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cheek by jowl

Face-off: Glee’s Kevin McHale vs. Boston Celtics Legend Kevin McHale

With Fox’s smash musical Glee returning tonight, we felt the need to clear something up: No, Kevin McHale — the actor who plays Glee’s wheelchair-bound nerd Artie Abrams — is not the same Kevin McHale who starred on the Boston Celtics’ legendary eighties championship teams. Strangely enough, though, the two do have more in common than first glance would suggest. We compared them in categories including “Late-Career Options” and “Footwork” and found some startling similarities. To the seventeen people who love both musical theater and eighties basketball — you’re welcome!

  Kevin McHale Kevin McHale
Part of a Celebrated Ensemble? Yes. McHale shares the spotlight with multiple-talent-having Broadway pros Lea Michele and Matthew Morrison. (Also with Cory Monteith.) Yes. Along with Larry Bird and Robert Parish, McHale made up the Celtics original Big Three.
Footwork Excellent. While wheelchair-bound on the show, McHale has a dance background in the boy band NLT, and has said he must resist the urge to move his feet while in character. Same. McHale’s bottomless arsenal of low-post moves — all contingent on his fancy footwork — are renowned.
Has Taken Four Months Off the Job? Yes — Glee’s first season is returning from just such a hiatus. Again, yes. If your team wins the title, as McHale’s Celtics did three times, your off-season is roughly that long.
Source of Controversy? Yes. The casting of the non-disabled McHale in a disabled-character role has been publicly criticized. Why, yes! As the general manager of the Minnesota Timberwolves, McHale traded Kevin Garnett to the Celtics in a one-sided swap some said was a conscious move to help his former team.
Late-Career Options Most likely will be on TV in some form. At the very least he can work for whatever creatively bankrupt network will revive Glee with better-looking people in twenty years. Already on TV! After playing, coaching, and working in the front office, he’s now a basketball commentator on TNT.
Had a Rough Time During a White House Visit? Remember this performance? Weirdly, yes. The Celtics went to the White House after the 1984 championship, but it was so hot during their visit that they didn’t come back in 1986. Seriously.
Career Highlight Involves Singing? Yes — his solo “Dancing With Myself,” from episode nine. Yeah, we couldn’t figure out how to make this one match up.
Photo: Patrick Ecclesine/FOX, Dick Raphael/NBAE/Getty Images