It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that the NBA is pretty much the court-based equivalent of professional wrestling. With all the trash talk, player dramas, eye-watering salaries, “heels” and “faces” and scandals going on, it’s a wonder sometimes that any action happens on the court and in the ring. We already know that there are some pro basketball players who would make great wrestlers, but since we’re comparing the two sports, are there any player/wrestler equivalents?
It was Enes Kanter that got us thinking about NBA athletes and their wrestling counterparts. The former Knicks player who, incidentally, has had a lucky escape since the New Yorkers are having a thoroughly miserable NBA season so far, talked about his wrestling experience in an interview with The Atlantic last December. Kanter discussed how the two sports share some very distinct similarities — in “95 percent of it (the NBA), people are not going to fight…especially now with all the money people are losing…it’s all about ‘I’m a tough guy’…all about [the] show.” In doing so, he made us think of a certain former UFC champion who’s also not afraid to straight talk about what goes on behind the scenes in her chosen sport, whether other athletes and fans like it or not.
Both Kanter and Ronda Rousey are quite talented athletes, add that to their strong personalities and good looks, and you have two marketable individuals. And just like Rousey had the ability to switch from dominating women’s MMA to dominating women’s wrestling, we’re sure Kanter could pull it off, too, if he were to retire from basketball and jump into the ring. In fact, the more we started to think of Kanter as Rousey’s NBA equivalent, the more we found other NBA counterparts of iconic and legendary wrestlers.
John Cena & James Harden
“What is this madness?” we hear you ask. “Surely, LeBron James is the NBA counterpart of John Cena?” Well, no. While there are similarities between the two big names, you need to keep reading to find out who we think is the WWE match of James. The reason we see Harden and Cena as equivalents is that they’re both such polarizing athletes. You can’t question their talent or their records on the court or in the ring, but fans of both sports either love them or hate them.
Brock Lesnar & Anthony Davis
Both guys are, for want of a better description, total freaks of nature. Not only do they share their impressive physical stature but also, their ability to make their presence known and have an instant impact on the court or in the ring. Lesnar and Davis are so alike that they could even make a convincing tag team.
Finn Bálor & Joel Embiid
These two were some genuinely exciting up-and-comers in their chosen disciplines. So, we couldn’t wait for them to make it on to the main stage in both events, and when they did, they not only lived up to expectations but smashed them. But unfortunately, both Balor and Embiid were sidelined by injuries after their main event debuts.
Roman Reigns & DeMarcus Cousins
Physical facility? Check. Necessary stats? Check. The goods to back up the talk? Check. On paper, Reigns and Cousins have all the attributes necessary to be champions in their fields, but people don’t like them. While Reigns has had a mixed history with the WWE, struggling to get the opportunities to develop into the title holder we know he’s capable of being, Cousins has been disliked by both fans and coaches alike in the NBA.
Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson & LeBron James
Come on: We know you’ve thought of this one before. These two MVPs have carved out careers for themselves that transcend their sports, and even long after they retire, they’ll still be the biggest All-Stars around when it comes to the WWE and the NBA. Both are instantly recognizable, as even if you’ve never seen a basketball game in your life, you know who LeBron James is, and the same goes for The Rock. And both have those big, big personalities needed to not only to be a star in their sporting fields but to become huge names in the world of entertainment.