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SPORTING EQUIVALENCY: GEORGE CLOONEY

8/5/2008
"Renee, you look great! Now seriously, do you have a Bucks vs. Kings score?" Getty Images

This is how cool George Clooney is: pretty much the entirety of his Oscars red carpet interview with Regis Philbin was about the Notre Dame basketball game earlier in the day. Despite the fact that he had a ridiculously hot girl hanging off his arm , owns mansions in Italy and is arguably "The Last Great Movie Star" (as TIME Magazine called him), he's still a sports nut, and boys with our soon-to-be columnist Rick Reilly (coming in a month!); they worked together on Leatherheads. Today, as Clooney turns 47, we dedicate our Sporting Equivalency feature to him. Who's like him in the four major sports? Well, one springs to mind right away.

George Clooney's NBA Equivalent: Chris Paul

Coolest thing about Chris Paul and George Clooney? They have the same birthday. Paul is a mere 23 today, but these guys are similar in terms of their current dominance. Paul's team has a 2-0 lead on the defending champs, he's been an ESPN The Magazine feature subject within the past three months, and if it wasn't for arguably the best player of the last decade getting his first MVP, that mighta gone to Paul too. Earlier this year, the UN named Clooney "a messenger of peace;" he was also up for Best Actor this year, but fell to Daniel Day-Lewis (kind of like losing MVP to Kobe). Just like Paul does charity work in the Big Easy, Clooney is a legitimate voice on political matters, especially Darfur. You really can't stop either one of these guys right now.

George Clooney's MLB Equivalent: Josh Beckett

First thing that comes to mind is Jeter, for the starlets and his consistent status as an A-Lister (Jetes and Clooney are both rep'ed by CAA). Clooney, though, keeps on dominating; he won "Sexiest Man Alive" nine years apart (1997/2006), which is tough. We love Jeter as much as the next guy, but his last World Championship came when LeBron was a freshman in high school. Beckett's won 2 of the last 5, including beating the Yankees in the Bronx back in 2003; he's proving himself to be one of the most clutch postseason pitchers of this generation, and he does it all while seeming laid back as all get out. He's dated a few starlets in his time, and that hemp necklace seems like something George might rock, if only a loaner version from Brad Pitt.

George Clooney's NFL Equivalent: Peyton Manning

The key difference here is the "consistent bachelor" element; Clooney claims he'll never get married or have kids, a bet that Michelle Pfeiffer and Nicole Kidman both lost to him . Manning is settled down. Aside from that, their similarly dry senses of humor, capacity to act as a pitchman for virtually everything and mutual association with the American South—in addition to Peyton's movie star good looks—link these two.

George Clooney's NHL Equivalent: Nicklas Lidstrom

We were thinking Joe Thornton here, then we remembered the Jeter argument: Thornton hasn't won anything of value. Lidstrom is a three-time Cup winner (en route to four!), a three-time Norris Trophy winner and this season he surpassed Peter Forsberg on the scoring list for Swedish-born NHL players. Drafted 53rd overall in 1989, Lidstrom didn't join Detroit until two years later; while he finished second to Pavel Bure in Calder Trophy voting that year, a 53rd pick and a 2-year gap before prominence is almost like making the successful jump from TV to film. Clooney did that; heck, he may be the pre-eminent example of that (Shelley Long being the other end of the spectrum). They're both gorgeous and people in their zone—be it Hollywood or Hockeytown—love 'em.