SPECIAL: The Sweathog Formula

Can 1970s sitcom "Welcome Back, Kotter" predict NBA Champions? Brandon Pence has a theory.
(Originally Published in 2011)
In the 1970s, a surprise hit-show came along that appealed to the casual audience.  A show they could relate to. No other show in the history of television combined intentional comedy, catch-phrases, crazy white guy afros, and 1970s porn mustaches quite like “Welcome Back Kotter.”  The first two years it was on television it was in the top 25 rated shows on TV, the third year it slipped to #27, just outside of it. Kotter helped launch the career of John Travolta, it’s only true star.  So, how did this show work exactly?  The Sweathog formula is quite simple really:
Superstar (Barbarino) + Sidekick (Horshack) + 3rd Wheel (Boom Boom) + Filler (Epstein) + The Guy That’s Been There (Kotter) = A Winner.It is the simplest formula on the planet. Take one guy with lots of talent and surround him by guys that have talent, but can’t quite carry a show by themselves and quite frankly, need one another, and surround them with a guy that has experience and it usually translates to a winner.

Now, fast forward to 2011.  Lebron announces his “decision” and taking his talents to South Beach, they hold their celebration for the next decade a year in advance of their first perceived championship, and pretty much all of the United States hates the Miami Heat.  NBA fans’ disgust just kept growing as the media just swarmed the Heat like bees attracted to honey.  NBA fans were nauseated at the thought of the “best player in the NBA” teaming up with “a top 5 best player in the NBA” and another suitable all-star, seemingly stacking the odds against the rest of the league.  Then, NBA fans finally threw up in their mouths a little bit as ESPN launched the Heat index to follow every single movement the “Big 3” made.  It turned a corner for the NBA.  It was very much like when Hulk Hogan turned his back on WCW and joined the other big stars from then WWF, Kevin Nash and Scott Hall.  Fans hated these guys, propelling garbage into the ring when he told the fans to “stick it, brother.”  The Miami Heat became the NWO of the NBA and the NBA profited off of it.  Nobody wanted to see Miami win the title, but as the Finals began everybody began to worry that they might actually do it.

But they didn’t.

You see, when Lebron made his “decision,” he forgot one of the key elements to winning a championship: The formula.

Every NBA champion has to have some version of the formula.  You must have a Superstar, a sidekick, a 3rd wheel, a filler, and a guy that’s been there.   Look at the NBA championship teams since 1996:

96-98 Bulls99 Spurs

00-02 Lakers

03 Spurs

04 Pistons

05 Spurs

06 Heat

07 Spurs

08 Celtics

09 Lakers

10 Lakers

11 Mavs

Michael JordanTim Duncan

Shaquille O’Neal

Tim Duncan

Rasheed Wallace

Tim Duncan

Dwyane Wade

Tony Parker

Paul Pierce

Kobe Bryant

Kobe Bryant

Dirk Nowitizki

Scottie PippenDavid Robinson

Kobe Bryant

David Robinson

Chauncey Billups

Manu Ginobli

Shaquille O’Neal

Tim Duncan

Kevin Garnett

Pau Gasol

Pau Gasol

Jason Terry

Boom Boom:            Epstein:
Dennis Rodman         Steve KerrAvery Johnson           Sean Elliott

Derek Fisher             Robert Horry

Tony Parker              Manu Ginobli

Rip Hamilton            Ben Wallace

Tony Parker              Robert Horry

Alonzo Mourning     Udonis Haslem

Manu Ginobli           Robert Horry

Ray Allen                  Rondo/Perkins

Lamar Odom           Trevor Ariza

Lamar Odom           Fisher/Ron Artest

Jason Kidd               Tyson Chandler

Phil JacksonGreg Poppovich

Phil Jackson

Greg Poppovich

Larry Brown

Greg Poppovich

Pat Riley

Greg Poppovich

Doc Rivers

Phil Jackson

Phil Jackson

Rick Carlisle

Each one of those teams fulfilled every spot of the Sweathog formula.  Each team had their one, clear, defined superstar, a reliable sidekick, a conforming 3rd wheel, and the guy that just fills in the blanks.  Each team also had a coach who had been there before, either as a coach or a player, and could advise them on the pressure they would be facing.  This formula doesn’t work for Miami: Superstar: Lebron or Wade? Sidekick: Lebron or Wade? 3rd Wheel: Bosh? (Complained about his touches throughout the year) Filler: Haslem (injured most of the season) Guy that’s been there: None There were too many question marks for the Miami Heat this year.  Until, Lebron and Wade decide who should be the Horshack, the Miami Heat will not be winning 5, not 6, not seven….not even 1 NBA Championship.  And judging by the Finals, Lebron should be yelling, “Oooh, oooh ooh!” at his next joint press conference with Wade.