Karl-Anthony Towns

Six NBA who could have had great careers in other sports

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There have been plenty of sportsmen and women who decided to change careers and take their athletic ability to a whole different game. Some sports people go for a sport that’s almost the same as their previous — such as Conor McGregor going from UFC to Boxing. Whilst others go further afield (looking at you, Michael Jordan and your stint in baseball!)

But if some of the biggest names in the NBA changed their career — what other sport would they excel in and have the best odds when it comes to the betting picks? We take a look and try to size up some of the stars in a different sport.

Karl-Anthony Towns, Baseball

Karl-Anthony Towns was the first pick for the Minnesota Timberwolves in 2015 and has been a staple on the team since. But before his stint for the Timberwolves, Towns actually had a small stint as a baseball player.

He reportedly quit basketball way back in the seventh grade to pick up the bat. This early ability to play well in both sports showed his athletic prowess at an early age.

Luol Deng, Soccer

The former Chicago Bulls star forward spoke in an interview about his childhood dream of being a soccer player. Soccer was actually his first love, but then nature intervened — Deng had a growth spurt.


It was this growth spurt that made Deng look toward another sport he was more suited to with his height, basketball. This decision was a good one. He managed to be picked up by the Bulls and appear in an All-Star game 10 years ago in 2012.

Deng’s dreams haven’t been totally squashed though – he still managed to play in Steve Nash’s charity soccer game in 2015!

Glen Davis — Football player

“Big Baby” Glen Davis certainly earns the ‘big’ title, standing at over 6’9 and weighing in at a solid 289 lbs. But what many people don’t know is that Davis was actually even bigger when he was younger!

He topped the scales at 345lbs whilst standing at 6’6 when he was in high school, on the football field he was a force to be reckoned with.

He had a notable talent for being ‘incredibly nifty’ for his size, although the nickname of incredibly nifty doesn’t quite have the same ring as big baby.


Leandro Barbosa, Soccer

Brazilians are well known for their fervent passion for all things soccer — the nation has been home to some of the greatest players of all time. Barbosa was also one of these Brazilians, as the Golden State Warriors player was raised playing at one of Sao Paulo’s well-known soccer clubs, Sports Club Corinthian.

Barbosa was able to balance out his soccer playing with basketball and found that the skills he learned carried over, especially having a vision for passes, gauging different distances and the timing of attacks.

Matt Barnes, Football

The Memphis Grizzlies forward wasn’t just an all-star in one sport back in high school, he was a key player on both the football and basketball squads. Talk about a man of many talents.

He was so good on the football field that the school actually retired his jersey back in 2011 to honour him!

Even after managing to become an NBA player, Barnes was still toying with a career in football, getting his agent to see if there would be any interest from NFL teams. The Warriors managed to snap him up though so that put a dampener on the potential move to the NFL, but Barnes has participated in a celebrity flag football game alongside Snoop Dogg.

Joel Embiid, Volleyball and Soccer

You could say that Embiid accidentally found his way to an illustrious basketball career. The big Cameroonian was doing quite well-playing soccer and volleyball before receiving an invitation to a basketball camp due to his height.

Embiid showed interesting promise at the basketball camp thanks to the skills he had built from playing the two other sports and the coach saw undeniable talent, stating the then 17-year-old Embiid was making moves that pros take years to master.

The rest, as they say, is history. Who knows where Embiid would be if that coach hadn’t happened to notice him at the camp.

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