Are NBA players good athletes? Obviously. A rebuttal to the Hat Wearer.

My colleague recently posted a piece on here discussing the athletic abilities of the 4 major sports. Shockingly, the former baseball player and current baseball coach rated MLB players 2nd, ahead of NHL players in 3rd and NBA guys in 4th. He obviously did this to bait some people, and I’m taking that bait hook, line, and sinker. I will now go through the article piece by piece to expose these rankings as the blasphemy that they are.

“I hear all the time that the NBA has the best athletes in the world. Sure, I hear this only from NBA fans, but still, thats what they say.”

Tim Kurkjian literally said “NBA players are the best athletes in the world” in the linked article in these rankings . It’s in the 4th paragraph. More on that later.

“Most NBA players are there because of one reason, they are huge. About half of the league is filled with semi agile big men”

Let’s forget that the league has been moving towards small ball for the last decade and that big men are less prevalent than ever, the reason people are in the league isn’t that they’re just big. The reason they they’re in the league is that they’re big but still have the body control and agility of someone much smaller. Here are a few of the “semi agile” big men who have sullied the league with their lack of athleticism over the years..

Bill Russell 6’10 220:

Pathetic. He barely jumped over that guy.

Shaq 7’2 300:

Hakeem Olajawon 7’1 280:

That semi agile move was made on David Robison, only one of the greatest defensive big men ever.

I could post some more of people like Lebron or Russ Westbrook but we see enough of them on TV that I think you get the idea.

“All NBA players are babies. They complain about everything. They flop, they dive, and they project each little boo boo they endure to be life threatening.”

We’ll ignore the extreme subjectivity of using toughness as a big part of a “who’s the most athletic” argument. Most of the flopping/diving in the NBA is done to get the refs to make a call. To gain competitive advantage. Hockey players embellish holding and high sticks to make sure the refs notice it. Flopping/diving is the same thing. Baseball players don’t flop because the sport is not conducive to it. There’s nothing to be gained from it.

As far as the getting carried off, that’s called cramping, and it’s debilitating. It can also go as quickly as it comes. Hard to believe that such an injury needs to be explained to a pitcher/punter/golfer. Clearly those experiences put you in a good place to identify with the toll that 45 minutes of playoff-intensity NBA basketball takes on the body.

Fun fact: Lebron averages 39 minutes per game for his regular season career, and that number jumps up to 43 mpg in the playoffs. That’s good for 81% and 90% of total game time respectively.

The highest average amount of Time on Ice per game in the NHL playoffs last year was 26:09 by Josi of Nashville, in shifts that averaged about 50 seconds. That’s good for about 43% of total game time. Grueling. Clearly Lebron needs to toughen up and shoulder some more of the load.

“And you could make the argument about season length, but then, you know NHL and NBA play the same amount of games. And if you watch a hockey game in December, it is just as intense as one in April.”

Lol. Please. Don’t insult playoff hockey like that.

“Tell me this, would the average MLB player be able to make a basket? Probably. Everybody has played pick up basketball at some point in their life. Anybody can pick up a ball and make a couple shots … But now tell me this, could Curry or Duncan hit a 97mph fastball? Could they get Mike Trout out? Not a chance.”

First of all, these things are extremely different. This is comparing the highest level of baseball with the lowest level of basketball. A better comparison to picking up a basketball and making a few shots would be to ask if Curry or Duncan could hit a ball off a tee. Do I think they could do that? Probably.

However, if you want to keep the 97mph fastball thing then I would ask: do you think Mike Trout or any other MLB player could ever stop Curry or Duncan 1v1 in a game situation? Not a chance. Could Mike Trout or any other MLB player walk into a game situation and score on Lebron? Not a chance.

Also, this whole line of thinking ends up being a knock on baseball’s popularity. As was stated, everybody can go make a couple shots. Of course, because everyone grew up playing it. Basketball and football are by far the two most popular sports in America, whereas baseball has turned into almost a niche sport like hockey. How many baseball players do you think grew up playing basketball? Probably almost all of them, right? Now how many basketball players do you think grew up playing baseball or hockey? It’s almost like you have to practice something to get good at it.

“Overall, professional baseball players are better athletes than professional basketball players. Just read this from ESPN’s Tim Kurkjian. Spot on.”

First, Kurkjian’s argument is that they’re more well-rounded, not that they’re better (he literally says that “NBA players are the best athletes in the world” in that article). I wouldn’t take a ton of issue with that. But his argument for why is that MLB players can dunk, which is something that lots of people can do. For God’s sake, I’ve dunked, so excuse me for not being overly impressed.

Second, he’s excited that he can probably name up to 25 (25!!) baseball players who are good at basketball and still have some left over. 25-30 good basketball players out of 750 active baseball players. Yowza. That’s like 1/30. I could probably find that many in my office building. You’d be surprised how athletic Bank of America employees are.

Sure, there are incredible athletes who happen to play baseball, and that athleticism definitely contributes to their success. However, that doesn’t change the fact that the general skills required to be a successful baseball player are balance, timing, and incredible hand-eye coordination, which is the same thing that’s required of a golfer.

The rankings, as I see them:

1) NBA

2) NFL

3) NHL

4) MLB

To all the baseball defenders out there:

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