FEATURE: Imaginary Friends – NBA Edition

[Image Courtesy of the Grio]

Feature: Imaginary Friends – NBA Edition

by Trevor Johnson

I’ve never really been one to make friends with varsity athletes. I guess I knew a few girls on the softball team but beyond that, high school wasn’t a time of me gelling with jocks. College was more or less the same. There are a few competitive teams at the University of Massachusetts: both soccer teams, lacrosse, hockey. But I’m talking about the Holy Grail of Sports, the Big Three (yes, hockey is a distant fourth. It’s a niche sport, sorry, hockey fans. I can’t skate, so I’m out). And as far as basketball, baseball and football go, my alma mater has redefined obscurity. So what is left for me, a 26 year-old man that spends too much time thinking about sports and has years to go until I can ruin my own children’s lives by being an overbearing sports dad?

Why, sit around and categorize which NBA players would make the best friends, of course!

Why NBA players, you ask? Because they are the coolest and least likely to spend time reeling, spaced out and drooling from concussions. I like the thought of friendships lasting deep into life, and well, sadly that doesn’t seem to be happening for former NFLers. Moreover, they have summers off and their league has it’s own fashion reporter. Cool. Cool. Cool.

I have set a few parameters. While in real life I would be honored to know and befriend almost any NBA player (no thanks, Dwight Howard. It just wouldn’t work), this is my blog, and thus not real life at all.

Parameter 1. No kids. This doesn’t mean it wouldn’t be awesome to be friends with LeBron or Chris Paul or even some older dudes like Steve Nash or KG, but I am the type of friend that will bum them out by saying stuff like, “Hey man, don’t you think that instead of hanging out with me at this 5-star restaurant and Vegas night club while we look fresh to death in these designer suits you bought – thanks again for that btw – you should be spending quality time with your kids?” It wouldn’t go well for either of us and thus, no go.

Parameter 2. Location matters, but not as much as coolness. We’ll get to this, but basically, Paul George seems like an awesome dude, and I could always use more friends from here in L.A.. I’m just not that excited about leaving L.A. in December to go hang out with my friend in Indianapolis (no offense Indianapolis, but winter here is basically summer where you are). So Paul, you miss the cut for now. Maybe next year though? Keep working hard.

Parameter 3. Don’t be an asshole. Most of my friends are really solid people. If you’ve got any kind of domestic dispute, nightclub fight, or DUI’s, sorry, I’m out. I mean, that’s what I’m here for, to make sure that stuff doesn’t happen! Don’t make my job (that is comprised of 85% chillin) harder than it needs to be!

And with that, let’s get down to it. Nearly all of my information has been taken from social media, because if someone isn’t the same in real life as they are on the internet, I just don’t know what to believe in anymore.

Honorable mention: Jonas Jerebko, Forward, Detroit Pistons. Swedish people seem really cool, and we could talk about how much we both love Robyn.

#5 Kelly Olynyk, F/C, Boston Celtics

I’m a Celtics fan and I needed a Celtic on this list just to improve rooting interests during a 2013-14 season where each win make me a tiny bit more worried I’ll never get to root for Andrew Wiggins or Julius Randle in green. Mostly, I feel like if I still lived in Boston and knew where Olynyk hung out, we could actually become friends. Like, seriously, he’s just a super tall, skinny dude with 4-foot-long hair that looks like he has definitely been in a weird prog-metal band before. I can run with that. Moreover, I always get along with Canadians. Why, you ask? Well, usually when I find out someone is from Canada I immediately make a comment about how all Canadians are super nice. Being Canadian, they thoroughly appreciate me saying this and fall deeply in friend-love with me. Boom; a pal for life. Seriously guys, this has worked for me multiple times. It also works with people from Minnesota, as my research has shown that they are basically all exactly like the good characters in Fargo. I have no experience with people from North Dakota. I’m not even sure it’s inhabitable.

Moreover, I could spend good time trying to come up with nicknames for Kelly as he seems to have none, and show him where all the worthwhile bars in Boston are. The last thing a docile Canadian wants is some meathead stumbling up to him in the North End or Faneuil Hall and picking a fight during some shitty Skrillex song. Kelly, I’m here for ya, man. Let me know if you ever want to grab some tapas.

#4 Damian Lillard, PG, Portland Trailblazers

Damian Lillard seems like the man. He came up with his #4BarFriday idea in InstaVideo and features fellow NBA players as well as fans that send him the best videos of them rapping four bars. Now, I can’t rap, but I don’t see Damian holding that against me.

I want to be Damian’s friend because he is in one of the best situations in pro basketball. I don’t know what life is like at Weber State in Ogden, Utah, but I would guess it isn’t quite like being the best player at Kansas or Chapel Hill. None of that matters now, though, as Lillard is thriving in the NBA in it’s closest equivalent to a college basketball fan base. Portland fans are notoriously crazy and loyal, as the Blazers have historically been the only game in town. Basically, Lillard has got to be the most popular guy in Portland that isn’t in The Decemberists. And for that, I am super stoked for him. I could drive him around on off nights, as he is clearly hammered from getting free drinks everywhere he goes. I’ll set him up with Advil and a Coconut Water and still make sure he is in good shape for practice the next morning. I am also free to taste test any of said free drinks, just to make sure some super crazy lunatic isn’t trying to bring down the King of Portland.

#3 Kevin Love, F, Minnesota Timberwolves.

Once in a generation rebounder that also looks like a member of Bon Iver? I’m befriending that dude. We would get along. Also, I believe I already shared my opinion on the awesome people of Minnesota, don’tchya know? I’d have no problem spending some time there if everyone is going to be that nice. Bonus points for every member of the Beach Boys he introduces me to.

#2 Iman Shumpert, G, New York Knicks

Uhhh… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rD0GrtN46MU just fast forward to the 2:00 mark. He’s the best basketball player/rapper to date. He’s way too cool for me. But whatever, a guy can dream,

#1 Kevin Durant, F, Oklahoma City Thunder

As if there was any other choice, right? Durant could be some team’s 7th or 8th man and he would still be the coolest guy in the league. Let’s start with one of the most important aspects of friendship: loyalty. Durant can frequently be seen at University of Texas sporting events, repping his sort-of alma mater. It’s even kind of weird that such a high recruit would end up at UT to begin with, since the only comparisons as of the past ten years are LaMarcus Aldridge and Avery Bradley. Repping UT in the NBA is a bit of a unique thing. Trying to stand out as a former Wildcat, Tar Heel or Jayhawk in the NBA is kind of like puffing out your chest in a Harvard sweater on Wall Street. UT was a unique choice and you kind of start to feel bad for these one-and-dones. The NBA is way too enticing to turn down, but a second or third year in college might actually let them be kids a bit longer and enjoy life before things get insane. I feel like part of KD wishes he could have been a Longhorn for an extra season. KD is also constantly displaying his allegiance to the Washington Professional Football team. As a guy from The Beltway, it shouldn’t be so strange. And yet, you see guys from all over the country rooting for the Dallas Cowboys (LeBron from Ohio, Chris Paul from North Carolina and Russell Westbrook from LA, just to name a few), a symbol of early-life front-runnerism. I have a deep, deep respect for guys that always stick it out with the home team, and since his team has endured some serious hard times for most of his life, Durant shows the strongest form of loyalty. That’s what I need in a friend.

Durant is also humble and generous. On Sunday night, after narrowly beating the Wizards, Durant gave credit to second-year shooter Bradley Beal for a hell of a game and a bright future. Now from a guy that apparently loses sleep over being second best, you have to admire his ability to give credit where credit is due. He also donated $1 million to tornado victims in Oklahoma last year. Obviously, we all want a rich friend that is generous with their money, but if that money isn’t going to me, I’ll accept that kind of philanthropy as a second-best. On top of it all, he dresses well and his sneakers come in the coolest colorways in the league. KD, if you and Monica need an extra groomsman in that wedding, you know how to get in touch with me. Let’s make it happen.

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