Changing Courts: Hoops Stars Could Find Jobs In Other Sports

Athletes will be athletes. As we saw in Thursday’s Smack, that’s why Oklahoma City guard Nate Robinson is half-seriously considering playing for the NFL, and coaches like Pete Carroll of the Seattle Seahawks are half-seriously thinking about that being a good idea.

It’s the same reason why we always want to imagine LeBron James strapping on the shoulder pads and coming off the edge as a defensive end or repeatedly overpowering any 6-foot-nothing corner for a jump-ball on a fade route. He’s such a good athlete we can’t even decide which position would be a better option.

And it’s the same reason why I wrote in Dime #64 about Mickey McConnell, formerly of St. Mary’s, snubbing top NCAA baseball programs to concentrate on hoops. After he graduated, having not played organized baseball since high school, McConnell was drafted by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 2011 MLB Draft.

Athlete’s will be athletes, so which NBA players would translate well to the gridiron, the soccer field or even the NASCAR track? Especially during a lockout, it’ll never hurt to throw some ideas around.

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LeBron James: Football

I know he played receiver in high school and is the size of a defensive end. But I think LeBron has the versatility to be used in a more diverse way, similar to how the Arizona Cardinals use Adrian Wilson at strong safety. Basically, make him a hybrid, sometimes dropping back but often having him in the box and blitzing. My favorite part of football is watching a wild safety knock someone’s head off, all within the rules, of course. James fits that mold perfectly.

Dwight Howard: Soccer

Not only does he share the last name with Team USA’s actual goalie, Tim Howard, but Dwight is naturally good at the position simply because of his size. He doesn’t really have to jump vertically to block shots at the goal because he’s so tall, and he’s athletic enough to easily cover the width end-to-end. Nimble and explosive, Howard can also get some of those over-mitt-looking goalie gloves that will make opponents have to score against hands the size of tennis rackets.

Brad Miller: NASCAR

Miller already owns a racing company, BMiller Racing. Okay, so the company employs professional radio-controlled racing gurus, not actual manned vehicles, but it’s obvious Miller still has that little kid, car lover instinct in him. Sure, I realize that weighing 260 pounds goes against making the car as lightweight as possible, but why not throw him into a vehicle next to Jeff Gordon and see what happens?

Rajon Rondo: Lacrosse

Being from the West Coast, I admittedly don’t know much about the sport of lacrosse. So call it a guess that Rondo would make a sick lacrosse player. First of all, he’s got crazy speed, elusiveness and a lengthy wingspan. That makes it that much harder to keep his passes and shots within your stick’s-length. Plus, he has that playmaking vision to find his teammates.

Earl Boykins: Jockey

Obviously. Wikipedia says that jockeys are generally 5-6 or shorter. It also says that the average weight of a jockey is 115 pounds and that events like the Kentucky Derby have weight limits below Boykins’ own. But if he needs a gig when the NBA season doesn’t happen, Earl can shed 10 pounds from his 133-pound frame and hop on a horse’s back.

Steve Nash: Hockey

While Nash is pretty much good at everything, his NBA play makes me think he fits into the hockey player mold more than the soccer player character. Generally, such actions that make me feel that way include getting hit in the face. Sometimes he just bleeds profusely and is mad the refs won’t let him back in the game. Other times he snaps his broken nose back into a somewhat straight position like it’s just another day in the life of Steve Nash.

Leandro Barbosa: Track and field

I went back-and-forth about Barbosa’s ideal event, but it’s no shock that he could find success on the track. While he has blistering speed and acceleration for an NBA player, he also has the build of a mid-distance runner, maybe competing in the 400-meter or 800-meter events. Give him some blocks and an undeviating path, and you’ve got yourself a speed demon.

Luke Harangody: Track and field

You know, he just looks like he’d be a great thrower. He’s tall yet stocky, bullish but coordinated. And yeah, throwers sometimes have the attitudes of those dudes you watch in World’s Strongest Man competitions. I can see his face scrunching up with anger and focus as he spins and launches a discus a good distance.

What do you think? What other sports could NBA players play?

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