A few preliminary notes:
- This is a basketball roster — created by me, with help from my colleague Alan Sepinwall — made up entirely of characters from HBO dramas.
- There are really no rules here, as I’ve included now-dead characters and based all of my decisions on how good I think they might be at basketball. Not how good they might be. How good I think they might be. There’s a difference. (The difference is that I’m an idiot.)
- There are no characters from The Sopranos on the team, which feels weird because The Sopranos is the big defining HBO drama, but like, who are we supposed to put in there? Tony? Too many health problems. Pauly? Absolutely not. All due respect, but absolutely not.
This team will dominate until they all murder each other.
C – Wun-Wun, Game of Thrones
Wun-Wun is/was 20 feet tall. The modern NBA is moving away from big oafy centers, sure, but I still feel like we should make an exception here. He’s just so, so big. The guards could throw the ball all the way up toward his head and he could reach down and dunk it. On every play. And then on defense, I mean, you try driving the lane with a literal giant monster blocking the rim. It’s almost unstoppable. Almost. For clarification, please see this paragraph from the time I ranked Game of Thrones characters based on how good I think they would be at basketball.
Even if he has no discernible basketball skills whatsoever (and man, how great would it be if he did and was out there dribbling a ball between his legs and stuff), he’s still a top ten player just because he’s like 20 feet tall. Can’t teach height! The only reason I don’t have him at number one is because I’m not sure he’d be able to get into every arena. And even if he could, how would he travel on road trips? He’d never fit on a plane. You’d have to pack him up in a truck like a zoo elephant, or have him drive a convertible cross-country with the top down and like 70 percent of his body hanging out. It’s a logistical nightmare.
On the other hand, I mean…
PF – Slim Charles, The Wire
Slim Charles strikes me as a Kawhi Leonard type, lanky and deadly, but slightly more vocal. I base this on no evidence whatsoever but I know it deep in my soul.
SF – Jackson Vahue, Oz
This is admittedly kind of cheating on at least two levels because a) Jackson Vahue was an NBA All-Star before he was incarcerated and b) he was played by actual NBA player Rick Fox, but I just put a deceased 20-foot-tall monster at center so let’s just let this one go.
SG – Richard Harrow, Boardwalk Empire
Richard Harrow did not seem very athletic and has notable character and injury concerns (highly trained hitman, missing half his face). But words like “marksman” and “sniper” get thrown around so much to describe excellent three-point shooters that I feel like it should work the other way, too, and Richard Harrow can rain down threes like J.J. Redick.
PG – Preston “Bodie” Broadus, The Wire
Back when Russell Westbrook was in the early stages of his career, when he was playing with Kevin Durant and everyone had an opinion about who should have the ball at the end of games (especially Russ, who felt very strongly that Russ should have the ball), the “Russell as Bodie” comparison was everywhere. With good reason, too. They’re both brash, confident, and occasionally reckless, qualities that got Bodie killed on the streets of Baltimore, but also earned Russ an MVP on the court in Oklahoma City.