February 8, 2023

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The Sports Fanatics

Your Favorite Hornet’s Favorite Athlete (In Another Sport)

It comes as no surprise that as professional athletes themselves, NBA players are also fans of different athletes throughout the sporting world. The Charlotte Hornets are no exception to this trend and many of them have noticeable similarities with the non-basketballers they enjoy keeping a watchful eye on.    

LaMelo Ball – Lamar Jackson (NFL)

No player in the NFL better mimics Ball’s playstyle than Baltimore Ravens quarterback and 2019 MVP Lamar Jackson. Like Ball, Jackson is a dangerous offensive threat with a lightning-quick first step that he uses to regularly blow by defenders. Both players are well known for their ability to improvise at a moment’s notice and often times, harness their rare intuition to manufacture a spectacular play out of nothing.

Terry Rozier – Serena Williams (Tennis)

Serena Williams recently wrapped up a highly-decorated tennis career with an Open Era record 23 Grand Slam singles titles, another 14 Grand Slam doubles titles and four Olympic Gold medals. Regarded as one of the greatest athletes of all time – male or female – Williams attacked every tennis match with a ferocious tenacity and killer mindset, two things commonly associated with Rozier out on the hardwood.

Kelly Oubre Jr. – Valentino Rossi and Tyrann Mathieu (Motorcycle Racing and NFL)

For Oubre, his favorite non-basketball athletes come from two very different sporting arenas. Valentino Rossi is a now-retired Italian motorcycle road racer who won nine Grand Prix World Championships over a two-decade-plus-long career. Competing all out at high speeds with style, flare and pizzazz? Sounds a lot like watching Oubre play basketball.

The other athlete is New Orleans Saints safety Tyrann Matheiu, who like Oubre, hails originally from the Big Easy. Mathieu attended St. Augustine High School and LSU before he was drafted by the Arizona Cardinals in 2013, while Oubre and his family relocated to Texas when he was nine in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

Kai Jones – Jazz Chisholm Jr. (MLB)

Not only are Kai Jones and Miami Marlins second baseman Jazz Chisholm Jr. both from The Bahamas, but they also each play a sport at the highest professional level where there aren’t too many other Bahamian players. Jones is one of three in the NBA right now, while Chisholm is one of just two in the MLB. Besides the nationality linkage, both play with a youthful enthusiasm on the court or diamond and have rocked similar blue hairstyles to boot.

Gordon Hayward – Roger Federer (Tennis)

Another recently-retired tennis great, Roger Federer’s illustrious career featured 20 Grand Slam singles titles, a record eight of which came at Wimbledon. As a teenager, Gordon Hayward was a two-time All-Indiana state singles player before transitioning to basketball full-time following a rapid growth spurt. Similar to Federer, Hayward’s style on the basketball court is predicated on precision, finesse and a steady calmness. 

Mark Williams – TJ Watt (NFL)

Williams and Pittsburgh Steelers lineman TJ Watt are both the most recent recipients of the Defensive Player of the Year Award for ACC Basketball and the NFL, respectively. Both focal positions on the defensive side in their respective sports, basketball centers and football defensive ends are largely responsible for making things difficult on opposing players attempting to put up points.

Nick Richards – Cristiano Ronaldo (Soccer)

Long before basketball became his primary focus, Nick Richards participated in a variety of different sports growing up in Jamaica, including soccer. Unsurprisingly, his towering height was perfect for manning the net as a goalkeeper. And when it comes to soccer, Portuguese superstar Cristiano Ronaldo is about as popular and accomplished as they come, as evidenced by his 32 trophies and more than 800 career goals. 

Dennis Smith Jr. – Derwin James and Jalen Ramsey (NFL)

Two of the top defensive backfielders in the NFL both currently play in Los Angeles: safety Derwin James of the Chargers and Rams cornerback Jalen Ramsey. Along with Smith, all three athletes were once first-round picks and much like the other two, Smith has morphed into a fantastic on-ball defender with a noted propensity for picking off opponents’ passes.