Stranger Things in the NBA

Stranger Things has become one of the most popular television shows in the world and has earned itself a spot on my Netflix Mount Rushmore, right next to Breaking Bad, The Office and My 600 Pound Life (it’s a guilty pleasure).

Part of what makes the show so great is the colorful cast of characters that populate the fictional world of Hawkins and that same quality is what makes the NBA so special as well, with numerous players who might not be as fantastical but happen to be just as watchable.

I took five characters/beings from Stranger Things and matched them up with five players based on similar characteristics and compatibility. Kind of like Tinder but also…not?

SPOILER WARNING! Scroll at your own risk.

The Shadow Monster ~~~ Giannis Antetokounmpo

IMG_5477.JPGStranger Things~ Wiki  NBA.com

“A mysterious malevolent extradimensional entity which is attempting a hostile takeover of our realm” is a description that somehow applies to both parties here.

The parallels between the two crosses the interdimensional space time continuum threshold in more ways than one. Consider the fact they’ve both settled in small sleepy towns, the Shadow Monster in Hawkins, Giannis in Milwaukee and they both have killer nicknames, “Mind Flayer” for The Shadow Monster and “The Greek Freak” for Giannis.

Are we positive Antetokounmpo isn’t the proper scientific classification for an extra dimensional shadow demon?

Everything about Giannis Antetokounmpo screams massive spider-like alien creature whose main purpose is to suck the life out of anyone who stands in his way on his way to world domination. From his freakish athleticism, to his giant strides and vicious blocks, it’s become dishearteningly clear that no mere mortal can hope to stop this force of nature. It’s no longer a question of if he’ll take over but when.

 

Ted Wheeler~~~James Dolan

IMG_5476 2.JPGThe Wrap ~Barstool Sports

 

Both Ted Wheeler and James Dolan are middle aged, overweight, profoundly oafish and unremarkable human beings who somehow stumbled into luxury and whose only meaningful contribution is to piss off everyone around them because of their oblivious decision-making and temperament.

James Dolan inherited one of the most storied and valuable franchises in professional sports, when he took over as owner of the New York Knicks after inheriting the team from his father and Ted Wheeler somehow secured a smoking hot wife in Karen…

Both the Knicks and Karen have been worse off ever since, with the Knicks failing to garner any semblance of consistent success and Karen devolving into a passive housewife whose current sex life resembles the plot structure of a B level porno .

Both have showed a penchant for poor judgement as well.

James Dolan thought it wise to arrest and publicly embarrass one of the franchise’s most legendary players, Charles Oakley, and then call him a drunk afterward, all because the man said something mean about him fifteen years ago. Ted Wheeler hadn’t seen or heard from either of his two children for days and he shrugged it off like he had just been asked where he had last left the car keys.

Do you fellas have ANY self awareness?!

Dustin said it best. That goes for you too Dolan.

 

“Mad” Max Mayfield~~~Ben Simmons

IMG_5484 2Fan Forum ~ CBS Sports

There’s nothing quite as satisfying as a pleasant surprise.  Both Max and Ben Simmons caught me off guard with their sudden emergence but I’m thankful all the same.

The Sixers were doing just fine as a group last season with Joel Embiid as the centerpiece and a solid if unspectacular supporting cast around him, while at the same time dealing with the loss of the mastermind of The Process, Sam Hinkie. However, the addition of the Australian Ben Simmons has taken this team to the next level competitively and he has singlehandedly changed the expectations of the fan base for the better. Philadelphia is thinking about the playoffs for the first time since Doug Collins was roaming the sidelines.

The AV Mob or just “the group” as Michael calls it, seemed just fine on their own during last season when they battled interdimensional beings, covert government agents and saved their best friend from being harvested by Lovecraftian monsters.  However, the introduction of a sixth member, Max, into the group brought a fresh and welcome new dynamic to Hawkins.

She too came from an exotic location, California in this case, but looked right at home as she quickly became the highest scorer at the arcade and the crush of multiple group members. She’s unlike any other girl we’ve seen in Hawkins with her fiery red hair, quick temper, and skateboarding prowess.

Simmons is the first 6’10” player we’ve ever seen pass and handle like a guard, apart from KD, and he looks like he’ll be borderline impossible to defend if he develops a reliable jump shot in the future. NBA fans didn’t know we needed Ben but we’re sure glad we got him.

Ben and Max were both revelations this season and should only get better going forward.

 

Steve Harrington ~~~ Kyrie Irving

IMG_5487 2.JPGStranger Things Wiki  ~ Newsweek

Alright, Kyrie doesn’t come close to approaching Steve’s hair game but once you look past that Farrah-Fawcett-hair-spray-sized obstacle, the similarities between the two become a lot more obvious. Both have been gone between being hated or loved by fans but have lately found themselves to be the likable leaders for young groups of upstarts.

When we’re first introduced to Steve in season one we assumed he would be like every other popular, unlikable high school jock in movies or TV, and he played into the stereotype perfectly with his good hair, charming smile, exceptional athletic ability and DGAF attitude. His romance with Nancy Wheeler slowly but surely endeared him to the audience but he eventually broke Nancy’s heart just like we were expecting him to.

Right as all hope seemed lost when Jonathan and Nancy were facing off with the demogorgon at the end of the season, enter Steve to heroically save the day and regain his audience popularity stock. In season two Nancy dumps him and we witness Steve fully undergo the transformation from irredeemable jock to fan favorite. His adventures in babysitting with the kids and his chemistry with Dustin especially, showed us a whole new compassionate side to Steve and he quickly emerged as a protector of the group.

America was first introduced to Kyrie Irving in 2010 as a Duke Blue Devil and most of us instantly disliked him because he played for one of the most hated college basketball programs in the country. Fans slowly warmed up to him after he starred in series of clever Pepsi commercials and he looked to be the player of the future for the post-LeBron Cavs…

His clutch shot in game seven of the 2016 Finals sealed his fantastic approval rating with hoop heads but he pissed it all away when he came out as a “flat earther” during last season’s All Star weekend. His break-up with LeBron and relocation to Boston made him all the more unlikable and it looked like he was speeding toward villainville faster than Kevin Spacey in a gay bar.

Nonetheless, this season Kyrie has emerged as a legitimate leader of the youthful Celtics, mentoring the team’s young talent and protecting them from any outside threats. He still says stupid shit now and again, but he seems to have gained a bit more humility as of late.

 

Will Byers~~~Derrick Rose

IMG_5485 2.JPGUS Weekly  ~ USA TODAY

Will Byers and Derrick Rose have both gone through a lot in their lives, and it remains to be seen whether they’ll ever fully recover from their trials and tribulations. Every time it looks like they’ve rediscovered a degree of normalcy, they get dragged back down to the dark and depressing world of the “Upside Down.”

Take Will, who when we’re first introduced to in Season 1, is a happy and playful All American kid.  The biggest monsters he’d faced at this point where bullies on the schoolyard and imaginary ones in the Dungeon and Dragons games he loved.

Before you could finish saying Anthony Bennett, he’d gone missing and later revealed that he’d been abducted by interdimensional monsters and taken back to their home lair to be harvested and tortured with Bulls game film. Thankfully he was rescued before it was too late and everything looked rosy, but in the final scene of Season 1 we see him throw up a slug-like creature from the Upside Down, as the alternate dimension quickly flickered around him and we instantly knew that Will’s tragic story was far from over.

Things only got worse in Season 2, as he struggled to cope with PTSD brought on from his nightmarish experience and if that wasn’t enough for a middle schooler to deal with, he was soon possessed by the Mind Flayer. He was again rescued by his family and friends but it remains unclear as to whether he can ever be a normal kid again.

Derrick Rose was a number one draft pick and hometown hero for the Chicago Bulls. He became the youngest league MVP in NBA history when he won the award in 2011. The electric point guard looked unstoppable and had secured himself two huge contracts from Adidas and the Bulls, a dream come true for a kid who had grown up on the Southside of Chicago.

It all came crashing down in Game 1 of the first round when he tore his ACL and he hasn’t been the same since that fateful night. Rose has had a series of comebacks following the injury but they were really more like false starts, as he suffered even more injuries and couldn’t consistently play at a high level. His foray into New York was a failure, which included a lawsuit that alleged he had gangraped a woman, an eight day period where Rose was AWOL and another knee injury that ruled him out for the rest of the season.

This past offseason he got signed by LeGM and the Cavs, so fans were hopeful that if anyone could help Rose rediscover his All Star form, it would be LeBron. Unfortunately, things haven’t worked out so well as Rose left the team at the end of November to reevaluate his NBA future after suffering another injury. He’s reportedly back with the team but it’s unclear what his long term future prospects are at this point.

It’s a really sad situation and has become increasingly clear that he’ll never reach the sky high potential he demonstrated only a few seasons ago.

Godspeed D Rose.

Bing some Stranger Things! It’ll make you feel better.

 

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