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If NBA Playoff Teams Were 80s Sitcoms…

CheersDetroit Pistons:
Cheers

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.


JeffersonsWashington Wizards:
The Jeffersons

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.


Designing WomenIndiana Pacers:
Designing Women

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.


Diff'rent Strokes.Dallas Mavericks:
Diff’rent Strokes

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.


Charles in ChargeLos 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.


Cosby ShowCleveland Cavaliers:
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 DadsMiami Heat:
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.


Empty NestSacramento Kings:
Empty Nest

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.


Golden GirlsSan 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.


My life, my dream... and nothing's gonna stop me now-ow.Phoenix Suns:
Perfect Strangers

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.


Three's CompanyNew Jersey Nets:
Three’s Company

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.


BensonDenver Nuggets:
Benson

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.


Growing PainsMilwaukee Bucks:
Growing Pains

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.


Memphis Grizzlies:
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.


Family TiesLos Angeles Lakers:
Family Ties

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.


Night CourtChicago Bulls:
Night Court

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.

Matthew J. Darnell

42 Comments

  1. Congratulations on becoming Bill Simmons, MJD.

    Fun post, even though I only dimly remember most of these shows.

  2. This might be your finest work to date. The synopsis of the Mavs is exactly what I’ve been trying to tell my Dallas friends for a long time. To take it a bit further, Josh Howard contributes in a way Willis ever did. You’d never see him taking Janet Jackson out in his dad’s limo.

  3. All that was missing was talk about the Ewing Theory, your buddy House, and The Sport’s Gal.

  4. It’s not often I meet someone who a) knows the background on Empty Nest (as I do) and b) admits to enjoying the Golden Girls (as I do).

    Great column. If only you could have worked a “Bud” reference into the Cosby Show/Cavs writeup ….

  5. You know, “Simmons” shouldn’t be an insult. It’s obvious everyone’s familiar with his writing, to the point where people say something is “Simmonish.” I don’t read him nearly as much as I used to, but I’d guess he advanced sports blogs/rants quite a bit.

    I’m disappointed you didn’t include Newhart and Bosom Buddies. And if you have Different Strokes, how do you not include the much whiter version Silver Spoon?

  6. After reading and studying that carefully, I have come to one conclusion:

    It’s a shame Suzanne Summers never posed naked. What great sweater puppets.

  7. Anyone criticizing this post as “Simmonish” is an idiot. Bill Simmons relies on quotes from crap (life the fucking real world, the bachelor, and basically anything a 18 year-old girl short on brains watches) and makes ananlogies to celebrity gossip rags. This post is shear, once-in-a-lifetime genius. As a 25 year-old raised by the soft glow of the TV (6 hours+ daily average as child, no joke), the level of detail and recollection exhibited by MJD will have me reading this site daily until it disappears. The Phoenix suns as Perfect Strangers couldn’t work better. Like Larry & Balki, the Suns seem to have a wacky, off-the-wall style, but they are actually formulaic and predictable, which is what keeps them from reaching the next level. And Golden Girls was good damnit (although to watch it today you have to watch Lifetime, a step I find myself unwilling to take). Also, though I agree w/Gilbert Arenas as George Jefferson, take a look at a pic of Flip Murray next to George Jefferson, it’s eerie. MJD has outdone himself, this is the most insightful thing I’ve ever read on a blog, and it was even more enjoyable than a day-long Crazy Fish-Guy running diary.

  8. Well, it’s not the first time I’ve been accused of being a Bill Simmons clone… there are certainly worse things in the world. I don’t think there’s any reason to pretend like he hasn’t influenced the bloggers of the world.

    But my thanks to those of you who have complimented… It’s appreciated.

  9. Hey, what’s wrong with liking mighty mjd and Bill Simmons? Nothing at all. Both are great writers. Good work, mighty mjd.

  10. Suzanne Somers has done Playboy at least once, as well as appearing naked in Magnum Force.

  11. Please, let’s get down to serious issues

    MJD – what Movie was that where you saw Merdith Baxter Birney’s ta-ta’s? Those are some badacious memories of my adolscent youth flooding back.

  12. Try http://www.cndb.com (not safe for work?) for nekid in the movies type searches.

    The matter-of-fact descriptions of the nude scenes are actually quite cold. Almost like a doc describing an autopsy.

  13. Wasn’t it a bottle of vanilla extract that Tom Hanks/Uncle Ned wolfed down? Maybe I’m just forgetting the cherries…

  14. This was awesome. I haven’t read it all yet but I love the Spurs/Golden Girls analogy. Keep it up, MJD.

  15. For the love of God….”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.” Between that line and remembering Tom Hanks as the alcoholic uncle on Family Ties….I don’t know who you are, I don’t know where you come from, but I want to have your babies.

    Thank you.

  16. Moonshine – I can’t remember for the life of me… I went through all of her old movies on IMDB.com, and nothing rang a bell. She’s been in a ton of stuff. It might help if I remembered even one detail about the plot.

    Skeets – Luke Walton as Skippy is a tremendous call. As is Damon Jones as Peter, Zero.

  17. The Nets as Three’s Company is phenomenal. Lamond Murray as Larry? An old contemporary of Kidd (at Cal)/Tripper, though fairly misled in the basics of the trade and far lower quality in general. Still fun every once in a while, though.

  18. To MJD and Moonshine – it was a 1994 made-for-TV movie called “My Breast.”

    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0110611/

    For you Golden Girl fans, here’s a great triva moment for you. There’s an ep where Sophia gets married. It includes a room full of Elvis impersonators. One of them went on to become a big name Hollywood director/writer/actor. Given his genre, it’s freakin awesome that he had this role.

    Anybody know who?

  19. The Golden State Warriors are Beverly Hills 90210. I know, not an 80′s sitcom but the best fit.
    Baron Davis is definitely Brenda Walsh. He shows moments of being a quality individual but can be a real a-hole when things don’t go his way. Jason Richardson is Brandon. Always reliable, never has an unkind word, and gets the job done every night. Mike Dunleavy is David Silver. Thinks he’s much cooler than any white guy could possibly be. I’m pretty sure he’s planning a rap album as well. Mike Montgomery is Andrea Zuckerman – too motherly and when he tries to be assertive it comes off lame. Troy Murphy is Kelly Taylor because at first glance his game is kind of hot but as time has gone by there’s nothing really that fantastic about him. Monta Ellis is that kid who accidentally shot himself when playing with a gun but I’m not sure why.

  20. Funny how everyone assumes a comparison with Simmons is an insult–then gets mad about it. I, at least, said it was a fun post. I like Simmons; but, to be honest, I’d rather read this site.

  21. This was amazing, MJD. I stopped reading halfway through and came back because I didn’t want it to end yet.

  22. Rob – No idea on the trivia question, but are you sure that’s the right Meredith Baxter Birney movie? I think this one would’ve been made earlier than that, and I remember some kind of sexual connotation…

    And to everyone else who commented, thanks. Really. *chest pound*

  23. MJD,

    Just wanna thank you for the time you must have spent to write this. F**king A+ quality post.

    Simmonsonian-like? Simmonsih? absolutely. And, as you say, i don’t see a reason that should be a knock. I really don’t understand the recent Simmons’ hating/jumping the shark stuff that’s been happening lately. Has his stuff tapered off from it’s peak from a couple of years ago? Has the quality/frequency of his postings declined? In my OPINION yeah. But I really don’t blame him one bit. He’s 30something, married, and has a kid. He’s grown up and he’s writing from a completely different perspective. I actually think he should retire the Sportsguy label so people won’t constantly compare his recent stuff to his classic works from the days of yore. And practically every sportsblogger out there has to admit they have been influenced/inspired by the guy.

    The hatin’ he’s getting reminds me of how hiphop fans get on rappers who have made it and suddenly lose the grittiness/”real-ness” of their earlier albums when they start concentrating on bitches and bling… Does it suck? Absolutely. But I really think those rappers keep it more real than the guys who try to pretend they’re still street/keeping it real, when they’re so far removed from such a life. It is what it is.

    I agree with many of the commenters: mighty MJD is representing the comedic blogging rather well. To boldly admit you watched the golden girls. Balls. The writers on that show churned out some great/funny lines.

  24. I agree with the other poster, the Spurs had to be Perfect Strangers just for the Ginobili/Balki resemblance alone.

    Balki was the most entertaining late 80s TV foreigner, and Manu is the most entertaining NBA foreigner.

    Balki and Larry had excellent chemistry, and Manu and Duncan have excellent chemistry. Sure, Larry was boring, but so is Duncan. And Larry had a perm, and early in the year Duncan had a semi-afro.

    Their girlfriends could be Tony Parker and Bruce Bowen. Essential pieces to the Spurs winning it all, but clearly, in the last 5 mins of a close game, everybody knows which two guys are touching the ball.

  25. Greg Evigan was the other “dad”. For not knowing that, you’re dead to me. Seriously. D-E-D, dead. A Vonni Ribisi reference or a mention of Klawicki’s Deli might have gotten you over the hump, but sorry.

    More “My Two Dads” trivia… Florence Stanley, who played the judge and is dead now, was the voice of Peter’s mother on a couple episodes of “Family Guy”.

    Oh, and yeah, I think they were gay. I mean, some of those sweaters…

  26. I’m too young for this shit. (I’m 19) You should have started every section with “if you remember this show.” but still enjoyable.

  27. This post doesn’t remind me of what Bill Simmons does. I forget the guy’s name, but the guy at Hey Jenny Slater did a post last year comparing college football programs to characters on The Simpsons. This post had the same clever concept but applied it to a genre, 80′s sitcoms.

    And since I’m in my late 20′s I found it pretty funny. Wizards as The Jeffersons is very accurate.

  28. - RE: MBB boobs – I spent some time dredging google’s gutter for info and that made-for-TV movie is all I got. Maybe it was another movie, or maybe you just remember wishing you were the doc with an easy excuse to cop a feel on Mallory’s mom.

    And yes, QT was an Elvis on Golden Girls. I happened to catch the ep while in college and was aghast when I caught Mr. Pulp Fiction buried among Elvi.

  29. MJD-Great blog! Thanks.
    Hope the Bulls pick up an A-lister with the Knicks’ number 2 pick.

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