We’ve been warned about December 21, 2012, for a long, long time. When the Mayans made the Mesoamerican Long Count Calendar thousands of year ago, they predicted that the 5,200 years of civilization would stop abruptly on one fairly random date: December 21, 2012. The only thing not-random about that date is that the date happens to be today.
Anyway, ever since, spiritualists have warned us about it, environmentalists have stepped their game up, authors have written about it in fiction and in non-fiction. Hollywood has been getting its hands dirty, and a lot of scheming minds have used the paranoia to make some big money.
Some say it’s going to be an asteroid to hit the Earth. Some say the robots from the Terminator will take over. Some are calling for massive climatic changes ushering in a new ice age. Some think there will be a worldwide epidemic like the Black Death. While some just call for a Nuclear Holocaust.
I have a different and more weirdly creative view of the upcoming end-of-the-world. In my mind, the world is about to be attacked by the legion of the most powerful aliens from across the Universe. These aliens aren’t powerful necessarily in physical strength, wisdom, or technological advancement. No, no, they are like the aliens from Space Jam; they are the best collection of basketball players ever assembled outside of the Earth since the Big Bang.
The game Dr. James Naismith developed 120 years ago at the Springfield YMCA in Massachusetts has spread into galaxies far, far away. And now, the best team of basketball players from the universe is here to challenge the Earth’s best. Our only chance of survival? Picking the best team of 12 players and a head coach to lead them against this alien basketball onslaught. If we win, the earth is saved and doomsday is deterred…
So who are we going to hurriedly assemble for this Doomsday Game? In his ‘The Book of Basketball’, Bill Simmons came up with his ‘wine-cellar’ team, a team of the best players in NBA history in their primes to take on a fictional alien team. Unlike Simmons’, my team is not going to have the technological advantage of picking the best players at their best moments. Jordan, Magic, Russell, and Bird will have to watch from the sidelines. Same goes for players who aren’t healthy enough to play right now (sorry, Rose!) It’s about the best players on December 21, 2012. Hoops save us all!
So without further ado, I list the 12-member squad that I’m picking to represent ‘Team Earth’ on Doomsday…
Carmelo Anthony: ‘Melo is having his best NBA season at just the right time, just in time to be a prolific scorer for Team Earth and give aliens on defense all kinds of headaches. The New York Knick can score in any way imaginable, so that should be helpful against tricky other-worldly opponents. He has also survived the harsh New York pressure from fans and media to make the Knicks dominant again, so you know he should be okay to survive the pressure from the rest of expecting Earthlings.
Kobe Bryant: I wondered what Kobe’s inclusion might do for Team Earth’s chemistry, but after seeing him in Team USA, I believe that Kobe can play a good leadership role. Plus, assuming that the aliens are all mean and nasty and whatnot, Team Earth better have a mean, no-holds-barred star like Kobe to look at the face of death eye-to-eye and drop an ill-advised jumper in their faces. This team has many scorers, and Kobe – who is the only pure ‘shooting guard’ in the lineup – will have to buckle down and focus on D until he is called to take a heartbreaking game-winner at the end of the game.
Tyson Chandler: We need big men, okay? Chandler has been the most efficient player in the league and the secret MVP for the Knicks this season. His defensive prowess and leadership will protect Earth’s paint.
Stephen Curry: Finally healthy, Stephen Curry is currently enjoying the best season of his career and has taken the Warriors to an impressive record. More importantly for my team dynamics, Curry will be a good fit as great pure-shooter who can also handle the ball when asked and create his own shot.
Kevin Durant: Probably the MVP favourite on Doomsday, Durant would have probably been scouted by the Aliens themselves before to bulk up their roster with otherworldly talents. But the 6’9” best scorer in the world is going to stay loyal to Team Earth. Durant can dominate any system with any team and there is nothing that anyone from the far reaches of the universe can do about it. He’s going to be Team Earth’s leading scorer.
Dwight Howard: I know, I know, Howard is going through a slump with the Lakers and his back is bothering him. But he is still the best Center that Earth has to offer. The Lakers are having issues with their system, but him the right way and Howard will be a beast on the defensive end, strong enough to reject alien attacks and on the offensive end, pass out for open shots to his sharp-shooting teammates. The aliens will probably start playing ‘Hack-A-Dwight’ if the game gets close, but this team is talented enough for him to be on the bench in the final minutes.
LeBron James: Many suspect that, with his combination of speed, strength, talent, technique, versatility, and basketball IQ, that LeBron might be an alien himself. But fear not, Earthlings, the reigning MVP was born and bred on our own planet and will be Team Earth’s motor dominating through the entire game on both ends. Unless of course he makes a drastic last minute decision on CNN to dump his former planet and take his talents to another solar system.
Zach Randolph: I love players with a nasty streak, especially in big nasty Doomsday games such as this one. But this season, Randolph has become much, much more than a good player who doesn’t mind a scuffle or two. Randolph has been dominating the block for a Grizzlies team that is suddenly one of the best in the league. Team Earth needs big men to snarl back at aliens snarling our way. Randolph will do that and dunk on them. He’s also going to get many, many rebounds.
Rajon Rondo: Rondo will be the puppet-master of this team, pulling strings to get the best offense out of all the options just like he does for the Celtics. When he’s on song, Rondo can control a game of basketball like few others. He will of course lead the game in assists and perhaps even get a sneaky triple double. He’ll also frustrate the hell out of the aliens on the defensive end.
Chris Paul: Paul is the best point guard in the NBA right now and a team like this needs a captain like him to steer the ship the right way. Like he does for the Clippers, CP3 will be expected to take a backseat and get his teammates involved in the offense as much as possible before taking over when necessary in the fourth.
Josh Smith: Don’t be surprised. Smith has been playing like an All-Star and a top 10 MVP candidate for the Hawks this season. He’s another versatile player who specializes in dominating the defensive end. His numbers may be limited, but every team needs a back-up forward to come in and do all the necessary dirty work on court. Smith can do all that at the highest level.
Russell Westbrook: Another point guard, and another player who fully deserves his presence here. Westbrook will stubbornly do his own thing, no matter what the Aliens or Team Earth try to make him do otherwise. Luckily for us, ‘his own thing’ is pretty damn good now. Westbrook has developed into an elite scoring talent and – with the team already rich with pass-first guys – he can focus on playing like a shooting guard.
Head Coach: The obvious choice for the job is of course Spurs’ coach Gregg Popovich, who is perhaps the best coach in the NBA today. But then I had to think twice about it. Popovich may not be too happy dealing with a team full of prima donnas, and worse, he may choose to rest all the star players in favour of Nando de Colo and Matt Bonner. Coach K, who has been the man behind Team USA’s international success is an option too, but I have more ambitious plans. The Lakers failed to (or refused to) coax him out of retirement, but I will be calling on the Zen Master himself, Phil Jackson to take the helm for one game and lead Earth to the Promised Land. Jackson is a rare leader capable of handling big personalities so deftly and getting the most out of each player’s full potential. Even Kobe will respect him and not act out (too much). And the rest of these players are smart enough to learn the Triangle Offense in a day right? After all, the fate of all our lives depends on it.
So there you have it: that’s my 12-man roster for Team Earth. Sorry to those who were briefly considered but couldn’t make it: Kevin Garnett, Tim Duncan, Kevin Love, James Harden, Kyrie Irving, Tony Parker, Al Jefferson, David Lee, Monta Ellis, Brandon Jennings, Deron Williams, Jrue Holiday, Blake Griffin, and Dwyane Wade. These guys will provide a healthy group of reserves to play our practice game against and be there to take any roster spot that clears unless the aliens kill off one of the players in our roster spot above.
Now, not that I’m Coach Jackson, but this is the starting lineup that I will be expecting him to run:
- Chris Paul- Kobe Bryant- LeBron James- Kevin Durant- Dwight Howard
Paul, LeBron, and Durant are no-brainers. Kobe has to start because he knows the triangle well, can help stretch the floor, and defend the aliens’ biggest guard. Howard starts but you can be damn sure he won’t be finishing the game. ‘Melo has been unbelievably good this season but sorry we can’t consider him above LeBron or Durant. Still, he’ll play massive minutes off the bench, along with Chandler, Rondo, and Westbrook. Randolph will be brought in when the team needs to start going bigger in the post. Josh Smith, a versatile defensive guy and Stephen Curry, a dead-eye shooter, are the perfect 11-12 men for this roster.
The only question is that, in a crunch situation who is going to have the ball in their hands to make the decisions and take the final shot? There are so many options at hand, but the top choice has to be between Paul, Anthony, Durant, and Kobe. Depending on the situation and the need of the shot, I’m hoping that one of them takes charge and the likes of LeBron or Rondo also being around to help create game-winning situations.
Aaaand we’re ready now. Team Earth for the Doomsday Game is ready. Bring on your best, Mayan Apocalypse Aliens, we’re going to hoop our way to survival!