While the Michael Jordan and LeBron James GOAT debate is raging at an especially high level right now, given the release of "The Last Dance", there's another debate that has been floated around for years involving LeBron's greatness.
Could LeBron James be a good... no, not good, a great player in the NFL? I've heard countless times that he'd be an unstoppable tight end with the athleticism of a WR1. I've also heard that just because he's athletic doesn't mean he has the necessary speed, power and skills required to translate into the world of professional football.
It's an interesting topic of conversation when football players, basketball stars and other figures weigh in on the hypothetical scenario. And now, we know what one prominent basketball figure has to say on the matter.
Not only would LeBron James be a good football player, says Doc Rivers. Not only would he be a great football player, says Doc Rivers. Good and great aren't enough. Instead, the largely successful NBA head coach says that LeBron could be the "greatest football player ever" if he had to step outside of basketball.
Oh boy. If this debate gains anywhere near the same momentum as the GOAT discussion has gotten, we're in for another all-out Twitter war regarding James' candidacy as an NFL player.
James has the size, obviously. At 6'9", 250 pounds, he'd be way taller than your average tight end. Some of the biggest bodies currently in the league at that position include the 6'7", 265-lb. Jimmy Graham (who notably had a college basketball career, if you didn't know from the hundreds of times that's been mentioned on broadcasts), the 6'7", 250-lb. Jesse James and the 6'8", 268-lb. Levine Toilolo. Surprisingly, given his dimension, Toilolo has made a minimal impact as a receiver, with a career high 264 yards and two touchdowns in 2016.
As pointed out by Mihir Bhagat of Bleacher Report, LeBron's 4.92 40-yard dash time pales in comparison to offensive threats around the NFL. A good time for a wide receiver can be considered anything below 4.50 seconds, though bigger-bodied tight ends have found success with slower times. The 6'6" Rob Gronkowski recorded a 4.68 time at the 2010 NFL Combine, while guys like Kyle Rudolph, Hunter Henry and Zach Ertz all ran around the 4.80 mark and have been incredibly successful.
His catching ability would obviously be a necessity in order to find success, and his durability and tolerance of big hits -- which we'd have to imagine he'd take quite frequently on seams and jump balls -- would be of peak importance.
While we've yet to find too many people who support Doc Rivers' audacious claim, some NFL presences have weighed in and agree with varying degrees of certainty. Former Pro Bowl safety Glover Quin said that though LeBron would get "banged up", he's "pretty sure" the catching ability would be there. Though his blocking capabilities are also doubtful in Quin's mind, he viewed his potential as a receiving tight end to be legitimate (via The Detroit News).
Lance Zierlein, a foremost draft expert and analyst with NFL.com and SportsMap.com, says that "LeBron's elite size, athletic talent, play traits, and competitive nature would make him a Pro Bowler very quickly -- even if he stepped into the NFL at the age of 33 or 34."
What do you think? Let us know on Twitter!