Professional sports can sometimes feel orchestrated, with complex relationships, over-the-top drama, and storylines too ridiculous to believe. So what would it look like if the 2016-17 NBA season was told through the prism of Hollywood storytelling tropes? We hope to have at least a few of these pitches sold as summer blockbusters in the near future, so stay tuned…
Horror: Nightmare on L Street
To their shock and chagrin, Vivek Ranadivé and his Sacramento Kings executives wake up one day to find that their worst nightmares have come true. Their win percentage has been slashed, and their playoff opportunities mortally threatened. Soon, every time Vivek goes to sleep, all he can see are the monsters that are superior NBA teams. With Vivek’s reputation effectively dead, it falls to Vlade Divac to protect the rest of the people in the organization, even going so far as to set up booby traps in the Golden 1 Center’s visitor locker rooms and trading his best player for peanuts (you know, to ward off bad karma, or whatever). One day, Willie Cauley-Stein is dragged out the window of the team bus to his apparent death, and then the movie just sort of ends.
Animated: Finding Derrick
As usual, Derrick Rose leaves a Monday morning practice session in his Rolls-Royce Wraith. The irony in this becomes apparent when Derrick fails to show up for the Knicks’ game against the Pelicans later that day. While his coaches, teammates, and fans are worried he’s stepped on the third rail or left the team to open a gourmet coffee shop/kale bar on the Lower East Side, Derrick is revealed to have traveled home to Chicago for a family emergency, alongside a clownfish and a sea turtle. During his mission to find his family, Derrick is kidnapped by rogue NBA officials who threaten to send him to Cleveland, but he hijacks the truck, drives it straight into the Hudson River, and returns just in time for practice Tuesday.
Comedy: Ballhog Day
Russell Westbrook and his Oklahoma City Thunder cannot contain their disdain for the prospect of playing without longtime leader and fan favorite Kevin Durant. They try to make the best of the situation, winning the first four games of the season, but they’re no match for the super-charged Warriors. Day after day, Russell uses every trick in his arsenal, usually involving huge stats, outlandish outfits, and ignoring his teammates, to jump-start the Thunder’s position in the Western Conference standings, but they just keep losing big games over and over again. The Clippers, the Rockets, the Spurs – no matter how many triple-doubles Russell puts up, he just can’t seem to break the cycle of mediocrity. Finally, when it comes to playoff time…they lose to Houston in the first round. But hey, at least now they get a vacation.
War: The Hurt Roster
Philadelphia 76ers head coach Brett Brown blunders headlong into the start of the 2016-17 season with misplaced optimism. He immediately runs into tragedy, with the forced sidelining of freshly minted star Ben Simmons being the cherry on top of his depleted-roster sundae. When promising rookie Joel Embiid is on the brink of full strength, Brett’s assistants call him reckless for playing Joel too soon. Their fears are vindicated when, 30 games later, Joel is proclaimed unfit for the remainder of the season. Mo Cheeks and Jahlil Okafor conspire to overthrow Brett, but decide not to pull the trigger after winning ten games out of 13. Dario Saric wins the Rookie of the Year award but admits to Brett that he can no longer stomach playing for such a dysfunctional, inconsistent team. At season’s end, Brett survives the executive chopping block and is allowed to coach another year, but no one has any confidence that their struggles will come to a conclusion any time soon.
RomCom: When Anthony Met Boogie…
Two talented young prospects, Anthony and DeMarcus, are brought together by the magnetic influence of Kentucky head coach John Calipari. They talk about basketball relationships and what makes two enormous power forwards incompatible (“the scoring part always gets in the way”). They’ve been drafted to different teams, half a country away from each other, and that appears to be that.
Years later, however, the New Orleans Pelicans rescue DeMarcus from a desperate situation. Anthony expresses timid approval. The new partnership gets off to a rocky start, and the media lambasts DeMarcus for his poor attitude and inability to set up a successful blind date for his friends. After a tumultuous few months of miserable road trips, professional alienation, and hard-fought losses, the two reexamine their relationship and find that they never truly appreciated what the other was offering. They take advantage of the Supreme Court ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges and are happily married by the time draft day comes around.
Thriller: The Buss Ultimatum
Sensing an incipient threat to her authority and the welfare of the Los Angeles Lakers, Jeanie Buss must neutralize her deadbeat brothers, Jim and Johnny, along with GM Mitch Kupchak. She colludes with longtime ally and new team president Magic Johnson to head off a secret shareholder meeting/coup d’état organized by Jim and Johnny. The opposing sides’ lawyers chase each other through various European cities, brandishing court documents and trying to gain the upper hand. Jeanie meets clandestinely with head coach/informant Luke Walton, putting him in harm’s way as well, but he assures her that her mission of saving the team’s future from incompetent man-children is paramount. A probate trial is scheduled for several months down the road, upholding the Hollywood tradition of ending movies on a cliffhanger so people will pay to see the sequel.
Drama: Straight Outta Cleveland
Coming off of a championship-winning season, the Cavaliers continue to be viewed as an underdog due to the signing of Kevin Durant by their biggest rivals. Supremely talented big-picture guy LeBron James is responsible for organizing his crew and turning them into a title contender. Despite their best attempts to present themselves as a serious threat, they’re derailed by the loss of J.R. Smith, recurring defeats to inferior teams, and a media uproar surrounding Kyrie Irving’s pronouncement that the earth is flat. The pressure is too much for Kevin Love, who is tragically removed from the picture just when it comes time to start planning for the playoffs. LeBron looks outside the organization and brings in ringers Kyle Korver, Deron Williams, Derrick Williams, and Andrew Bogut, but it’s not enough to hold the team together. The Cavs perform well, taking the Eastern Conference title, but the road to the NBA Finals was paved with heartache and turmoil.