The Celtics' ever-humble Rajon Rondo challenged the Titans' Chris Johnson — who's so fast, he reminded Gus Johnson of a felon — to a footrace. Why do NBA players think they can hack it in the NFL? Blame the commish.
David Stern insists with robotic regularity that his ballers are the "best athletes in the world". (Sometimes, when he's feeling particularly saucy, he goes with "most extraordinarily gifted".)
Apparently he's been doing this for awhile:
"Messrs. Jordan, Johnson, Bird, et al., made it clear that the NBA really does have — as Commissioner David Stern so often claims — "the best athletes in the world."
That, in an article about the original Dream Team. Written in 1992. Jesus, at least the man's on message!
In the past few weeks alone, though, several players have gotten this idea implanted a little too deeply in their minds. First Big Baby Davis informed the world that upon reaching NBA All-Star status he would like to return to football, although he did not "have a specific position in mind in the NFL."
Then LeBron James, a All-Ohio wide receiver in his youth, mused that "If I put all my time and commitment into it, if I dedicated myself to the game of football, I could be really good, no matter what team I was on."
NFL players were skeptical. As Jeremy Shockey made the case on his Twitter :
If anyone was up to the task, I guess, it would be LeBron, modern marvel of mankind. No less an authority than former Cleveland Brown coach Eric Mangini even invited him to "come on down" before undermining that "he'd probably be good at baseball or soccer or swimming." Hmm. Two out of three ain't bad! And he's got this going for him, which is nice:
As for Rondo, this isn't the first time he has demonstrated a high regard for his speed. Last year he needled noted fast person Usain Bolt, informing him that the two would meet in 2012. This time, he set his sights slightly lower: Chris Johnson ran a 4.24 forty at the NFL Combine, the fastest recorded combine time ever.
So does Rondo have a chance to win the $2k purse? Probably not. The Sporting News' Bethlehem Shoals broke down the duel and, using complicated math equations, concluded that Rondo's forty time would clock in at something like a 5.15. That wouldn't even beat LeBron!
But with Johnson's recent counter that he could beat Rondo in a game of one-on-one, this is shaping up to be the most exciting competitive cross-pollination since Shaquille O'Neal challenged luminaries like Misty May-Treanor and Oscar de la Hoya in their native sports.
Stern can't be too happy: so far Shaq is 0-5.
This is Katie Baker, btw.