Tuesday, March 18, 2014

March Mascot Melee™: Round One of the NBA Bracket

Does this look like a kind of guy you want to mess with?

By Jeremy Conlin (@jeremy_conlin)

Joe kicked us off with his breakdown of the most vicious mascots from Major League Baseball, and I'm here to walk you through the most fearsome of basketball's furry friends. Here are the top sixteen seeds:

Click to enlarge.
Left Out: Atlanta Hawks, Brooklyn Nets, Charlotte Bobcats, Cleveland Cavaliers, Denver Nuggets, Detroit Pistons, Los Angeles Lakers, Milwaukee Bucks, New Orleans Pelicans, New York Knickerbockers, Oklahoma City Thunder, Portland Trail Blazers, San Antonio Spurs, Utah Jazz

The easiest omissions were the Nets. There's just no way to make them seem threatening at all. The Jazz were an interesting choice, as music is revolutionary and a tool to kill fascists, but ultimately didn't measure up. Nuggets, Pistons, and Spurs are inanimate objects that can't cause any damage without a person to wield them, and Lakers, Cavaliers, Knickerbockers, and Trail Blazers are just random people and not overtly dangerous (in fact, Cavaliers and Lakers would seem to be actively un-dangerous - how dangerous is a dude who enjoys hanging out near lakes?). The Thunder were almost included, because Thunder seems scary and violent, but it's really just a loud noise and ultimately nothing else. Thunder never stopped anything. I suppose the toughest omissions were the Bucks, Bobcats, Hawks, and Pelicans, but they didn't stack up to the more incendiary creatures we included. Lets see how everything broke down:

1. Washington Wizards vs. 16. Boston Celtics

I suppose the scope of the Wizard's magical abilities is up for debate, but we'll save that for later. I included the Celtics over semi-scary animals like Bobcats and Hawks because Celtics are historically Irish (and as Notre Dame has taught us, the Irish enjoy fighting), and because they might recruit Leprechauns to aide their cause. There's a chance that Leprechauns possess magical abilities themselves, creating a wash with the Wizards, leaving the brawling Irishmen to down a few pints of Guinness and wipe the floor with them, but for now we'll assume that the Wizards out-pace their competition in terms of magical power and advance with an easy win.

Winner: Wizards

8. Chicago Bulls vs. 9. Indiana Pacers

For the purposes of this exercise, I treated "Pacers" as the pace car at an auto race, as opposed to "Pacers" as a nickname for people from Indiana (like "Hoosiers," whatever they are). In doing so, I created a formidable opponent - racing cars go pretty fast and are known to crash and cause destruction. There's a lot of kinetic energy there.

However, race cars are also built to be light and fast. They aren't built for the purpose of crashing into things. Bulls, on the other hand, have huge horns and are often charging in the direction of things that threaten them. If a Pacer ran into a stationary Bull, both would be destroyed. But if a Bull attacked a stationary car, the Bull would win handily. That's the tie-breaker as far as I'm concerned.

Winner: Bulls

4. Miami Heat vs. 13. Philadelphia 76ers

The 76ers got the nod over the other "human" mascots (Lakers, Trail Blazers, etc.) because of their spirit of revolution. Their weaponry leaves something to be desired (at best, they have muskets and bayonets), but the desire for freedom is a strong one, as the British can attest to.

However, they don't stand much of a chance against Heat. There is no quantitative measurement specified, so I take that to mean I can make the Heat as hot or cold as I desire. The revolutionary army came in as a dark horse, but they'd be quickly overwhelmed by oppressive 170-degree temperatures.

Winner: Heat

5. Sacramento Kings vs. 12. Golden State Warriors

The Kings might be the most underrated mascot in the bracket. The Warriors is just a group of fighters or soldiers. The Kings each command their own army. From purely a semantic standpoint, the Warriors in question here might be under the command of the same Kings they are supposed to be fighting. All the Kings would have to do is command the Warriors to lay down their arms and the battle would be over. Never underestimate the chain of command.

Winner: Kings

2. Orlando Magic vs. 15. Dallas Mavericks

The strength of the Mavericks depends on how you define the term. They could be stronger than anticipated if you use Maverick synonymously with "outlaw," like it was in the old west. They've broken the law, they don't care, and they'll break it again to get what they want. But they become much more docile if you simply use the dictionary's definition of the word, which is "one who creates or uses unconventional and/or controversial ideas or practices." Like John McCain. I don't think John McCain would last very long in a Thunderdome death-match, regardless of his opponent.

Winner: Magic

7. Memphis Grizzlies vs. 10. Toronto Raptors

This is where the plural vs. singular argument comes into play. Is one grizzly bear fighting one velociraptor? Because if it is, the bear is winning ten times out of ten. But if it becomes ten bears versus ten raptors, the dinosaurs become the heavy favorites because of their intelligence and their ability to work in groups. Raptors are pack hunters. They use coordinated attack patterns. They could isolate the bears and overwhelm them one at a time. Bears, being largely solitary predators, wouldn't stand a chance.

Winner: Raptors

3. Phoenix Suns vs. 14. Minnesota Timberwolves

Like Raptors, Timberwolves can work in groups to overwhelm their prey. But they're going up against the Sun here. The scale from Timberwolves to Sun is astronomical. Literally. There's simply no rational explanation whatsoever for how a group of Timberwolves would be able to bring down a celestial body.

Winner: Suns

6. Houston Rockets vs. 11. Los Angeles Clippers

A Clipper ship would be a tough opponent for most, but really no match for a Rocket. It's more evolved technology. Even today we don't have reliable systems for defending enemy missile strikes, so there's no way a 17th-century warship would be able to defend itself. They wouldn't be able to point their cannons at the proper angle to even shoot it out of the sky with dumb luck. The Rocket would tear through the wood and it wouldn't even matter if it were carrying a payload or not. Simply the act of the Rocket penetrating the hull would be catastrophic damage.

Winner: Rockets

With all those winners entered, here's how the bracket looks before Round 2:

Click to enlarge.

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