Winter (and playoff basketball) is here! It is only right that both of these events will be taking place within a day of the other, as not only do the NBA and Game of Thrones have two of the most serious and dedicated fanbases in the world, but they have been connected to one another for some time now.
With masterpieces like Bleacher Report’s “Game of Zones” and the recent adjustment to the Minnesota Timberwolves logo, the worlds of the NBA and Thrones have connected across pop culture time and time again.
As we prepare ourselves to see who will take claim over the Iron Throne and the Larry O’ Brien trophy, it is important that we take the parallels between these two worlds just one step further. It bears noting that if you haven’t seen the first seven seasons of Game of Thrones, beware for plenty of spoilers ahead. Here are your favorite Game of Thrones character’s NBA counterparts:
Jamie Lannister – Derrick Rose
It has been a long journey for both Jamie and D Rose. Both formerly sat among the top of the hierarchy in the realm. The eldest Lannister son serving in the Kingsguard for both Aerys Targaryn II (The Mad King) and Robert Baratheon, while Derrick Rose was an instant star and became the league’s youngest MVP. With his battles for the eastern conference against LeBron James and the Miami Heat early in his career, Rose seemed in line to eventually earn the moniker “Kingslayer” for himself, as well.
Unfortunately, significant injury halted the trajectory for both Jamie and Derrick. This doesn’t mean they haven’t experienced success since. Despite the loss of his sword hand, the golden knight would serve time as the Lord Commander for both of his royal nephew-sons, and Rose would find a career resurgence with the Minnesota Timberwolves. The biggest connection between the two is that their stories- tales of hardship and triumph- have humanized both of them in our eyes and made them into someone we can’t help but root for.
Olenna Tyrell – Gregg Poppovich
A sharp-tongued elder who shows no hesitance towards speaking their mind, even if at the expense of the feelings of those around them or tradition. The similarity between the two is almost mirroring. Not only are they as witty as they are brutally honest, they both know how the game. Both Lady Olenna and Coach Pop may not have any affinity for the petty politics or people-pleasing that is supposed to accompany their roles, but they both understand what you must do in order to play to win.
Although they have no interest in the squabbles of others, they aren’t afraid to involve themselves to protect their family and lineage. This is proven by Tyrell’s poisoning of Joffrey and Gregg’s efforts to keep the Pelicans from trading Anthony Davis to his longtime western conference rival, the Los Angeles Lakers.
Gregor Clegane A.K.A. The Mountain – Boban Marjanovic
Don’t overthink this one. It doesn’t get any bigger than Boban. All we can do it pray we never have to see him resurrected, as that would be the most terrifying sight imaginable.
Bran Stark – Trae Young
One word: greensight. Don’t let their youth fool you, these guys mean business. As a rookie, Trae Young was second in total assists among the entire NBA. Meanwhile, Bran, not even old enough for facial hair, is the Three-Eyed Raven and could play an integral role in defeating the Night King. While the youngest living child of Ned Stark has overcome the literal loss of his legs early in the series, Young’s transition to playing against crippling NBA defenses set him back early in his rookie campaign. However, both have grown, and it is no secret just how powerful they are.
Petyr Baelish A.K.A. Littlefinger – Draymond Green
Unless you’re a Golden State Warriors fan, the manager of a brothel, or both, these are two guys you probably love to hate. Even among those close to them, they aren’t typically very popular. Draymond was recently voted by his colleagues as one of the most overrated players in the NBA, and Varys spent plenty of time explaining why respecting Baelish doesn’t mean feeling comfortable with him having any power in the realm.
Part of the reason they are both widely hated is their constant scheming. Littlefinger is always seen working in the shadows and concocting some kind of plot to bring him more power, much like Draymond’s post-finals phone call to Kevin Durant that ultimately brought him to Golden State. Whether it is a nut shot to Steven Adams or pushing Lysa Arryn through the Moon Door, neither is afraid to get their hands dirty if they have to.
Arya Stark – Kyrie Irving
Even when young, both Arya and Kyrie were people you knew were going to grow into formidable opponents for anyone who faced them. We have been able to watch both develop into total badasses. There may be no other person in the realm or league as quick and as lethal as they are. However, they may both also not be the easiest people to get along with or be around. We’ve seen Arya have trouble connecting with others, including a rough and weird reunions with Hot Pie and later with her sister, Sansa. Similarly, Kyrie and the Celtics have experienced plenty of chemistry related troubles along the journey of the 2018-19 season.
Sandor Clegane A.K.A. The Hound – DeMarcus Cousins
When we were first introduced to both The Hound and Boogie, they made it really hard to like them. Entirely rough around the edges, hotheaded, and even vulgar at times, these big men didn’t care at all what others thought about them. Both eventually parted ways with their original loyalties, either by trade or total dismissal of the king.
The next steps in their stories lended them to becoming much more likeable to the audience. As the Hound traveled with Arya, ensuring her safety, our hearts slowly began to warm up to him, just as with DeMarcus Cousins during his time with the Pelicans. We have seen both undergo transformation, as Sandor experienced a moral compass realignment after being nursed back to health following his brutal beatdown by Brienne of Tarth, and Demarcus has fought his way back to the court after a serious Achilles injury. Even if they aren’t your favorite, these foul-mouthed warriors are definitely two people you at least wish the best for.
Beric Dondarrion – Klay Thompson
Able to literally catch fire at any moment.
Danerys Targaryan – Joel Embiid
When we were first introduced to both Dany and Joel, it was obvious they would play a big role for their respective houses, but we could have never known just how important they would be until it was staring us right in the face. After being given away by her bother, Danerys went from Khaleesi to full blown mother of dragons and being one of the most likely to sit atop the Iron Throne when all is said and done. Similarly, we saw Joel Embiid go from just one of the many lottery picks the Sixers added during their rebuild to becoming the face of the franchise and arguably the best center in the league.
Both have been reborn in some fashion, whether that means rising from the flames of your dead husbands’ funeral pyre or just overcoming early injury and literally becoming a bigger and better player than anyone thought you would be. Danarys and Joel share an interest in breaking the wheel. For Dany, that means reshaping the structure of power across the realm, and for Embiid, it means reminding the league just how dominant big men can be in the age of positionless basketball.
Bronn – Kevin Durant
Even if you don’t love them, or who they fight for, it is hard to not marvel at the impressive skills of Bronn and KD. Both men just seem to be able to do everything. There is never a moment too big to stop either from just dominating in any fashion. Just like we saw Bronn lineup the scorpion to take on a Dragon one on one, Durant isn’t backing down from any opponent and believes that he is just as good as, if not better than, anyone else on the court. For these two, loyalty is a subjective term and their only true commitments are to remaining a champion and securing the bag.
Lord Varys – Adrian Wojnarowski
While Varys keeps his finger on the pulse of everything happening across the realm, Woj is the undeniable master of whispers in the NBA. Both Wojnarowski and the spider seem to always be the first to know something and constantly remain a step ahead of the rest of us. Armed with a number of informants, there is no information safe from their grasp. They may not fight, but both just want what is best for the realm/league.