The Uncle Drew ad campaign by Pepsi MAX is one of the better basketball-related advertisements to come along in a long time. Not since the days of Johnny Kilroy, Grandmama, Lil’ Penny and Mars Blackmon has a single character been more a part of mainstream media.
Uncle Drew is brought to life by Cleveland Cavaliers guard Kyrie Irving, who after hours of makeup, invades an outdoor court perusing for a pickup game as a sweatpants-clad old man. However, once on the court, Uncle Drew unleashes his moves and his game on the way to pure domination.
In honor of Uncle Drew revolutionizing and bringing “Old Man Game” back to the forefront, I put together two teams compromised of players in the NBA today that have “old man at the YMCA” games. The split between the teams isn’t based off talent, but instead the more old school the player’s game, the higher the team they were put on.
Without further ado, here are the First Team and Second Team All-Uncle Drew squads.
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PG- KYRIE IRVING
There’s no way we could leave the man, the myth, the legend, Uncle Drew himself off this list. Without Irving, Drew would never have been created. Irving wrote and directed the first chapter of the Uncle Drew saga. In the NBA, his game mirrors that of Drew’s as well. In an age where players like Derrick Rose, John Wall and Russell Westbrook continue to evolutionize the point guard position with their size and athleticism, Irving is a throwback lead guard. He uses his skill, handle, shooting stroke and basketball knowledge to dominate the league.
SG – JAMES HARDEN
Harden has tons of athleticism compared to Andre Miller. However, he plays at a slow pace and uses his craftiness with the ball to lull defenders to sleep. No one play sums this up better than when Harden let the ball roll down court during a playoff game against the Oklahoma City Thunder, only to pick it up behind the arc and splash down a three on an unsuspecting DeAndre Liggins. Harden’s attention to small details like footwork are things that will allow him to play until a late age. A gray-bearded Harden could easily hold his own in open runs with Uncle Drew.
SF – PAUL PIERCE
Pierce, much like Harden, plays the game at a slower pace than his contemporaries. Whereas players like LeBron James, Andre Iguodala and Rudy Gay are often seen on SportsCenter flying through the air and making spectacular athletic plays, Pierce would rather isolate at the wing, use his physicality and strength to create space before sinking in an effortless pull-up jumper. For years, Pierce has gone to his patented foul line-extended step-back jumper in clutch situations, yet not too many defenders have been successful in stopping it.
PF – TIM DUNCAN
When your nickname is “The Big Fundamental” you belong on this list. Duncan has never been a flashy person on or off the court. He often gets criticized for being boring. However, this “boring” style of play has produced Duncan four championships. He is thought of as the all-time greatest power forward to ever play. Duncan won’t necessarily amaze anyone with the moves he makes or the way he plays, but as Bill Russell told Drew, “this game has always, and will always be, about buckets.” Tim Duncan knows how to put the ball in the hoop.
C - ROY HIBBERT
Before the season, Roy Hibbert wasn’t necessarily in contention for the best center in the game argument, but now his name is mentioned among the likes of Dwight Howard, Andrew Bynum, Brook Lopez and Marc Gasol as the top centers in the NBA. Hibbert, much like Duncan, doesn’t do things that stand out athletically, yet he gets the job done. Hibbert is able to control the paint both offensively and defensively simply by playing smart basketball. On offense, he makes quick moves down low to score and on defense, he doesn’t allow an opponent to just stroll through the lane. Hibbert would be a very nice addition to the tandem of Drew and Wes we’ve seen formed so far.