Yes, the "Next Great Debate" (that's sure to be played out by the time I'm done writing this post.)
What position would LeBron play if he was in the NFL?
In that freeze frame above, it looks like he's lined up wide, but #23 is a RB's number. He's listed at 6'8" 240 or 250 (or 6'9" 270). We'll go with 6'8" 250, close enough. He could be a defensive end, but he's probably not quite bulky enough. He could be a linebacker, but I don't think he's mean enough. I think most people agree that he should be on the offensive side of the ball at a skill position. It basically boils down to RB or WR.
Am I the only person in the world who thinks that LeBron should be a running back?
There is one thing every single person who disagrees with me says: "He's too big". Is he? Being large in and of itself is not a bad thing, it's a good thing. It's the things that come along with being unnaturally massive that those doubters are referring to. Freakishly tall people's bodies break down because our infrastructure just wasn't made to support that much weight, except in very rare cases like LeBron, who I assume was genetically engineered in a laboratory under the NBA headquarters on Madison Avenue. The thing that makes him such a transcendent athlete is that he has the quickness and agility of someone much smaller than him.
The tallest RB in the NFL right now is Brandon Jacobs (6'4" 264), and truth be told, LeBron would be tied for the tallest WR ever in the NFL with Harold Carmichael. Kobe recently claimed he could play wide receiver for the Eagles (via Deadspin). I'm not sure I've ever heard of that franchise, but I agree with that casting. Kobe (6'6" 205, er 220?) [Ed note: Can we get these fuckers on a scale and get this straight?] is built a lot more like Randy Moss (6'4" 210) than LeBron is. He's lean and graceful, and could never take the pounding necessary to carry the ball even 10 or 15 times a game. LeBron is a whole lot sturdier than Kobe.
What it really comes down to is the injury factor. If LeBron could stay healthy as a RB he would be more valuable that he would at WR. It's almost exactly the same conundrum you have with Joba Chamberlain. In both cases, you have a freakishly gifted athlete who could probably play two different roles. The more valuable one seems like it would create a greater potential for injury.
Running backs get hit almost everytime they carry the ball, but at the same time, they have more control over how they get hit. You rarely see a RB take a crushing blow (Willis MaGahee not withstanding). They develop a sense of how to cushion the blows, while a wide receiver can get blindsided going over the middle in a way a running back is rarely going to. LeBron is tremendously shifty for a guy his size and would be extremely hard to tackle. Evidenced by his incredible passing ability on the hardwood, he's the great vision and awareness necessary to find seams in defenses.
Brandon Jacobs runs a 4.56 40 yard dash and on a basketball court, he'd probably lumber down the floor like a C or a PF. LeBron blasts down the floor to the tune of a 4.4 40 and runs the break like a PG. Please direct your attention to the video below and then tell me King James couldn't blow open any counter rush or screen pass and take it to the house.
Roll, Panda! Roll!
9 minutes ago