There are exactly two things in this world that I am reasonably qualified to speak about at length, based only on the amount of time I spend watching and thinking about them:
- Television shows
With this in mind, in part because there’s not much else going on and in part because I really want to, I have attempted to rank the characters from the HBO drama Succession based on how good I think they would be at basketball. Not how good they are at basketball, or how good the actors who play the characters are at basketball. How good I think the characters are. It’s a profoundly stupid exercise and I’m borderline giddy that I have a place to discuss it like this because otherwise I would just be dialing random numbers on my telephone and ranting about it to whoever picks up. It’s not even the first time I’ve done something like this. A few years ago, I did it with characters from Game of Thrones. I don’t have to explain myself to any of you.
Below, please find my rankings. I feel very strongly about all of the opinions contained within. Especially the ones about Gerri.
18. Roman Roy
I have this image in my head, crystal clear. Roman is sitting on the bench in a gymnasium while a game is in progress. He’s playing on his phone and scoffing at things around him. Scoffing at everything. Dismissing it all out of hand. Then, the coach shouts his name to send him into the game and a look of pale panic appears on his face, as though he had not considered this possibility. He walks onto the court — please do stop here to picture Roman in basketball shorts and sneakers — and within five seconds of action he gets hit in the face with the ball. Blood everywhere. He leaves as everyone laughs. He hops into the backseat of a chauffeured town car and never returns.
17. Connor Roy
Two things I know for certain here. One, there is absolutely no chance Connor can play basketball. You will never convince me otherwise, not in a million years. Which brings me to number two: he definitely thinks he could play basketball if he wanted to, which he does not. “You toss the ball into the hoop. Big whoop. A trained dolphin at Seaworld can do it,” he would say. Everyone would groan very loudly.
16. Ewan Roy
On the one hand, he is very tall. On the other hand, he does not seem like a man who enjoys games. Any game. Basketball, Scrabble, hide and go seek, whatever. He would just stand still on the court and stare at the other players with disdain, just disgusted at all the choices they’ve made that have led them to this moment.
15. The Pierce Family, Generally
Willa is tall and seems reasonably coordinated, which implies some sort of natural athleticism that could translate to the basketball court. I originally had her higher. What complicated the issue is two factors:
- She is an aspiring playwright, which makes her a Theater Kid, and while I apologize for the generalization I’m about to make, Theater Kids are not typically good basketball players
- She strikes me as more of a volleyball person
I’m open to opinions here. None of this is written in stone. We’re doing art, not science.
12. (tie) Gil Eavis and Frank Vernon
Very strong “old dude at the YMCA who has on like wristbands and knee pads and is immovable in the post on account of being 500 percent stronger than he looks like he should be, which makes his sweeping hook shot an unstoppable offensive weapon” vibes from both of these guys.
11. Caroline Collingwood
Logan’s second wife — mother of Kendall, Shiv, and Roman — strikes me as someone who would come off the bench and lock down the other team’s ball-handler for 5-7 minutes, pick up three fouls, then return to the bench. Big trash talker. Not normal trash talk either. Like, very personal, cutting trash talk that devastates you and sends you back to therapy immediately after the game.
10. Rhea Jarrell
I believe in my heart that Rhea Jarrell shoots 35-40 percent from three, in large part because I have never doubted Holly Hunter and do not plan to start today.
9. Cousin Greg
Toughest entry on the list. My sweet boy is very, very tall, and younger than just about anyone else on the show. He has all the physical advantages one could want. On the other hand, he is hilariously uncoordinated and passive and appears to be developing a secret cocaine habit. I’ve been trying so hard to envision a scenario where he can be a contributing member of a basketball team but every time I start to get there I see him tripping and falling on a fast break because he somehow got his shoes tied together in the middle of the previous play.
Still, he ranks this high because there is a bubbling rage inside that gangly body and we simply cannot rule out the possibility that he plays with the intensity of Kevin Garnett in the brief spells between him falling like a whirling cyclone of arms and legs.
8. Marcia Roy
Would pay $29.99 for a PPV of her and Caroline playing HORSE. Nothing but midrange jumpers and tossed-off insults so hurtful that it makes the people announcing the contest too uncomfortable to comment.
7. Shiv Roy
I get a lot of “played point guard in high school and was a stabilizing force on the court except for the four or five times a year when she snapped and heaved the ball at her own coach” feelings when I think about Shiv and I see no reason to question them at this point.
My favorite thing about the Waystar CFO and yes-man is that he does not appear to have a last name. Like, I’m sure he does, probably, but he’s just Karl and such a Karl that there’s no need to elaborate. I can see him right now, in his 20s, playing Division II basketball at some elite private school, scoring 24 points per game in a jersey that has “KARL” on the back of it. I love him.
5. Logan Roy
I do not think Logan Roy is actually good at basketball today at his advanced age, or that he was ever good at it, for that matter. I would be kind of surprised if he ever played it, even once, just to try it. But I do believe that he could berate and bully the other team into giving up entirely on defense before passing the ball to teammates who can waltz in for a series of uncontested layups, and that seems like a valuable skillset to bring to a squad.
4. Kendall Roy
Another tough one. On one hand, complete failure at everything, all the time, usually but not always due to substance abuse in the middle of the day. On the other hand, between his iconic rap performance and the fact that he straight-up has a child whose first name is Iverson, we have to at least consider the fact that he was an And1 Mixtape junkie in his teens and developed Professor-like ball-handling skills that he showed off in pick-up games with various hooligans and delinquents he knew exclusively through narcotics-related circumstances.
3. Gerri Kellman
There’s a chance this is mostly a glasses/haircut thing, but I get very strong Doris Burke energy from Gerri. I’m sure she could hit a pull-up three on a fast break. I’m confident she could whip a one-handed skip pass to an open shooter. I have not one iota of doubt she could cross you up while wearing heels and a smart business skirt. Close your eyes and think about it for a few minutes. You can see it, too.
2. Stewy Hosseini
I have no reason to believe this and cannot explain my position in even the vaguest and most unhelpful terms, nor will I try, but I am as sure as I am that the sun is hot and the ocean is wet that Stewy can dunk. Two-handed. In his dress pants and $500 wingtips, with his sleeves rolled up and his tie tucked in between the buttons of his dress shirt. No amount of hard evidence to the contrary will convince me that I’m wrong.
1. Tom Wambsgans
Tom Wambsgans gives off the single most “scored 2,000 points in high school in the Midwest on a steady diet of threes and turnaround jump shots and had a couple Division II scholarship offers but turned them down because his transparently two-faced ambition convinced him to walk-on at a more prestigious school, where he went mad with power the instant he got playing time as a junior and was kicked off the team for hazing the freshmen” energy of any television character I’ve ever seen. I have no doubt he could hit 9 out of 10 free throws at any moment with no warmup. I bet he scored 60 points in a game once. Tom is undoubtedly good at basketball.