Admit it, Sonic fans – you’ve spent more time watching Lost this season than you have NBA basketball.
And, with the grotesque aftertaste of the Bennett Era still lingering in our mouths, who can blame us for not following the league all that closely this year? Sure, all sorts of folks are pointing to the last couple of years as indications of another golden era of NBA basketball, but you’d have a tough time selling that line of crap in Seattle these days.
Anyhow, assuming that you, like me, have allotted more of your evenings to watching the Oceanic Six than you have to following the Western Conference in the past few months, you’re probably a bit nervous about Saturday-afternoon-BBQ banter in the coming weeks. Hey, no self-respecting man wants to be in the dark about the NBA when talk turns to hoops. Sure, those smart-aleck remarks about Rousseau and the Hydra Station are all well and good for the office metrosexuals, but they won’t cut the mustard on your overcooked hot dog when you’re holding a sweating can of PBR in your hand.
So, allow me to compare the 16 contenders for the NBA title with their most closely identifiable companion on Lost. We’ll start with the characters most likely to survive until the end of the series and progress to those least likely to survive. Then stir, apply NBA teams, measure for likelihood of winning the Finals, bake, and voila, you’ve got space-filler for a Thursday afternoon.
Los Angeles - Jack Shephard
Clearly the most important person/team, but neither are sans flaws. Further, no one really wants them to succeed outside of their devoted, bandwagon fans. Like Jack, the Lakers have seen a paradigm shift this season: Bynum’s absence seemingly had little effect on the team’s record, and now he’s back. Can he, like Jack, take a secondary (or even tertiary) role? Plus, is Phil Jackson really Christian Shephard?
Cleveland – Hugo ‘Hurley’ Reyes
A surprising comparison, but bear with me for a moment. Think of all the title contenders, then ask yourself this question: As a neutral fan, for which would you be the most likely to root, assuming your team’s front line was waylaid by a batch of infected hookers? Cleveland, right? It’s the same with Hurley – everybody likes the guy. No, he doesn’t have the depth of the other leading players, but neither do the Cavs, and, yet, here they are. Plus, Zydrunas Ilgauskas and Hurley have the same time in the 40.
Boston - John Locke
Amazingly, both are equally likable – for determination - and detestable – for annoying righteousness. Granted, it’s not Paul Pierce’s fault his fans are holier-than-thous who believe the NBA only exists as a pedestal to prop up their glory, but who else are we going to blame? You could also add that KG is as beat up as Locke, but, like Locke, the team seems to have some all-knowing powers that keep them afloat. Finally, I ask you, whose resurrection was more surprising this season: John Locke’s or Stephon Marbury’s?
Houston - Sayid Jarrah
Perfectly efficient, and perfectly content to lurk in the shadows – an apt description of either the Houston Rockets or Sayid. Houston’s most famous player is an enigma who we simultaneously know everything and nothing about. Their most cult-like fan favorite (Battier) earned his fame from a piece in The New York Times, not exactly SLAM magazine. They’re smart, mysterious, and dangerous. Hey, I’m not saying that the Rockets have someone on their roster who would be an ideal assassin, but who would you rather see at the end of a dark alley, Sayid, or Ron Artest? Yeah, “none of the above” for me, too.
Orlando – Sun-Hwa Kwon
No one expected much from either of these two, but they’re slowly making believers out the skeptics. You can never underestimate: 1) a shot-blocking behemoth or 2) a woman looking for her husband. And while I would probably bet on Sun in an offensive rebounding contest with Rashard Lewis, he’s probably prettier.
Denver – Kate Austen
The sexy pick, but one that is routinely driven to self-destruction. Kate is completely capable of running the show on Lost, but she always manages to screw things up for herself. Likewise, the Nuggets have a great starting lineup, an interesting bench, have risen to the second-best record in the conference … but is anyone really expecting Denver to make it to the Finals this season? Put it this way: Faced with two options on which to bet $100, 1) Denver making the Western Conference Finals or 2) Denver losing in the first round, which would you take?
San Antonio – Benjamin Linus
For the longest time, both the Spurs and Ben dominated the scenery, but this season the world has changed, and they’ve both had to accept the fact that the younger fellas are running the show. Oh, sure, San Antonio might scare someone in the first round, and, yes, Ben is always capable of manipulating certain events to his benefit, but, ultimately, neither of them are the Alpha Dogs anymore. And, honestly, no one’s crying about it. Don’t forget, too, that Popovich looks like he’s spent the last few years hanging out at the Orchid.
Portland – James ‘Sawyer’ Ford
Not so much because of the con man elements, but because both Sawyer and the Blazers seem to be having a helluva good time. If you add in the fact that the only thing as multi-faceted as Sawyer’s fake identities is Portland’s roster, it becomes pretty simple.
Dallas – Jin-Soo Kwon
I’m punting on this one, with this caveat. Neither Dallas nor Jin are all that relevant to what happens at the end of the season.
New Orleans – Walt Lloyd
Forgotten despite freakish abilities, Walt and New Orleans are primed to punish. Granted, this season may not be the time for either of them to reach the pinnacle of their abilities, but that time is coming very, very soon.
Miami – Miles Straume
Not especially well liked around the country, but incredibly talented nonetheless. As an added bonus, given his ability to converse with the dead, perhaps Miles could do the Heat a favor and conduct an interview with Jermaine O’Neal.
Atlanta – Juliet Burke
Young and intriguing, but not going to be around much longer.
Chicago - Desmond Hume
My favorite character on the show, and one of my favorite teams in the league. You’ve got to love Rose’s incredibly abilities, and while the Bulls haven’t exactly set the league on fire this season, they – like Desmond – are intriguing regardless.
Philadelphia - Daniel Faraday
Because this season, while promising, has left Philly fans with more than their share of bloody noses. Plus, I’m guessing at least 75% of those fans would like to invent a time machine which would take them back to 1982.
Utah - Richard Alpert
Because both Alpert and Jerry Sloan are apparently ageless.
Detroit - Charles Widmore – Detroit
At one time, they were both crucial players. That was a long, long time ago, though. Now, they’re just watching and waiting for the end of the season, with hopes that next year will bring an opportunity for increased relevance.