Friday Fire: Of Course It’s All Subjective, But Which League Has the Better Athletes? NBA or NFL?

Ever since the LeBron James Friday Fire and LBJ’s subsequent answer to our questions, I’ve received many calls and emails regarding the NBA’s athleticism.

Football players I know have told me there is no comparison and one even gave a funny quote by saying “There’s no flopping in the NFL.” Reg, ya gotta point there sir. Anyway, you know what we do, so please comment.

Discussions like this open up other topics and also reference the all time greats in a time where the 24 hour media cycle is cool with whatever is in front of our faces and that’s it.

Doesn’t history matter? IMO, it’s more important than the present, for it affects the future without all the current media hype.

Please offer some genuine thoughts like only you can.

Sorry the site hasn’t been updated. I’ve been in Texas on assignment. Lubbock is a great college town. It’s like a beach town without a beach.

I’ll get back in Philly just in time to work the Sixers/Orlando Game 4 and then everything will be gravy Monday. Enjoy the rest of the weekend. Be Peace.

12 Responses to “Friday Fire: Of Course It’s All Subjective, But Which League Has the Better Athletes? NBA or NFL?”

  1. Miranda says:

    I’m biased towards the NFL – so I can’t really be objective on the subject.

  2. If by “athletes” you mean “fat dudes”, then the NFL.

  3. origin says:

    I say the NBA. You ever seen those ceebrity basketball games. Man super NFL athlete like TO and Randy Moss. Are just avg athletes in the NBA.

    People can say how fat shaq was throughout his career (which I have always disagreed on) but that dude was 360 pounds running up and down the court. Jumping around like superman.

    No NFL player was that athlete and big.

  4. Dredded One says:

    I say the NBA. If you look at guys like Randy Moss, Julius Peppers, and Tony Gonzalez, all NFL players, all who had basketball aspirations. JP is probably the best example because he would have been a low 1st rounder in the NBA. He went with his best option which was as #1 pick NFL. So his amount of athleticism was best suited for the NFL.

  5. TC says:

    I gotta say NBA. From playing rugby in Britain as a kid, in that game, you play a similar style of game and you play 40 minutes, consecutively, no timeouts, etc. no stops of play. When I came to the States I thought, yeah, there are some athletes in the NFL, but there are many guys who are not even as athletic as rugby players (at least considering the necessary cardio/general athletic gifts). In the NBA, you have to be able to get up and down, up and down, often for quite a while. And there’s no room for a whole bunch of Robert Tractor Traylors, or Oliver Millers in the game. Overall, Igotta go with the NBA.

  6. awb says:

    It’s hard for me to quantify. I mean, there is no one in the NBA that can run faster than the fastest guy on an NFL team. Probably no one stronger as well. On the other hand there is probably no on in the NFL with the hand I coordination of the best ball handler on an NBA roster or with the same leaping ability. I’m tempted to go with the NFL seeing what some of the 300lb linemen are able to do in a game. Also, I would lean towards the NFL for the ability to deal with pain. Not an athletic endeavor maybe, but I consider it part of the physical aspect-NFL players are world class athletes and healers.

  7. Temple3 says:

    2 things:

    1) Its apples and oranges because the NFL has more players and more physical diversity than the NBA.

    2) The NFL has more elite athletes. The Steelers just drafted a guy who ran a 4.33-40 and has a 40 inch vertical — in the third round. He led the SEC in yards per catch. If a hoopster had those kind of numbers, he’s off the board in the first round.

    I’m just saying — by almost any measure, the NFL has to come out on top.

    The NBA has places for men to hide as well. Some players don’t play both ends of the court. Very few play extended minutes. 40 minutes is rare — and usually only for elite points or 2 guards and SF’s. Some guys like Peja are perimeter specialists. They don’t even run baseline to baseline on a regular basis. Some guys go on road trips to Denver and Phoenix and get run out of the gym — every time they go. So, the NBA is not the last bastion of American fitness in sports.


    I’d throw hockey into the conversation because speed, strength and endurance are critical in hockey. If you’ve seen the Stanley Cup Playoffs and seen guys in a 4 overtime game, you know that a shift change isn’t enough time to refuel. Hockey deserves a little run in this convo. I’ve never seen measurables, though, for the NHL.

  8. Temple3 says:

    What if you had a winner-take-all contest where each team had to submit 5 players to a contest of athleticism?

    The question is — what would the events be…and who would participate.

    40yd dash
    100 M
    100 M hurdles
    High jump
    Cones or Shuttles
    Weight lifting

    I think the NFL would crush the NBA guys in something like that. I don’t even think it would be close. Even the high jump would be close for the NBA guys. More track guys in the NFL, more power guys. There would have to be a “skills” competition with a ball for them to catch up.
    Dredded One:

    I don’t think “athleticism” and the ability to play basketball are the same thing. Scott Wedman was very proficient at the game of basketball, but no one ever called him a great athlete. We could down the line and pull names out of the hat like Paul Mokeski, Larry Bird and Kevin McHale.

    We could even go the baseball route. Winfield and Gwynn were drafted in all 3 sports and both chose baseball. Now, any sport that could find useful employment for David Wells and Rick Rhoden is not the winner.

    Moss, Peppers, Gates, Owens, and Gonzalez were never great basketball players at the collegiate level. I don’t think it means anything more than that.

  9. c1 says:

    antonio gates joined the nfl without playing a second of college football…there are more basketball players joining the nfl then vice versa

  10. JR says:

    I play both football and basketball Collegiately at S.C. State university and have played both competively since i was 8 that being 11 years…and i would have to say that both have their athletes but FOOTBALL is more physically demanding and the overall athletisism of those guys is a step above those on my basketball team.. not just considering jumping ability…i mean every Defensive back on the roster jumped 35″ or higher in their vertical leap…meaning standing flat footed with no running start or power step…in basketball you rarely see guys around 6′ that can stand flat footed under a basket and dunk the ball.. These guys can and most the same guys bench and squat nearly twice the weight of the guards on the team and the 6′ 10″ 260 center cant even bench over 315…I mean im the strongest guy on the Basketball team so they look at me like im superman. I always tell them if you think im strong come in the weight room when the FB team is in here…theres a defensive end that runs a 4.4 forty at 6’6″ 250, squats in the 600’s and benches nearly 500…I have never seen such a freakish athlete in my life…its almost scary…He’s transferring to Florida at the end of the season. So FOOTBALL most definetely has to more COMPLETE athletes…

  11. JR says:

    Plus Most of the guys that Participated in Football and were good in it that are in the NBA right now(LeBron James, All-state receiver, Nate Robinson,Collegiate DB, Allen Iverson, All-State QB)have a clear advantage over the other NBA atletes that only played basketball. Lebron and Nate are easily both in the top 3 athlets in the league, and not to mention Glen Davis…who could have went to College on a football scholarship as well…even at his size(6’9″ 285lbs) he is cat quick with a base that can’t be moved even shaq said he was the strongest person hes faced…its not everyday you hear that from shaq…i would accredit Glen’s strength to those years of Football…

  12. Tom says:

    I’d gotta go NFL.

    Randy Moss has as high of a vertical as anyone in the NBA, is 6’4, and was “fast enough to run in the Olympics, he’s that fast”. He didn’t play basketball at the college level, but was the best player in West Virginia during high school. He also played next to a pro b-ball player in Williams (White Chocolate)

    Moss also was the best centerfielder in baseball during high school, won the state 100 and 200 meters without training, and of course was the best football player in the country. He could have went pro in any of those three sports, and his coach in college said he could have been a pro sprinter. Thats the definition of athletic.