In their own ways, each member of the cast was completely indispensable. You couldn’t have Cheers without any of the mainstays… Sam is Chauncey Billups. Cool, smooth, the go-to guy. Runs the show in his own way, not overbearing, gets along with everyone, but knows when he has to be the man.
Ben Wallace is Norm. An absolute stalwart. Dependable, reliable, never caught out of position. Probably couldn’t carry his own show, though. Rasheed Wallace is Carla… ready to flip out at a moment’s notice, often bringing an energy that inspires the rest of the cast to new heights. And even though Cheers will still great in the later years of the show, we all still liked to think back fondly on the days of Coach Ernie Pantuszo… much like all Pistons fans look back on the days of Darko Milicic.
There are a lot of similarities between George Jefferson and Gilbert Arenas. Neither were very big, yet both remain strangely captivating. Neither of them got the attention of the more mainstream stars of the day… yet they were both destined for greatness. Maybe not like a LeBron/Bill Cosby kind of greatness, but greatness in another sense. A kind of greatness that shows Stephon Marbury that yes, you can be a scoring point guard and not be a complete tool.
Caron Butler is Weezy, as Weezy was a strong and independent black woman, and Caron Butler is, for some reason, nicknamed “Tough Juice.” Antawn Jamison can be Lionel. Peter John Ramos is the neighbor, Tom, as I believe Peter John is the only non-black player on the roster.
The departure of Ron Artest has left this team with a complete lack of testosterone. I love Jermaine O’Neal… I think he’s a great player, potentially a franchise player. But there’s just not enough around him to get the Pacers anywere past the level of being a “good team.” He’s Julia Sugarbaker… and it’s like Richard Pryor was once a member of the cast there, but they traded him to Sacramento and replaced him with Mesach Taylor.
Stephen Jackson is the Delta Burke of the group. She filled her role well, she was good for a laugh here and there, but ultimately, she just wasn’t quite good enough to be a real 2nd option, and was a little bit crazy to boot. Peja is, of course, Mesach Taylor, with that “I’m not as gay as I seem, I swear” vibe. Jeff Foster and Charlene shared a certain ruggedness, and Anthony Johnson is Annie Potts. It just seems to fit.
The tall white man was the head of the household, but don’t be fooled. It’s the little black man who’s making things go. Dirk Nowitzki/Mr. Drummond , great as they may be, aren’t the reason that the Mavericks have put themselves in the NBA title conversation. It’s because of Avery Johnson/Arnold.
The bad news here for the Mavericks is that Dana Plato was on Diff’rent Strokes… which means that some current member of the Mavs will be starring in softcore pornography and OD’ing very soon. My money’s on Marquis Daniels. Sorry Marquis.
Los Angeles Clippers:
Charles in Charge
Sarah and Jamie had some things going for them. Let’s not pretend like they didn’t. But let me ask you this… do you think Jamie was getting her melons on Baywatch without the guidance and support of Scott Baio? I think not. This is why Sam Cassell can be compared to, along with E.T. and Gollum, Scott Baio.
It was difficult to resist the temptation to just call Sam Cassell “Alf” and be done with it. But Charles in Charge works better. Elton Brand and Nicole Eggert had a lot to offer the world… their gifts were obvious. And although their particular gifts were different, Jamie and Shaun Livingston were both sensitive, intelligent, people, and they could see things that others didn’t notice. But they weren’t able to realize their full potential until Sam in Charge came along and gave them the confidence and knowledge to succeed. I think there’s a deleted scene on the Charles in Charge DVD where Scott Baio runs around the house doing the onion dance.
Buddy Lembeck… obviously Chris Kaman. They both appear to be quite dim, but they’re good for a laugh if someone strikes them in the groin.
The Cosby Show
I want to make it clear that the Cavs are aspiring to be the Cosby Show… they’re not they’re yet. Bill is in place. Bill is still growing and learning, but Bill has it held down. You don’t have to worry about Bill. But right now, there’s no Theo, no Denise, no Claire, and there’s damn sure no Rudy.
All those cast members are missing, and we’re left with Flip Murray as Cockroach, Eric Snow as Vanessa, and Zydrunas Ilgauskus as Sondra, who just refuses to play defense. I’m as excited about Bill Cosby as anyone, but he needs a Claire to make the show great. He needs a Theo. Claire and Theo don’t even have to be great, but they do need to be a step above Cockroach. We might need a new executive producer, too.
My Two Dads
The two dads, obviously, are Shaquille O’Neal and Dwyane Wade. Sadly, one of them has to be Paul Reiser, and one of them has to be… well, whoever that other guy was. Shaq has to be Paul Reiser, which is unfortunate, because Dwyane Wade certainly is not… just that other guy.
The old judge who lived next door is Pat Riley, who has stepped in to assist with the raising of young Nicole. The one thing I remember about the judge is that she “developed” early, and resented all the other kids making fun of her, and was disappointed in Nicole for ostracizing the girl in her class who was “developing” early. You know what, as hard as I might like to try, I can’t think of any way that this relates to the Miami heat. Not even a little bit. Sorry.
I think the Heat just have too many deficiencies to be a serious threat. Much like on My Two Dads, where you could never stop asking yourself “Hey, they’re gay, right?” for long enough to even consider how great it could be.
Pretty mundane and uninteresting… until the crazy neighbor showed up. If you don’t remember the show, it revolved around a retirement-aged doctor in Miami, who lived with his two adult daughters, both of whom were divorced. It was a spin-off of The Golden Girls, if that tells you anything. But things changed when the neighbor, Charlie Dietz, showed up. Charlie desperately wanted to bang both/either of the daughters, and he added a little spice to the show. A little edge. A little danger.
Much like Ron Artest has done for the Kings. Truth be told, either of the girls would’ve been better off if they spent a night with Charlie. He was a fun guy… no job, no worries, he just didn’t give a damn. He shook things up. Without him, everyone else was largely irrelevant. And so it is with the Kings… Ron Artest has made them matter. He’s given them a pair. We’re no longer relying on a gray-haired doctor or Mike Bibby and Team Dime for a respective backbone. We’ve got a crazy neighbor, and now, we matter.
San Antonio Spurs:
The Golden Girls
I don’t care what you say about The Golden Girls… that show was funny. So, say what you want, point and laugh at me if you have to, and believe me, I realize that the show was not a festival of eye candy. But if one of Rose’s stories about St. Olaf never cracked you up, then I’m just not sure we have a lot in common.
Like The Golden Girls… the Spurs may not be the sexiest team out there. It’s easy to write them off. But considering a lot of the garbage on television today, and a lot of bad teams in the NBA, it’s nice to know that no matter what else happens, there is somewhere you can go for quality, without fail.
Also, there’s a striking resemblance between Gregg Popovich and Bea Arthur.
I don’t know if I’d still find it funny today, but there was a time when I couldn’t get enough Balki Bartokomous. Don’t judge me. The show had its fun moments. It was entertaining. Much like you keep watching to see what Steve Nash is going to do with the ball on a fast break, you had to keep watching Perfect Strangers to see what would happen when Larry and Balki had to make a large amount of Meposian pastries.
But while both are cute, entertaining, endearing, admirable, and have a heavy reliance on foreigners (Nash, Diaw, Balki, and note the similar chest hair between Nash and Balki)… they just can’t be taken seriously. They’re just a little too goofy and gimmicky. I don’t begrudge anyone enjoying them. Larry and Balki were funny, and at least one of the neighbor girls were hot. But they’re just not in the class of some of the others.
New Jersey Nets:
It’s all about the actions of three individuals, and while there are some worthwhile things in the periphery, none of them really matter… with the exception of Mr. Furley, who is roughly of the same size and disposition as Laurence Frank.
Jack Tripper, obviously, is Jason Kidd. They make things go. Without Jack Tripper, there was no Three’s Company… and without Jason Kidd, the Nets aren’t relevant. Janet is Richard Jefferson… dependable, good head on her shoulders, and while she’s not going to make any Top 10 lists, you can’t tell me that there haven’t been nights where you could have found her useful. Vince Carter is Chrissy… a little bit prissy, perhaps not the sharpest tool in the shed, and yes, you can question her effort. But you can’t question her goods. She brought a lot to the table. No matter what you might dislike about either of them, there are always, always, always reasons to look at Chrissy or Vince Carter.
The Nuggets are Benson, because… what else do you remember about Benson? Just Benson. Robert Guillaume. That’s it. I have a vague recollection of a dumb white mayor, but that’s about it. Benson was the show.
Just like in Denver… where Carmelo Anthony is the show. Kiki Vandeweghe has done a good job of bringing talent to Denver, but none of that talent is particularly suited to each other. It’s time to blow it up and start again, which, for the Nuggets, shouldn’t be that bad, because they do have a lot of assets to work with. But we’ve got to put something decent around Benson. We just have to. Or Benson/Carmelo will be the next Dominique Wilkins.
In a not-terrible, but that-that-great cast, there’s only one guy with any kind of “star” quality, and even that depends on you lowering the bar on your definition of “star.” Kirk Cameron, meet Michael Redd. You can be on the cover of “17” if you want, and you can have your max salary, but if you try to do it on your own, you’re going to find out that you need Alan Thicke. You need a homeless Leonardo DiCaprio. You need Boner.
And I don’t think there’s any way around Andrew Bogut being Boner. There’s just something that doesn’t look right about both of them… like they grew up under power lines. I could see Andrew Bogut wondering into the kitchen one day, clueless expression on his face, and having a few of Mrs. Seaver’s freshly-baked cookies.
And homeless Leonardo DiCaprio is clearly Tony Kukoc, as I believe, based on his appearance, that he has been homeless for six or seven years.
The Dom DeLuise Show
Both were cancelled quickly, although you can’t deny that both were also helped out quite a bit by the beards on their stars.
Los Angeles Lakers:
Clearly, it was all about Michael J. Fox as Alex P. Keaton, just as the Lakers are clearly all about Kobe. But there are times when you think, “Hey, the rest of this cast is pretty damn underrated.” Michael Gross was effective, Justine Bateman was quite doable, Tina Yothers as the middle child was… well, you know, there was a time when it wouldn’t have been weird to be a fan of Tina Yothers. And I think Meredith Baxter Birney was fantastic, mainly because I saw her hooters in a b-movie as an adolescent, and I’ve never forgotten the joy she provided me. I should write her a thank-you note.
The show was at its best when they were all working together… the parents trying to teach young Alex that not everything is about just looking out for yourself. Sometimes, you have to teach others… like when Michael Gross taught Mallory about Poetry. When Tina Yothers was having problems with an over-aggressive boyfriend. When Tom Hanks guest stars as an alcoholic uncle who eats a jar of maraschino cherries because he sees the word “alcohol” on the ingredients list. It’s a group effort, and family is important… and I wouldn’t be surprised if Phil Jackson was somehow involved with the making of Family ties.
Likable, likable, likable. Perhaps it wasn’t great… perhaps it won’t be in the conversation when you talk about the ones that really mattered. But when you turn on the TV, they’re going to give you something to be happy about. At the very least, they’re going to use their talent, and they’re going to get after it.
Deep casts on both, with points and laughs available to come from any direction. Judge Harry Anderson, running the show, of course, is Kirk Hinrich. Bull Shannon, Andres Nocioni. Sensitive, caring, creatures… that aren’t afraid to use the brute savageness that they’ve been given. Ben Gordon is John Laroquette… who has the ability to bring you out of your seat at any moment. Mike Sweetney is Mack, mainly because I believe they’re about the same age. Eric Piatkowski and Markie Post might as well even be the same person.