By Stan SyWWE recently held its annual Survivor Series pay-per-view. The show’s draw has traditionally been a five-on-five elimination tag team match featuring all-star lineups that would never otherwise be grouped together. In many ways, Survivor Series is like the WWE’s equivalent of the NBA’s All-Star Weekend. The stars come together and put whatever differences they have aside for a match without any real consequences.
One of wrestling’s most entertaining aspects is the entrances. When a wrestler gets introduced is largely indicative of their status on the totem pole. Think of it as a cast billing in a movie, especially one with an ensemble lineup. Usually, the team captain or the biggest star on the team—in case they aren’t the same person—gets introduced last in these five-on-five affairs. That’s how you know who the real bida is in the group.
So that got me thinking. In this era of NBA superteams, where multiple All-Stars don the same jerseys to chase that elusive Larry O’Brien trophy, how would the starting lineups of these teams be introduced WWE-style? Who gets to go out first and set the tone for the team? Who gets to go out last and claim that the team is theirs?
For example, in the Survivor Series match from 2014, John Cena led a band of heroes to go up against The Authority, a villainous stable then-led by Seth Rollins, who was one of the most cut-throat characters in WWE at the time. If you take a look at the entrances of both teams, all 10 wrestlers got to enter on their own, while the two biggest names in the match—John Cena and Seth Rollins—got to come out last for both their teams. That showed you that they were the respective captains and alphas of their teams.
Now, for the purposes of this article, we’re going to define a “superteam” based on Steve Aschburner’s parameters from an article he wrote about the “superteam” phenomenon on NBA.com last July.
“– It boasts two, three or more stars on its roster, any one of whom would be able to anchor a franchise on his own.
— Trades and/or free agency had to have been used to unite those stars, either in their prime or at least after obvious, recognized success (All-Star appearances, all-NBA selections, major awards won).
— The team needs to be a reasonable contender, not merely a collection of big names past their prime and far back of the reigning conference or league champs.
— Bonus points if media outlets have carried one or more stories about the alleged “Super Team” wondering a) if one basketball is enough, or b) how the stars’ strong personalities might gel or repel.”
With those criteria in mind, we’re going to limit our “superteams”—at least in this article—to the Golden State Warriors, the Cleveland Cavaliers, and the Oklahoma City Thunder. With apologies to my beloved Boston Celtics (which don’t meet the first requirement, especially now that Gordon Hayward’s out for the year) and the pleasantly surprising Minnesota Timberwolves (neither Karl-Anthony Towns nor Andrew Wiggins have enough recognized success to be considered stars in their prime), I’m really going to have to limit it to those three teams because only they met the requirements.
Now that we’ve set the table, let’s start with our first superteam:
Who gets introduced last: No question, it’s got to be LeBron James.
Here’s a quick fun fact, though: when LeBron was in Miami, he made it a point that he would be the first player to get introduced among the starters. He reserved the honor of being introduced last to Dwyane Wade since the Heat was Wade’s team and LeBron (and Bosh) were only joining it. Now that Wade is in Cleveland, I wouldn’t be surprised if Wade returned the favor.
Who should get introduced last: Even if Isaiah Thomas returns and regains 90% of his form from last season, even if Derrick Rose somehow regains 80% of his MVP form from 2011, even if Dwyane Wade has one of those throwback games, this is LeBron’s team. He’s a son of Ohio and he will always be the man in Cleveland.
GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS
Who gets introduced last: Steph Curry. He’s been with the Warriors the longest. Plus, he’s a guy the Warriors groomed themselves since drafting him out of Davidson in 2009. When you think of the Warriors, you see Curry’s name/number/face first.
Who should get introduced last: Sorry, Klay, but the conversation is only really between Steph, Draymond Green, and Kevin Durant.
Here’s the argument for Draymond: he’s their emotional leader—their heart and soul. He’s the bite behind their bark. If anyone’s going to punk someone out from the opposing team, it’s Draymond. If anyone’s going to tell the media to shut it down with the criticisms, it’s Draymond. If anyone’s going to get himself suspended even in the middle of the Finals…wait. Let’s not go there.
The point is that the Warriors will go as far as Draymond will let them because he is the superstar glue guy on this team.
Here’s the argument for Durant: even though Curry’s the first Warrior most people think of when the team gets brought up, KD still has the bigger profile. He’s been a bigger star for a longer amount of time. While Steph does get a lot of attention from the media, KD makes Steph’s coverage look miniscule simply because Durant is arguably the second-best player in the NBA—something Warriors head coach Steve Kerr once said on Zach Lowe’s podcast, The Lowe Post. Sure, Steph and KD have both been regular season MVPs, but Steph’s never been Finals MVP. Durant has.
Who takes the last intro slot: Kevin Durant.
Who gets introduced last: Right now, it’s Paul George. Last year, it was Andre Roberson, which is a bit of a dud in terms of buildup. Strangely, Russell Westbrook has always been introduced first—even when Kevin Durant still in OKC.
Who should get introduced last: Russ. If there’s one thing last season proved, it’s that Russ is not just the alpha. He is the alpha and the omega. He’ll even be the beta, zeta, theta, and whatever other Greek letter he’ll want to be. If it came down to a fight over whoever gets introduced last, Russ would hit Carmelo Anthony and Paul George with a Spear and a Brainbuster through tables and thumbtacks to get it.
Thank God Russ doesn’t care about that and prefers to be introduced first.
(Thumbnail photo by John Kuntz, Northeast Ohio Media Group; Survivor Series photo from WWE; Warriors photo by Scott Strazzante, The Chronicle; Westbrook photo from NBA)