The Most Underrated Sports Movie Sidekicks Ever
From Scottie Pippen to Jaromir Jagr and every John Taylor in between, sidekicks hold a special place in stadium lore. And, while we'd all like to be the MVP or marquee name, hoisting a championship trophy as the second banana has its benefits too.
Similarly, the Academy Award for "Best Supporting Actor" is still an Oscar, and there's no shame in being the silver screen's Penny Hardaway.
To celebrate this unique parallel between sports and Hollywood, I've compiled a list of the most underrated sports movie sidekicks ever.
Get your popcorn ready and set your phone to vibrate. The show's about to begin.
As Seen in: "Bull Durham"
Played by: Susan Sarandon
Were it not for the tag team guidance and palpable carnal energy of Crash Davis (Kevin Costner) and Annie Savoy, Ebby LaLoosh (Tim Robbins) would still be serving up gopher balls and wild pitches in the minors.
To MLB scouts and development personnel, never underestimate the corrective power of misplaced sexual tension.
As Seen in: "Moneyball"
Played by: Jonah Hill
As the Carlton to Billy Beane's Fresh Prince, Peter Brand is the scholarly force behind the nameless, all-in 2002 Oakland Athletics.
Without Brand's ability to code and seemingly unhealthy obsession with on-base percentage, Beane might be pumping gas at a Costco instead of being heralded as one of MLB's top general managers.
As Seen in: "Brian's Song"
Played by: Billy Dee Williams
The 1971 ABC Movie of the Week "Brian's Song" has moved more grown men to tears than male pattern baldness and the end of "Terminator 2: Judgment Day" combined.
The film's heart strings tug the hardest during Gale Sayers' poignant ode to late teammate and backfield cohort Brian Piccolo.
New Year's resolution: Find a wingman like The Kansas Comet.
As Seen in: "Kingpin"
Played by: Randy Quaid
Ishmael is the only person with any faith in Roy Munson (Woody Harrelson), a drunken former bowler whose most valuable possession in life is a prosthetic hand.
Similarly, Munson is the only person with any faith in Ishmael, an ostracized member of the Amish community with a secret love of bowling.
As unlikely heroes, they're a brilliantly pathetic pair.
The Hanson Brothers
As Seen in: "Slap Shot"
Played by: Jeff Carlson, Steve Carlson and David Hanson
In sports movies, side-kicking is occasionally a team effort. And, that's especially true in films like "The Sandlot," "Varsity Blues" and "Slap Shot."
Reggie Dunlop (Paul Newman) and the fledgeling Charlestown Chiefs make goonery the cornerstone of their franchise, and the Hanson brothers keep the seats filled one devastating right cross at a time.
As Seen in: "Cinderella Man"
Played by: Paul Giamatti
Corner man Joe Gould is the only one who believes in James Braddock (Russell Crowe), a purportedly washed-up fighter who is struggling to feed his family as a longshoreman.
Like a '30s era Dr. Spock, Gould employs sage advice, sound logic and unyielding allegiance to guide Braddock's ultimate climb through boxing's ranks.
As Seen in: "The Fighter"
Played by: Christian Bale
The relationship between boxing brothers Dicky Eklund and Micky Ward is a lot like the bond between Shawn Hunter and Cory Matthews, which is to say preposterously dramatic and battle-hardened through a series of questionable life choices.
Behind every champion boxer is a great corner man, and Bale plays the drug-addled version of Mickey Goldmill to perfection.
Cal Naughton Jr.
As Seen in: "Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby"
Played by: John C. Reilly
Cal Naughton Jr. is film's most complicated sidekick.
He's devout enough to martyr himself for Ricky Bobby's success via the shake and bake maneuver.
But, when Ricky Bobby's star cools, Naughton Jr. has the audacity to commandeer his own teammate's family, which is really messed up.
Ultimately though, bro code prevails and the two drivers reconnect like an adrenaline crazed Mario and Luigi.
As Seen in: "Jerry Maguire"
Played by: Renee Zellweger
Without the loving disposition and unconditional support of Dorothy Boyd, altruistic sports agent Jerry Maguire would've been Howard Hughes with a $200 haircut.
As Seen in: "White Men Can't Jump"
Played by: Woody Harrelson
Like Al Borland with exceptional court vision, Billy Hoyle is the all-important counterbalance to a recklessly ostentatious protagonist.
And, when it comes to on-court chemistry, Billy Hoyle and Sidney Deane are the petty criminal equivalent to Julius Erving and Moses Malone.
With all due respect to Alonzo Mourning and Larry Johnson, if NBA Jam had a playground hustle mode, the smart money would be on Hoyle and Deane.