When a high-level athlete like Michael Jordan switches sports, it’s always interesting to see just how far they can go in it. Some people were born to play one sport, but an athlete who can excel in multiple sports is just amazing.
When it comes to NBA players moving into boxing though, that’s difficult to do because a boxer needs years of experience to compete professionally and most established athletes are too old to transition to boxing.
However, a good boxer has a lot of similarities with a good basketball player, so an NBA player becoming a boxer isn’t that far fetched. In fact, Manny Pacquiao, a world champion boxer, is also a professional basketball player in the Philippines.
That said, there are many things that a boxer needs that we can’t measure, like how well they can take a punch. Nonetheless, here are some NBA stars who could do well in boxing if they started hitting the punching bag soon.
Many people consider James to be one of the greatest of all time or simply, the Michael Jordan of our generation. If that were true, he could swap sports and potentially do as well as Jordan did. A great boxer needs to be a lot of things, fast on their feet, agile with their hands, coordinated with their eyes, etc, and James’ experience in the NBA shows that he’s got all of that and then some.
With a wingspan of about 84″, James has some long arms, but it’s actually the smallest wingspan of the men on this list. A large wingspan is very useful in boxing because longer arms will allow a boxer to punch from farther away. However, James’s sheer athleticism and intelligence would make up for it. In fact, UFC commentator Joe Rogan is glad that James isn’t in combat sports because James would likely dominate everyone if he had the experience.
After leading the Toronto Raptors to their first-ever NBA championship win, Leonard is a star in many people’s minds. He’s earned that distinction because of just how good he is at the game and many of those attributes would allow him to do well in boxing too.
Like James, Leonard is a great athlete in general, but unlike James, Leonard also has some freakishly long arms for his size. With a wingspan of 87″, Leonard’s got longer arms than James does despite being shorter, and that would serve him well in boxing.
Like James and Leonard, Embiid is a pretty good basketball player too, and so all of his cardio and agility would translate well into boxing. In addition to that though, Embiid also boxes for exercise, so he’s already in the process of learning the sport.
Plus, Embiid, like everyone else on this list, has some really long arms, and that will definitely translate well as a boxer. With his 90″ wingspan, there have been very few boxers with a similar wingspan, ever.
Entering newcomer territory is Mo Bamba. Every NBA player needs to be athletic to an extent so Bamba likely is athletic enough to compete in boxing if he wanted to.
However, what sets Bamba apart is his ridiculous wingspan of 94″. Bamba is also the youngest man on this list as he’s only 19. If Bamba has a gift for boxing and started training right now, he could become a great boxer while at his prime. But you can’t blame him if he doesn’t want to get punched in the face for less money than he’d get in the NBA.
Technically, Fall has only played a handful of games so far and they were for the NBA’s Summer League, but the Celtic’s Center is not only one of the tallest persons in the world, but he’s also got the longest wingspan in the NBA right now. With an incredible 98″ wingspan, his jab would be a sight to see. However, like Bamba, he’s very new to the NBA so how athletic he is remains to be seen.
For comparison, two heavyweights currently hold major boxing titles, Andy Ruiz and Deontay Wilder. Ruiz has a wingspan of 74″ and Wilder has a wingspan of 83″. Every man on this list has longer arms than both of these heavyweight champs. Of course, the heavyweight champs would beat all of them in a fight, but if these NBA players had the experience and training, it’d be a different story.