Celebrity vs. Saint: “Big Men” Edition

Welcome to the inaugural edition of Celebrity vs. Saint!  Stealing a page (yes, I just took the whole page) out of the playbook of the great Dr. Jack Ramsey (and, yes, Bill Simmons) I’m planning for this to be a running feature where I’ll pit a saint against a celebrity and breakdown the tape Dr. Jack style.  In order to make that happen I’ll need help though, so send any Celebrity vs. Saint breakdowns you want done to me at [email protected] or fill up the comments below.  Thanks all.

Edition #1 pits Hakeem “the Dream” Olajuwon (born: January 21) vs. St. Sebastian (feast day: January 20).  How do they stack up?  Let’s turn to the tape.

Poster VS.

St. Sebastian

BIRTH & DEATH

  • Hakeem – Born: January 21, 1963 (Happy MLK 50th, Dream!).  Died: TBD… although there are solid rumors saying that a part of Hakeem’s soul died when he was trying to teach Dwight Howard the Dream Shake (…no, Dwight, it’s supposed to look like this).
  • St. Sebastian – Feast day: January 20th.  Died: A.D. 288 by being “tied to a post, shot by arrows, then clubbed to death.”

Edge: Olajuwon. Honestly this is not close.  St. Seabass got the holy hell beat out of him (I am not exaggerating here). Olajuwon is still walking down the streets of Houston flashing the gentle smile.

HOMETOWN

  • Hakeem – Lagos, Nigeria but splits time between Jordan and Houston, TX.
  • St. Sebastian – Gaul (current day Languedoc), and later moved to Milan.

Edge: Seabass! The saint grew up close to the Alps and the Mediterranean and followed that with a stint in Milan. Sure, Olajuwon splits his time between two oil rich regions, but one of those is in not-joking-about-it turmoil and the other is most famous for concealed carry laws, the rodeo and the Houston Lastros, er… the Disastros, wait… the Astros. (Welcome to the AL West, boys!)

STAT LINE

  • Hakeem – Let’s just run though it: two time NBA champ, two time Finals MVP, one regular season MVP, twice Defensive Player of the Year, scored over 26K points, pulled down over 13K rebounds, swatted 3,800+ shots, yada yada yada…
  • St. Sebastian – Not as many blocks here, but he’s got one cured a mute woman, 78 conversions to Christianity, one protection of all the Lombards from the plague (don’t overlook that one), and the trump card: one shot-with-arrows-until-believed-dead… and then got up!

Edge: Sebastian! Ok, ok… the Dream put up some wicked stats. But honestly, the man got shot with arrows and got back up! Maybe if Dream could counter with Jordan’s epic flu-game of ‘97 (played 44 minutes, poured in 38 points) then the rest two championships would put him over the top.  But maybe not, I mean Seabass stopped the plague and topped it off by having way more followers than me on Twitter… (although you could change that by following me @jsullysj …what?!)  

ENEMIES

  • Hakeem – Played in the era of one Michael J. Jordan and confronted some of the greatest big men of all time: David Robinson, Shaq-fu, Karl Malone, and the great Georgetown centers Mourning, Mutumbo and Ewing.  
  • St. Sebastian – Diocletian, Emperor of Rome.

Edge: Tie.  This one’s too close to call.  Sure, Diocletian got Sebastian and went on to spur the largest and bloodiest persecution of Christians in the known world, but we know how that ended up, I mean if your enemy causes you to become a saint and helps spur a global religion of over 1 billion people I wouldn’t call his persecution “effective.”  As for Olajuwon, even though never did beat Jordan in his prime he sure dominated Ewing and Robinson.  I can’t choose here, so we’re rolling this one over, skins-game style!

LEGACY

  • Hakeem – There’s a lot here.  Not only is he enshrined in NBA Hall of Fame, but he may well have been the greatest shot blocker of all-time (counter argument to your Mutumbo, Chamberlain, Bill Russell counter arguments: check out this Block of John Starks in ‘94 finals).  Plus he made over $100 million whilst in the league, has a daughter who played in the WNBA, and still teaches everybody who’s anybody in the league how to hone their post games.  
  • Sebastian – Guy was enshrined in his own Hall of Fame when named a saint, plus he’s got his own Church (Sebastiano fuori le mura).  Inspired numerous pieces of classic art, literature and music by such eminent names as Debussy, Boticelli, and Mann (and that’s not counting that great Esquire cover of Muhammed Ali).  Plus, he’s the patron saint of soldiers, plagues, archers, and… athletes!

Edge: Seabass!  Really it comes down to this: how can an athlete beat out the guy who is the patron saint of athletes?!  That ain’t happening unless Beyonce and Houston’s own “Destiny’s Child” reunite to produce a booty-shakin’ tribute to the “Dream Shake.” Otherwise, it’s St. Sebastian taking this category – and the inaugural Celebrity vs. Saint – in a cake walk.

THE WINNER’S CIRCLE: ST. SEBASTIAN, who only could have done it with a little help from his friends:

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Editor’s note: the cover image by Ivan Stader can be found here.

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