AFL players are not impressive athletes

There’s been a lot of love for AFL on MoTD recently, because the AFL season is upon us again. I don’t mind AFL. A good quality game is fun to watch, and I genuinely enjoy kicking the footy with mates.

However, I lack the ‘obsession’ gene that most Melburnians are born with. I lack that pathological fixation on all things AFL. I don’t live the months of March-through-October one weekend at a time. And when my team lose, I don’t take it personally (which is a good thing, since I support Richmond!)

Growing up, my preference for basketball over footy was met with pity, confusion or occasionally contempt. How could I pick a Yankee non-contact game for sissy beanpoles over the roughest, toughest, fastest and most exciting game on earth?

Say NBA to an Aussie, chances are good this is the mental image they come up with.

Well it’s time to burst some bubbles folks, so strap yourselves in… this could be a long one.

You see folks…

AFL players…

They’re just not that impressive.

“WHAT!?” the football fan cries. “NOT THAT IMPRESSIVE?! How can they not be impressive!? They’re elite athletes playing an exciting sport with tremendous skill!”

Well Mr or Mrs football fan… two out of three ain’t bad, I suppose.

I will grant you that the game is tremendously skillful when played well. Kicking a 50m goal from the boundary on the run is pretty amazing.

And I will grant you that the game can be very exciting when played well. A good quality flowing game creates multiple chances and close games can turn on a moment.

Credit where credit’s due. But you cannot ask me to be impressed with the athleticism and physical prowess of AFL players when I’ve grown up watching truly elite athletes in the NBA.

“OUTRAGEOUS!” cries the AFL fan. “NBA players wouldn’t last one second in the AFL! Footy players would run rings around basketballers physically!”

Well folks, one second is a long time, depending on the situation.

Of course NBA players lack the footy skills needed to compete, just as the footy players wouldn’t last a second on the basketball court if I was discussing skills. But as for running rings around the basketballers physically? On so many levels that is just plain incorrect.

I know I must sound like a broken record – Shane, we get it. You prefer basketball. Move on, buddy.

Please understand: I write this article because, living in Melbourne, I’m exposed to a truly insane level of hero worship involving AFL players. Every week I listen to Bruce McAvaney fawn over Buddy Franklin’s “freakish” combination of size and speed. I listen to Dennis Commeti lose the plot over Jonathan Brown’s physical strength. Friends of mine marvel at Aaron Davey’s speed.

To all those things, I simply say… “Meh.”

In my opinion he’s a solid but unspectacular athlete

Why should I be impressed by these things when I can turn on ESPN and watch NBA players run faster, jump higher, exhibit greater strength, accelerate more quickly and change direction more abruptly than AFL players? And do all of that despite being taller, heavier and generally more impressive physical specimens?

As I’ve argued before, the only thing truly elite about AFL players is their freakish endurance. Midfielders in particular have world-leading stamina. But in terms of strength, speed and other aspects of athleticism? Again… meh.

The average NBA player is 13cm taller and 12kg heavier than the average AFL player. Despite being heavier, their vertical leap averages are much higher than the AFL boys can manage (and that is a major, major understatement). There was Australia-wide fawning when 6’5″ NicNat showed up at a Perth Wildcats NBL game recently and did a very nice dunk over a 5’8″ tall courtside announcer.

Funny how Australians largely ignore the fact that in the NBA you have people like 5’9″ Nate Robinson jumping over 7″ tall Dwight Howard.

Dwight’s no chump in the athleticism department either.

Below-average sized players in the NBA, someone like Dwyane Wade are actually bigger than players like Michael Hurley from Essendon Football Club, considered a ‘big’ in the AFL.

I’ll let you decide which of these men is truly a “big.”

“So what about size?” the AFL fan cries. “AFL players are stronger!”

For their size, maybe. But let’s not forget that NBA players are physically bigger than AFL players, and the days of beanpoles dominating basketball courts are well and truly over.

NBA tickets double as tickets to the gun show!

Of course there are examples of lean or small NBA players like Ray Allen or Brandon Jennings who would struggle with full body contact. But make no mistake – basketball is far from “non-contact.” AFL fans who mock NBA players as weaklings are actually ignoring the fact that if we graded both sports’ strength on a curve, the lower part of the bell would be mostly AFL. And just be thankful Shaquille O Neal retired, or the strength bell curve would be even more lopsided!

“OK, so maybe being smaller means that AFL players are faster!”

Except they’re not faster. I compared the short burst speed of draftees from both sports. The average NBA draftee is around 0.3m/s faster than the average AFL draftee, despite carrying (again, on average) more bulk.

If we look at the top tier, absolute fastest AFL players and compare them with the NBA’s fastest, we can see a difference. Over a 100m sprint, Derrick Rose would pip Joel Wilkinson (AFL’s fastest player according to by around 2 metres.

And I’ll give you one guess as to which player is carrying more bulk…

How is a smaller and slower athlete supposed to impress me?

“If they’re so big and are running so fast, their agility probably pales in comparison.”

Agility is the one area I’m unfortunately unable to use hard stats to back up my case. I will say, however, that every time I go to an AFL game, the first thing that strikes me is the lack of agility. They change direction in slow motion compared to basketballers. Part of this is down to the playing surface and their low-cut boots, but even players like Judd, Swan, Ablett seem to lack the agility of NBA players. Only an insane person could possibly think that Scott Pendlebury would come close to Rajon Rondo on a witches-hat course. Cyril Rioli is the only AFL player I’ve seen who would come close. However, as I said, I can’t back this up with raw stats, so let’s be generous to AFL and call agility a draw.

“So what? The play for about 5 minutes then sit down!”

Yes. Endurance. The solitary area in which AFL players can rightfully claim to be elite. Their stamina is absolutely incredible, particularly onball players. Outside of triathlon, marathon etc I cannot imagine there are many athletes who could compete with AFL players on stamina. I have no doubt that many NBA players could compete with a full forward or full back on stamina, but no way could they compete with a midfielder. So yes, I admit/concur/concede… AFL takes the cake for stamina.

So. Let’s recap.

NBA: Superior strength, speed, leaping ability, size, power

AFL: Superior endurance.

“DRAW”: Agility

Remind me again, which sport is supposed to impress me more?

Even though I think I’ve already proven my point, I want to use my Uno “Wild+Draw Four” card.

This is checkmate.

This is me catching the Golden Snitch.

This is my ‘don’t argue” palm to the chest of pro-AFL-athleticism arguments.

This is LeBron James.

I am not a LeBron James fan. But my God. He is a force of nature. Watching him play basketball, you wonder how one human can possess so many physical gifts. The man could have picked any major sport growing up and utterly dominated. Is there any other athlete alive you could say the same thing about? He would be fastest and strongest player in the AFL by a country mile. Six foot eight inches tall. 113kg of pure muscle. Power off the charts. If he wants to get from A to B, there isn’t a footy player alive that could stop him.

NBA players are just plain more impressive physical specimens. How the hell am I supposed to be impressed with the physical gifts of Buddy Franklin when I’ve watched a man do this? Or this? Or this? Or this? Or this?

No, I’m sorry. I can definitely appreciate the skill of AFL players, I can get caught up in a close game and I can marvel at the stamina of some players. But after that all they get from me is a “Meh.” As long as the NBA continues to have men like LeBron James playing in the league, AFL players will always seem second rate athletically.

To summarise:

I’m not saying the AFL sucks in the same way that NFL clearly sucks. The AFL boasts a unique and impressive skill set and like most sports a good quality match is fun to watch. I have no problem with people liking/loving the AFL.

But please stop pretending they’re world-leading athletes when they’re not.

Please stop your condescension towards basketball, a game played by stronger and faster men.

And please understand that some people are not going to share your obsession, because for some of us the AFL is simply… “meh.”



322 thoughts on “AFL players are not impressive athletes

  1. Shane you make a fair and balanced argument. How ever I still believe AFL is still a better game and sport! Yes NBA may have supiour athletes i agree with you there, but AFL is still a far supiour and entertaing sport!!

    • According to those entertainment figures… LeBron James doesn’t outearn an entire afl team or two 🤣
      AFL is a thug sport… No actual skill required.

      How the AFL came to be… the bad football players sat on the spherical balls when they weren’t selected to play, hence distorting the curvature of the ball, and thereby creating afll.

  2. I agree that they seem second rate athletically, but it’s a different game. I can appreciate chess too, I just have to be in the right frame of mind to watch it. That being said, every man has to have his own preferences.

  3. Thanks for your opinions, Nathan and RLD Investments…

    If you choose to follow AFL, that’s absolutely fine. My rant was largely a call for an end to the condescending attitute that a lot of Australians (and particularly Melburnians) have towards basketball. In AFL circles, people like loudmouth Kevin Sheedy talk about ‘back and forth basketball crap’ and ‘weak basketball-style play’ when the reality is so different. I suspect Sheeds is actually scared of basketball. A billion or so Chinese followers has the AFL taking every opportunity to beat down the long-subservient basketball.

    Not to mention the fact that coaches like Alistair Clarkson are quietly implementing basketball strategies and training drills into their programs.

      • facilit8r,

        You’ve come to this article and continually post combatively about how AFL players should impress me. (Well, actually, you veer off topic quite a bit but I imagine that’s the gist of your argument).

        I’m happy to continue picking apart your arguments one-by-one, but I think I could just as easily end it now:

        I’m all ears mate, please explain to me why Buddy Franklin is more impressive than LeBron James. Be sure to stick to raw athletic ability, since I specifically state in the article that I am not comparing skill sets. Evidence will be required.

        If you can do that, mate, you’re either a liar or a miracle-worker.

      • Painful stuff this is. Me veer off topic?? Youre the one bringing up AFL coaches implementing basketball strategies and training drills. When theyre not. And youve got absolutely no idea about what Clarko’s doing.

        Im sorry, where is your evidence? Oh thats right, comparing draft camp results when both NBA and AFL players havnt developed yet. Great evidence.

        Stop banging on about one player. The guy is a freak no doubt. Thought you didnt like LeBron.

      • Rick Ladson: “He (Clarkson) thinks outside the square and that is what makes him a great coach,” Ladson said. “We did things from soccer, basketball and even hockey came into it at one stage. He’ll try anything he has picked up on his travels to make the footy side better.”

      • Oooooh ah zone defence. Ground breaking stuff that. That would be the only thing. Which most, if not all, team sports use.
        And how much Clarko implemented is anyone’s guess.
        Oh and by the way, no one in Australia is scared about basketball. Have a look at the attendances. Basketball was massive during the 90’s. Not so much any more.

    • Might as well jump in three years late 😛
      These sports have different physical requirements, and it would be akin to me saying decathletes are better athletes than 1500m runners. Because Decathletes are better at everything… but doing what 3k runners are supposed to do.
      Just as AFL athletes are better at what AFL players need to do, because any good AFL player would exploit weaknesses in their direct opponents game.
      AFL players are endurance athletes that often play up to two hours, while NBA players usually go to about 40 minutes, and many get less game time than that

  4. If you want to gloat about how good basketball is, you don’t have to attack a different sport in a similarly condescending nature to that which you are trying to put a stop to.

    The majority of AFL fans do NOT dislike, or attack basketball or basketballers.

    Kevin Sheedy is an AFL advocate and employee (not to mention an eccentric personality) and his one-off comment in 2006 should not be used to generalise the attitude that AFL fans have towards other sports.

    Why not brag about the athleticism of NBA players when comparing them to soccer players? Soccer is a much bigger sport than AFL at a global level and there are many soccer fans who likely regard their favourite sport as being far superior to basketball. Why not write an article about that?

    • Unfortunately I can tell you from experience that yes, in fact, there is an overwhelmingly negative view of basketball in AFL circles.

      If you had read the article more closely, Mr Cormick, you would have noticed that the reason I chose to focus on AFL is that I live in Melbourne and am therefore exposed to a psychotic level of AFL fanaticism. We write from experience. I cannot comment on soccer fanaticism or how soccer fans view basketball since I have little experience of that.

      However, you are right in one regard: I could quite easily have used soccer players in my athleticism comparison, and they also would have come off second best by a country mile. So what does that tell you about NBA players?!

  5. I more or less agree with you. When you ask how you’re meant to be impressed with the physical gifts of Buddy Franklin, I suppose you should appreciate that he possesses speed, strength and athleticism (although average compared to an NBA player) in spite of the enormous endurance capacity required to play the game. When you think about the AFL it is kind of ridiculously physically demanding. You are basically required to possess the endurance of a Kenyan marathon runner but the body to withstand bone-crunching tackles, the capacity to sprint (albeit not fast by NBA standards) for extended periods of time without stopping (often referred to as gut-running) and the strength to break tackles or out-muscle and out-mark opponents.

    I often wonder that if the field was shortened drastically in size, there were less players on the field and more on the bench and the game’s time length was also shortened, you might attract more explosive, quick athletes to the game. Obviously Australia doesn’t have anywhere near the depth of elite athletes America does, but there are still plenty of athletes out there perhaps without the endurance capacity of Dane Swan but more ‘elite’ speed and athleticism. As an example there are many indigenous athletes who struggle to get senior games, despite their “freakish” leaping ability, often because their endurance levels aren’t up to it. Similarly, I’d suggest there are African-Australian athletes with impressive quickness and strength who might struggle with the game’s endurance demands, though of course there would be exceptions to this racial stereotype. Again, I totally accept that comparatively speaking American and indeed many other nations’ basketballers exhibit truly ‘elite’ athleticism.

    • Good points John. I did consider the fact that late in the 4th quarter they somehow still manage impressive feats despite having spent the previous couple of hours covering a lot of ground, and yes, that’s certainly impressive.

      In that regard it does ultimately boil down to personal preferences. In previous articles I’ve argued that the AFL should market itself as the world’s premier endurance sport. I think that would be the most impressive aspect for the uninitiated, especially given the unique skill set that might be lost on some people.

      I suppose the headline is deliberately inflammatory – AFL players are impressive in many ways. I personally think that any tennis player, footy player, soccer player, hockey player would suffer in a comparison of athleticism with an NBA player. But ultimately the headline and the tone of the article is a response to the way a lot of Melburnians view basketball – a game for skinny tall blokes who can’t cope with any physical play. The reality is so very different.

  6. I’d like to see an NBA player run, change direction and kick goals from 50 metres after four quarters of running/sprinting, repeatedly being run into the ground and tackled wearing footy boots on grass. Endurance and stamina is a huge part of playing AFL I would go as far as saying its half of it. Cross an NBA player with a marathon runner add football knowledge and you have your average footy player. When was the last time your saw a bulky marathon runner or one that was a fast sprinter. It’s horses for courses. They both spend very similar hours training it’s just that they concentrate on different areas. While I agreed with most of your points I think what you are missing is that NBA and AFL players are better at what’s important to there game in different areas to different degrees. Like I said stamina is half the game in AFL where as changing direction/foot skills, ball skills and body strength is three quarters of NBA.

    To me it’s a bit like asking what country has the best food. Most countries are good in different areas for different reasons. Japan is a narrow country with a lot of coast line so it’s no surprise fish is a huge part of there food culture. Germany has lots of open grazing land and no coastline so it’s no surprise that fish is out and beef, pork, lamb, chicken is in.

    • Actually JR if you cross a marathon runner with an NBA player you don’t get an average football player… you get a Shane Mumford-sizes ruckman with freakish speed and strength for an AFL player. That’s not average.

      My main point, therefore, is that asking me to be impressed with AFL players (physically) starts and ends with endurance. I’m not impressed by their speed, strength, acceleration, size or combination thereof.

    • AFL players are quicker people. Dont listen to him. Scroll down to my post and see from the draft camp testing AFL players are quicker.

  7. I can only imagine how athletic the NBA players would be after a couple of proper tackles, Doubt they would bounce back up like they do after slipping on some sweat off a floor board! Different sport and attracts different types of athletes, power is speed is strength is speed. Endurance is how far you can go, how long you can last, how much you really really want it? Something to think about.

    • A good point, Ryan, but also remember that NBA players don’t run around each other… they run through each other. A shirtfront in the AFL draws oohs and aaah from the crowd. In the NBA that’s called ‘taking a charge’ and it happens pretty frequently. I’m 100% certain someone like Blake Griffin, (2.08m and 114kg) would be able to cope with the odd tackle. Remember, hyperbole aside, most AFL players aren’t actually tackled fiercely very often. They probably get tackled a couple of times a quarter, and properly dumped forcefully into the turf MAYBE twice a match. Something to think about…

      • I’m not getting in a YouTube war, Liam. Jordan Lewis’ courage was admirable, but he got knocked out purely because the contact was head high. In terms of sheer force, it doesn’t take a lot to knock someone out when the collision is hip-on-head. Just ask Marquis Daniels.

        Two 80kg players running into each other is going to result in a mess, no doubt, but a greater NET force would result from one person standing still and 125kg running into them.

      • Ahh no greater net force is two 80kg running into each other, than 125kg into someone standing still. Basic maths. Net force is 160 to 125.

      • The two objects act on each other, champ. Basic PHYSCIS. If I’m 80kg and I run head on into someone who also weighs 80kg, the force acts on both of us. I take some of his energy, and he takes some of mine. Two vectors acting on each other.

        125kg running into me, standing still, ends up much worse for me.

  8. A good read and a different perspective from a Melbournian. I wasn’t surprised to see that you are a Richmond supporter, it has been a tough 30 years for you guys, but hopefully they have finally turned a corner for you now.

    Anyway the whole argument of which sport has the better athletes, the NBA has a couple of distinct advantages over Aussie Football.

    Firstly: talent pool. With the US having 15 times the population of Australia it stands to reason that to become elite you have to excel at a much higher standard to make the top grade. The real evidence lies in the fact that second, third and even fourth tier basketball competitions are massive crowd drawers in the US with teams that could dominate in the NBL, even in its heyday of the 90’s.

    Secondly there is the obscene amounts of money involved. The resources available to get the best out of their athletes makes the AFL look like an amateur competition (and this is the case for many other sports around the world). This is, of course, tied in with my first point.

    Despite this the AFL’s recent TV rights deal is comparable with TV rights deals for sports as big as the NBA, even surpassing it on a per match basis (I read this on a reputable source, can’t find a link to back this up but I can assure you I’m not pulling this out of thin air)!

    As you know AFL is truly an obsession in our city, but it is also true that sports fans of other codes are not only tolerated here, but embraced (until that person says anything to suggest that Aussie Football isn’t the greatest sport on Earth!). You wouldn’t walk into a mosque and yell out that Mohammad is a bit “meh”, would you!

    Just to make it clear, I am not disagreeing with you at all and I find everything you have said to be valid. Hopefully your Tiges can reignite your passion for our great game and it can coexist peacefully with your other sporting love!

    • You are comparing two completely different sports stop being a keyboard warrior and just enjoy the sport u chose afl is awesome u like NBA that’s your call be confident in that don’t try an convince yourself yours is better by pulling down afl and by the way guarantee you could not do either so don’t rip guys that are not hiding behind a screen TO ALL THE AFL BOYS “GO AFL”

      • The issue as I see it, iffinety, is that AFL fans are a tad precious about their code. They don’t like anyone questioning AFL supremacy, and they attack anything that begins to resemble a threat. This article aims to explain why I choose to follow the NBA more than the AFL. I’m not necessarily “pulling down” AFL as much as I’m “pushing up” the NBA. It’s generally approached with condescension in Australia as a game for tall timber. I’m pointing out that those tall blokes are also stronger, faster and more agile. So the condescension is completely unwarranted.

      • Not faster or more agile. Scroll down to my post and see from the draft camp testing AFL players are quicker.

  9. Great piece Shane.

    I totally support the angle here. I think Australians in general, irrespective of what code we follow, base far too much of our identity on and around sport. I felt the “Australia’s London Awakening” post is hinting at this. If every week our heads and minds are bent on seemingly nothing else but competitions, fixtures, finals, medals – results – then it seems perfectly natural that we unable to be able to place our national sport in context. As has been mentioned, Australia compared to the rest of the world is tiny, logically our prowess should be relevant to our size, yet we continue to think of ourselves as some super-human sporting race producing the world’s best athletes. Sometimes we do, sometimes we don’t, but we have a huge success rate of producing world-CLASS athletes and this is something to be proud of.

    Also, on a side note:
    I read everything you guys post here and love your mix of to-the-point writing, humor and awesome pics/captions/videos. Please keep it up!!

    • Oops. Noticed a typo.

      It should read: “we are unable to place our national sport in context” not “the we unable to be able to place”.

      A quick edit before posting is a good idea I guess.

  10. Don’t think I’ve ever seen an AFL player leave the game on a WHEELCHAIR crying after hurting their arm. More like having multiple breaks in their leg and being carried off without even batting an eyelid. p.s I’m a big fan of both sports, just saying. Although I do like AFL more…

      • Although that is hilarious and I knew you would bring it up, but I would love to see how an NBA player would cope with the same injury.

      • You’re implying that NBA players are somehow less ‘manly’ in the face of injury?

        What a strange way to measure the athleticism of a league… you know… since that’s the subject of the article and all…

        The reality is that all humans are different. For every Vince Carter (who would collapse in agony from a slight ankle strain), there is a Paul Pierce (who came back from being stabbed multiple times, nearly dying, and played a full season). For every Jonathan Brown there is a Garry Lyon. People are different. They’ll react differently to injury.

        Nathan Brown seemed amused by his severely broken leg. I can tell you right now that’s because his body immediately went into shock. There are few sports sights worse than Jason Snell’s ankle when he snapped it, and screamed in absolute agony. He certainly didn’t concern himself with any notion of AFL bravado at that moment, nor should he have. Same applies to Shaun Livingston’s horror knee injury in the NBA (although Livingston eventually made it back to the NBA).

        See what I mean? You can’t seriously expect to measure NBA players vs AFL players on the ‘How they respond to injury or pain’ criterion. It’s crazy. People are different. For all we know a broken pinkie might reduce Dustin Martin to tears. And if it did, does that in any way call into question his footballing ability? No. If Israel Folau played a full game with a skull fracture and collapsed lung, would that make him an elite player in anyone’s eyes? No.

      • In reply to the authors collapsed lung statement. Grant hackett swam an olympic 1500m final with a collapsed lung and finished 2nd to a proven drug cheat.
        That is amazing athleticism especially in a sport relying so heavily on controlled breathing. That is elite and one of the greatest efforts in sport I can think of.

        so yes, performance on the field can be regarded more highly depending on the duress of the athlete.

  11. Very uneducated article. Afl players weigh less because of their endurance. Israel Felau is significantly lighter since converting from NRL to AFL being a perfect example. Lebron James would have to lose 5-10kgs of puppy fat to last a quarter in AFL.

    In modern day AFL all players must have a high level of endurance including forwards otherwise their direct opponent will run them into the ground. Nick Riewoldt for example.

    As for your size comparisons of Dwayne Wade vs Michael Hurley. Hurley is noted as a big forward because of his role. He is only 22 compared to Wade 30. Maybe you should look at a few photos of Wade at 22.

    As for your speed comparisons between AFL and NBA players you will find that AFL payers actually just pip the NBA players. Keep in mind that the average NBA draftee is also a few years older than the average AFL also but I am sure you overlooked that also.

    I love btw sports and actually play bball but you should get ur facts straight.

    • You think LeBron James has 5kg of ‘puppy fat’ on him… and I’m the uneducated one?

      Nothing you say about size changes the fact that NBA players are bigger and stronger men. I conceded endurance (although I think you’re overstating the aerobic capacity of most AFL forwards and defenders) but that doesn’t change the fact that NBA players are bigger and stronger than AFL players. I took your advice, by the way, and googled “Dwyane Wade Marquette” to get an idea of what he looked like in College. I’m happy for you to do the same, and I look forward to reading your apology.

      If you can find any evidence to support your ‘AFL players pip the NBA players’ in speed claim, I’m all ears. Genuinely.

      By the way, Ty Lawson was drafted to the NBA at 19 with a sprint speed of 8.2 m/s/s from a standing start.
      Danyle Pearce (AFL’s fastest draftee ever, former basketballer) was drafted at 18 with a sprint speed of 7.2 m/s/s from a standing start.

      So NBA players are bigger, stronger, faster… hmmm…

      • I cant be bothered getting into an argument with a keyboard warrior but here I am. You statistics are rubbish. First of all you are using Dwayne Wade as a standard example of strength. Funny that you decided to use him, lets have a look at the rest of the Heats guard roster- ohh they are all skinny runts.

        As for the aerobic capacity of forwards etc you can check this yourself but most are easily capable of running over 10km in a match. Its not like the old days when a Lockett etc would just sit in the goal square. All players are accountable.

        As for the “puppy fat” on James, dont get me wrong I would be happy to have a rig like his but as per my example with Israel Felou he would have to loose weight to play AFL but his body is perfect for bball. Felou had a 6 pack prior to AFL but carried to much weight in his legs and backside.

        In short you cannot compare the two sports as they are completely different. If basketball players were to convert to AFL they would have to put on a heap of muscle (as in AFL you will lose 4-5kg throughout the season) and would have to increase their endurance which would result in weight loss anyway.

        If an AFL player was to play NBA or any basketball many would have to have a better vertical leap and some may lack agility.

        As I said in my first place I love both sports and have played probably a significant amount of basketball. The two sports are not comparable and player conversion would be almost impossible unless the player grew up with both sports.

      • You know what? You’re right. Apologies. I got some maths wrong in my comment (not the article though)

        Danyle Pearce has the alltime AFL Draft Combine Record of 2.79s for 20m sprint. That’s an average of 7.16 m/s from a standing start. Source

        Nate Robinson entered the NBA draft with a 3/4 court (23m) sprint time of 2.96s. That’s an average of 7.77 m/s from a standing start. And that’s not the record, just a top 10 from the last few years. Source

        Sorry for inflating it in the comment, but as you can plainly see (sourced and correctly calculated) there are no AFL players who are ‘pipping’ the NBA speedsters in a sprint.

        So my statistics would best be described as ‘slightly off yet the overall gist remains the same’ rather than ‘rubbish.’

        If you read the article, you’ll spot that I fully acknowledge that many NBA players are lean and not muscle-packed. But you’re honestly trying to tell me that someone like Brandon Bass (6’8″, 113kg) or Tyreke Evans (6’6″, 100kg) or Jason Richardson (6’6″, 102kg) or even Nate Robinson (would have to ‘put on a heap of muscle’ to cope with the rigours of AFL? I don’t think so, mate. Deron Williams is an admittedly muscular player, but at the same height as a lot of AFL players (6’3″ish) he’s got 5-10kgs on most AFL midfielders.

        You might also discover hidden within the article a very sneakily concealed admission that AFL players have superior aerobic capacity (hint: It’s in the section where I say that AFL players have superior aerobic capacity).

        Again, you may also spot that I’m not talking about converting a player from one to the other.

        I am using raw stats to back up my claim that NBA players are physcially more impressive specimens. They’re bigger, stronger, faster and can jump higher. I concede endurance. That’s the crux of it. If you disagree, I eagerly await your evidence. I’ve given mine.

  12. Once again weight makes no difference. I mentioned a few times the example of Israel Felou and his weight loss between codes. For an NBA player to play AFL and increase their aerobic capacity they would lose or have to lose weight simple.

    As for your argument of Danyle Pearce vs Nate Robinson from a stand still it takes you around 20 meters give or take to hit top speed (you can check any sprinters stats) and that for the extra 3m that Nate run he was at top speed. So in this example and if you do the sums taking into account start up their speeds are pretty much break even.

    • And I say once again that I’m not talking about anyone crossing sports. Weight is one of the primary indicators for strength. More mass = more muscle = more strength. Hayden Ballantyne might be a nuggety tackler, but he’s not going to be stronger than someone who has 15kg on him, is he? There are reasons why lighter players get thrown aside in marking contests… weight matters. And, again, I did concede aerobic endurance. They can run farther. But that comes with a price, as you correctly point out – less mass. Less muscle.

      Actually, sprinters will reach their top speed around 50m after takeoff.
      Physics backing me up
      IAAF backing me up
      Usain Bolt hits his top speed at 50m mark

      That means Danyle and Nate are both still accelerating as they hit the finish line. Nate’s time is measured over 3 more metres, and it takes him 0.17s more to cover it. I’m going to assume you’re not suggesting that in that last 3 metres Nate is traveling at around 17m/s (i.e. just over 60km/h)? So we’ll work with what we have – averages.

      Thanks to physics, the King of Sciences, we know that s = ut + (1/2)*a*t^2

      It’s been a while since High School, but I’m pretty sure that leaves Nate with an average acceleration of 5.25m/s^2 and Daniel with an average acceleration of 4.79m/s^2.

      And again, if Sir Isaac was on the mark, I’m pretty sure that leaves us with an approximate time for Nate over precisely 20m of 2.76seconds.

      i.e. Faster than the fastest AFL player.

      You’ve wisely backed away from your earlier claim that “AFL players will just pip the NBA players.” You then went on to claim that “they’re going to break even.”

      Now I wonder if you’re willing to accept the numbers in front of you showing that one of the fastest NBA players is quicker than the fastest AFL player. No breaking even. No dead heats. If this was London, Daniel would be taking home silver.

  13. Obviously you are a wizard of physics but unfortunately you have contradicted yourself. As you noted Nate Robinson had a speed of 2.96. Now if you minus the .17 as stated it leaves him with 2.79 which is the same as Danyle Pearce. Now you can do your calculations again and see if you can squeeze out another .001 somewhere.

    Now for the second thing you are wrong about. Danyle Pearce has the 3rd best AFL Draft time

    Now let’s have a look at the averages over the past 11/12 years of AFL and NBA best draft times NBA averages 3.027 over 23 (actually 22.86) AFL averages 2.825 over 20.

    Now I know you enjoy you physics so you can do the maths. Enjoy.

    • I’m not really following why I would subtract .17 from Nate’s time?

      re: Pearce. We’re both wrong. He has the 2nd fastest time in AFL Draft Combine history behind Joel Wilkinson.

      I admit I was surprised by Wilkinson’s time. It’s impressively quick. Even quicker than Nate’s time. Unfortunately it’s still 0.01s slower than Cookie Belcher. Now, of course, Cookie never made it to the NBA but if you’re going to point to Mark Dubyna and David Gourdis and Mark Laidlaw and other players who never even played AFL as examples of AFL speed, I can do the same for NBA.

      Ultimately neither of us are going to convince the other. If you can’t look at someone like Nate Robinson (who, by the way, would also claim the alltime AFL’s vertical leap record by 4.5 inches) and say ‘holy crap he’s so much more athletic than any AFL player, then I hold no hope for you.

      • You mentioned AFL draft times and the fact is that Pearce is 3rd so I am right. I agreed that NBA players have a better vertical leap as you agreed that their endurance is no good. So Nate would out jump higher but would probably be to tired to do so.

        As mentioned earlier the average draft age of an AFL player is 1-2 years younger than NBA so they are less mature. A good example is the 2011 AFL grand final sprint. Patrick Dangerfield (who placed around 7th in his draft year) smashed Joel Wilkinson in the 100m sprint because he has a few years of maturity behind him.

        You were also very skeptical regarding my remarks regarding AFL forwards. An average of just under 13km doesnt sound bad to me.

        Once again I am not saying that AFL players are better athletes but I am saying they are equal to NBA players. Both have better attributes in different fields. For you to say that AFL players are not impressive athletes is poor form.

  14. Firstly, loved this article and have shared it repeatedly at work and with family.

    Secondly, there has been no mention of crossing sports until one of the readers brought it up. It’s merely a comparison of two entertaining sports.
    It’s unnecessary for readers to get upset and heated to the point where one is accused of being a ‘keyboard warrior.’ From what I see, no part of this article was written in a disrespectful manner.

    Last but not least, I don’t think anyone has pointed out the fact that NBA players go through an 82 game season. How many games do AFL players play? I’m aware that an AFL game is longer than a basketball game in the NBA but since we’re in the theme of mathematics, feel free to calculate the amount of playing time comparing the two sports. (SPOILER ALERT: AFL players play no where near as many minutes.)

    From a long time reader. Great work and keep writing!

    • Minutes is no reflection of athleticism unless they are back to back. You need to take into account the type of running and physical excursion used. Otherwise you would consider cricket to be the most physically demanding game in the world which couldnt be further from the truth.

      It is also fair to say the article is written in a disrespectful manner. You only need to read the title to come to that conclusion.

      • Thanks Liam,

        After Wilkinson, I’m seeing Pearce’s time as 2nd best. Perhaps I’m reading the table wrong?

        I never said NBA players’ endurance is ‘no good.’ The fact remains that they wouldn’t be able to run out the four quarters, certainly, but 82 games in a season (three games a week) PLUS playoffs suggests that perhaps their endurance is pretty solid.

        I’m also confused about the Dangerfield/Wilkinson comparison. If Dangerfield is more mature and has more muscle on him, surely that slows him down?

        I wrote the article in a condescending tone to reflect the attitude held by many AFL fans towards basketball.

      • My Dangerfield/ Wilkinson example was to show how a few extra years of maturity adds to speed. Usain Bolt for example is a lot faster now than when he was 17 and heavier too. Dangerfield at the same age as Wilkinson was slower but given the age difference is more physically mature and faster. The other player who beat Pearce is Brad Harvey although he hasn’t played a game but is on the list.

  15. Hello, I would like to point out that your comparison of strength via pictures is extremely wrong. Hurley is not considered ‘big’. Look at someone like Scott Thompson from Adelaide…

    That right there is a typical midfielder physique, and a CRAZY strong man, these guys have amazing fine motor skills in their muscles to have extreme coordination while also having incredible breaking power from packs.

    A bballer equivalent would be breaking an afl tackle to dunk the ball…. as effectively elite midfielders do this to kick a goal from 60meters out sometimes, how is that easier than a dunk of a bbal when you are 6 foot 6 or higher???????

    • Hey killerbunny,

      Of course we could both cherry-pick particular examples, but my main point about strength was to emphasise the fact that “beanpole basketballers” are pretty rare these days. Patty Mills looks absolutely tiny on a basketball court, so most people would assume he’s a small dude. But he’s not. He’s actually a pretty decent size. If you ran into him at a bar, you’d probably be surprised.

      It’s all relative. A lot of Australians look down on basketball as a game for weaklings. The reality is that the biggest basketballers are much bigger than the biggest footballers. So of course Patty looks small. He’s running around a court packed with giants.

      A lot of AFL players (like Thompson) a really strong, especially through the core. I don’t dispute that, and certainly breaking a decent tackle takes strength. I’m not saying they’re small dudes. I’m simply pointing out that they would be small if they were asked to stand alongside the average NBA player (6’7″, 100kg).

      As for Tippett and Jenkins, let’s not go crazy… neither were ever headed for greatness on a basketball court.

  16. Also look at crows players josh jenkins and kurt tippet, both elite basketballers who made the switch to AFL, but don’t shine ahead of anyone else that greatly with these ‘attributes’ that bballers supposedly have over AFL players 🙂

  17. Ha ha, “draw the charge” and shirtfront. Funny.
    Never in the history of the NBA has a player ever “drew a charge” like this:

    Thats one, from a soft era too, found that by googling youtube+shirtfront.
    However, according to your definition of “better athlete” as: “NBA: Superior strength, speed, leaping ability, size, power” (Do you realise you said strenghth and power as two seperate qualifications?).
    WTF does leaping ability have to do with it, I guess that Usain Bolt is a terrible athlete, with his non existant leaping ability. Stephen Kiprotich and thousands of others say hi.
    Size- Well thats very sports specific woul’nt you think? Hell, lets just have a tallest man measure-off to decide this one.
    Speed- Over what distance?
    Anyone can come up with examples to prove their point, just not many are ignorant like you and try and palm of theirs as concrete.
    Oh, and i’ve played basketball and aussie rules and lived in the states for many a year, and marvel at LeBron and Jordan and Co. Just like I do at Buddy, and Cyril and Ablett.
    All i can say is “Horses for Courses”

    • First of all, I would rather take that hit from Brown or Coughlan than get in the way of Charles Barkley. I think most sane people would agree.

      Secondly, strength and power ARE two separate qualifications. Ask any sports scientist. Power is explosiveness. Strength is raw strength. There is a difference.

      WTF does leaping ability have to do with it? Really? You really don’t think leaping ability is an aspect of athleticism? Wow. I don’t even know where to begin with this one. So I won’t.

      Size isn’t even remotely sports specific. On average, an NBA player is significantly taller and significantly heavier than an AFL player. This is proven. This is beyond debate. If Port Adelaide ran out over the weekend with their players magically having added 5 inches taller and 12 kg, you don’t think that would immediately give them a boost?

      Speed? Top speed. Mo Farah might have won 2 golds, but it’s Usain Bolt who’s hanging with the Swedish Handball team. Endurance running is the lowly cousin of raw speed.

      Horses for courses? Sure. The AFL has a small talent pool and has evolved into an amazing spectacle of endurance. The NBA has a global talent pool and has evolved into an amazing spectacle of unfathomable athleticism.

      There’s your difference.

      • “First of all, I would rather take that hit from Brown or Coughlan than get in the way of Charles Barkley. I think most sane people would agree.”

        Dude come on, that is a rediculous statement. The shirtfront in that video is miles ahead in terms of pain inducing then anything EVER in basketball. It’s not even arguable. AFL players are insanely tough to just get up and play on after hits like in that video. NBA players have a cry and sit off from a regular ‘bump’ in AFL world…

      • The whole leaping ability thing was pointing out that you have chosen attributes that are clearly biased towards Bball.
        “If Port Adelaide ran out over the weekend with their players magically having added 5 inches taller and 12 kg, you don’t think that would immediately give them a boost?”

        Ha ha, stick to NBA dude, ever heard of teams going in too tall? Happens all the time. Why would Paul Puopolo get a game when he’s 5″10′? If the key to being better is being taller, they would go in taller.

        Swedish Handball Team? So is hanging with chicks another aspect of athleticism? No wonder you follow the NBA wit all da chicks n bling yo!

        Endurance Running is the lowly cousin of raw speed? says who? you?
        But don’t let the truth ruin a good story.

        Nobody is saying NBA players are not awesome athletes, but your comparing apples with bananas. By your argument, no other sport can have athletes as good as NBA players, because you have selectively chosen your skill sets to suit.

      • Teams go too tall in the AFL because AFL talls are generally either goofy and uncoordinated, rail thin or muscleheads. If a team could run out 22 Nic Naitanuis, they would be stupid not to. Ask any forward line coach if they’d prefer 4 quality talls+1 quality crumber or 1 quality tall+4quality crumbers… Quality is they key. The AFL has a lack of quality bigs.

        If you could name me five current elite 10,000m runners without looking them up, I might waver on my assertion that endurance running is seen as the lowly cousin of raw speed. Mo Farah. That’s as far as I get. Going back through history, I can name you Gebrselassie and El Guerrouj as elite distance runners. Then it dries up.

        Bolt, Blake, Gay, Powell, Gatlin, Chambers, Bailey… current household names.

        Never mind Lewis, Johnson (either the US or Canada Johnson… take your pick), Christie, Bailey or a cavalcade of other world-famous sprint stars going back through the years.

        Quick, tell me who won the 10,000m at the 1936 Berlin Games in front of Adolf Hitler! Now tell me who won the 100m sprint! Hmmm…

      • Umm I think no one would agree re that hit by Brown. Theres tonnes of YouTube footage of basketball from any era, find me a charge anywhere near that. Actually don’t bother cause il just counter with footage of Leigh Mathhews, Locket and co.
        BTW, had two of this years AFL combine candidates competed in the 2010 NBA combine, they would have taken 1st and 2nd in your coveted ‘leaping ability’.

      • Yes, and nowhere do I compare ‘toughness’ so I find the whole topic slightly bemusing.

        Leigh Matthews’ playing weight was 86kg. I don’t care how tough he was, he’s not Charles Oakleigh.

        And Tony Lockett would be swatted aside by Shaquille O’Neal.

        See my point? It doesn’t matter how much you cherry-pick the biggest, baddest, toughest AFL player… there is ALWAYS a bigger, badder, tougher NBA player.

        And yes, the two 2012 AFL combine participants who blew the field away in vertical leap this year, setting all-time AFL records, would have topped the 2010 NBA Draft Combine… And wouldn’t have cracked the top 5 in 2009, 2011 or 2012.

        So essentially you cherry-picked the best ever AFL results and pitted them against one of the poorest ever NBA results. Lovely. I’d love to see what would happen if a poor AFL Draft class were pitted against the best ever NBA class.

      • Quick, tell me who won the 10,000m at the 1936 Berlin Games in front of Adolf Hitler! Now tell me who won the 100m sprint! Hmmm…

        Haha absolutely sure no ones either.
        Except for you

      • Like I said, youre the only one who knows that.
        Quick, who won the 1948 100m sprint? No one knows, no one cares.
        Who won any gold medal that Olympics? No on knows.

      • You think I’m the only person who knows that Jesse Owens won the 100m sprint in 1936?

        Sorry my friend, you are significantly reducing what little credibility you had left. Jesse Owens’ win is arguably the most famous gold medal in history.

      • Most people wouldve heard of Jesse Owens.
        But if you asked them who won the 1936 race I bet most people wouldnt have a clue.
        And you havnt answered my question? Who won the 1940, 1944, 1948, 1952, 1956, 1960, 1966 .. Heck who even won the Sydney Olympics 100m?
        Hmmm I wonder why you chose the 1936 100m final .. maybe because it was the most famous. Funny that.

      • You’re damn right ive never heard of it. Heard Owens. Could never tell you when he won the 100m.
        Sorry you didnt answer my question. Who won in ’52 ’56 ’60 ’64 ’68? Funny that. Your point is moot.

      • It’s a hardly a moot point. Jesse Owens’ victory in 1936 is one of the most famous moments in sporting history. You have never heard of it. That’s an indictment on your broader sporting knowledge.

      • Jesse Owens’ victory isnt famous for him being a sprinter, its famous for the racial perspective. Place Jesse Owens into literally any other event at the exact same games and you have the same amount of fame.

  18. Also wanted to add in, that players like Ben Rutten from Adelaide Crows and Jonathon Brown from Brisbane Lyons are around 6 foot 2/3 and weight around 104KG.

    Dwayne wade for example is 6 foot 4 and weighs 99.8KG, so I don’t know what you are on about with the whole ‘size’ thing. Maybe you are just falling for those camera angles they pose for to make themselves look big. Sure there are a few giants in bball but there are in AFL as well, such as Aaron Sandilands who was 6 foot 10 and 123KG.

    A superstar NBA player for example, Lebron James, is 6 foot 8 113KG.

    Basketballers also play basketball as a kid because they are so tall, In Bball height is extremely important so you would expect these ‘giants’ to be more often in the NBA but you still get them in AFL as well.

    Also your comparison on agility is flawed. I guarantee you elite midfielders in AFL could move as fast on a solid court as most NBA players. These guys move around on wet grass like it’s an indoor sport half the time, their agility and dexterity is actually incredibly good given the conditions.

    The only thing I can see so far in your argument that I agree with is that NBA players are more ‘explosive’ in general and have more ‘power’ and acceleration in some of their ‘moves’. But this is the same with African Americans and Jamaicans for example in any sport, this is why they dominate sprinting. But this is only one area in sport and probably the only area where truly NBA players could claim a clear advantage in my oppinion.

    The reason AFL is actually quite an incredible sport is the fact you have to be good at SO MANY things at once and still do them under pressure. If you can’t kit, handball, take a contested mark, run fast enough, run for long enough, tackle, change direction in the wet on a dime with extreme agility, jump, avoid getting KO’d in a split second, make split second decisions on the field constantly as the game is moving so fast, tactically setup zone defence, coordinate positions with 22 other players while doing all this…. you can’t actually play AFL football. It seriously does have the most elements of skill in a sport. Most other sports are extremely specialised in a few of these areas, rarely do they require you to be a FUCKIN BOSS at all of them 😀

    My 2 cents.

  19. Also let’s not forget these guys hit targets 50 meters away straight to each others face, that’s a fair bit harder then passing the ball 5 meters by hand on a court 😉

      • You’d rather 116kg of Charles Barkley run through you than 82kg of Campbell Brown? You’re brave, my friend. Brave and stupid.

        You don’t know what I’m on about with the whole size thing?
        I’ll say again:

        Average AFL player: 6’2″ and 87kg SOURCE
        Average NBA player: 6’7″ and 100kg SOURCE

        I don’t know how much clearer I can get: NBA players are bigger than AFL players.

        I admitted freely that I couldn’t compare agility due to surface conditions/boot cuts. I know we’ll agree to disagree on this aspect, but I’ll maintain that there is no chance in hell any AFL player would stay with Derrick Rose, John Wall or any elite NBA point guard on an agility course.

        As for hitting targets on the run from 50m, I also conceded that the skills are impressive enough. Keep in mind, though, that most AFL teams run at about 75% disposal efficiency, which is hardly mind-blowing considering it’s their full time job. To be fair, I level the same criticism at NBA players who shoot Free Throws poorly.

  20. I made a comment earlier and I keep getting emails about this blog, all I have seen is a confirmation about the crux of what the author is saying: AFL fans are closed-minded. He has made some good arguments and has established the fact that his preferred sport is basketball, yet he still gets replies trying to convince him otherwise and all you are doing is giving him a worse impression of AFL supporters and, therefore, Aussie Rules itself. The only ones who would care about this article is AFL supporters.

    • Nic Nat was 17, these guys are 24.
      But of course, Bball players are testing better and are better at aspects of athleticism that are basketball specific, shock horror.

      • I also think it is interesting that they have targeted basketball players who are able to cope with physical contact. The skill sets of basketball players seem more suited to Australian Football than the gridiron players, although it must be said that their burst running and physical pressure would be fine assets as well.

        The real test of their capabilities will be the endurance tests. I think this is exciting for the AFL and US athletes.

    • The best 2 leaps were actually performed by college footballers rather than the basketballers. You can google Ben Gazzola a SANFL player who out did all of those leaps but cant crack the AFL. Leap alone means nothing.

      • Agree it’s very exciting going forward. However, Nic Nat just got done over by two opposition who fall far shot at all these “athletic attributes” but hey, its all about the draft combine records isn’t it?

      • I think Liam and Tom need to go back and re-read the article. I said I wasn’t impressed by the athleticism of AFL athletes. That still stands, since I can watch NBA and see people who are much more athletic.

        That’s it. That’s the crux of it.

      • Pretty close! But the sport they play is too one-dimensional. Click here to read my opinion on that matter.

        At least NBA and AFL are similar in that they are dynamic, 3-D sports with flowing passages of play that allow their players to exhibit their full athletic capabilities. It just so happens that when AFL and NBA do this, you see more impressive athletes in the NBA…

  21. I agree that the NFL is one-dimensional but in some ways it compares to NBA better than AFL. The reason for this is that there are very fast players in the NFL and there a fat slobs that basically stand in one spot to stop the opposition without having a huge amount of skill. NBA is similar in the way that you have fast players but then big players whos fitness levels are questionable as are there athletic abilities. AFL players must possess numerous skills such as kicking, hand balling, endurance speed etc no matter where they play on the field. On the other NBA players are not as well rounded. Shaq was a beast but his fitness was not good and he couldnt shoot for shit but this was his role.

    You would not see an AFL player running around with a gut like Glen Davis or Eddy Curry and there is also a reason why basketball players careers last longer than AFL and that is because it is not as physically demanding. Thats why old men like Steve Nash can still dominate in the NBA and not the AFL

    • I think we’re starting to reach a middle ground. I see the AFL as an endurance sport, so I agree that you’re not going to find any AFL players with too much of a gut. Having said that, Glen Davis would be stronger than any single AFL player, so that counts for NBA…

      I do query whether AFL players are all well rounded. Sure, NicNat and Dean Cox and blokes like that are pretty good with their hands and feet, but there are plenty of rucks who seems to move in slow-motion if the ball drops below waist height… I think you might be giving them a little too much credit. Similarly, there are plenty of defenders who look about as comfortable running into goal as they do before a prostate exam.

      Note: Shaq averaged over 40 minutes a game in six seasons of his career and played over 1200 NBA games. And all the while he would’ve been coping a physical beating that most mere mortals would buckle under, and shot one of the best career FG% in NBA history. If you’re going to pick an NBA player to hold up as an example of ‘not being fit or well rounded’, I suggest you don’t pick the most dominant centre of all time.

      As I said in the article, I think AFL fans tend to overestimate the physical demands on the players. I watched Collingwood-Hawthorn on Friday night, and that was a pretty physical encounter that totaled 149 tackles. That means that each player, on average, was tackled a little less than once a quarter. Once every half hour. Don’t get me wrong, the in-and-under stuff is physical, and there are bumps that don’t show up on the stat sheet… but in terms of bone-crunching, driven-into-the-turf tackles… those are actually quite RARE in modern AFL. The real physical demand of AFL lies (as I’ve said all along) that they do what they do for as long as they do.

      • Obviously you like reading stats but have little understanding of both football and basketball. To use Shaq as an example for having a one of the best FG percentages of all time is ridiculous. He has a better FG percentage than Jordan so does that mean he is a better shot? I think not. The majority of his baskets are from dunks and directly under the ring. Get him to the free throw line and his percentage is literally worse than mine. No doubt shaq has a huge amount of strength but this limits his endurance AND speed.

        If grew to be a 6ft 5 100kg man then he wouldn’t have made a D-league team as his skill set was reliant on size and not much more.

  22. I love your argument but you have to consider the fact that NBA is a international sport where AFL is mealy a national game so if you were to think about it for a second Australia doesn’t have the luxuries of scouting the world for the fastest ,tallest and athletic sportsman so in context their draftees would be faster and taller then ours simply because the drafts aren’t only Americans

  23. I read your article with interest, though disagreement. Somehow you have managed to compare a short burst explosive game like basketball to an endurance physically taxing sport like footy. Well done, but you got yourself a little mixed up by comparing irrelevant data. Both types of elite professionals are amazing, but in their own ways. Each of those statistics you used need quotation marks that say “for an x player”.
    You see, it’s like comparing the 100m sprint with the marathon. Usain bolt wins hands down. Until you tell him to run a marathon, while having people hip and shoulder him and tackle him from all angles and still have him maintain control of an odd shaped ball and dispose of it effectively.
    Lets just say basketball is played on a small court indoors

  24. Sorry – the end of that was…
    Basketball is played on a small court indoors by athletes who run for short periods and distances as fast as they can, with (comparatively) little body contact.
    Afl is played on a big field outdoors (with 1 exception) by athletes who run for extremely long periods and distances as fast as they can, with constant body contact and an (comparatively) unpredictable ball.

    So an nba athlete can perform well in an extremely controlled and predictable environment whereas the afl athlete is asked to perform just as well in the complete opposite environment and for 4 times longer and further.

    horses for courses, but you didn’t convince me.

    • Thanks Boothy,

      It absolutely is ‘horses for courses’ when it comes to actually playing the game. We’re in agreement there.

      Ultimately, my argument is that I remain unimpressed by the overall physical athleticism of AFL players.

      For example, watching an AFL game and seeing Jeremy Howe take a towering mark, I am impressed by his body control, ‘hands’, and ability to take such a mark late in the 4th quarter. What I am NOT impressed by is his leaping ability, which would be easily eclipsed by countless NBA players. However, AFL fans and media fawn over his leaping ability.

      Similarly, I might be impressed by Jonathan Brown’s courage or ability to crash a pack. What I’m not impressed by is his strength or ability to absorb contact, since he would be ecliped by countless NBA players in those categories. Yet AFL fans and media fawn over his strength.

      That’s what it boils down to. Buddy Franklin is held up as a demi-God, a combination of size, strength and speed unseen in AFL for eons… yet he’s eclipsed in all three categories by countless NBA players.

      The AFL is super impressive in the endurance category. I acknowledge this fully in the article. But as far as I’m concerned… that’s about the only athletic area they can truly claim to be world-class.

      • Again you have shown a lack of knowledge. Jonathan Brown has benched 157kg which is more than most NBA players. You will also find that he can absorb contact very well and you can’t blame him for getting his face caved in by someone’s knee or elbow.

        As for Jeremy Howe he can leap all day. An NBA players legs would be jelly that far into a game and would be lucky to get off the ground.

        Your argument is that basketballers are taller faster stronger taller and have a better leap. My argument is the average NBA player is not mre impressive than the average AFL player in athletic attributes.

        Shaq was strong but slow unfit and relatively unskilled. Steve Nash is skilled but skinny weak and old. Yao Ming was tall but couldn’t bench press, couldn’t jump and couldn’t run.

        Now I will admit that there are some very well rounded athletes like Lebron James but he is hardly the standard player.

      • Liam, you picked the biggest, strongest bloke in the AFL and he still came up short of NBA players. See where I’m heading with this?

        And you lost all credibility when you said Shaq was unskilled, mate. THAT displays a lack of knowledge.

      • i definitely agree with much of what you say, but also must mention that howe has a 38′ inch vertical, which is very good, even for the nba. (vince carter in his prime had a 41′ vertical).

  25. Very strongly presented case, and i am a massive nba fan. two points though 1.You have selected some of the best athletes as examples, in a country of 350 million people, of course the cream at the top is going to be better 2. When people are expected to have a MUCH GREATER endurance, they inevitably must sacrifice much of the strength and power they might otherwise possess. Take travis cloke as an example. at 6’5 and 107 kilograms he is probably a bit bigger than a similar nba player, kobe bryant for instance (6’6 100 kilograms), but his endurance for a tall forward is elite, regularly covering 15 kilometres per game whilst competing in bruising marking duels, also without anywhere near as much of a break. Having played both sports, i have found that AFL is a much harder game. i grew up playing basketball and found that many of the skills were useful, but the endurance and physicality of AFL makes it much harder. Never underestimate just how draining the physical tackles and marking duels can be over the course of a match. at over 100 minutes, the game lasts significantly longer.

    • Thanks Max, I tend to agree that talent pool is a big factor, and I agree that endurance requires a certain ‘levelling off’ of power and strength.

      It’s interesting, I’m happy to praise AFL as possibly the single most impressive endurance sport, yet most AFL fans refuse to accept that this title comes with certain trade offs. You’re never going to have one sport exhibit world class speed AND endurance if you treat them as separate. A combination of the two? Sure! But as an isolated element of athleticism? Nope!

    • Youre mistaken once again. We have a combination of the two that not only smashes NBA in endurance but beats them in speed as well.

      • I love the fact that you’ve used the word ‘combination’ again. Remember my challenge, which you have consciously avoided at all costs?

        “I’m all ears mate, please explain to me why Buddy Franklin is more impressive than LeBron James. Be sure to stick to raw athletic ability, since I specifically state in the article that I am not comparing skill sets. Evidence will be required.

        If you can do that, mate, you’re either a liar or a miracle-worker.”

        Still stands mate. If I’m standing in a park and watching LeBron James do sprints, agility tests, vertical leaping tests, strength training and endurance training… I’m going to be pretty freakin’ impressed. If Buddy Franklin walked along and did all the same trials he would beat LeBron in endurance and absolutely categorically pale in comparison to LeBron in every other measure…

        So why should I be impressed by that?

      • I’ve used combination ????????
        Im pretty sure YOUR whole article and argument is that NBA players COMBINE the 5 categories better than AFL players. Haha thats what athleticism is isnt it? A combination of speed strength etc.
        So you keep saying James would stitch up Buddy. And you keep telling me where my stats and evidence are.
        Ummmm where is yours?

      • No, I’ve said this:

        I believe, with utmost confidence, that the average NBA player is faster, stronger, and has a better leap (in each separate category) than the average AFL player. I believe the stats back me up on this. However, if for some strange reason (like, say the average NBA player ISN’T faster because of the seven footers) then I can categorically state that the best-of-the-best NBA player up against the best-of-the-best AFL player in any single element would be dominant. The strongest AFL player would likely fall somewhere inside the top 30 or so strongest NBA players, but he’s not top 10. The fastest AFL player would be beaten by at least a handful of NBA players. Vertical leap is a no-contest. Endurance too (AFL’s way though).

        For the reasons above, I am not going to be impressed by AFL players’ athleticism.

        That’s it mate. That’s the whole thing wrapped up nicely. I’m not impressed, because what AFL players do athletically doesn’t blow me away. NBA players consistently blow me away in terms of sheer athleticism. And they do it while also being much bigger blokes.

        And finally, if you need stats to believe that Buddy would be able to hold a candle to LeBron in strength, speed, vertical leap, power or agility, then you are, quite simply, deluded.

      • You believe. I believe. Some believe soccer’s a better game, some believe rugby, some believe water polo. Dont really care what you believe.
        Ahhh and for about the 15th time, stats DONT back you up.
        Going round in circles. Talking to the wall.
        Once again here it is –

        The last 13 years the AFL has been quicker than NBA over 20m at draft camp.

        |||||||| CAN YOU GET MORE BLACK AND WHITE |||||||||

        Since you obviously dont understand what that means, i shall explain.
        Going by the ONLY stats we’ve got, stats that youve used countless times to back your arguments up with, the best of the best AFL times are quicker more often than not than the best of the best NBA times. Adding to this is AFL trains for endurance, which is counter productive to speed, it is nothing short of amazing. Also the fact that theyre 3-4 yrs younger.

        All youve put forward is what you think. No stats, no evidence, nothing to back up your highly biased statements. And the stats you have put up about speed, the stats you’ve been crowing about for a while now, have shown NBA is slower.
        There’s no stats for power or agility.

        And once again you bring up James. You actually do froth on him when you try and say you dont like him aha. Ive got no doubt he blows you away. The guys a freak. If every player in the NBA was like him I’d bow down to basketball. Sadly they are not.
        Hey but if you want to base all your ‘evidence’ on one player, a player that has had no recorded stats, be my guest.


      • Again, for what feels like the seventeenth time, I’m not talking about the sports themselves or the skill sets. I am talking about the athletic abilities of the players at the top level.

      • Well that depends. Could an average AFL player be of any use on an NBA court? Nope. Too small, weak and slow.

        Could your average NBA player (Again, 6’6″ and 100+kg) be of any use in an AFL game? You’d have to say yes, surely? Maybe not for a full game, but bring him on as the sub, stick him at Full Forward, and tell him to catch the ball. Since he could hold his ground against all but the biggest and best AFL defenders, he’d be good for a few marks you’d think. Now if only he could kick!

      • Laughable.
        Ask Brogan which one is tougher and harder to play. He wouldnt hesitate.
        Not hard to throw/shoot a basketball compared to kick/handpass a footy.
        Your average NBA player would be way to slow and you’d bring him in as the sub with 5 minutes to go cause thats how long he’ll last. And he wouldnt even know where to run to get a kick.
        Again you bring up up slow. What is wrong with you?

      • Tougher and harder to play? While obviously I disagree completely, are you still seriously not grasping the central argument?

        Am I impressed by the speed, strength, agility or vertical leap of AFL players? NO. Why should I be? Globally, they’re not elite in either category.
        Am I impressed by their stamina? Sure! Great stamina. Great endurance. World-class, elite stamina on display in the AFL.

        So then, since athletic ability can be broadly defined as the speed, strength, agility, vertical leap and endurance of a person… should I be impressed by AFL players ticking one ‘elite’ box and ticking ‘average’ for the rest?

        Why would that impress me when an NBA player ticks ‘average’ in endurance and then ticks ‘Elite’ in every other field?

    • playing 100 minutes and the physical side of tackles and marking contests is something that this bloke has totally overlooked – I’m glad to mentioned it. Also, picking the ball up off the ground. I remember some soccer players playing reserve grade in their off season (mainly attended training for fitness) and the ground work really gave them trouble (and they where coming off their regular season). AFL match fitness is not comparable to crossing a distance runner with anything – that’s ridiculous.

      • Not overlooked… irrelevant. I am purely discussing athleticism, which doesn’t involve any measure of ‘what can this person do after 100 minutes of the odd tackle (again… AFL players aren’t tackled/tackling nearly as much as you think) and marking contests’

      • Also remember they don’t drug test in the nba! On the other hand Afl players are tested regularly ensuring their ability is natural and fitness is built purely by working hard unlike many nba players who would be using various performance enhancing drugs such as steroids!

      • Um Mike you pointed out “(again… AFL players aren’t tackled/tackling nearly as much as you think)” well how do you know what I might think? I’ve watched basketball on TV and the hits certainly aren’t anywhere near the level of AFL – you must be joking if you think the two are even close! But anyway… A basketball player would suck at AFL if they didn’t train specifically for the sport (e.g. when Izzy switched from League to AFL his mass dropped a fair bit). And if they did that they’d cease to have the attributes that you deem to make them better athletes. It’s crazy argument. Despite the endurance aspect of the game, AFL players certainly have impressive 20m and 100m times – better than basketball players (which has been pointed out to you). This my friend should give you pause for thought.

      • I think I understand your comment.

        Of course the AFL has bigger hits, but not as often as you might imagine and they’re made by smaller men. How many times in an AFL game do you go “OOOOOOOOOOOH THAT’S GOTTA HURT!”… I’d say (generously) 5 or 6 times.

        I go back to an earlier comment: Would you rather fight for position against Travis Cloke or Brandon Bass? I’d prefer to take on Cloke, because he wouldn’t be as strong as Bass.

        20m sprint times faster in the NBA? News to me! Also news to John Wall, Ty Lawson, Russell Westbrook, Nate Robinson etc…

      • Shane, basketball players are big girls. All this talk about being ripped, heavy, et al brings to mind bodybuilding. Bodybuilders are phenomenal athletes. Super lean, strong, powerful. And, like basketballers, scared to cop a few hits. BIG GIRLS (apologies for my sexism). Yeh, there’s little doubt that NBA players are better athletes than AFL players but they’re about as tough as Italian soccer players. No wonder basketball in North America is the fourth most popular sport and gridiron is by far the most popular. Gridiron players are big, tough, strong and fast. Not just beanpoles who have done a few arm curls and practise circus tricks such as dunking. NBA players are oversized gymnasts.

  26. I did not pick Jonathan Brown as an example, you did. I was merely pointing out the fact that he is stronger than the majority of NBA players. As far as Shaq goes his ball handling and shooting skills are relatively poor compared to the majority of NBA players. If not for his size he would not play much the same as boxer Nikolai Valuev is a monster of a man but has a shit technique and if not for his size would have no career.

    • Stronger than the majority? Cool. But not all, right? Reggie Evans isn’t a star. But he’s stronger than most AFL players. Zach Randolph is a borderline star, but he’d be stronger than every AFL player. LeBron James is a superstar, and he’d be stronger than every AFL player ever. See how useless that argument is? We can argue semantics, but my point remains – I’m not impressed by the strength of any AFL player, since there are plenty of NBA players who are stronger.

      Shaquille O Neal is not the only 7’1″, 135kg monster in the world. If that’s all it took to make $300million plus endorsements in an NBA career, why can’t they all do the same? Simple. He became the greatest ever centre because of what he was able to do with that size. Footwork, ball control, timing, great hands around the basket, and basketball IQ. And that takes skill. And he did it all taking knocks that would send any AFL player sprawling.

      • So you are saying if he was a foot shorter he would have still had the skills to play in the NBA? Shaq is the best of a limited amount of people his size. Not everyone in the world grows up playing basketball or in a basketball popular country. Yao Ming again is another example, without his size he is rubbish. As for the list of second rate players that you mentioned that are supposed to be super strong. A. Where is your proof of their strength? B. Since you feel basketball players require such strength why army these guys top of the NBA. Many of them are taller and heavier than the Klitshko brothers so does that mean they are better athletes and stronger? In fact Mike Tyson was about 100kg or just under in his prime. Does that mean that he is weak? In fact Mike didn’t have a vertical leap or sprint speed as quick as a number of NBA players but so I assume he wasn’t a very good athlete.

      • What you’ve just written is known as a strawman fallacy. It is a logical stretch taken by those unable to properly engage the initial argument. I never said Shaq would’ve made it at 6’1.

        And no, even in his prime, you couldn’t consider Tyson an excellent athlete. Great hands, footwork, power and stamina. Lousy speed and agility, though.

      • Bored of these arguments. You are either stupid or just to stubborn to admit your wrong. As for NBA players brushing off big hits. Lebron has to get carried off when he gets a leg cramp. Would make a good soccer player. To compare the hits of a contact sport with a charge is laughable. I have a feeling you have played neither sport. I’m done

      • I dare say Tyson would whip you in a race in his prime. Obviously you dont know how fit boxers are. Crazy fit.
        Why isnt he built for it? Because in his sport he doesnt need to. Simple. If he trained to for a 100m he’d be quick.

  27. It seems that some AFL fans have hit a raw nerve when they’ve talked to you about basketball (and probably used AFL as a comparison). Your bottom line is that you are not impressed by the athleticism of AFL players; and you’ve argued this by comparing them against basketballers.

    This, to me, seems like one of the most ridiculous things to say. Breaking it down: the Australian Football is played at the top level by professional athletes who train all the time and as you and others have said possess various skills. They are, like all professional sports people, a cut above your average Tom, Dick or Harry on the street in terms of athletic ability. Yet, you are unimpressed by their athletic ability. Hmmm. Why? Because when you compare them to professional basketball players they fail to match-up in various attributes you have chosen to compare. Your view point is nigh on illogical. One could take any one of a number of sports, compare with another different sport and then state that persons from group A are less athletic than from group B. It makes no sense.

    As has been stated above by you and others, it is horses for courses. You compared the average size of players of both sports but of course the AFL will be smaller. There are far more players playing, in far more varied positions. They are different games, requiring different types of athletic ability. As I have said to state that you are unimpressed by AFL players just seemed ridiculous and illogical.

    • Not illogical at all! I’ve taken the most widely accepted measures of athleticism, and compared the two sports. Speed, strength, endurance, agility… These are universal measures of athleticism. In every single category bar one (endurance), the NBA can put forward a player to defeat every AFL player. In any combination of the elements of athleticism, the same story applies.

      Being a cut above the average Tom, Dick and Harry doesn’t impress me. I know plenty of people who are ‘above average’ athletes. But being ‘elite’ in a sport played almost exclusively in Victoria, Tasmania, WA, SA and NT (Total population 12ish million) is completely different to being ‘elite’ in the basketball world, with over a billion people in the talent pool.

      So if Buddy Franklin’s ‘freakish’ combination of size, speed, and agility would be considered ‘OK, I suppose’ at the average US Division 1 College basketball program, why should I be impressed?

      • Going by what you have said, can I safely assume, then, that you are also equally unimpressed with the athleticism of players who play soccer, rugby, lacrosse, tennis, badminton or the athletic ability of cyclists, skiers or marathon runners? None of those people will have the strength, agility or speed to compare to someone in the NBA. You’d have to be a damned fool to say that any of the people I mentioned above don’t impress you with their athletic ability.

        To see your point of view a bit more clearly, can you confirm that whether or not you think that AFL players (or for that matter soccer or any number of other sports players) possess speed, agility and strength? If your answer is yes they do possess such attributes to say that they leave you unimpressed is illogical.

        As a side note a billion people in the talent pool for basketball seems a bit of a stretch.

      • Chet, I am genuinely not knocking you, but I think you’re in the same boat as some others as not quite grasping the crux of the article. Athleticism is not a vague and overarching term related to “overall sportiness” or “skill level”. Athleticism is specifically related to the physical abilities of the athlete. Am I impressed by the athleticism of badminton players? Absolutely not. Their skills may be impressive, but not their athleticism. Marathon runners? Again, the answer is no, I’m not impressed by their athleticism. They have elite stamina, but I would wager their agility/strength and raw speed would be severely lacking compared to any sportsperson playing a dynamic, 3-D field sport.

        Lionel Messi’s skill and speed mark him as the best football player in a generation. His balance, footwork, co-ordination and poise make this so. However, in terms of raw athleticism, he would be found wanting against a large number of NBA/AFL players.

        I take your point on talent pools. A billion is a stretch. There are likely a few hundred million adult basketball players on earth, mostly in China (increasingly basketball mad), South America (ditto), Europe (A steady devoted fan base) and the US (Obviously).

        Aussie Rules? Well in terms of adults it’s tough to pinpoint participation rates since the AFL only publishes figures including Auskick, but I would say 200,000 adult participants is very generous.

        200,000 versus a few hundred million. I think my point remains.

  28. Damn straight the NBA has some kick-ass athletes who would run circles around the AFL players. I too get sick of hearing some of the over-the-top commentary by network commentators when watching an AFL game. Of course, there are some good athletes in the AFL but people are kidding themselves if they think a Gary Ablett or a Buddy Franklin could outperfrom a Lebron James or a Dwyane Wade in any number of athletic tests. What I find really laughable is when they describe an Aussie football team as the Dream Team…Puuhhlease, I think we all know who the original Dream Team is…and it ain’t Aussie…and it ain’t football!

  29. Not sure how I stumbled across this but I read through it and feel the need to put my ‘2 cents’ in.
    The one and only reason for the NBA’s superior athletes compared to the AFL is the fact that they are African-American. They are built taller, faster stronger and more athletic than white people. Its not in our make up to be able to perform acts like the guys in the NBA do. Thats why your little highlight reels doesn’t feature any white guys. A guy like Nic Naitanui who plays for Westcoast is one of the most exciting guys you will see when comparing to any sport. Again,not a white guy.
    Your comparing chalk and cheese. The AFL is impressive, it is a great game and shows amazing athleticism. Keep in in perspective. I dont look at Usain Bolt run the 100m and say “oh im not impressed because a Cheetah can run it so much faster”.

    • i was with you right up until your comment about a cheetah which implies that black people are not only a seperate species but an animal species.

      • Whats not to understand?
        The point is that you dont have to compare everything to be impressed by it. Just enjoy it for what it is.

        E.g going to a local game of football can still be enjoyed and you can admire skills or goals or even athleticisim. You dont have to compare it to the afl when deciding weather your impressed or not

  30. Its simple really.
    Take out the back guys from the nba and your left with a game with 1 per cent of the athletic capacity.
    No one thinks the nba is for tall skinny guys. Australian bball is though

    • I’m assuming you meant to say ‘black’ which is a little insight into the mindset of the average Australian: Just a game for black freaks-of-nature.

      Sorry, Taylor, but there are plenty of big and athletic white guys running around the NBA. Sure, they’re not renowned for it, but that doesn’t mean folks like Chandler Parsons or Chase Budinger or Jonas Valanciunas aren’t still a head above AFL players in their athletic abilities. Race isn’t the be-all-end-all. It comes down to talent pool size, and the game itself encouraging and promoting athletic excellence.

      And a cursory glance at NBL players’ profiles online tells me they’re not tall and skinny. They’re tall and built like the proverbial outhouse. Beanpoles simply don’t cut the mustard anymore.

      • Yes I did mean ‘black’ guys. Sorry trying to write on my phone is something I’m still yet to master.
        Your generalisation of Australian’s considering basketball a game for “black freaks of nature” is a little different to the picture you drew in your article. I thought the Australian view was that basketball is for tall, sissy bean poles?
        Either way one thing is for sure, the majority of people around the world and indeed here in Australia, understand that the NBA is a league of freak athletes, however, basketball in general is not.
        Sure there are still super athletic white guys in the NBA but like I said, take out the Black guys and you would be left with a game with a fraction of the athleticism and amazing highlights.
        Have you ever watched an NBL game? I would rather watch grass grow to be brutally honest

      • Well like any sport a poor NBL game (or NBA, or AFL, or EPL) is horrendous to watch. Having said that, a high-quality NBL game is surprisingly entertaining and impressive.

  31. To settle this argument you can just compare NBA with NBL. A clear difference in average height, skill, strength and speed between the two (as was your main argument above when comparing afl and nba)

    The reasons for the difference: most definitely increased exposure as children to basketball in America, which stems from the amounts of money involved, and the overall culture. But more importantly, the talent pool. As you have so convincingly proved, basketballers are better athletes, but my question to you is, what if the AFL supporter base was worldwide like NBA?and not just predominately in victoria? Which sport would have the better athletes then?

      • Clearly AFL isn’t just an elite endurance sport. How about the agility and the “power/speed/acceleration” needed ?
        AFL is clearly a more rounded sport, requiring all components of fitness, including endurance. If given the money and talent pool of the NBA, AFL athletes would clearly be superior because of the increased demands of their sport.

      • Jordan, you’re basing this on precisely nothing. Power/speed/acceleration? I’ve given evidence that in all three categories an NBA athlete is superior to an AFL athlete. And as for your claim that the talent pool and money are the only difference, well that’s just moving the goalposts, mate, and an irrelevant hypothetical.

      • I don’t think it’s worth doing the research as your ignorant mind clearly can’t be changed. But just quickly, how about some anecdotal evidence?

        I have played both AFL and Basketball, and been successfull in both. AFL is the harder sport fitness wise, plain and simple.

        How is it an irrelevant hypothetical? Just above you confidently said that “still basketball” would be superior if AFL and NBA were on even terms.
        Im saying that NBA players are only better athletes because they have an unfair advantage in the money and talent pool department. Just something to think about…

      • And I’m not moving the goalposts, because NBA has the unfair advantage as aforementioned. Im simply getting the argument on even terms.

  32. How bout you compare NBL to AFL.
    Who wins?
    [DELETED – Keep it PG mate]
    Why are NBA players more athletic? Got absolutely nothing to do with the game. It’s the African genetic make up. Simple. They are superior athletes.

    • That’s such a cop out. There are plenty of freakishly athletic Caucasians in the NBA and European Leagues or yes, even in the NBL. Someone like Jonas Valančiūnas is a good example. Chase Budinger, Chandler Parsons, Chris Anderson, Josh McRoberts.

      Brent Barry won the NBA Dunk Contest. Tom Chambers will go down as one of the most athletic forwards in NBA history.

      The fact is that basketball rewards athleticism in a way that AFL doesn’t. The best athletes in the world are drawn to basketball as a sport because it makes the best use of their gifts. If you can run a marathon a week, AFL is the sport for you. If you’re more agile, quicker on your feet, have a better jump and are faster from a standing start than anyone you know, you head towards basketball.

  33. Funny how you delete the bit about this being a pointless argument. Obviously due to the completely different sport types, it is like comparing apples to oranges, but you cant seem to get that through your skull. [Yes, I will continue to delete swearwords. My website mate, not yours].

    Hardly a cop out when in 2011 only 17% of players in the NBA are white. Would love to see how many of those 17% actually make the starting 5.

    You throw up a handful of players that no ones ever heard of. A handful (Although you forgot about Dirk). Out of how many have played?
    And theyre all spuds averaging less than 10 points a game except for Barry and Chambers.
    So what if Brent Barry won a dunk contest. Does that make him freakishly athletic? No. Tom Chambers may or may not go down as … as you say. As YOU say being the key. Just your opinion. Chambers didnt even make the top 25 all time greatest power forwards.

    As for basketball attracting the best athletes is a ridiculous statement. You could be the best athlete EVER and still not make it in basketball because of your height.
    “If you’re more agile, quicker on your feet, have a better jump and are faster from a standing start than anyone you know, you head towards basketball.” – all of that wouldnt mean jack all if youre under 180cms or 6ft.

    Getting sick of your continual marathon this and marathon that. Get your quickest NBA or NBL bloke and we’ll get Danger. Danger will not only smash him in a 1km time trial, sorry absolutely demolish, he will also beat him in a 100m sprint. And I can tell you now on average, AFL players will beat NBA players in a 100m dash. So who’s quicker?
    And you’ll probably put forward the argument oh but theyre quicker over 20m. Who is the fastest man in the world. If the race was run over 20m, Usain wouldnt have even made the semi finals let alone the final.

    Of course NBA players are bigger, so obviously they are going to have more power/strength. But if you look at power to weight ratio, I’d say it would be pretty even.
    Ive got no doubt in my mind that any one of our power forwards will hold there own if not beat most of the time a NBA power forward in a marking duel.

    Agility would once again comes down to your opinion. In a game of football, you can get tackled from any which way at any time. You have to be pretty nimble. And be able to think ridiculously quick on your feet because AFL, the no1 game in the world, is a fast sport. Which makes me realise how slow basketball is. Even though AFL footballer will travel a heap more that basketballers in a game, the % of time running flat out will still be in favour of AFL. And thats even taking into account the fact that basketballers get so much rest as it is such a stop start game.

    • You seem, like so so many others, to have missed the point of the article completely.

      You made a comment that I’m comparing apples and oranges? I’m comparing two sets of athletes on speed, power, strength, agility, vertical leap and stamina. Those are the parameters. I go to great lengths to emphasise that I’m not talking about skill sets. You simply read what you wanted to read.

      Dangerfield would not beat the top NBA players over 100m. Sorry. AFL’s fastest player is Wilkinson from GCS (So what if he didn’t win the GF sprint… that’s like saying Paul Pierce is the greatest 3-pointer shooter in the NBA because he won a 3-point competition. He did, but he’s not.) Wilkinson’s times would be elite, but then he would find himself in the final against the John Wall, Derrick Rose, Ty Lawsons of the world, and he would find himself lacking.

      You think Travis Cloke has a chance over shifting someone like Brandon Bass? That’s interesting. Totally delusional and completely devoid of logic… but interesting. NBA Power Forwards train to hold their positions. Their lower body strength is incredible. There’s a reason why Dennis Rodman was able to contain Shaquille O’Neal. His core strength and quad strength were otherwordly. In a marking duel, Brandon Bass wouldn’t have a hope of reading the flight of the ball as well as Cloke, or even of getting his hands to the ball as well as Cloke, and certainly not catching the rotating egg… but there is no chance Cloke would be able to shift Bass once he has his feet set. The reverse, however, is not true… Bass would be able to shift Cloke.

      Allen Iverson. Under 6 foot tall. Still one of the greatest players ever. You were saying about needing to be a giant?

      Feel free to rant on stamina, something I’ve conceded a few dozen times, but if you keep coming back to speed, I will continue to win.

      See… this is my point. I’m not impressed by AFL players’s speed. I grew up watching Allen ‘WHAT THE HELL WAS THAT!?’ Iverson, so any supposedly ‘quick’ AFL players just appear to be moving in slow motion by comparison. Similarly, I’m not impressed by their strength, because I grew up watching Shaq toss aside blokes who otherwise qualify as Super-Heavyweights. I’m not impressed by AFL players’ leap, because the biggest leaps they can muster are displayed by Gerald Green seven times a game in the NBA. AFL players’ combination of athletic qualities? The Buddy Franklin, Adam Goodes, NicNats of the world? Sorry mate. LeBron James.

      ps We have moderation, champ… no need to post your comment multiple times… a little patience is all we ask.

      • “You made a comment that I’m comparing apples and oranges? I’m comparing two sets of athletes on speed, power, strength, agility, vertical leap and stamina. Those are the parameters. I go to great lengths to emphasise that I’m not talking about skill sets. You simply read what you wanted to read.”
        Those things are a skill set to a particular sport. Any sport will train differently to improve those things that is more beneficial to that particular sport. Hell if Usain didnt train specifically like he does he’d be as good an athlete as your NBA players.

        “In a marking duel, Brandon Bass wouldn’t have a hope of reading the flight of the ball as well as Cloke, or even of getting his hands to the ball as well as Cloke, and certainly not catching the rotating egg…”
        Pretty sure hand eye coordination would be pretty high if judging an athlete. You need that in basketball.

        AFL’s fastest player is NOT Wilkinson. Haha now this is classic from you – “So what if he didn’t win the GF sprint… that’s like saying Paul Pierce is the greatest 3-pointer shooter in the NBA because he won a 3-point competition. He did, but he’s not.”
        So because Wilkinson set the fastest 20m sprint time at draft camp makes him the fastest player in the AFL?? Funny that. Did you notice i didnt mention the 100m dash that Danger won. Because if you actually watched football you would know that Danger and Jetta are our two quickest players.
        Isnt that like saying Barry won the dunk contest so he’s a freak athlete?

        “You think Travis Cloke has a chance over shifting someone like Brandon Bass? That’s interesting. Totally delusional and completely devoid of logic”
        Sorry did I say shift? Nah I said out mark. Use a round ball whatever but Clokey, Browny will definitely hold there own. (notice i didnt say dominate). And of course Browny will be able to shift Bass (another bloke that no ones heard of), he’ll just run straight through him.

        “Allen Iverson. Under 6 foot tall. Still one of the greatest players ever. You were saying about needing to be a giant?”
        Iverson is 6ft dead on. Greatest players ever???? Haha I thought you knew a bit about basketball. Wouldnt be in the top 10. And isnt.

      • Wait. You think speed, power, agility etc are skill sets for a particular sport? How odd.

        re: Danger and Wilkinson. I say that because Wilkinson is the only guy with a time recorded. We have no way of knowing how quick Dangerfield is other than the fact he won the Vic Schools 100m in around 11s. With Wilkinson I have some stats to go by.

        re: Bass/Cloke. I said he wouldn’t mark the ball because the flight of a footy is unique, not because he’s uncoordinated. I have no doubt Jonathan Brown could give a solid bump, but he’s not running ‘through’ a guy who has 5 inches and 10kg of muscle on him.

        re: Iverson. If you knew about basketball, rather than hitting up Wikipedia, you’d know that Iverson was always very generously listed at 6 foot. In reality, he was 5’10”-ish. And he’d be a top 50 player. I don’t know who decided that to be a great player you needed to be top ten, but it wasn’t me. He’s still one of the most freakish athletes ever, and would leave Cotchin/Ablett/Judd in his wake for sheer quickness.

        And finally, let me know when you have something to say about LeBron James. Cheers.

  34. From your article –
    “The average NBA player is 13cm taller and 12kg heavier than the average AFL player. Despite being heavier, their vertical leap averages are much higher than the AFL boys can manage (and that is a major, major understatement).”
    A ridiculous, biased statement. So youre basically saying that if youre shorter and weigh less you should be able to jump higher?? HAHA.

    “There was Australia-wide fawning when 6’5″ NicNat showed up at a Perth Wildcats NBL game recently and did a very nice dunk over a 5’8″ tall courtside announcer.
    Funny how Australians largely ignore the fact that in the NBA you have people like 5’9″ Nate Robinson jumping over 7″ tall Dwight Howard.”
    Another ridiculous statement. No way in hell can he jump over Howard to dunk the ball. Yeh he might dunk the ball whilst Howards defending him. But no way can he actually jump over his head.
    In 2006 he jumped over Spud Webb who is 5’7″ to win the dunk contest.
    Dont get me wrong, he can jump. His vertical leap is off the charts. But just clearing up your ‘facts’

    • I’m saying it’s impressive that the heavier blokes can jump higher, yes. That’s pretty self-evident I would’ve thought. Blokes winning gold in high jump aren’t chowing down Maccas.

      Actually, Nate Robinson DID jump over Dwight Howard. It’s on YouTube. That’s me clearing up YOUR ‘facts.’

      Feel free to watch it on YouTube, then come back and reassess the ‘no way in hell’ statement you made earlier. I’ll happily accept your apology.

      • Haahahahaah how is that impressive? My brother is shorter and weighs less than me. I will out jump him every day of the week. It would be impressive if he could out jump me. Very impressive. Has it occurred to you that bigger people have bigger muscle mass and hence usually would be able to do things on a bigger scale. Thought this would be basic.

        Actually …. you feel free to watch it again. Unbelievable leap. The guys got springs for legs. Howard has to duck though. No way in hell still stands.

      • Is your brother an adult? If so, your point carries a degree of merit. If he’s not, it doesn’t.

        I’m paraphrasing, but you said something along the lines of ‘No way in hell he jumped over Dwight Howard.’

        Hmmm… and you’re getting picky over an inch or two when Dwight tilts his head?

      • Yes he’s and adult. 2 years younger.

        re: Iverson. If you knew about basketball, rather than hitting up Wikipedia, you’d know that Iverson was always very generously listed at 6 foot. In reality, he was 5’10″-ish. And he’d be a top 50 player. I don’t know who decided that to be a great player you needed to be top ten, but it wasn’t me.

        Who’s getting picky over a couple of inches?
        Whoa whoa. Iverson is a great player. Definitely in the top 50. Probably in the top 30.
        But you said ‘one of the greatest players ever’. When you use that sort of terminology you would have to think a top 10 ranking would justify that remark.

      • Fortunately when I consider remarks such as ‘one of the greatest ever’ I cast my mind back more than a single generation, facilit8r. Iverson definitely qualifies for that remark. He’s one of the top 1% of the top 1% of basketballers in history. I think he qualifies. You can argue semantics if you like.

      • So you now understand what the ‘greatest ever’ implies. So if you say someone is one of the greatest ever, you would think he would be in the top 10, top 20 surely??
        Maybe you should retract that statement.

  35. “Not illogical at all! I’ve taken the most widely accepted measures of athleticism, and compared the two sports. Speed, strength, endurance, agility… These are universal measures of athleticism. In every single category bar one (endurance), the NBA can put forward a player to defeat every AFL player. In any combination of the elements of athleticism, the same story applies.”

    Now here is the crux of the argument. How have YOU ACTUALLY MEASURED these categories. It is all YOUR OPINION. The only category we would know for sure is stamina which AFL wins hands down. For the rest it is all anyone’s opinion. The only way to know for sure is to have proper testing done. And I can tell you it would be pretty tight.

    Also ask Dean Brogan, probably the only bloke who can comment on this, which sport has the better athletes and which sport takes more out of you.

    • Did you actually read the article at all, mate?

      Height and weight – and
      Speed – AFL/NBA Draft Combine Tests
      Vertical Leap – AFL/NBA Draft Combine Tests
      Strength – let’s say I’m going out on a limb and saying a 7’0″ 130+kg basketballer is stronger than an AFL player…

    • Hahahaa

      Height and weight – since when were they part of your categories? And they have no relevance. Except for power to weight ratios.

      Speed – 17/18 year olds v 21/22 year olds. Well there we have it folks. CONCLUSIVE EVIDENCE! I cannot fathom how on earth you can take that data and say without out a doubt that NBA players are faster. Classic stuff.

      Vertical leap – Age difference again. But on average I’ve got no doubt NBA players have the better leap

      Strength – HAHA now this is humorous. Once again you take an absolute extreme and compare the two. Of course a 130kg bloke is going to be stronger than most AFL players if not all. Let me go out on a LIMB and say Browny is stronger than Iverson. You get my point??? We should be going on averages really. So once again you need to go power to weight ratios otherwise it is just stupid. And like I said it’ll be very close.

      And like I said, testing needs to be done (and not when they’re teens) to determine the results of speed, agility and strength before you can categorically say that one code is better than the other.

      • You’re suggesting that as I watch an AFL game I’m going to think to myself ‘Geez that Robin Nahas took down Jobe Watson… a much more impressive tackle than the time Bucks slammed Voss into the turf twice as hard, because of Nahas’ power-to-weight ratio’? No way. The Bucks tackle weould be more impressive, right?

        Jono Brown would pulverise Allen Iverson, but would be pulverised by any number of Iverson’s teammates.

        Check the headline (AGAIN)… I’m not impressed by the biggest baddest AFL player… because he’d pale in comparison to the biggest, baddest NBA player.

        As for the 21y.o. vs 18y.o debate, as someone earlier correctly pointed out, footy players tend to sacrifice a little bulk in order to make the grade in the endurance stakes. Similarly, by packing on the muscle, they tend to sacrifice a little speed. AFL players strike a fine balance between muscle mass and speed, but endurance is the key. That means that they sacrifice a little from both muscle mass and speed.

        So a 18y.o. beanpole should be just about as fast as they’re ever going to get, when you consider the fact that they’re about to start life as a professional athlete hitting up the gym 4 days a week to pack on muscle.

        Same with basketballers, with one small difference – they don’t place as much emphasis on endurance. For a basketballer, the key is raw explosive power. Sprints. Jumps. Being able to smash their opponent over a 15km time trial does very little. Being able to cover 20m faster makes a huge difference.

        It’s the nature of the sport. Basketballers are going to train more for short burst speed. In doing so, they sacrifice their ability to compete in endurance. The opposite is true for AFL players.

      • Im sorry, are we going on how it looks or based on evidence??
        Youre using a hypothetical, but if Nahas got Jobe holding the ball and Bucks gave away a free kick, I’d take Nahas any day of the week. Tackling is not about slamming someone into the ground. Smaller, weaker guys can be better tacklers than bigger stronger guys. All about technique. And to use tackling as a measurement of ‘power and strength’ you know less than I thought.

        “Jono Brown would pulverise Allen Iverson, but would be pulverised by any number of Iverson’s teammates”
        Obviously you dont get it and I dont care about biggest and baddest. Thet doesnt mean anything about anthing. Im just worried about power to weight.

        In one paragraph you say they sacrifice muscle which hurts their speed, but in the next paragraph you say theyre in the gym packing on muscle. So which is it?
        Youre obviously delusional if you think as an 18 year old that’s as fast as an AFL players going to get. That is absolutely crazy. Id say for most athletes their prime would be in the 23-27 bracket range.
        And something for you to think about, AFL players 3km time trial suffers from putting on muscle not theyre speed.
        No one does 15km time trials. Just you again exaggerating.

        NBA players spend all their time training for short burst speed. AFL player spend a lot of their time training for endurance. YET they will get close, or I think most of the time beat an NBA player over 100m. Fascinating stuff isnt it.

      • You’re worried about power to weight? What, like a handicap horse race? Sorry mate, I’m just considering them as they stand. Nothing about “to weight.” Raw power. Find me an AFL player who would have more power in him than 122kg of Kendrick Perkins. You won’t.

        A couple of minutes on google tells me two things: Fraser Gehrig holds the alltime AFL record at 180kg one-rep bench press… and Ben Wallace has a max one-rep bench press of 210kg.

        Power. Impressive.

        “I think most of the time”

        Oh, so how about those calls for evidence? I’ve given mine. Derrick Rose hits speeds that Wilkinson can’t hit. I can point to numbers. What can you do? “I think…”?

        It’s simple logic mate. When you’ve got a few hundred million basketballers, you’r going to find faster and stronger blokes than the “elite” from a sample size of a few thousands.

      • So I take it your not at all concerned about power to weight. So, hypothetically if a guy like Daniel Pearce benches 100 kg and say Ben Rutten benches 120kg, judging by what youve said “as they stand” you’d be more impressed with Rutten just cause he lifts more.
        I dont know whether to laugh at you or get angry at you or just cry at your insistent lack of understanding.
        Why do you think they have weight divisions in boxing. Why do you think they use the term pound or pound?
        So let me make this very clear to you … when someone is bigger, usually they have more power/strength. Do you get that now?

        Yep so Wallace out benches Gehrig. Theyre about the same weight so going by that Wallace is indeed stronger. There you go you say, NBA players are stronger. Can you take one measurement and apply it to both competitions? NO. Say Gehrig out benched Wallace, would that make AFL player stronger? NO
        Absolutely ridiculous.

        Hmm why do I say “I think”? Because unlike you I dont make ludicrous statements with no evidence to support.

        “Oh, so how about those calls for evidence? I’ve given mine. Derrick Rose hits speeds that Wilkinson can’t hit. I can point to numbers.”

        Can point to numbers can you????????????????????????
        Rose ran the sprint test in 3.05s. Which would make him slower than Wilkinson.
        Yes thats right SLOWER.

        You love to ‘cherry pick’, so in a post below I’m going to show you once and for all who is quicker NBA or AFL going on YOUR stats.

      • Classic isn’t it. Like talking to a brick wall. So when the stats say (stats that youve championed this whole time, saying look at this figures, this is the be all and end all), that Rose is slower than Wilkinson at draft camp, suddenly that counts for nothing???? HA HA HA

        So Rose hits 8.9 m/s on court (where is this by the way?). BIG DEAL. That measurement is not from a standing start, where as Wilkinson’s was. How do you know he is faster than Wilkinson?? Has Wilkinson been tested on field?

        Talk about moving goal posts!! Youre comparing a standing start time to a on court time. Once again youre manipulating things to make your own argument look better.

  36. I only scanned through your original article, the posts and your replies so please accept my apology if I have missed some statistical evidence. However, I can’t recall seeing anywhere evidence of basketballers being stronger other than repeated statements that NBA players are bigger. Generally heavier people are stronger hence weight divisions in combat sports and weightlifting so your assumption is probably with some substance. However, is there any evidence showing this?

    Strength is usually measured relative to weight but I accept for this debate we can compare both absolute and strength relative to weight. I think we should also look at a range of strength measures such as squats, deadlifts, benchpress, etc. My guess would be that the height of the NBA players would disadvantage them in some of those exercises.

    Also on the point about whether it would be more painful to be run into by one of the bigger NBA players or a smaller AFL player, the point is moot in that the collisions allowed in the AFL aren’t in the NBA. If we’re talking physics, we must also bear in mind that in basketball the protagonists are running at each other thus in the Force = Mass x Accleration equation the acceleration is lower. More than halved in fact as basketballers tend to anticipate the charge and ‘flop’. i.e. propel their bodies backward.

    On that point I think both AFL and NBA players are safer than NRL players who have to contend with shoulder charges from heavy men who have both enormous strength and power and are not afforded the heavy padding worn by NFL players.

    In relation to one of the earlier posts about the 82 game season in the NBA, the addiitonal games are possible precisely because the game is so much less physically taxing. One of the measures I’m not sure the debate has covered is durability. A footballer would appear to need far greater durability than a basketballer and an ability to withstand a greater range of possible injuries. I don’t have statistics to back me up but it would be inetresting to look at the different injuries suffered and my guess would be that basketballers suffer predominantly stress injuries due to the hard surface on which the play. AFL players seem to suffer a full range of collision, overuse, soft tissue, etc.

    All up though, and leaving aside reasons, I would have to concur that it is apparent NBA basketballers are faster, bigger and possessed of higher leaps than their AFL counterparts. Watching a man of Blake Griffin’s proportions jump over an opponent holding the basketball like an orange with his head level with the ring as he slams the ball through the hoop is a truly awesome sight. Similarly, watching the gut busting running close up live at an AFL game is nothing short of gruesome. As midfielders come off the field on their rotations with their lungs heaving, having traversed enormous distances at close to top speed whilst being buffeted, bumped and tackled always engenders in me anormous admiration for their ability to withstand pain and push their bodies to the limit. It’s not just in the game of course. We must understand that footballers spend 11 months of the year running, running and running. Every day of training particularly in the preseason would be a physical and mental torture test.

    So, let me conclude, possibly controversially by saying that AFL football, rugby union, rugby league, gridiron and basketball all showcase athletes of extraordinarly high strength, courage and athleticism. Soccer has none of these attributes and is an appallingly boring game whose players lack a wide range of skills, physical courage or mental toughness. To see an endless production line of pony tailed heartthrobs roll around on the field like they’ve been shot when an opponent nears them is nausea inducing to say the least. My advice to soccer lovers is take your round ball, your stocky little players who are ill suited to any other athletic endeavour ‘back to wherever it was you came’ and leave us to enjoy games which require real athleticism and courage. Sleeping giant indeed. More like playacting, diving, homunculus!

    • Thanks for your thoughts, Chris.

      Of course I continue to disagree with people on the ‘bump from 80kg footy player’ vs ‘bump from 120kg basketballer debate’ but I appreciate your thinking it through.

      I think it’s important, however, to note that durability and ‘ability to take a bump’ are not (and never have been) elements of athleticism.

      The crux of the article is that AFL players are athletically inferior to NBA players – athleticism being the combination of strength, speed, power, leaping ability, agility and endurance.

      Add to that the fact that NBA players are superior in all those categories (bar endurance) while also being more imposing and impressive physical specimens, and you can ultimately see how I am not impressed by AFL players in general.

      Impressive skill-wise? Sure. Impressive endurance? Absolutely. Impressive athleticism? Nope. Sorry.

      On your final point, while it’s not really relevant, I will again disagree with you. Soccer suffers from diving, no doubt, I agree 100%, but to say their players lack skill is borderline-crazy.

      Watching Barcelona combine 20+consecutive touch-passes with precision before an exquisite chipped through-ball from Fabregas to Messi, who can tilt his body, chest the ball down to his feet whilst on the run, add spin to the ball, and curl it around the outstretched fingertips of a 6’3″ goalie from 20 yards? Well… I am a basketball fan first and foremost, but nothing in basketball compares to that moment of sublime skill.

      • Shane / Mike / Don

        Appreciate your comments.

        Is your definition of athleticism universal? If so, I accept durability or ability to withstand injury is not a category. If not, it should be although it is very hard to measure presently except over the course of an athlete’s career. I have little doubt though that a person’s body will eventually be measured scientifically for other innate qualities such as VO2, leap, etc. Thus, I think an argument for inclusion in measurement of athleticism is strong. If included then clearly the low body compact, short burst nature of basketball would attract participants with lower measures of durability and I reckon AFL football would get an additional category of athleticism back.

        Still no evidence of strength from you. I maintain that basketballers’ bodies would almost certainly predispose them to lower strength – weight ratios than AFL footballers at the very least. Squats and leg strength of NBA players would be interesting to look at. What’s the difference between power and strength? If it’s speed off the mark or leap then isn’t it the same category or at least a sub category of the aforementioned?

        As you say, my final point was not relevant to the direct argument about NBA vs AFL athleticism. Nor were my comments about rugby. I just wanted to have a crack at soccer because I know you couldn’t help yourself in arguing. It is interesting however, that my comments on soccer bore (yes, pun intended as soccer is boring) a greater relation to your original premise in terms of my comments on soccer players’ lack of athleticism than skill. You made no comment about soccer athleticism or lack thereof but chose to focus on skill. That was of course very predictable as it is soccer’s only defence to attackers such as my good self who ceaselessly take every chance to put them back in the marginal sport category in this country. It may well be for fear they’ll take over because if they do, then I’ll be subjected to even more of the insidious surrendering of our home grown football culture by an alien game.

        Thus, in anticipation of your argument, I deliberately said ‘lack a wide range of skills’, not ‘lacking in skill’ . I’ve argued with adherents of the round ball game for years about skill. They claim they are more skilful than everyone else. I don’t buy the argument but I am prepared to concede that they execute the limited range of skills extraordinarily well particularly at the top level. So, I didn’t say, they weren’t skilful per se as you protest so eloquently. For the vast majority of a soccer game, 10 of the 11 players, in relation to ball skills, utilise their feet only. Not hands. Yes, they chest the ball down occasionally and head butt it for the rare goals they score but they still don’t do it all that often to make it all that important. Moreover, most of the defenders don’t chest the ball at full tilt. They just hack it back to the forward line on abject terror that they might be scored against and the pointless hour and a half of energy they have expended is wasted by a split second mistake. Well, the poms mainly did that, the Europeans were always pretty clever at holding the ball and knocking it around in defence.

        They don’t use what I would term a great range of body skills such as tackling either. The tackle in soccer is merely a variant on the foot skills they employ when with the ball.

        Sorry about spending so little time on your original argument. I really just wanted to have a crack at soccer. So what are we in disagreement / discussion about? Oh yes, inclusion of traits in athleticism (durability), categorisation of power, speed, strength and provision of evidence on your claim NBA players are stronger than AFL players. I look forward to clarification on these issues in your next instalment.

  37. Apologies. There are two typos and I missed ‘not’ in the sentence ‘If we’re talking physics, we must also bear in mind that in basketball the protagonists are not running at each other’. It wouldn’t make sense without the ‘not’ and Shane would rightfully disprage me.

  38. And just to clear up another of your ‘facts’.

    “The two objects act on each other, champ. Basic PHYSCIS. If I’m 80kg and I run head on into someone who also weighs 80kg, the force acts on both of us. I take some of his energy, and he takes some of mine. Two vectors acting on each other.
    125kg running into me, standing still, ends up much worse for me”

    Even when you are standing still, he still absorbs some of the impact.
    So lets so hypothetically, I’m 125kg and I’m standing still. Another 125kg bloke runs into me. I get knocked to the floor.
    Now both of us, 125kg each, are now running at each other full steam and collide.

    Your honestly trying to tell me that I’m going to be hurt more by the first instance than the second? Absolutely kidding yourself. Have a think about it.
    Basic maths. Not so basic physics.
    We’re talking Relative Velocity, Kinetic Energy and Einstein’s Theory of Relativity.
    With any collision involving two moveable objects relative speed is important.
    So yes there is more force when two 80 kgs objects collide than 125kg object into a stationary moveable object.

    • Now you’re changing the parameters mate! I compared Campbell Brown or someone else (generously let’s say 85kg) colliding with me while we run along different paths versus 120kg+ of NBA basketballer slamming into me while I stand still! That’s the difference.

      I said I’d rather take any hit from Campbell Brown than have to take a charge from Charles Barkley. In terms of sheer force, I’m absolutely correct to say that.

      • Absolute not correct. Your changing the parameters. Sure I’d rather take a hit from Balla’s than Browny, thats just common sense. But if I run in to Balla’s both flat out I’d rather take the Browny hit. Just common sense again. Theyre would be more force. Just like if a car crashes into a stationary car at 125km/h and two cars collide head on at 80 km/h. Which car crash would you prefer to be in?? And dont kid yourself.
        Here’s what you said –
        Two 80kg players running into each other is going to result in a mess, no doubt, but a greater NET force would result from one person standing still and 125kg running into them.
        Which is wrong.

  39. Also, I loved the Golden Snitch reference. Have you played either basketball or football in your 20’s? Or any sport for that matter? Go back to your Harry Potter books and let the grown up’s talk.

  40. Right lets settle this once and for all.
    You give 5 catagories. Strength Speed Leap Endurance Agility

    Let me start by clearing up speed. Instead of taking one figure v another figure and saying one is therefore on a whole better than the other. Lets do it the proper way, the scientific way and go by averages.
    Going from the numbers from the respective draft camps we get theses averages of the top times from the last 13 years.
    NBA (22.86m) – 3.028 seconds
    AFL (20m) – 2.824 seconds
    Using physics, ‘the king of sciences’ we can work out that
    NBA (avg acceleration) – 4.986 m / s / s
    AFL (avg acceleration) – 5.016 m / s / s
    We can then work out how quickly each would go with the others distance
    NBA (to run 20m) – 2.833s or
    AFL (to run 22.86m) – 3.019s

    So, quite clearly, even though –
    1) AFL players are at a significant disadvantage as they train more for endurance than speed
    2) AFL testing is when theyre are 17-18 years old compared to 21-22 years
    3) NBA has a massive pool to choose from compared to AFL,
    – AFL players are quicker. (and over a 100m even more so)
    To me, thats amazing. The fact that an AFL player can do a 14-15 beep test, a 10-11min 3km and then do quick times in a 20m sprint is unbelievable. If they got close to NBA times that would be unbelievable. The fact that they beat them … FREAK athletes.

    So back to the categories.

    Speed – AFL
    Endurance – AFL
    Leap – NBA
    Strength – No tests available (But I would give that to the NBA, keeping in mind, as youve admitted yourself, AFL player will sacrifice strength because of the amount of endurance training they do)
    Agility – No comparative tests available (very tight and very hard to measure but I, like you, would give it a draw)

    So 2 each plus a draw. Who wins then?

    AFL does. Why?

    The fact that they are a better more rounded athlete. AFL players endurance is up there with marathon runners. And yet even though this severely compromises their speed and strength they can more than match it with the NBA boys. I’ve got no doubt on average NBA players leap is much more than AFL players and with the agility stakes are even.

    So even with NBA’s talent pool into the BILLIONS when you include Sth and Nth America, Europe and Asia ….


    • Aaah an interesting breakdown and I’m thrilled to see you actually address the criteria…


      You’ve averaged out the numbers. Since the whole point of the article is that I’m not IMPRESSED by AFL players, that doesn’t really make much sense.

      I use averages simply to hammer home my point that the NBA has better athletes. But no-one is IMPRESSED by an average. They’re impressed by the top-tier. You don’t look at someone like Dyson Heppell and say “Wow! He’s impressive because he plays in a league where the average player can bench x and sprint 100m in y…”

      If I simply cherry picked this entire article would read: “LeBron James. Dwight Howard. Much more impressive athletes than any AFL footballer. Thank you. Bye bye.”

      You see, a 7-foot centre’s 22.86m sprint time is always going to hold back the NBA average. However, if we’re talking which sport has the faster athletes… it’s NBA!

      No-one watches an AFL game thinking “Geez, those 44 blokes probably have a really impressive average top speed!” No, they watch individuals.

      And since I can watch Derrick Rose cover territory faster than any AFL player measured… well that leaves speed very much in the “NBA wins!” category.

      And finally, you claim a 2-2 draw means AFL wins because they can “more than match it with the NBA boys”… but since that’s demonstrably false (they can’t compete on strength, speed (as I’ve just shown yet again), leap or any combination thereof…)… you’re entire claim is incorrect!


      • You’ve averaged out the numbers. Since the whole point of the article is that I’m not IMPRESSED by AFL players, that doesn’t really make much sense.
        – How are you not impressed that over the last 13 years AFL has produced quicker times over 20m yet train for ‘marathons’

        I use averages simply to hammer home my point that the NBA has better athletes. But no-one is IMPRESSED by an average. They’re impressed by the top-tier. You don’t look at someone like Dyson Heppell and say “Wow! He’s impressive because he plays in a league where the average player can bench x and sprint 100m in y…”
        – So when you want to use stats you can, but when I use stats its irrelevant. Just like im not going to look at someone like Steve Nash and say wow he’s impressive becasue he plays in a league where their average leaping ability is x and there power is y. Not sure where you going with that argument.

        If I simply cherry picked this entire article would read: “LeBron James. Dwight Howard. Much more impressive athletes than any AFL footballer. Thank you. Bye bye.”
        – Once again LeBron (you must froth on him) Ive already told you he is a freak. If every player in the NBA was like him, hands down NBA wins obviously. But obviously theyre are not. So obviously to take NBA as a whole on one or two or three players is ridiculous.

        You see, a 7-foot centre’s 22.86m sprint time is always going to hold back the NBA average. However, if we’re talking which sport has the faster athletes… it’s NBA!
        – Just like 205+ cm ruckmen are going to hold back the AFL. Which sport has the faster athletes?? I’ve just shown you. Using your stats. Over the last 13 years AFL has consistently had the quickest players. It’s not rocket science. it is there for you in black and white.

        No-one watches an AFL game thinking “Geez, those 44 blokes probably have a really impressive average top speed!” No, they watch individuals.
        – Stupid. Of course not. But if the AFL average speed is quicker than NBA’s, and AFL consistently reach top speed more than NBA players, tell me who’s quicker. Funny how now the argument has now changed from codes to individuals. Did someone say cherry pick?

        And since I can watch Derrick Rose cover territory faster than any AFL player measured… well that leaves speed very much in the “NBA wins!” category.
        – What AFL player has been measured? How does that leave speed in the NBA category when Rose gets beaten by Wilkinson at draft camp and Rose isnt even your quickest player?
        So because Rose is so quick that automatically makes NBA faster because of one player?? Once again making ridiculous, delusional statements.
        HOW BOUT THIS because Wilkinson’s 20m sprint time is quicker than Usain Bolts 20m split time (2.89s) in his world record in 2009, that means that AFL footballers are quicker than 100m sprint athletes. YEEEHHHHHHHHH whatever. See how ridiculous that is.

        And finally, you claim a 2-2 draw means AFL wins because they can “more than match it with the NBA boys”… but since that’s demonstrably false (they can’t compete on strength, speed (as I’ve just shown yet again), leap or any combination thereof…)… you’re entire claim is incorrect!
        – How can they not compete on strength???
        – I’ve just shown you AFL players are faster (yet again)

        You want combination. Lets take Naitanui for an example –
        Endurance – Better than Rose
        Leap – Better than Rose
        Speed – Better than Rose
        Strength – No way of knowing but that will go to Rose
        Agility – No way of knowing, and it’ll be tight, but that will probably just go to Rose

        So 3 from 5. AFL wins.

        You could substitute LeBron for Rose, and it’ll be the same. Unfortunately we dont have draft results for LeBron cause he didnt even bother to show up to testing. Probably because he didnt need to. But like I said the guy is a freak.

      • Wait, you think that NicNat is faster than Derrick Rose, has a better vertical and only barely loses on agility?




        And then you think the results would be the same for LeBron James? (Don’t think I haven’t noticed that you still… STILL… haven’t attempted to explain why I should be impressed with AFL players)

        In fact, if you want to, you can substitute Dwight Howard for LeBron James in the earlier challenge I set you. Or Blake Griffin. Or Corey Maggette. Or Carmelo Anthony. Or Dwyane Wade. Or Russell Westbrook. Or Tyreke Evans. Or Andre Iguodala…




        See where I’m going with this?

      • Your rejection of averages in favour for top tier players just reitterates the fact that your establishing that the entire AFL body has to try and impress you. How impressed you are isn’t really that important to them, basically you’re at an unmoveable position. “I really like Derrick Rose, and nothing you say, no matter how good AFL players are despite only drawing from a small pool of talent and their ability to excel at all kinds of skills, will ever change the fact that NBA stars give me goose bumps” – well I can square myself with that. This writer isn’t interested in the different codes or appreciating the brilliance of their differences, he just thinks that the hand picked cherries in NBA are better than the AFL players at being Basketball players. The fact you’re not impressed isn’t a commentary on whether they’re actually impressive – but how vision impaired you are.

  41. facilit8r, are AFL footballers better, more complete, well rounded athletes than decathletes? I think if we go to the top 10 decathletes in the world we’d find that they beat all other sports in all athletic categories. Well, possibly not endurance. AFL players and even soccer players may beat decathletes over 5 or 10k but maybe not middle distance (say 1500m). Note, you did not confine your comment to ball sports so please don’t argue back over confining the competition purely to ball sports.
    Just another couple of points. World class decathletes are not predominantly of West African origin so the racist comments someone previously made about West African (black) athletic superiority hold no water with me.
    Secondly, I think the fanaticism and outrage that Shane has engendered with his very reasonable comments about superior NBA athleticism prove that AFL fans really do live in a world of their own. Yes, of course, it is a game compelling to watch and breathtaking in its beauty and skill. My favourite game by a mile and I watch a lot of sports. However, Shane is absolutely right. Endurance combined with burst running are its predominant athletic requirements. Body shapes and types are now more uniform than ever also. In terms of athletic requirements Australian football is more one dimensional than many other sports, not just basketball.

  42. Chris, which side are you on? Aha
    Probably not. Multi-disciplined. Cant really top that. No I wasnt referring just to ball sports and to be honest I had forgot about decathletes. But I think this article is to do with ball sports.
    Not sure how me saying African Americans are better athletes (or something along those lines) is racist ?????? They are athletically superior. Have you had a look at the NBA recently?
    Also not sure when you said Shane is right. About what?
    Vehemently disagree AFL is one dimensional. The most accountable game ever

  43. AFL endurance is overrated as well. A skinny little club runner would beat them convincingly. I think of AFL Players as being all rounders in a number of areas, but not really excelling in any particular one.

  44. i guess its natural for us australians, isolated on our little island down here, to be so biased and dumb when it comes to these kind of issues

  45. afl players have superior vision, awareness, their is alot more going on in football and you need awarness as their are bodies flying everywhere, which brings me to courage which is definately with afl players aswell as is the diversity of skills; kicking(drop punt, torp, snap), handballing, tackling, ability to be coordinated and skillful below the knees and above the head. the diversity of skills is far greater than basketball. not taking a shot at basketball just emphasising how many different skills are needed to create an elite afl player.

  46. What a terrible blog post. Of course you’re not going to be impressed by footballers as athletes if you essentially disregard their key athletic attribute.

    The whole reason that footballers aren’t as big, powerful, high-leaping etc. as basketballers is because if they were, they wouldn’t have the stamina to play the sport. It’s a trade-off. Doesn’t mean they’re lesser athletes. Just means their athletic prowess is honed in a different way.

    Your post makes out that determining who is the better athlete is about who ticks the most boxes on some arbitrary list of attributes you put together. By that logic the average NBA player is a better athlete than Usain Bolt or Michael Phelps.

    In reality what you are saying is not “basketballers are better athletes than footballers”. It’s “I place more value on the attributes required to succeed in my sport than I do on those required to succeed in other sports” – which is the same mindset of every American sports fan ever, who thinks they would totally win every World Cup ever if Kobe and LeBron grew up playing soccer.

    • It’s hardly an arbitrary list. They’re widely-accepted parameters of athleticism. Google SPARQ training.

      Of course LeBron James is a better athlete than Bolt or Phelps. It’s not even close. Bolt would run 100m, what, maybe 15% faster than LeBron, who would then jump higher than Bolt and have maybe 150% his strength and over 100% Bolt’s agility too. Endurance I wouldn’t want to hazard a guess but I’d say LeBron would win that too.

      Against Phelps? Every. Single. Measure. Of athleticism would be won by LeBron. Not even close. Unless the tests were held in water.

      I think you’re missing the point. ATHLETE DOES NOT EQUAL SPORTSPERSON. Rating different peoples’ athletic ability is something different altogether. Perhaps there are decathletes would would measure up to someone like Andre Iguodala in terms of sheer athleticism, but I’ve never heard of them.

      And finally, perhaps you can consider the article me placing emphasis on the attributes I find most “impressive”… which are speed, power, agility, strength, hand-eye coordination and endurance. And in every one of those attributes, NBA>AFL.

  47. Hey mike just thought i would let you know that alot if afl players played basketball at high levels and switched to football for the money, ive played against quite a few and all of them have turned out to be some of the better football players from my way. Scott pendleburry, jason gram, robert grey, xavier ellis, koby stevens, clay smith, jarrod roughhead to name a few. Played bball against them until they played a few games of football and got drafted. So at the end of the day football should be looking for basketball players….faster and more agile, better hops and have great awareness.

    • Hi Savs,

      Yes, I think the AFL is expanding its horizons to take in other sports, recognising that certain things can be taught, while other things cannot.

      A mid-low level NCAA basketballer (who was never even close to being an NBA player) was just picked up by North Melbourne on a trial, purely based on his combination of size and athleticism. The guy is 6’7″ and was near the top of every measure at the draft combine. It doesn’t matter that he’s older by a couple of years… it’s not as though the AFL kids are going to grow six inches after they turn 18, and if they do they’re certainly not maintaining their pace or agility.

      I’d say the two biggest intangibles that basketballers would be better than footy players in is hand-eye coordination and spacial awareness. Since basketball is played entirely in close-quarters, awareness of where bodies are and where they’re heading is more of an emphasis than in footy, with its open spaces and 50+ metre kicks. Similarly, most footy players at the top level have a good pair of hands, but the sport itself is still pretty forgiving of a skill error or a lost handle on the ball, since it’s likely to result in a 50-50 contest rather than a certain score concession. Basketball is different. Dropping a ball or not handling a pass is more likely to result in a score, so the emphasis on ball control (with the hands) is greater. That’s why Pendlebury’s basketball background comes up so often – when he displays that knack for getting his hands to the ball in traffic and using it cleanly… that separates him from most footy players, but it’s par for the course on a basketball court.

      • They give you the ball back, put mimimal pressure on you while you bring the ball back to within scoring range – are you kidding me the NBA is designed for highlight reels.

        Lets see if that NCAA player even get’s a game he wouldn’t have got drafted if he was 5″8 would he and he definitely won’t get a game if he can’t kick because in the afl they place an emphasis on not only stopping the other team from scoring, but also getting the
        ball back and keeping it off the other team?In the NBA they give it back to you every time they score you don’t have to go and get it yourself

        Pendlebury would be a great player even without having played basketball and there aren’t many players running around like him are there

  48. Enjoyed your provocative, artful and well reasoned piece of iconoclasm immensely.
    However (you knew that was coming, didn’tcha)…
    If “athleticism” has skill as one of it’s definitive components…
    Then your argument is inherently flawed.
    As a long term Aussie,expat residing here in the States (SoCal – Go Lakers!) and as someone who has played, and still follows, both footy and basketball, it is immediately apparent to me that both sports have unique skill sets that have reached spectacular and awesome standards in the AFl and NBL respectively.
    So…it’s not just a matter of super endurance that is impressive vis a vis an AFL footballer – it’s also about a player who is capable of catching, that is, marking, the ball via his ability to not only leap, but also to skilfully use an opponent’s body to propel himself to even greater and more spectacular heights – indeed, heights that are never achieved in basketball.
    And if “athleticism” also includes the ability to absorb extreme physical contact and still prevail as an element of it’s definition – and why would it not, for a sport such as boxing most certainly does – then one must also again be impressed with the “athleticism” of AFL players.
    Anyway, great writing, MoTD.
    Feel free to come visit – and to contribute your considerable skills – on The Collingwood Blog.
    There’s always room for a Tigger (or an Eeyore).

    • I disagree. Not only because you’re a filthy Laker fan, but also because something like skill cannot be considered an element of athleticism. Nor can “ability to absorb contact” be an element of athleticism.

      A great definition of athleticism can be found at

      Athleticism is a broad term for how we use our bodies. Skill is the specific usage in manipulating a ball/racquet.

  49. PS:

    Although a tad senile, I yet managed to note how you slipped in a conceptual slide during one of your replies to a critic:

    Namely, you exhort your adversary to “google” the term “SPARQ training” as the arbiter of what “athleticism” means.

    C’mon, MoTD…you know full well that “SPARQ® training” is merely “an acronym created by Nike,” albeit it is “gaining traction in gyms across the [USA]…”

    “This type of training builds better athletes — period,” says Chris Phillips, CSCS, a California-based performance coach and owner of Compete Performance ( “Speed, power, agility, reaction, and quickness (SPARQ) — those are the qualities of a good athlete.”

    Uh huh…

    So…rather than referring to an authoritative definitive source such as Oxford or Webster, you choose to go with a corporate marketing device AND some entrepreneur with a dog in the fight.

    Tch, tch…

    As the good doctor was wont to say: “How sneaky of you, Clarice.”


    • I read this article and was unsure if the author was just taking the piss or not – deliberately trying to piss off afl supporters because kudos to you mate it worked as seen by the comments above. I follow nba and used to play both footy and basketball before giving up footy to concentrate on basketball. I admit I enjoy watching nba over footy, my only concern was with the condescending tone of this article.

      For you to dismiss endurance as a lowly cousin of speed is ridiculous. Then to start questioning people about obscure facts about 1930’s long distance runners is completely irrelevant. I can tell by your article just what you regard endurance as by how you pretty much concede that afl players have better endurance and then state that nba players are better anyway.

      The title was inflammatory and I think you got the exact response you were looking for, and I’m not too sure what’s happened in the past that’s lead you to be so hostile to afl players but to disregard their athleticism is disrespectful to the effort they put in especially more so by someone who isn’t a professional sportsman themselves. I saw in a comment a bit up someone labeled you as a keyboard warrior and I concur, your well entitled to your opinions but to sit at your computer and venomously spout them is the definition of a keyboard warrior and i think you deserve the label and all its negative connotations, so pull your head in mate and pipe down.

      • Mike or the Don,

        The two games require similar physical attributes but in extremely different circumstances..

        Yes: The AFL players have a significantly higher ENDURANCE base than the NBA players, which is needed to cover the 160m x 141m (MCG) field, compared to the basketball court 28m x 15m..

        If you are going to compare Lebron to Buddy in these physical areas (speed, strength, leap, power) just be reminded that when Buddy sprints in a Game of AFL it is over 50 to 100m after he has been continually running for several minutes, compared to Lebron who sprints for 15m, after walking/defending for 45 seconds.. and you cant tell me that Lebron would beat buddy over 20m and definantly 100m..

        Strenght again is way too hard to compare with the two different sports, again the endurance factor will come into everything as AFL players would be more fatigued when they are fully exert all of these physical components as they are continually moving/running.

        Power: Buddy has pure running power between 2m and 5Km where as Lebron / basketballers have it from 2m to 100m max.. Upper body power will most likely go to BBallers due to their weight advantage.

        Leap: In terms of testing (vertical leap and running vertical leap) the NBA would take it, but I would love to see Lebron or Wade stand on someones head after running 16Km, on grass in boots and being tackled every 2 minutes..

        Overall the NBA have bigger Size, partly due to the lack of running needed as compared to AFL, therfor their bulk can be used on the court.

        In terms of Agility, I think anyone would look more agile on a basketball court than in footy boots on a cold winters night in Melbourne.. I dare say Rioli would turn some NBA heads.. AFL players whilst using agility are avoiding tackles as in NBA they are avoiding a block, not nearly the same situation!!

        You have provided some interesting hard facts for both sports and it has been very interesting to see your research but the sports are completely different and comparing physical athletes is unfair.. But in saying that if you were to judge Buddy and Lebron on the following I would go:

        Speed over 20m – BUDDY (AFL)
        Agility on Court Buddy (AFL)
        Agility on Grass Buddy (AFL)
        Endurance – Buddy (AFL)
        Upper Body Power – Lebron (NBA)
        Running Power – Buddy (AFL)
        Leap before running 2km – Lebron (NBA)
        Leap after running 16km – Buddy (AFL)
        Size – Lebron (NBA) due to lack of running in comparison to AFL (Buddy does not need that size)
        Strength before a full game of AFL or NBA- Lebron (NBA)
        Strength after a full game of NBA or AFL Buddy (AFL)

        AFL 8 defeats NBA 3.

        Yes Lebron is bigger and heavier than Buddy but in relation to their specific sports Lebron would be near average if not just above where as Buddy would be in the top 15% for combined height and weight in the AFL.

        I am not a Victorian so cant be that Biased as you say Melburnians are!!

        AFL have the relative exceptional physical edge over NBA.

        Like your research though.. This only took me 15 mins. Imagine the discussion if I took 3 hours like you!!

      • I disagree with you on everything.

        It’s not even close. From an athletic standpoint, LeBron James might be the most impressive physical specimen on the planet today. Buddy Franklin is not.

        It is actually causing me to slap my forehead reading your comment. It’s ludicrous.

  50. AFL supporters have been doomed to lose this argument since you first wrought it. Simply because your definitions of athleticism are geared towards the sport of your preference and the burden of proof is whether or not you’re impressed. I stood at the rim of the Grand Canyon and heard a six year old tell his mother he was bored – he didn’t value the enormity of the giant crater in the face of the earth… to tell you the truth, he didn’t find it all that impressive.
    The problem when facing your understanding of athleticism is that your article was written with an agenda. You yourself establish you’re fed up with Australian attitudes to AFL – and based on your continual effort to respond to critics I’d say that your article is not so much an objective comparison, but a message designed to get one up on supporters. It is not at all surprising that the weight given to certain aspects of athleticism then favour your preferred sport.
    The chief problem I see with your understanding of athleticism is that it is geared for Basketball players. Vertical leap would be perhaps the best example. By taking star basketball players and then creating criteria that is valued by that sport, it is by no means unexpected that they excel at those conditions. However, your understanding of athleticism is as narrow as it is flawed.
    For instance, if we were to approach this discussion ad absurdum and reduce our ability to be ‘impressed’ to the most narrow definition – one attribute, then Basketball players wouldn’t rate a single mention. Vertical leap goes to High Jumpers. Strength goes to professional weight lifters. Endurance goes to marathon runners. Speed goes to professional sprinters (though I certainly pose the question – over what distance?). Power could be argued to go to boxers. Even within your measurement of these attributes I find amusement. ‘Check out this picture of this ripped player – he’s pretty strong’ – well I find that interesting. Swimmers are renowned for their strength and endurance, yet their body type and shape doesn’t give us that indication – the nature of their sport maintaining a layer of ‘fat’ for warmth and other aspects of the nature of their exercise. I wonder how LeBron would compare to Ian Thorpe in a pool – but then Ian Thorpe isn’t really an impressive athlete – isn’t anywhere near as ripped, tall and probably hasn’t got as good a vertical leap.
    In the same way, the Sports Science Lab sees Balance as being one of the chief attributes of an athlete. In which case professional cyclists and gymnasts would have a great laugh at many of your average NBA players. Hand-eye coordination and reflexes are also important for athletic ability. So yes, your Chinese Badminton players and table tennis athletes are technically better specimens than LeBron James if we choose to use that as our criteria. What makes any sport excellent is how well athletes perform within its given area of expertise – and that area of expertise plays a large impact on the body type and shape of its players.
    Jockeys are undeniably elite athletes – their sport requires them to develop skills and bodies to perform at their chosen skill, to say they’re inferior to NBA stars is only to say that they’re inferior under your criteria – a criteria you’ve developed to show how good Basketballers really are. In the same way, in AFL endurance is MASSIVE, a fact that you frequently concede and if we look at the epitome of endurance (marathon runners) it becomes clear that endurance often strips weight and equally builds very different muscles to your typical weight lifter. It is not unsurprising that AFL players don’t always look as buff as NBA stars, because the nature of their sport calls for a different body type. Does that make their body type inferior? Only if we use your criteria. You calmly dispose of skill as a factor in this debate, yet the skills required of an athlete determine their attributes. The average AFL player is required to sprint, tackle, kick to a finesse level, jump, catch and pass for an extended period of time. NFL teaches us that being massive is good for tackling, but we know this isn’t the case in AFL – because the ideal athlete for this sport isn’t a professional tackler, they are required to engage in a number of other activities equally well. The same applies to size, Lewis Jetta is not a big man – I’d rather get tackled by him than LeBron James, sure – but that does not diminish his athletic ability. The reason he excels at his sport, and the reason he is IN the AFL is because he excels at the skills the sport requires – and his speed, endurance and fine motor skills would be far superior to many NBA stars – even if his size isn’t. Your failure to be impressed with AFL athleticism is because you’re pretending that they’re NBA stars. They’re not.
    The integration of so many aspects of athleticism in each player, speed, endurance, kicking, marking, tackling is what makes AFL stars so impressive – not just how much they bench press, the size of their biceps or whether they’re as tall as basketballers. Of course when you look at AFL players in terms of the qualities you value in a Basketball star you’ll find them inferior to Basketball stars. If LeBron James is the benchmark, LeBron James is going to be the best – surely your skills at physics can stoop to this logic.
    Horses for courses has been said enough on this topic, but I don’t think it’s been fully appreciated. Table tennis players astound me with their reflexes and co-ordination and Union players with their bulk and strength – both are impressive athletes, yet neither are impressive if compared under the criteria of their opposite sport. It seems to me you prefer NBA players as athletes because you like basketball, yet a soccer scout would take one look at him and turn away. You’re failure to be impressed with AFL stars isn’t based on their inferior athletic ability, but on your disillusionment with some fans and a criteria you’ve created to make LeBron James look like God.

      • It’s an interesting point, but I think the crux of my argument remains valid: I’m not impressed by AFL players because NBA players are simply much more impressive in almost every way.

        Now I can look at an NBA player and think “Wow. He’s strong. But compared to Olympic weightlifters, his strength is not impressive.”

        But I can always fall back on the “I suppose the NBA player will have to console themselves with being faster, more agile etc etc etc”

        The reason this article has returned so much bile is that AFL fans don’t like the suggestion that their heroes aren’t as fast, strong or tanked as they think. Those are important things for AFL fans. It feels nice to think your favourite team is full of supermen who make other men tremble in fear. But then you stand Jonathan Brown next to any PF or C in the NBA and you think… “Huh… Jonno’s not so big. He’s not so strong. And geez, a hell of a lot of them are faster than him too… Dang…”

  51. NBA players may be superior athletes, but when taking into account that they only have to exert any form of power,speed,agility once in one contest for a duration of about 30seconds in 4- 12 minute qtrs while walking half of the time ( they average about 4.5 kilometres a game my grandmother could do that in 48minutes )

    AFL players do it repeatedly over 2 hours in 4, 30 minute halves and they run further than any other mainstream professional sportsmen in the world averaging 14.5kms.

    I’d like to see LeBron front up to Buddy or Dwayne front up to Hurley over 14.5kms for 2 hours non stop.Most athletes look spectacularly good with no pressure on them for most of the time they are on court.

    So in answering you ( Afl palyers are not impressive athletes)- So what neither are NBA players

  52. I’ve just been reading your article and was half way through when it dawned upon me… you didn’t make reference to one caucasian basketballer! So you’re argument isn’t about which sport has the better athletes, it’s which race are more athletic… we’ve all seen african-americans compete in the olympic games and there is no doubt about the speed and power they possess. Look at our indigenous footballers… they do things that have to be seen to be believed. So in future when comparing sports then compare the australian athletes to one another, not race vs race or country versus country… if you can do that then you may just make a compelling argument one day. Cheers big ears! ;o)

    • Firstly, basketball is by far my favourite sport in the world and I love it the NBA way more than the AFL. Though I enjoy both sports.

      I think that if you want to compare players on ‘like-for-like’ athletic terms, it’s best to look at the athletics in the Olympics. There we clearly see which country produces the best athletes.

      Having said that, the AFL really does produce a unique style of athlete because of the nature of the sport – big, strong, agile guys who have to run long distances. It really does require a lot physically from the players and I admire what they leave on the pitch each and every game.

      NBA players do show tremendous speed and strength, but only ever in spurts because of the size of the court. It’s much easier to run at full speed over the lenght of a basketball court then it is over an AFL oval.

      Having said all that, I have no doubt that if the USA were to put together their best AFL athletes, they would have no trouble beating the Aussies at this sport. Just look at the results in the track & field.

      • But didn’t I pretty robustly establish that NBA players are bigger and stronger (and more agile if we’re honest)… which relegates the feats of AFL players to “Wow, they do it a long time over long distance!”

  53. Comparing a non contact sport with little endurance to a full contact sport where endurance is the core of the game is not going to be fair or even valid.

    You can chime in all you like about how much of a freak Lebron is and how much bigger NBA players are, but at the end of the day a fair comparison can only be like for like. Otherwise it just comes across as stupid fanboy ranting.

    Maybe if you took the time to research this properly and compared actual data (you know facts?) you may get somewhere! To say someone like Buddy doesn’t even compare to Lebron is like saying steak doesn’t compare to lamb….

  54. I enjoy both sports, I must say of course an nba players vertical leap is going to be higher because the standing vertical leap is utilised far more in nba for rebounds, dunks blocks etc.
    and it is a well known fact the average african american has more fast twitch fibres compared to us white fellas that have more red twitch fibres. White twitch fibres contract a lot faster than red hence extra speed and power, red fibres are more based on endurance hence our game is highly based on endurance. Overall they are two different games based on two different races almost. I found it interesting to see both sports had similar running vertical jump comparisons however nba clearly won the standing vertical jump. The afl breaks even here because the running vertical leap is used in marking whereas the standing vertical is used in rebounds in nba and not often at all in afl. So goes to show we are as good athletes in areas that directly apply to our sport unlike the standing vertical jump. I will state overall that nba players can and do have freakish athletic abilities as do afl players but in more concentrated areas such as endurance and the running leap

  55. The need for endurance in AFL works against developing the other aspects of athleticism you admire in NBA. Balancing of slow twitch vs fast twitch muscle fibers and balancing of energy expenditure needs. eg Explosive power as required by modern NBA generally requires building explosive muscle mass = more weight (and no more bean poles) which requires more wattage to carry which = less endurance capacity.

    You are comparing physical attributes which often countermand each other.

  56. I am not going to sit here and argue about Wichita sport is better or harder, because I have grown up with football and have grown to like basketball. But I will laugh at your ignorance to compare to completely different sports. For one the AFL is only at the moment a national sport and you compare it with a international Olympic sport. Secondly I am not completely sure of the numbers so I will not try and sound smart by using them but I think that the average NBA earns more than the best AFL player. So I would think that an inspiring or present NBA player would have the facilities and resources that would give them a massive edge in most physical traits that you speak off. You use NBA players height as a main argument, there is a reason that there is not a massive number of 7ft players running around in the AFL, it’s cause they are not the right build for the endurance game that the AFL is. Don’t get me wrong I think you are right with your arguments but, learn to appreciate the qualities an athlete needs for there respective sport and do not compare oranges with apples

  57. there’s a couple of things you forgot to mention shane. 1) basketball players compete on an arena which is not even 1/10 of a small afl field. how much power and burst would the basketballers have after running flat out for 150 metres and then sprint for another 50m trying to mark a ball. not much i think. 2) basketball players dont use their entire body for various movements as often as afl players do and most of them get to rest on both offence and defence as they pass the ball around… how tired can a proffesional athlete get running max 5m circular patterns 20 seconds at a time. 3) if you had played a proper game of afl you would understand how much energy it takes from your legs to kick a ball 50 – 60 metres with enough penetration so that the opposition has minimal chance of touching the ball. as a doctor i can vehemently tell you a basketballer couldnt even finish a quarter of their own sport if iy was played on a court the size of a forward 50 of an afl field. 4) lebron as good a athlete he is with his awe inspiring 113kgs of pure muscle would struggle to shoot a 3 pointer if he had someone like glen archer hip and shouldering him at full speed for a 120 mins. 5) you mention slam dunks… have you ever seen the contenders for marks of the year ciuld a basketballer dunk the ball after leading and jumping on the onto the shoulders of a 6″5′ human being with a ball coming in from great distances and have other players at the same height trying to punch the ball away or go running back with the flight of the ball not knowing who is going to steamroll you with eyes only on the ball ala jonathan brown… 6) how many basketball players have you known of continuing the game after suffering concussions and torn ligaments on the same day ala adam goodes last years grand final. or play a grand final like a beast with punctured lungs like robert dipermendico for hawthorn….. the one quality you have overlooked in your love for the over marketed hype of the nba while comparing it with afl is COURAGE… this is the quality with which many lesser talented athletes have taken down giants throughout history and the one quality afl players have in spades over their nba coubterparts and the reason they would kick their ass on any sporting field any time any day anywhere around the world. mMIND OVER MATTER MATE

  58. seems like a bit of an unhealthy obsession maybe you should just enjoy the games and not over analyse it. i dont think it really matters if a basketball player is .3 of a meter faster, unless of course it turns you on a little bit, sounds like it might

  59. While i agree with your agrument that on average the NBA players are larger, can jump higher, sprint faster and so on i dont think your arugment is as strong as you think. i have just finsihed studdying physical education at uni and you cant compare the two sports for one reason. You state that the NBA players are faster and stronger, well yes they are but those two components of sport are trained into them for years and years making them elite sprinters and jumpers but they lack the endurance an AFL player has.
    YES YOU HAVE SAID THAT BUT KEEP READING (bit of your style in there <)

    If you wanted to be an elite sprinter you would only train your anerobic systems which means yes you have a greater power but that means your aerobic capacity suffers because as you only train one half or your systems the other will fall below. so the NBA players train to be powerful and the AFL players train to be Powerful while keeping their aerobic base strong. There have been cases of when AFL players get to 'massive' and in the case of the Adelaide Crow legend Mark Ricciuto in one year he was too big and strong yes that had a good effect in a pack or a tackle but he lacked the speed needed to break through groups and out sprint others. So he slimmed down and he balanced strength with endurace with speed.
    So NBA players only train for speed and power making them jump further and run faster. while AFL players train to also have endurance this reduces their power and speed. So really you cannot compare the two sports because they train completely different asspects of sport.
    FINAAALLY it has been proven that West Africans have a greater amount of sprinting fibres ( fast twitch) and a lower percentage of endurance fibres ( slow twitch) so already they have a power advantage over the AFL players (please no rasicism intended facts are facts). Secondly they have longer limbs which means the muscles have a greater length meaning they can excert the same amount of power over a longer lever. the best example of this is usain bolt he has the same leg speed as the other olympic sprinters but his longer levers (legs) make him the ultimate running machine! It has also been proven that by average caucasians have a larger lung volume making them more efficent endurance athletes.

    SOOO in conclusion NBA players are hard wired to be faster and stronger and thats why a large proportion or NBA players are black (no rasicism intended). While the AFL players who by the greater number are caucasians are better endurance atheletes. therefore your aguement is a bit silly its like comparing apples to oranges. Please dont think im just a bias aussie i am a lover of sport and i think that NBA players are fucking amazing at thier sport and i think that AFL players are equally as amzing in their field.

  60. i think there is also one other aspect that would make a difference and that is afl players get constant hits and tackles as it is more of a contact sport(not saying basketball is soft) and so footballers have to be able to cope with that as well as afl being a longer game so there athletic attributes are fine tuned to the specifics of there sport much like basket ball being a more explosive sport played in a smaller game area. what i am saying is that afl players have to run over larger distance at high speeds whilst taking constant high level contact from opponents.

  61. All of your arguments are superficial at best, and this is coming from an NBA fan. It’s true that the NBA attracts some of the world’s most elite athletic talent, nobody is doubting that, but there are so many variables at play here, one cannot simply say that the AFL is inferior. For starters, as agile as a Rondo, or a Derrick Rose might be, nobody has seen them move in the context of an AFL game (ie with their head over the ball, ducking through a congested midfield in the rain, something that an ‘un-athletic’ Sam Mitchell seems custom built for). That’s a different kind of athleticism, one that can’t translate into the NBA. Sam Mitchell, was blessed with physical gifts (short, stocky, low centre-of-gravity) that allow him to excel in that particular role, which is the very definition of an athlete. But even so, you cannot deny the physical abilities of some of the game’s premier talent. Sure the AFL has recently become a bit overly enthusiastic in jumping on the Lance Franklin/ Nic Nat, ‘mobile big man’ bandwagon, but that’s not to say that the NBA has the AFL beat in every other athletic category, have you looked at Carmelo Anthony lately? What about Glen Davis? At 27 years of age and at 6’8, Lebron would have probably already suffered enough injuries to permanently inhibit his athleticism, had he been a ruckman in the AFL. Your argument seems to be more of a provincial one rather than a statistical one, as it’s common knowledge that the AFL has for years nurtured the cream of Australia’s athletic crop, much to the detriment of our olympic track and field teams. By saying AFL players are not impressive athletes, you are inadvertantly saying that Australia produces second rate athletes, which is simply not the case. Patty Mills outrunning the entire USA basketball team end to end will attest to this. And there is no way that anybody this side of Usain Bolt is getting anywhere near Lewis Jetta, not John Wall, not D-Rose….nobody.

  62. I suppose you wrote this because you were wondering why AFL was so damn popular. You thought c’mon guys it’s not that special, its not like they’re the most outstanding athlete’s in the world. So What. There are like 90 million african americans to choose from – who have a biological advantage over caucasians in terms of athleticism, you can’t deny that. Naturally there’s going to be some big, fit, strong, fast, agile, explosive blokes out there. There are also some bloody good white and asian NBA players, don’t get me wrong, but lets think about the hundreds of millions of those around the world that like basketball – you’re bound to find the odd good one. The AFL has like 6 million scrawny white guys in its population pool (let’s face it NSW and QLD don’t count). Considering that I’d say the AFL is putting on a pretty good show. I personally don’t think that NBA players work nearly as hard as AFL players to get where they are, they are simply born with these freakish attributes, like the bloke in the first picture, someone clearly just found him on the street, saw that he could walk in a straight line and said, oath mate have you ever heard of basketball? So why should I be impressed by watching these freaks of nature strut their stuff. These blokes who earn so much money they don’t even have the respect to stay in the athlete’s village at the olympics. Meh.
    So why is the AFL is the most attended professional sport league per capita in the world? Because the players are normal people, a lot of them study or have jobs outside of footy, yet they still play an intense game with an amazing amount of skill and strength and stamina considering the population pool. A game where the last minute isn’t the only minute worth watching. A game where more than one goal is scored per game. A game where they don’t swap the entire team every time the ball exchanges hand. A game where they don’t where pads that cover every inch of their body. A game where they don’t fall over and scream when they are brushed by a mosquito somewhere near the penalty area. A game that’s not decided by who has the fattest forward pack of blokes they found on the street. A game that is decided by which team is hungrier, which team has worked harder, which team works together, which team is more courageous, which team puts on a show nobody thought they had in them. Carn the Tiges.

  63. Mate I hate both of these peasant sports, but of course bball players will have better agility, strength, power and speed over the short distances than afl players as they require (and therefore develop) more fast twitch fibres. Also the huge advantage of height in bball (where it is only a slight advantage in afl) makes your comments about greater size (and therefore weight) redundant.

    If it helps, any rower would destroy these ‘athletes’ in absolute VO2 max and anaerobic lactic power (and strength power tests like cleans, squats), whilst cyclists VO2 per kg of bodyweight would shame them once again.

    Why bother comparing physical traits of 2 vastly different sports in the first place?

  64. MIikeOrTheDon,
    It is clear that you have huge crush on the NBA. I also love the athletes running around in their league but i hate to have to say (as a qualified exercise scientist) that AFL athletes have the greatest all round athleticism of any sportsmen on the planet. Your elite AFL midfielder has a VO2 max of 65 Mmol/L (around 10%) better than any NBA player. You repeatedly say that NBA players are stronger and more powerful. I dont disagree that they are more powerful (average vertical jumps of around 85 cm) however test results of NBA players are of fully developed men who have been through world class college training facilities. whereas AFL combine results are of 17-18 year old boys who have limited training history. One would suspect AFL players who are fully developed with a complete training history would be far more competitive in power tests when compared to NBA players. Also speed is a consideration that may or may not have been discusssed? Even so elite AFL players would easily compare in this department sub 2.8 second 20m sprint times is extrodinary especially when it is matched with a Vo2 max of 65+ and that an elite AFL midfielder (180-188cm) weighs around 85-90 kgs. NBA players of the same height weigh the same if not less (so are not stronger more powerful etc as you have argued). Also i would like to say that the picture you showed comparing Dwayne wade (ripped unit) to Michael Hurley is ridiculous. You picked one of the most ripped NBA players and placed him next to one of the most injury prone and sloppest AFL players running around (also has 10 years less training history than Wade). So you are a flogger for doing this. A more appropriate comparison would be of Ben cousins and Dwayne Wade but this wouldnt have fit your arguement as well i suppose….Flog

    • You started out so well, beanbag, and then it all went South.

      Comparing the VO2 Max is a legitimate comparison, and it’s a comparison in which I’m sure AFL players would comprehensively come out on top.

      Then you get a bit derailed. You start comparing AFL players with NBA players of the same size. However, the stats are in – there are not that many NBA players who are the same size. The averages are shockingly disparate. NBA players are much, much bigger men. So as I’ve said before, I couldn’t care less if Robin Nahas has great power-weight ratio and is a stellar tackler for his size… that wouldn’t matter one iota against an average sized NBA player at 6’7″ and 100-odd kg.

      Dwyane Wade is pretty solid but I wouldn’t call him ripped. Someone like Nate Robinson (shorter than Ben Cousins but more ripped, heavier, faster and with a vertical leap off the charts) is a more apt comparison.

  65. afl players are more physically fit so get over your self and i see a lot of basket ballers who barely have any muscle compared to afl players.

  66. NBA also win the award hands down for belonging to the most widely hated nation in the world… and I do have the stats to back that up. Now that is something to be proud of!

  67. I agree.

    I’m waiting and desperately hoping that an AFL club drafts even just a college basketball player from the states. Some 200cm+ tall 105kg+ Afro-American whose athleticism opens the eyes of AFL to what could be. Would be awesome.

  68. Hey,
    I’m only 15 however I have been growing up with both afl and basketball my whole life. You do make very good points about how basketball is better and has better athletes however you do have to relise that basketball specificly NBA has hundreds of millions of dollars in it meaning they can have the highest quality training and other sources to improve the players ability. Secondly afl is only played in Australia wich is has around 300 million less people than USA let alone the mainly other countries that play this sport. I’m sure that if the afl open its wings to play in other countries you argument of the athleticism of Alfa players would change. Australians arnt generally know as a incredibly athetic bunch arnt they. Compare the Aussie basketball league to the AFl. Know which sport looks better. Finally I would like to say that if those same people who play nba grew up playing afl u would say the same thing but to afl.

  69. I have to preface this by saying that I love NBA, and am an avid Celtics fan.
    Firstly, I’ll ignore your bias and misleading ‘facts’, i.e, clever selection of who is the ‘fastest’ runner in the AFL, in terms of agility and endurance, let’s not forget that going coast to coast on an NBA court is 28.65m whereas going coast to coast on the MCG is a whopping 171m!
    Furthermore, without including stoppages/interruptions for either, a standard NBA game is 63 minutes whereas AFL games are 100 minutes.

    Secondly, calling NBA a “non-contact” sport when comparing it to AFL is absolutely laughable. Show me an NBA game where almost every player gets thrown to the ground consistently (and I don’t mean just fall over), and if they do, do they have to keep playing/running as normal?
    I also have to point out that NBA is played on polished wooden floorboards, whereas AFL is played on turf, which factors how much ground resistance players have when running.

    So, in conclusion, AFL players have to run further, for longer, under more physically demanding conditions (because of tackling, grass pitch as opposed to polished wood).
    I’m not saying that NBA players are necessarily inferior to AFL, however, to call AFL players “meh” in comparison is just nonsensical.

  70. Amazing read but it’s odd how people bring up the ‘manly’ argument here when they haven’t really thought about just how manly these NBA guys are.

    Let’s not forget where these huge 6’8ft players come from !

    More often than not these guys are coming out of the projects and regardless of being highly financially unstable for a huge part of their upbringing they still manage to shine in adversity and get to the NBA.
    I think that says something about their manliness.

    I also believe that the shit talking in AFL would send a NBA player wild, for example when Kevin Garnett told Camelo Anthony he’d fuck his wife resulting in Camelo being ejected and then waiting for Kevin outside near the Celtics bus after the game. Now when has that happened in AFL ?

    It’s a different sport, true but AFL just isn’t up to par when it comes to anything but endurance.

    NBA takes the cake.

  71. i am 16 and i play football and basketball at the state level. i am one of the better players at both. i hve to say baketball if they were to last as long as the afl they would be the same. look at andrew bogut he is an aussie and athletic for his size if he play is australia. but compared to dwight howard he is nothing. basketball is quick ut u still get hit hard. afl last longer and u run longer and u also have to keep getting up after each hit.
    but to compare the athletes bball players are better at some things yet afl players are etter at others

  72. I think the main failing point of your argument is that you choose to use a few specific indicators of athleticism, yet strength, speed (which you generalise as burst short-distance sprint speed), and vertical leap are all closely interrelated. There is a reason that 100m sprinters are muscular, and marathon runners are light. It is because you need the strength and power to obtain short distance speed.

    The argument for AFL players that they’re the most well-rounded athletes is not outrageous, given they are required to run at least 8-10km per match, consisting of sprints of various distances, from 2m all the way to 150m or even 400m in the case of repeat leads. On top of this they are required to tackle and bump other players, be tackled, and use the bodies/weight in marking contests. They must also be tall enough, or have a good enough vertical leap to compete in marking contests. And there is not much room to hide for players without all of most of these athletic attributes, maybe only room for 2 or 3 (usually a ruckmen and a less mobile key forward or defender) on a team of 18 players.

    If you want to include strength, power, short distance speed, and vertical leap can I suggest we also include 200m, 400m, 800m, 1500m and 10 000m. And it is not even until 10 000m that they are really considered endurance events.

  73. Good arguments just wondering if the stats comparing draft results from Australian basketballers match up as the USA has a talent pool greater than our population

  74. I’ve played both Aussie Rules and basketball at a representative level. At 200cm I consider myself reasonably agile for my size, but nothing spectacular. I think what is true is that with NBA, or basketball as a global sport, you get more players of the game around the 7ft mark to chose from. AFL may have to select from just a few ‘very talls’ each year, whereas NBA selects from a huge pool. As a result the NBA can select the cream of the crop. Nonetheless, Aussie Rules players did not lack any of the skill when playing the game: they hit hard, were agile, and could leap. I actually found Aussie Rules mentally tougher and more demanding. Furthermore, there is something about playing on a big field that makes one seemingly less agile. I was quite quick over a metre, which is something I could utilise in basketball, but not always in AFL. So this article undermines a whole lot of things about the way AFL is played, and I imagine, even the way basketball is played. As noted by others with Dean Brogan and Kurt Tippett, I was amazed by how many of my basketball friends seemed less agile on the football field compared with others. I am impressed by the NBA, but equally by the AFL, and GAA for that matter.

  75. Couldn’t leave this without pulling the author up on basic misinterpretations that result in a completely broken argument.

    NBA players are quicker over shorter distances -because- they carry more bulk, not in spite of it. The athletic profile of an AFL player sacrifices anaerobic muscle mass to pick up endurance. Relative to a sprinter, a basketballer picks up mass to aid with inertia, to plant and pivot more effectively etc. But they are closer physically to a sprinter than an AFL player is.

    You are looking at athletes with bodies prepared to play different sports, and attempting to compare them directly. Doesn’t work. To play AFL football, Lebron James would have to shift his training profile dramatically. He would shed mounds of weight, lose ability to press in different directions so suddenly, sacrifice vertical leap. He would cease quite starkly to be what he is in the NBA, and become something else. To assess Buddy Franklin the basketballer, we are asking what Franklin looks like with an additional 15kg on his frame, with that mass and strength differently distributed, different training program, a fundamentally different athlete.

    This is one of the dumbest articles I’ve ever read.

    • Notice how there is a few arguments (yours included) that Shane just can’t counter. Funny how he doesn’t have the knowledge to know that different sports need different attributes and body types meaning Lebron James would need to run about 10k a day for a couple of months and adjust his diet to be a full forward of the afl!

      • LBJ would win a Coleman in his 2nd year. He would camp within 20m of goal, EASILY outsprint/outmuscle/outleap anyone in the AFL, and pop through 90+ goals from 20m out, straight in front.

      • Ahhhh see this is where your arguments aren’t strong because you lack knowledge of the afl. If you watch afl (which you don’t) you would know that the modern game doesn’t allow massive guys just wrestling with their smaller back men in a one on one marking contest. The days are gone where the likes of Jason dunstall, tony Lockett are isolated and out body their one opponent. Yes lebron is incomparably quicker and can jump higher etc but what I’m saying is that with the modern game lbj would be lucky to “pop through” 40 goals a year. And oh yeah, I forgot to mention Lebron might be a little bit scared if he entered the afl (players get suspended for acting for free kicks)

  76. Hey everyone (except Shane who doesn’t know what he’s talking about). Why the hell is our Olympic basketball team so weak? Surely they could hit the gym more. If AFL, League and Union teams can build muscle and endurance what the hell is going on with Ozzie basketball? They can only seem to hold it together for about a quarter (fitness and physically) against the USA. I can’t believe we couldn’t do better with the players we got without a bit of strength training.

    • My point is that AFL teams CAN’T build muscle and endurance… at least not muscle on the same level as in the NBA. There is precisely one player in the AFL who would even compare to Andrew Bogut’s size, and that’s the tallest and heaviest player in AFL History, Aaron Sandilands.

      Anyone else, anyone at all, would not budge Bogut in a marking contest. Again (for what feels like the millionth time) I’m not saying Bogut would WIN the marking contest since that is a sport-specific skill… I’m saying that he has the physical strength to overpower any AFL player (strength being non-sport-specific).

      Oh, and keep an eye out for Ben Simmons, the kid from Melbourne who’ll be in the NBA in the next year or two. Bigger than any AFL Draftee by a fair way, coordinated, athletic, explosive, strong…

      If he played AFL he’d be banned for not giving the other U18 players a fair chance. In basketball circles? He’s impressive but not otherworldly.

  77. I do find afl players impressive but compared to many other worldwide sports their athletecism isn’t anything special, it’s the way they put their bodies on the line willing to do anything for the team, I love watching footy and also a mad Richmond supporter, but I follow basketball too and agree with you about nba players amazing physical abilities, I think afl falls behind basketball in athleticism because vertical leap and agility and quickness isn’t needed yet in the sport but they are forever improving on their fitness in afl (Wirrpanda, Lockette, Whitnall) afl is changing a lot and maybe in the future we could have athletes just as impressive as the ones in the nba and then imagine how great afl would be to watch…

  78. just wanted to add a few things to this argument. I would like to state that I would agree that NBA generally display more athleticism. I’ve seen a couple of statements thrown around that are just a bit off.

    1. ‘Shaquille O Neal is not the only 7’1″, 135kg monster in the world. If that’s all it took to make $300million plus endorsements in an NBA career, why can’t they all do the same?’

    If you’re over 7feet in the USA, there is a 17% chance you play in the NBA (0.07% of people in the USA are over 7feet), look it up. So in a lot of occasions, yes that is all it takes for an NBA career sometimes

    2. ‘How many times in an AFL game do you go “OOOOOOOOOOOH THAT’S GOTTA HURT!”… I’d say (generously) 5 or 6 times.’

    that is a grand understatement. After playing an ok level of footy I can tell you that that is a gross understatement. You do not get anywhere near that sherrin without being bumped or tackled multiple times, not to mention all the bumping chasing and wrestling going on behind play. There are very few moments in a game of footy that you are not physically hurting. This just tells me you’ve never played the game.

      • “The curve shaped by the CDC’s available statistics, however, does allow one to estimate the number of American men between the ages of 20 and 40 who are 7 feet or taller: fewer than 70 in all. Which indicates, by further extrapolation, that while the probability of, say, an American between 6’6″ and 6’8″ being an NBA player today stands at a mere 0.07%, it’s a staggering 17% for someone 7 feet or taller.”

        so that confirms my point?

      • The estimate is 17% of men between 20 and 40… so that’s a smaller pool… and even then you simply said that’s all it takes.

        Luke Schenscher and Chris Anstey are Australians over 7 feet tall. They both made the NBA. Just.

        Shaq didn’t just make the NBA. He’s the most dominant Centre of all time.

        Slight difference.

  79. Grab a basketball player and a footy player, put them on a track to run 8 kilometre, then put them into their chosen sport and see you can perform better physically (strength, agility, speed, etc.)

  80. Very provocative title. Firstly I love to watch any exciting ball sport and I think basketball is full of amazingly talented athletes as are the sports of Ice Hockey and Soccer in particular. But at the end of the day I think you are having a go at AFL, the game, not really the players and that will get any true AFL supporter riled……especially those in Melbourne. Given that AFL has only been fully professional for less than 30 years and had its first national draft in1986 should give you some idea of the state of development of AFL players into athletes compared with the NBA. Add to that the incomparable salaries of the two sports and it is quite incredible that you might choose to pick this topic in the first place. But let’s forget the intricate player comparisons for a second. AFL blows every other team ball sport out of the water NOT ONLY because of the OVERALL physical superiority of its athletes to all other sports on the planet, but AFL players must ALSO cope with extreme weather conditions from tropical storms and to near 0 degrees playing OUTSIDE on fields that do not have exactly the same playing surface (sand or soil base) or exactly the same dimensions.
    The AFL field of play dwarfs that of any other team ball sport and the players need to be not only amazing athletes but also extremely dexterous and be able to read the play of a game that has 36 people on a field with no off-side rule. And just to add to the degree of difficulty, the ball is oval! I have watched plenty of basketball throughout my life……..from Larry Bird, Shaquille, M.J., to Lebron, so don’t get me wrong, the NBA is a good sport, but my 2 year old can work out where a bouncing basketball is going! Seriously though, just because those NBA guys are taller and heavier and have a couple of stats that SAY they are better “athletes” than the AFL players does not even mean that they could play the great game of AFL, let alone be better at it than the players of the modern day! There are some very good tall and heavy current players HOWEVER,
    one of the TRULY wonderful things about AFL is the fact that the taller, heavier teams do not necessarily win a game. Some of AFL’s greatest champions have been some of the smallest players on their teams both past and present. Shane Crawford, Gavin Wanganeen, John Platten, Brent Harvey, Barry Cable, Kevin Bartlett, Darrel Baldock, Bill Hutchison, Dick Reynolds, Kieren Jack, Chad Wingard, Richard Douglas, Paul Puopolo to same but a few.
    Anyway, I imagine that in the NBA as in the AFL, it’s not necessarily the fastest, strongest player that is going to be the best, but rather the smartest and most efficient. In another 30 years I think your comparison will be very different. In the meantime, long live sport…..particularly AFL!!

  81. Hey man just wanted to point out that basketball has litterally about 200-300 times more players/draftees in the talent pool to chose from. This makes people (like LeBron) work harder throughout their teenage years to get to the top. Im 17 and I play Aussie rules and I’m hoping to make the big time eventually (ps if you have any AFL contacts let me know by email! And I’ll give you my details/testing results!). I’m a massive fan of basketball, especially LeBron and Drose, and rondo as well haha. But the pool is simply bigger, all basketball competitions in the world feed into the NBA. Whereas AFL is just Australians predominantly (Australia has the same population at NY city itself haha). So yeah consider that man!

  82. Well this looks like a good old fashioned dick measuring contest. Tall black guys normally win them. Therefore, NBA!

    Enough with stereotype jokes. In all seriousness I think the AFL fans are a bit precious when it comes to criticism of anything to do with ‘their’ sport and seem to think anyone that does not think it is the best sport in the world is fucked in the head. I agree with you that LeBron’s combination of all around athleticism AND skill makes him almost untouchable in terms of cross sport comparisons, as difficult and stupid as I normally find them…
    However, being a basketball player and huge NBA fan and an AFL fan I think your missing a couple of crucial things.

    Athleticism could really be viewed/measured/tested from 2 perspectives:

    [a] Explosive [40m sprints, verts etc ]
    [b] Endurance [beep test, 3km]

    Virtually every sport requires a combination of these. Which is more important basically depends on your sport and then what position you play within the team. So it really comes down to the sport as to what measurement of your ‘athleticism’ is more important. What I’m getting at is that I think you undersold the importance of endurance, I certainly understand the point you are trying to make with some of freakish athletes the NBA has and certainly understand the frustrations of supporting basketball in AFL dominant state [W.A.] and am not trying to stir things up. But I think you might have undersold the importance of endurance. I personally, I think the it is ridiculous that the NBA draft camp overlooks testing a players aerobic fitness and simply focuses on body measurements and explosive tests when teams are meant to invest potentially millions of dollars in there 1st contract. But hey, what do I know…

  83. Your whole lebron argument is invalid as lebron is in fact not an earthly being. How does a man leap 44″ weighing 113kg it is ridiculous. On a more serious note the physical attributes required for both sports are completely different, and America has a population of more than 300 million, Australia about 23 million. If Australia had a similar population to America there’d be a lot more footy players who are freaks of nature with lebron-esque qualities in the afl. That being said nba players also play up to 4 times a week, every week, to play in the nba requires better raw physical athleticism than required to play afl.

  84. Supports Richmond – pretty much explains the time of the whole article. How could you possibly be inspired to love AFL…
    Players are champions at their respective sports because different sports require different mixes of physical traits and skills. Stop comparing them and stop being an argumentative condescending douchebag. Respect and celebrate players of all sports – your favorite sport is simply your favorite, it doesn’t make it better it just makes it the one you prefer.

      • I disagree with the athleticism/agility point of view. You can’t compare a sport which plays on a solid polished wooden floor which allows extreme grip for maneuverability and the ability to jump with no restriction to one that is played on grass which requires the athletes to wear boots to provide grip . Not to mention they have to leap from the grass playing field; it’s like asking 2 people to jump from a standstill on a concrete floor but one of them has to jump off a pillow then saying ‘oh but look the one without the pillow jumped higher’. I think the beauty of AFL as a sport is it works on every aspect of your physique/fitness. Those guys in the NBA look like the majority of the blokes you see down at the gym, all top heavy with bulky upper body and skinny legs.

      • Hi Gav,

        I did mention the surfaces being a factor in the article, and I actually said agility was a ‘draw’ since I couldn’t point to solid evidence.

        As for the leg thing… well it’s just plain wrong. I’d say AFL players’ legs are probably through the quads (since they kick the ball) but NBA players would have larger calves.

        AFL players’ legs certainly LOOK bigger because they wear short shorts.

        And again, leg strength is good for explosive leaping (NBA wins, hands down) and also for jostling and fighting for position (NBA, again, wins in this department)

      • Back to my point that they’re using solid ground, it’s considerably easier to jostle for position and possession when you have a very firm foothold, as is the ‘explosive’ leaping. Go try between the 2 playing surfaces and you’ll see what I mean. Also NBA players don’t tackle for possession, there’s a big difference in strength between someone who is physically grappled to gain possession of the ball to someone who is standing up against each other trying to grab the ball out of each others hands and let me tell you it takes a lot of strength to get rid of the ball while being tackled. My point is that you can’t just state that the athleticism/impressiveness of NBA players is superior to AFL players or any other physical sport code for that matter. I mean I could just state that soccer athletes are far more impressive athletically than NBA athletes. In soccer you can’t use your hands (skill factor), there’s no interchange (so long periods of running…endurance), ‘jostling’ each other off the ball for possession without pushing (like NBA), they perform overhead kicks which is extremely impressive when it’s pulled off and they’re extremely accurate with their ball control.

      • You seem to have fallen into the same trap as a few others, Gav.

        Im comparing raw athleticism only. Ball skills or jostling skill don’t enter into it.

  85. I love this kind of discussion and totally respect your opinion mike. I myself am i die hard afl supporter/lover of the game/player and found your article a great read, and from reading the comments i can see its sparked some real discussion. I think i can summarise both your article as well as the comments nicely and peacefully to finally settle this debate.

    – You are correct about the athleticism, NBA players have got us covered by a long shot with size, speed, strength, vertical jump, etc.
    – You are correct about AFL players having far better endurance.
    – And its also fair to say that agility is probably a tie, as we do have to take the playing surface under consideration.
    – however i think some of the comments are very accurate saying that AFL has a wider skill set demand to be elite than the NBA.
    – AFL players use both hand and feet to pass the ball.
    -AFL practically uses every skill, sense, decision making, teamwork, planning, etc ever made in the history of sport in the game.

    In conclusion, you can’t really compare the sports because they are as stupid as it sounds, different sports. Designed for different required skill sets to excel and be elite. NBA are better athletes, AFL is more physically demanding on the body, mind and soul using every aspect of life that was given to us.

    Ill quickly add that NBA does have the advantage of being basically a world stage, meaning athletes from around the globe compete for the highest level, therefore providing the globes best athletes to the game. Whereas AFL at the present is limited professionally to Australia, even though it is slowly expanding. It will be very interesting to see the futrue of the AFL when athletes like eric wallace are dominating the league…. then i don’t think you could argue the athletism.

    Ps. you can’t compare draft combine statistics when the majority of AFL draftees are 17 and 18 yrs old straight out of high school, and NBA are 21+ with college (semi pro) conditions under their belts. The AFL has very recently started discussion on raising to draft age actually…

    Anyways cheers Mike i enjoyed this, look forward to your reply 🙂


  86. One thing you guys forget is that LeBron is 203cm tall and weighs 113kg, which exceeds all other ruckmen in the AFL. Put Lebron in a ruck contest and he would just jump over the other ruckman, he is basically a Stronger, Faster, more agile Nic Naitanui whilst being 2cm taller and 12kg heavier. Put Dwight Howard, Shaquille O’Neal or any Center/Power Forward/Small Forward/Shooting Guard in the ruck contest and they would win.
    So lets compare Gary Ablett to Derrick Rose or Chris Paul or any of the NBA’s elite Point/Shooting Guards. They could beat Ablett in any physical attribute (except stamina of course). Speed, Strength, leaping ability and agility an NBA ELITE Point/Shooting Guard would beat Ablett and all the other elite midfielders. Derrick Rose can cover the length of a basketball court in less than 4 seconds (the court is 30m long) and consistently hits speeds of +20mph (+30kph) whilst being 3 inches taller than Ablett.There is a reason Scott Pendlebury is such a good player, because he grew up playing basketball.

    • Pendlebury playing basketball may be a minor factor in why he is a good player but if your using that as your argument why isn’t he super quick? The only reason basketball has helped him is because it’s helped his spatial awareness!

  87. Lecramp covers half the distance buddy does and still comes off the court sooking, to me that’s lacking athleticism

  88. Balanced argument ! It is very selective in the angles analysed that constitute elite …this is absolute dribble … Ask any qualified person this question and they would answer emphatically that a good many players in the AFL are elite athletes. I suggest the author got train with a decent amateur side to understand the game before pedalling basketball dribble.

    • Elite for Australian sports, sure.

      Are they global-sport elite in terms of athleticism? That’s a tougher question to answer. It pits them against guys like Mason Cox, the guy who played college basketball and was nowhere near good enough to enter the NBA, so he came over to Australia and broke numerous AFL Draft Combine records.

      If a mediocre college player nowehere near NBA calibre is able to shatter AFL records… what does that imply?

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  93. Just think of this
    Tom hawkins is 6’6 and arguably the most physical prescence one on one.
    Karl malone is 6’9 and probably the strongest nba player ever if you consider his height
    Give karl malone an AFL full backs marking/spoiling ability and a good knowledge of how to play one on one
    You put these two in a one on one constest 4 quaters into the game. Whos gonna win
    Id take tom hawkins any day of the week. why? Tom hawkins after four quaters would be stronger than malone because of the afl players elite endurance. Sure in the 1st quater malone could’ve easily won. But hawkins in the 4th quater being smaller, more agile, more energetic and stronger would win. Stamina dosent just wear off through the legs. It goes through your whole body. Endurance is what makes us believe these guys are better, stronger athletes than nba because these guys can mantain their strength throughout a whole afl game. An nba could never play an 80 minute nba game and still be the guy he was in the 1st quater. These afl players can. And it isnt an nba game their playing. Its a much more physically demanding sport.
    By the way. African americans are born with extremely strong achilles which helps them jump much higher.

    • So what your hypothetical is saying is that AFL players have better stamina, which is true, which I’ve acknowledged.

      But you haven’t addressed the fact that an NBA player will be stronger than Tomahawk, more agile, faster… you know… more ATHLETIC.

      That’s the whole point of the article. You’re moving the goalposts and saying “Tomahawk will be better after 100minutes of running” but that has nothing to do with what I wrote. I wrote that NBA players are faster runners. They are stronger people. They are (certainly I’d argue) more agile. They can jump higher.

      AFL players have better endurance.

      Look up something like the SPARQ measure regime. Sure, it’s marketed, but it’s attempting to give professional sports teams an OBJECTIVE measure of a person’s athleticism in NON-SPORT-SPECIFIC setting. Guys have to record a sprint time, a strength test result, an agility course time, a beep-test score, and a vertical jump measurement. Again, yes, that’s a marketed version, but it is still a really good measure of raw athleticism.

      Let’s say Tom Hawkins records a SPARQ score of 100, then does the test again and again and the fifth time he does it he scores 90, only a 10% drop in effectiveness. That’s solid.

      But Karl Malone, in his prime, would score more than 100. MORE than Hawkins. I’d estimate 120. Whatever he would get on his 5th test is really quite irrelevant. In an objective measure he’s more athletically impressive across the spectrum than Tom Hawkins.

      That’s what the article is about. You can believe that AFL players are better athletes if you want, but you rely on an asterisk (*in the fourth quarter) to do so.

      • We have to all agree that nba players are more impressive athletes, the evidence is overwhelming. However, I think Aussie Rules Football gives players opportunity to show more athletic ability. If you think in basketball, they run, jump, move laterally, throw, screen, rebound, catch and shoot. In football they run, jump, move laterally, pick up the ball, hanball, kick, mark, tap and bump. I also think the varying paces of running in football gives more variety. Therefore, if NBA players played AFL, it would be much more entertaining then watching NBA players play NBA. Imagine Lebron James being the Nathan Fyfe of the AFL, only ten centre metres taller, 25kg heavier and faster. Lebron would be able to take screamers, slot goals from 50 on the run, run through any player that went near him and tackle like a machine. So there’s my point of view, hope you enjoy.

      • you come of extremely biased, you use the specifics of a basketball court to judge both NBA players and AFL players, yet someone compares the both to an AFL field and suddenly hes relying on “an asterisk” lmao

      • I honestly do think NBA players are better athletes because of the genes that the majority of them have. What im saying is that the reason why a lot of people think AFL is better is because of the elite endurance and nothing else. NBA players are definetely better athletes but people guide towards AFL players being better athletes because they maintain their physical gifts longer than nba players do throughout a game. You dont see an nba player whos just played 40 minutes of an nba game, go into an overtime period and do the stuff he did in the 1st quater (with exceptions like kobe, MJ, And KD)
        But we do see afl players perform in the 4th quater, like they did in the first. Thats the reason why we think AFL players are better athletes. Im not saying they are im just saying that thats the common misconception us AFL fans have

      • Wow this post has gone on for quite a long time.

        I don’t know if this has been mentioned over the last two years but anyway.

        Coming from a completely objective standpoint (as I follow neither sport yet still appreciate the skill and athleticism), It is a bit unfair to call either sport unimpressive. It is really completely surprising that the AFL players can maintain there muscle with all the endurance work they do. Coming from a perspective in which you define athleticism as strength and power (a measurement of strength and speed i.e. Explosive) is bias. Do you see powerlifters with great cardio? You cannot be the best/elite in both fields, but AFL players do quite well. Granted NBA players are skewed towards power, they obviously focus on there fast twitch muscle fibres and sympathetic nervous system, strengthening the walls of there heart (left ventricle).

        Also, a statement made from a long time ago is false. You forgot to factor is velocity (m/s/s) and momentum when identifying net force when two 80kg people tackle at speed compared to 1 person standing still with a heavier body weight, by which the person standing still would still absorb the impact as they too will move (unless they were able to stand perfectly still).

        You will have to agree that the mental strength of footy players would be very impressive, yet the active ATP regeneration of basketballers is nothing small.

        Endurance in terms of how long seasons are and how many games a week played is also stupid as that comes down to nutrition and recovery. How long one actively plays is much more important in a single game.

    • Alex. Achilles is a tendon not a muscle. Out of curiosity, does anybody know what one needs or what takes place in the human body to facilitate endurance or strength? Not taking a dog at you, just a general question to everyone…
      Examples of players and feats are good and all but also misleading.

  94. This is a great article and I love the responses of the poor wounded Aussie Rules fans.
    How dare you criticise AFL in melbourne. Someone should burn you at the steak…

    For the record I’m an AFL fan and couldn’t really give a crap about basketball. (Its AFL preliminary final tonight, North Melbourne v the Swans. Go North…)


    Its stupid to claim Aussie Rules is a more athletic sport than either NBA or NFL actually. Just cos of the talent pool available. ie If you’re a state champion sprinter or 4/8 hundred metre runner in Australia odds are you’re in the top ten athletes in the country, in the US its not even a guarantee you’ll make the national championships. Their population is between 10 and 20 times the Australian population so its no wonder.

    However if Aussie Rules was a major code in the US then I dunno which sport would have the best athletes. That is something we can speculate about. Its possible basketball sized athletes playing AFL might make it too dangerous for humans to play. ( I can also imagine most kids dumping NFL for the freedom of Aussie Rules, I played grid iron for a year as a young man – its boring as all crap and … frankly its militaristic bullshit with very little room for creativity, fun or even actual participation.)

    If all other facts (ie talent pool) were equal I dunno if basketball would come out looking more athletic, but it might.

    Anyway thanks for the laugh it was an enjoyable read and you actually won your argument, (cos he used facts not emotion, all you footy fans.)

  95. Shane, I know I’m a bit late but I’ll just add my two cents. As a Melbournian who has grown up on AFL my whole life you have a good grasp on the way some compare basketball to AFL. We may say those things about our players but what do you expect from a proud supporter from our homegrown game. While you make some good points, a lot of which I agree with, and I know it’s been touched on a bit, but you missed a key ponit! Courage. How do you compare that? What would an NBA player do when they have the decision to back into pack for a mark knowing a big full forward is steaming the other way? Thanks

    • Hi Michael,

      Thanks for the feedback, and I tend to agree on the courage aspect of the two games. If you average out NBA players and AFL players you’re going to find AFL players are more willing to put their “body on the line” for the team. I agree.


      That’s not what the article is about! That’s not athleticism. Athleticism and courage are mutually exclusive. You can be completely unathletic and outrageously courageous, and you can be freakishly athletic and completely timid.

  96. Neanderthals were supposedly stronger and faster than homo sapiens. All we had was endurance, but apparently that is all we needed to win. Don’t be too harsh on the long distance runners – might be the only reason you get to write your blogs.

  97. If you’ve been involved in the elite end of the AFL, you would know that teams control what “size” they want their players to play at. An outside runner for example, wouldn’t need to be heavy but would definitely need to have impressive endurance and speed. On the other hand, the inside player would need mass and strength and endurance to go the distance. The rucks, key (power fowards) and key backs all need the mass for contested possesion. Very rarely do you see slim key position players and if you do, they’re at the starting age of their career. Mass can also affect mobility and sometimes players have to lose weight to hit their physical peak for their position.

    In saying that, a shooting guard at 1.93cm in Dwaye Wade is pretty impressive. Especially when he explodes to the basket. But the comparison (or lack of) is just silly, I read somewhere that most of Australia’s athletic talent is in the AFL, NRL, Rugby and soccer. Yet they still would not compare to the NBA or NFL for that matter.

    The athletic gene pool in the US is at another level….some say with a population that they have you’re bound to have so many talented athletes in different sports. But one thing’s for sure, they have enough athletes to fill the NFL, NBA, MLB, olympic team and probably soccer AND still probably have enough to fill the major football codes and the NBL here in Australia. (Maybe even cricket…but that’s wishful thinking)

    As for the general website……Mike or The Don, call me biased and as much as I admire Mike’s athletic ability, sheer will and determination and leadership, you can’t go past the 99.94 batting average. One of the greatest individual acheivements in a team sport.

    Cricket is an “individual” and team sport (haha) I just can’t see anyone ever equalling or beating such stat today. The way the game (Test cricket) has changed today, its more about taking one for the team than anything. It’s evolved to more of a win at all costs game.

  98. I understand your desire to promote basketball – a game you clearly love – as a physically demanding and rich sport, certainly there are some CRAZY athletes running around in the NBA, but you’re really not comparing apples with apples in this article which makes the whole thing a bit redundant.

    It’s hard to say that basketballers are ‘better’ in any area since the games are demanding in completely different ways. You’re essentially judging them on separate criteria which is conveniently favoured towards basketball. E.g. you say NBA players are better with strength, speed, leaping ability, size, power, yet they’re playing in a 28 x 15 metre area compared to somewhere like the MCG which is 163 x 138 metres meaning the physical demands in bball are far less which allows them to focus more on aspects of athleticism which would just not be possible if they were playing AFL. There’s less distance run, less running at high intensity – it’s only possible to sprint in basketball for like 20m before you run out of space, AFL guys can be sprinting upwards of 50/60/70/80+ metres repeatedly over 120 minutes of game time compared to 48 minutes in basketball. Throw in kicking as well as using your hands you’ve already doubled the skill-set required.

    No one in the NBA is running more than 5km a game, AFL guys can run 15+, some 20km a game. NBA guys aren’t getting actually tackled, it’s easier to focus on athleticism when you know no one is actually going to do anything worse than take a few steps and bump into you. Even copping a charge is going to be nothing like facing a guy who is legally allowed to run at you at full speed from 360 degrees and hit you with his body, regardless of his size. How many guys get knocked out playing basketball? Again, these different demands and realities mean you can’t just make a simple comparison and then conclude ‘NBA players are better athletes’ – it just doesn’t add up. NBA players are better athletes when it comes to the requirements of basketball and vice versa with AFL athletes. A team of AFL guys would compete far better at basketball than a team of NBA guys trying to compete in the AFL. I think a better conclusion to your article would simply be that ‘NBA players are great athletes TOO’. I’m not buying that they’re simply better athletes full stop.

  99. Your arguments are mostly subjective, and there are too many variables to compare any of the aspects you wish to measure.

    E.g. – “See… this is my point. I’m not impressed by AFL players’s speed. I grew up watching Allen ‘WHAT THE HELL WAS THAT!?’ Iverson, so any supposedly ‘quick’ AFL players just appear to be moving in slow motion by comparison.”

    You compare AI’s movement on a basketball court, against an AFL player’s on an oval. Endurance and stamina has an effect upon other qualities. If you were to compare one same athlete’s performance in your chosen qualities in running 1km vs 5km, results will vary. This also applies to the continuous physical contact encountered in AFL. You also compare the visual appearance, most likely off TV.

    The title of your article is “AFL Players are not impressive athletes”, which already shows your bias. I agree that overall, perhaps the average athletic ability would be better found in NBA players, but there is minimal evidence over controlled experiments, your research is sub-par.

  100. USA have a population 12 times greater than Australia and BBall is played all over the world, so there is a greater talent pool to pick from. There are only 160 players in an NBA starting 5 and about 15ish on a roster for 32 teams. USA have 322,000,000+ people and the best from around the world to fill these placed. AFL has 324 players in a starting 18 each week, with over 40 players on a list from 18 teams. Australia only has 27,000,000 people and very little international players to pick from. So of course BBall is going to have better athletes. Imagine how good AFL would be if we had those sorts of numbers to pick from.

  101. I’ll put my money where my mouth is. I’ve already seen a thorough investigation as to who’s overall the best. You said nba had greater strength. Hahaha I nearly fell over. No they don’t, no where near and on a side note you wouldn’t even know the difference between power and strength. And before you say your next line I know an nba player and I know 5 afl players, your way off

  102. Two sports that are completely different. It’s just the wrong comparison to make. Sure footy has great athletes, like jeremy howe and Cyril rioli, but I’ve never heard anybody say they’re the most athletic guys in the world, and that’s not the draw of AFL. The NBA frustrates me , but not the game itself. I like it a lot, and always have, but I struggle to deal with some of the players. The NBA will never be as good as it was in the 90’s. I’m getting off topic, but the draw of aussie rules (to me) is the toughness of the players and the ball skills. They aren’t just skilled, they look very smooth doing it. They are some of the toughest guys in the world and they work extremely hard every week, and the only other sport that comes close in toughness is ice hockey. Those NHL seasons are very long and very physical and it must take true competitors to keep at it. Watching aussie rules for athleticism is like watching the nba for toughness. NBA players aren’t tough. Sure you have Jordan’s flu game and recently I saw chris paul play on a hurt hamstring (and win the game), but it doesn’t compare to guys like joel selwood and the dedication to throw yourself at the ball at serious risk of your own body. So if you are going to make a comparison between two very different sports that are not alike at all, make it a fair comparison, or don’t make it at all.

  103. Gee whiz you’re ignorant. You are comparing two completely different sports with different demands on the body.
    Basketballers are better anaerobic athletes, footballers are better aerobic athletes. You can’t be elite at both, being an elite aerobic athlete will have an affect on strength and power and vice versa. Both sports have highly specialised, elite athletes. This article stinks of having no knowledge on the subject. This is like saying sprinters are superior athletes to long distance runners, even though they are both highly specialised, elite athletes. If basketballers had the endurance of AFL footballers, they would not be faster or stronger than AFL footballers. Endurance is necessary for the sport of AFL and it is not possible to be an elite aerobic and anaerobic athlete at the same time. Please don’t act like you are knowledgable on the subject, you are a moron.

  104. Preach,
    I am a self obsessed AFL fanatic and I have been searching high and low for evidence to back uo my story that AFL players are elite in their own right but when a comes to a particular part of the game ‘ruck’.Basketball players topple far superior over AFL players. But one man however stands out from the crowd as 2.11m giant Aaron Sandilands who is also the tallest man to ever play AFL but ive always stood by my knowledge that he is arguably one of the worst ruckman in the game because he has a vertical leap which is utterly poor and I cop so much rubbish for saying that when even the commentators say he such big deal so they have the whole community against me. Anyway my point is some of the basketball players who are only 6 foot maybe less would out jump this giant anyday of the week. Basketball players are far superior in so many more aspects of their game than AFL players are.

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  106. Hi Shane,

    I don’t think we can really come to any statistically significant conclusions, but using the limited data that is available, I don’t think that your claim that “The average NBA draftee is around 0.3m/s faster than the average AFL draftee, despite carrying (again, on average) more bulk.” stands up to scrutiny.

    The available draftee data that we have tells us:

    The average best 20 meter sprint time at the AFL Draft Combine from 2000 to 2014 is 2.82 seconds.
    The average best ¾ court (22.86 meters) sprint time at the NBA Draft Combine from 2000 to 2015 is 3.04 seconds.

    Average acceleration is therefore:

    AFL: 2 x 20 / (2.82 x 2.82) = 5.030 m/s2
    NBA: 2 x 22.82 / (3.04 x 3.04) = 4.947 m/s2

    Using this figure to calculate the NBA 20 meter sprint time:

    NBA 20 meter sprint time: sqrt( 2 x 20 / (2 x 22.82 / (3.04 x 3.04))) = 2.85 seconds.

    This is 0.03 seconds *slower* compared with the sample of AFL draftees.

    Now focusing on the best ever draftee times posted:

    Best ever AFL Draft Combine 20 meter sprint time: 2.75 seconds.
    Best ever ¾ court (22.86 meter) sprint time at the NBA draft camp: 2.91 seconds.
    Convert to 20 meter sprint time: sqrt( 2 x 20 / (2 x 22.82 / (2.91 x 2.91))) = 2.72 seconds.

    This is 0.03 seconds *faster* than the best ever AFL draftee.

    Now let us compare these “best ever” times with the fastest ever 100 meter athlete, who you would think would be the “gold standard”. From the three fastest (recorded and legal) 100 meter sprint times, the 0-20 meter split times (minus reaction times so we’re comparing apples with applies) are:
    Usain Bolt’s 9.69 sec run at Beijing in 2008: 2.705 seconds.
    Usain Bolt’s 9.58 sec run at Berlin in 2009: 2.734 seconds.
    Usain Bolt’s 9.63 sec run at London in 2012: 2.765 seconds.

    Both the AFL and NBA’s best ever draftee sprint times compare favourably with the best ever 100 meter sprinter. I have no doubt that Usain Bolt would smash them over the remaining 80 meters 100% of the time, haha, but over the first 20 meters he’d clearly get beaten some of the time.

    Personally, I would say that the best sprinters at both the AFL and NBA Draft Combines are in the elite category over 20 meters, and that both are comparable with each other in this measure of athletic ability, based on the limited data available.


  107. As an American who loves US sports and has seen more sporting events on TV than 99% (or more) of people in the western world I can safely that footy is one of my favorite sports to watch. I saw my first Australian Rules Football game back when it was the VFL and Gary Ablett SR was roaming the pitch. For years I barracked for the GAME itself watching any contest that I happened to come across. In 2010 I finally decided to barrack for a team. At that time I enjoyed the way the West Coast Eagles and the Hawthorn Hawks played the game and fortunately for me I chose to root for the Hawks.
    Having said that, I still watched something like 200 footy games last year because in my estimation Aussie Rules is one of the greatest sports on the planet. Being a sports fan who in total has watched thousands of professional games in Hockey, Basketball, NFL Football, and MLB Baseball as well as AFL Football, I feel like I can say this with some authority. I do not believe that as a whole AFL athletes are nearly at the level of NBA athletes. Bear with me here, I will give you my reasons why I believe this to be true. First, let me start with 23 million, the population of Australia, of that there are about one and a quarter million registered Australian Football players in Oz. Now take this number 318 million, the US population and 9.9 million basketball players that play in organised leagues or on high school or college teams and a further 26 million people that play basketball causally in the US. 30 NBA teams have 450 total players under contract each season, finding incredible athletes to fill those slots for all the $million$ is not hard when you have a pool of players to chose from the size of the US. There are TONS of great athletes that have to give up their dream of playing professionally… I give you Mason Cox of Collingwood, he was formerly a NCAA basketballer who was not nearly good enough to make the NBA but he may be an AFL footy player come Round one. Stamina is a wonderful thing, a very potent weapon in fact. When your stamina level is greater than your opponents, more often than not you win. BUT given greater natural abilities the greater stamina of a less capable athlete can not only be matched but exceeded with training. There are truly exceptional athletes in AFL footy and there are truly gritty and intelligent players as well, but I feel given time a well honed US athlete would be able to compete (and a good many of them) in short order. It’s not a fluke that Bo Jackson before his injury was both a phenomenal MLB baseball player and an incredible NFL football player. Nor was it a fluke that Deon Sanders played NFL football as well as MLB baseball. Michael Jordan, everyone knows tried to go out and play the game he loved as a youth, baseball, and probably in time he could have made himself into a major leaguer. My point is when you have that much money at stake with millions of people watching and millions of kids vying for 450 possible NBA contracts you are, in the end, going have some of the best athletes in the world, it just stands to reason.

  108. You do realize Hypertrophy dose not equal strength, after all you cant tackle in basketball or make alot of contact where AFL you tackle and also wrestle over the ball take into consideration the amount of running they do where in Basketball its broken up in breaks etc.

    AFL is alot more demanding as you gotta run fast and for long time plus its alot more Physical with tackling and wrestling which is only minor instances in Basketball that end up with a foul.

    Its like comparing a Bodybuilder to a Olympic Weightlifter, I’ve seen a 70 kg Weightlifter squat 2 reps of 205 kgs and 10 reps of 170 kgs and he isn’t muscular or ripped etc.

    Not all Basketballs are built, there are quite alot of skinny lanky ones.

  109. The AFL does not have the same amount of people to choose from as America so of course American sports will have better athletes. Having said that AFL is still awesome to watch and I can only dream of what it would be like if it was the main sport of America. Imagine Michael Jordan taking a speccy on Shaq 2m off the ground. Imagine Lebron James laying a huge bump on Carmelo Anthony. Imagine Russell Westbrook as a small forward. IMAGINE!!!

    If only…..

  110. 2 different sports, they train and have to face different challenges with each of their sports. the rules and physical requirements of each sport is different. AFL players train more areobically where’s basketballers train more anaerobically

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