All-NBA Meme Team: Putting Together the Most Fun, Effective Basketball Team
Part of the reason that basketball has become such a popular sport in the world is the access to players that far eclipses that of other sports.
In the NBA you've got a dozen guys on each team that are literally within arms reach of fans during games, they wear no more than a jersey and shorts and they are constantly in the public view, usually easy to spot because of how tall they are.
Meanwhile, it's harder to recognize a football or baseball player without a helmet and jersey on unless they are one of the most popular players in their respective league. There just doesn't seem to be as much connection between the fans and the players.
What other leagues lack is exactly what makes the NBA entertaining on a different level than the NFL or MLB. Personalities shine through and we get to know pretty quickly whether a certain player is a goofball. When we do find ourselves a goofball, he usually becomes a fan favorite or a train wreck, depending on the course he takes.
So, in order to give a little love to the league's weird, strange and downright goofy, I've put together the All-NBA Meme Team, giving recognition to the unique combination of skill on the basketball court and over-the-top personality.
Starting Center: JaVale McGee
We might as well start off with the guy who is the biggest slam-dunk to make the team, shouldn't we?
Not only has McGee become an extremely effective player under the tutelage of George Karl, he's also continued to be the same old bone-headed, lovable big man that we've known for the past few years.
If you're questioning why McGee is on this team, and the most obvious member based on his career accomplishments, why don't we run down a quick list of the crazy stuff he's done?
JaVale has a mustache tattooed on his finger, he has alley-ooped to himself off the backboard as his team was 1-11 to start a season, run back on defense while his team still has the ball, had possibly one of the most obvious goaltending calls in NBA history and was easily posted up by Isaiah Thomas, a dude more than a foot shorter than him.
Oh, and that was just between December 2011 and February 2012. All that and more can be found here, with a rundown of the amazing season McGee had.
Then there's JaVale's mom, the former WNBA player who seems to follow him everywhere these days, just as he did with her back when she played. Not only is Pamela McGee completely convinced that her son is the future of the NBA, she's also the enormous, totally scary version of Ray Allen's mom.
Starting Power Forward: Chris Bosh
Before this past postseason, Chris Bosh was a really strange dude, but he was consistently weird enough for consideration on the Meme Team. However, after a series of clutch performances in the playoffs, it's time for him to get his invite.
I'm not here talking about what he did in the NBA Finals to help his team win, I'm talking about when he was hurt and sitting out during the earlier rounds.
Whether he was making strange faces at Dexter Pittman's back or popping up on multiple occasions in the background of interviews after games, Bosh did the most in the postseason in order to seal his spot on this team.
He had a good shot at making it before, but the playoffs just sealed his ticket into the history books.
Starting Small Forward: Metta World Peace
We need to get a little bit of muscle in this starting lineup before people start pushing us around, so the only logical step for the small-forward spot is quite possibly the most illogical basketball player of the past generation.
This team is going to need Metta World Peace to come in and not be afraid to throw around his body, or possibly even an elbow or two.
You know a guy is headed for the Basketball Memedom Hall of Fame when he's had a career as long and illustrious as World Peace.
Not only has he changed his name to World Peace, but he's also the guy that thanked his psychiatrist after winning the NBA title in 2010 (which was actually pretty cool), employed an assistant who was often sent out late at night to get organic cookies, and of course the infamous Malice at the Palace.
As long as he's in the league, there's a place for World Peace on this team.
Starting Shooting Guard: Delonte West
When it comes to an eight-month-long season, it's the guys like World Peace and Delonte West that make the game more interesting. I'm not advocating that guys go around elbowing other guys in the head or anything, but it seems like these two show off their personality via their playing style.
World Peace's erratic offense mixed with his emphatically dominant defense (although it's a bit less dominant these days) makes for an interesting player, but Delonte West is on a completely different level when it comes to interesting play style.
How many guys are built like a point guard, play primarily at the shooting guard spot, but can easily guard guys five or six inches taller than them with crazy efficiency? He's a nuisance, but even more than that he's a naturally smart basketball player who is endlessly fun to watch.
Starting Point Guard: James Harden
I'm putting together a team of strange players, so I'm going to shake things up just a little bit. Instead of going after a classic point guard in the sense that it's a guy who's about 6'2", primarily there to handle the ball and dole out dimes, I'm going for a guy who is a distributor and a playmaker.
Now, before this past summer, Harden probably doesn't make this team. The main thing he had going for him was having a big beard, and while that's the cool thing to do these days, it wasn't enough to make him consistently funny.
However, after a summer when a photograph was taken of a shirtless Harden in a tiger-print cowboy hat wearing white pants and a chain that would make Mr. T proud, all while surrounded by about 30 women, he's got to have a spot on this team.
Plus, when you've got a twitter account that takes the point of view of your facial hair, then I think you're doing something right in this world.
Sixth Man: Joakim Noah
We need that prototypical energy guy coming in off the bench, and when it came down to it it seems like Joakim Noah has long surpassed Anderson Varejao as the goofy-looking energy guy in both style and substance.
Noah's main calling-card for his goofiness is just his face, which he seems capable of contorting more than Jim Carrey back when he was playing Ace Ventura and Lloyd Christmas.
Aside from his face manifesting itself in an endless array of child-frightening manners, he's got the hair to go along with it and a playing style that is more unique than any other player in the NBA.
His type of controlled chaos is as entertaining as the way he shoots free throws (effectively, I might add), putting a longitudinal spin on the ball, as opposed to the normal, more realistic spin.
Token Chucker off the Bench: J.R. Smith
Every team needs a guy who can come in off the bench and not be afraid to take control of the game. This particular team, however, would benefit if that guy would do that no matter what. So long as he's on the court, he's shooting the ball.
That is part of what makes J.R. Smith so unique, yet it seems like he collects everything in bunches. Whether it be bunches of shots, bunches of tattoos (he is most likely the most tattooed man in the NBA) or bunches of shoes.
When you look at him as a whole package, it seems like Smith could very well be a hoarder, only he hoards shot attempts and shoes rather than old cardboard boxes and newspapers. Of course, there's always a question of what he'll be hoarding when he retires.
Three-Point Specialist/Machine: Sasha Vujacic
He's lost a bit of his luster ever since he and the Lakers parted ways, but there's still a bit of life left in the old joke that was Sasha Vujacic.
Whenever he would hit the court in Los Angeles, the reaction was usually mixed between those who thought Vujacic was no more than a serviceable shooter and those who took Vujacic at face value and added a little bit of their own fun.
It was that attitude that earned him the nickname "The Machine" and turned him into the most confusing fan favorite in the past few years. That, along with his relationship with Maria Sharapova, has turned him into a confusing entity in the basketball world.
Size and Attitude: Chris Andersen
With Chris Andersen, you've got it all. Colorful tattoos, a recently-grown majestic beard which was the only thing that could have appropriately replaced his old Mohawk, a still-mysterious drug suspension, and a dunk contest appearance where he attempted the same dunk enough that would have people begging to re-watch the 2012 Dunk Contest rather than see Anderson in another one.
Besides the fact that Andersen gave us the funniest moment in NBA All-Star Weekend since Brent Barry did the C-Walk during the 2003 Three-Point Contest, Andersen has spent his career being an entertaining and downright quirky dude.
For the sake of this team we can have him come in and use his newfound muscular frame to throw some weight around, grab some rebounds and score around the hoop when we need him to.
Token Old Guy: Juwan Howard
There's no way I would have put this team together without Juwan Howard. Sure, he's not the most outwardly funny player in the NBA, but what he has been for the past decade (or two, or has it been three now) is quite hilarious.
He came out of Michigan back when I was little more than a toddler and he and the Fab Five were looking to take the NBA by storm (well, at least four of them).
The best part about Juwan Howard then compared to Howard now? He looked exactly the same. Save the addition of a little chin scruff, Howard looks the same as he did playing for Michigan.
Howard is joining this team to give them good veteran leadership and to be used as a guide through the forests to show us all the fountain of youth that he has obviously found. Take that, Ponce de León.
Big Man Who Never Sees Playing Time: Darko Milicic
Believe it or not, this was actually one of the hardest spots to finalize. With every other spot filled in up to this point with relative confidence, I was torn between two guys for the title of "big dude who gets to sit on the bench."
Of course, the two choices here were Kwame Brown and Darko Milicic. While Brown is the original big-man flop, and is probable even more so than Milicic being a No. 1 overall pick, it just seems like Milicic has perfected the role of the big-man flop.
Not only has he had a long, arduous, disappointing career, he's spent his days on the bench of some pretty bad teams, played a halfway decent season or two, but was never able to shake his title as one of the biggest flops of all time, nor should he.
Plus, if it were to come down to a tie-breaker, which it pretty much did, the name "Darko" is a lot more fun to say with disappointed anger than the name "Kwame."
12th Man: Adam Morrison
Now that Brian Scalabrine has decided to take his talents to the broadcast booth, a competition suddenly opened up for his spot as the league's most hilarious 12th man.
Up to this point it is a two-man race, just like the useless big man contest; Morrison or Josh Harrellson. I thought about including Brian Cardinal, but The Custodian has played in too many games over the past few years, even playing a pretty important role in the NBA Finals, to be considered a true 12th man.
Anyway, in a contest between Morrison and Harrellson, it's pretty much a slam dunk that Morrison wins it at this point. Not only was Morrison picked much higher than Harrellson, he's also spent more years relegated as a useless basketball player.
The only thing that Harrellson had on Morrison was that terrific nickname, "Jorts," but Morrison was able to trump that rather easily so long as he's got a wispy teenage mustache.
Injured Reserve: Greg Oden
Come on now, you knew deep down that we couldn't put this team together without Greg Oden being involved in some small way, right?
Sure, he's relegated himself to taking the 2012-13 season off in order to strengthen his knees, but we had to find a special place on the roster for one of the most entertaining and disappointing big men of a generation.
In the end, I figured that he's spent his entire career sitting on the end of a bench and collecting a paycheck, what's one more season of that in the grand scheme of things?
Plus, there's the outside chance at an outside chance that he gets healthy and is able to play for eight whole games, you know, before he gets hurt again.