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Unlike the NFL or the NBA, the characters in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) have a wide variety of skills that would lend themselves to a number of different positions. Some are better at one-on-one moves. Others are better at mass destruction. You have your long distance shooters, your brute absorbers, and a few that could do a little bit of both. It would be a team of specialists, but a team that could be unstoppable if used correctly.

The record-breaking box office success of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) of films is no secret to anyone. But just imagine a basketball team made up of all the original characters from the films. It would be unbeatable! While most people would say that characters like Thor and Hulk are the strongest, many of the MCU’s leading men have surprisingly athletic skill sets, too. So, let’s put together a starting lineup of the most athletic Avengers and place them on the court. Let’s take a look at what a lineup of the most athletic Marvel Cinematic Universe characters would look like.

7:00 A.M. EASTERN TIME

  • Andrew Lopez
  • Om Yongmisuk.

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ESPN Staff Writer

Om Youngmisuk has been beating the Giants, Jets and NFL since 2006. Before that, he beat the Nets, Knicks and the NBA for nearly a decade. He joined ESPNNewYork.com after working at the New York Daily News for nearly 12 years and graduating from Michigan State University.

Follow him on Twitter Om’s cat archives

When the Golden State Warriors meet the New Orleans Pelicans on Monday night, there will be plenty of stars on the field – and during the replay. Monday, ESPN2, ESPN+ and ESPN Deportes will air a Marvel presentation for the first time, with iconic Marvel characters Iron Man and Black Panther choosing players from each team to help them face the looming threat.

But what if the situation was reversed? And if Warriors general manager Bob Myers and Pelicans general manager David Griffin were to use characters from the Marvel Cinematic Universe to stave off the threat of missing the NBA Tournament, where the Pelicans are currently three games behind the Warriors in the battle for the last spot. How would the skills of these epic warriors translate to the Warriors of basketball (and the Pelicans)?

To prepare you for Monday night’s performance, we asked ESPN reporters Andrew Lopez and Om Youngmisuk to bring together characters from the MCU to form two super teams that could put the Brooklyn Nets to shame in the 2020-21 season. Check out these lists of heroes, gods and… Insects?

Team Lopez, Option 1: Thanos

Let’s start with the crazy Titan himself. A creature that once wiped out half of all life in the universe can certainly hold its own on a basketball court. Thanos is over 6 feet tall in the MCU version, so he’ll be the core of my defense, no problem. Who really wants to challenge him on the board? Thanos doesn’t have to walk off the set and attack like Zion Williamson, who wears the Infinity Gauntlet necklace and has publicly stated that Thanos is his favorite character. You saw what it took to stop Thanos in Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame. Summon the Star-Lord. Please summon the Star-Lord.) Try to use that strategy here and I’ll have four other guys throw back-to-back.

Ohm control, selection 1: Black Panther

ESPN and Marvel announced a groundbreaking partnership to bring Marvel to the world on Monday, May 3, during a game between the Warriors and Pelicans to present the first-ever alternate Marvel-style presentation. The exclusive alternative presentation begins at 7:30pm. AND on ESPN2, ESPN+ and ESPN Deportes with traditional coverage of the game on ESPN.

Even my friend Lopez couldn’t mess up the first pick with Thanos, who looks like Shaq, LeBron and Zion all in one. But Thanos can be defeated, even if it takes 14,000,605 different outcomes, as Doctor Strange did. While Thanos seems inescapable on the game cartridge, our war cabinet has been busy assembling the starting five that will save the universe, starting with the most athletic superhero on our roster: Black Panther. The combination of King T’Challa’s superhuman strength, speed, majestic agility, acrobatic moves and ridiculous reflexes stand out in the film and make you think of Kyrie Irving. Try to stay ahead of him. With his Black Panther suit, made of vibranium and capable of absorbing energy, he can fight his way through any paint job or touch – even against Thanos. Wakanda forever!

Team Lopez, Option 2: Ant-Man

Remember, Om stole the second player from my squad. So let’s pick a player who has the versatility of the position – Scott Lang. Is he gonna be Muggsy Bogues? Can he become Manute Ball? Anything in there? Yes. Are you securing the area? Look at this. Give Thanos a break from the post? Absolutely. Every team needs a wild card – although every game can get interesting at the team level. Even at the end of the match, in the final seconds, he can protect the ring like no other.

Can Tony Stark wear Iron Man’s suit during the game? EPA/SASCHA STEINBACH

Ohm control, selection 2: Iron Man

When Iron Man came to us with the fourth pick, a war broke out in the room. Every other year Iron Man is number one. You want to talk about basketball IQ? Iron Man is the only superhero who can outsmart Thanos and defeat him. Who else can build a suit in a cave and solve the time travel problem? When healthy, his versatility makes him the best player in the league. He can score in a variety of ways, play above the rim, get into the paint powerfully and close every hole in the defense. His fixation on protecting the entire planet shows an elitist defensive mindset. Tony Stark’s superior intelligence, his ability to constantly renew himself, improve and recover from injuries – and even his complex character – remind us of Kevin Durant. That makes him the perfect striker for our team.

Team Lopez, Option 3: Spider-Man

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You take Stark, I’ll take Stark’s cargo. It works for me. I’m not entirely sure if tapes are allowed in this basketball game, but even if they’re not, I’m happy with the choice. Peter Parker has the speed, reflexes and strength to take on anyone. He’s everything you look for in an outside linebacker. And the same goes for his ball handling skills. He’ll never lose it! He’s everything you look for in a point guard. And don’t try to argue about theft after the fact or anything like that. Boom! Spidey’s senses. Sure, he’s still young, but he’s got everything going for him. Man, I probably should have taken it earlier.

A warning to referees who think they’re making a foul on Hulk: You won’t like him when he’s angry. RONALD WITTEK/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

Ohm control, selection 3: Hulk

Hulk will be crushed! Lopez has a lot of speed in the backcourt between Spider and Ant-Man. But the Hulk gives us the gamma ray charge we need to fight Thanos. The Hulk is nearly indestructible, and his combination of strength and intelligence takes our team to the next level. While Lopez plays checkers, we play chess. Combine Bruce Banner’s brain with Stark’s brain, and our brainpower becomes unparalleled. No one can make a pattern like we do. But watching the Hulk attack with ruthless fury and cruelty reminds us of Russell Westbrook. He plays angry and scores at the rim or finds an open teammate. And it’s a recoil force. We see the Hulk doing triple doubles, he can play overhead, jump and fly. Back to you, Lopez.

Team Lopez, Option 4: Door

Oh, look, a friend from work!

Why not add a literal god to your team if you get the chance? Thanks for letting him come to me, Om, and for allowing me to build an old school frontcourt with Thanos and Thor that can be a mix of a classic power forward playing on the block and a fast forward from the modern game. Just think of the fact that you have to go through a double screen set up by Thanos and Thor. Ouch. Seriously, though. Ouch. Thor can chase down any recoil. A bit of something Thor will have to get used to: The ball doesn’t always come back into his hands like Mjolnir does. But I think we can handle it.

Peter Parker’s Spidey sensibilities make him the perfect playmaker. EPA/NARENDRA SHRESTHA

Ohm control, selection 4: Captain America

We compare your choice of Thor to the only other superhero worthy of Mjolnir: Captain America. We would love to have a leader from the Avengers to lead our team. There is simply no better leader in the universe than Cap. You want to talk about a selection test? Steve Rodgers’ outfit, his numbers and what he stands for are reminiscent of LeBron James. Just as LeBron looks like he was made in a lab, Rogers’ super-soldier serum makes him perfect for on-field combat. He combines strength, size, speed and an irrepressible will. He always fights for the things he strongly believes in. Captain America never seems to get tired, no matter how old he is. And he can use his vibranium shield for trademark chases.

Who won: Team Lopez or Team Om?

round Team Lopez Ohm control
1. Thanos The Black Panther
2. Ant-Man Iron Man
3. Spider-Man Hulk
4. Thor Captain America
5. Large Captain Marvel

Team Lopez, option 5: Large

I am Giannis! I mean, great! The combination of size and power makes him look like a two-time MVP. And to be honest, the only thing I can imagine of Groot on the field is Michael Jordan. No, no, nothing that compares to Jordan’s skills on the field. I’m talking about Space Jam. Remember at the end when Jordan realized he was in a cartoon and his limbs could do things he normally couldn’t? I imagine Groot throwing balls all over the field. And they count for three points!

Besides, the language barrier doesn’t bother me. At least Thor speaks the language of Groot, since he took it as an option on Asgard.

Ohm control, selection 5: Captain Marvel

We need perimeter shooters, and who better to operate in space than Captain Marvel. Experience Captain Marvel like Thor did when Stormbreaker flew right over his head. Carol Danvers is not only fearless, but she has life-changing powers. Like Stephen Curry, who also appears to be powered by Tesseract energy, Captain Marvel can strike from space and ignite at any time. Captain Marvel can strike anywhere, emitting a fiery aura at full power and can destroy an entire spaceship with her gifts. You could say that Captain Marvel is more powerful than all the Avengers. And we love the arrogance of Captain Marvel. We’re ready to destroy Thanos!

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