If you're anything like me, you're probably thinking to yourself, "Hey, former Portland Trail Blazers, San Antonio Spurs and Los Angeles Lakers big man Mychal Thompson: What gives?"
Not because you disagree with the central premise of this segment, aired during halftime of a February 1987 game broadcast nationally on CBS, that professional wrestlers are the greatest athletes in all of the world. That much is obvious, as anyone who ever watched The Sandman swing a kendo stick can tell you. But because, just a month shy of "WrestleMania III," the pay-per-view event that helped launch the WWF into a new stratosphere of popularity, he chose Big John Studd as his theoretical team's center over the much more obvious and culturally relevant Andre the Giant.
On one hand, the smaller Studd would present a more mobile option in the middle than the mammoth native of Grenoble, France. But as we would later see when a post-injury, mid-30s Arvydas Sabonis made his way to the Pacific Northwest, slotting a lumbering European big with irrepressible style at the five can pay major dividends (and surely, you don't doubt Andre's irrepressible style).
Plus, Andre would've been a marketing marvel on par with Yao Ming, a larger-than-life character whose appeal would cut across demographic divisions and instantly increase your team's popularity. Studd's Mark Eaton beard, while formidable in its own right, wouldn't open nearly as many doors.
You might also quibble with Thompson taking Jimmy "Superfly" Snuka at the two guard — I have a hunch that "The Macho Man" Randy Savage would have been Dwyane Wade-esque on drives to the cup — but taking The Dynamite Kid to run the point is just plain inspired and starting Hulk Hogan and "Rowdy" Roddy Piper at the forward spots makes a lot of sense to me. That is a team that could get up and down, bang on the block and match length and athleticism with anybody. Plus, "Mene" Gene Okerlund as the proto-Craig Sager. Everyone wins. (I am now actually hoping that someone will create an all-1980s wrestlers roster in "NBA 2K12" when it drops.)
Our few points of contention aside, I can't deny Mychal Thompson's eye for talent. Maybe he really did have a future as Captain Lou Albano's successor. I guess we'll never know, since he foolishly gave up that dream to have a 15-year professional basketball career, become the Lakers' radio color commentator, and have three sons that would go on to play college or professional ball, including newly minted Golden State Warriors first-rounder Klay Thompson. Oh, well. We all make mistakes, Mychal.
Video via the treasure trove that is GoldLakerLion.
- Mychal Thompson
- Los Angeles Lakers
- Portland Trail Blazers
- Big John Studd