9 Athletes We’d Like To See In Another Sport

In the world of sports, conversations run rampant with “what if” scenarios. “What if Jordan hadn’t walked away following his father’s death?” “What if Portland had picked Durant first?” However, perhaps the most ethereal “what if” scenario is also one of the most fun: What if (superstar X) had gone down a different path playing another sport? What skills translate? Would that person be better or worse than they are now? We’ll never have an answer, which is exactly why talking about it makes for such fun/frustrating conversation. Here are 9 for your review.

9. LeBron James – Football
Though LeBron’s toughness is a bit of a question mark, there’s no denying his size and talent. Of course, the question is “Where do you put him?” And the answer is tight end. His blocking would be decent, not great (though I like the space he takes up moving a few yards downfield to pin a linebacker), but I absolutely love the thought of him on drag patterns over the middle and to the flats. He wouldn’t have the speed to be any sort of threat downfield, but he would dwarf linebackers and corners, posting up the latter on 5-10-yard patterns.

If that doesn’t get your motor running, I am also intrigued with BronBron as a nickel linebacker (preferably in a zone) defense, guarding the middle of the field with that wingspan of his. Mobility is an issue, but give him a small enough zone and he would absolutely own it.

8. Tiger Woods – Baseball
I don’t know how he would fare in the field, but who really cares about outfielders’ defense? I think that Tiger’s athleticism would provide him with mobility and a decent arm, but my reason for picking him is his productivity in the batter’s box. He has the torque and hand speed to crank out less-than-optimal pitches, and I really like his focus and concentration. He seems like a born hitter. Putting up over 300 pounds on the bench, Tiger would be dual threat contact/power hitter. At third in a lineup, you don’t want to pitch to him, and you can’t walk him.

7. Steve Nash – Hockey
Not just because he’s Canadian. OK, maybe a little because he’s Canadian, but also because he’s got all the sensibilities of a Gretzky in a more athletic body. Gretzky came in at 6’ 0” 190, and Nash stands 6’ 3” 178. Now, he’d have to put on some weight (15-20 pounds) to be competitive, but I love him running an offense as well as his ability to cut to the net. His quickness and court awareness would make him a force to be reckoned with on breakaways and on power plays. If you’re a man down, the last thing you’d want is to be facing Nash and his ability to dismantle your defense.

6. Allen Iverson – Lacrosse
I think Bill Simmons mentioned, in an older column, the threat Iverson would be on the soccer field. But I think that his mindset and talents are even better suited to lacrosse, where his first step and quickness would make him virtually impossible to defend. His ball-handling abilities would leave defenders guessing if he was going to pass, drive, or shoot, just as they do (did) on the court. Drive him away from the goal, and he could fake a shot, roll in, and score before you realized you lost him.

That said, I like him as a midfielder, because is there anyone you would rather have running your fast break? Well, maybe his next guy…

5. Ben Wallace – Soccer
On the soccer pitch, there is really only one place for someone of Ben’s carriage, and that’s in goal. I also felt Hakeem Olajuwon would be a slightly better fit here, though he played soccer before switching to hoops, so I went with a player that had little or no experience. Granted, the 6’ 11” forward’s (he’s not 7’ 0”…sorry) best asset would be his size, but his ability to jump quickly and block shots would make him a prime candidate for keeper. Further, he could block a kick and recover faster than most anyone, I imagine. Sure there are taller players with a bigger wingspan, but their lack of mobility would be a liability. Wallace serves as the perfect compromise.

4. Dwight Howard – Boxing
Reach is the name of the game here. Howard would be able to hang back and snipe his opponents with a long jabs and crosses, and the torque behind a 6’ 11” fighter winding up for a right hook would be jaw-dropping. Further, an opposing fighter would have to really reach, opening himself up, to attack Howard’s head. Howard’s physique lends itself well to boxing. I had originally contemplated him as an MMA fighter, but didn’t like his chances on the ground, his lack of killer instinct, and a long lanky frame when grappling. However, Howard’s height and reach would force opponents to have to cover the top of their head, as well as the front and sides, again, making them more vulnerable to head-body combos.

3. Mike Tyson – Football
Tyson would serve as the archetypal fullback: short, explosive, and strong as a bull. It’s hard to think that the same power and motion that makes his uppercuts so devastating would make him so effective in standing up most any defensive end. He’s standing 5’ 10”, so no one will be getting lower than he will, and in a short yardage situation, handing the ball off to Mike would be tantamount to handing it off to a cannonball. One concern is, at 218 pounds, he’s not as heavy as most fullbacks (Moose Johnston had 20 pounds on him), but I feel, as a function of his height, he’s perfectly proportioned.

2. Blake Griffin – Volleyball
Uh, cause he can jump. Actually, it’s not just that he can jump, but he can jump explosively. Griffin could serve as a blocking and spiking threat as a strong-side hitter. His ability to finish alley-oops demonstrate that he would be a force to be reckoned with from the back row, capitalizing on sets that are a ways off their mark.
1. Dirk Nowitzki – Tennis
Ok, I mostly did this because Dirk just looks like a tennis player. Admit it. You put a headband on him and he could pass for a 1978 Davis Cup champion. Put him at the net and it’s a chore to get anything but a lob over him. He’ll cover so much real estate standing still that concerns about his mobility are rendered moot. Plus, with the right mechanics, I’m sure he could demolish Roddick’s serve speed record. Nowitzki would be essentially serving straight down, which means the net becomes less and less of a factor, which means you can go for more power than accuracy and still find your way into the box. Eight thumbs up.

Tags: Allen Iverson, ben wallace, Blake Griffin, Dirk Nowitzki, Dwight Howard, LeBron James, mike tyson, Steve Nash, Tiger Woods,