Sports used to be a lot less specialized. In fact, it was long thought that the ideal athlete was of a kind of medium build — someone who could excel in a number of different sports, making the ideal athlete one who could triumph in the decathlon. And in youth sports, multi-sport athletes are common; Allen Iverson was a semi-legendary quarterback, Steve Nash played both soccer and rugby in high school and Tim Duncan was more focused on swimming than basketball in his younger days.
But even in today’s increasingly specialized professional sports, there’s still the romance of considering who could cross sports like a modern Bo Jackson. Discussions about how LeBron James would fare as a tight end in the NFL crop up every couple months and Tracy McGrady just tried his hand at pitching for the Sugar Land Skeeters (although he retired after four appearances).
So Hardwood Paroxysm’s writers have put on their thinking caps (and often their tongues in their cheeks) to consider which NBA players would excel at a different sport.
Rajon Rondo Would Make a Great Cyclist
By Patrick Redford (@patrickredford)
Cycling is a weird sport. Nothing really happens, and when you win, you tend to win when everyone else kind of wilts. It’s a solitary craft most of the time. But the most exciting riders turn this attrition-dependent logic on its head and get aggressive, attacking the peloton and, you know, racing bikes. It’s easy to be bad at this and burn your matches indiscriminately, but Rondo’s spatial intelligence and situational awareness skills would make him a great attacking cyclist. Build-wise, he’s not ideal. Long arms are essential in the NBA, especially for a point guard, but the inverse holds in cycling. Mark Cavendish is an elite sprinter partially because his lil T-Rex arms let him get aero and cut down on wind resistance. Rondo would theoretically make up for this with his wit and athleticism, becoming a ruthless stage hunter. We already know he’s into wheel sports.