R.I.P. Ed McMahon; An Ode to Sidekicks

Cheers, Ed McMahon. Were it not for you, I would have never learned about the value of a good blooper, why checks are so much better when they're the size of surfboards, and how hard it truly is to be a quality spokesmodel. Renaissance man that you were, you did all of this while defining the role of sidekick for a generation, showing the proper way to chuckle along even when the jokes weren't funny and picking just the right moment of dead air to drop a "HhhhhhhYES!" to validate Johnny Carson's patter. You also only went on the air drunk once in 22 years, and in our book that's quite an accomplishment. ↵

↵So, as a tribute to the original horse whisperer, we now present the five best sports sidekicks of the modern era. ↵

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↵Kobe Bryant. Certainly performed well enough as a sidekick during the three championships he won with Shaquille O'Neal, but really solidified his role as the Prince of Sidekicks by validating Derek Fisher's status as our greatest currently playing NBA titan by supporting him on the way to his fourth NBA title. ↵

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↵Bill Parcells. Did stellar work as the jovial, lovable media-darling while Bill Belichick ran the defenses behind the New York Giants, Jets, and Patriots success while Parcells was "head coach." Did lose some of his luster during his tenure alone at Dallas, but that's what happens to sidekicks without their anchor: ↵they tend to drift, and then retire to South Florida. ↵

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↵Scotch. A loyal sidekick to many, Scotch performed some of its finest work with Joe Namath and Kenny Stabler during a golden age of quarterback/scotch teamwork in the 1970s, and was the sports beverage of choice for the entire 1981 Raiders team. Notable for its longevity, Scotch also did fine work with the 1986 World Champion New York Mets before settling into a long-term relationship with John Daly throughout the 1990s. Though they recently split, Scotch is said to be continuing its work with numerous sports clients who do not wish to be named at this moment. ↵

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↵John Stockton. Yes, he had the luxury of being able to run the pick-and-roll with the ultimate power forward of his era, Karl Malone. But don't overlook the fine work Stockton did diverting the unrelenting attention of the press by wearing thigh-high basketball shorts, blinding photographers with his brilliant white flesh and allowing Karl Malone to escape nightly to the post-game tranquility of his ranch in the Salt Lake City foothills. ↵

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↵Scottie Pippen. I can already hear you: no man with a Mr. Submarine endorsement can be considered a second banana. Yet Pippen somehow managed to hold down the role of premier submarine sandwich pitchman and sidekick to Michael Jordan for the entirety of his term in Chicago, a real feat and testament to his status as king of all sidekicks. Pippen went as far as having breakfast with Jordan most days during the second three-pack of championships, letting Ron Harper in as a kind of sidekick-to-the-sidekick. That's just how good he was: ↵he was a sidekick with his own sidekick. (And Ron Harper had his own sidekick, and he had his own, and if I keep going we're in a Russian doll/homunculus problem loop that will blow your mind if you let it.) ↵

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This post originally appeared on the Sporting Blog. For more, see The Sporting Blog Archives.

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