Sports Stars We'd Stop Aliens from Taking
If aliens exist—and let’s be honest, they almost certainly do—they too are more than likely obsessed with sports.
Like the rest of us, I’m sure they admire Earth’s most talented athletes. But what if their admiration grew to be too much? What if they decided they want what we have and traveled here in hopes of redistributing said talent, from our planet to theirs?
They’d likely start small, cherry-picking our greats from a few select sports. But we have a deep and impressive collection of talent, and making these choices wouldn’t be so easy.
They’d also hate to alienate (pun intended) their most talent-rich recruiting pool—humans—and would probably give us some say in who they abduct.
We, then, would have some tough calls to make.
So it is with aliens and vanishing athletes in mind that we take a look at our most likely Sports Leftovers. If push came to shove and some athletes had to go, the following are the superstars we'd fight to keep.
Chris Paul or Russell Westbrook
Out of the gate with a bang, it’s easy to understand why the aliens would want one of these superstars.
Though Paul and Westbrook have clearly distanced themselves from the NBA’s other elite point guards—they rank one and two in player efficiency rating, respectively, per ESPN.com—their games couldn’t be more different.
Westbrook is the future. At 6’3”, 200 pounds, he is a freak athlete and among the most dynamic players in league history. The three-time All-Star and second-team All-NBA selection has a penchant for turning basketball games into track meets; he's more attacker than facilitator.
Paul, on the other hand, is a total throwback who recalls the game’s former beauty. Sure, CP3 can light it up too. However, it’s everything else he does that boggles the mind.
Getting more to the point, we’d have to give Westbrook away here, with both what he represents and what’s to come in mind.
As rare and unique as Westbrook seems today, he’s the template for future players at the position. In contrast, Paul embodies something of the past—a dying brand of basketball that should be cherished while it lasts.
We choose nostalgia over innovation and pick Paul to stay.
I just hope Westbrook enjoys space.
Andrew Luck or Russell Wilson
We next go to the NFL, where aliens are asking us to choose between arguably the two best young signal-callers in the league.
Russell—a third-year player out of Wisconsin—is a dynamic dual-threat quarterback with a Super Bowl title already to his name.
Luck—the No. 1 overall selection in 2012’s draft—is a two-time Pro Bowler and the NFL’s new Comeback Kid (he holds the league rookie record for QB-led comebacks in a season with seven).
Both quarterbacks signal things to come. They are cerebral and mobile with cannons for arms, and future QBs will be happy to resemble either.
But with five extra inches, an additional 33 pounds and the more dynamic arm, Luck possesses the higher ceiling of the two. He’s also without a Super Bowl, a stage on which we hope to one day see him perform.
So it’s with a heavy heart that we say goodbye forever to Wilson—a once promising Seahawks star.
Mike Trout or Bryce Harper
We next head to the diamond, where aliens are interested in two of the game’s brightest young stars.
There’s someone for everyone, and I’m sure plenty of Washingtonians enjoy Harper’s unbridled arrogance. Others—Braves fans most notably—don’t appreciate his antics quite as much.
It’s for a different reason entirely, however, that we send him packing (which, on a side note, begs the question: How does one pack for space?).
Simply put, Trout is the much better player at his point in time. He has already finished second in AL MVP voting twice in addition to taking home two Silver Sluggers. In their careers, Trout has the better batting average (.307 vs. .271), more RBI (73.3 per year vs. 48.3) and more home runs (23.3 per year vs. 17.3), as well as better on base (.395 vs. .350) and slugging percentages (.548 vs. .467).
This is perhaps the easiest choice on the list; we really see no reason to keep Harper around.
In fact, we wouldn't be at all surprised if the aliens eventually tire of Harper and send him back to Washington.
Blake Griffin or Anthony Davis
Back to the NBA we go, as we are now forced to say goodbye to a promising NBA big.
There’s no denying it: Blake Griffin is one of the most exciting players to ever lace up a pair of NBA sneakers.
His boundless energy and limitless dunks fill arenas around the country 82 game per year. He has holes in his game, however, and will have to improve as a rebounder, rim protector and post scorer before he’s capable of leading his team to the promised land.
Anthony Davis, on the other hand, has it all. His 26.5 player efficiency rating ranked fourth in the NBA last season, trailing only Kevin Durant, LeBron James and Kevin Love.
And entering just his third year in the league, Davis has been historically dominant for his age. Last season, at 20 years old, he averaged 20.8 points, 10 rebounds and a league-leading 2.8 blocks. In the history of NBA basketball, only one player—the great Shaquille O’Neal—has put up such gaudy numbers at so young an age.
So, then, in a refusal to miss all that Davis has in store, we say adios to LA’s Griffin.
Todd Gurley or Melvin Gordon
It’s time now for our college jaunt, as we’re forced to select between Georgia running back Todd Gurley and Wisconsin Badger Melvin Gordon.
As far as backfield beasts are concerned, few college players today can compare to Gurley and Gordon.
Gordon uses speed and quickness to churn out yards, rushing for an impressive 1,609 in 2013, which ranks second all-time in Big Ten history. The explosive, big-play back also currently holds the Big Ten record for yards per rushing attempt with a flashy 8.1 average.
Gurley, on the other hand, adds tremendous size and power to the same speed and agility Gordon brings to the table.
Though he hasn’t been quite as productive—injuries have sidelined him at times—Gurley is the closest thing to Adrian Peterson since Adrian Peterson.
Like AD, Gurley has it all: size to punish, hands to impress and speed to kill.
Simply check out what Gurley did to Clemson last Saturday to understand why Gordon has to go.
Adrian Peterson or LeSean McCoy
From future NFL stars to the stars of today, the aliens next direct their attention to the pro game’s two best backs.
In a big way, though, this discussion must focus as much on the future as it does on the present.
While Peterson is the best running back of the last 20 years or so, he’s now 29 years old, an age that has almost never been kind to NFL ball-carriers.
And the stats say as much: While Peterson rushed for 831 fewer yards in 2013 than he managed in 2012, McCoy (now 26 years old) nearly doubled his 2012 output (840) in 2013 (1,607) en route to leading the league in rushing.
In their respective primes, Peterson is the better and more attractive player. But with today and the future in mind, McCoy is our man, and Peterson is sent packing.
James Rodriguez or Neymar
Perhaps sick of all the Americans aboard their ship, the aliens next span the globe in search of the world’s top soccer star.
In doing so, our guests from another planet force us to make perhaps the toughest choice of all.
Due to nearly unparalleled technique, vision and playmaking ability—plus six goals in Brazil’s World Cup—James Rodriguez recently became the most expensive Colombian in soccer history, moving from Monaco to Real Madrid for a transfer fee of 80 million Euros.
Neymar is every bit as talented, with a combination of speed, flair with the ball and top-notch finishing ability.
And while Colombia is one of soccer’s favorite places to travel, Brazil is its home, making the Mogi das Cruzes-born Neymar its caretaker.
Considering his significant place in soccer history, then, we elect to extend Neymar’s stay on earth.
Pete Carroll or Bill Belichick
We aren’t exactly sure what the aliens plan on doing with all our athletes, but they will clearly need a coach at some point and look toward two of our very best.
In fact, in a recent poll that included 30 NFL insiders, Bill Belichick and Pete Carroll were ranked as football’s No. 1 and No. 2 coaches, respectively.
Belichick finished atop the list for obvious reasons. His resume is beyond comparison: three Super Bowl titles as a head coach, three AP NFL Coach of the Year awards and an amazing 11 AFC East crowns in the last 13 seasons.
Pete Carroll, on the other hand, is more of an up-and-comer, though already a Super Bowl champion with just four years of experience in Seattle (although he previously coached for the Patriots and New York Jets).
And while he’s not as accomplished as the New England vet, Carroll’s value in Seattle cannot be questioned: In the three years before his arrival, Seattle lost 19 games by more than seven points. Since then, the Seahawks have played in 45 straight games without such a defeat, making for the longest streak in the league (Belichick's Patriots are second on the list, with just two defeats by more than seven points over the same span).
Though Belichick is currently setting the pace for coaches in the NFL, I’m not sure he can run any faster than what we’ve already seen. Carroll, in contrast, could have another gear entirely, and that's something we want to see. Just don't mention that gear to Peyton Manning, who just so happens to be next on our list.
Tom Brady or Peyton Manning
We all knew it was only a matter of time before aliens came calling for our most precious signal-callers.
Of course, that’s Peyton Manning and Tom Brady, the NFL’s two biggest stars and most accomplished quarterbacks.
Both guys have achieved just about everything there is to achieve: Super Bowl titles, MVP distinctions and Pro Bowl selections.
Only one of the two, however, still receives a steady flow of criticism.
Manning has an amazing five MVP trophies—three more than Brady—and just put forth the greatest season of quarterbacking ever yet still has negative stigmas attached to his game.
His one world championship pales in comparison to Brady’s three, and the most recent shellacking his Bronco’s received via Carroll’s Seahawks—a 43-8 Super Bowl beatdown—has people only further questioning his postseason prowess.
So it’s with sympathy in mind that we decide to bounce Brady and give Peyton the chance to add another ring or two to his resume.
LeBron James or Kevin Durant
Leave it to the aliens to save The King for last.
If we were to use the same logic here as we used in "Manning or Brady," keeping Durant would be the obvious choice.
While King James already has two NBA titles at just 29 years of age, Durant is still searching for his first.
But—unlike Manning and Brady—I don’t consider James and Durant comparable talents.
LeBron is the greatest basketball player since Michael Jordan. Few would argue this point.
More importantly, his move to Cleveland has him once again in the middle of the game’s most compelling storyline. In Miami, James teamed up with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh to form The Big Three, a move that changed the NBA forever and made headlines aplenty.
In Cleveland, he has created a new Big Three with Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving—one that on paper looks to be every bit as fearsome and intriguing as its predecessor.
So in a refusal to deprive the world of LeBron's legend and drama, it is with great sadness that I say, “Bon voyage, Kevin. Tell Tom we said hello!”
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