LAST TIME, ON 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-”WHO?”: THAT RANDOM GUY
I can get used to daily matinee games. One benefit of the Orlando bubble taking place in your time zone has been the lack uber late west coast showings, I get to enjoy from here, in Toronto, during the early afternoon and evening.
I have to mention that I’ve been taken aback by the sheer level of play taking place in the NBA over the last several matchups since games have begun to count. Like many of you, I was wondering what the effect of semi isolation would be on the game itself. It would seem that there is literally nothing to do besides getting in reps and spending time with teammates on the same hotel floor. Players have been enthusiastically engaged on defense and particularly specific with their game planning. Stars have been notching career nights and unforgettable moments. It has genuinely been some of the most competitive and impressive regular season basketball I’ve seen in a couple years. I’m sure the fact that 8 of the very worst teams in the league have been cast aside has something to do with this… and who’s to say whether that’ll ever become a permanent feature. This is sort of besides the point.
The lack of physically present fans seems to have reinvigorated certain faces. The 1st team all “who?” is the guy the media rarely makes an effort to highlight, but they are often times the X factor for their respective rosters. They tend to be reliable 3 & D players who are always excellently relocating along the perimeter or flaring out to corners on fastbreak opportunities, hoping to grab the eye of the star player in hopes of receiving the assist for a catch and shoot. And like clockwork, we yell “WHO?” at the screen as a form of disrespect when they drain that game winner or clutch steal.
|A very scientific chart||First Team All “Who?”|
|Postgame Interview||Thanks the team’s star|
|Post Dunk Celebration||No celebration, but the dead eyes after they hit that 6th 3 sends chills|
|Business outside of basketball||Participate in camps based in their hometowns|
Examples: Jae Crowder, Mikal Bridges, OG Anunoby, Duncan Robinson, Maxi Kleber
FIRST TEAM ALL SPOOKY: “THE VILLAIN”
I love a good villain. A good villain is one you can identify with. Their decisions are understandable albeit silly. The villain is fiercely talented and fearless. They are professional contrarians that enjoy testing the limits of their privileges and the malleability of the rules. The most relevant component of the bad guy is that the talent is usually so obvious and obscene that we come to tolerate and even enjoy their quirks and rants about naysayers.
|A very scientific chart||The Random Guy||The Villain|
|Postgame Interview||Thanks the team’s star||Thanks random rapper friend|
|Post Dunk Celebration||No celebration, but the dead eyes after they hit that 6th 3 sends chills||A classic stare down one can feel through the screen|
|Business outside of basketball||Participate in camps based in their hometowns||Co-owns a record label|
|Fans||Analytics darlings||Kids that run an unaffiliated “leaguefits” IG account|
Examples: Kevin Durant, Jimmy Butler, Kyrie Irving, Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons
FIRST TEAM ALL AGING: “THE WASHED KING”
There’s a notable difference between a mature player in their prime, and an aging NBA player. Mature/prime players are in the midst of their best years. The body and the brain are, at last, on the same wavelength. Eventually, the harmony of this wavelength loses its balance as players inch past their prime years. Recovery begins to take longer, injuries become more frequent, and summer workouts more tedious. With that disconnect comes a wisdom and efficiency to adjust to the body’s new found limitations. The result? A few 30-something year-old brainiacs.
|A very scientific chart||The Random Guy||The Villain||The Washed King|
|Postgame Interview||Thanks the team’s star||Thanks random rapper friend||Thanks the children|
|Post Dunk Celebration||No celebration, but the dead eyes after they hit that 6th 3 sends chills||A classic stare down one can feel through the screen||Dunking? With those knees?|
|Business outside of basketball||Participate in camps based in their hometowns||Co-owns a record label||Several investments into the companies being run by other players|
|Fans||Analytics darlings||Kids that run an unaffiliated “leaguefits” IG account||Old as hell.|
Examples: Chris Paul, Kyle Lowry, PJ Tucker, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander’s soul, Marc Gasol