Speculation about just how good Lakers star LeBron James might have been if he had focused his physicality and athleticism on football rather than basketball is as much an entertaining exercise in hypotheticals as comparing James to, say, Michael Jordan.
But on Friday, James sent out a post on Instagram that he says backs up just what he might have been able to do had he passed up hoops for pigskin.
The post features an old clipping from a publication that included a scouting report on James, showing him in his No. 9 jersey from St. Vincent-St. Mary High School and calling him, “The #1 football prospect in the state of Ohio.”
The article goes on to compare James to Randy Moss (“a taller, slower version”) and list some of James’ numbers as a receiver in his junior year: 1,200 yards receiving on 60 receptions with 16 touchdowns. “What I saw on film,” the article’s author wrote, “was a ball player readymade for the NFL at the WR position.”
James, rather pleased with himself, wrote on Instagram, “Men Lie, Women Lie, Numbers Don’t. Didn’t even play my senior year.”
Teammates, Coaches Would not Allow James to Play Football
James went on to explain that he did not play football as a senior because several of his friends and coaches in his basketball world would not let him.
“They said if I tried to step on a football field my senior year they would jump(kick my a**) me every day of practice until I had enough! Think I made a smart decision! Ha! Anyways you LB/CB/S can thank my homies I stayed over in the hoops lane or would have been plenty of highlights ‘Moss’d’ on y’all.”
It is worth noting, too, that James had suffered a broken wrist during an AAU game in June 2002 that needed about two months to heal, which would have kept him out until just about when training would have begun for the football team.
James missed all of that summer’s top prep showcases but was already established the best high school player in the nation at the time, one who would certainly be the No. 1 pick in the 2003 NBA Draft—and had no plans to get on the football field. In fact, it was rumored at the time that James might sue the NBA to enter the draft as a junior, though James eventually passed on that choice and stayed in high school through his senior year.
Doc Rivers: LeBron May Have Been Greatest Football Player Ever
During the idle period that the NBA had this year as the league was on hiatus because of the spread of the novel coronavirus, which started in March, there was ample time to speculate on these things. That’s what Clippers Doc Rivers, who has been coaching against James since 2003, did during a podcast with his son, Rockets guard Austin Rivers.
“I don’t know if there has ever been an athlete in our league like LeBron,” Doc Rivers said. “I really believe if LeBron James had played football, he would have been the greatest football player at whatever position, if he could catch.”
Doc Rivers then postulated what it might have been like if James had, indeed, played football as a senior.
“Could you imagine as a high school kid, as a senior, LeBron James with a helmet on?” Rivers said. “That’s like, dangerous.”
Count James as one who agrees with that sentiment.