Matching Dems' prez candidates with playoff teams
Posted: Tuesday May 1, 2007 2:38PM; Updated: Tuesday May 1, 2007 6:52PM
As I watched a replay of last week's absurdly overcrowded, absurdly premature Democratic presidential debate at South Carolina State University, my thoughts suddenly turned to the NBA playoffs.
Why? Well, it was 2 o'clock in the morning, I had just finished eating an order of particularly spicy quesadillas from 24-hour room service and I was watching C-SPAN, so no other explanation should be necessary.
What made the connection for me was the performance of Mike Gravel, the former senator from Alaska, who, despite being the most obscure of the candidates, made the biggest impression. Gravel, an outspoken critic of the Vietnam War over three decades ago (the Nixon Administration contemplated trying to imprison Gravel for his role in getting the Pentagon Papers released), took it to the rack on all his fellow candidates, particularly the leaders in the clubhouse, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.
After declaring that the Dems "frightened" him with their hawkish rhetoric on Iran, Gravel turned to Obama and said: "Tell me, Barack, who do you want to nuke?"
Cool as always, Obama replied, "I'm not planning on nuking anybody right now, Mike."
"Good," Gravel said, "then we're safe for a while."
So there you are -- Gravel is the Golden State Warriors. A feisty, combative, in-your-face underdog who loves the public stage.
So, I decided to extend the analogy throughout the playoff-candidate field, though, granted, it isn't perfect. For one thing, Gravel won't make it out of the first round, while Golden State, as I write this, is up 3-1 on the heavily favored Dallas Mavericks. Also, as of Tuesday morning there are 13 teams still alive, compared to eight Democratic candidates, though a few of both (the Los Angeles Lakers, Toronto Raptors, Denver Nuggets, Joe Biden) are barely breathing. So I can't pair up every team with a candidate. The Raptors, for example, don't get a mention -- then again, they aren't eligible to vote.
Anyway, here's how I matched up the field:
Chicago Bulls=Dennis Kucinich
Undersized but confident and intelligent. Neither team nor candidate will go away even if some say they have no chance of advancing any farther.
The Cavs, like the candidate, seem awfully confident and even haughty. But they make critical mistakes and haven't shown they can close.
Dallas Mavericks=Hillary Clinton
The target everyone was gunning for from the beginning. No-nonsense and business-like, both candidate and team have a strong male figure behind the throne, one named Bill, one named Mark. As with Hillary, it was the Mavs' to lose ... and they just might lose it.
Phoenix Suns=John Edwards
Neat, clean, fun and articulate, with a strong chance of proving they are not third best.
Both team and candidate are poised almost to the point of smugness and both are a strong favorite to make the Final Two. But get either of them in a tight spot and they know how to mix it up, and, possibly, even self-destruct.
San Antonio Spurs=Bill Richardson
A strong résumé and an understated way of getting things done. In many respects, in fact, the best in the field. But both team and candidate are often overlooked and undervalued.
Houston Rockets (or Utah Jazz or New Jersey Nets)=Christopher Dodd
All three teams have a track record, they're kind of hanging around and, like the veteran senator from Connecticut, their face is familiar. But no one is quite sure if they're really in the race.
Golden State Warriors=Mike Gravel
Unorthodox and even a little scary, both are trying to overcome the odds with offense.