Top ten basketball players that could have played football. (Current players only)
It seems with every new year in the NBA there comes an even stronger, faster, and more physically gifted group of athletes than the year before. Seven footers that bench 300 pounds, players with 50 inch verticals, just absolutely mindblowing physical attributes that keep getting more impressive with time.
It used to be the general consensus that anyone who was abnormally tall could play basketball. Maybe that was the case in the Fifties, but now it's become clear that unless you have some strength and agility to go along with your height, you'll get pushed around at the NBA level.
Heck, most pro scouts won't even bother looking at a big man prospect unless he's 6'10" and has some meat on his bones. But even with the overall beef-up of the NBA, there are still some athletes that physically stand out amongst the rest.
For instance, when I was watching the Cleveland-Orlando series, it was unbelievable how much bigger and faster LeBron James and Dwight Howard were compared to everyone else on the court. For the most part, if Dwight Howard wanted a post up he got one. And for the most part, if LeBron wanted to drive the ball to the basket he could. Both LeBron and Dwight were simply better athletes than everyone else on the floor, and because of that they were able to take advantage of their abundancy of exploits. But what if, instead of matching up LeBron James with a soft, slow lateral moving Hedo Turkoglu, you put him against 6-time Pro Bowler for the Chicago Bears Brian Urlacher?
Maybe that would have been the case had LeBron decided to pursue football out of high school rather than basketball. It's certainly an interesting thought. In fact, there are several NBA players today that had they chosen to accept the football scholarship as opposed to the basketball one, they'd probably be playing in the NFL right now.
That leads me to my question: "Which current NBA basketball player would make the best football player?"
Without any further ado, here's my countdown.
Kobe Bryant, Amar'e Stoudemire, Nate Robison, Josh Smith.
Player comparison: Michael Vick
Allen Iverson would have no problem fitting in with an NFL team. He's the true definition of a warrior, and his speed and awareness would translate well on to the gridiron. As a high school junior, Iverson played quarterback for the Bethel High School football team and led them all the way to the State Championship.
NBA guards have a hard enough time trying to contain Iverson's speed on a basketball court, just imagine them trying to chase him down in the backfield where he would have all sorts of room to run.
His size would be the only factor for him in the NFL, but that's what people said about him in the NBA and he managed to prove them wrong.
Position- Outside linebacker
Player comparison: Keith Bulluck
Doesn't Maggette just look like a football player? He's exceptionally strong and if I were making a "what NBA player should be a UFC fighter" countdown he'd probably be top five. He's got enough speed to chase down an NFL running back and his incredible hops would make him a threat to intercept any pass. Truly a great athlete, and I think he would be a quality NFL linebacker.
Player comparison- Kurt Warner
Chauncey Billups is one of the best decision makers in the entire NBA. He makes quick reads of the opponents' defense, smart passes, and always finds a way to score. He has the ability to take over a game, but at the same time the trust in his teammates to get them the ball when the game is on the line. Chauncey Billups is a proven leader, and would make one hell of a quarterback.
Position- Safety/ Special teams
Player comparison: Brian Dawkins
Ben Gordon (aka: Mr. Triceps) falls into the Corey Maggette category as one of those freakish athletes with HUGE muscles. Not only does Gordon have the physique to play with the big dogs but he's got that killer instinct in him. When Gordon's hitting his shot he refuses to let up, and I bet when he sees a wide receiver cutting across the middle of the field he'll also refuse to let up...from knocking the air and probably a few teeth out of him. Gordon can be described in one word, "BEAST"!
Position- Defensive Tackle
Player comparison: Darnell Dockett
If there's one thing Big Ben hasn't been called in his 13 year career it's "weak". This guy must spend three to four hours a day in the gym just working on that massive exterior. How would you like lining up on the opposite side of him?
Over six and a half feet of pure muscle glaring at you with intent to kill. I'll tell you another thing, if I were picking a family to play football against it definitely would not be the Wallace family. Ben is only the 10th of 11 children, and believe you me...he's not the biggest!
Position- Tight End/Special teams
Player comparison: Antonio Gates
Iggy is amongst the best overall athletes in the NBA. His strength, speed, and hops rank in the same category as Josh Smith, Corey Maggette, and Vince Carter. What makes Iggy such an intriguing football player to me though are his great hands.
If he could catch a football half as good as he can catch an ally-oop lob from teammate Andre Miller than I think he'd be in good shape. He's got the strength and athleticism to block for the running backs, and the oh so soft hands to catch a laser pass from the quarterback.
Position- Middle Linebacker
Player comparison: Ray Lewis
To further prove the Pacers/Pistons Brawl was no gimmick, now there's two guys in the top ten that took part in it. Ron Artest is a football player at heart with fight in him that can only be found in a New York City baller. He'd be a great middle linebacker or honestly any defensive position where he gets to tackle somebody.
What he lacks in athleticism he makes up for in dirtiness. Put him on the same team as Terrell Owens and you have the worst locker room in the history of sports. All kidding aside, Ron Artest would be a terrific middle linebacker!
Position- Defensive End/ Special teams
Player comparison: Justin Tuck
Dwight Howard could do so many different things on a football field it's not even fair. He's quick enough to be a good pass rusher and if he puts his hands up when the quarterback's about to throw it he's got a pretty good shot at picking it off or at least knocking it down.
Howard's main strength would be on special teams though. If anyone's seen that commercial where LeBron James plays for the Cleveland Browns and he just jumps up and blocks the kick they'll have an idea where i'm going with this. Send Dwight out onto the field with three pairs of gloves on, place him in the middle of the line, and when the center snaps the ball have him leap up and block the kick. He led the NBA in blocked shots, why not lead the NFL in blocked field goals?
Player comparison: Albert Hanesworth
Six year ago Shaq probably would have been number one on the list (hintidy hint hint), but he's still probably the most physically dominating presence the NBA's ever seen and number two's not too bad for the Ol' Diesel. Shaq's massive frame would allow him to guard two defensive linemen at once and his unbelievable strength would be a handfull on either side of the line. I'd take my chances with Shaq versus just about any NFL lineman out there.
Player comparison: LaDainian Tomlinson/ Randy Moss/ James Harrison.
Not only is LeBron James the best athlete in the NBA, but possibly in the entire pro sports community. LeBron running the fast break is literally like a 25 ton locomotive running through a field of prairie grass.
I had the opportunity to watch James play football at my high school back in 2001, and even as a junior in high school he was NFL caliber. He was so tall, and so fast that there was no way a defender could contest a pass thrown to him (must have made that QB's life a lot easier).
I'm not going to complain that James chose basketball for his career, but it sure is fun to imagine him playing football.
I hope everyone enjoyed the list, feel free to make comments and adjustments!