Who could forget the 1998 “Bash at the Beach” when Karl Malone and Diamond Dallas Page squared off against NBA bad-boy, Dennis Rodman, and Hollywood Hulk Hogan? This epic match gave the world a glimpse of what it would be like to see NBA specimens compete against the startling forces of professional wrestlers.
Each particular sport demands different physical and emotional prowess along with distinct technical skills. In the world of professional wrestling, for example, one must practice impeccable timing and must possess extraordinary balance, power, speed, flexibility, and mental toughness. Given these immense physical demands, is it feasible that other specialized athletes could excel in professional wrestling?
While we will likely never know for sure, this article speculates which NBA athletes posses the right combination of physical strength, emotional fortitude, and proper technique to contend against the world’s greatest wrestlers. Perhaps there are more NBA athletes who could follow in Malone and Rodman’s footsteps.
10. Rajon Rondo
Wrestling Name Ragin’ Rondo
Wrestling Strength: Trash Talk
Over the course of his 7-year career, Rondo has unquestionably proven his athletic talents; he has made a name for himself as a hard-nosed defender who stuffs the stat sheet. Rondo has been selected to the All-Defensive First team two times and All-Defensive Second Team two times. Before this injury-plagued season, Rondo led the league in triple-doubles two years in a row. Over that same period of time, he also led the league in assists per game.
More than a skilled athlete, Rondo is mentally tough; as a second-year player, Rondo was the floor general of a star-studded team that went on to win the NBA championship. Moreover, Rondo is an infamous trash talker. In fact, in a 2010 Sports Illustrated Player Poll, Rondo was voted one of leagues biggest trash talkers.
Rondo’s athleticism, mental toughness, and trash talking would make him a strong wrestling competitor. He would courageously fight any opponent on any stage, and his defensive competence would make him an elusive nightmare for his foes. But, really, we already know Rondo would be a great wrestler; just take one look at those arms, and you know he packs a punch.
9. Paul George
Wrestling Name: Pop Giorgio
Wrestling Strength: Quick Learner
In the world of wrestling, the term, “pop” refers to crowd reaction. Paul George, over the last two years, has certainly received some pop. He has shocked the basketball world and become, in many ways, an unsuspecting star. After leading his team to last year’s Eastern Conference Finals – where he adeptly guarded and battled the league’s greatest athlete, LeBron James – the 6’9”, 220-pound small forward has been on everyone’s radar.
In only his third year, George averages 21.7 points, 6.8 rebounds, and 3.5 assists per game, and his team currently has the best record in the Eastern Conference. This young star has learned quickly; he has accepted his fame and heavy workload, and he has excelled with ease and confidence. These skills would serve George well if he fought against world’s best wrestlers. In other words, beyond possessing an impressive physique and beyond his abilities to contain great athletes, Paul has the intangibles that would make him a proficient wrestler: He learns quickly, he is fearless, and he is extremely competitive.
8. Andre Iguodala
Wrestling Name: Dala Dalar Bill
Wrestling Strength: Balanced Attack
Standing at 6’6” and with a tone, agile 207-pound frame, Andre Iguodala has the body of a quintessential athlete. Moreover, Iguodala uses his mind and skills to perfectly compliment his team; he can score but doesn’t demand the ball; he will guard the opposing team’s best wing player, and he will unselfishly crash the boards and pass the ball. Iguodala can seemingly do it all.
Given his build, brains, and skill set, Iguodala could excel in almost any sport. He would use his proven balance, power, and speed to compete physically with other wrestlers. And, he would rely on his intelligence to study opponents’ weaknesses and use his versatility to match opponents’ strengths.
7. Kenneth Faried
Wrestling Nickname: The Manimal
Wrestling Strength: Stamina
Denver Nuggets forward, Kenneth Faried, has appropriately earned himself the nickname, Manimal. Though he nearly averages a double-double, Faried’s greatest contributions come in the form of hustle and energy. Faried is no stranger to the hardwood, as he regularly dives for loose balls and never gives up on plays.
It would come as no surprise, then, that the Manimal would outlast his wrestling fiends and exhaust them with his constant energy and grit.
6. Serge Ibaka
Wrestling Name: Surge
Wrestling Strength: Counter Attacks
Just when you think you have him beat, Serge Ibaka makes you pay. Ibaka has become one of the NBA’s greatest shot-blockers and a perennial member of the NBA-All Defensive Teams. With a towering 6’10”, 245-pound presence, it’s no wonder that two of the last three years this Congolese giant has led the league in blocks per game.
Just as Ibaka dominates the rim and disrupts his basketball opponents’ offensive attacks, he would similarly challenge his opponents’ wrestling assaults. In other words, Ibaka would master the counter attack.
5. Chris Paul
Wrestling Name: Chris, Pallbearer
Wrestling Strength: Timing
While Los Angeles Clippers point guard, Chris Paul, doesn’t appear very feisty, perhaps no one in the NBA knows how to exploit opponents’ weaknesses better than him. On defense, Paul regularly punishes rival point guards, as evidenced by his league-leading 2.5 steals per game average. In fact, over the last four years, no one has averaged more steals per game than Paul. Paul’s impeccable timing also demoralizes opponents on the offensive end as well. Paul’s adept ability to pick apart defenses is second to none, as he leads all players in assists per game.
These impressive skills would serve Paul well in the wrestling ring. Despite his relatively scrawny frame, the new Pallbearer of professional wrestling would make up for it with his scrappy, agile approach. He would rely on his instincts, elusiveness, and timing to dodge attacks, expose weakness, and pounce on his foes.
4. Russell Westbrook
Wrestling Name: Wrestle Westbrook
Wrestling Strength: Speed and Power
Russell Westbrook is no doubt one of the NBA’s most explosive players. His combination of speed and power strike fear into players’ eyes and allow him to get to the rim with ease. More than just an explosive athlete, Westbrook seemingly has no weakness on the court. Notwithstanding some nagging injuries, he has averaged 21.8 points, 6.9 assists, 5.7 rebounds and nearly two steals per game.
In the ring, Westbrook would waste no time and unremittingly attack his opponents. Some may argue that Westbrook at times lacks some composure – a weakness that may hamper his success in the long and grueling wrestling matches. Still, who can deny that this athlete wouldn’t succeed in the wrestling ring?
3. LeBron James
Wrestling Name: Ring General
Strength: Size and Awareness
LeBron James is a physical phenomenon. The 6’8”, 250-pound small forward possesses a rare combination of speed, grace, and power that few, if any athletes, can match. Needless to say, no matter the sport, LeBron James is a force to be reckoned with. Along with his natural ability, Lebron’s basketball IQ and court awareness make him the most dominant and dangerous basketball player on the planet. Proving his supremacy, Lebron has earned back-to-back championship rings in the last two seasons and many other significant accolades.
This literal ring general of the NBA would no doubt flourish on the wrestling mat. His seemingly endless repertoire of tricks would serve him well; in some matches, he would rely on his strength; in others, he would rely on his technique; in yet others, he would rely on his timing and instincts.
2. Blake Griffin
Wrestling Name: Griff
Wrestling Strength: Power
Blake Griffin has become the NBA’s most exciting player. His explosive dunks make him a regular feature on ESPN’s “Top 10” list. More than a spectacular dunker, Griffin has demonstrated his versatile play with impressive averages of 24.1 points, 9.5 rebounds, and 52.8% FG percentage.
As good as he is at “posterizing” basketball players, Griffin might be just as good at pulverizing wrestlers. Put it this way: this Griff would make the fearsome bully, Griff Tannen, look like his grandpa (Back to the Future II, anyone?). Griffin’s strength and leaping ability would add to wrestling’s most dangerous aerial techniques. Can you imagine Griff jumping from the ropes and performing his new signature aerial move, “the hoverboard.”
1. DeMarcus Cousins
Wrestling Name: De Mad Man
Standing at 6’11” and weighing 270 pounds, Cousins is without question a physical spectacle. Complementing his towering presence, Cousins demonstrates remarkable mobility and agility – a combination that make him a tough matchup for opposing big men. Unfortunately for Cousins, he has, time and again, shown that he lacks discipline. While his size and talent are unprecedented, Cousins lacks the composure to break into the elites of professional basketball. While he averages a mind-boggling 22.7 points, 11.7 rebounds, 2.9 assists, 1.5 steals and 1.3 blocks per game, he has also led the league in technical fouls the last two years and now leads the league in fouls per game.
In wrestling, though, you have to wonder if Cousins’ weakness would become his strength. Certainly Cousins’ recurrent and unpredictable outbursts cost him and his team possessions and points in basketball. These same types of outbursts, however, may sustain him as he musters the energy to counter wrestling opponents and finish his matches.