Awhile back, Fear the Sword editor-in-chief David Zavac tweeted about how the Cavs' four top players (LeBron James, Kyrie Irving, Kevin Love, and Tristan Thompson) resembled the main characters from the former NBC sitcom The Office. A couple of weeks ago, for whatever reason, the tweet was resurrected from the depths of his timeline and brought into 2016. Once we saw it, Sokol Blyat, Vesus and I spent an afternoon casting the rest of the roster (plus some former players and coaches) into the show as well. What follows is an overview of our (truly vital and groundbreaking) work, as well as brief analysis of a few of those casting decisions.
Without further ado...*
LeBron James as Michael Scott
James Jones as Holly Flax
Holly came along in season 4, after Michael had navigated through so much heartbreak and bad luck when it came to love interests. The chemistry between Michael and Holly was instantaneous, and despite a long-distance move, they stuck with it and made it work.
LeBron found Jones in Miami, after years of heartache and some questionable chemistry on his first go-round in Cleveland. LeBron loved having Jones as a teammate so much that after his long-distance move back to The Land, he brought the 34-year-old veteran along for the ride. Ain't that true love?
I guess that would make Mike Miller...
The Love Triangle
Kevin Love as Jim Halpert
David Griffin as Pam Beesly
Andrew Wiggins as Roy Anderson
A redhead has to choose between the one they're beholden to, or a tall, floppy-haired crush who would probably make them so much happier.
Am I describing David Griffin, General Manager of the Cavs, or Pam Beesly, receptionist at the Dunder-Mifflin branch in Scranton, PA? Both, of course! David and Pam were each backed into a corner, professionally (for the former) and romantically (for the latter). Even though everyone could see what the obvious choice ought to be, fans had to sit through a waiting period before being satisfied. For Beesly, it was seasons 1, 2, and 3 of the show, culminating in her calling off the engagement to Roy; for Griffin, it was the month and a half between LeBron's announcement and the Wiggins-for-Love deal finally being consummated.
The Evil Odd Couple
Tristan Thompson as Dwight Schrute
Matthew Dellavedova as Angela Martin
Dwight, you may recall, was Michael's top aide - assistant to the Regional Manager. Tristan, thanks to mutual representation, enjoys favor as one of LeBron's most important teammates - assistant to King James.
Playing the part of Dwight's love interest was Angela, a petite blonde who was despised in early seasons before finally growing on the fan base as the show went along. Playing the part of Tristan Thompson's dynamite pick-and-roll partner on the Cavs' second unit is Matthew Dellavedova, a small point guard who was divisive in his first two years in the league before finally growing on the fan base in season three.
The Rest of the Rotation
Kyrie Irving as Andy Bernard
They're both kinda lovestruck, a little injury-prone, and while each is a star in his own right, they probably work best as part of a talented ensemble. Ed Helms' best work came as a member of The Office crew (of the first few seasons, especially) or the Hangover gang; his forays into spearheading projects are mixed at best (Cedar Rapids was an underrated gem, but that Vacation remake is unforgivable). It's much the same for Kyrie; he was an All-Star and averaged 20 points per game on two godawful Cavs teams, but now that he's surrounded by some talent, he'll be more effective overall.
Iman Shumpert as Darryl Philbin
Darryl was the blue collar warehouse guy who was cool as hell and had some musical talent. Iman Shumpert is a blue collar, workhorse player who seems cool as hell and has some musical talent. While Darryl's hair never approached Iman's level, I think the comparison holds weight nonetheless.
J.R, Smith as Creed Bratton
Creed was a wild card. Everyone sort of looked at him as the crazy guy at work, and while he was a very talented member of the team, there was never a story about him that was too far-fetched to be believed. Everything was in play for Creed - for better or worse.
Go ahead and replace the word "Creed" with "J.R." in that previous paragraph.
Positions of authority
Tyronn Lue as Ryan Howard
Michael (who we've already established is LeBron) always looked at Ryan (Lue) favorably, and voila! The young hotshot is granted a huge promotion out of nowhere. Hopefully, for the Cavs' sake, the comparisons begin and end there; in the show, Ryan wound up arrested for insider trading shortly after ascending to a position at corporate. The team really just needs Lue to foster a healthy work environment and keep lines of communication open between the stars - but if he ever introduces a new offense called Cavalier-Mifflin Infinity, it's a huge red flag.
Dan Gilbert as Jo Bennett
Meddlesome, overbearing and strange. Yep.
David Blatt as Toby Flenderson
In The Office, no one liked Toby, a sad, droopy-eyed dolt who ran H. In real life, no one seemed to like David Blatt, who had the people skills of a flat tire. It all came from the top, too; Michael considered Toby a hindrance right from the start, and apparently LeBron felt the same about Airman Blatt.
Dion Waiters as
Stringer Bell Charles Miner
Stringer Bell from "The Wire" and Charles Miner from "The Office" were portrayed by the same actor - the incomparable Idris Elba. Dion thinks he plays like Stringer Bell - a talented mogul rising above his circumstances to make something of himself through sheer cunning and force of will. In actuality, he's more like Charles Miner - a self-involved doofus who no one enjoys going to work with.
The bit players
Sasha Kaun as Cousin Mose
I don't know why. It just felt right.
Anderson Varejao as Phyllis Vance
It's a pretty obscure piece of "Office" trivia, but it's revealed rather early in the show that Phyllis and Michael go way back - they actually went to high school together. Anderson Varejao was acquired in a Draft Night deal more than a decade ago (2004) and has been with LeBron ever since (those four Miami years aside). Plus, he's got those big eyes and is pretty quiet - ditto for Phyllis.
Mo Williams as Todd Packer
Speaking of people who've known Michael/LeBron for a long time... Todd Packer was a traveling salesman with Michael Scott back in the old days, and would occasionally pop in to hang out with his old buddy. Williams played with LeBron for two seasons (2008-09 and 2009-10) before becoming a journeyman, and is now back to hang out with his old buddy.
Timofey Mozgov as Gabe Lewis
Tall guys who seemed like great additions (Mozgov in the middle of last season, Gabe in season 7 of the show) and then turned out to be sort of blah and expendable.
Jared Cunningham as Pete "Plop" Miller
There were, like, 8-10 throwaway characters I could've picked for this section. It wouldn't have mattered. I went with
"Plop" because "Plop" is a funny word.
Richard Jefferson as Devon White
If you don't have the first damn clue who "Devon" is, that's okay. He was a throwaway character in season one and was fired in the "Halloween" episode, probably for the mere comedic value of someone being fired in awkward fashion.
In a weird way, I've always felt sorry for this actor - his real name is Devon Abner, and he's probably very funny and talented, but never really caught a big break in his career. The Office was his shot, and he got written out in the first season. That SUCKS... I mean, look at the nice careers several other castmates have been able to wring out of that Office success:
- Oscar Nunez (Oscar), Brian Baumgarner (Kevin), and Leslie David Baker (Stanley) parlayed their bit parts into more bit parts on other TV shows - not glamorous, but good work if you can get it.
- Phyllis Smith (Phyllis, who I mentioned above) is getting voice work in Pixar movies and a few other big screen roles (Bad Teacher, Alvin and the Chipmunks) as well. Ditto for Craig Robinson (Darryl, also mentioned above).
- Ellie Kemper (Erin) got her big break on The Office. Andy Buckley (David Wallace) was rescued from a career of B-movies and small TV parts and became a semi-regular in the background of some of the biggest shows (Arrested Development, Veep, The League, It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia) on TV.
- Mindy Kaling, Paul Lieberstein, and B.J. Novak got to explore working on both sides of the camera, as well as writing scripts.
Maybe all of those people find a way to succeed without The Office... but maybe they don't. Poor Devon could have added himself to that long list of names, but he was thrown overboard, and the show went on to massive success while he was left bobbing in its wake.
So what does that have to do with Richard Jefferson?
First of all - he's way more than a bit actor. At his peak, Jefferson averaged 20 points per game and was a borderline All-Star. But starting in 2009-10, he started to get Devon'd.
- First the Spurs, who suffered two of their worst postseason showings of the Popovich era with Jefferson as a contributor (a 2010 sweep at the hands of the Suns, and a shocking 2011 first-round loss to the Grizzlies) traded him away to the Warriors midway through the 2012 season.
- The next two Spurs teams made the Finals, with the 2014 squad vanquishing the Heat in 5 games.
- Golden State missed the playoffs the season they acquired Jefferson, and he played very sparingly for the 2013 team that got bounced in the Western Conference semis. Dumping his salary to Utah that summer was an essential prerequisite to the Warriors' acquisition of Andre Iguodala...
- ... Who was the Finals MVP last season.
So what does that mean? Clearly the Cavs won't win a title until they fire Jefferson. Then the show can really take off.
Sucks to be Devon.