Friday, October 22, 2010

Drop That Shield!

My wife ordered me ESPN the Magazine through a promotional trial and I've been receiving it for a few months now. While I love ESPN, the television network, and watch Sports Center fairly regularly, I don't care much for their magazine. It's mostly ads and the articles that are contained in it are about subject matter I don't care much to read about. If I were you and wanted to read about issues in sports, I'd subscribe to Sports Illustrated.

When the most recent issue arrived in my mailbox yesterday, however, I gasped as I looked at its cover. Disney's ownership of everything has apparently come full circle. They own ESPN and they now own Marvel. So, the artists from Marvel were assigned the task of creating thirty different comic book covers to sum up what challenges each NBA franchise faces in the upcoming season.

If you are a fan of comic book or basketball, flipping through the layout is a lot of fun. I enjoyed the presentations of the different Marvel characters melded with NBA stars. Kobe Bryant is shown in the process of being outfitted with a Lakers colored Iron Man suit. The headline mentions his iron will and he is also shown wearing his five championship rings, resembling the Mandarin in another drawing. The Boston Celtics are portrayed as the Fantastic 5. Carlos Boozer stands behind Derrick Rose as the Red Hulk. New Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov looms as Galactus with Devin Harris as his herald, the Silver Surfer, in his palm.

The art in these mock covers is amazing. On top of that, Marvel does a great job at connecting each team to a character or theme that makes sense and sheds light on their current situation. Very clever work, and very insightful. In fact the thoughtfulness and effort that was obviously put into this project far exceeded everything contained within all the prior issues I've read combined. ESPN had nearly won me over to their magazine.


I had one major problem.

I make no secret of the fact that Captain America is my favorite Marvel character (Steve Rogers specifically, but that's not the point right now). Cap's red, white and blue shield, to me, is a beacon of all that is good, unselfish and truly American. Captain America stands for strength, honesty and fairness.

Thus, I was more than a little pissed off when Lebron James, Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh were drawn using Captain America's iconic shield. But there the scheming three were, crouched, shields above their heads, prepared to deflect the glare of the glare of the world's scrutiny upon them.

I don't necessarily think James should have stayed in Cleveland, nor am I bitter about my team not landing him. I do, however, have a problem with the way he strung everybody along. I feel it was obvious that he was going to sign with the Heat form the start of free agency. The way he lied to everyone, the flashiness of the news conference in prime time and the firework laden pep rally in Miami after he signed are all the exact opposite of how Captain America would conduct himself. Humility, honor and respect are not what I picture when I think about the team Pat Riley has assembled.

I suggest that James and Wade should have been represented by the Red Skull and Baron Zemo. Captain America could have been showed unconscious and tied up in the background in order to make it clear that they stole his shield. Chris Bosh, meanwhile, could have been represented by some other, less important, overrated villain with a weak low post game.

Whoever had the idea to connect these guys with Cap out to be fired. I call now for that Marvel or ESPN employee's resignation. I further plan to tear out the offensive Captain America/Heat page of the magazine and then keep the rest of it around. The covers really are cool to look at. If you want to see it for yourself, pick up a copy, just be prepared to avert your gaze from page 92.

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