In a first-of-its-kind collaboration with Marvel, ESPN2 is airing a special edition of the Warriors-Pelicans game on May 3 dubbed Marvel’s Arena of Heroes. The broadcast will incorporate “elements from an original Marvel story and iconic characters including Iron Man, Black Panther, Captain Marvel, Captain America, Black Widow, and Doctor Strange throughout the live game.” Three players from each team (Stephen Curry, Draymond Green, and Andrew Wiggins for the Warriors; Zion Williamson, Brandon Ingram, and Lonzo Ball for the Pelicans) will be awarded “hero points” based on their stat lines, and the winner will be awarded Marvel’s first Champion, then presumably retire from the NBA to begin a new job fighting evil alongside Earth’s Mightiest Heroes.
To get you ready for the special presentation (a more-traditional, non-superhero broadcast of the game will be available on ESPN), we recast the Marvel Universe with the biggest stars in the NBA. Check out our (cos)player comparisons below, along with this week’s full NBA national TV schedule. To watch all of these games on Sling, sign up for Orange + Blue with Sports Extras using the link at the bottom of this page.
Week 1 - Sep. 9-13
|Thur. Sep. 9|
|8:20pm||Cowboys at Buccaneers||NBC*||Select Markets/ Locals*|
|Sun. Sep. 12|
|1:00pm||Eagles at Falcons||FOX*||Select Markets/ Locals*|
|1:00pm||Steelers at Bills||CBS*||Locals*|
|1:00pm||Vikings at Bengals||FOX*||Select Markets/ Locals*|
|1:00pm||49ers at Lions||FOX*||Select Markets/ Locals*|
|1:00pm||Cardinals at Titans||CBS*||Locals*|
|1:00pm||Seahawks at Colts||FOX*||Select Markets/ Locals*|
|1:00pm||Chargers at Washington||CBS*||Locals*|
|1:00pm||Jets at Panthers||CBS*||Locals*|
|1:00pm||Jaguars at Texans||CBS*||Locals*|
|2:25pm||Browns at Chiefs||CBS*||Locals*|
|2:25pm||Dolphins at Patriots||CBS*||Locals*|
|2:25pm||Packers at Saints||FOX*||Select Markets/ Locals*|
|2:25pm||Broncos at Giants||FOX*||Select Markets/ Locals*|
|6:20pm||Bears at Rams||NBC*||Select Markets/ Locals*|
|Mon. Sep. 13|
|8:15pm||Ravens at Raiders||ESPN||Orange|
Steph Curry as Dr. Strange
This guy is a wizard, plain and simple. With elite ball-handling, elusiveness, and a once-in-a-generation shooting touch, Steph is near unstoppable. Much like Dr. Strange, he knows the odds and is willing to take risks that seem to always work out. Just ask the defenders he's consistently scoring on from half court.
Lebron James as Captain America
Like Captain America, it seems like LeBron has been around since World War II. LeBron is the original hero of this group and even if he is one of the older players in the league, he’s still a consistent MVP candidate and a threat to take his team to the NBA Finals every year. In his 18 years in the league, he’s been to the Finals an amazing 10 times!
Giannis Antetokounmpoas Mr. Fantastic
Known as the Greek Freak because of his Greek background and insane 7’4” wingspan, it seems like Giannis is able to stretch to superhuman levels like Mr. Fantastic. He also shows amazing leadership and has brought Milwaukee to the brink of a championship for the first time since 1974, when another long and versatile Mr. Fantastic-type—Kareem Abdul-Jabbar—was leading the team.
Julius Randle as Hawkeye
Similar to Hawkeye, Julius Randle is the unsung hero of this group. Although he doesn’t have the unearthly powers of some of the other heroes, he’s the glue that holds the Knicks together, putting them on the verge of their first playoff appearance since 2013. Randle has grown both as a playmaker and as a facilitator and is lethal both from long and short range.
Zion Williamson as Hulk
Zion is a beast, plain and simple. At the ripe age of 20, he may already be the strongest player in the NBA. He bullies people on a nightly basis and is able to get offensive rebounds, defensive boards, and easy dunks.
Kevin Durant as The Vision
Much like The Vision, it seems like Kevin Durant was built in a lab; not many players 6’10” or taller are known for their finesse game. He’s one of the best shooters in the league, a terrific playmaker, and the type of teammate that makes the players around him better. After helping bring a championship to Golden State, Brooklyn, knowing how dangerous he can be when healthy, was willing to sign him to a max contract despite coming off of a major injury. He's been in-and-out of the lineup lately but early results are very promising.
Kawhi Leonard as Thor
Kawhi Leonard, like Thor, is strong, fast, and goes about his business with quiet confidence. Having won Finals MVP with his first two teams before joining the Clippers, Kawhi is the dude you call in when you need to bring the thunder, someone who leads more by example than anything else. Because of him, the Clippers are a serious threat to win the NBA Title away from their STAPLES Center neighbors, the Lakers.
Anthony Davis as Black Panther
For the first 7 years of his career, Anthony Davis was hidden away in New Orleans, where he didn’t have a great supporting cast or recieve a lot of national attention. However, much like Black Panther and Wakanda, Anthony Davis moved to the national spotlight in Los Angeles and won an NBA title in his first year with the Lakers. He’s a perennial MVP contender and Defensive Player of the Year favorite, and this year is no different.
Luka Doncic as Spider-man
Like Spider-man's alter ego Peter Parker, Luka Doncic looks like he could still be in high school, yet he’s running circles around the rest of the league. Passing, facilitating, and winning—all with a smile on his face— Luka is already the face of the Mavericks franchise and could be the future face of the NBA. The Larry Bird comparisons that once seemed far-fetched now look very real.
Nikola Jokic as Loki
While his nickname comes from a supervillain in the DC universe, the trickiness of MVP-favorite Nikola Jokic also draws comparisons to Loki. The 7-footer can pass just as well as some of the top point guards in the league, and like Loki, his style is unconventional and unpredictable (despite standing 7-feet, he rarely dunks). Perhaps mostly saliently: Underestimate them both at your own risk.