Utah Jazz Players And Their Disney Character Counterparts
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – The Utah Jazz are well underway in their return to basketball. The team has been at The Walt Disney World Resorts for over a week as they prepare for their July 30 return. The team practiced for each of its first seven days in the bubble, and as a result, haven’t had the opportunity to enjoy the limited available sites and sounds of the Disney experience. With Wednesday serving as the team’s first day off from practice, I decided to match each Jazz player with their Disney character counterpart.
First, some rules. My goal was to assign Jazz players a Disney character match based on role and personality, not appearance. Beyond some of the team’s bigger players being represented by bigger characters, and smaller players being represented by small characters, appearance wasn’t a factor. Yes, I recognize Quin Snyder could have been plucked from Paris at the turn of the 16th century, but I didn’t assign him a character from The Hunchback of Notre Dame.
Second, I tried to avoid using human characters. While that prevented me from using any princesses, it also basically eliminated any female characters to choose from. While I did this research, I realized outside of a few notables (Minnie Mouse and Daisy Duck) Disney has seriously undeveloped its female anthropomorphic characters. It’s not a condemnation on women, it’s a condemnation on Disney.
Third, I didn’t use any superheroes. In fact, if a character first appeared in a Disney movie after 2002, they simply didn’t make the list. That’s a reflection of my age and biases, not the quality of movies before or after 2002.
Each Jazz Players as a Disney Character
Mike Conley – Jiminy Cricket
— Disney (@Disney) September 13, 2013
Assigning Jiminy Cricket and Mike Conley was one of the more obvious matches. On top of his smaller stature, Cricket is sage, wise, righteous, and a natural leader.
In Pinocchio, Cricket was tasked with guiding the younger character. Over time, he found his footing and achieved his goal. Likewise, the Jazz brought Conley in to help guide the young roster to a better promise land, and he’ll get his opportunity in Orlando.
Donovan Mitchell – Peter Pan
— Disney (@Disney) February 5, 2014
Donovan Mitchell gets assigned the only human character of the bunch. While Mickey Mouse would have been an easy comparison, but Disney’s main character doesn’t carry the same nuance as Mitchell and Pan.
Peter Pan is young, fearless, and ambitious. He’s a natural leader but carries an eternal youthfulness that makes him approachable, rather than intimidating, even if a little impractical. Oh, and did I mention he can fly?
All of those characteristics apply to Mitchell. Despite closing in on a max contract this offseason, the third-year guard still brings a wide-eyed enthusiasm to the game that easy to root for. Despite his youth, the Jazz roster quickly rallied behind him as a leader. He also seems to have pixie dust that allows him to defy gravity.
Joe Ingles – Donald Duck
— Disney (@Disney) June 13, 2019
Here’s the thing about Joe Ingl… err Donald Duck. He’s got a strong personality, but most people still like him. Donald Duck can be a bit of a hothead, but like Ingles, he’s also the main source of comic relief within his universe.
More importantly, both Ingles and Donald Duck are mainstays in the original group of Jazz and Disney characters. Outside of Rudy Gobert, Joe Ingles is the longest-serving member of the Jazz, and like Donald Duck, the roster wouldn’t feel complete without him.
Royce O’Neale – Rajah
— disneyindia (@DisneyIndia) June 24, 2013
Rajah may seem like a minor character, but those in the know recognize his value. The sidekick fo Princess Jasmine is loyal, protective, and fierce. According to Disney fandom, the Tiger escaped the traveling circus before ending up in Jasmine’s royal palace.
Similarly, Royce O’Neale is probably isn’t one of the first players you think of with the Jazz, but those who watch the team understand his importance. Like Rajah, O’Neale escaped basketball obscurity before landing a prized spot on the Jazz roster.
Rudy Gobert – Beast
Beast is not a fan of hair bows. pic.twitter.com/uivjQsbR4K
— Disney (@Disney) July 29, 2014
It feels like Jazz center Rudy Gobert deserves a more conventional Disney character than Beast, but the similarities between the two are too hard to deny.
Beast is an intimidator, aggressive, and he’s extremely impactful as a fighter. He’s got a huge frame, a full spectrum of emotions, but has an easily likable softer side. Also, his glow-up from the time he first appeared on screen to the end of the movie is undeniable.
Similarly, Gobert is the best defensive intimidator in the NBA. His enormous size deters opponents and is inarguably effective on the basketball court. However, like Beast, he’s got a full spectrum of emotions, including an endearing softer side that balances his out his on the court swagger. Speaking of swagger, Gobert is well known for his fashion evolution since entering the NBA.
Bojan Bogdanovic – Little John
— Disney (@Disney) September 6, 2013
Serving as the top supporting character to Robin Hood, Little John is an indispensable asset in the fight for good. Little John has excellent size, is playful, funny, and shows up when he’s needed. He’s also regularly seen donning a variety of disguises.
Similarly, Bogdanovic has proven to be the Jazz best-supporting cast member this season. The forward has excellent size, is a consistent scorer, but never seems to take the game too seriously on or off the floor. Also, he’s shown a knack for appearing in disguise.
Jordan Clarkson – Cheshire Cat
Am I the only Disney fan who thinks the original design of the Cheshire Cat looks like he’s wearing striped pants and a striped sweater?? 🤔 pic.twitter.com/RKSzp15aW1
— Chicagotaku (@TheChicagotaku) March 12, 2020
Jordan Clarkson and the Chesire Cat from Alice in Wonderland seemed like a natural partnership. At first meeting, what to make of the exuberant character is a mystery. He materialized out of thin air, speaks in a specific rhythm, and seems to operate on a different wavelength than every other character in Wonderland. Additionally, his motivations initially seemed somewhat ambiguous.
Like the Cheshire Cat, Clarkson seemed to appear in Utah out of thin air. What he brought to the Jazz, where he fits, and how he would help deserved scrutiny. However, after a short acclimation period, it was clear Clarkson was an essential character on the Jazz roster in helping them find their final destination.
Also, there’s no doubt Chesire Cat is a member of the “Good Vibe Tribe.”
Georges Niang – Genie
— Disney (@Disney) January 25, 2014
The driving motivation for matching Genie and Georges Niang was they both always seem to be talking. I mean that as a compliment because Niang is a legitimately good speaker. During the NBA’s hiatus, the third-year forward flashed his skills as a podcast host speaking to both fellow NBA players, football coaches, and local politicians. Also, he’s fun-loving, silly, and seems to legitimately enjoy his time.
Likewise, Genie really doesn’t stop talking throughout all of Aladdin. He’s enthusiastic, friendly, and playful. He’s also goofy but contributes a lot to the story. Also, both the Genie and Niang seem to have been passed around a few times before finally finding a comfortable landing spot.
Tony Bradley – Baloo
— Disney (@Disney) February 10, 2014
Despite his enormous size, Baloo is the gentlest character in The Jungle Book. He’s laid back, good-natured, a little clumsy, but very sweet.
Likewise, Tony Bradley has intimidating size but is one of the kindest players in the NBA. Bradley had a breakout season with the Jazz, which mirrored the emergence of his incredible personality. Bradley is humble, gentle, and a little soft-spoken. Like Baloo, his overall size makes him a little accident-prone.
Emmanuel Mudiay – Magic Carpet
I never noticed the Cave of Wonder design on the magic carpet from Aladdin (1992) pic.twitter.com/NWEzUWRun8
— Movie Details (@moviedetail) January 23, 2020
It’s easy to view the Magic Carpet from Aladdin as an afterthought among the rest of the movie’s characters. However, despite its quiet nature, the Magic Carpet is an indispensable character in the story. Often times, when Aladdin finds himself in trouble, Magic Carpet steps in quietly and saves the day. It also has incredible style.
All of these descriptions could easily apply to Emmanuel Mudiay. The reserve guard is often shy but has played a huge role for the Jazz on more than one occasion. Before the arrival of Jordan Clarkson, Mudiay was a consistent staple in the Jazz rotation. After Clarkson arrived, Mudiay again proved his value due to injuries to Mike Conley. His quiet nature allows him to hide in the background, but he’s played a key role for the Jazz this year. Also, like the Magic Carpet, he’s got a flair for fashion.
Ed Davis – Bagheera
The new(ish) Jungle Book is sick. Bagheera is my dude. pic.twitter.com/MLDhXbEtXy
— Chris Joinson (@ChrisssyJ) March 12, 2018
Ed Davis has filled a strange fit with the Jazz. After signing to fill the backup center role behind Gobert, Davis never quite clicked into the Jazz offensive system. As a result, he lost his minutes to the younger Bradley. Despite the change, Davis has remained a true professional and has reportedly used his wisdom to help Bradley blossom into a larger role.
If fellow Jungle Book sidekick Baloo represents Bradley, it only makes sense for Davis to be represented by Bagheera. Davis is humble, level headed and has brought wisdom to the Jazz roster.
Juwan Morgan – Elliot (Pete’s Dragon)
Pete’s Dragon is the most underrated Disney movie. 🥺🥺🥺 pic.twitter.com/AKy900hULD
— Bridgette Jones (@BridgeJones1219) May 13, 2020
Admittedly, I didn’t know Pete’s Dragon is actually named Elliott. I thought his name was Pete’s Dragon. That’s fitting because most NBA fans probably couldn’t tell you Juwan Morgan’s first name either.
In fact, there’s not much anyone knows about Morgan. The Jazz like him, he adds versatility, but otherwise, he’s kind of a mystery. Similarly, Morgan has proven his value in his limited minutes, but like Pete who has one truly magic power, he tends to disappear when he’s not on the floor.
Rayjon Tucker – Max Goof
— Laker exceptionalist (@fireByronSc0tt) July 15, 2020
Simply put, Max Goof is a rad dude. He dresses cool, he acts cool, and he’s a terrific extreme sports athlete. Otherwise, he’s a little inconsequential within the Disney universe.
Similarly, Rayjon Tucker carries those same characteristics. Tucker plays a cool style of basketball, he looks cool on camera, and he’s easily one of the most athletic players in the NBA. Despite his fancy nature, he hasn’t quite found a significant role with the Jazz.
Nigel Williams-Goss – Lumiere
Lumière will light the way. pic.twitter.com/tG9KOMXbQ4
— Disney (@Disney) August 8, 2014
The two traits that jump out most about Lumiere are his intelligence and kindness. He’s a gracious host, very well educated, and displays leadership on and off the floor.
Like Lumiere, Nigel Williams-Goss immediately jumps off the page as a kind and intelligent person. He got a terrific education at Gonzaga before being drafted by the Jazz and shows leadership skills as a point guard.
Miye Oni and Jarrell Brantley – Timon and Pumba
Life advice from Timon and Pumbaa: If something is bugging you, just eat it! pic.twitter.com/upEYeaIDOK
— Disney (@Disney) April 11, 2020
Timon and Pumba come as a package deal. Thus, I am going to lump rookies Miye Oni and Jarrell Brantley together as a package deal. Over the summer, both players were competing for the final roster spot on the Jazz main roster, while the other was destined to sign a two-way contract. Ultimately Oni ended up signing a full deal with the Jazz, though Brantley seems to have the potential to fill a larger role in the near future.
Regardless of their contracts, the two Jazz players seem to share similar personality traits with the Disney duo. Oni and Timon are extremely intelligent, athletic, and wiry characters. Meanwhile, the first thing that jumps out about both Brantley and Pumbaa is their incredible size. Beyond their physical dominance, both share high intelligence and likability.
Justin Wright-Foreman – Stitch
No more caffeine for Stitch. pic.twitter.com/Y9lbMQcOQg
— Disney (@Disney) August 2, 2014
The two traits that jump out immediately about stitch are his small stature and incredibly high energy.
The same can be said for Justin Wright-Foreman, the Jazz two-way guard. He’s laser quick, and a constant ball of energy, despite his small size.
Quin Snyder – Ludwig Von Drake
— Disney (@Disney) March 14, 2019
I’ll admit Quin Snyder and Ludwig Von Drake aren’t identical character matches. Von Drake is old, a little senile, and hails from Austria. Snyder is none of those things.
However, Von Drake reportedly holds 98 high-level college degrees, is an expert on many subjects, and as a professor is constantly teaching his pupils. Likewise, Snyder might be the best-educated coach in the NBA. He has multiple degrees, is well versed on several subjects outside of basketball, and constantly teaching.
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