of the shower and it's like: 'Nah.'

Osman: Sometimes really hard to learn English, so it's a Turkish song – and I'm not gonna give it!

Frye: "She Got the Juice" by Chromeo.

Nance: “Ordinary People” by John Legend.

Zizic: I take a quick shower. There's no time for singing.

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