WARNING – SPOILERS AHEAD!!!
(1) Tyrion Lannister/ Steph Curry
Tyrion Lannister, born with dwarfism, was not supposed to live more than a few weeks, much less amount to anything respectable. Even after beating these odds, low expectations would follow Tyrion into early adulthood. Seen as unfit to carry on the Lannister name, and incapable of proving himself on the battlefield, Tyrion was dismissed at every turn. Despite having all the odds stacked up against him, Tyrion Lannister reached success by figuring out what worked for him and going all in. Once Tyrion recognized that knowledge could be his weapon, he became a legitimate player in the game of thrones, rising to be Hand of the King to Daenerys Targaryen.
Tyrion’s sports-world counterpart is Steph Curry. Despite being son to an accomplished player in his own right, Curry’s potential was questioned in high school due to his small size. As a result, he landed at Davidson, a smaller, less-known university. Even after making it to the NBA, some questioned Curry due to unfortunate injuries. Once curry was able to show the world what he could do, however, he became one of the most dominant players in the game. Curry recognized that he lacked the means to compete with others physically, so he decided to find a different route to success. By honing his three-point game to a point of near-perfection, Curry turned the league on its head.
As a Tyrion fan, I am hoping he can do the same.
(2) Samwell Tarly / Paul DePodesta
Samwell Tarly is another underdog whose physical stature and overall nature cause him to be underestimated and discounted by just about everyone around him. His size and preference for books over fighting caused him to be cast out by his father, forced to take the Black, and renounce the family name or be killed. Nevertheless, Sam relied on his strength, soaking in all the knowledge his could. Since being rejected by his family, Sam has killed a White Walker, a Thenn warg, and had risen to become the next Maester of the Night’s Watch. Throughout the story, Sam’s theories and ideas have been largely dismissed as fantasy. However, as watchers, we know otherwise. Sam has all the tools to break the game of thrones wide open and it is only a matter of time until he does.
Everyone loves an underdog, and like Sam, Paul Depodesta is an underdog you just can’t help but root for. DePodesta was just another young man trying to make a name as a baseball executive when he found himself as Assistant to the General Manager for the Oakland Athletics, where he worked under Billy Beane. With Beane’s support, DePodesta helped launch an analytics-based approach to team-building which was scorned by traditionalists throughout the industry. Notwithstanding resistance both outside and within the A’s organization, DePodesta proved everyone wrong, changing the game and making analytics an essential part of any effective scouting approach. He has now turned to his next challenge, bringing his “Moneyball” approach to the Cleveland Browns. Much like Sam, I can’t help but root for him.
(3) Sansa Stark/ Kyrie Irving
Sansa Stark began the series with dreams of being Queen of Westeros, living a fairytale life alongside her adoring King Joffrey. She seemed naïve, even arrogant. These dreams were quickly destroyed as the harsh realities of living with the Lannisters set in. While it took many tragedies and a long time, Sansa has grown from a naïve girl to a strong and smart young woman, acting as the Lady of Winterfell, fully aware of the cruelty of the real world. Sansa’s growth as a player of the game is astounding, however, her interactions with Arya and Jon, as well as her affinity for Littlefinger, do leave some fans wondering what she is thinking at times. I want to love to Sansa, but her decisions at times show there is room for improvement.
Sansa’s sports-world counterpart is Kyrie Irving (currently) of the Cleveland Cavaliers. Having been drafted first overall by the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2011, Kyrie was young and naïve, tasked with returning the team to competitiveness after the departure of LeBron. Unfortunately, Kyrie quickly learned how difficult it truly is to carry a team on your back. As the lone star on Cleveland’s roster, Kyrie experienced years as an Eastern conference cellar-dweller. However, all this changed when LeBron went home. Kyrie evolved from a young player determined to take on the world alone, to one who was willing to take a step back for the good of his team and a championship. Kyrie’s maturity alongside LeBron seemed inarguable. And then this summer, he asked for a trade, citing his desire to lead a team of his own. The details surrounding the request have been disputed but regardless, it left fans like me wondering exactly what he was thinking.
For Sansa and Kyrie’s sake, let’s hope they know what they are doing.
(4) Varys/ Adam Schefter
Varys was not born into an advantaged position or given any shortcuts in life. He is neither a great fighter nor a rich man. Despite this, he has risen to the position of Master of Whisperers, serving under four regimes. Varys has gained this acclaim by virtue of his connections, priding himself on knowing everything going on around the realm. Never revealing a source, Varys has built up the trust of those around him, allowing him to remain in his position even as those around him fall.
Almost too obviously, Adam Schefter is the sports-world’s own Varys. Schefter never played football at a high level himself nor did he come from a notable football family. Despite this, Schefter has built up a network (dare I say, spiderweb?) of NFL contacts so deep that he is undoubtedly the ultimate NFL insider. Schefter’s connections and respect throughout the league make him untouchable, even amongst the heavy layoffs at ESPN. Like Varys, Schefter is one of the most valuable players in the game.
Photo courtesy of: Watchers on the Wall