Your phone rings in the middle of the night from an unknown number. Against your better judgement you answer, thinking it could be an emergency. On the other end of the line is a billionaire, giving you the opportunity of a lifetime.
Half asleep you listen to the terms. You can select any current NBA player, and any sport you’d like to compete against them in. If you can score a single point against them one-on-one you’ll receive a check for $10 million. The billionaire tells you to make your decision immediately, and the competition will start at 9 a.m.
What do you choose?
My first thought was hockey, and then I remembered that I have two problems here:
- I’ve never played hockey.
- My ice skating is questionable at best.
So while I do believe there aren’t many NBA players who would be great on the ice because of their high center of gravity, I also must come to the realization that I would probably be much, much worse.
Then, like a lightning bolt of ingenuity it came to me. Not only do I have a sport and athlete combo I think I could win at, I’d wager that I can absolutely kick ass.
I’m playing Tacko Fall in tennis.
Exceedingly tall has never been a good attribute to have on the tennis court. John Isner is the best tall player in the world, and he’s only 6’10. Tall players struggle to cover distance quickly and lack the lateral quickness to play the net. That’s why I think I’d have the 7’7 Fall beat.
Now, I know what you’re saying: “James, you dopey moron. Tacko Fall has an eight foot wingspan. He can basically cover shots in a step or two,” and you’re right — but also so very, very wrong.
Tennis operates against Fall’s basic muscle memory. He’s used to swatting away shots with his hands, giving him a certain familiarity with making contact with the ball. However, the racket is going to add more length to his already astoundingly long arms. I truly don’t think he’d be able to get a hang of making reliable contact before I win a point.
But wait, there’s more: Tennis is also a sport where there’s equal burden on both players. If I were to play basketball against Fall it’s all on me to get the ball in the hoop, and he would turn me into a mushed meat pouch. However, if he makes a mistake and hits it out of bounds on a simple service return, I win.
I’d take this bet any day of the week and twice on Sunday, and I’d win.
- James Dator
Beer pong against any big man with a 60% free throw percentage or worse
We’re strictly enforcing the elbows rule to avoid a Bozo the Clown prize bucket situation. If Shaquille O’Neal is any indication, the bigger you are and the smaller the ball looks in your hand, the tougher it is to hit a stationery shot at a fixed target. 10 cups, two reracks, and bounces are worth double. Shut up, it is a sport.
- Christian D’Andrea
I’m playing anyone tall and strong in mini golf
I feel like mini golf just doesn’t work for very jacked and tall people. Everything is, uh, mini. And they’re, uh, not. LeBron James is probably shipping a ball into the water. A Giannis putt is launching through the obstacles.
But me; 5’9, small, and muscle-less. I’ve got this.
- Matt Ellentuck
I don’t know how horse racing works, but surely that’s my best bet
There aren’t that many sports where being small is a good thing, but I think being a jockey is the one that stands out to me the most in that category, so I’d put the money on me versus a particularly heavy player. Zion, for example, currently clocks in at 6’6 and 285 pounds. Purely from a mathematical standpoint, the fact that I’m 5’2 and weigh about 37% of that puts me at a huge advantage.
It also helps that I’m pretty sure that the horse is the real athlete, anyway. Surely the horse knows what to do even if I’m absolutely clueless, right? Not to discount the time and training and talent that goes into being jockey, but I think the average horse is too smart for its own good and could take the steering wheel for just this one hypothetical race, so to speak.
The only downside to this plan would be that I have to trust a horse, and that’s something that I’m definitely hesitant to do. Have you seen their eyes? A horse knows stuff, and it could definitely sense that I’m using it for financial gain. Thankfully, horses don’t have hands to hold $10 million, so unless one suddenly figures out how to get around that, I think I’m safe.
But still. Don’t ever trust a horse.
A Snowboarding race
I want to establish up front that NBA players are blessed with such tremendous coordination and dexterity that they would destroy me at any sport they put their mind to. I’m choosing snowboarding here as a bet that a) many of them have not been snowboarding before, b) snowboarding is particularly difficult as a first-time activity. I should know the latter is true because I broke my arm the first time I ever tried it way back in eighth grade.
Two decades later, I am by no means great at snowboarding, but I am competent enough to get through a run without falling pretty much every time. The bet here is an NBA player would struggle to pick-up snowboarding as a first-timer since almost everyone does, and that even if they did pick up it up quickly they would be too cautious to go fast in that they have no reason to risk injury just to beat a 32-year-old blogger in a snowboarding race.
So bring it on, Tony Snell. Do your worst, Kyle O’Quinn. I think I can take y’all in a snowboarding race, at least until you quickly figure out how to do it and then whoop my ass every subsequent time down the hill.
— Ricky O’Donnell
Swimming with Jimmy Butler
Unless Jimmy Butler has learned how to swim in the two years since he and Sam Alipour went paddling in a Minnesota lake, I’m good with a 50-meter freestyle race for $10 million. I’m not a good swimmer in any sense of the word, but I know how to swim, and I feel that is a distinct advantage in a swimming race against someone who doesn’t know how to swim.
I’d feel slightly less confident but still capable in a kayak race against Butler — he would figure it out pretty quickly and has far superior core strength and power, but if I could get enough lead and it’s a short enough race, I’d have a shot. Perhaps I’d put some “Beware of Sharks” signs out there just to give me another little edge.
— Tom Ziller