Growing up to the tune of video games, a lot of us learned the concept of “closing out” at a fairly adolescent age. For Mortal Kombat aficionados the concept, though always tough yet always anticipated, was termed as a “Fatality” with the famous catchphrase “FINISH HIM!” While I share the same age as some of the older Wizards players and probably the same lower body regressions, it’s accurate to say those two words that invoke a brutal “fatality” should be reprocessing in their heads from the moment they drooped out of bed this morning, up until the final buzzer of Game 5 at the United Center tonight.
Much like the arrangement of Mortal Kombat tournaments, an NBA playoff series consists of several ‘best-of’ matchups with the objective of reaching a required number of victories in order to move on to your next opponent. Often times, even the ferocity and aggression of a playoff game can measure up to an MK fight – lots of guts (the idiomatic variety), but just a little less blood. But unfortunately, unlike Mortal Kombat, a special move like the Brazilian Bamboo clutch Nene put around the neck of Jimmy Butler will get you disqualified and suspended. I guess I’ll take back my previous comparisons.
Tonight can potentially serve as the final round for the Wizards and give them an opportunity to “Finish” off the Chicago Bulls on their home floor and advance to the next round of the NBA Playoffs. This would be just the second time in 31 years the Wizards have survived an opening match, with previous fatalities coming by way of LeBron “Raiden” James and his Cavs on three consecutive occasions between 2006 and 2008. Other defeats came by way of Michael “Scorpion” Jordan and the Chicago Bulls of ‘97 (when the United Center was REALLY a “MadHouse”), preceded by a string of playoff defeats in the 1980s.
And now it is the Wizards’ time to claim the role of fearsome Mortal Kombatants. The newly appointed Scorpion and Liu Kang, Raiden and Goro. After tonight, those characters will hopefully be portrayed in John Wall and Bradley Beal, Nene and Gortat. How do these characters measure up with these Wizards players, let’s have some fun with it:
John Wall aka Scorpion
The ringleader and one of the finest warriors the game has seen; a BOSS. His signature moves set his defenders ablaze like a fire-breathing ninja. His ability to commit chase down blocks in transition is comparable to the act of teleporting and surprise ambush attacks. He is well-versed in the art of attack and with each moment he rises off the hardwood following a hard fall, it is as if he is immune to demise. He wields various weapons throughout his battles: the spearing cross-court pass, the bewildering behind the back layup, the leg scissoring hesitation move. John Wall is second to none, and tonight we anticipate him to set the United Center off.
Bradley Beal aka Liu Kang
Like Liu Kang, Beal has gradually evolved into a fearless renegade. His strong spiritual beliefs cause him to act subtle and help prepare him for combat, but when on the court suppressing his opponents, he’s utterly destructive. Through vigorous training by the likes of Sam Bo’ Rai Cassell, Beal has developed floor skills swell enough to crush his defenders like the force of a flying kick. Like Wall, Brad possesses an element of fire, but more so in the form of shooting. His textbook form and perfect arches turn basketballs into fireballs, disintegrating nets and diminishing opponents.
Nene aka Raiden
“The Eternal God of Wizard”, the “Protector of DCrealm”. Unlike the “Elder God” Raiden, Nene is more of a hard-body in the paint, but possesses several pain-inflicting moves that can crush a defender like the Torpedo. He may even yell some Portuguese randoms while doing so. We saw him in Game 4 giving Jimmy Butler his version of the Shocker, grabbing him by the back of the neck. He is a teacher, steps up for his guys and gives instructions of rules and strategies in any “tournament” the guys are in. His ferocious dunk facials send currents of electricity all throughout the Verizon Center and any other venue.
Marcin Gortat aka Goro
Gortat is the kind of guy you can imagine eating a huge drumstick of chicken.
He uses his long arms to disrupt plays and roll the ball in off his fingers from seemingly 10 feet away from the rim (since everything closer to that seemingly bunnys right off). Like Goro, Gortat feeds off his strength and surprising agility for a big man. When at the rim, Gortat has had the opportunity to pound the ball into the rim like a Goro Grab pounds victims into the ground. Despite the many physical similarities between Goro and Gortat (sans the two extra arms), there are some holes in Gortat’s defense that would probably compare him to the more recent, slower Goro character.