Zhaire Smith - Jon Snow
Matt: This comparison was a no-brainer.
Kevin: One died and was brought back to life. The other nearly died and is about to lead a team to the NBA Finals.
Matt: The King in the North, meet the King in the WFC.
Kevin: I’d follow Zhaire into battle without thinking. I’d kill for him, I’d die for him.
Matt: Something I found striking when coming up with comparisons: Jon was raised among Starks, but was more or less an outsider in his Winterfell home. Zhaire Smith was raised by the Sixers, but was selected by the Suns 16th overall in the 2018 NBA Draft. He was brought into the NBA by a team selecting in the lottery, but was, in truth, an outsider.
Kevin: Zhaire walked out of the Texas Tech locker room after the Elite Eight like, “My watch has ended.” If Zhaire is Jon Snow, then Shake Milton is Ser Davos Seaworth (Jon’s political confidant). That duo is so incredibly likeable and flat-out cool.
Matt: Very true! Actually, wouldn’t you say Zhaire is a lot like Davos? Both have not let their disabilities (Davos with his severed fingers, Zhaire with his sesame seed allergy) stop them from showing immense courage in battle.
Kevin: Good point! But I can’t get over how spot on the Jon Snow/Zhaire comparison is.
Matt: Neither can I. Think about it... Jon left the Night’s Watch to take back Winterfell from Ramsey Bolton. Zhaire left Texas Tech to take back the Larry O’Brien trophy Philadelphia hasn’t been able to hoist in nearly 36 years.
Kevin: If anyone in the NBA is a Ramsey Bolton type, it’s Al Horford. I don’t trust him or those heartthrob eyes for a second.
Matt: I despise him.
Kevin: It’ll be rough when the Celtics sic Marcus Smart on Horford and eat him alive.
Matt: So are the Celtics Sansa Stark?
Kevin: I hope not, because Zhaire also reminds me of Sansa Stark.
Matt: Ah, that is a great comparison! Sansa is a character that has proven capable of learning to adapt to pretty much any environment. She famously says, “I’m a slow learner, but I learn” in the Season 7 finale. That line makes me think of the slow, rigorous journey Zhaire took to earn NBA minutes during his rookie season.
Kevin: Yeah, but do you think Sansa can do 300 push-ups?
Matt: No, I don’t. Zhaire is quite possibly the only person on earth (or in Westeros) that can do 300 push-ups. I don’t even think the Hound could accomplish that feat!
Kevin: Zhaire reminds me of the Hound because my favorite verb to describe his defense is “hounding”.
Matt: Also, they are both WELL over 6-feet tall.
Kevin: Zhaire hates nuts and the Hound hates fire.
Matt: Nuts...Fire...Fire is nuts, and a danger to all. Just like Zhaire and the Hound. Zhaire also cares for his Blue Coats teammates, just like the Hound cares for Arya.
Kevin: Zhaire is pretty badass, too. He’s got some Arya vibes to him. I wouldn’t be surprised if he has a list of names... Probably all the players that got drafted in front of him. Doncic. Young. Jackson Jr. Sexton.
Matt: How could a future MVP that was drafted 16th overall not have a list of names? Giannis probably has a list of names. Hell, I know Draymond Green has a list of names.
Kevin: Draymond Green is the Theon Greyjoy of the NBA.
Matt: Want to know who else is like Theon? Not Zhaire. Screw Theon.
Kevin: Zhaire is no Reek. Reek is a damn coward.
Matt: Zhaire is much more like Theon’s courageous, matriarchal sister, Yara Greyjoy. Like Yara, Zhaire is a skilled naval commander who exhibits a sense of familial loyalty.
Kevin: Zhaire rides for his family. Plus, his body is made of iron.
Matt: A well-known fact.
Kevin: Quick aside—can we talk about how handsome Zhaire is?
Matt: He’s very attractive, no doubt about it. Perhaps more attractive than Jaime Lannister, the oft-maligned former Lord Commander of the Kingsguard and brother to Cersei and Tyrion Lannister.
Kevin: Beyond their perfectly chiseled chins and magnificent hair, they’ve got some similar character traits, too. Jaime is known across the Seven Kingdoms as “Kingslayer,” and King James headed west just a month after Zhaire landed in Philly. Pretty suspicious to me.
Matt: Crazy, right? Jaime is also characterized by the people of Westeros as a dishonorable person, when, in fact, his character arc eventually reveals his honor. Zhaire, in a similar sense, was characterized as an unpolished athlete coming out of college, when he’s actually exceptional at everything.
Kevin: By the way, Jaime seems like a good hang. Regardless of financial incentive, Bron definitely doesn’t mind kicking it with him.
Matt: Bron is a lot like Zhaire if you think about it. For one, Bron is maybe the most likeable character in the show due to his swashbuckling attitude and lack of regard for what others think about him. Wouldn’t you agree?
Kevin: Absolutely. Especially because Zhaire didn’t instantly have the love and affection from Sixers fans, many of whom wanted the hometown kid Mikal Bridges.
Matt: You could say Zhaire pushed him out the Moon Door when the draft night trade happened. What do Lysa Arryn and Bron say to each other after Bron defeats the Knight of the Vale in trial by combat? “You do not fight with honor” ... “No, I don’t. He did.” Bron is awesome. He takes people to school with his one-liners!
Kevin: Speaking of school, Zhaire is a scholar of the game, like Samwell Tarly. He could become a maester in no time.
Matt: In many ways, the G League is like the Citadel—both are places to learn and grow behind closed doors. Zhaire would look sick wearing a maester chain.
Kevin: As cool as he’d look in that chain, he’d look infinitely cooler on the back of Drogon.
Matt: If you really think about it, Zhaire is similar to Daenerys Targaryen, too. Both are vicious, yet empathetic. Daenerys wants to make the world a better place. Zhaire wants to make the Sixers a better team. Daenerys commands a powerful army, led by Grey Worm (the leader of her Unsullied forces). Zhaire commands the Blue Coats Bench Mob.
Kevin: Zhaire is like Grey Worm in that he supports the Sixers’ greater cause.
Matt: Yeah! Zhaire and Grey Worm are both silent and reserved, but have a fearless, cutthroat mentality that helps them succeed. Also, I’d be remiss not to mention they are both extremely gifted in their respective crafts.
Kevin: You know who else is gifted? Podrick Payne, the most gifted lover in Westeros.
Matt: “Sex God Pod,” as fans of the show have come to know him, has a lot in common with Zhaire, too. Neither were born into power, as lords or rulers. Instead, they made their way as squires. Zhaire learned from his veteran teammates, and Pod learned from Tyrion and Brienne of Tarth.
Kevin: Somehow, Zhaire reminds me of both Tyrion and Brienne. He’s strong and loyal like Brienne, but also clever and very well-spoken and orchestrated like Tyrion. Come to think of it, he also loves his teammates with the same passion that Tormund loves Brienne.
Matt: I was thinking the same thing!
Kevin: Zhaire is a true warrior like Tormund. Also, no matter where he finds himself—whether it be in the G League or with the Sixers—he always fights for a worthy cause, just like Tormund did under Mance Rayder and continues to do under Jon Snow.
Matt: It’s hard not to see all of these comparisons (especially with Tyrion).
Kevin: And while Tyrion‘s character arc has been riveting, his older sister Cersei Lannister has had an equally fascinating—albeit unsettling—character arc, much like Zhaire.
Matt: Zhaire doesn’t share Cersei’s psychopathic qualities, but he most certainly shares her dogged determination and fierce love for her children. And, in a way, aren’t we all Zhaire’s children?
Kevin: They both know what it’s like to experience the lowest of lows, but never let adversity slow them down as they become forces to be reckoned with.
Matt: Good point. Zhaire was able to emerge from his setbacks as a true visionary, not unlike Bran “The Three-Eyed Raven” Stark.
Kevin: I’ve never seen Bran and Zhaire in the same place. Are we sure they aren’t the same person?
Matt: Bran is everywhere at all times, now, and throughout history. Zhaire is, too.
Kevin: He’s everywhere on the court at once. It’s almost like he knows the opposing player’s moves before they happen.
Matt: One character in the ‘Thrones’ universe that knows his opponents’ moves before they happen is the Army of the Dead’s leader, the Night King.
Kevin: I’m rooting for both Zhaire and the Night King with all my heart.
Matt: That’s twisted, but cool. You’re twisted and cool, Kevin. And you are my good friend. Also, there are Reddit theories that Bran is the Night King, so Zhaire could very well be both characters. Wow.
Kevin: So I’m obviously rooting for the Night King to destroy all of humanity, but who do you think is winning this thing?
Matt: Who I’m rooting for differs from who I think will still be standing when the series concludes. I’m rooting for Jon to win. But I think he’s been built as a tragic figure, and wouldn’t be shocked if Daenerys wins the throne after Jon dies saving humanity. Honestly, I think David Benioff and D.B. Weiss (the ‘Thrones’ showrunners) will keep both characters alive through the series finale.
Kevin: That is literally the exact opposite of what I want to happen. If they both end up alive and well at the end, I’ll vomit.
Matt: Really, all I want is for Jaime to kill Cersei, which would fulfill the Valonqar Prophecy. The Valonqar Prophecy is...
Kevin: Shut the hell up, nerd.
Matt: I’ve once again been owned online. This time, by a dear friend.
Kevin: Hey MdR, I’ve got a joke for you: What did Zhaire say to the god of Death?”
Matt: “Not today”?
Kevin: No. He told the god of Death that he’d like to see time as a rotation player in the playoffs.
Matt: ‘Valar morghulis’ is High Valyrian for “all men must die.” Someone should tell the Valyrians that their little saying does not apply to Zhaire Smith, who will live for eternity and lead us to a GODDAMN NBA CHAMPIONSHIP, BABY.
Kevin: I’d like to change my prediction of who will sit on the Iron Throne. It is quite obvious to me now that there is no way anyone is going to be able to defeat Zhaire Smith in any form of combat.
Matt: Like we said earlier, Zhaire Smith is everywhere and sees everything. He is you, me, Jon, Daenerys, Jaime, Cersei, Sam, Pod, Brienne, Tyrion, Arya, Sansa, the Hound, Bran, Davos, Tormund, Bron, and the Night King... Is he also Qyburn?
Kevin: I’d trust Zhaire to treat my severed hand any day.
Matt: Me too. Work your magic, Zhaire.
Kevin: Kings do King Things.
Matt: Man, it’s really impressive that we compared Zhaire Smith to almost every living Game of Thrones character!
Kevin: I know, we really did that.
Matt: Want to try and compare any other Sixers players to Game of Thrones characters?
Kevin: Not really.
Matt: Me neither.
Kevin: Alright, see ya.
Matt: See ya.