LeBron James may have won four of the last five NBA MVP awards, but that has not completely inoculated him from trash talk. But even James could not have predicted that an NFL defensive end would claim to be able to beat him in 1-on-1 this week.
The defensive end in question is Greg Hardy of the Carolina Panthers. When the Charlotte Observer asked him Monday if he could keep up with James on the basketball court, Hardy took the bait and ran with it.
"How should I answer this question?" he responded. "I would dominate that dude. Hands down, guaranteed win. And that’s my favorite player."
When pressed by the interviewer, Hardy backed off a little but still claimed he could beat James. "I'm not saying I would beast him, but I would definitely win," he said. "I got a good shot, I got good handles, I got good size. I feel that we match up pretty well."
Hardy is no stranger to the hardwood. He played one season on the basketball team at Ole Miss, appearing in 15 games in the 2006-07 season. But football was clearly his calling, and he focused on that after his freshman season. Hardy recorded 11 sacks for the Panthers last season, and has 3 so far in 2013.
Asked for specifics, Hardy said in a game of first to 11, "I would still win. Probably 11-9."
In reality, though, Hardy would probably be quick work for LeBron. At 6'4" and 279 pounds, Hardy is both too short to defend James in the post and to large to keep up with him. Hardy claims he can make up for the height disadvantage with his long armspan and jumping ability ("Nobody knows I got hops").
Heat fans will find the "I feel that we match up pretty well" line of reasoning a bit entertaining. Brandon Jennings of the Milwaukee Bucks said the same thing about facing the Heat in the playoffs last spring.
The Heat got the last laugh, winning their first round playoff series in a four-game sweep.