NBA
August 18, 2020
BY Jason Michael Sanin

What If NBA Superstars Were Disney Characters?

The NBA bubble is located in Orlando, where teams will be competing for the most bizarre championship in the history of the league. More specifically, the bubble is located within the Disney World complex.

With some of the best athletes in the world being so close to the home of the most memorable family entertainment in the world, we started thinking about which NBA players compared closely to the characters from iconic Disney films.

But we didn't stop there because we're all about that action, boss. We took it a step further and combined your favorite NBA players — such as LeBron James, Anthony Davis, Stephen Curry and James Harden — with the most quintessential Disney characters ever. 

Here is a entirely unscientific reimagining of NBA players as Disney characters.

Anthony Davis is Hercules

Hercules is one of the most underrated films Disney has ever done, with a great soundtrack and the incomparable Danny DeVito, which makes it a movie you can put on for the kids — and to secretly enjoy for yourself. And its titular character resembles Los Angeles Lakers power forward Anthony Davis, in that there is virtually nothing that he is unable to do.

While Anthony Davis lacks the ability to hold up gigantic columns or battle the hydra, Davis’ abilities on the basketball court are as limitless as the feats of strength that Hercules is able to pull off.

He can score from all three levels, defend the paint and rebound the basketball without missing a beat, seamlessly taking on a number of roles on a team that has championship aspirations.

And, it should be pointed out, we have never seen Davis lose a battle with a hydra either.

LeBron James is Wreck-It Ralph

LeBron James is comparable to Wreck-It Ralph in a number of ways. He is bigger and stronger than everyone around him, he can destroy his opposition without much resistance and his hairstyle leaves plenty to be desired. But it is the career arc of LeBron James that earns him a comparison to the character voiced by John C. Reilly, as both James and Ralph have struggled with being a good guy and bad guy in their respective lines of work.

While Wreck-It Ralph tried to overcome his pre-programmed badness to win a medal and the respect of the fellow characters in his video game, LeBron James tried to overcome being cast as a bad guy when he left Cleveland for the Miami Heat.

Eventually, the King leaned into the villain role, only to become the hero once again when he went back to Cleveland and won his hometown a championship.

After living out that movie-esque plot, the future Hall of Famer looks to become the hero again as he attempts to win a title in Los Angeles once the season restarts.

James Harden is Quasimodo

The Hunchback of Notre Dame is actually a very nice story about coexisting and getting over outward appearances to find inner beauty. But there is no denying that the main character, Quasimodo, is not the most aesthetically pleasing guy. In a similar vein, the game of Houston Rockets star James Harden is tough to look at, as he takes awkward looking shots and steps to get to the free throw line seemingly at will.

And just like Quasimodo, there is a lot of beauty in Harden’s game beyond the surface. Harden’s work ethic and creativity has made him virtually impossible to guard, even if a lot of those positives end with yawn-inducing trips to the free-throw line. But if Harden can find a way to get over the hump in Orlando and bring the Rockets a title for the first time since the 1990s, people are likely to appreciate the beauty of his game a lot more than they do now.

Kevin Durant is Buzz Lightyear

When Woody was overlooked by Andy in the first Toy Story movie, it was because of all the cool things Buzz Lightyear could do that the aging sheriff couldn't. He could talk, he had eye-catching flashing lights and he could do badass karate chops — even if he couldn’t fly.

In the same vein, the NBA moved away from stationary big men in favor of players who could score from all over the floor, with Kevin Durant being the perfect player to fill that role in this analogy.

Durant is nearly seven-feet tall and might have been cast to be a power forward or center in previous generations. But today, he can handle the ball with elite quickness, get to the bucket at will and shoot outside shots with ease. While the league moved away from players like Howard the way Andy did Woody, it will never tire of all of the different things that Kevin Durant is capable of. That is until the next shiny new toy comes along.

Russell Westbrook is Mike Wazowski

In Monsters, Inc., Mike Wazowski is a monster in name only. A small green sphere with only one eye, he wasn’t anywhere near scary enough to go into the human world and collect the screams that power the monster world by himself. Instead, Mike serves as the sidekick to the more traditionally fearsome James P. Sullivan, better known as Sully. 

In a similar way, Russell Westbrook has never been the best player on his own team, serving as an ideal sidekick to multiple NBA stars during his career.

When he was in Oklahoma City, Westbrook was the second fiddle to Kevin Durant prior to Durant’s departure. After that, it was Paul George who was the best player on the Thunder. Now that Westbrook is a member of the Houston Rockets, he is the sidekick to league's scoring leader James Harden.

Both Westbrook and Wazowski prove that there is nothing wrong with being a sidekick, though basketball fans will point out that the monster voiced by Billy Crystal has the same number of championships as Westbrook to this point.

JaVale McGee is Goofy

Comparing JaVale McGee to Goofy felt lazy at first, as it seemed too obvious to link a player who is notorious for doing, ahem, goofy things on the court to a guy whose name is actually Goofy. But the career path of McGee lines up well with the way Goofy handles himself, as McGee has mixed some truly embarrassing moments with some brilliance ones that have made him a real asset to multiple title contenders.

McGee has shot better than 60% in each of his last four seasons, winning two rings with the Warriors and now he's in the mix to win a third with the Lakers. And while he might miss a dunk once in a while or forget to pay attention to his defensive assignment on a possession here or there, McGee’s value to his teams has made his brand of goofiness on the court just as harmless as Goofy is to those he interacts with.

Stephen Curry is the Genie

Whether you are discussing the Genie played by Robin Williams in the animated version of Aladdin or the live-action entry portrayed by a blue-tinted Will Smith, there might not be a character in a Disney film capable of more incredible feats than the Genie. 

Of course, having a limitless supply of magic at your disposal helps, but Stephen Curry has shown that he has a near-limitless supply of magic of his own.

Curry is the only player in the NBA who makes any shot he takes on the court to feel dangerous, even if it is from half-court. His three-point shooting range is rivaled perhaps only by Damian Lillard, to the point that it would be less surprising to see him pull a rabbit out of a previously empty hat than it would be to see him splash a jumper from the logo at center court.

Dwight Howard is Sheriff Woody 

In Toy Story, Woody is a sheriff who's the primary object of his owner Andy’s affection. That is until he is deemed obsolete when Andy receives a new spaceman toy, Buzz Lightyear, for his birthday. 

The career of Dwight Howard closely resembles that of Woody. The former No. 1 pick was once one of the most in-demand players in the league, before fading into obscurity and returning with a new purpose.

For Howard, the NBA's transition from a big man’s league to one that rewards smaller and more versatile players was a rough one. Once a superstar for the Orlando Magic, Howard has been passed around from team to team, with things rarely working out. But, like Woody found his role as an equal to Buzz Lightyear, Howard has finally settled in as a valuable role player for the Lakers, where he can give them short bursts of paint protection. Howard's reward for doing so could be an NBA championship if things go right for the Lakers.

Patrick Beverley is Gaston

Despite all of his muscles and songs to the contrary, there might not be a bigger fake-tough guy in a Disney movie than Gaston of Beauty and the Beast. While he claims to be the size of a barge, Gaston is little more than a bully who uses his size and clout to try and get what he wants. And, just like Clippers guard Patrick Beverley, he is not afraid to play dirty in the event that things aren’t going his way.

Beverley is known as one of the most dogged defenders in the NBA, something that Westbrook has publicly disagreed with in the past. A big reason for that disagreement could stem from Beverley taking a cheap shot at the knee of Westbrook in a postseason game while Westbrook was a member of the Thunder. Just like Gaston was willing to shoot the beast in the back in a last-ditch attempt to win the heart of Belle, Beverley has shown that he isn’t above getting dirty in his quest for an NBA championship.

Draymond Green is Donald Duck

Every piece of entertainment needs a good curmudgeon to try and ruin the fun that the rest of the cast has. In the Disney universe, that curmudgeon is often Donald Duck, whose brand of selfishness and emotional instability make him a great comparison for Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green. Both of these larger than life characters don’t need a lot of pushing to lose their cool.

For Green, losing his cool often results in technical fouls in large quantities, or worse. He had a hand in changing the course of NBA history when he let his anger get the best of him in the 2016 NBA Finals, getting suspended after striking LeBron James in the groin.

And while Green is easier to understand than the oft-unintelligible Donald Duck, Green’s occasional outbursts feel like they were cut from a script where Donald Duck takes to the basketball court and things don’t quite go his way.

Photos: Getty Images/Walt Disney Pictures/Lines Illustrations