Just for Fun NBA

Elite NBA Players Who Can Play Another Sport

Photo Credit: USATSI

When you make it to the professional level in any sport it means you’re a very gifted athlete. It shouldn’t surprise you that many players who have found success in the NBA also excel in different sports.

Let’s take a look at a few elite NBA stars who could have pursued a pro career in a different league.

LeBron James, Football

In high school James played wide receiver and was pretty good at it.

Here’s a clip of him catching passes during a game at St. Vincent-St. Mary High School:

While James is pretty focused on the basketball thing right now, he has expressed interest in playing in the NFL for at least one game before he retires.

James is a big fan of the Dallas Cowboys, and Dez Bryant seems to think he’d make for a pretty good teammate.

I’ve seen a little bit of his highlights from high school. He’s got the hands, he can run the routes, he’s fast enough. He could play in this league if he put it all together.

That dude is just that talented. I think it would probably take him a good two weeks to get very acquainted with football, knowing what he’s supposed to do. I think that’s all he’d need with his physical ability.

I think he’d be a beast in the red zone. I think he could do it, seriously.”

Wide receiver, Mike Wallace, also thinks James could play in the NFL. Wallace told CBS Sports, “I feel there’s no greater talent than LeBron. You throw him a couple of passes and get him a couple of routes, and he’ll be all right. I think you line him up at tight end. I don’t know about the blocking aspect, but you can teach him. You show him a couple of things and the sky is the limit.”

Back in 2009 Randy Moss even said, “I think LeBron could come in and do better than Antonio Gates. I believe he could be a star in this game.”

Dwyane Wade, Football

Similar to his friend and former teammate, LeBron, Dwyane Wade also played wide receiver in high school.

It wasn’t until his junior year in high school that Wade earned regular time on the varsity basketball court; he had worked hard on improving his ball-handling skills, and he also grew four inches.

Of course, the rest is history for Wade, but in the summer of 2014 he put on a summer camp with NFL receiver Brandon Marshall and showed that he still has his receiver skills:

Of the play, Wade said, “I’m not saying I could play in the NFL..I’m just saying the boy wasn’t bad in his day..”

Luol Deng, Soccer

Luol Deng was born in Sudan and grew up in Egypt and England. From early on he played soccer and believed he would one day go pro. Deng told ESPN:

I always wanted to be a soccer player. That was my first love. I played midfielder and striker. Soccer was what I wanted to do, but I had this growth spurt where I become taller than everyone.”

When Deng was 14 years old he was invited to try out for England’s U-15 soccer team. “Being called up with a great honor, but around that time I also got called up for England’s basketball team. It had to be one or the other” and Deng chose basketball. After that there was no going back.

Deng still enjoys following soccer and kicks the ball around for fun.

Tim Duncan, Swimming

Duncan grew up swimming in St. Croix. His sister, Tricia, participated in the backstroke at the 1988 Summer Olympics, and Duncan exhibited some of her talent.

The Spurs player was once a talented 200 and 400 freestyler with Olympic potential until Hurricane Hugo swept through and destroyed his team’s pool. At that time he took up basketball and you know the rest of this future NBA Hall of Famer’s story.

Just a Dream

I love watching these basketball players go at it on the court, but I’ll admit I’d love to see LeBron play a game of football… and I’d like to see Duncan in the pool.

Is that weird? Maybe.

About the author


Kristina writes about NFL and NBA athletes. She founded The Sports Loop and can be reached on Twitter at @kristinarunning. She's a marathoner and hopes to one day be an ultramarathoner.