Nobody would argue that the idea of Michael J. Fox playing basketball is sort of hilarious. The man's barely four feet tall and needs a footstool to get into bed every night. But while Fox might be a laughable player, Fox as Teen Wolf sinks 75-foot hook shots and dunks like Dominique Wilkins' highlight reel.
Even Michael Jordan, widely believed to be the greatest basketball player of all time, plays better ball in the movies. Name us one time in Jordan's NBA career, for instance, where he got launched into outer space to compete against basketball-playing aliens, then jumped 200 feet in the air to sink a textbook layup from Porky Pig. (Maybe twice.)
If movies have taught us anything, it's that actors and basketball players alike can pretend to do things far better than actual people can in real life. So, in honor of the upcoming NBA draft-a night filled with hilarious interviews, ridiculous suits and old white men talking lustily about the flawless condition of young black men's bodies-we turn to the real, but routinely ignored, stars of the NBA: the completely made-up ones.
NBA Equivalent: Dr. J in a Chewbacca costume
Upside: Calling this guy a freak of nature is not just pundit hyperbole: the Wolf's athletic ability is absolutely off the charts. His jumper's a little spotty, but with his ability to drive the lane, any mid-range game is almost an afterthought. Has been known to drive the rim and make Lebron-esque, two-hand dunks in a half-court set, which is incredibly impressive, even if some of these dunks appear to be the exact same ones.
Weaknesses: The Wolf is a star and he knows it. Has been known to steal the ball from his own teammates and play with sunglasses on. Doesn't go anywhere without his agent, Stiles, who seems more interested in apparel deals than wins, and could be a major locker room distraction. Is also half-human/half-wolf, meaning he possibly eats babies.
NBA Equivalent: Plays uncannily like Shaquille O'Neal
Upside: Extraordinary athleticism for his size. Polite young man who is extremely coachable, which is saying something, since his college coach seemed to think "coaching" meant yelling at the referees and telling people to "dunk it," then celebrating when they did.
Weaknesses: Background playing in a factory in the middle of a Louisiana swamp that requires a boat trip to get to means that he's still pretty raw. Also, questions surrounding his recruitment to play at Pacific University might raise a few Chris Webber-like red flags. Reports from a Pacific booster named Happy that Neon was given a nuclear surfboard in exchange for his matriculation raise questions-both about character and radiation exposure.
NBA Equivalent: A more athletic, less sexually forthright Dikembe "Who Wants to Sex" Mutumbo
Upside: This slender center from the Dark Continent has tremendous leaping ability and overall athleticism. In a game against a mining company in which the winner would take control of the land Saleh's tribe had inhabited for centuries, he was the best player on both ends of the court and hit the game-winning shot, wisely ignoring a wide open Donyell Marshall in the corner.
Weaknesses: Like all foreign prospects, there are questions about the level of competition in his home country. For instance, in the mining game, the second-best player on the court was Kevin Bacon, who is currently being dominated by an aging, bloated Michael Jordan in creepy Hanes commercials. If Bacon can stay with Saleh, the newcomer may not be prepared for the level of competition he'll face in the league. On the bright side, he will be the closest thing in the league to a younger Michael Jordan, at least in terms of Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon.
NBA Equivalent: A less charismatic, more idiotically named Ray Allen
Upside: Sweet jumper, great movement without the ball. His ability to juke defenders playing in blank jerseys makes for a pretty unbelievable highlight reel. Hails from basketball hotbed Coney Island, home to such current NBA players as Stephon Marbury and Sebastian Telfair.
Weaknesses: Hails from Coney Island, home to such current NBA players as Stephon Marbury and Sebastian Telfair. Not surprising, then, that there have been character issues raised concerning contact with an agent during high school. His decision to play at State University also raises some questions, such as: which state?
NBA Equivalent: A whiter Jeff Hornacek, if that's possible
Upside: This, the whitest man on the planet, was put on the earth to shoot a basketball, and his stroke is as sweet as a tender ear of Indiana corn. Despite not being a vocal leader, his teammates rally behind him because they know, just as well as he does, that he'll make the shot.
Weaknesses: He is a bit spacey at times, but that's just Jimmy being Jimmy. Is liable to wait until the middle of the season to join the team if the mood suits him; and if coach goes, well, he goes too. Also faces considerable trash talking and locker room tension due to the length of his shorts.
NBA Equivalent: Since Rebound is based on a (vastly exaggerated) true story, we're going to go with the Goat here. Hey, he got a tryout"
Upside: As a high school phenom, the Goat's vertical leaping ability was the stuff of playground legends. Thanks to training with ankle weights, Manigault could snatch a dollar bill off the top of the backboard and make change before coming back down. Also, as far as nicknames that double as acronyms go, The Goat (The Greatest of All Time) is pretty slick.
Weaknesses: A few years of sleeping in pools of his own vomit, giving 50-cent stroke jobs in the men's room of the Port Authority Bus Terminal, and a daily, ravenous appetite for heroin, has slowed the Goat a step or two. Has also been dead for the better part of a decade, so he's definitely a project. Don't expect him to contribute right away.
NBA Equivalent: If Bill Walton were a guard, and shot smack instead of smoking pot, he would be Jim Carroll
Upside: This New York product is a combo guard who is more of a scorer than a pure shooter. His passion and tough attitude make up for his slight frame, obvious blond highlights and sissy love of rambling, nonsensical poetry.
Weaknesses: Has a bit of a mean streak that is sometimes construed as being uncoachable. Carroll fans argue that he just needs a tough, fair coach who won't try to fondle him in the post-game shower. Similar to The Goat, Carroll loves his heroin, like, a whole lot. Could be an issue down the line.
NBA Equivalent: Post-debilitating injury Larry Bird
Upside: Prospective defenders are actually so dismissive of Hoyle's cutoff hemp shorts and mesh poncho jersey that it usually takes four or five uncontested three-pointers before someone will actually guard the guy. Which is good for you if you draft him because, despite the fact that his mechanics couldn't be any uglier, Hoyle was blessed with a jumper truer than Jimmy Chitwood's.
Weaknesses: Unfortunately, he was also blessed with the athleticism of Chunk from The Goonies. It's infuriating, really. This journeyman doesn't appear to be able to jump over a basketball, let alone dunk one. Also, Hoyle's substantial debts to the Stookie Brothers make him a perpetual point-shaving threat.
NBA Equivalent: Robert Parish, except not such a cut-up
Upside: Is so dedicated to the game that he's been known to practice without a basketball. When he does get his hands on the leather, he is a force, combining Ben Wallace's defense with Kendall Gill's touch and ridiculous haircut. Appears to have a tremendous work ethic, a good head on his shoulders and a disproportionately awesome soundtrack.
Weaknesses: We're not sure who he's trying to fool, but all of his games were very clearly played on eight-foot rims, so it'd be wise to see how he performs in workouts before any deals are made. Emotionally, it's unclear if he's ever fully recovered from the death of his best friend, who fell off the roof of a high rise while he and Shep were playing one-on-one. Friends say that Shep partially blames himself for the tragic fall, which, when you think about it, is sort of inevitable, since playing basketball on the roof of a high rise is among the stupidest things anyone can do.
NBA Equivalent: Kobe Bryant
Upside: NBA GMs are the Humbert Humbert's of the sports world: When it comes to evaluating talent, the younger the better. And this kid certainly has the total package, with the uncanny ability to dunk from half court, a Kobe Bryant like drive to be like Mike and the hunger that comes from growing up in an orphanage run by an evil Crispin Glover (again, like Kobe). Also, as far as NBA entourages are concerned, they don't come much cuter than Jonathan Lipnicki. When I saw Jerry Maguire I wanted to take him home and make him hamburgers, the little rascal.
Weaknesses: Because of the recently imposed age limit, teams are going to have to take a chance on him now and then wait for his 18th birthday. Also, his athletic ability stems from getting electrocuted while touching Michael Jordan's shoes. So every time he gets a new pair of shoes you're going to have to electrocute him, which sounds like it could be hard on such a little guy's heart. So, you know, a bit of an injury risk.
NBA Equivalent: You know the play where the kid gets down on his hands and knees and barks like a dog to distract the other team? Like that except for the entire game.
Upside: He may be the only player in this entire draft that has the athleticism to at least stay in front of Teen Wolf. Bud's endurance and stamina are awe-inspiring. Opponents are often left despondent and morally defeated after watching Bud go baseline to baseline for the full 48 minutes without even breaking a sweat. (It should be noted that it's biologically impossible for him to sweat.)
Weaknesses: Lacks opposable thumbs and many other anatomical features of a standard NBA point guard. His ball-handling, shooting and passing are dreadful and his propensity to hump the mascot has a tendency to interrupt the flow of the game (though we suppose the same could have been said for Shawn Kemp, and he had a solid career).
NBA Equivalent: Charles Barkley with skin made out of not-quite-dry Elmer's Glue
Upside: Chub sets a mean pick, grabs boards like the ball is deep-fried and fills out a pair of short shorts like nobody's business.
Weaknesses: This round mound is your classic "tweener," as he lacks the height to play the four or five, but is too morbidly obese to be a traditional shooting guard.
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