By Shaun Whalen
Author’s Disclaimer: While my writing appears on CelticsSocial, I receive no portion of the proceeds from any sales of merchandise or products. I found this website because of an awesome t-shirt (This one) and have been incredibly impressed with the clever and witty ways these shirts have been created and marketed. The originators/creators/bloggers of CelticsSocial have been gracious enough to post some of my stuff but—having said that—the above image is FUCKING FANTASTIC and needs to be dissected for so very many reasons.
Author’s Second Disclaimer: Spoilers abound. If you have not yet contributed to the 1.3 BILLION dollar box office, that is probably mostly your fault. If this is the case and you wish to see the movie at some point, now would be the time to go away.
In a reality that is becoming more and more tied to technology, it is easier than ever for multi-faceted niche cultures to emerge. Keeping up with the news meaning keeping up with you feed. Keeping up with your feed means keeping up with the culture. The crossover between our online life and offline life is a startling revelation and one that demands attention, but for all the negative aspects of it, there are moments of glory in seeing it occur.
Welcome to the NBAvengers world.
While sports stars have been compared to gladiators and superheroes seemingly forever, with Infinity Wars establishing itself as a cultural landmark, the NBA has seamlessly merged the content because of the timing of the movie release and the ongoing NBA playoffs. While the first few days after the release were quiet on the meme front, enough of the masses have seen the film to now allow the real creativity to shine. Shortly after eliminating the Sixers, the memes began to emerge with none more popular than some version of this:
(courtesy of @YahooSportsNBA)
While the film has begun to seek into it everyday life (when someone is annoying me in real life, I make eye contact with a friend and snap my fingers hopefully), the above image makes me absolutely giddy.
I myself saw the film opening night and proceeded to threaten any unruly students the next day with revealing a now-deceased character’s name until they fixed their behavior. It was a lovely and calm Friday.
If art imitates life, the decision to pit the Parquet Avengers against LeBronos is too perfect to be ignored. Even within the image, the decisions made to place each player within that specific Avenger role are beautiful and eloquent in ways that made-up cartoons are not supposed to be. Let’s take a look at how and why each of these is so wondrous.
“Time is a flat circle” -Rusty Cohle “True Detective”
Dr. Strange is a master of the mystical arts manipulating time and space with a massive amount of quick thinking, warp holes, and an understanding of spacing that few can compete with.
Kyrie’s handles have a similar feel, don’t they? Now you see it….now you don’t.
Gordon Hayward/Captain America
Not only have both men undergone serious stylistic changes, but both had something taken away from them this year: Gordon’s season and Cap’s shield. But neither will ever stop fighting.
Jaylen Brown/Black Panther
Not only has Jaylen carried himself with the dignity and grace of a king off the court, he has also emerged as one of the most popular Celtics on the court—not dissimilar to the meteoric rise of Chadwick Boseman’s Black Panther in the Marvel Universe. His agility and grace are a perfect match for the ferocity of his feline counterpart, while his quest for greatness cannot be stopped no matter how many Kilmongers (see, Joel Embiid) stand in his way. In addition, Jaylen led Team World in scoring in last August’s NBA Africa Game—maybe he made a stop off to Wakanda on the way.
Scary Terry, apparently with stick’um on his hands, has only given up 1.3 turnovers a game in the playoffs thus far as compared to the 5.8 assists he has been averaging a game. Who do you call when you need an assist? Your friendly neighborhood Scary Terry.
In addition, with his 6’8” wingspan, Rozier seems to engulf and swallow his defensive charge whole…just like a spider.
Marcus Smart/The Hulk
Yeah…I’ll just leave this here:
The only real difference is Marcus will always show up for a fight.
Jayson Tatum/Iron Man
Crafty, smart and yet somehow explosive, Stark and Tatum has both shown preternatural calm in the midst of chaos over and over again. Tony Stark, however, would struggle mightily without his tech(I had no idea there were this many suits) just as Tatum has worked and reworked on his own tech (footwork and mechanics). I can’t wait to see the upgraded version of Our own Iron Man as he continues to add and perfect his offensive and defensive arsenal.
The strongest Avenger. Thor’s climatic stormbreaking scene in the Wakanda battle legitimately brought cheers from the audience. Similarly, Al Horford is finally beginning to receive some of the respect he has never gotten with his breakout performance in these playoffs, carrying the injury ravaged Celtcs to the ECF. Even Thor’s latest weapon—Stormbreaker—is comparable to Al’s ability to calm the storm of the opponent while leading the Celts’ own offensive assault. The fireworks have yet to go out.
The LeBron and Thanos connection is too real to be ignored. In his most quotable moment, Thanos says, “In time, you will know what it's like to lose. To feel so desperately that you're right. Yet to fail all the same. Dread it. Run from it. Destiny still arrives.”
FUCK. If that doesn’t describe Lebron in the past seven straight NBA Finals, I don’t know what does. His inevitability and almost-impossible durability allow him no other comparison than Thanos. Even without the full complement of infinity stones, Thanos manages to break Thor, Hulk and Loki before collecting the additional stones, always a step ahead of The Avengers, as he is “cursed with infinite knowledge.” Even with a less than stellar back-up crew, LeBron has dragged his team yet again to the brink. His basketball IQ has always been superior to those around him with more and more storiesleaking out about the massive intellect. The now-startling Kyle Korver-Kevin Love three point barrage will have to buoy LeBron if he hopes to advance toward the truest test (presumptively the Warriors, but very possibly the Rockets).
I am brought back to something written by Nathaniel Friedman (@freedarko) a number of years ago about LeBron. After watching LeBron sink this shotin 2009, Friedman wrote:
“But the Magic don’t have LeBron James. And while we know stars can lose, upsets can happen, and our preconceptions can be wrong, James is the ultimate superstar. In that he’s both breathtaking and boring. We’re watching a career unfold that’s already HOF-bound maybe even the best ever, and yet it all feels so inevitable. And so it was with that shot. Of courseJames would make it and put everything in its right place The second—and yeah, it was literally a second—the ball went his way, you thought ‘this is how it’s supposed to happen, isn’t it?’ You realize that “scripted” and “storybook” differ only in connotation….He’s conditioned us to not only expect the impossible, but take it for granted.”
That was written almost ten years ago! How prophetic and eerily damning of the next decade of the NBA (RIP FreeDarko—this blog was seminal in the way I began to understand basketball and the beauty of it all) LeBron has played the Celtics six times in the playoffs (two Cavs, two Heat, two Cavs) and eliminated them four out of those six times with the only victories coming on the backs of our own Supers: KG, Paul Pierce, and the now-difficult-to-talk-about Ray Allen (My UConnHusky heart hurts). LeBron’s list of Parquet moments is larger than the entirety of this Celtics roster (just as Thanos has more screentime than the rest of the Avengers). These are facts that must be faced, yet we will face them.
We know on some deep and uncomfortable level that the Celtics will be going against almost certain doom this series. A Celtics team outmaneuvering all expectations against the very possible GOAT with an infinite knowledge of the space and angles of a basketball court. With an abundance of resources, the Celtics with send an all out barrage at LeBron hoping the Herculean effort he will put forth will somehow wear him down before the end of the series (“All this, just for a drop of blood”). More likely, this battle will teach the young Celtics their own shortcomings and spur them toward greater heights.
Just as the Avengers knew they were outmatched and outgunned, they fought. We have corralled no less than three unicorns so far in this playoffs (Loki/Giannis, the Chitauri/Embiid, Ultron/Simmons), yet LeBron’s shadow looms large over our earth. This team may not beat LeBron this year, but some of the loveliest things in sports are sequels. And this will not be the last we see of the Parquet Avengers—in fact, there are some reserves waiting to marvel us with their abilities for next year. As Dr. Strange said, “This is the only way.”
Other possible Parquet Avengers:
Both are basically brick walls and can move with stealth.
Baynes is as thick as a tree. I have also rarely heard him speak.
Marcus Morris/ Rocket
Marcus is not afraid to speak his mind to anyone, nor share an unpopular opinion directly to their face. He also can be quite offensive (basketball wise).
They both love dancing.