Series: Brainstorming Player Archetypes

I honestly went from reading magical and fantastical fiction novels in high school to academic journals and big heavy books about big heavy things immediately after. So, naturally, I find myself processing everything I see, hear, feel and think within the neatly comprehensible and colourful storylines of my favourite novels. Who is the villain? I ask myself. The protagonist? The antihero? The quirky friends along for the ride? The plot filler that doesn’t really matter? The wise old mystic? The red herrings?  

In the second piece published for this site, I touched on the storytelling we employ in order to add a sense of urgency, wonderment and entertainment value to the viewing experience when watching sports. After giving it a bit of thought, I began to roughly breakdown a few of the character archetypes we see among players in the NBA. Essentially strangers to us, I like to think a few on court tendencies are tells. Small windows into the personalities of these figures. Let me explain further… 

FIRST TEAM ALL-JOY: “THE TRICK OR TREATER” 

What kind of audience member are you? Do you yell at your screen in frustration? Do you giggle and chat throughout the program? Do you sit there, still and emotionless, not sharing a stray thought until the final buzzer? Personally, I’m incredibly obnoxious throughout the duration of any game (or film, sorry). I throw my arms up and slink out of my seat at blown defensive coverages like I’ve just seen a demon. I narrate standard plays and attempt to read lips when players are trying to communicate. This is why I avoid watching games in public settings besides home and the arena, where my antics are hidden behind 20,000 equally insane men, women and children. Sometimes, when I’m pacing the room whilst watching a particularly exciting matchup, there are a handful of players that crack through my anxiety induced exterior.  

Having. Fun?  

Boisterous shit-talking. Crafty and joyous for absolutely no reason. What do they think this is, a game? I call this particular hooper archetype the ‘trick or treater.’ You can’t help but flash a grin and give them all the flowers. They are the trained performers and we are the audience. The showmanship is undeniable, from the unnecessary behind the back passes to the windmill dunks. Crossovers begin to look less like moves to shed defenders and more like viral dances, circa 2007.    

It was likely a trick or treater who first inspired your love for the game. They play like every night is a long Nike ad; incredibly awe inspiring and corny. Shit kids love. You can’t buy this sort of rosy cheeked unjadedness and that makes me wonder, why there isn’t stat for charisma? 

Should I make a chart? I should make chart.Trick or Treater
Postgame Interview Thanks the haters
Post Dunk Celebration Flexes and/or mean mugs
Business outside of basketball Hugely popular energy drink in South Korea. Huge Japanese subculture following 
Fans Entrepreneurs  
Examples: Ja Morant, Pascal Siakam, Lebron James, Zion Williamson, Donovan Mitchell… 

FIRST TEAM ALL-WORK AND NO PLAY: “THE EMPLOYEE” 

I feel as though this is a majority of any league. The Boomer’s player. The player that treats every game as a shift they clock in and out of. They refer to their craft as ‘a job’ and aren’t really interested in the narratives we enjoy so much. Aesthetically, the complete opposite of the trick or treater, the employee is every coach’s no nonsense, dream player. To lay out the contrasts clearly,

 The Employee Trick or Treater 
Postgame Interview Thanks God  Thanks the haters 
Post Dunk Celebration Glares at ref for the missed call  Flexes and/or mean mugs 
Business outside of basketball Angel investor to several app startups. Has a restaurant in hometown. Hugely popular energy drink in South Korea. Huge Japanese subculture following  
Fans 9-5 Entrepreneurs    
Examples: Kawhi Leonard, Klay Thompson, Fred Vanvleet, Mike Conley, Nikola Jokic

FIRST TEAM ALL-INTENSITY: “THE WORLD EATER” 

The world eater is my personal favourite, they match my viewing energy and that’s very appreciated. This isn’t simply a job for them, the world eater is ready for war, ready to serve a duty.  

I find that world eaters have one thing in common they’ve spent the majority of their careers as underdogs. A collection of misfits, late bloomers, 6 footers and foreigners, this archetype plays with a hunger that consumers love, and they reinforce our blind belief in the American dream. If they made it, can’t we all? These players are unique in the sense that their narratives are personally constructed by themselves. They chisel these chips into their shoulder as a fuel and subsequently, success tends to follow them around.      

 The Employee Trick or Treater World Eaters 
Postgame Interview Thanks God  Thanks the haters “My guys are ready for war.” 
Post Dunk Celebration Glares at ref for the missed call  Flexes, pretends to be shocked Snarls, pushes away teammates trying to celebrate  
Business outside of basketball Angel investor to several app startups. Has a restaurant in hometown. Hugely popular energy drink in South Korea. Huge Japanese subculture following  Little bit of everything. Big “look at me now” energy.  
Fans 9-5 
Entrepreneurs    
Bite people 
Examples: Patrick Beverly, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Damian Lillard, Russell Westbrook, Kyle Lowry

TO BE CONTINUED…

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