Superheroes are one of the biggest trends in the world right now and in our fictional universe they are comprised of the most physically fit and able people not only on the planet but in galaxies and universes. In real life, we have our athletes, who are absolute physical specimens and the closest thing we have to flying and running at the speed of light. Of course, like superheroes there is a great variety to our athletes, some are loved and adored by all, others booed and jeered everywhere they go, some athletes are big and powerful while others are quick and agile. Outside of their respective sports, every player has some sort of secret identity, some like to keep things private and to themselves, but others soak up the spotlight and live up to their celebrity lifestyle. In this article I am going to be comparing the best players in the NBA to the characters we all know and love from DC and Marvel comics. I will be looking at their personalities, their skill sets, strengths and weaknesses to determine what hero and alter ego, these super athletes are most comparable to.
Lebron James- Superman
Lebron James is without a doubt one of the best athletes on the planet and an absolute freak of nature. Along with his God-given ability and athleticism, he is also one of the most talented basketball players of all time, boasting an impressive resume including 3 NBA championships, 3 finals MVPs, and 4 regular season MVPs. Like him or not, Lebron James is easily one of the most dominant basketball players of all time, and one of the most physical empowering. At 6’ 9” and 250 pounds, Lebron is a physical anomaly with almost no comparison to his physique throughout NBA history. With all that being said, Lebron should be one of the most beloved players of all time just based off of his dominance and physical prowess. However, that is not the case, while Lebron is beloved by many around the world, he also has his share of haters on often finds himself the villain even though he says and does almost all of the right things. Lebron over the course of his career, barring one mistaken taking of his talents to South Beach, has tried to so hard to always be the good guy and get the fans on his side. Except year after year Lebron has much of the world rooting against him come the time of the NBA finals. The only comparison for that is none other than Superman, one of most powerful superheroes found in any galaxy or universe. The Kryptonian is blessed with nearly every super power you can imagine, giving him an advantage over almost every other being in the galaxy, with or without super powers. Similar to Lebron, superman finds himself with a large fan base over the course of his lengthy history, he still cannot seem to win over the masses. This is shown with his lack of success in the box office and general disdain from the viewing public. Many people feel this way about both the athlete and the hero due to their overpowering nature, not being fair to others, while some just find both boring or want to argue that their favorite is better comparatively.
Stephen Curry – Batman
If Lebron James is the overpowered Superman, that makes Steph Curry his absolute antithesis, sometimes ally, and sometimes antagonist, Batman. For everything that Lebron James is physically, Steph Curry is the opposite, at only 6’ 3” and 190 pounds, Curry looks smaller than most other guys on the court. Similarly, Batman often looks overmatched when compared to his super powered foes and comrades, but he makes up for that with his intelligence and tactical brilliance to be one of the greatest heroes of all time. Comparatively, Steph Curry makes up for his lack of size and athleticism with some of the greatest ball handling moves and shooting displays in the history of the NBA. It is his unparallelled skilled that took him to the forefront of the NBA, bringing him back to back MVP awards including the first ever unanimous decision, and an NBA championship. It is also what makes him such such a good foil for Lebron James as it gives him a complete opposite, much like Batman’s powerless persona makes him the perfect protagonist as compared to Superman’s overpowered establishment.
Klay Thompson – Robin (Dick Grayson)
For every Batman, there must be a Robin, and in the case of Steph Curry, it is his high powered offensive shooting guard, Klay Thompson. Robin was brought under the wing of Batman and taught nearly everything he knows, his skill set is not only similar to that of Batman’s, but it also complimentary. They go well together, balancing out each other’s style and making up for one another’s weaknesses, not only that but they know how to work together in a way that allows either one to shine at any given opportunity. That is where the greatest comparison lies, more than just the best and second on a team, like Pippen was always referenced with Jordan. This goes much deeper than that as Thompson is nearly the offensive threat that Steph Curry is, but is always capable of going off for a huge night, such as hitting 10 straight 3’s in the Western Conference Finals, and when he is hot, Curry will be able to find him if it is best for the team. They complement one another as well as any duo in basketball, with not only elite shooting but as well as unmatched teamwork. However, although both Klay and Steph work well together, just as Robin and Batman work well together, Klay is fully capable of having a breakout game all on his own, also giving him the comparison of Nightwing.
Chris Paul/Blake Griffin – Captain America/Iron Man
The Los Angeles Clippers have been on the brink of greatness for quite some time, and that is lead behind their dynamic duo of Chris Paul and Blake Griffin. These two superstars have been at the forefront of this organization since Chris Paul got traded there from New Orleans in 2011. They have always had two different styles, both on and off the court, they mesh perfectly at times, while being diametrically opposed at others. Griffin’s lighthearted demeanor which can be compared to that of Iron Man which is the complete opposite of Chris Paul’s icy seriousness, much more like that of Captain America. Off the court, while they both do commercials, Chris Paul shows off his family and values, compared to Blake Griffin’s off the court antics which have gotten him suspended, most recently for punching a manager. Similar to The Avengers, the Clippers are on the verge of blowing up, and their two biggest stars are on opposite sides in nearly every way.
Kevin Durant/Russell Westbrook – Green Goblin (Harry Osborn)/Spider-Man (Peter Parker)
Following what many have considered to be one of the more selfish moves in the history of the NBA, Kevin Durant left the Oklahoma City Thunder, where he spent eight years alongside many players, including fellow all-star Russell Westbrook. During their eight years together, the two developed a strong friendship, which likely was not taken into consideration during Durant’s thought process, leading to the sense of betrayal which Westbrook likely felt. Similarly, Peter Parker and Harry Osborn were once best friends. However, once Harry became the Green Goblin and swore to kill Spider-Man, that friendship was tarnished, leading to Peter feeling betrayed. Following Durant’s departure, many viewed Russell Westbrook as a hero for remaining loyal to his team and staying while many viewed KD as the villain, thus strengthening the comparison between Russell Westbrook and Spider-Man, and Kevin Durant and the Green Goblin. This upcoming season fans will have the privilege of witnessing Westbrook attempt to exact vengeance on Durant during several games, just as Peter and Harry fought over several battles throughout the many Spider-Man comics and movies.
Kyle Lowry/Demar DeRozan – The Flash (Barry Allen)/Green Lantern (Hal Jordan)
One of the most underrated duos in basketball, the backcourt of the 2 seed in the Eastern Conference Toronto Raptors, Kyle Lowry and Demar DeRozan are the best thing nobody talks about. These two are inseparable on and off the court, and have quite the list of accomplishments including most recently a pair of gold medals. They are lead by Lowry who uses his quickness to blow past defenses and make everyone on his teammates better, similar to The Flash whose speed force allows him to not only run at the speed of light but also tap into it to help others, making him one of the most important Justice League members. Right along side with The Flash, is Green Lantern, guardian of the universe and general funny guy. Hal Jordan was a guy with all the natural gifts as a pilot, who was given a ring allowing to harness all the power of bravery. Demar DeRozan is one of the most gifted athletes in the league and able to create something out of nothing, just like a true Lantern. Whether it is in the playoffs or the olympics, DeRozan is always capable of the spectacular at any given moment. He will also always be happy to share this moments with Lowry, whether it is during postgame interviews, on instagram, the two are inseparable and always having a good time, just like The Flash and Green Lantern.
Steven Adams – Thor
While some may argue the offensive ability of Steven Adams, there is no argument that Steven Adams has a luscious head of hair with impressive facial hair. Along with his long hair and prominent beard and mustache combo, Adams is also well known for his large size, which shows similarities to the Norse god Thor. Both Thor and Steven Adams have frequently displayed their dominance, while either saving the world from evil or grabbing twelve rebounds in a game, and have remained two of the more intimidating figures in their respective fields of work while keeping excellent hair at the same time.
Demarcus Cousins – Hulk
Although the NBA is slowly becoming a game in which big men are no longer as necessary, large players such as Shaquille O’Neal, Glen Davis, and DeMarcus Cousins will always be favorites among fans for their size, strength, and inability to shoot free throws. Today, DeMarcus Cousins is one of the largest and strongest players in the league, standing at six foot eleven inches and weight two hundred and seventy pounds (after losing weight). Considering his large stature and strength, there is no better comparison than the Hulk, who dominates all those smaller than him in the Marvel Universe similar to Boogie Cousins who dominates all other centers in the paint each game.
Kyle Korver – Hawkeye
Kyle Korver is a shooter in the NBA with nearly no parallel, he is a shooting guard that rarely misses from the outside. Korver has lead the league in 3 point percentage on three different occasions including the all time high of 53.6% from beyond the arc. That sort of marksmanship brings upon comparisons of Hawkeye, the avengers’ archery specialist who never misses, no matter the distance.
JR Smith – The Human Torch
JR Smith is what you call a “flamethrower” on the basketball court, someone who can get hot and hit a shot from anywhere on the court. JR Smith is willing to take a shot from just about anywhere, and lives by the words of Johnny Storm in the 2005 “Fantastic Four” film “don’t think, just act”, and he lives by these words both on and off the court. After winning the NBA championship, JR Smith didn’t wear a shirt for about 3 weeks, he also spent many a large amount of his time at clubs with a variety of different women. These are common antics of Johnny Storm who uses his celebrity power as a superhero to live a lavish life of luxury, with plenty of women, and one that would make JR Smith proud.
Giannis Antetokounmpo – Mr. Fantastic
Giannis Antetokounmpo is commonly known as “The Greek Freak”, he is exactly that, a freak of nature. He is 6’ 9”, but his wingspan ranges over 7’ 4”, and that length is what the identity of the Milwaukee Bucks is now built around. Giannis is the face of the Bucks for what seems like an extraordinarily long and bright future. Similarly, Mr. Fantastic is the face of the fantastic four, and their identity and success depends on him. Mr. Fantastic is known for being able to extend any part of his body, but even with that, that just barely outdoes Giannis’ length.
Draymond Green – Iron Fist
In the world of comics where nobody kicks like Danny Rand, the same could be said for Draymond Green in the NBA.
Isaiah Thomas – Ant Man
Isaiah Thomas stands at only 5’ 9”, making him one of the shortest men in the NBA, and easily the shortest 2016 all star. At 5’ 9”, not only does Isaiah Thomas use his shorter stature to his advantage on the court with his advantage with his lightning quick speed and high powered scoring ability, but he also uses it as a motivator. He was the last pick of the 2011 NBA draft, and that chip on his shoulder has not been removed even after averaging 22 points a game last season. Not only does Ant-Man share the stature in size with IT, but also the way that they catch people off guard because of their size, and take advantage of those who underestimate them. If Isaiah Thomas is Scott Lang’s version of Ant-Man, I guess that makes Brad Stevens his Hank Pym.
Anthony Davis – Martian Manhunter
Anthony Davis may really be a martian, and on the basketball court there is nobody more alien. Anthony Davis is a large man, he is a fast man, he can shoot, he can dribble, there is just about nothing he can’t do. Martian Manhunter is nearly as powerful as Superman, yet nobody talks about him in the same way. That is where the comparison is drawn from for Ant Davis because he can do just about everything, and nobody talks about him as one of the best players in the league. Martian Manhunter has one major weakness, fire, so lets hope Davis’ injuries don’t turn out to be his “fire”. He also looks like he might truly be a martian, so I am not sure that this is just a comparison.
Damian Lillard/CJ McCollum – Aquaman/Aqualad
Damian Lillard is one of the best players in the NBA, anybody in the state of Oregon would be quick to tell you that much. The rest of the world may not be so up to date on the NBA’s best rapping point guard. We have seen glimpses of his greatness on a major scale, whether it be hitting game winners in the playoffs or going on a scoring binge en route to giving the Warriors one of their 9 regular season losses. He was scorned by not making the All Star team last year and set out to prove the rest of the league that that was a mistake. CJ McCollum is right by his side on the ride toward the future in Portland, doing everything he can to help the organization and taking advantage of any defensive lapse caused by Lillard’s greatness. They make each other better, and there is nobody to help McCollum than Lillard as a scoring guard. Aquaman has often been a joke within pop culture and not been compared in the mainstream to heroes such as Batman and Superman. Every writer, director, and actor attached to the character has been open about proving everybody else wrong in the same way that Lillard does. Aqualad is an even lesser known character, brought to mainstream popularity by the animated show Young Justice where he leads a group of sidekicks based off of his training from Aquaman, McCollum looks poised to do the same both on the court scoring the ball, and off the court as an analyst and journalist.
Paul George- Cyborg
No, this is not a joke about Paul George’s leg injury from last year. Instead it is comparing a member of the Justice League/Teen Titans that is often overlooked to a 3 time NBA all star, 2 time all-NBA player, and gold medalist, that nobody seems to discuss as one of the best players in the league. Paul George has been consistently great during his time in the league, at a near robotic level of success, leading the Pacers to a 1 seed, and being great at nearly every aspect of basketball. He is one of the best two-way players in basketball that nobody talks about, and he makes every team he is on that much better, just like Cyborg, even if you don’t realize it.
Carmelo Anthony – Green Arrow
Carmelo Anthony is instant offense, he can score from anywhere on the court, and will go down as one of the all time greats’ on that side of the ball when it is all said and done. With that being said, he has had very little post-season success and has not been able to lead a team to greatness in the regular season, nor the post-season. When he is able to be a part of a team with great talent, such as one of his 3 Olympic gold medalist teams, or one of his 9 all star teams, he fits in perfectly doing what he does best, score buckets. The similarity there goes for Green Arrow, who is a great offensive threat, being able to strike from nearly anywhere long distance with his bow, and great arsenal of arrows and skills in combat. He works far better as a part of a team such as the Justice League where he can do what he does best and shine as a part of the team, exactly like Carmelo.
John Wall – Quicksilver
One of the fastest and most exciting players in the NBA, he is just stranded in mediocrity with the Washington Wizards. They have tried to put the parts around him, but besides some exciting top 10 plays, he has not been able to take strike gold yet in the NBA, even with his outstanding talent. Quicksilver’s comparisons come from the speed and excitement that come with him, along with the fact that he fades into the background even as a part of the X-Men and Avengers, much like how John Wall does in Washington.
Zach LaVine – Falcon
Falcon has the ability to fly better than just about anybody in the Marvel Universe, but I don’t know if he can fly better than Zach Lavine.
Andre Drummond – Luke Cage
Andre Drummond is an elite big man in a league where big guys are becoming more obscured each and every year. He is similar to Luke Cage in the way that he is one of the last of his kind as a big man, and he truly seems impervious to all else on the court. Few players can match his strength and toughness, the only thing that can get through his skin are free throws.
Kyrie Irving – Daredevil
Daredevil has an increase in senses due to an accident causing his blindness, this gives him abilities and foresight in combat that few other characters are capable of. While Kyrie is not blind, he is able to handle a basketball in a way that would make you believe he has extraordinary senses. What Daredevil is to combat, Kyrie Irving is to ball handling.
Karl-Anthony Towns – Spider-Man (Miles Morales)
Karl-Anthony Towns is the next big thing in the NBA, but you may not be aware of this if you don’t closely follow the NBA or the Minnesota Timberwolves. KAT has every skill you could want from an NBA superstar of any size, but he is 7’ tall. The numbers he put up as a rookie are as good as any big man in the NBA, and he is only 20 years old. He has as bright a future ahead of him as any player in the NBA, and nobody should be surprised if he goes down as one of the all time greats, but people still would be. Miles Morales is the newest rendition of Spider-Man, and he is an Avenger, nobody should consider him underrated. However he is, the Ultimate Spider-Man is unknown according to the masses, just like KAT, so even though his characters is incredibly well developed and involved in fantastic story telling, people still do not seem to realize, same can be said for Karl-Anthony Towns.
Gregg Popovich – Charles Xavier
If you told me Gregg Popovich has the power to read minds, I would believe you, but as far as we know, he doesn’t, he is just one of the greatest coaches of all time in any sport. He is able to take players that nobody else sees anything in, and make them perform at a high level. Charles Xavier is a professor, and runs a school for the extraordinarily gifted, the mutants. These are people that do not fit in, yet under the guidance and leadership of Professor X they become world class superheroes and a team that fights with more cohesive unity and teamwork than just about anything else. In the same way that the Spurs share the ball and play team basketball, it does not matter who is on the court, if they are in a Spurs uniform they are expected to succeed, that is due to Gregg Popovich’s coaching ability. I think Professor X would give just about the same level as halftime interviews as well.
The San Antonio Spurs – The X-Men
As I previously mentioned, the Spurs consist of outcasts and throwaway guys, even their stars don’t seem like they want to be stars. They are one of the smallest market and most low key franchises in the league, yet easily the most consistently dominant over the last 20 years. They have had their key guys in place, much like the X-Men, but the revolving cast has always been able to succeed as long as they are in that jersey, and it is no different for the blue and yellow spandex of the X-Men.