Recasting The Polar Express With Sports Stars

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Recasting The Polar Express With Sports Stars

Polar Express
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

It’s that time of the year again, boys and girls. Black Friday is over, snow is falling in the parts of the country that actually have seasons and Christmas is fast approaching. Time to put up the tree, hang the lights and stockings and cop out of buying real presents by getting everyone gift cards.

I, for one, can’t wait to bust out some classic Christmas movies and binge watch them all. One of my favorites is The Polar Express (2004). Based on the children’s book of the same name, the film tells the story of a Christmas Eve train ride to the North Pole, a holiday Odyssey for one boy in particular whose belief in Santa Claus falters as he grows older. It is an animated film which makes me wonder: if the movie was re-made with human actors, who would play the roles?

It’s also a special time of year in sports. The MLB offseason has been wild with multi-team trades and mega-free agent acquisitions; the NFL playoff picture is beginning to take shape; college football is about to announce this year’s Heisman Trophy winner and the 2013-14 NHL and NBA seasons are well underway. With this in mind, I want to take my previous question one step further: if the Polar Express was re-made, what athletes could play the roles?

Let’s have some fun and recast the Polar Express with sports stars. Spoiler Alert: this slideshow contains information about the book/movie’s plot. If you haven’t read the book or seen the movie, you’ve been warned.

All aboard!

James O’Hare is a writer for Follow him on Twitter @JimboOHare, like him on Facebook and add him to your network on Google.

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The Hero Boy -- Andrew McCutchen

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The Hero Boy is the main character who’s in the middle of a crisis of faith. He truly wants to believe in Santa Claus but just doesn’t know if he can. It seems too unrealistic. Ultimately, his journey on the Polar Express helps him to believe wholeheartedly and he is rewarded with a bell from Santa’s sleigh.

Andrew McCutchen was at a similar crossroad in his baseball career. Just as the Hero Boy questioned whether he’d outgrown St. Nick, McCutchen had to question his belief in the lowly Pittsburgh Pirates. But rather than test free agency where he probably could have signed a mega deal with a perennial contender, he believed in the struggling organization that drafted him out of high school. He signed a five-year extension with Pittsburgh in 2012 and just one year later, his faith is paying off. In 2013, the Pirates ended a 21 year playoff drought and McCutchen was named the National League MVP.

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The Conductor -- Bill Belichick

Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Throughout the movie, the Conductor of the Polar Express is constantly checking a pocket watch to make sure the train stays on schedule. He’s running the show and he understands that time is of the essence.

Bill Belichick needs to get a whole lot friendlier to play this role, but he definitely has the credentials when it comes to time management. Under Belichick, the New England Patriots have had numerous late-game comeback victories because their coach is great at managing the clock.

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The Hero Girl -- Chris Paul

Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports

I’m not trying to call Chris Paul a girl or anything like that. I promise this is a compliment, so just bear with me.

The unnamed Hero Girl is probably the most likable character in the movie and goes out of her way to ensure that every kid on the train is involved in the experience of going to the North Pole. As a result, the conductor punches the word “LEAD” into her ticket.

Similarly, Paul is one of the most likable players in the NBA and is arguably the best at getting his teammates involved. He’s currently leading the NBA in assists this year, a feat he’s accomplished three times before in his career. Blake Griffin may have the highlight dunks, but Paul is the rightful leader of the team.

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Billy -- Kevin Garnett

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Billy is a loner whose parents can’t afford to give him the Christmas he deserves. As Billy says, “Christmas just doesn’t work out for me.” Over the course of the movie, he struggles to trust other people and learns to rely on his new friends.

On the return trip from the North Pole, he’s the first kid to be dropped off at his house, where he runs outside triumphantly holding up one of his presents and shouts back to the kids on the train with shock and excitement, “He came! He came!”

Kevin Garnett was a great player on a bad Minnesota Timberwolves team. For 12 seasons, the NBA just wasn’t working out for him. Then he was traded to the Boston Celtics, where he could rely on the players around him. And when Garnett finally won a championship in 2008 he shouted, “Anything’s possibleeeeeeeeee!” Much like Billy’s reaction after he finally got the present he so desired.

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The Know-It-All-Kid -- Richard Sherman

Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

There’s one kid on the train who’s an insufferable know-it-all. Though he is very intelligent, he’s arrogant and annoying, the closest thing to a villain in the story. It’s ironic when the word "LEARN" is punched into his ticket towards the end of the film (meaning humility).

Richard Sherman is one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL – he’ll tell you so himself. After just his second season in the league, he claimed he was better than Darrell Revis, and famously boasted about his intelligence in a debate with Skip Bayless. So far, he hasn’t learned humility in the NFL, but then again, his train ride in the league isn’t over yet.

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Santa Claus -- Mike Napoli

Mark L. Bauer

This one’s pretty simple. Just look at that beard! Plus, his uniform is red and white.