I imagine that many of my readers watch NBA games and think longingly about the upcoming prequel to The Lord of the Rings—The Hobbit.
Perhaps not. Regardless, the characters in J.R.R. Tolkien's stories have clear counterparts in the NBA if you know where to look.
Without further ado, here are five NBA players who will be able to watch themselves (figuratively) on screen when The Hobbit is released.
In The Hobbit, there is frequent reference to the Shadow in the East, a vague allusion to the entity that eventually becomes Sauron in The Lord of the Rings.
The Shadow in the East is wounded, and his presence goes unnoticed in battles. However, there is always the underlying belief that he can rise back to his height of power.
However, his talent is unquestioned. If he can return to health by the all-star break or before the playoffs, he may still carry the Bulls back to the top of the Eastern Conference.
Thorin Oakenshield, son of Thráin, son of Thrór, King Under the Mountain and leader of his band of dwarves—he once had it all.
He had a mountain full of gold and jewels, countless bearded dwarf women at his beck and call, and everything else a rich dwarf wants. Now he has nothing and wants to get it back.
Surely Los Angeles Lakers center Dwight Howard can relate. He carried his Orlando Magic all the way to the NBA finals in 2009. With little help form his teammates, he outplayed LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference Final and made a legitimate case for himself as the best player in the world.
Yet look what has happened since. His Magic have lost three consecutive playoff series, beginning with the loss to the Boston Celtics in the 2010 Eastern Conference Final. Howard then went through a public relations nightmare in his quest that ultimately led him to Los Angeles.
How can Howard get his position back? By becoming the 2013 NBA Finals MVP.
Bilbo Baggins is a small and quiet fellow. Half the size of some of his compatriots, it is nevertheless ultimately up to him to bring the throne back to Thorin Oakenshield and his other companions.
Can Los Angeles Lakers point guard Steve Nash relate? You bet. At only 178 pounds, he is likely to be the main ball-handler for this title contender.
He may be older, smaller and slower than his teammates, but the responsibility to make the offense run smoothly is ultimately on him.
He has led a comparatively quiet existence in Phoenix (by two-time NBA MVP standards). It is time for his great adventure in L.A.
Gollum is the small, monstrous creature who used to be a respectable member of the riverfolk. He can no longer experience any sort of success other than the pursuit and acquisition of the One Ring he desires.
The unfortunate part is we all know in the end he won't get that ring.
As has been pointed out, New York Knicks small forward Carmelo Anthony is the lone celebrity left from the 2003 NBA draft class who does not have a ring. His regular season successes have been overshadowed by his continuous failure in the playoffs, including his all-time record for worst NBA playoff winning percentage.
At this point, the only way Carmelo could really live up to expectations would be to win a ring or at least make an NBA finals appearance.
Given the top-heavy nature of the Eastern Conference and given that his production has been dropping off since 2009, it is becoming increasingly unlikely this will ever happen for him.
Gandalf Greyhame the Grey—Stormcrow, Olórin, Incánus, Tharkûn, Mithrandir, and the Grey Pilgrim—is an old, old man. We're talking really old.
His character in The Hobbit is a unique one. He is obviously the most powerful entity, and yet he is hardly involved. He misses several conflicts entirely and never quite seems to care enough about the results.
During the coming season he will turn 40. Last season he dropped to a career low average of 6.2 points per game on 36 percent shooting.
Kidd was brought in to fill the void left (technically in the process of being left) by Jeremy Lin and to bring some order to the Knicks offense. For the Knicks offense to run well, it needs to run through Kidd rather than through small forward Carmelo Anthony.
Does Kidd have the motivation to show up for each battle and contribute? We'll find out in a few months.