Column: LeBron versus?

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Los Angeles forward LeBron James gestures during a game against the Sacramento Kings on Saturday, Nov. 10 in Sacramento. (Rich Pedroncelli/AP)

Los Angeles forward LeBron James gestures during a game against the Sacramento Kings on Saturday, Nov. 10 in Sacramento. (Rich Pedroncelli/AP)

I don’t know if you’ve heard, but LeBron James is now a Los Angeles Laker. While he has brought his basketball talents to the Staples Center, he has brought his media entity, SpringHill Entertainment, to Hollywood as well. One of the projects they are purportedly going to take on at some point is the reincarnation, or sequel, to the Michael Jordan-Looney Tunes crossover “Space Jam.”

If you don’t know the plot you probably aren’t the right reader for this column. Here is quick primer: the Looney Tunes are about to be enslaved by some amusement tycoon from outer space unless they can defeat a team of alien monsters in a basketball game. But these monsters have become Monstars by sapping the talent of five preeminent basketball players. In the 90s they borrowed from Charles Barkley, Muggsy Bogues, Shawn Bradley, Larry Johnson and Patrick Ewing.

Yet it is a new era. If I was constructing their new roster, an alien Daryl Morey if you will, or I was just a director looking for the best players to transfer, here is who I would choose:

Joel Embiid: Too easy. Way too easy. Is anyone in the NBA a better fit for the Monstars? Embiid is freaking huge, yet incredibly fluid. He can bully in the post, yet he can stroke it a little bit as well. Plus, he is the king of talking trash. Embiid might already be a Monstar right now for all we know. In the original, the players transform into massive creatures of destruction who intimidate the hell out of Bugs Bunny and Co. They don’t need to do so in tapping Embiid; he’s already there.

Giannis Antetokounmpo: Speaking of physical specimens, Giannis has limbs that stretch forever, a body covered in muscle and an ability to attack that is simply obscene. He might be the most gifted player in the NBA this season. Anyone would be a fool not to look to him for a talent influx. The Greek Freak is a bit of a goof but in an endearing way. He would crush a cameo on the big screen, and his talent would crush any cartoon animal defender. Good luck, Daffy Duck.

Draymond Green: Monsters are supposed to be mean and evil. They are the enemy. Yet they have something about them that makes them a monster; being a bad guy isn’t enough. In the NBA this is Green. He has a special wingspan differential and elite defensive basketball IQ. He uses this to pester opponents and couples it with an always-running mouth and punkish attitude that has earned him disdain from everyone outside the Bay Area. Charles Barkley was known to be a character off the court as well and liked a good time. Green has a bar fight and social media snafu on his resume that qualify him as the optimal replacement, even if they hate each other.

Chris Paul: We need some ball handling on this team. Like Bogues, Paul is diminutive (not quite as much) and a Wake Forest Demon Deacon. More importantly, he is LeBron James’ guy. Olympic teammates, NBAPA officers and Banana Boat riders are just some of the connections they share. Most importantly he is the best point guard of the contemporary era, has a reputation as a tier one hard-ass and is known to play physical and chippy, just like a Monstar would. I can admit there could be point guard candidates, but this is LeBron’s movie, too, and I would count on Paul, he of State Farm commercial acting acclaim, being a part of his ventures going forward.

Zhou Qi: Listen, SpringHill is a business, not a charity. We are trying to kill it at the box office here. Zhou Qi brings in the massive China market. Just kidding.

Steph Curry: How could you not? The 90s NBA was about brawn, allowing the round mound of rebound in Barkley, the domineering big man Ewing, the never-ending skyscraper Bradley and the physical specimen of Johnson to be selected. However, the current NBA is all about shooting. I can’t promise anything, but I imagine this Monstars group would love to play some Pace and Space, raining three-pointers. No one is a representative of the shooting era, or a better shooter arguably, than Curry. Whichever Monstar took his talent would be canning contested deep balls at a disgusting rate all game, the replacement for dunking someone through the hoop. Plus, because of how he chews his mouth guard, or perhaps because he is so good (just make the 2018 Warriors the Monstars actually), Curry is hated enough to be an enemy. It is paradoxical that LeBron secretly-but-not-so-secretly is not a Curry fan. Does this mean he keeps him out of his movie? Or that he revels in beating Steph to save the Looney Tune universe?

I can already see the final scene now. Lola Bunny takes the inbounds and hits Foghorn Leghorn at half court. He finds Buggs and … holy cow! It’s a two-on-one! Buggs drives, up fakes, throws the alley-oop and LeBron puts Curry the Monstar on a poster while sealing the win as time runs out. Featuring Dwayne Wade and Dave Chapelle as Larry Bird and Bill Murray golfing buddy replacements, check it out in June 2020! I’ll see you there.


Matt Barresi is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at matthew.barresi@uconn.edu.

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