“My enemies, they’re worried because I’m back. They’re afraid a little bit. … It’s a great feeling.”
I heard one of the world’s most dominant athletes deliver that line last night. Was it Tiger Woods? Kobe Bryant? Floyd Mayweather?
Nope. It was Russian figure skater Yevgeny Plushenko, the defending Olympic gold medalist who came out of retirement before these Vancouver Games and is sitting atop the leaderboard after Day 1 of the men’s competition. Say what you want about figure skating — and yeah, I watch it, just like I watch basically everything during the Winter and Summer Olympics — but Plushenko is badass.
So we know at least one figure skater has the same competitive fire of somebody like Kobe or Jordan. And we know every elite figure skater has to be extremely athletic. But could an NBA player succeed at figure skating? Both sports lend themselves to high levels of creativity, speed, grace, lower-body strength, balance, stamina, and knowledge of angles. You should be strong but not too bulky as a skater or a ballplayer, and ideally you’d have some hops.
There are a few NBA guys I could see doing well at figure skating. And while we’re here, let’s see how the League’s athletes would fit into some other Winter Olympic sports:
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Profile: Slender frame, strong legs, balance, grace, knows angles, body control, flexibility.
Team NBA: Devin Harris, Rajon Rondo, Tony Parker, Monta Ellis
ALPINE SKIING (DOWNHILL)
Profile: Changes directions at high speeds, ambidextrous, textbook footwork, fearless.
Team NBA: Derrick Rose, Brandon Jennings, Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash
Profile: Endurance, shooting accuracy, calm under pressure, unwavering form despite fatigue.
Team NBA: Ray Allen, Dirk Nowitzki, Chauncey Billups, Steve Nash
Profile: Reaches top-speed quickly, hang time, maintains form and concentration despite mid-air turbulence.
Team NBA: Dwyane Wade, LeBron James, Rodney Stuckey, Deron Williams
LONG-TRACK SPEED SKATING
Profile: Consistency over distance, height, proper form and fundamentals.
Team NBA: Tim Duncan, Kobe Bryant, Chris Bosh, Shane Battier
SHORT-TRACK SPEED SKATING
Profile: Strong legs, balance, excels at going right (pushing off left leg), gets away with dirty tricks in tight spaces.
Team NBA: Chris Paul, Kirk Hinrich, Jason Kidd, Earl Boykins
Profile: Quick jumper, change-of-direction ability, healthy knees, creativity, speed.
Team NBA: Shawn Marion, Josh Smith, Will Bynum, Shannon Brown
Profile: Unspoken bond, trust, timing, speed, strength.
Team NBA: Tony Parker/Tim Duncan, Jameer Nelson/Dwight Howard, Chris Paul/Tyson Chandler, Steve Nash/Amar’e Stoudemire
Team NBA: Russell Westbrook, Allen Iverson, Jon Brockman, Jerryd Bayless
Team NBA: Nate Robinson, Ron Artest, Birdman Andersen, Joakim Noah