10 Completely Fake but Totally Awesome NBA Reality Shows We'd Watch
If only there was some way to pass time during the NBA's offseason that didn't involve watching reruns of classic hardwood battles or Googling "Tristan Thompson Overpaid" every few hours.
How about coming up with completely fake, wouldn't-it-be-cool-if-they-were-real NBA reality shows?
Chris Kaman of the Portland Trail Blazers has a reality series called Exploring Kaman, and it was picked up by AXS TV, the network offspring of Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, according to Dwight Jaynes of CSNNW.com.
This is all to say a precedent has been set: Basketball players and personalities can dabble in reality TV. And now, during the dog days of a largely NBA-less summer, is the perfect time to fire up the ol' imagination and decide which of Kaman's basketball brethren should follow his lead.
Special consideration won't be given to the Assocation's megastars. Some of them will make an appearance, but if you want to see more of LeBron James, go banana boating in the Bahamas. Sit through Trainwreck. Take a trip to Quicken Loans Arena and look for the office with a gold "General Manager" name plate plastered on the door.
Unique, interesting, quirky and, yes, sometimes-implausible concepts will dominate the discussion. We want to unravel some of the league's mysteries and experience all of the weird it has to offer.
We want to come up with shows, however ridiculous, that will capture our attention for the long haul.
'Charles in Charge of the Twitter Machine'
TNT analyst Charles Barkley—the real Charles Barkley—doesn't have a Twitter account. His absence from the 140-character forum, as well as social media in general, is not an accident. Barkley has his reasons.
"Fans have this perception that they can say anything to you because you are a celebrity," he told CNBC's Karissa Giuliano in February. "The only reason I do no social media whatsoever [is because] I don't feel the need to talk to all these nitwits out there...If people have something bad to say, they can just say it on the Internet and it'll just go into the air."
Such social media aversion naturally makes for an interesting 30-minute show consisting almost solely of Barkley interacting with "nitwits" everywhere.
The first episode (or two) would focus on the Hall of Famer joining Twitter. He'll pick his handle (@HowULikeMeNowShaq), photoshop an avatar (Barkley holding the severed head of a Twitter troll), bookmark his favorite emojis (angry face, smiling face with horns, purple imp, thumbs down, flexed bicep) and install various Twitter apps on his mobile devices.
All subsequent episodes will begin with Barkley tweeting about everything and anything that's pertinent at the time. The rest of the show will feature his responses to what we can only assume will be an outrageous number of irate haters, serial grudge-holders, oversensitive Oscars and snark-addicted keyboard warriors.
Periodic cameos will be made by celebrity social media buffs. Think Jamal Crawford (@JCrossover), Joel Embiid (@JoelEmbiid) and Phil Jackson (@PhilJackson11). They'll impart their wisdom unto Barkley and teach him some cool tricks (Twitter shorthand). He'll then offer them some advice of his own.
A good time will be had by all—for many, many (many) seasons.
'Hollywood's (Extreme, Potentially Fatal) Odd Couple'
Kobe Bryant and Nick Young. Together. All the time.
Make it happen.
Next season may or may not be Bryant's last, so there is a limited shelf life for this weekly gem. But if the Lakers don't trade Young/Bryant doesn't kill him, there's post-playing career potential here.
These two are already teammates, so The Odd Couple-ish action-comedy drama wouldn't be difficult to film. Young and fiance Iggy Azalea would move into the Bryant family compound, and the two Los Angeles Lakers volume scorers will room together on the road.
One installment could entail Bryant taking Young to SeaWorld and forcing him to interact with dolphins. Another would feature Bryant putting Young through a set of "Get the ball to Kobe" drills.
As Young's best man, Bryant would be in charge of planning the bachelor party—a week-long trip to China, where Swaggy P and his entourage will visit the many churches of Kobe, get Black Mamba tattoos on their hindquarters and craft their very own death stares.
Typical episodes will be devoted to documenting the ever-evolving relationship between two chuckers with contrasting personalities. Late-night, soul-plunging hotel room talks will be part of their lucrative contracts, and the trash talk they exchange during practice and while on line at Chipotle will go viral.
Networks in the market for a show capable of rivaling the ratings-raker that is NCIS would be wise to purchase the rights to Hollywood's (Extreme, Potentially Fatal) Odd Couple.
Although the Philadelphia 76ers remain a hot-button NBA issue, the architect of their extensive rebuilding project, general manager Sam Hinkie, prefers to operate in the shadows.
Writing for USA Today in July 2014, Jason Wolf dissected the mystery man in a way that remains true today:
He's a shrewd, bold businessman, whose actions and team have raised eyebrows and captured headlines both regionally and across the country.
He's a diligent, ultra-competitive purveyor of analytics, a pioneer of sorts in NBA circles, a man who eschews traditional statistics — points, rebounds, assists — but not traditional scouting, in favor of advanced metrics like Player Efficiency Rating, which uses a detailed formula in an attempt to quantify a player's per-minute productivity, adjusted for pace, calibrated against the rest of the league.
He's more concerned with the future than with the present, with what ought to have happened rather than what does, an approach that doesn't always sit well with the masses.
And he is fiercely private.
Who doesn't want to pull back the curtain on the Sixers' inner-most operations? We know their end goal is winning, and we understand that they're prioritizing future assets over immediate talent. But Forever Hinkie would offer a firsthand look at what goes down behind the scenes.
The "how" of it all doesn't matter. It's summertime, and we're here riffing on NBA reality shows; we're clearly not bound by traditional logistics. We only care about the immeasurable entertainment factor.
Tours of Hinkie's lair office. Closed-door promises to Nerlens Noel. Reactions to missing out on D'Angelo Russell in the 2015 draft. Jahlil Okafor's first brush with Hinkie. Unearthed text messages to JaVale McGee. Phone calls with opposing general managers.
"What to tweet and what not to tweet" seminars with Joel Embiid.
It would all be in this show, aiding in the search for an answer to a years-old question: What's the deal with that Hinkie fella?
'JaVale Down Under'
Way back in 2012, years before he fancied himself an adequate mentor for Joel Embiid and Nerlens Noel, JaVale McGee pulled off the social media prank of all social media pranks.
First, McGee tweeted that he "copped" a pet platypus. The next day, however, he revealed that the entire thing—pictures and all—was a hoax while taking completely unveiled shots at the communications industry.
Well, now the joke is on...companies who decide to advertise during Javale Down Under.
Platypi are endemic to Australia, the obvious, non-negotiable setting for this real-life sitcom. Cameras will follow the Mavericks big man around the country-continent as he interacts with different species native to the region—all as he speaks in his best Australian accent.
Picture McGee taste-testing fried shrubbery with some kangaroos and scratching the ears of wallabies. Imagine him digging holes alongside a fleet of wombats and hanging out in trees with koalas. Envision him howling with dingos and holding (heavily supervised) photo ops in support of Tasmanian devils.
Part of McGee's journeys will also include him sampling hometown cooking. He'll scarf down some crocodile burgers, enjoy meat pies and barbecued snags and stuff himself silly with Vegemite on toast.
This is where I should probably wonder aloud who would make watching McGee trek across Australia a weekly ritual during offseason months.
Then again, there are only so many ways to reword the "everyone" demographic.
'Red Mamba's Superhero DJ World Tour'
Matt "Red Mamba" Bonner likes to wreck decks, imaginary or otherwise, while wearing superhero attire. This is a spinoff of that interest.
The origin of said interest: Bonner's "Rock On" organization. Micah Peters has more at For The Win:
Matt Bonner and his younger brother, Luke, founded Rock On in 2013, an organization geared toward increasing “community artistic and athletic opportunities,” primarily in their home state of New Hampshire.
Every year, they put on a summer concert called “Sneakers and Speakers,” but this year, for Concord’s 250th anniversary, the Bonners partnered with the city to throw “Rock On Fest,” in White Park, where Luke and Matt used to play basketball for hours on end coming up.
At "Rock On Fest," Bonner took the stage in a cape and mask and rocked out to some G-rated tunes, such as The Isley Brothers' "Shout." Throw that visual on a loop, and you have the makings of a wholly watchable reality show.
Rather than limiting himself to the confines of New Hampshire, though, DJ Red Mamba would travel the globe, showcasing his mad turntable skills. And by "turntable," we really mean a folding table on which he'll place an iPod and docking station.
Imagine Bonner still in a cape and mask, perhaps with a skin-tight leotard, shaking what the creator of redheads gave him, while other 1950s ballads blare over the speakers.
Maybe he break dances to Elvis Presley's "All Shook Up" in Memphis. Or he square dances to Mitch Miller's "The Yellow Rose of Texas" in San Antonio. Or twerks to Bill Haley and His Comets' "Rock Around the Clock" in Peru. Or shimmies to Danny and the Juniors' "At The Hop" in New Zealand.
Wherever Bonner goes, the cameras—and ratings—will follow.
'RoLo & BroLo'
Let's hear it for one of the few NBA-related reality shows that wouldn't have to go on hiatus during the regular season.
Both Brook Lopez (Brooklyn Nets) and Robin Lopez (New York Knicks) now call the Big Apple home. Not only that, but Robin has a standing offer to live with Brook.
During an interview with WFAN's Joe Benigno and Evan Roberts (via For The Win), Brook indicated that he was willing to live in the same vicinity with Robin as the latter became acclimated to the hustle and bustle of New York.
But, as it turns out, Brook's brotherly benevolence wasn't what it seemed.
“I’ve been telling a few people I’m going to, first off, charge him rent definitely," he said. "I’m going to kind of go the Harry Potter route, like the Dursleys kept Harry Potter under the staircase in the cupboard. Something like that.”
Perhaps that's the show. Life Under BroLo's Staircase: A RoLo Coming of Age Story. Or maybe this family of 7-footers makes amends and unites to wage war against every professional mascot that doesn't reside in New York.
With so many different routes to take this Keeping Up With The Kardashians-style farce, it's best just to leave the unscripted plot as open-ended as possible.
Anything goes on RoLo & BroLo. Mascot wrestling matches, mid-game noogies, spur-of-the-moment trips to Disney World, costume-themed slumber parties—anything.
Hosting a costume-themed slumber party would actually be a great way to kick off this series. Brook could sport a Donald Duck onesie, while Robin breaks out the authentic Spider-Man suit he most definitely owns.
Fellow Knicks and Nets teammates are invited, too. Joe Johnson would be Gordon Gekko from Wall Street. Lionel Hollins would crash the soiree in a Shrek getup. A boombox-bearing, chain-wearing, hair-gel-abusing Kristaps Porzingis would attend as Vanilla Ice.
Carmelo Anthony would even show up. And he'd be dressed as, well, himself.
We'll stop there, but only because I need time to pitch this to E!.
'So You Think You Can Beat Kevin Durant?'
Kevin Durant deserves all the credit for inspiring his own reality-TV series.
From Bleacher Report's Ethan Skolnick:
The game has missed him too, even if some memories have apparently faded. Durant joked that every time he walks down the street, someone who's not in the NBA is "trying him," wanting to play him one-on-one.
"I guess they haven't seen me in a while," Durant said, smiling.
First of all, any random Joe or Judy who's ambling up to Durant, the 2013-14 MVP, on the street and challenging him to some sort of basketball-related activity is clinically insane, naive or both.
Second of all, Durant should try monetizing their foolishness.
So You Think You Can Beat Kevin Durant? is straightforward. A panel of objective judges will sift through challenges Durant receives on social media and select opponents for him to eviscerate—er, I mean, face.
Standard pickup rules apply: games to 11, one- and two-pointers, winner's ball and you must win by two. The show will air on HBO in order to ensure the sanctity of uncensored trash talk.
Normal humans are encouraged to apply, but the pool of candidates is not limited to any one age group or people.
Translation: Other NBA players should feel free to issue a challenge of their own—at their own risk of humiliation, of course.
That means you, Russell (Westbrook).
'Sports and Igloos with Nikola Pekovic'
Many of the NBA's players use their yearly All-Star break to take in the league's weekend festivities or go on tropical vacations. But not Nikola Pekovic. He ice fishes.
Pekovic has at least twice used his midseason break to ice fish in Minnesota, per Andy Greder of the Pioneer Press. KARE 11 in Minnesota once even had footage of a gleeful Pekovic trawling for cold-water critters.
Sports and Igloos with Nikola Pekovic will allow the Minnesota Timberwolves' resident mountain man to test outdoor activities in the most extreme climates. There will be ice fishing, but that's just the—I apologize in advance—tip of the iceberg.
(Googles "coldest places on Earth.")
Pekovic will join a Polar Bear club in International Falls, Minnesota.
Build snowmen in Oymyakon, Russia.
Snowboard shirtless in Fraser, Colorado.
Juggle icicles the shape and size of basketballs in Hell, Norway. (Yes, that's a real place.)
Make snow angels in Barrow, Alaska.
Run with actual polar bears and muskoxen in Greenland.
These are just a few ideas to start. Pekovic and his producers can come up with additional concepts over some hot chocolate (mini marshmallows optional) and begin taping over the 2016 All-Star break.
Three head coaches in less than a year. Beef between DeMarcus Cousins and present head coach George Karl. Vlade Divac's power play. The hiring and firing of analytics gurus.
Rajon Rondo's arrival.
The subplots for a Sacramento Kings reality show write themselves—particularly the bit about Cousins and Karl. Their relationship is a self-described work in progress.
"We have a lot of time to get back on the same page," Karl told the Boston Globe's Gary Washburn. "Summer talk and summer drama, I’ve always thought, is hype and so much of it is untrue. I’m not going to get into it but Cous and I have to work together to get back to together, and we will."
Sacramento will also play home to Rondo's quest for redemption next season. He is on a one-year deal and left Dallas under, shall we say, less-than-ideal circumstances. Can the Kings get their new point guard to buy into a long-term vision that may not include him?
There's the lottery bugaboo to consider as well. The Kings haven't snagged a playoff spot since 2006, during which time only one of their many lottery picks has turned into a star. And that star (Cousins) still needs to make nice with his sideline chief.
Surviving Sacramento is simple in its aim. The audience will follow along as the Kings try to steady their tottering ship and justify a risk-riddled offseason that demands marked improvement.
Some made-for-TV moments will be included along the way. One such stipulation is a weekly meeting of the minds—players, coaches and front-office personnel alike.
Participants will sit in a circle and speak only when they possess the talking jewel (paper Burger King crown) that is being passed around. They will voice their concerns and seek to solve internal dilemmas.
Failure to comply will be punishable by running suicides, and the show will air until the Kings' next postseason berth or Karl finds freshly mowed sod and snakes in his office—whichever comes first.
What happens when powerful corporate executives have no desire to go undercover and experience life at the most basic levels of their organization?
They hire San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich to do it for them.
There is no limit to how entertaining it would be to watch Popovich take his short fuse into the everyday workforce. If his sideline interviews or general mid-game treatment of Manu Ginobili is any indication of how he would act, there might be some insurance hurdles to clear before Undercover Popovich enters production.
Still, the returns would be well worth all the obstacles.
Suggestions as to where Popovich would work include, but are not limited to:
- Chuck E. Cheese's (Ball-Pit Policeman)
- Costco (Tim Duncan's Personal Fashion Associate)
- Various Vineyards (Head Grapes-Crusher)
- Cirque du Soleil ("The Beatles Love" extra)
- Pixar (supporting voice in Finding Dory)
Have a suggestion of your own?
Please email all inquiries to IWishUndercoverPopWasaRealThing@NoSeriouslyIDo.com.