As a diss track maker, Jalen Green is great. But as arbiter of Detroit’s cool? Forget it

Detroit Free Press

Jalen Green, the No. 2 overall pick in this year’s NBA draft, continues to drag Detroit. He did it again this week when he told a reporter that while he wanted to be the top pick he didn’t want to play in Detroit. Living in the city, he said, wouldn’t be much different from his time last season in the G League bubble in Orlando, Florida.

He thinks Detroit is boring.

Or, worse, not as interesting as Orlando and, more specifically, Disney World. That’s fine. Lots of young people do. And, at 19, Green is young.

In fact, lots of older folks prefer Orlando and Disney World over Detroit. Again, that’s fine.

Also: So what? It’s time to stop worrying.

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And before you start comparing Detroit — home of No. 1 pick Cade Cunningham — to Green’s new home of Houston, just to make yourself feel better: Don’t. Take the high road. That’s not what Green’s digs at “The D” are about, anyway.

Besides, if you’ve ever been frustrated at Detroit not getting a fair shake nationally, don’t make the same mistake with Houston. Anyplace that combines Vietnamese and Cajun cuisines, like, say, mixing crawfish with lemongrass and ginger — such mashups are all over Houston’s food scene — is interesting, not to mention ahead of the curve .

Los Angeles and possibly Atlanta might be the only American cities melding disparate cultures and food more aggresively than Green’s new city is. Is that why he’s happy to be a Rocket?

I don’t know. Nor do I want to speculate. Here’s guessing his trolling is nothing more than good-natured bravado. And why not? He believes in himself, in his skill, in his future.

What I do know is that Detroit is unique to this country’s culture and history, and that it’s OK if not everyone gets it or appreciates it.

Not everyone likes New York. Or San Francisco. Or Santa Fe. Or Miami.

Green may not like any of those places either. But his reaction to the Pistons passing on him isn’t about our city and region. It’s about his frustration that he wasn’t taken with the top pick.

Good for him. Let’s hope he uses it as fuel as he navigates the NBA. The league is more interesting with stars who play with a chip on their shoulder, who create rivalries.

This isn’t to say Green doesn’t deserve a good booing when the Rockets come to town this season. I’d bet he’ll be disappointed without one. Didn’t he ask for it when he posted Instagram videos of himself listening to “Detroit rappers?”

Sure, he did. He knew what he was doing. That’s part of the fun.

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So, boo all you want. Check his box scores this season and hope Cunningham puts up better numbers all you want. Hope that Cunningham wins Rookie of the Year. Hope the Pistons win more games. Just don’t worry about him saying he’d rather be in a Disneyfied bubble than Detroit.

He likely doesn’t mean it. Even if he does … so what?

Detroit is too cool to worry about such things. Too old, frankly. Seen too much. Put too much out into the world. The middle class. Music, obviously. Style, of course. Also, a way of being. Aretha Franklin sang in a Detroit church. Henry the Hatter sells fedoras in this city. The roller-skating revolution? It never went out of fashion here.

Take a drive on a summer night in the city, turn your lights off and follow the red and green and blue neon wheels that illuminate chilled-out bicyclists. (OK, maybe keep your lights on.) But, still, the kaleidoscope is Detroit. So is bowling, a sport that everyone around here understands is cool, mostly because it’s fun, but also because too many think it isn’t cool.

Rasheed Wallace loved to bowl in the city. Cunningham may or may not. That’s up to him. Detroit vibes that way: Be who you are. Whoever that is … is fine. 

And cool.

Which is to say: there is too much cool, discreet and otherwise, for this place to worry about anyone shunning this city. Everyone who knows this place understands it’s much cooler than Disney and Orlando (with no offense meant to the folks a few hours from the Tigers’ March home of Lakeland).

Yeah, maybe we could use a few more spots with velvet ropes and high-end tequila. And a beach. And sunshine and warmth in February. But then Detroit would be more like Miami, and that wouldn’t be cool at all.

Also: that kind of cool fades. The in-crowd is always in search of the next spot.

Green is probably too young to feel that. Cunningham is too young to feel that, too, but does anyway. That’s what makes him cool. He understands this place.

It’s time to stop fretting over those who don’t. Or say they don’t. They’re more than likely fronting. Detroit is too cool to worry about that.

Contact Shawn Windsor: 313-222-6487 or Follow him on Twitter @shawnwindsor.

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