Mark Henry has made a living as a versatile athlete. He is currently an All Elite Wrestling superstar, but has also enjoyed lengthy careers as a WWE Hall of Famer, a two-time Olympic weightlifter, and a former powerlifting world champion. He has a unique perspective on the sports universe after wearing such a wide variety of professional hats.
The 51-year-old, who's still going strong for AEW, spoke with Brandon “Scoop B” Robinson during an Instagram Live segment via Bovada:
Henry knows his hoops. During his extended chat with Robin, he discussed how he would construct his ideal NBA player. This is always a fun exercise. In his excellent book "Basketball (And Other Things)", The Ringer's Shea Serrano cobbled together a similar Frankenstein's monster of basketball perfection.
Check out Henry's thoughts on how he would build the ideal baller:
"Man, I would give myself Shaquille O’Neal’s ability combined with Adrian Dantley’s. Can you imagine Shaquille O’Neal’s triple threat? I mean, there’s a 1996 All-Star Game where Shaquille and Michael Jordan was playing 1-on-1 before the game and Shaquille did Michael so dirty that Michael should’ve quit the game. Shaq really had abilities that were really ‘unlocked’; he didn’t do that stuff until later on in his career, but by then the athleticism had left and he was reduced to just being a big dominant guy that could get to his spots because his footwork was so excellent and I don’t know if there will EVER be another Shaquille O’Neal but, Adrian Dantley -- when I used to watch Adrian Dantley shoot it, he would fake it and drive, he would fake it and then post you up and it was NOTHING that you could do. Like if Adrian Dantley would've been LeBron James’ size, like we might be talking about another guy being the top 3."
For young heads, Dantley was a six-time All-Star small forward and eventual Hall of Famer for several ABA and NBA teams from 1976-1991. He also played for one season overseas with Italian club Aresium Milano from 1991-92. While he did enjoy a two-year stint with your Los Angeles Lakers from 1977-79, the 6'5" swingman achieved his biggest successes with the Utah Jazz from 1979-1986.
Henry also chatted about a certain muscle-bound free agent ex-Lakers center whom Henry believes could become an excellent wrestler once he finally retires: 36-year-old eight-time All-Star big man Dwight Howard, a core role player on LA's title-winning 2019-20 team.
"Anytime that you’re a big name notoriety type person and you come in pro wrestling, you add strength to our industry and the fact that he loves it enough to say I want to be that, I want to do that is telling people that our sport is meaningful and that means all the world to me and if Dwight Howard wanted advice or wanted help on how to direct him and be honest… man, I’m easy to find. I remember seeing Karl Malone and Dennis Rodman come into wrestling and really, really do well; and if they would’ve dedicated their lives to it they would’ve been great. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen anybody have a better wrestling match as an athlete than Lawrence Taylor did against Bam-Bam Bigelow back in the day. But Karl Malone and Dennis Rodman? They looked the part and they had the kind of notoriety that was needed for the business to flourish, not just individually."
Dwight, you heard the man. Have your representatives call Mark Henry.
In terms of one of LA fans' biggest internal debates, Robinson asked Henry for his opinion about how current Lakers superstar small forward LeBron James compares to former Lakers superstar point guard Magic Johnson. James's height and abilities as a passer and finisher have drawn obvious comparisons.
"LeBron is a better shooter than Magic was and better scorer than Magic was, but from a physical standpoint and a size standpoint they were almost the same player. I just felt like Magic was the better passer and a better floor general than LeBron, but that’s only because LeBron chose to do other things; like, you assume a role in basketball and everybody knows who the GUY is on every team. You know when the clock starts ticking, get ‘em the ball! Their worst shot is their best shot and all of those guys have that. But the difference between LeBron and Magic is Magic would penetrate and he knew how much time was and he had enough time to to get one pass off and he be like, I’m going to dribble, penetrate and I’m going to look at Kareem [Abdul-Jabbar] and I’m going to pass the ball and hit Byron Scott in the corner and he’s going to knock it down because I have faith from reps and many times him doing that, he’s going to get the shot off… LeBron tries to do that, but at the end of the day, LeBron is closer in skill set to Michael Jordan because he would do the same thing as Magic except he would go take the shot."
This writer is inclined to agree that James does have the former Chicago Bulls great's killer instinct late in games, and would add that James also has a sprinkling of another Bulls legend, Scottie Pippen, who helped guide the offense as an otherworldly passer while being able to guard a variety of perimeter positions. What distinguishes James from those players, however, is his sheer size: he has the build of the strongest power forward of their era, Karl Malone, which makes him a particularly tough cover for opposing players not named Kawhi Leonard.