LeBron James hasn't played football competitively since high school, but the Miami Heat star still apparently dreams of catching touchdowns at the sport's highest level. In a Q-and-A on Twitter this week, LeBron said he'd like to play in the NFL at some point.
James may be the world's greatest basketball player, but on a more general level, he's one of the most uniquely gifted human beings on the planet. From his mammoth physique to the nimble, agile way he controls that frame, LeBron is an athlete of the highest order.
So understandably, like that kid in high school who dominates everything from football to intramural badminton, LeBron daydreams about being the best in sports other than basketball. And because he boasts the kind of physical gifts that would make Bill Belichick drool, people constantly ask him about playing football, which happened again this week during an online Q-&-A with fans.
With that one sentence, another Internet firestorm lit up concerning its meaning. Could LeBron actually be good enough to play NFL-caliber football? How would that work for an athlete still at his basketball-playing peak? Why would he even do that?
The thing is, none of those questions actually matter. Because just like with the whole Slam Dunk Contest thing, LeBron's ongoing flirtation with football should be neatly placed in the "nothing to see here" category of silly sports news. No matter how many times he answers the questions and entertains the possibility, it's just not going to happen. When it comes to football, the world's greatest basketball player is just being a big tease.
Given the way many outlets have reported LeBron's response, you would think this news -- a premier athlete entertaining the possibility of turning, "How would Athlete X fare in Sport Y?" into a reality -- would be novel. But this is nothing new, just the latest chapter in a boring story about an athlete stirring up public interest.
So why do we keep hearing about LeBron and football? Probably for the same reason he keeps wondering about it: curiosity concerning how transcendent athletic greatness translates between sports. James knows he's a special basketball player, and it's only natural for someone with his drive and ambition to wonder what else he might excel at.
But it still doesn't matter. The problem with LeBron and the NFL was never one of motivation or capability. It's a problem of logistics, and of cost-benefit analysis. No matter how much LeBron might want to give football a shot, he surely knows what it would take to get there, which probably doesn't include basketball.
Saying he'd like to play is one thing, but actually playing football wouldn't simply require LeBron to grab some pads and get truckin'. He would have to spend countless hours training and learning NFL playbooks, the kind of stuff most players spend years working on.
Could LeBron play in the NFL? Yes, no, maybe, probably, whatever. It ain't happening. Let's get back to basketball.