Home » NFL vs. NBA debate, explained: Austin Rivers gets roasted by J.J. Watt, others for hot football take | Sporting News United Kingdom

NFL vs. NBA debate, explained: Austin Rivers gets roasted by J.J. Watt, others for hot football take | Sporting News United Kingdom

Austin Rivers has the utmost confidence in NBA players’ athleticism — but that confidence earned him some criticism on social media.

The 11-year NBA veteran, who last played for the Timberwolves during the 2022-23 season, believes 30 NBA players could play in the NFL, but 30 NFL players could not play in the NBA, or so he said Tuesday on ESPN’s “The Pat McAfee Show.”

Rivers’ hot take is the latest in a long history of NFL vs. NBA comparisons. LeBron James, in particular, has been at the forefront of these debates; the Lakers star even said Jerry Jones offered him a contract with the Dallas Cowboys during the 2011 NBA lockout.

Heat star Jimmy Butler also caught flak for believing he could make it in the NFL because, in his own words: “I’m fast and I have great hands. I can really catch.”

Rivers took it a step further this time. And he has received backlash from NFL athletes, celebrities and fans alike because of it.

Austin Rivers’ NFL vs. NBA hot take reactions

Soon after Rivers appeared on “The Pat McAfee Show,” his quote started making the rounds on social media.

J.J. Watt quickly jabbed back at Rivers, as the former NFL defensive end challenged the former NBA player to make an NFL team.

“You don’t got a job in either right now, go head and try it…” Watt posted on X.

Watt followed up, admitting that he couldn’t play in the NBA: “For the record, I could absolutely not play in the NBA. 6 hard fouls is about all I could give you and call it a day.”

Mina Kimes, an NFL reporter for ESPN, chimed in on the debate with a parody of Rivers’ take. Forget the NBA, can 30 NFL players take on the Minion Ice Cave from the “Despicable Me” movie franchise?

Even MLB was roped into the discussion, as one fan posted a video of former NFL and MLB athletes in a dunk contest. 

Others continue to clown the NBA veteran for his ridiculous take, from former NFL wide receiver Randy Moss to fans.

Meanwhile, former Rams, Eagles and Patriots defensive end Chris Long opined NBA players wouldn’t even make it through NFL training camp. He cited practice conditions, coaching relationships and lack of load management as the major differences NBA players would have a tough time navigating.

Some fans have agreed with Rivers, however. They believe NBA players’ height, speed and general athleticism translates from basketball to football. 

And even former NFL player turned analyst Ross Tucker believes Rivers’ take is partially correct. The only issue Tucker takes with it? NBA players need a lot of training before they could join the NFL ranks and make an impact.

Austin Rivers NBA career stats

Year Team GP MPG PPG RPG APG FG% 3-PT% FT%
2012-13 New Orleans Hornets 61 23.2 6.2 1.8 2.1 37.2% 32.6% 54.6%
2013-14 New Orleans Pelicans 69 19.4 7.7 1.9 2.3 40.5% 36.4% 63.6%
2014-15 Pelicans/Clippers 76 20.6 7.0 2.0 2.0 40.9% 29.8% 67.5%
2015-16 Clippers 67 21.9 8.9 1.9 1.5 43.8% 33.5% 68.1%
2016-17 Clippers 74 27.8 12.0 2.2 2.8 44.2% 37.1% 69.1%
2017-18 Clippers 61 33.7 15.1 2.4 4.0 42.4% 37.8% 64.2%
2018-19 Wizards/Rockets 76 26.7 8.1 2.1 2.2 40.6% 31.8% 52.6%
2019-20 Rockets 68 23.4 8.8 2.6 1.7 42.1% 35.6% 70.3%
2020-21 Knicks/Nuggets 36 23.5 7.9 2.3 2.3 42.4% 36.9% 71.0%
2021-22 Nuggets 67 22.1 6.0 1.7 1.3 41.7% 34.2% 72.7%
2022-23 Timberwolves 52 19.5 4.9 1.6 1.4 43.5% 35.0% 76.9%