Who Is the Lebron James of the NFL? 19 NBA/NFL Counterparts

August 9, 2015 Updated: August 9, 2015

To some, the NBA and NFL are completely different worlds. So in this segment, we’d like to argue that they are actually parallel universes. Here are 19 NBA/NFL counterparts.


The easiest one. The two franchises with arguably the biggest winning pedigrees in their leagues today.

Bill Belichick—Greg Popovich

Bill Belichick mirroring Greg Popovich should be a no brainer.

Tim Duncan—Tom Brady

Tom Brady and Tim Duncan are both franchise players in the truest sense of the word in that they have stayed with their original teams and coaches since day one. Incidentally, both are older players whose play just does not seem to digress with age.

Kawhi Leonard—Dont’a Hightower

Kawhi Leonard is a rising star who specializes in defense. Same with Dont’a Hightower.


Both the Clippers and Cowboys are highly talented teams that can’t get over the hump in the playoffs. 

Chris Paul—Tony Romo

Naturally, Chris Paul correlates to Tony Romo as they are the faces of their franchises and run their offenses.

Blake Griffin—Dez Bryant

Dez Bryant relates to Blake Griffin in that both are younger, more explosive players who make the big plays—Griffin with the dunk, and Bryant with the end zone jump-ball.

Jason Witten—DeAndre Jordan

Witten relates to Jordan in that they are both elite “glue” players who do their teams’ dirty work—Jordan with his defense and rebuilding, and Witten, who will time and again spell his team on passing downs when Bryant is covered.

More Matchups

Anthony Davis—Andrew Luck

Both No. 1 picks. Its very plausible that both will be the best player in their leagues in a few years. Both are leaders on competitive, up-and-coming teams that were struggling before their arrivals.

Derrick Rose—Robert Griffin III

Obviously two super athletic and talented guys who can’t seem to stay healthy. The only difference is, Rose had a few high caliber series, including an MVP season. Griffin just had a stellar rookie season.

Joakim Noah—Richard Sherman

Mean, loud, and obnoxious on the court/field, but both great defenders.

Kyrie Irving—LeSean McCoy

Super flashy and talented players that each have some injury problems.

JJ Watt—Russell Westbrook

Post-all star break Westbrook was the closest thing to Watt I’ve seen. The gap between Watt and the rest of the players at his position is truly something that is very rarely seen in any sport. For comparison’s sake, Watt’s Pro Football Focus rating was 107.5; the No. 2-ranked 3–4 end had a rating of 39.9.

Meanwhile, consider Westbrook’s stats post all-star break: 31.4 points, 8.6 rebounds, 9.9 assists. That is pure insanity. Also, Watt and Westbrook play on middle-of -he-pack teams that are thin on talent besides themselves (remember, Durant and Ibaka were out the second half of the season).

Earl Boykins—Darren Sproles

Little guys that are super fun to watch for being fun-size, but also outrageously quick and agile.

Jimmer Fredette—Tim Tebow

Glorified college players that are constantly moving around in the pros looking for a chance at success.

Jay Cutler—Carmelo Anthony

Jay Cutler is not quite a Carmelo Anthony in terms of superstar status. But, Jay Cutler was also highly hyped as the third quarterback in a draft behind hype trains Matt Leinart and Vince Young, just as Anthony was behind Lebron and Milicic. Both were ousted from their previous teams, and both are in difficult situations with their new teams, with Cutler getting benched last season and the Knicks just downright stinking.

Adrian Peterson—LeBron James

LeBron James never had to take a year off from basketball, but the opprobrium of the Peterson debacle is comparable with that of Lebron’s ‘Decision.’ Both are considered the most physically gifted players in their leagues, both are players who can carry a team all by themselves, and both have strength and power as their main attributes. The two have also just turned the corner on age 30.

Jurrell Casey—Gordon Haywood

Casey plays defensive end in Tennessee. Haywood plays for the Utah Jazz. So yeah, neither get much credit.

Haywood averaged a very solid 19.3 points, 4.9 rebounds, and 4.1 assists last season. Casey is one of the best 3–4 ends in the league and the best player on his team. Both are also younger players who’ve only been in the league for a few years.

Le’Veon Bell—James Harden

Two elite players whose games struck me as being more finesse than pure athleticism.