While driving to work the other morning I heard an interview with Dominique Wilkins. As we have said before, Nique might be our favorite in-game dunker of all time (tied with Kemp). Of the many topics Wilkins covered, one was how the league has changed from the Bird-Magic/Jordan era he played in. Wilkins said that in today's league, the players are more capable of doing many more things. He alluded to the fact that many of the successful players in the league are hybrids and able to do all manner of different things on the court. I could not agree with him more, let's take a look at some of the NBA's better known hybrids.
Dwight Howard: Minotaur
Dwight is simply part man, part beast. Is it any wonder that his mother (according to legend) mated with a white bull inside a wooden cow built by Daedalus? While his hoof-like feet may impede his footwork down low, his brute force and upper body allow him muscle his way to multiple double-doubles and some impressive dunks. Just look at those deltoids, definitely not human.
Kevin Durant: Scorpider
Even though he has been dubbed "The Durantula" Durant is not a one sided predator. The 29.6 PPG is most impressive, but he is also pulling down 7.6 rebounds and 2.8 assists. The spider part of him is the length and physical ability to move so well and handle at 6'9, but he also has the sting of the scorpion in the ability to hit big shots. The Scorpider is not even real nor a mythical creature, it is just a scientific proposed question that leads to one inevitable conclusion: Kevin Durant was created in a government lab using advanced genetic science.
Kobe Bryant: Hydra(Lernaean of course)
When Kobe dubbed himself the black mamba, many thought the moniker was apropos in more ways than one. What they did not realize was that he as alluding to the fact that he is the many-headed hybrid snake beast of underworld lore. Kobe is not just a snake on the court, he is many snakes on a clawed beasts' body. Cut one of the heads off, and two more take its place. Kobe had the Colorado business, he comes back strong. He feuds with Shaq, he is still on the Lake Show. Bad mouthing Bynum? It's ok he jumped over a car. Hurt his finger? Still shooting. Can't win without Shaq? There was ass tasting to be had after the finals last year. To defeat the snake-beast Kobe truly takes a Herculean effort (The Hydra in Greek mythology was killed by Hercules as one of his 12 labors, you see).
LeBron James: Liger
It is hard to categorize LBJ as to what he is. He is a hybrid for sure, a tank of a being contained in a big, muscular, yet crazy athletic body. While the NBA may have not seen anything quite like him before, it is evident that he is a mash of two of the most powerful and athletic beasts on the planet. Part Tiger, part Lion, Bron-Bron can rip to the hoop like he is taking down a gazelle. His catlike predatory quickness allows him to hunt down the ball when he makes his blocks from behind on fast breaks.
Tracy McGrady: Chimera
When McGrady was at his best, he was ever the fire-breathing, lion-bodied, snake-tailed beast of a Chimera. He was an outstanding scorer and came up big in crunchtime. However, if one is a Chimera, you still have that head of a goat protruding out of the center of your spine. Tracy has been the goat on multiple failed first-round playoff exits. Despite the fact he has averaged 28.5 points, 6.9 rebounds, and 6.2 assists for his career in the post-season. His teams never got over the hump though, so that hump has turned into a goat. It must have been a weighty goat because McGrady has had to undergo microfracture surgery. Despite technically being on the roster when the Rockets made the second round last year, in the eyes of critics he has yet to lead a playoff winner.
Dirk Nowitzki: Satyr
From one part goat in McGrady to another part goat in Dirk. While Dirk has more of a billy goat appearance to justify this pick, he also has been the goat of a few playoff series. He had blame placed on him after the Mavericks blew the finals against Miami and especially after the top-seeded Mavs fell to the Beard Baron led Warriors in the first round a few years back. In the latter case he did not help himself with this quote and it led to a reputation of being soft despite his great play. Satyrs are sometimes described as "Satyrs are described as roguish but faint-hearted folk — subversive and dangerous, yet shy and cowardly." The critics of Dirk would characterize him as so in certain moments. Another bad side to satyrs are their love for women, and we all remember the sticky situation Dirk got into in that area.
Carmelo Anthony: Griffin
Carmelo has gone unheralded this year it seems. However, most people are citing the Nugs as the top threat to knock off the Lakers in the playoffs this year. They certainly gave it a good run last year in the conference finals. Melo was a troubled Griffin when he first came into the league. Perhaps his lion body gave him more courage than was good for him. He was cited for weed possession and featured in a controversial Baltimore video. His last transgression was when he was travelling down I-25 in Denver and got pulled over for being under the influence of alcohol. Anthony said he has learned from his mistakes, including not operating his dragon wings when he has had too much to drink. On the court, his eagle eye focus has led him to be a force on the court. He has gone toe-to-toe with LeBron and has become one of the league's prolific scorers. If he can lead Denver to a title they will certainly remember him as a lion-hearted legend in Denver.
Stephen Marbury: Chupacabra
Does he exist or does he not? Marbury may turn out to be a creature of legend in the eyars to come in the NBA. I firmly believe that Marbury was transformed into the Chupacabra over the years. He started out with a lot of promise and of course, the talent wa always there. Over the years he suddenly became the hairless, scaled reptilian porcupine that he is now. While the popular legend cites the Chupacabra as sucking goat's blood, this version seems to enjoy vasoline. Marbury is enigmatic and has become increasingly off the wall. He fled to China to continue his basketball career and no doubt reign terror no livestock populations abroad.
Eddie Curry: ManBearPig
The NBA life has not always been a smooth one for the Knicks half man, half bear-pig(although some claim he is half bear, half pig-man). While Curry has been able to elude the persecution of Al Gore, the New York media has certainly taken their shots. The bear-pig bulk of his has hobbled him in recent years, playing in just 10 games the last two seasons. He has also faced numerous off the court problems, including a lawsuit from his former ex-felon chauffuer. While his weight begins to fluctuate around the 300 mark, Curry will need to work hard to make it back to the NBA court. Perhaps Gore is pulling strings against him from behind the scenes after all.