Contrary to popular belief, athletes aren’t always brain-dead jocks. We still have the occasional meat-heads, but today’s athletes have evolved to the point that the dumb jock stereotype is almost as outdated as the letterman jackets they used to rock.
In fact, more and more, we’re seeing athletes who prioritize education and intelligence. Heck, even Shaquille O’Neil is technically Dr. Shaq now.
Many NBA players are capable of careers outside of basketball. Lakers All-Star forward Pau Gasol, for instance, was enrolled in med school before he had the opportunity to play in the NBA.
With the presidential election just days away from being decided, it make one wonder: Which NBA players could make it in the political arena?
I’m going to go through the NBA players (past and present) that could make it in the political world.
First off, Tim Duncan has perhaps the best poker face that the NBA has seen to date. Trying to rile him up is impossible—just ask Shaq. In his book Uncut, Shaq describes his attempts to get under Duncan’s skin:
The Spurs won because of Tim Duncan, a guy I could never break. I could talk trash to Patrick Ewing, get in David Robinson’s face, get a rise out of Alonzo Mourning, but when I went at Tim he’d look at me like he was bored and then say, “Hey, Shaq, watch this shot right here off the glass.”
His education includes a degree from Wake Forest University, earning a degree in [sychology—further evidence of his ability to get in opponents' heads.
Duncan is also well-known for his philanthropic efforts, including the Tim Duncan Foundation. He is very active in his community, both in his birthplace of the Virgin Islands and the San Antonio area.
Overall, Tim Duncan is well-accomplished and calm under pressure. Wouldn’t it be awesome to have a guy like Duncan in office?
Linsanity is over, but the legacy of Jeremy Lin still resides in our hearts as one of the few things in this world that could compete with the Kardashians for airtime.
Jeremy Lin came to the New York Knicks after being cut by three separate teams. He had very little success with the Warriors the year before, so the Knicks signed him to be nothing more than a bench-riding role player.
He didn’t stay that way, though. After losing several point guards to injury, the Knicks were forced to ask Jeremy Lin to step up. He did, and Linsanity ensued.
While we were being mesmerized by Lin’s way of bringing the New York Knicks back to life last season, we weren’t paying attention to the other side of Jeremy Lin—like how he graduated from Harvard with a degree in economics. He held a 4.2 GPA in high school and earned a perfect SAT score in the math category.
If Houston doesn’t end up paying off for Lin, he could always make a great financial advisor. Better yet, he could be a future president. Wouldn’t that be “linsane?”
(Sorry for the pun; it had to happen at some point.)
Shane Battier isn’t only the loyal sidekick to the Miami Heat trio—er, quadruple, he also happens to be a highly intelligent individual.
Best known for his defense, Battier is the “glue guy” for the Miami Heat—he won’t lead in any one stat, but you know you can always rely on him to play fundamental, team-orientated basketball.
Outside of basketball, Battier has made a name for himself as one of the brighter players in the NBA. He graduated from Duke University with a 3.5 GPA, he speaks two languages, was the winner of two Naismith Awards and his interests include finance and sabermetrics.
His intelligence level is reason alone for him to have interest in politics, although it may take a while before he decides to leave the sweet setup he has in Miami.
As if his legacy isn’t enough, Larry Bird is also one of the few players to successfully translate his basketball skills to the business side.
It took him several seasons to get the hang of it, but Bird managed to form the Indiana Pacers into serious contenders before he left the organization.
It's left up to fate whether he ever decides to become a politician or not, but his track record now includes a legacy as both a superstar and as a business-minded individual that didn't bust at the executive level.
(MJ, that was pointed at you.)
Although we all hated the lockout last season, it was obvious that the players union took a very efficient, very effective stance against the NBA, and they did it all under the guidance of Derek Fisher.
Fisher has had a very stellar career over the years, mostly with the Los Angeles Lakers. He graduated from the University of Arkansas in 1996 with a degree in communications, which he has used to his benefit over the years with the players union.
If he were to run for political office of some sort, he’s shown that he knows how to handle the business world as efficiently as he handled the ball in LA
A journeyman over his career, Chris Dudley actually has already run for political office—and almost won.
Over his career, Dudley played for five different teams. He was drafted by the Cleveland Cavaliers in 1987 after graduating from Yale with a degree in political science and economics.
In 1998, he opened the Chris Dudley Foundation, which he established to help improve the lives of children with diabetes.
He entered the political arena as the Republican candidate for the governor of Oregon. Although he handled a powerful campaign (he raised more than twice the money that his opponent managed to raise), he was narrowly edged out by his opponent, former governor John Kitzhaber.
He proved to be capable in the political arena, which makes the case that he should consider running for office again.
After an incredible career in the NBA, Dave Bing was named to one of the 50 best players in NBA history in 1996.
Bing started off at Syracuse University, where he led his team in scoring from his sophomore to his senior year.
He was named the NBA rookie of the year after being drafted by the Detroit Pistons in 1966. He was also an NBA All-Star seven times.
Bing's venture in the business world actually began when he was 22, as he worked a side job as a bank teller for the National Bank of Detroit for much of his NBA career. When he retired from the NBA, Bing took a job at a steel processing warehouse, earning $35,000 a year.
He opened his own Steel company in 1980, which became a massive success in just five years. In 2009, Bing was elected as mayor of Detroit, where he has remained since.
Although it looks as though he’s already proven that he’s capable of running for political office, Dave Bing is the perfect example of someone who worked hard to achieve everything that he’s earned. He should absolutely continue going deeper into the world of politics.
Bill Bradley has already accomplished a successful career on both the political stage and in the NBA.
A top-ranked high school basketball player, Bradley was offered over 75 college scholarships. He chose Princeton and got his master's at Oxford. He was drafted by the New York Knicks and ended playing his entire 10-year career with them, helping them to two championships along the way.
Bradley’s family was heavily involved with politics, which was the foundation for his involvement in the world of politics.
After he retired from the NBA in 1977, Bradley ran for a seat in the United States Senate. Following being elected in 1984 and 1990, he left the senate and decided to run for president, making his bid in the 2000 presidential election.
He didn’t win the Democratic nomination, though, which all but ended his career in politics so far.
Who knows? Maybe we’ll see more of Bill Bradley in the future.