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Never Let ‘Em See You Sweat

By: Jon CaramanicaIt’s Nelly vs. Spin in an NBA Street Vol. 2showdown! Insert your favorite heat-related metaphor here

Though he may have been a top baseball prospect before he finished high school, Nelly didn’t look like someone who could dribble circles around us on the basketball court. So we thought we’d have a chance against the St. Louis dirty in a best-of-three competition in NBA Street Vol. 2, EA Sports BIG’s sequel to its back-alley b-baller, which features Nelly and his St. Lunatics crew as playable characters. The rapper, however, proved a formidable opponent, playing aggressive defense and elegant offense. So we cheated, forcing Nelly to play as the St. Lunatics team while Spin summoned a triumvirate of NBA legends: Michael Jordan (circa 1985), Darryl “Chocolate Thunder” Dawkins, and Julius “Dr. J” Erving. Donning their virtual Air Force 1s, the two teams faced off in New York City’s famed street-ball venue the Cage.

GAME 1: Tug-of-War
“I got PlayStations everywhere,” Nelly warns. “The bus, house, cars, wherever you can stick one at.” Proving his point, he opens up with a 6-3 lead. But Spin finds a rhythm after perfecting one trick–the kick pass. “The rules aren’t as stiff as they might be,” Nelly jokes, then asks, “How do you do that damn pass?” We’re not telling, especially as we pull even at 9-9. Though the game is set for 11 points, a win-by-2 rule allows Spin to hang on by our teeth. Finally, ’85 Jordan clinches the victory with a short jumper–because Spin hasn’t figured out how to dunk yet. Spin 18, Nelly 16

GAME 2: Thrashed
“Do you want to switch players?” Spin charitably asks. “Nah, you’re good,” Nelly replies. “I had to take it easy on you for a second. You ready now?” Apparently not: Mr. Pimp Juice disorients Spin‘s invincible threesome with laserlike passing and shooting. Even Slo Down, the non-rapping, mask-wearing St. Lunatic, nails a jump shot, then does a victory crip walk. All Spin can do is melt. Dr. J may be a deity on the real parquet, but on this virtual asphalt, he’s reduced to tossing air balls from half-court. Black Sheep’s “Choice Is Yours” is playing in the background. They are so wrong. Nelly 11, Spin 6

GAME 3: Redemption
Nelly’s hot streak spills over into the third and final round, as he continues to make mincemeat of the Spin defense, particularly lumbering former Sixers star Darryl Dawkins. But Jordan goes on a tear and–after an especially impressive shot–secures the Spin victory and does a crip walk of his own. Rather than stew in defeat, Nelly takes a statistical view of things, noting that Spin‘s rebound total was more than double that of his own squad. “I can maneuver like that on the court in real life,” Nelly says, giving Spin a skeptical once-over. “I could probably shake you a couple of times.” Maybe, maybe not, but the score remains the same. Spin 15, Nelly 13