NBA playoff teams as popular anime series and characters

Waves of energy erupt around Ja Morant as he holds a glowing basketball in the Dragon Ball Z World Tournament arena.

Ja Morant after recovering in hyperbolic time chamber to posterize your fav.
Photo: NBA/Toei Animation/Funimation/Kotaku/Justin Ford (Getty Images)

What started as a casual ironic viewing of the NBA playoffs quickly turned into a non-ironic obsession, with the games becoming a top priority in my life. Why this sudden change, you ask? I realized that the NBA was eerily similar to many anime series I’ve watched.

Yes, I know comparing the NBA to anime is like comparing apples to oranges, but just like famed comedic rapper Lil Dicky, I implore you to please me and ask why fruit can’t. not be compared. After listening to what I assume to be a good episode of AEW Dynamite, my friend asked me if I wanted to watch a basketball game. While I walked in knowing absolutely nothing about the current NBA climate (I didn’t even know Dwyane Wade had retired), I quickly got my bearings with the franchise’s Herculean athletes by comparing them to anime heroes.

Full disclosure, I have never watched basketball with any regularity or dedication. Apart from reading slam dunkwatching love and basketball (a must-see love movie in any black household), and watch Michael Jordan’s docuseries the last dance on Netflix, I was fresh from the NBA climate, knowing next to nothing, player names even less. Quick sidebar before we get to the teams and players involved in the current battle to be NBA champions: Michael Jordan is the Griffith of the NBA. You can’t tell me he wouldn’t use one behelit if that meant bullying his team into winning another championship. Fight me.

To make up for my lack of familiarity with basketball’s rich lore, I decided to have fun watching games in my spare time, with the twist of reimagining teams as anime characters and shows. It didn’t take a huge stretch of the imagination on my part, as the playoffs are inherently ad nauseam tournament arcs. Watching games through this lens helped me remember key playoff players and made me realize that the NBA is as lively as it gets.

So without further ado, here’s my rotten take on NBA playoff teams as anime series and characters. The Milwaukee Bucks and the Boston Celtics are not mentioned because, first, I haven’t watched their games and, second, I think the way they pronouncing “Celtics” is silly. Oh, and I have a friend who comes from Milwaukee, and they’re worried they pulled my Chicago Bulls out of the playoffs.

Golden State Warriors / Yu Gi Oh!

When I think of the San Francisco Golden State Warriors, Steph Curry immediately comes to mind. I would be lying if I said I had never heard of Curry before watching this year’s playoffs. I had no choice but to know about him because I was inundated with ads in which he shilled crypto or informed me of Subway’s latest miraculous sandwich creation. Because I associate Curry with dodgy financial ventures, I see him as the Seto Kaiba of the NBA.

Kaiba is hyper-skilled at playing a children’s card game, to the point that he finds financial success in it through his family business. Explaining exactly what this family business actually does would be as practically nonsensical as tokens, so as Yu Gi Oh fans, I actively ignore all of that for how funny and cool Curry is, both on and off the court.

Just like Kaiba, I think I shouldn’t want to see Curry win because he’s gotten a bit overrated, but I can’t help but get hit by him when he does. Plus, the fact that he has a little brother that I didn’t even know existed until I wrote this article makes my comparison even more justified. Yes I say Seth’s Curry is basically Mokuba.

Miami Heat / Dragon Ball Z

I’ll be honest, I have no interest in watching a Miami Heat game because watching the team is like watching reruns of Dragon Ball Z: predictable. If you were to mention a weird favorite team or, heaven forbid, NBA all-time rankings, the Heat always seem like a lock for a top-three spot, just like DBZ with any run-of-the-mill anime fan recounting their favorite series. However, Miami has become a victim of its own success when it comes to my level of enjoyment from watching games. Unlike the fervent back-and-forth games I’ve seen in the playoffs so far, the Miami Heat’s wins seem like a foregone conclusion.

Although my bias stems from what little knowledge I have of previous iterations of the Heat with the likes of Dwyane Wade, Lebron James and shaqaroni with the Shaquille O’Neal ancestor gracing the grounds, the current roster looks a little too good for me to look at.

Unlike the unpredictable thrill of biting back and forth, missed three-point shots, and shock dunks I get from other teams in the playoffs, Miami feels too formulaic to watch. They have those three points locked against other teams, which makes what would usually be a pop-off to their power levels unentertaining.

Sure, they’re great and have all the strengths a team could ask for, but the stakes for them to win the playoffs ring low considering how many times they’ve slapped the board in the past. As I have little interest in seeing Goku putting the planet at risk once again to prove he’s the strongest in the world, I could do without seeing the legacy franchise team monopolizing the limelight, in favor of seeing other teams show us what they can do.

Philadelphia 76ers / Trigun and Code Geass

Uh, the Philadelphia 76ers are the Trigun of the NBA simply because they are a team that I have often heard of. But I haven’t seen them in action yet. Yeah, it’s true, I admit I’m late Trigun just like I delayed a 76ers game. I’ll get to it, I promise. I don’t mean to disparage the whole franchise of the team, and I’m sure the 76ers have been doing some cool shit since they’ve been in the second round of the playoffs (probably not for long since their opponents are the team at which I just compared DBZ). But a bit like Trigun existing in the same conversation as classic anime like cowboy bebop and outlaw starthe 76ers got lost in the shuffle for me compared to other teams.

Although from what I’ve learned of the team’s galactic motto of “trust the process”, Sam Hinkie, former 76ers general manager could have instilled a hint of Code GeassLelouch vs. Britanniathe mindset of playing the long game.

Memphis Grizzlies / Yu Yu Hakusho

The Memphis Grizzlies are undoubtedly the Yu Yu Hakusho of the NBA. I say this without hyperbole. My man Ja Morant is as fluid with him on the pitch as Yusuke Urameshi is any day of the week. As Yu Yu Hakusho opened the doors for anime fans in the shonen genre, Morant was the final nail in the coffin for me to watch the NBA regularly his posterization of the entire Minnesota Timberwolves defensive team in the fifth game.

To like YYH in the best shonen conversations, I feel like the Grizzlies fall asleep when it comes to the list of teams vying for the playoffs. But the real ones know that the Grizzlies’ style and finesse on the field is a force to be reckoned with. Tragically, just like YYHTournament of DarknessMorant is injured so his team will have to play without him in Game 4 of the playoffs.

Phoenix Suns / The attack of the Titans

First of all, Chris Paul is an anime villain. The dude’s mannerisms while he’s in the field are that of a no-nonsense anime villain who’s there to get the job done, and lord helps anyone who stands in his way. That’s why CP3, in my mind, is the Eren Jäger of the NBA.

My tumultuous relationship with the Phoenix Suns, just like my relationship with The attack of the Titans, comes from the fact that CP3 is very competent in what it does to the detriment of the teams for which I supported. Yes, I’m very angry, they took out the pelicans and did Willie Green weep.

Now listen me outside. JMuch like showing up to a game like a sane plumber looking to get in and out, CP3 is a warmonger for his next conquest. He’s there to take out all the teams across the shore. And who can blame him for this state of mind when there are “fans” like that asshole fan pushing his mom on mothers day no less? The NBA is CP3 warfare. As well, the fact that CP3 and Devin Booker had limited playing time together on the pitch almost as if to say if the two were to come into contact mankind as we know will be trampled on gave me the great Eren and Zeke Jäger vibes. That being said, I reluctantly like to see them as an unstoppable force that I hate to see win. The Suns must be stopped. But just like AOAT extension its final next yearI fear the reign of the Suns and the Paulgerists in the NBA will continue as well.

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