Comparing Every NBA Team to a More Recent TV Show or Movie
With NBA free agency activity reduced to a drip, the conclusion of 2012 Olympics and training camp still a few weeks away, August has been a dull month for hoops fans the world over.
That's not all bad. It's a great time to reinvest in relationships with friends and family, take up a hobby or chase a lifelong dream.
But let's be real: A good number of us are filling the basketball void with more television and movies.
So, for fun, I've compared every NBA team to a TV show or film.
Enjoy the slides, and feedback is welcome, as always.
I offer just one disclaimer: While I've avoided spoilers where possible, you might consider skipping slides that discuss films or shows you've been waiting to see.
Atlanta Hawks: "The Break-Up"
Sometimes a relationship just has too much baggage to work.
After Joe Johnson signed the worst contract in the league, put up mediocre stats the last two seasons and made ungracious comments about Hawks fans, it was time that he became someone Atlanta used to know.
Maybe when Chris Paul becomes a free agent next summer—if he becomes a free agent at all—GM Danny Ferry will be ready to start playing the field again.
Boston Celtics: "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button"
By adding Jared Sullinger, Fab Melo, Courtney Lee and Jeff Green this offseason, the Boston Celtics set off an age reversal process that should keep them in the title hunt.
This is a roster with legs and depth at every position, and more than enough veteran leadership to bring the new guys along.
It's a change that'll pay immediate dividends on the court. For the first time, Rajon Rondo will have more than his teammates' best wishes when he pushes the ball in transition.
Brooklyn Nets: "Boardwalk Empire"
By moving his team into New York City's most populated borough, Mikhail Prokhorov set off a James Darmody-esque turf war.
Of course, Nets fans hope the franchise has better things in store than the fate Jimmy suffered.
But only time will tell whether a core of Deron Williams, Joe Johnson, Gerald Wallace and the recently signed Brook Lopez will be enough to win New York's hearts and minds from the established kingpin New York Knicks.
Charlotte Bobcats: "The Walking Dead"
If you think of this Charlotte Bobcats roster as a ragtag crew of misfits surviving in a world where they're overmatched by the challenges before them, last season's 7-59 record was a low moment on par with finding out the little girl you've been looking for was in the barn the whole time.
To make matters worse, Tyrus Thomas is doing his best Shane impression.
But never fear—here comes the Bobcats' Sheriff Rick, also known as Michael Kidd-Gilchrist.
MKG has the intangibles to turn the franchise around. Not overnight, obviously, but after an excellent showing in Summer League, there's plenty of reason for hope here.
Chicago Bulls: "Inception"
Chicago Bulls owner Jerry Reinsdorf must have planted an idea inside the dream (inside of another dream) of Bulls fans.
Otherwise, I can't figure out why they haven't staged a revolt over the team's penny-pinching ways.
While the Heat, Lakers, Celtics and Nets all took major strides to improve, Chicago has gone into full cost-cutting mode, using Derrick Rose's injury as an excuse to coast in 2012-13.
Ownership may have to go two dream-levels deeper to appease fans if Rose comes back earlier than expected (recent reports suggest he might) and the team's title hopes are hampered by a depleted bench.
Cleveland Cavaliers: "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind"
LeBron’s departure hurt, but Kyrie Irving's arrival went a long way toward erasing the memory of one of the ugliest athlete/city break-ups in American sports history.
But just like with Jim Carey's character in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, the worst kinds of pain aren't easily forgotten. Case in point, Cleveland rushed to the side of LeBron's last two Finals opponents, producing a pair of clever t-shirts in support of the Mavericks and Thunder.
But spite can be a dangerous game. King James got his, leaving Cavs fans to feel twice burned in the wake of a Miami Heat championship.
Dallas Mavericks: "Semi-Pro"
This obviously isn't the roster Mark Cuban dreamed of when he let Tyson Chandler and J.J. Barea walk as free agents.
But Mavs have gathered an interesting collection of NBA castaways, a la the Flint Tropics in Semi-Pro, who might not be half-bad if the chemistry is right.
Darren Collison in particular could be a sneaky-good pickup. He should thrive in a pick-and-roll offense that's much closer to his old digs in New Orleans, where he posted sublime numbers as Chris Paul’s injury replacement.
Denver Nuggets: "The League"
The Nuggets are to the NBA as The League is to television comedies: balanced, highly entertaining and lacking a true star.
But that's mostly a good thing.
With the Andre Iguodala acquisition, the Nuggets are built for speed and versatility—which is the direction the NBA's been headed for some time. Denver fans can hope for, if not expect, a top-five seed in the 2013 playoffs.
And, if the Nuggets can get Taco (AKA JaVale McGee) to buy in, then they'll really have something.
Detroit Pistons: "Horrible Bosses"
Let's set Darko aside. That's ancient history.
Joe Dumars' incompetence has reared its head far more recently.
Take the Charlie Villanueva contract. The Ben Gordon contract. The Gordon trade for Corey Maggette, which somehow cost the Pistons a draft pick. And one can only hope that selecting the largely unproven Andre Drummond in the 2012 draft doesn't continue the trend.
For all the promise that Brandon Knight and Greg Monroe have shown, it may be for naught unless the organization falls under more capable stewardship.
Golden State Warriors: "Unfaithful"
So, let me get this straight.
The Warriors have one of the most loyal followings in the league despite missing the playoffs every season but one since 1994.
The fans' reward? Owner Joe Lacob is moving the team to San Francisco. "We Believe"…there's a lot more money on the other side of the Bay.
The economics of the decision are understandable, but that doesn't lessen the pain. It's a slap in the face of a fanbase that's been through hell and high water, especially as the A's and Raiders flirt with the possibility of relocating as well. Oakland would then be without a major professional sports team for the first time since 1968.
Houston Rockets: "Owning Mahowny"
If you want to see a disturbing portrait of gambling addiction at its worst, watch Philip Seymour Hoffman in the film Owning Mahowny.
And if non-fiction is more your thing, check out GM Daryl Morey's 2012 offseason.
The Houston Rockets rolled the dice on the potential of point guard Jeremy Lin and center Omer Asik by paying them more than $50 million over the next three seasons. And they doubled down by amnestying Luis Scola to make room for a Dwight Howard trade that never happened.
The story's far from over, but it soon may be time for Morey to come home to folding chairs arranged in a circle—a much-needed intervention, in other words.
Indiana Pacers: "Modern Family"
Look, I like Modern Family. It's got a lot going for it.
But it's just one show in a field thick with documentary-style comedies that feature side interviews, an ensemble cast and no laugh track. That makes it kind of hard to get excited about, in my humble opinion.
Similarly, the Indiana Pacers are just one of several teams that are solid top to bottom, but lack a transcendent talent to put them in the class of the Heat, Thunder and Lakers.
Can they acquire one? Possibly.
But with big salary obligations to Danny Granger, Roy Hibbert and George Hill—and a contract extension to Paul George soon to follow—they might be married to a blueprint that will always fall short.
Los Angeles Clippers: "Step Brothers"
In the eyes of a Los Angeles Clippers fan, a Lakers fan must look like a douchey brother with oiled abs and the third-biggest helicopter rental company on the West Coast.
The Lakers have it all—they always have had it all—and their fans don't miss a chance to rub your face in it.
The question is, what are Chris and Blake going to do about it?
Probably not much until the Clippers complete their GM search and add the talent they need to take Prestige Worldwide to the next level.
Los Angeles Lakers: "The Avengers"
In the immortal words of billionaire playboy Tony Stark, "We have a Hulk."
Kobe Bryant might have said the same of the Dwight Howard acquisition. The Lakers roster certainly feels like an ensemble cast of a superhero movie, and with a $99.1 million payroll, it costs just about as much.
Will they have a foil in the Thunder or Heat? Possibly. But I expect the 2012-13 season to play out according to script.
Memphis Grizzlies: "Prometheus"
Who didn’t get thirsty over those Prometheus trailers?
Crazy special effects? Check.
Killer backstory? Check.
Creepy android? Check.
Prometheus had it all. At least it seemed to, until it delivered one of the laziest, mind-blowingly bad endings in recent movie history.
I mean, come on.
That was the Memphis Grizzlies' 2011-12 season. Greatness until the very end, when they dropped a home Game 7 in disappointing fashion against the Clippers. O.J. Mayo's 1-for-11 shooting performance particularly was a sight to behold.
Miami Heat: "Black Swan"
The Miami Heat became the 2012 NBA champions because LeBron James finally became the Black Swan.
Or did they win because he stopped trying to be the Black Swan?
Hard to say, but what's clear is that LeBron had spent too much of his career caring what people thought, and it had made him a bundle of nerves during the 2011 NBA Finals. His transformation into something more confident, more collected and utterly more indifferent to people's opinions made him more effective at his craft when it mattered most.
That's no easy task.
So, however you feel about the man, he and Nathalie Portman should be congratulated on making that adjustment.
Milaukee Bucks: "Lord of the Rings: Return of the King"
Bear with me on this comparison.
On one side, we have a pair of miniature heroes trying to achieve the impossible under the watchful eye of a truly oppressive being.
And on the other, we have Frodo Baggins and Samwise Gamgee.
Get it? That's a joke about the Bucks backcourt and coach Scott Skiles; Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis are small, and Skiles is mean.
Okay, moving on…
Minnesota Timberwolves: "The Dark Knight Rises"
Brandon Roy’s body and career were thought to be irreparable, but he's spent the last six months undergoing a Bruce Wayne-esque rehabilitation, aided in part by Kobe’s German knee guy.
The same comparison could be made for Ricky Rubio, whose recovery from an ACL injury is ahead of schedule, or with Andrei Kirilenko, who is rejuvenated in body and mind after a season spent with CSKA Moscow.
Ultimately, the Timberwolves will need one, if not all of these guys to go from Master Wayne to Batman if they’re going to make the playoffs.
That, or Kevin Love will have to go all Bane on us.
New Orleans Hornets: "Lottery Ticket"
The New Orleans Hornets knew exactly what to get when they won the lottery: a brand new, decked-out, 6'10" power forward with spiffy handlebar…eyebrows?
The future indeed looks bright for New Orleans, especially after Anthony Davis' run with the 2012 U.S. Olympics team. He saw limited floor time, granted, but the time he spent under the tutelage of the NBA's elite will give him a leg up going into the season.
New York Knicks: "Game of Thrones"
First Mike D'Antoni sat in the Iron Throne. Then he shared his reign with A'mare Stoudemire. These were peaceful, if fruitless days at Knicks Landing.
Things took a turn for the worse once Carmelo Anthony claimed the offense, but D'Antoni found reinforcements in his bannerman, Jeremy Lin.
That is, until Anthony took both their heads with a proverbial broadsword.
You can choose your own analogy, but one thing's for sure: The Knicks have seen more power shifts in the last two years than all other franchises combined.
Oklahoma City Thunder: "300"
Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, James Harden and Serge Ibaka are kind of like the Spartans, no?
They're homegrown warriors; management drafted them and developed them into the force you see today.
And on the horizon, there's an army of foes drawn from conquered teams across the league. Steve Nash of the Suns. Dwight Howard of the Magic. Pau Gasol of the Grizzlies.
Our heroes are overmatched, but it's possible they beat the new-look Lakers with speed, guile, and chemistry. Ultimately, Los Angeles will have to take the Western Conference crown. OKC won’t give it away.
Orlando Magic: "Saturday Night Live"
Remember when the Orlando Magic and Saturday Night Live were good?
They had that awesome run in the mid-90s before their stars left to make movies (Mike Myers, Dana Carvey, Shaquille O'Neal), or their careers were suddenly cut short (Penny Hardaway, Chris Farley—R.I.P.).
Then they were good again in the mid-to-late 2000s. That is, until their biggest stars (Will Ferrell, Dwight Howard) once again left for greener pastures.
This upcoming season will be unwatchable, in the case of both franchises. Fans would do well to avert their eyes until the next resurgence.
Philadelphia 76ers: "Eastbound and Down"
Andrew Bynum is like the NBA's Kenny Powers. He runs off at the mouth and plays by his own rules. He can be a coach's dream or nightmare, depending on what mood he happens to be in.
And like Kenny, Bynum's jettison from his team had much to do with his attitude and commitment to the game.
Here's hoping that Bynum's tenure in Philadelphia teaches him something about maturity, selflessness and how to be a maverick without also being a pain in the butt.
Phoenix Suns: "The Office"
You can still tune into The Office on a Thursday night and be entertained, but it's obviously not the same.
We miss Michael Scott, just like we'll miss Steve Nash in the Phoenix Suns' uptempo offense.
While their replacements, Andy Bernard and Goran Dragic, will have their moments, every time you watch an old episode—or a replay of a Suns game circa 2006—you'll be reminded of the difference between good and great.
Portland Trail Blazers: "The Wire"
Excuse me, but, why can’t Portland have something good happen without something bad happening a moment later?
Why can’t Bubbles stay clean and sell white tees without catching a beatdown?
And did they really give that hack reporter a Pulitzer in Season 5?
We ask the questions, but we know the answer: Life isn't fair. Like it or not, hope is often infused with tragedy and, conversely, tragedy with hope.
Followers of the Portland Trail Blazers and HBO's The Wire know this better than most.
Sacramento Kings: "City of God"
Like Rio de Janeiro in the film City of God, the Sacramento Kings are run by a bunch of (jump) shot-happy youths.
And the authorities—Keith Smart and his coaching staff—can't seem to do much about it.
But last season we were treated to a smart rookie who tried to play the game the right way (Isaiah Thomas). There's hope yet that the Kings will clean up their act sooner rather than later.
San Antonio Spurs: "Friday Night Lights"
For two decades, the San Antonio Spurs have been held together by the strength and judgment of one man: Gregg Popovich. He is to San Antonio what Coach Taylor was to the Panthers.
Lest we forget, there have been opportunities for drama.
Sending Manu Ginobili to the bench could have sparked controversy. Their first-round loss to the Grizzlies in 2011 might've sent a lesser franchise into a tailspin.
And didn't they have their own Tim Riggins-Jason Street cheating scandal?
Through it all, they've rolled on with hardly a hiccup because Popovich is a rock. He doesn't give you the warm fuzzies the way a Coach Taylor speech does, but Pop's every bit the captain.
Toronto Raptors: "Training Day"
To have been a fly on the wall at Dwane Casey's first practice as head coach of the Toronto Raptors...
It's not hard to imagine that he did his best Alonzo Harris impression and asked Andrea Bargnani if he wanted to be a sheep or a wolf.
Whatever Casey said or did, it must have been powerful stuff. For the first time in his NBA career, Bargnani is playing defense like a big man ought to.
And with defensive-oriented players such as Kyle Lowry and Jonas Valanciunas joining the roster in 2012-13, it'll be that much easier for Casey to keep the pack hungry.
Utah Jazz: "X-Men: First Class"
Watching budding stars Derrick Favors, Enes Kanter and Alec Burks, you sometimes feel like you're witnessing a superhero origin story.
None are ready to dominate, but each has shown flashes of the potential that could one day put the Utah Jazz atop the Western Conference.
For the time being, however, they're just pups. And while I fully expect the Jazz to push for another playoff berth this season, the best of what this roster has to offer is probably a year or two away.
Washington Wizards: "Breaking Bad"
Jesse Pinkman has had no shortage of bad influences.
A scheming girlfriend. A manipulative chicken magnate drug lord. A houseful of ragers who stole his money and unforgivably broke his Roomba.
But now that these leeches are out of his life, he can focus on the business of selling the most dangerous narcotic known to man (thank goodness he’s back on track).
Likewise, John Wall no longer has knuckleheads such as Gilbert Arenas, JaVale McGee, and Andray Blatche distracting him from the task at hand: reaching his potential as one of the most gifted point guards in the league.