For the Banana Boat Boys, this past week has ushered in a new age: the era of Banana Boat Ring Chasing (BBRC for short).
For those unfamiliar with the Banana Boat Boys, it’s the superstar quartet of BFFs consisting of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Paul and Carmelo Anthony. James, Paul, Wade and Wade’s wife Gabrielle Union famously rode together in the summer of 2015 on a yellow tube-shaped vessel (Anthony reportedly didn’t want to go on) and people have been dreaming up conspiracy theories on how all four of these players could end up on the same team one day.
Those conspiracies resurfaced in June when Wade posted a throwback picture of the four of them from 2006.
Nearly two weeks later, Wade was at it again when he even got a Snapchat filter of the four of them on a banana boat.
The Banana Boat Boys are back at it. [Credit: @DwyaneWade/Snapchat] pic.twitter.com/hTq0QtZiyz
— ESPN (@espn) June 28, 2016
Two of these future Hall Of Famers, Anthony and Wade, changed teams during the past week, joining Paul, who forced his way to Houston in late June via a blockbuster trade that shook the NBA to its core.
After a summer of speculation and far-from-subtle hints that he wanted out of New York, the Knicks on Monday finally traded Anthony to Oklahoma City, which added Paul George alongside Russell Westbrook in July. Wade was bought out on Monday by Chicago — where he went for a quasi-sabbatical in his hometown (though the Three Alphas group of Wade, Jimmy Butler and Rajon Rondo gave Boston a run in the first round of the playoffs) before the Bulls decided to go full Kevin O’Connor and BLOW IT UP — and will join his old banana boat pal LeBron in Cleveland with the Cavs.
Aside from LeBron, who’s been to seven straight NBA Finals and will probably be on a contending team until the day he retires, the rest of the Banana Boat Boys are at the stages of their careers where they’re all ring chasers, going from contender to contender trying to win an elusive championship.
We know the exploits of James and Wade, who won championships both together and separately and will now try to win another one with the Cavaliers. But Paul and Anthony have never reached the Finals, and have now joined elite Western Conference teams looking to dethrone the mighty Golden State Warriors.
After trading Kyrie Irving to Boston a few weeks ago in a deal featuring Isaiah Thomas (out until at least January with hip problems), a crunch-time lineup in the playoffs featuring Thomas, James, Wade, Jae Crowder and Kevin Love would pose a lot of problems for opponents. Wade will likely get enough rest to be fresh for the playoffs — as Cleveland has good guard depth in former Knicks (and Carmelo teammates) J.R. Smith, Iman Shumpert, Derrick Rose and Jose Calderon — as D-Wade ring-chases for the rest of his career.
If Cleveland flames out in the playoffs this year and LeBron bolts for, say, the Lakers, Wade is an unrestricted free agent next summer and will probably just sign one-year contracts with another contender, and do the same thing every year as long as teams will have him.
Carmelo Anthony, and his alter-egos Hoodie Melo, Banana Boat Melo, Olympic Melo and Fedora Melo, should have been ring-chasing for years by now. Instead of working out a free agency deal with Chicago in the summer of 2014, where he would have played with Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah (coming off winning the Defensive Player of the Year award), Pau Gasol and possibly Jimmy Butler (if Chicago wouldn’t have had to acquire Anthony in a sign-and-trade), he re-signed with Phil Jackson’s Knicks for five years with a no-trade clause that drew out his tenure in NYC even further. Anthony hasn’t made the playoffs since he signed that contract, but that’s in the past now.
Bring on ring-chasing Melo!
Anthony now gets to be the third option on the Thunder behind Westbrook and George, while being hidden by head coach Billy Donovan on defense, and that should unleash the efficient excellence that is Olympic Melo. Instead of being bogged down in hundreds of predictable isolation plays like he was with New York, Melo will get a lot more open looks for catch-and-shoot 3-pointers, and other open looks he’ll love, like he did at the Olympics. He won’t have that constant pressure on him that he faced over the last several years and should be a lot more comfortable in a winning Oklahoma City environment.
And the ring chasing doesn’t stop there, even if Oklahoma City falls short of its second-ever Finals appearance. Since Westbrook, George and Anthony all have player options on their contracts after this season, the trio can be potential free agents next summer. So if Westbrook and/or George decided to leave the Thunder for, say, the Lakers, Melo can go chase a ring someplace else. BBRC for life!
Chris Paul doesn’t seem like a ring chaser right now in Houston, but he most definitely is.
Knowing that the Los Angeles Clippers core of him, Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan and J.J. Redick weren’t going to go very far in the Western Conference playoffs, Paul made it clear to L.A. management that he was going to sign with Houston to join James Harden and head coach Mike D’Antoni’s player-friendly offense. So instead, the two teams orchestrated a blockbuster trade which brought several players to the Clippers.
Paul now joins Harden to form the league’s best backcourt and gives CP3 the best opportunity of his career to reach the conference finals for the very first time. But here’s the thing: Paul never signed a contract extension with the Rockets, so he too is an unrestricted free agent after the season. So if things don’t go smoothly sharing ball-handling responsibilities with Harden, Paul can bolt next summer to, say, the Spurs, and continue to chase rings elsewhere.
So while the Banana Boat Boys are still not, and may never be, together, the dream of each of them winning championships is far from dead. In fact, it may never be more realistic than it is right now. Done in their careers with being the franchise players, the alpha dogs, on their respective teams, Wade, Anthony and Paul are now in the stages of their careers where they’re more secondary players (no disrespect to CP3, who’s a 1A to Harden’s 1 and is still an elite-level player) with a championship as their number one priority and goal, rather than money, respect or franchise-player status.
With the preseason almost underway and Wade, Paul and Anthony getting acclimated to their new surroundings as championship contenders, there’s only one thing left to say: Let the Banana Boat Ring-Chasing era begin!