Watch The Iron Throne

It's an outsized, mostly fantastical world shot through with feuds, intrigue, power struggles and occasional acts of violence. Also "Game of Thrones" is back on HBO.
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For reasons unknown, Carmelo Anthony recorded an ad for the upcoming season of "Game of Thrones" that places him in the Iron Throne, dispensing platitudes about what it takes to win matched against images from this Sunday’s season premiere. It’s... deeply cheesy, maybe because Melo doesn’t have the dramatic chops to sell the analogy of basketball to internecine warfare without inspiring giggles. What’s more interesting, though, is just how negatively the commercial has been received by the Internet: When last looked, it had racked up 4,916 dislikes to 1,757 likes, a ratio that’s usually reserved for the Rebecca Blacks of the blogosphere. The top comment: "I think the bigger problem is that this commercial has nothing to do with anything LOL"

It's never wise, of course, to read too much into YouTube comments, or even to read them at all. But there's clearly something happening, here. Surely, some of this is just nerd protectionism—indignation at the effrontery of a jock daring to sit in the Iron Throne, as though he could tell you anything about the Targaryen family tree. Some of it, I’d like to think, is because Carmelo wouldn’t be anyone’s first choice for the NBA star most likely to thrive in Westeros, where fate is unforgiving and only the truly motivated survive. Carmelo, who half-assed his exit from Denver and his conflict with Mike D’Antoni, has always given off an air of nonchalance, preferring to let his game do the talking. But you have to do the taking in Westeros if you want to make anything for yourself, which got me started along a deeply goofy line of thought: Which "Game of Thrones" characters are NBA players most like?

Of course, I wasn’t the only dork to explore the same premise—with the “send” button still hot after filing to David, Internet friends (and Classical contributor) Netw3rk and Steve McPherson published their own take for Grantland. They got pretty deep, too, and thankfully went in a different direction on some of the comparisons to spare me the deeper injury of being second. But this is sort of what the Internet is for, in a roundabout way: reading multiple takes on which fictional fantasy character LeBron James would be. Tim Berners-Lee would surely agree, if maybe not on the Adrian Wojnarowski bit. You’ll be pleased to know I stopped right as I was figuring out which direwolf was Kevin Garnett.

*SPOILERS for Seasons 1 & 2 of the TV show, obviously*

Stannis Baratheon = Carmelo Anthony

Renly Baratheon = Jeremy Lin

Ruling New York was Carmelo’s birthright. Unfortunately, the people just seemed to like Jeremy Lin a little more. So Carmelo made the only decision he could: force Lin out in a power struggle, counting that the right of might/immaculate jab steps would bring everyone back to his side. It sort of worked, but only when the Knicks lose a playoff heartbreaker to the Miami Heat will Melo admit the horrible truth: "I murdered my brother." I think this means J.R. Smith is Melisandre, though that’s not a road I’m prepared to go down just yet.

Ned Stark = Derrick Rose

The strong, silent ruler of the frigid North/Midwest who seemed destined to be king before a horrible injury took him out of the game.

Robb Stark = Kevin Durant

The prodigal warrior-king who’s making a stand because someone’s got to do it. Relatively untested in battle, but shockingly successful in the ones he’s fought. His undying faith in those around him remains his only major flaw. Close to his mom.

Theon Greyjoy = Russell Westbrook

Grew up in a steady organization/house but couldn’t shake the fact that he’s essentially a prisoner, considered a permanent second to his more talented adopted brother. Westbrook hasn’t literally betrayed Durant just yet, though there’s no other term for taking 26 shots in Game 2 of last year’s Finals.

Jon Snow = James Harden

Didn’t see a future in Winterfell/Oklahoma City, so he headed for distant lands to distinguish himself. May end up being more important than anyone ever realized. Handsome beard.

Joffrey Baratheon = Dwight Howard

Spoiled children born with different kinds of privilege (Joffrey = royal; Dwight = genetic) who’ve ascended to the throne despite annoying everyone along the way. Joffrey didn’t have to nearly drown Ser Dontos to death with wine, just as Dwight didn’t have to throw his Magic teammates under the bus after leaving Orlando. That they did means you should never, ever underestimate their capacity for cruelty.

Tywin Lannister = Kobe Bryant

Patriarchs of the richest countries in the land, they’re both experienced, bitter warriors who can’t stop thinking about winning the final battle so that their names might ring out through history. They’re also one of the few—if not only—people who can control the tyrant boy-king without too much trouble. I would also not be very surprised to learn that Kobe skinned and cleaned a deer in front of a lesser minion as an intimidation tactic.

Sansa Stark = Steve Nash

Wedded to the tyrant boy-king against their will. Gorgeous hair. Deserves so much more.

Jaime Lannister = Phil Jackson

Probably the G.O.A.T. at their respective professions (swordfighting, coaching), they don’t get as much credit as deserved because of a few unfortunate checks against their reputation: Jamie killed a king, while Jackson always had Jordan or Kobe. There’s also a weird power/sex clash going on with a relative who’s trying to stay in control without realizing how out of her depth she really is: Cersei for Jamie, Jim/Jeannie Buss for Jackson.

Varys = Adrian Wojnarowski

Sees everything, knows everything. Despite all appearances, just wants to protect the realm.

Robert Baratheon = David Stern

Once loved rulers who seized the throne through sheer will, they’ve since lapsed into ineffectual power-mongering while trying to deny that none of their subjects trust or fear them anymore. Will soon step down/get boar-gored, bitch.

Loras Tyrell = Ricky Rubio

Margaery Tyrell = Kevin Love

Siblings/teammates whose allegiance is cherished by all of the factions of the NBA/Westeros. Just as Margaery offered herself to the Lannisters after deciding it was her best option to stay relevant, Love will probably sign with the Lakers in a few years. Meanwhile, Rubio/Loras is the prettiest point/knight the realm has ever known. Don’t you just want to muss up their hair and giggle for days?

Littlefinger = Chris Paul

So much more of an asshole than you could ever imagine. Plays all of the angles, and is seemingly never at a loss for words or actions. Excited to breathe new life into a gaudy, barren castle plagued by historically bad luck (Harrenhal, the Clippers franchise).

Daenerys Targaryen = LeBron James

The fiery, slightly bratty, generationally unique ruler-to-be whose coming was long prophesied. They’re beginning to tap into their fearsome potential, and everyone should be terrified. That makes Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and, uh, Shane Battier the dragons that Bron and Dany use to extract their vengeance. (Please, no jokes about how Chris Bosh looks like a dragon.) Pat Riley is Jorah Mormont, the salty dog who’s trying to pull off one last score to reclaim his name, tarnished by smuggling/the ‘90s. Dan Gilbert is Viserys Targaryen, and the Comic Sans letter was definitely his golden crown. Isiah Thomas is Xaro Xhoan Daxos, the aristocrat who promised the world but turned out to be full of shit. He learned what all men should learn: that the blood of the dragon burns hotter than anything else on the planet. All hail LeBron Targaryen, first of his order.

Illustration by Morgan Ramberg.


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