Tennis Stars’ NBA Equivalents

Kurt —  September 7, 2007

Sitting watching another night of the US Open tennis tournament—seeing Andy Roddick play the best tennis he could and still get swept by Roger Federer — I started thinking about what tennis player equated to what NBA player. So, for fun I started a little list. It’s some harmless early September NBA blues fun (we’ll save discussing power struggles in the house of Buss until next week).

This is just a start, if you have suggestions put them in the comments and I’ll move the best ones up to the main post.

Roger Federer = Tim Duncan.
Well-rounded games with seemingly no weakness. Incredible consistency against the bottom feeders or the top tier. The ability to step up under pressure. And winning titles, just winning titles — all while not showing off or acting like a pampered ass. Sometimes I want to hate the guy, but I just have to respect them. (By the way, I think Payton Manning could fit in here perfectly and make it a trio.)

Several people (starting with Lakerfan, I think) have chimed in that comparing Duncan to Federer is a disservice to Fed. Maybe true. While Jordan is the best comparison, I was going with active players. But the point that Federer is an MJ, a Tiger Woods, the dominant person in the sport is a valid one.

Rafael Nadal = Dwyane Wade.
Young, fun to watch aggressive player who wins a title (or for Nadal, a few majors) but who’s style and energy put such a strain on their bodies you sometimes wonder how long they can keep it up.

Novak Djokovic = LeBron James. Loaded with talent and everyone knows it’s just a matter of time until he wins the big one. He’s beaten the big two before, but never in a major moment when it was all on the line.

Serena Williams = Shaq O’Neal. Off the court interest take focus away from the on the court game, and all that can lead to weight/training issues. But when focused and in shape nobody can stop them.

Andy Roddick = Karl Malone. Hall of Fame, unquestioned talents who (as Bill Dwyre put brilliantly in the LA Times yesterday) have one fatal flaw — being born in the same era as the greatest player in the history of the game. Said player becomes their nemesis.

UPDATE: mookiebrainlock suggests John McEnroe = Rasheed Wallace. Does this mean Rasheed has a series of clever but overplayed American Express ads in his future? Probably not.

Also, nobody seems to love the Roddick/Malone comparison, with Jeremy rightly pointing out that Roddick does have a Major under his belt. (Well, you don’t really wear belts in tennis, but you get the idea.) He suggests the better match is Scottie Pippen, “Loads of talent, just not quite as good as the rest of the superstars.” Burningjoe suggested maybe Reggie Miller is a better example (although that presents the same championship issue as Malone). Roddick is the one I had the hardest time with (save Kobe, I never found a match I liked there).

UPDATE 2: Jake Oakley throws out an interesting one: Kobe Bryant = Boris Becker.

Sounds a little odd maybe, but if you think about it … Both one three big ones early in their career, they were young superstars Becker with his Wimbledon championships at 17 and 18 and Kobe with Shaq. They had great coaches ( I can’t think of the name of Becker’s though) and both of them had a huge sex-affair. Becker’s 5 seconds with Angela Ermakowa are famous over in Germany.

And from the good people at SLAM online, Mike Miller = Maria Sharapova. I think Miller may actually fiddle with his hair more.