As basketball fans, we’ve all heard people gush over the thought of LeBron James suiting up on a Sunday in November and lining up at wideout for an NFL team. But what about the other NBA players whose natural abilities and athletic IQs might fit in well on the gridiron? We created an authoritative list of nine potential players (and one coach) we’d be genuinely hyped to see make the transition to football, if only for a game or two.
10. Allen Iverson – Head Coach & Offensive Coordinator
Okay, this one’s not as serious as the examples you’ll find below, but it’s no secret that back in high school, Allen Iverson was almost as electric on the gridiron as he was on the hardwood. Although he put together a hall of fame career in the NBA, football has always been Iverson’s first love, and we want to see what he could do by channeling that passion into a head-coaching role now that he’ll be getting a taste of coaching experience in the Big 3 Basketball League. Besides, not many NFL signal callers have cornrows and neck tats. This is the kind of diversity we’ve been longing to see on NFL sidelines for decades.
9. Leandro Barbosa – Kicker
Leandro Barbosa is nothing if not a patriot and a countryman. The beautiful game of soccer flows through his veins like hot lava, and based on the amount of missed PATs last season, most NFL front offices should be yearning for someone with Barbosa’s natural athletic ability to come in and fill that void. We could watch The Blur hit 35-yard chip shots all day.
8. Jae Crowder – Outside Linebacker
Take a quick look at this picture of Jae Crowder. Now picture him decked out in full pads, jacked as all heck, with his massive dreadlocks flowing out the back of his helmet. Now picture him body slamming Alex Smith into the dirt, reaching out to palm the loose ball Clowney-style, and running it back for 6. It might be the most satisfying NFL fantasy we’ve ever dreamed up. Actually, now that we mention it, just picture a poor man’s Clowney. Like a filthy, starving, homeless man’s Clowney. Yeah, that sounds about right.
7. Rajon Rondo – Quarterback
Yes, he’s known around the Association as a bit of an ass, but we’d trust Rajon Rondo to toss dimes as our QB1 over any other player in the NBA simply because of his historically impressive ability to put the ball where he wants. He may be a notorious locker room cancer, but shifty at 6’1” with huge hands and exceptional vision, he’s more than deserving of the keys to an NFL offense.
Quite possibly the most likely scenario on this list would be Nate Rob suiting up for an NFL roster at slot or running back, and one can only hope that someday we’re treated to a spectacle of this magnitude. Similar to Coach Iverson, Nate was a local legend for his accomplishments in football long before he became a household name during his days in the NBA. The guy is a yoked little muscle hamster, and unlike most members of this list, we have evidence at our disposal of what he could do after catching the football in space.
5. Kawhi Leonard – Free Safety
Free Safety is one of the most important positions in the game, and we think we’d take our chances with two-time DP of the Y Kawhi Leonard. Not only does the dude look like he was made in a lab (those HANDS, though…), but he is an elite athlete with a proven knack for making plays on the ball. He doesn’t talk nearly enough trash to fit the mold of a hot-headed defensive back by modern NFL standards, but we’ll let that slide for now. After all, they say “Defense wins championships,” and we have a sneaky suspicion our boy Kawhi would never have let this happen.
4. Patrick Beverley – Cornerback
We’re not saying Pat Bev would be the best cornerback in the NFL, but there’s a 100% chance he would think he’s the best cornerback in the NFL, and that fact alone would make him worth watching. The man plays defense like only a true psychopath can, and at 6’1”, he’d be a solid candidate to fill in at corner for any team seeking help in the secondary. Watching Beverley continue to berate his opponents, even after getting beaten deep downfield or shook at the line of scrimmage, would be nothing short of inspiring.
3. Giannis Antetokounmpo – Wide Receiver
Anyone who can dunk while touching the court deserves a chance to snatch goal line lobs in the NFL one day. The Freak might not actually score that many touchdowns, as opposing corners would be obligated to commit PI every single time, giving the offense countless first-and-goals inside the 5, at which point they’d likely run it. In any event, throwing it up to Giannis would, quite literally, be an unstoppable play. We don’t want to hear from anybody about how they’d plan to defend him in jump ball situations, because it just wouldn’t be possible. Giannis is the goal line receiver the NFL deserves but probably won’t ever get.
2. Russell Westbrook – Wide Receiver
This might ruffle some Giants fans’ feathers, but are we absolutely certain Westbrook wouldn’t be a superior version of OBJ? Are we positive?! Half man and half ninja turtle, Westbrook is 6’3” with a ridiculous vertical leap, great hands, and a competitive ferocity matched only by a slim handful of NFL defensive backs, none of whom would be able to keep stride with him or chase him down from behind in the open field. In fact, Westbrook’s football potential would probably be deserving of #1 on this countdown if not for…
1. LeBron James – Wide Receiver
Calvin Johnson earned the nickname “Megatron” at 6’6” and 235 pounds, so I have no clue what football fans would anoint the runaway freight train that is LBJ, standing at a modest 6’8” and pushing 260. LeBron was a noted football phenom in high school, and there’s no doubt he would continue to prove himself as such in the NFL if given the opportunity. There’s not a single route on the tree at which he wouldn’t pose a threat, and there’s not a single defensive player against which Bron wouldn’t be an extraordinary mismatch. Imagine having LeBron on your fantasy team and watching him average 150 yards and 2 touchdowns on 15+ receptions every single Sunday. One can only imagine…