A few weeks ago, two baseball players got into a kerfuffle. This stuff happens all the time in baseball. Some guy(s) on one team pisses off some guy(s) on the other team and they all jog onto the field in their pajamas to greet and mingle. They think it makes them look tough. After they've all exchanged phone numbers and some hugs, they jog back to their respective shelters in their jammies, and sit there for an hour or two, mostly bored.
Sometimes one of them gets so pissed off at someone else that bodily harm is done. But even though that happens frequently, news is only made when multiple people inflict bodily harm onto others, when the rabble turns into a squabble.
Now back to that kerfuffle. One of the two, Yordano Ventura, the skinny guy who throws balls hard for a living, decided before the game that he was going to intentionally hit the other, Manny Machado, with a baseball. For seemingly no reason other than he wanted to hit him, he drilled him in the back with a five-ounce missile at 99-miles-per-hour. (Ventura does this a lot.) Then Machado ran towards him, wrapped him up and punched him in the head. Then some more fighting ensued and eventually fizzled out. Both players were ejected and will justly be suspended. Okay.
The fabled wordsmith known as Grant Brisbee used Ventura's chronic dillweed behavior to create a special team. Not just any team, but a Murderer's Row of "heels," which are habitual pricks who relish villainy. After enjoying every word Brisbee has (ever) written, I figured that I could rip his idea and make a team of heels just from basketball players in the Pac-12. (This isn't the first or last time I have or will rip a Brisbee article.)
These are the grimy or eccentric players home fans love to cheer and opposing fans love to boo. Also of note, this roster is retroactive to last season. Also also of note, this was originally going to be an Arizona troll piece where I would write in their entire roster for this team. I don’t know if I made the right choice.
PG - Bryce Alford, UCLA
Transgressions: Making threes, not passing, symbolizing UCLA’s struggles
Remember the part about how home fans love to cheer these players? lol. Alford is a trigger-happy shooting guard with limited ball handling and passing skills. And he sucks at defense. Coach Steve Alford plays him at point guard nonetheless and has given him an unwavering green light. Even worse, Alford may end up taking away minutes from incoming point guard phenom Lonzo Ball next season.
Alford is UCLA’s version of Cody Hawkins — their fathers has led their respective programs to low points all while starting their sons over more talented players (Aaron Holiday, Prince Ali, and maybe Ball for UCLA; Tyler Hansen for CU) — but Bruins fans’ feelings towards him are predictably amplified. Such is life for in Bruins nation.
Opposing teams hate him because he will deliver that back-breaking shot in the final moments, even when they shouldn’t count.
SG - Gabe York, Arizona
Transgressions: Hustling, playing for Arizona, being associated with T.J. McConnell
York has carried on T.J. McConnell’s tradition as Arizona’s gritty team leader. He knocks down huge shots, makes up for his lack of size and quickness with hustle, heady play and concentrated doses of "I want this more than you." All the while, he looks like a goblin.
All that makes it infinitely better when he dribbles off his foot in the waning seconds of a one-possession game.
SF - Dillon Brooks, Oregon
Transgressions: Yelling at refs, celebrating, having lots to celebrate
Brooks is the exemplar heel that every wannabe villain should strive to replicate. Luckily for them, there’s an easy-to-follow recipe.
1. Get out your ingredients of an ultra-talented player, a huge personality, and a talented team he can star on.
2. Mix those ingredients until they’re inseparable.
3. Pour evenly into a Swoosh-shaped baking pan.
4. Bake for 40 minutes at 420°F.
5. Let the dish cool in the Canadian wilds for 17 years.
6. Season with a healthy amount of cockiness, a dash of boastfulness and a pinch of bravado.
7. Serve warm with arm sleeves, a fresh fade and a goatee.
PF - Ryan Anderson, Arizona
Transgressions: Playing hard, playing for Arizona
Anderson transferred from Boston College as a highly touted veteran big and eventually settled on Arizona, a great team in need of low post offense and rebounding. Anderson has done nothing inherently wrong. The villainy of him is almost entirely out of his control.
All he really does is body up people in the post, body up people on rebounds and embarrass everyone because he’s stronger and more skilled than the opposition. All the while, he plays with a certain snarling demeanor and has the hair of your Uncle Vic. (Uncle Vic isn’t even related to you — he’s an old friend of your dad’s — but he insists you call him that.) Anderson is that 40-year-old who dominates at your local rec center, and you hate him after five minutes.
C- Kaleb Tarczewski, Arizona
Transgressions: Being a top recruit, choosing Arizona, playing there for four years, winning lots of games
When a top-five recruit chooses to go to a basketball factory, they’re expected to star for a year or two and get drafted in the first round. Zeus was supposed to be a one-and-done lottery pick with potential to be a Roy Hibbert-type player (before Hibbert turned into a pumpkin), but his offensive growth stalled and his NBA value was never realized, so he stayed all four years.
Familiarity breeds contempt, they say. Top prospects usually start right away and are immediately visible even if they don’t. When they stay for four years, you see a lot of them, and since they’re pretty good, you see a lot of them dominating and winning. When that happens, those players can be easy to despise.
Not every top recruit would be a villain if they stayed in school, even if they played at Arizona or UCLA. Aaron Gordon, for example, is lovable even when he throws down on your favorite player. To be a villain, a player still has to be easily associated with annoyances and the like.
Zeus will block your shot and be mean about it like he’s an honorary Bachynski. Zeus will dunk on you with snarling tenacity. Zeus will make sure his ass and elbows ruin your day if you challenge him for a rebound. And, to make matters worse, Zeus is apparently excused from assault if and when opposing fans storm the court. (That last one is more of a dig at Sean Miller.)
G - Katin Reinhardt, USC
Reinhardt will pop a three and let you know all about it, even if he’s shooting 1-9 from 3 up until then. Reinhardt is that
douchey cocky basketball star at your high school who is upset Colorado State won’t recruit him even though he’s a 2-star prospect and has the talent to be a three-point specialist in the NBA. Reinhardt isn’t a starter on the team only because he doesn’t smell like Sean Miller’s sweaty shirt.
G - Andrew Andrews, Washington
I can’t pinpoint what it is, but Andrews is unlikable the second you see him play. When he plays your team, you know he’s going to have a great game, you know he’s going to work his ass off, and you know he’s going to lead the Huskies’ young team to an inspired effort. There’s nothing wrong with this, but like Andrizona’s Anderson, Andrew Andrews is just a natural villain.
F - Elgin Cook
Personally, I love Elgin Cook. I love that he’s the college equivalent of Draymond Green, but without the trash talk, whining or groin targeting. That said, there sure is a lot of Draymond Green in him, and it’s enough for him to be on this team.
F - Tory Miller, Colorado
Hey it’s our boy Tory. I can’t speak for everyone, but those heart-and-hustle putbacks must be annoying, especially when he’s doing it with the glorious Odell hair. Miller has also committed the heinous act of biting
an American soldier another player in the middle of a game.
C - Eric Jacobsen, Arizona State
I don’t even know who Jacobsen is, but this list would have been incomplete without a representative from Arizona State.
Head Coach - Sean Miller, Arizona
With his constant complaining, unending job offer drama, even more complaining, sweaty wardrobe malfunctions, and starting a who’s who list of annoying Arizona players, Miller is the undisputed coach of this team (not even Steve Alford could challenge him). In actuality, Miller would probably kill to coach this team, and I mean literally. He would just put them in a headlock and drown them in his sweaty pits.
Grant Brisbee said his team would finish 96-66 and have 30 for 30’s made about them. This team would probably go something like 37-3, win the National Championship and Sean Miller would be raptured before our eyes and live eternally with the fallen angels.