Every few months, the conversation inevitably happens. You know the one: Who is the greatest basketball player of all time? Since The Last Dance premiered, the conversation has reignited. Now every single pundit, former NBA player, and all of your annoying friends have an opinion. Everyone’s lists are basically the same (except Paul Pierce left out LeBron from his top 5 because of a 15 year old feud).
Since most live sports aren’t happening yet, let’s stop caring about top players and care about something more relevant for this time: top sports episodes in a comedy series. Below are my personal top 5, however, I hope this sparks debate within your circle of friends just like the endless top NBA player discussion.
5. It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia – “The Gang Gives Back”
In college, my friends and I must have watched the first few seasons of “Always Sunny” 10 times over. “The Gang Gives Back” is no exception and in my opinion, a quintessential classic.
Premise: After getting into trouble with the law, the gang needs to perform community service so they decide to get involved with a youth basketball organization where hilarity ensues.
Why it’s so good: This episode is prime IASIP. It brings out the worst, innate qualities in the characters which is what makes it so good. Charlie creeps out the waitress (as usual), Dennis tries to cheat (naturally), Dee dresses like Big Bird, and Mac has a case of insecure toxic masculinity. While this is all happening, Frank is gambling on a children’s basketball game with his Vietnamese buddies.
As the practices become increasingly ridiculous, we finally make our way to the actual game. You’ll see below a montage of the game accompanied by the Globetrotters theme song. Having been rejected by the waitress once again, Charlie shows up to officiate the game extremely drunk. As a result, he has no interest in calling a clean game. Check out the video below for a beautiful montage accompanied by an amazing block by Charlie on a child’s layup (ouch!).
Dennis: “All right. These are for you. There’s a steel toe in there. Don’t be afraid to use it.”
Child: “Thanks, dad.”
Dennis: “I’m not your dad.”
4. South Park – “The Losing Edge”
South Park’s ability to be extremely topical is what has kept it on air for over 20 years. The episode, “The Losing Edge” is no exception.
Premise: The boys want to play video games all summer but instead are forced into a baseball tournament by their parents.
Why it’s so good: The reason this makes my Mt. Rushmore +1 of best sports comedy episodes is Stan’s dad, Randy Marsh.
If you grew up playing sports, you have probably seen an abundance of Little League parents trying to relive their glory days and brawling with each other while scarring their kids for life. Not to mention some prime internet/ youtube videos. The creators of South Park brought our youth to cartoon television with Stan’s dad getting aggressively drunk and fighting other parents.
As South Park finds their way into the championship (surprisingly), Randy Marsh decides he needs to fight opposing team Denver’s “Bat Dad.” As the fight progresses, the umpires threaten to disqualify the team if one more punch is thrown. When the kids hear this, they decide to cheer on Mr. Marsh so their season can end. After hearing the cheers, Randy defeats “Bat Dad” while disqualifying South Park from the tournament. Everyone’s a winner (except Bat Dad).
Famous Quote: “Oh I’m sorry, I thought this was America!”
3. The Office – “Basketball”
Premise: Dunder Mifflin Regional Manager, Michael Scott, notices the guys in the warehouse have a basketball court set up. Wanting to show his talents, he challenges the warehouse crew forcing the loser to work on a Saturday.
Why it’s so good: Michael believes his team of office workers will defeat the warehouse guys easily as he selects his players based on racial, weight, and age stereotypes.
If anyone has played pick up basketball before, Michael is a combination of so many nightmare players. I cringe every time he makes an excuse for missing a shot, asking if the hoop is regulation, calling egregious fouls, not picking up on defense…it’s endless. The frustration from his opponents is palpable.
The game is surprisingly evenly matched. On one end you have Jim and Roy who each get a little rough with one another trying to win Pam’s affection. On the other end, you have Dwight who surprisingly has some game (sporting the Richard Hamilton mask of course). However, the part that makes me want to curl up in a ball and cry is when Michael tries to cheat at the end and claim victory for the office workers. The warehouse guys refuse to accept the outcome and intimidate Michael into defeat. Michael being Michael, backs down rather easily and allows the warehouse to win.
On another note, this sports related episode of “The Office” has generated some amazing content created by fans. Check out this 30 for 30 mock video, it’s so good.
Michael Scott: “Who am I? Am I Michael Scott? I don’t know… I might just be a basketball machine. What’s Dunder Mifflin? I’ve never heard of it. Filing? Paperwork? Who cares? Possible downsizing? Um… well, that’s probably gonna happen, actually.”
2. The Simpsons – “Homer at the Bat”
If you are a Simpson’s fan, then you know that this episode is a certified Simpson’s classic and has even been chosen as one of the best Simpson’s episodes of all time. Pretty impressive for a show that has been on for 30 years.
Premise: Homer’s company is primed for another losing season of softball; until Mr. Burns makes a few calls.
Why it’s so good: This episode truly has everything:
- MLB player cameos
- “The Natural” references
- Mr. Burns’ brilliant managing
- Don Mattingly looking like Dennis Eckersley (right?!)
- The “Talkin’ Baseball” credits
To try and win the championship (and a $1 million bet), Mr. Burns recruits 9 MLB all-stars to play on his team. One by one, each recruit bows out of the game. Steve Sax gets arrested, Jose Canseco is exterior designing, until every one of them is ineligible except Darryl Strawberry. The championship game begins and Strawberry starts in right field while Homer sits on the bench and watches.
Fast forward to the last inning where the game is tied with 2 outs and the bases loaded, Strawberry comes to the plate. Shockingly, Mr. Burns calls him back to the dugout and decides to pinch hit with Homer (playing the percentages as he says). As Homer steps to the plate, he gets plunked in the head and walks home the winning run. Mr. Burns’ strategy paid off!
Mr. Burns: “Mattingly! I thought I told you to trim those sideburns! Go home! You’re off the team. For Good!”
Don Mattingly: “Fine…I still like him better than Steinbrenner.”
1. Seinfeld – “The Boyfriend”
Ahhh Seinfeld, a fan favorite for so many reasons and a show that has featured sports in many of their episodes. Often, they give a peek into George’s experiences as the “Assistant to the Traveling Secretary” for the New York Yankees. While you may argue that every Seinfeld sports episode is great, the best all around goes to “The Boyfriend.”
Premise: Keith Hernandez has woven his way into the entire Seinfeld gang’s lives: Those who love him at first come to loathe him and vice versa.
Why it’s so good: Jerry, George, & Elaine have each developed a personal connection to Hernandez. As a result, Kramer & Newman become infuriated to learn they have become friendly with him. They have their own personal connection with the Mets’ first baseman that leaves everyone perplexed.
Kramer and Newman have recalled a specific incident with Hernandez, the likes of which has been recreated as the JFK assassination. After a poor game by Hernandez, Newman shouted out at him, “Nice game, pretty boy!”. Immediately after, Kramer and Newman are both struck by a “magic loogie.” When they turned around, all they saw was Hernandez so they assumed he was the culprit. However, they finally get to meet Hernandez and hear his side of the story.
The conclusion: don’t mess with Roger McDowell and his glorious mullet.
George: “I am not a chucker! I Never have chucked! Never will chuck! No chuck! Kramer, am I a chucker?”
Kramer: “Oh, you’re a chucker, buddy.”
Well, that’s all folks. Now go start compiling your top 5 and place them in the comments!
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