- Michael Rothstein, ESPN Staff Writer
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ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- Ndamukong Suh had a busy night Tuesday. He briefly met Magic Johnson. Then he got a chance to watch Kentucky play Michigan State in Chicago as part of the Champions Classic.
Suh, who has always been an avid lover of basketball and said he was recruited by low-level schools out of high school, was impressed with what he saw from one particular player Tuesday night.
Kentucky freshman Julius Randle.
“He’s got some talent. I like that kid,” Suh said. “He reminds me of me in my younger days other than I’m not a left-hander. If I was 6-foot-7, I don’t know if I’d be playing football right now.
“But he has some great talent and he’s got a great coach, Coach Cal [John Calipari]. I didn’t get to see too much of [Andrew] Wiggins or Jabari Parker because I left. Had to come back to work.”
Yes, Suh had football practice for the Lions on Wednesday, but he did spend some time after practice reminiscing about his own game and said one day, if he were have ownership in a sports franchise, it would potentially be a basketball team.
Suh played throughout high school but stopped because of football in college. Now, he says he won’t play competitive games to protect his knees.
“My game? If I’m going to pick an NBA player that I kind of patterned after, I’d say Charles [Barkley] and a little bit of Karl [Malone],” Suh said. “But I’ve always, even the way I look at football, I’ve always kind of a combination of people.
“But I love basketball. That’s one of my first loves outside of soccer.”
He isn’t the only Detroit defensive lineman who can ball.
Nick Fairley, who compared his game to Shawn Kemp’s, played basketball at Williamson High in Alabama and said he’ll still play basketball, but only pickup games. And that he has “handles for a big man.”
That could include a potential game with Suh as Fairley said the two have talked about it since Fairley joined the Lions last season.
Oh, and he offered a joking hoops challenge to his teammates when asked if he could beat Suh.
“Of course,” Fairley said. “Anybody in this locker room. Whoever want it? Come get it.”
8hDana Wakiji / Special to ESPN.com