What we'd pay $1 million to see in sports

March, 5, 2013
3/05/13
10:00
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Bill Belichick, head coach of the New England PatriotsGreg M. Cooper/USA TODAY SportsHe can dance around questions. But can he plain dance? We'd pay $1 million to find out.
Even if LeBron James doesn't take Magic Johnson's $1 million offer to finally participate in the NBA's dunk contest, it brought up an interesting idea:

What would you pay $1 million in play money to see in sports?

Playbook asked some ESPN staffers and celebrities for their thoughts:

Chris Broussard, ESPN NBA Insider: "I'd like to stage a one-on-one tournament with the top 14 NBA stars. Winner gets $1 million. Or, instead of the playing a game at the Pro Bowl, I'd like the NFL stars to engage in the old 'Superstars' competitions from the 1970s. Winner gets $1 million."

Dennis "Mr. Belding" Haskins, actor: "Obviously something humanitarian would take precedence, and I love LeBron and Blake. But if I could stop time, I would love to see Dr. J vs. Michael Jordan vs. Spud Webb vs. Dominique Wilkins one more time!"

Corbin Bernsen, "Major League" actor: "I would offer a million dollars to Roger Dorn and Graig Nettles to take a hundred screamers each at third base wearing no cups and see who stops more balls -- or who has any left at the end of it."

Paul Lukas, ESPN.com uniform columnist: "I would gladly pay $1 million -- and more -- to see all MLB players go back to wearing high-cuffed pants and stirrups. But of course you already knew I was going to say that."

Bill Speros, Playbook contributor: "I'd pay $1 million to see Bill Belichick appear on 'Dancing With the Stars.' Just imagine the post-routine analysis. 'We need to move better. Find better rhythm. Get better outfits.' He might even be forced to smile, especially after wearing a hoodie with sequins and rhinestones. And we'll know something is up if he and his partner just happen to use the same moves as the next couple."

ESPN.com golf writer Michael Collins: "$1 Million World Toughman Competition -- Professional Athletes Edition: One guy from every major sport. Five events, winner take all. Send your best man or get your sport disgraced."

Bonnie-Jill Laflin, former NBA scout: "I would like to see MJ vs. Kobe in a one-on-one game. These are the best two players in my lifetime, and people always want to debate who was better in their prime. Jordan is the greatest of all time, hands down. My dream matchup would be Kobe versus Jordan at age 34 because Kobe is playing at an extremely high level right now, and being that at this age, they have both lost a bit of the elite athleticism that made them special, but what also makes them great is that they are both extremely skilled basketball players, and have some of the best footwork in NBA history."

Howard Bryant, ESPN.com and ESPN The Magazine senior writer: "I would offer Bud Selig and Michael Weiner $1 million to reduce the MLB regular season to 144 games, get rid of the second wild card and ensure the World Series is completed by mid-October. That way, the best team over a long season is rewarded and the most important games of the year are played under the best possible conditions. I don't think that is asking a lot for my million dollars."

[+] EnlargeThe Los Angeles Lakers' Kobe Bryant, and the Miami Heat's LeBron James
Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE/Getty ImagesOne-on-one, anyone?
Nancy Lieberman, basketball legend: "I would love to see LeBron and Kobe -- one-on-one, mano-a-mano; first guy to 15 (single points) outdoors in Rucker Park on cement, the old-fashioned way. It would be an incredible basketball game on the purest level."

Jemele Hill, ESPN.com columnist: "I would pay $1 million to see the best college football or basketball team in America against the worst NFL or NBA team so people would stop with this moronic notion that a bunch of college players can beat pros. They can't."

Gregg Easterbrook, Tuesday Morning Quarterback columnist: "I would offer a million bucks to watch the actual players and coaches of the 1990 New York Giants and Buffalo Bills restage the final play of the 1991 Super Bowl -- with the actual trophy again on the line."

Dave Wilson, ESPN.com Playbook editor: "A summer reality show to get us through the football offseason featuring Les Miles and Steve Spurrier living in a cabin, "Real World"-style, in Pigeon Forge, Tenn., talking about swagger and Will Muschamp and stuff."

Jack Barakat, lead guitarist of All Time Low: "For a million yen I'd like to see who could get a football in a trash can from 60 yards out. [Joe] Flacco, [Aaron] Rodgers or [Drew] Brees."

Sean Astin, actor/director: "Yogi Berra, Mike Tyson and Fernando Valenzuela in a 24-hour go-cart marathon. The best part wouldn't be the race itself, but the post-race interviews."

Jeff MacGregor, ESPN.com columnist: "From the haystack of loose cash I keep in the attic, I would pay at least $1 million to Mr. Bud Selig to ensure that R.A. Dickey pitch the entire Home Run Derby at this year's All-Star Game. I would add a further $1 million for a photo gallery of every hitter's face as every pitch whistles past, and for the whole thing to be written up as a case study for the American Psychiatric Association."

Ben Utecht, former Indianapolis Colts tight end: "If I had a million dollars lying around for a sports bet, it would be to see a rematch between the 1980 USA vs. CCCP gold-medal hockey game or, I would settle for Peyton Manning and his former Colts O-line doing their own music video to 'Gangnam Style!'"

Arash Markazi, ESPNLosAngeles.com writer
: "I want to see Kobe vs. LeBron one-on-one. I would have thought Kobe was past his prime before this season, but he has taken a dip in the hot tub time machine by the looks of his dunks and stat lines recently. Forget the dunk contest, I want to see Kobe battle it out on the court with LeBron to see who's the real king of the NBA."

Scoop Jackson, ESPN.com columnist
: "I'd put up $1M for a two-on-two competition/tournament between the top duos in the NBA. Durant/Westbrook vs. Rubio/Love. CP3/Blake vs. Rose/Deng. Damian/LaMarcus vs. Kobe/Dwight. Curry/Lee vs. LBJ/Wade. TP/TD vs. RR/KG. Melo/JR Smith vs. Paul George/Danny Granger. All games to 12. Round-robin or bracket. I'd just love to see who in the end would come out on top. It would be more compelling and competitive than anything the NBA has going on during All-Star break. Easily."

Vincent Piazza, actor on "Boardwalk Empire": I'd offer a million dollars to have Manny and Floyd meet in the ring. But, sadly, that window of relevance seems to have shut. I think both fighters are in a different place now."

Buster Olney, ESPN baseball Insider: "I'd offer $1 million to see baseball's Fastest Man Competition, and it would be run like the Sweet 16 of the NCAA tournament. Circle the bases. You could have Mike Trout vs. Billy Hamilton, childhood friends Carl Crawford and Michael Bourn racing each other, Dee Gordon vs. Ben Revere, etc."

[+] EnlargeLionel Messi of Barcelona & Cristiano Ronaldo of Real Madrid
Javier Soriano/AFP/Getty ImagesCould these guys get along? We'd pay to see ...
Patrick Dorsey, Playbook editor: "I wish I could pay $1 million (767,600) to see Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo play together in a truly competitive match. At its best, it would be soccer beauty. At worst, we'd get to see some epic jealous faces from one of those two (guess who)."

Steve Etheridge, Playbook contributor: "Even if it cost a million dollars, I think our lives would all be infinitely richer if we saw the Cubs blow Game 7 of the World Series on a balk."

Jeremy Schaap, ESPN broadcaster: "How about brother vs. brother, Vitali versus Wladimir?"

Sam Alipour, ESPN The Magazine writer: "As a lifelong Lakers fan and a Kobe defender since his air balls as a rookie in the playoffs, I gotta spend with my heart: To watch Kobe and LeBron play a game of one-on-one to 10 points, with me as the only witness, I'd pay $500K to each player along with this promise: I will never reveal the winner ... should LeBron win."

LZ Granderson, ESPN.com columnist: "I would give Roger Goodell $1M to stop coaches from calling timeouts during regulation in hopes of icing the kicker. The game is long enough with all of the commercials, plus stats suggest distance of the kick contributes to misses, not timeouts. However there is a measurable difference in the success rate in OT so that's a keeper."

Kelley Carter, Playbook contributor: "I'd pay $1 million to see Michigan State national championship team 1979 play Michigan State national championship team 2000. They're both old(er) players now, but I'd love to see Magic vs. Mateen just because I'm such a homer and love both of those guys."

Duff Goldman, celebrity chef: "I would pay a million dollars to get rid of coaches challenge, video review, etc. Call on the field stands. Period."

Steve Byrne, comedian: "I would love to offer $1 million to see Wayne Gretzky vs. Mario Lemieux in a best-of-10 shootout. I feel robbed as an NHL fan and a fan of shootouts that we never got to see these two show off their skills to end an overtime game."

[+] EnlargeVince Wilfork of the New England Patriots
Greg M. Cooper/US Presswire... or would this guy take Belichick?
Dr. Mehmet Oz, doctor and TV host: "All-Star NBA Game of Eastern vs. Western Conference professional players over age 40. Peak physical fitness is at age 27 but endurance at 17 is the same at age 65. Therefore, a game of athletes over 40 would be very competitive. A great athlete who takes care of themselves would stay fit after the age of 40 which is important for people to understand and aspire to."

D.J. Gallo, Playbook writer: "Jordan vs. LeBron in their primes. Then we could decide who was better and move onto the other important issues affecting society."

Zach McCann, Playbook editor: "I'd want to see a game between the college football national champion and the worst NFL team, so we could officially put to rest the idea that a college team could ever beat a pro team. Nick Saban couldn't even beat NFL teams when he was in the NFL."

Thomas Neumann, ESPN.com NFL editor: "That’s easy. Vince Wilfork on 'Dancing With the Stars.' He would have the opportunity to reshape our image of balletic big men in a way Warren Sapp only dreamed to. Plus, it gives us yet another reason to park ourselves in front of the TV and enjoy a delicious Super Bird."

Jay Bulger, New York actor/director: "I'd pay Chris Brown 2 million to get in the Octagon with Ronda Rousey."

Jackie MacMullen, sports columnist: "If I had $1 million, I'd offer it to the Tennessee women's team to play UConn again in basketball, and I'd pay another $1 million to see a healthy Pat Summitt be able to coach the game."

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