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  • It’s game (of Thrones) time. The NBA playoffs and Champions League knockout stages are here, and with them The Great War. Find out who needs to be on the court and field when Westeros is attacked.

Imagine that, after over a year and a half of contemplating the series’ finale, George R.R. Martin and the creators of HBO’s Game of Thrones decided to flip the script.

Imagine that when Season 8 finally premieres this Sunday, Jon Snow, Daenerys Targaryen, Tyrion Lannister and the rest of their armies are no longer preparing for a sword fight against the White Walkers. Instead, the two sides are lacing up their shoes and cleats, preparing to seal their fates by competing in two high-stakes contests: The NBA playoffs and the Champions League knockout stages.

Imagine that this is the Long Night that fulfills Melisandre’s prophecy, that the saga’s versatile, well-sketched, monumental characters must now enter a realm other than their own—the realm of sports—to fend off the staunchest of opponents. The Great War is here, and it is all that matters. All of the knights, lords and hired swords of Westeros and beyond are lined up on the sidelines ready to defend the Seven Kingdoms.

Who should end up playing in the great game?

Because no two things in life are better than watching sports and obsessing over Game of Thrones (It is known), we took it upon ourselves to find out. Each past and present character—excluding Dragons (sorry Drogon)—was evaluated for starting potential in this year’s upcoming NBA playoffs on April 13 and the Champions League knockout stages, currently going through the quarterfinal round. These are the lineups that will best protect the realm.

Here’s to good fortune in the war to come.

GOT NBA Playoff Starting Lineup

Bryce Wood/Sports Illustrated

Center: Gregor Clegane AKA The Mountain (JH)

Did you see what The Mountain did to Oberyn Martell????! Every team needs someone that will put fear into the hearts (or head ha) of their opponents. No mortal being on GOT can easily beat him. Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson, who plays the character on the show stands at 6’9” and 400+ plus pounds. He started his career as a professional basketball player overseas and is now regarded as the World’s Strongest Man.

Imagine having this guy anchor your defense:

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Power Forward: Brienne of Tarth (AA)

It’s impossible to argue with Brienne’s record. She has 1-on-1 wins against the best swordsmen in the Game, with victories against Jaime Lannister (albeit with his hands shackled) and the Hound. She can guard any position, box out and rebound and probably still drill 15-foot jumpers. Take her combination of size and skill and you’ve got yourself a matchup problem who can change the whole dynamic of the game when she’s on the floor.

Small Forward: Jon Snow (AA)

Clearly a natural athlete and leader, it’s hard to find someone as well-rounded as Jon Snow. He fought wildlings with the Nights Watch before inviting them to the other side of The Wall. He’s put dragonglass daggers through the hearts of White Walkers and captured Winterfell from the hands of Ramsay Bolton before being named the King in the North. His versatility through life’s adventures means he’ll fare well as a player who’s good at everything on the court. Whether you need a ball-handler, a rebounder, an outside or inside shooter or a player who can defend on the perimeter, Jon Snow is your man.

Shooting guard - Night King (JH)

Not much is known about the Night King. No one knows what he is seeking and he doesn’t speak. Do you know who that sounds like? He is basically GOT’s Kawhi Leonard. He is a cold-blooded assassin who shows no emotion. He is also not afraid to take on the biggest challenges such as grill the hell out of Jon Snow or strike down Viserion. Imagine what he could do on a basketball court.

Point Guard - Arya Stark (JH)

To the run the point, you want someone who is versatile and can make plays. Who is better at this than Arya Stark who has trained under Jaqen H’ghar—a faceless man. Arya is able to adapt and use different faces to attack her enemies. She might be on the short side of things but she makes things happen and stands down to no one.

Sixth man: Bran Stark (JH)

Bran might be disabled but he also has the power of the three-eyed-raven, which makes him able to see things in the past, present and future. He could also warg into people. Very Space Jam-ish. Imagine taking on the powers of a LeBron James or a Giannis Antetokounmpo. Bran is a legit wild-card on this squad.

Coach: Petyr “Littlefinger” Baelish (AA)

Chaos is a ladder, and if anyone is going to outsmart the likes of Greg Popovich and Steve Kerr this postseason, it’s Petyr Baelish. No one fights every battle everywhere, always, in his or her mind like Little Finger. “Every possible series of events is happening all at once,” he once told Sansa. A coach with that kind of preparation will never be taken by surprise. Unless, of course, he tries pitting the Starks against one another.

General Manager: Tyrion Lannister (AA)

Men of talent have a part to play in the war to come, and Tyrion Lannister is without question the greatest recruiter the Seven Kingdoms has ever seen. As Hand of the King to Joffrey Baratheon, Tyrion stealthily formed strong alliances while at the same time ridding himself of potential backstabbers (bye, bye, Maester Pycelle). He knew the strengths and weaknesses of every great house well enough that, by the time he was shunned to Essos, he could quickly gain the trust of the Mother of Dragons herself. In no time, he had the Tyrells, Martells and Greyjoys at his queen’s aid. Sure, that alliance was short lived, but with Tyrion at the helm (and no sickly Euron Greyjoys to mess it up), you’re guaranteed a super team––nay, a dynasty––that will last centuries.

Beat reporter: Varys (JH)

The Master of Whisperers is the Woj of Game of Thrones. He is skilled at igniting rumors and has a network of informants in Westeros. I am taking Varys on my squad in hopes of adding a few pieces at the trade deadline.

Thrones F.C.

Bryce Wood/Sports Illustrated

Manager: Ser Davos Seaworth

In the same mold as Sir Alex Ferguson, Davos Seaworth had a few failed seasons at the beginning of his career, but thanks to his experience and realistic optimism, fortunes changed. Players LOVE him. Full of charm, wit and resilience, this team can achieve success...as long as they listen.   

Assistant Manager: Missandei

One of the smartest young coaches in the game and an extremely good communicator with international experience.  A loyal assistant but there is no doubt we’ll see her manage her own squad in the future. No one has endured the pain, the suffering Missandei has gone through so the entire team respects her.

Owner: Tywin Lannister

No one knows whether he’ll sell the club as it seems his decision-making usually tends to be for his own personal gain. But, he’s always given his manager enough money during busy transfer windows. His impatience, however, often puts a lot of pressure on his employees. He once made a reporter cry after being questioned about his shady finances and how he owed a tremendous amount of money to silent investors.  “A Lannister always pays his debts,” he said after throwing a glass of wine at his head. 

Starting XI

(4-3-3)

Goalkeeper: Ygritte

As a shot-stopper, there is no one better than this wildling fighter who reads the game better than most. Despite the odd tendency to mishandle dead ball situations Ygritte is a rock in between the sticks. If she sees her defenders lose focus, she’ll often criticize but has a particular knack for calling out her center midfielders, especially the captain. Something about knowing nothing…   

Right back: Bronn

A tricky defender, able to take people on but most importantly able to overcome any opposing winger, no matter the size. Has a tendency to skip training, but he’s too damn likeable to not start. His loyalty depends on who is willing the biggest transfer fee for his services.  

Center back: Khal Drogo

Might pick up a few yellow cards, but no one is winning a ball in the air against the towering defender. Would be captain if it weren’t for the fact that a few teammates are slightly scared of him. The “Great Khal” goes through extensive pre-season workouts with his bloodriders in order to stay in peak condition and never comes off to be subbed.    

Center back: Brienne of Tarth

The smartest defensive teammate in the squad. Really good on her feet and marks an opponent better than anyone. Extremely loyal and didn’t even ask for a release clause in her contract when it was offered. To use her own quote: All her life, attackers have sneered at her, and all her life, she’s been knocking them into dust. God bless you, Brienne.

Left back:  Grey Worm

There is no defender in the world that covers as much ground as this agile, pacey left back. Quiet on the pitch but lets his skills do the talking. Providing assistance for his left winger also serves as a key piece towards this team’s offensive firepower. The chosen commander of the Unsullied is here to break some ankles.   

Defensive center midfield: Jaqen H’ghar

The best defensive midfielders in the world do impressive things without anyone noticing. Sometimes, in a game, you don’t even know where Jaqen is on the field. And then, just like that, he’s got the ball. Before every game, hell sit quietly in the dressing room with his team and whisper: Valar Dohaeris….and just like that, his team is ready.

Center midfield: Arya Stark

The most talented player in the squad. Passes, dribbles, enters the box with ease and no matter how hard opponents try to foul her, she never goes to ground. Also, you don’t want to foul her, cause she’ll remember. Nothing scares her, nothing shocks her. A girl is Arya Stark and a girl is also a world class center mid.   

Center midfield: Jon Snow

The captain. Critics thought he wouldn’t deliver with a big club, seeing as he was a non-league player years ago, but he’s improved season by season. He was injured during the summer, but now fully fit, the leader of this squad is ready to lead. He is no bastard, he’s the heir to this franchise and ready for his first iron trophy.

Right wing: Oberyn Martell

Not much scouting on this ridiculously skillful winger, who loves to embarrass defenders with his tricks. He does, however, hold the ball for too long, often frustrating his teammates but even so he has too much flair that can’t be passed up. When it comes to war, he fights for Thrones F.C. When it comes to love, he doesn’t choose sides.

Left wing: Daenerys Targaryen

The mother of drag– I mean, crosses. Another dangerous weapon from the left wing, who loves to attack when you least expect it. A strong voice in the locker room and a fan’s favorite. The Dothraki hadn’t crossed the sea, any sea... they did for her. She was born to rule the left wing… and the Seven Kingdoms.

Center forward: Ned Stark

The oldest, but most reliable player in the squad. A legend for this team. Nothing fancy about his goal scoring but he LIVES inside the box, looking for any opportunity to do the right thing and score. Not great at headers. Reaching the last year of his contract, so we know we won’t see him for long. But no doubt, his fans will want a statue of him outside the stadium. His speeches at half time send goosebumps to the entire squad. “When the whistle blows to start the battle, the lone wolf dies, but the pack, the team, survives."  

Subs: Jamie Lannister, The Hound, Yara Greyjoy, Euron Greyjoy, Jorah Mormont

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HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)