One of my great hopes in life is that George R.R. Martin will release the next book in the series that inspired Game of Thrones, and when fans start reading, they will quickly discover that the whole thing is about a 3-on-3 basketball tournament in Westeros. My reasoning is simple: it would be hilarious. Think of the reaction. People would lose their minds.
Actually, no. I lied. There are two reasons I want this to happen. First, yes, the part where I would laugh and laugh. But second, because I kind of do want to know how good the characters are at basketball. I have put a lot of thought into it. Like, a lot. So much so that I have chosen to fill this void of knowledge by creating this list, ranking over 50 characters from the show based on how good I think they would be, from worst to best.
A few preliminary notes about my methodology:
- The rankings are based on things we’ve learned on the show only. I have not read the books. If you have read the books and have information that would alter the list substantially, you should consider making your own. It’s quite fun.
- The rankings are not limited to characters who are still alive. We’ve got dead ones in there, too.
- Living characters are ranked based on current potential ability (with one exception), and deceased characters are ranked based on potential ability at the time of their death.
- This is all very scientific.
Away we go.
50. (tie) Joffrey Baratheon
The Baratheon (“Baratheon”) children bring nothing to the table. Tommen is an easily manipulated spineless rube who would probably hand the ball to the other team if they told him he had to, Joffrey would get tossed before every opening tip and then pout about it, and Myrcella would… get poisoned? Admittedly, I don’t have a great grasp on Myrcella. Guilty by association with the other two.
49. Viserys Targaryen
Glam rock Joffrey.
48. Catelyn Stark
47. Samwell Tarly
Sweet people who appear to have no athletic ability whatsoever. Samwell gets the edge because he has this streak of dumb luck, and he would probably make a few shots as he was hopelessly stumbling to the ground.
46. Rickon Stark
Very little time to practice ball-handling when you’re running for your life and/or left for dead in a dungeon.
45. The High Sparrow
My first thought was that the High Sparrow could be a valuable addition to a team as a leader of men, even if his advanced age would make him a liability on the floor. But then I realized he’d almost definitely try to appoint himself referee and stop the action every few minutes to make people march around naked to atone for committing personal fouls. Games would take forever.
44. Theon Greyjoy
I refuse to believe Theon is good at basketball. Pre-Reek, I bet he called for the ball constantly and then committed a turnover within moments of catching it. Post-Reek, I bet he just stands in the corner and looks down at his shoes.
43. Cersei Lannister
[sits on bench drinking wine and scoffing at things]
42. Sansa Stark
Sansa is taller and much more resilient than she was when the series started (Sansa has been through a lot), but she’s still not much of an athlete.
41. Jaime Lannister (post-amputation)
No right hand. And not like “can’t dribble or finish as well with his right as he can with his left,” either. He quite literally has no right hand. Could be an issue.
40. Robert Baratheon
I have a great deal of respect for Robert Baratheon for leading a successful rebellion against a lunatic and then spending most of his time as king drinking wine and eating large slabs of meat, but I don’t see where a fat drunken has-been fits into a lineup in the era of small ball.
39. Ramsay Bolton
There are a lot of similarities between Ramsay and Kobe Bryant that are worth discussing and that could conceivably bump Ramsay into the top ten on this list. There’s also a very good possibility that he would bring a knife on the court and disembowel someone as they drove to the basket, which is almost definitely a flagrant foul.
USEFUL AS PLAYER/COACH
38. Bran Stark
37. Three-Eyed Raven
Bran’s inability to use his legs and the fact that somehow no one in Westeros has figured out how to make a wheelchair both represent clear impediments to on-court success, but I feel like the ability to see the future could come in handy during timeouts. Also, he might be able to warg into a mascot. That’s just fun. But the Raven edges him out because he has the same abilities as Bran, but he’s better at them and it wasn’t his fault Hodor died. All pluses.
I’ve been sitting here for 10 minutes trying to figure out which one of these three is most like Phil Jackson and I think I’ve settled on Pycelle, if only because a) back issues, and b) I could see Pycelle retiring and writing a book about what an uncoachable sociopath Joffrey was.
33. Margaery Tyrell
32. Tyrion Lannister
These two always play the long game. They’d definitely rest their starters during the season to keep them fresh for the playoffs. They’re like Popovich, but nicer to reporters. It’s a manipulative nice, but still.
31. Daenerys Targaryen
Think of the halftime speeches.
OLD GUYS PAST THEIR PRIME
30. Tywin Lannister
Picture Tywin Lannister in short shorts and a tank top, with knee pads, wristbands, and mid-calf socks rising out of old Chuck Taylors.
29. Stannis Baratheon
28. Davos Seaworth
I feel like Davos would be a much better player, but he would always defer to Stannis and it would drive every sports talking head in the country insane. “Davos has got to step up and show he has heart or this team will never win a championship.” It would be awful.
27. Barristan Selmy
When I started making notes for this post, I wrote “Barristan Selmy = Larry Bird?” and now I have no idea where I was headed with that, but I stand by it anyway.
THE CHARLES OAKLEYS
24. The Mountain
23. The Hound
Game of Thrones is lousy with big oaf-y dudes who would make excellent enforcers off the bench for the Bulls, Knicks, or Heat teams from the early- to mid-’90s. I choose to believe the inverse of this is true, as well, and Charles Oakley should be introduced as a character no later than the season premiere of season seven.
DRAGONS AND DIREWOLVES