Thierry is widely known as one of the most prolific scorers in soccer history while playing for FC Arsenal and his home country France. On top of that, he is also an avid basketball fan and has openly said on numerous occasions basketball and NBA, in general, are his second favorite sport behind soccer. During his appearance on The Ringer’s J.J. Reddick Podcast this week, he made a couple of interesting statements about the comparison between soccer and basketball and how players, in general, would adapt to different sports.
He stressed out the importance of intelligence when playing any sport and how smarts are an aspect that separates great athletes from everybody else. He explained to Redick why he believes LeBron would be successful in soccer the same way he is in basketball:
When I look at LeBron James, I see his cleverness. I don’t see his athleticism, but all I hear from everyone is, "Oh my god, look at his shoulders, look at this." I’ve seen a lot of players in the NBA having the same shoulders. That doesn’t mean that they were the best.
What makes the difference for me, when I see him, he’s clever. He does what the game always asks him to do. If he should post up, he posts. If he has to pass, he passes. Sometime he almost does it a bit too much. It seems it’s too difficult for him to not do what the game is asking him to do.
The brain is very powerful. Sometimes to battle your own brain is almost impossible, and so for me, yes, it is LeBron James. And whoever, Steph Curry or Kevin Durant, because they’re clever.
Thierry gave important advice to young players saying they should challenge their coaches to make them smarter because, at the end of the day, this is what sets you apart from every other athlete out there. As he was talking about how smarts are what makes athletes stand out at the highest level of their sport, he explained to Reddick why he believes LeBron James is one of the NBA players who’d be an elite soccer player.
Via: The Ringer Podcast