The NBA: Cinematic Universe

By: David Sugarman

Big stars, bad guys, a solid supporting cast, the old and reliable producers and an extremely predictable ending. This offseason has been a Hollywood blockbuster for the NBA, and with the preseason just two weeks away, we’ll see who deserves a sequel, who we can expect to see more of, who we know we don’t want to see again, and who’s getting a shot at redemption.

The Amazing LeBron:

King James’s Cleveland career was in desperate need of redemption. Much like Tobey Maguire’s Spider-Man trilogy, LeBron’s time in Cleveland started with promise, and the sequel only made fans more excited for what could come.  A trip to the finals with LeBron coming into his own as a superstar was much like Spidey taking on Doc Ock on a speeding train at the height of the Spider-Man series. But with great power comes great responsibility.  Both LeBron and Marvel disappointed in their next outing.  Spider-Man 3 had way too many villains to keep up with, and LeBron—who couldn’t lead Cleveland back to the finals—became public enemy number one to Cavs fans everywhere when he made his “decision” to take his talents to South Beach.

But now, just like Andrew Garfield breathed new life into the web-slinging franchise, LeBron is back to make amends.  Garfield has a better supporting cast in Emma Stone, and so does LeBron, who traded in Mo Williams and Anthony Parker for rising stars in Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving. This epic homecoming becomes the Association’s biggest story line for the 2014-15 season: the King is ready to lead Cleveland back to the promise land.  However, the patience for this group will be short-lived. The expectations are sky-high for this star-studded cast, and rightfully so.  Let’s see if the remake can top the original, or if it will once again fall short when the stakes are high.

The Captains of America:

It may have not had any Hollywood superstars, but with a myriad of co-stars hoping to turn into superstars, team USA got the job done this summer with relative ease.  Much like Captain America: The First Avenger, which likely wasn’t your favorite stand-alone movie, these weren’t everyone’s favorite players.  No Robert Downey Jr., no LeBron; no Chris Hemsworth, no Kobe; no Durant… you see where I’m going with this.  Yet the roster commonly referred to as the “B team” showed up and stepped up in big way for this solid summer flick.  Coach K, directing another masterpiece, coached a hodge-podge squad of youth and inexperience into playing as a cohesive unit.  He had five players averaging double-digit points and beat their opponents by an average of 33.  This was a great experience for many of the young players, such as up-and-comers Andre Drummond and Mason Plumlee, who we can expect even more out of this season.  Even more tantalizing is the idea that soon we will get to see these guys go head to head once again.

The Guardians of Minnesota:

With up-and-coming star Chris Pratt, some sex appeal from Zoe Saldana and a solid supporting cast, Guardians of the Galaxy was a very pleasant surprise this summer.  Another team that assembled for the first time this summer was up-and-coming star Andrew Wiggins, and the sex appeal of a smooth scorer in Thadeus Young.  It’s too early to know what to make of Minnesota’s end of the deal after trading away Kevin Love, but there’s plenty of possibility for the Timberwolves to be a contender.  With last year’s number one pick in Anthony Bennet, this year’s number one pick in Zach LaVine, talented first rounders will join Ricky Rubio and Kevin Martin to form a team with loads of untapped potential.  It’s yet to be seen if this young, inexperienced cast can mesh the same way Bradley Cooper and Vin Diesel did.  When you assemble a team, you have to consider talent AND chemistry, not just the former.  It’ll be interesting to see if Minnesota just took every best player they could get their hands on, or whether they first considered how this squad would mesh.

Stay until it’s really over:

Marvel has become known for their post-credit scenes giving fans a little taste of what’s to come.  The NBA season is never really over.  Even after the Spurs hoisted up the Larry O’Brien trophy and the screen seemed to go to black, every real fan knew they wouldn’t have to wait long.  We had villains show their true colors in Hawks GM Danny Ferry, heroes leave their homes like Love leaving Minnesota, new heroes rise from the ranks of team USA.  Now the best part is yet to come.  We get to watch this plethora of new story lines play out on the big screen.  Some will shock like Iron Man 3 and the Mandarin, others will disappoint like The Fantastic Four, and some will flop harder than Ben Affleck in Daredevil.

The NBA season is unpredictable.  Heroes become villains and vice versa in the blink of an eye.  We all want to see our comic book, driveway and empty gym fantasies fulfilled by fearless, larger-than-life characters who save the day.  The only way to find out if they will or not is to grab some popcorn, throw on your favorite replica jersey (or cape), sit back and watch.

Follow David Sugarman on twitter @Dshug24 and listen to him on “The Friday Morning Blitz” every Friday 10-11 am.