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2017 NBA Playoffs

Too $hort’s NBA Finals prediction

Bay Area rapper thinks the Warriors are going all the way

When acting head coach Mike Brown gave Too $hort a postgame shout-out after the Golden State Warriors advanced to the 2017 NBA Finals, social media quickly let the famous rapper from Oakland, California, know about it.

Brown has coached the Warriors to 10 straight victories this postseason after complications from back surgery sidelined head coach Steve Kerr. Brown is expected to coach Game 1 of the NBA Finals on Thursday against the Cleveland Cavaliers at Oracle Arena.

After the Warriors’ 129-115 Western Conference finals-clinching victory over the San Antonio Spurs on May 22, Brown said he planned to celebrate by eating tacos and listening to Too $hort’s music on the charter plane ride back to Oakland.

“Too $hort. Back in Oakland. I probably shouldn’t have said that on TV,” Brown said on ESPN.

“With social media, it came to me immediately,” Too $hort told The Undefeated in a phone interview Wednesday. “That was the postgame interview. That was a good shout-out for me. I was a little surprised. I didn’t know that he really knew about [my music], but that’s a good thing. Tacos and Too $hort, man.”

Todd Shaw, aka Too $hort, grew up during his teenage years not far from Oracle Arena, where the Warriors play in East Oakland. The rapper, producer and actor is best known for his 1989 hit album Life Is …Too Short and such songs as “The Ghetto” and the Bay Area anthem “Blow the Whistle.” One of the pioneers of West Coast rap, Too $hort has written lyrics that have often talked about real life in the ‘hood in unfiltered fashion.

Brown told The Undefeated that he became a fan of Too $hort’s music shortly after moving back to the United States from Germany to go to college in the late 1980s. One of Brown’s favorite Too $hort songs is “Life Is … Too Short,” which includes the lyrics, People wanna say it’s just my time/ Brothers like me had to work for mine. Brown also said he once met Too $hort at a party in Los Angeles when Brown coached the Los Angeles Lakers.

“He told me he was a fan of mine. I told him I was a fan of his. We took a picture, but I never got the picture,” Brown told The Undefeated.

Said Too $hort: “I remember seeing him, but I don’t remember the picture part. I am in L.A. a lot.”

Too $hort said he has been a fan of the Warriors since the “Run TMC” era of Tim Hardaway, Mitch Richmond and Chris Mullin from 1988-91. The Warriors are playing in their third straight NBA Finals starting Thursday against the Cavaliers. Too $hort has not forgotten the Warriors’ lean years between winning championships in 1975 and 2015.

“My first Warriors games were in the Chris Mullin days, ‘Run TMC, Mitch Richmond,’ ” Too $hort said. “I remember our motivation used to be like, ‘You know, man, Michael Jordan is in town tonight … Kobe Bryant is in town tonight.’ We weren’t really going up there to see the Warriors. We just were going to see the action that was in town.

“I used to be of the opinion where the Warriors had, like, Chris Webber and kept drafting great players, and when these players were traded away I just didn’t understand the concept of how they were building the team back then. Even back then, the stadium would always be sold out. The fans would always root for the team until the last second. You’d get moments where we would make the playoffs and people would start getting excited and we would get knocked out maybe the first round. We’ve been through it.”

Too $hort said his favorite Warriors players from the past are Richmond and former guard and close friend Baron Davis. When asked to name his favorite current Warrior, he named a role player instead of NBA All-Stars Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, Draymond Green or Klay Thompson.

“I’ve always been a fan of [Shaun] Livingston wherever he played,” Too $hort said. “I really like the way our second team comes in, runs the score up and maintains the game. We depend on our starters. But it’s those guys that come off the bench, they all go in there and if ever it looks like the machine is glitching, it just runs.”

Livingston was pleasantly surprised and appreciative of Too $hort’s praise. The veteran guard said he loved the “authenticity” of Too $hort’s music.

“That’s dope because that’s a legend,” Livingston told The Undefeated. “Everybody knows Too $hort represents the ‘Bay’ and the ‘Bay’ represents Too $hort. He’s one of those cats like Snoop [Dogg], like Jay [Z]. If you come to the Bay, you have to mention Too $hort.

“I’m honored. I take pride in that. I’m grateful because I come out and do my job and play hard and I play to win. The same way [rappers] make sacrifices and they are all into their craft, I do the same thing out here. It’s a team sport. It’s harder for them because it’s all on them. They’re out there on the stage, they got their boys with them, but it’s Too $hort and the Too $hort-ettes. I’m honored.”

Too $hort has attended some of the Warriors’ playoff games this season and plans to be at Game 1 of the NBA Finals. He didn’t attend the Warriors’ 2015 NBA championship parade along Oakland’s Lake Merritt. But if the Warriors win again, Too $hort wouldn’t mind being a part of the VIP procession if asked. Perhaps Brown could invite his beloved rapper to be a guest on his double-decker bus if the Warriors win it all again.

“Probably the only reason I didn’t go to the parade [in 2015] is because I didn’t want to be out on the streets,” Too $hort said. “Invite me to the VIP celebration. I love the team. I love the stadium. I love the people when we go to the game. I’m not really trying to get TV time. I don’t want people to know I’m a super Warriors fan.”

Too $hort is familiar with the changing landscape of Oakland sports.

The Warriors are expected to depart from Oakland and move to a new arena in San Francisco during the 2019-20 season. The NFL’s Oakland Raiders are planning to depart in two to three years to a new stadium in Las Vegas. The Oakland Athletics plan to stay in Oakland but could move to a different location outside of East Oakland closer to the town’s waterfront area or closer to downtown.

Rapper Too Short performs at the Los Angeles Lakers and the Golden State Warriors NBA game at Oracle Arena on April 6, 2011, in Oakland, California. (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)

“Being from Oakland, this whole thing about teams relocating kind of hurts your feelings,” Too $hort said. “But the Warriors aren’t going too far, downtown ‘Frisco.’ The Raiders? That is kind of a double-edged sword, you know? It could be fun out in Vegas, but it’s not going to be the same when they’re not in Oakland.

“We will see what these new stadiums look like. When these teams go get these big stadiums, the magic doesn’t always follow the team to the new stadium. I tell that story over and over again.”

Too $hort believed from the beginning of this season that it was inevitable that there would be a three-peat of Warriors-Cavs in the NBA Finals.

“I got to say whenever the Warriors are down, as a true fan these last three seasons, you don’t get worried,” Too $hort said. “It almost goes with the territory. ‘OK, we down 10 … we down 15. It’s cool.’ I’m riding all the way. The games I’ve been watching, it looks lovely. But this playoff season just seems like destiny wouldn’t get out the way of anybody like this. It’s going to be Warriors-Cavs, and everybody is in the way.

“People have been complaining about the other [playoff] series and stuff. I’ve watched all of them. The games are great, it’s cool, it’s fun. It wasn’t the best playoffs that we’ve seen. But it was inevitable what is about to happen. We sat there and we watched it. And you can wish for anything other than that, but that’s what is going to happen. The Warriors are going to play the Cavs. It’s not going to fluctuate in any way. That’s it.”

So, what is Too $hort’s NBA Finals prediction?

“We going all the way, man,” Too $hort said. “I’m not talking any ‘ish’ ’cause all the Cavs fans are talking all the smack. OK, let’s just play the game. … In case they lose, [Cavs fans say it’s] because of Durant. In case they win, it’s because of LeBron [James] and Kyrie [Irving]. They got it all figured out. I’m going to Game 1, definitely. We’re going to take it one game at a time.”

When they won the 2015 NBA championship, the Warriors had a theme song from Bay Area rapper E-40 that was a remix of his song “Choices (Yup).” Too $hort told The Undefeated that he will have a special championship song ready for the Warriors if they win the NBA championship.

“We do have a bomb song on file, but we have to win for it to come out,” Too $hort said. “If the Warriors win, I guarantee you there are about 10 rappers, about five singers with Warriors EDM songs that are ready to drop as soon as it happens. The Cavs? They might get one song. Maybe one good fan might think of it.

“The guy in the studio is anticipating that our team is going to win. He’s already made the celebration song. It’s already done.”

Marc J. Spears is the senior NBA writer for Andscape. He used to be able to dunk on you, but he hasn’t been able to in years and his knees still hurt.