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NBA Athletes Who Could Have Played for the NFL

NBA Athletes Who Could Have Played for the NFL
NBA Athletes Who Could Have Played for the NFL

The NFL is home to some of the finest athletes in the world. Players train hard, practice, watch what they eat and do everything they can to be the very best they can be out on the court for their teams. LeBron James, for instance, was seen arriving five hours early before an LA Lakers’ playoff clash with the Golden State Warriors. Once there he got out and warmed up and got some shots in to prepare for the game.

When you’re monitoring teams’ and players’ performance and checking out the NBA Championship odds to see who the sportsbooks think could win the championship, it might never occur to you that some NBA stars might never have made it to the league’s courts. That’s because they had a talent for American football and could have been playing in the NFL. Below is a look at some NBA stars who the world might have seen on an NFL grid and not an NBA court.

LeBron James

Given the talent and athleticism of the hottest basketball star on the planet right now, it might not surprise you that James was also talented as a football player. Back in his high school days, he was a big prospect but stepped away from the gridiron to focus on his basketball career.

The last time James stepped onto the gridiron was as a high school sophomore before he became the number one draft pick in the NBA 2003 draft. James is believed to think he would have been a good tight end and would have fared well in the NFL. During the 2011 NBA lockout, he even considered trying for the NFL, and received offers from the Seattle Seahawks and the Dallas Cowboys.

Ben Wallace

Ben Wallace, who a lot of people consider to be the greatest undrafted player in the history of the NBA, also played football in high school. Just one look at him on the court and you see he would have been just as gifted on the gridiron. He was a frightening defensive presence near the basket and stole the hearts of fans with his blue-collar work ethic.

In spite of his clear talent, Wallace turned down a scholarship to play football at Auburn. A serious neck injury he’d sustained during his senior season while playing football persuaded him to hang up his boots. Instead, he switched to playing basketball at community college. 

Nate Robinson

Nate Robinson may have been small, but he was a huge presence on the court in his basketball days and also influential on the gridirons. In high school he gained a rep for his football playing, and he even played for the University of Washington in his college days. During his time on the gridirons, he played wide receiver, running back and defensive corner. One of his most notable achievements was picking a pass in the final minutes of regulation time against the Washington State Cougars, in the 2002 Apple Cup. The Huskies clinched the game in triple overtime.

At the same time, he was also playing basketball at the University of Washington. The speed and quick hands would serve him well later in the NBA and likewise would have done the same in the NFL. It’s believed that Robinson tried out for the Seahawks in 2016, but that’s as far as it went. Some held hopes they may still see him step onto a football field, but towards the end of 2022 the former NBA star revealed he had been struggling with kidney problems for the last four years.Follow us here at ehallpass.

Matt Barnes

Matt Barnes is an NBA championship winner and a former NBA star, and a highly talented person. He excelled in several sports, and played on the basketball team and the football team in high school. In the second round of the 2002 NBA draft, he was selected, but he didn’t make his NBA debut until January 2004, which he did with the Clippers, with a 10-day contract.

In 2006, Barnes thought about making a move to professional football. He hadn’t felt he’d been getting a fair shot on the basketball courts, despite playing for years, so his attention began to drift towards football. It was in the summer of 2006, while in his hometown of Sacramento, that he got a call from Baron Davis, who invited him to play at a facility in Oakland. Barnes didn’t know it, but Warriors coach Don Nelson was watching and, impressed by Barnes’s performance, gave him an opportunity to impress further. Barnes made the team.

The stars of the NBA display amazing talent out on the league’s courts, but, as you can see from above, some of its players are just as talented in other sports. Their careers may well have gone down another route. Fortunately for NBA fans, they chose to go with the biggest basketball organization in the world: the NBA.


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