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Brandon Marshall's Hoop Dreams

8/13/2010

Wide receiver opens his mouth. World reacts.

That formula played out on Thursday when the Miami Dolphins' Brandon Marshall told ESPN.com's Adam Schefter that he has every intention of pursuing a job in the NBA if the NFL sees a work stoppage in 2011:

Marshall said he plans to audition for either the Denver Nuggets or the Miami Heat.

"My first team will be the Nuggets and my second team will be the Heat -- I'm serious," Marshall said.

Asked to clarify whether he will pursue a basketball career if there is no NFL season in 2011, Marshall said: "Not pursuing -- I'm going to be on an NBA team. Seriously."

Marshall said he was good enough to play shooting guard professionally.

The Pro Bowl wideout played basketball at Lake Howell High School in Florida and frequently attended NBA games in Denver.

Marshall, who signed a four-year, $47.5 million contract extension after being traded from Denver to Miami in April, didn't expect to be playing football at this time next year.

"There's not going to be any football," Marshall predicted. "If there's a lockout, I have to find a job. I figure the Nuggets will be a better choice because of the welcome home cheer I'll get -- a couple of boos at first. I'm gonna get with a basketball coach and get to work, prepare for the lockout."

Since I've never seen Marshall play football -- much less basketball -- it was hard to know how to measure Marshall's comments against my general skepticism of NFL wide receivers as truth-tellers. Maybe Marshall is right, but the only way to find out is to speak to someone who has some knowledge of his game.

This morning, I reached out to Steve Kohn, the head basketball coach at Lake Howell, to get a better feel of Marshall's game. Marshall played basketball as a junior and senior for Kohn in 2001 and 2002.

  • At Lake Howell, Marshall was a wing. "He played the 2 or the 3," Kohn said. "He was a good all-around basketball player. He could shoot the ball from long. He handled the ball well and he could rebound the ball."

  • By the time Marshall was a varsity basketball player, he was so gifted at football that most of his free time was devoted to the gridiron. "Had he not played football, he would've projected to be one heck of a basketball player," Kohn said.

  • Marshall's best asset was his long-distance shooting, "He could shoot the ball from long," Kohn said. "I mean, he shot the ball from 20 to 30 feet. He scored mostly from the perimeter."

  • Marshall's game was predicated on his range, but he also had a strong handle. That's a little surprising because that's a skill that, as a young player, develops through repetition and Marshall wasn't in the gym as much as his teammates. "Because his focus was football, he did it without a lot of practice," Kohn said. "The basketball guys handle the basketball 365 days a year. But he was coming in and doing a pretty good job just cold turkey."

  • I generally think of football players who play basketball as rugged, but that wasn't the case with Marshall. "He was more finesse than he was physical," Kohn said.

  • One of Kohn's favorite Brandon Marshall moments was a high school dunk contest. "He put a can of Pepsi on the rim," Kohn said. "He dunked the ball, grabbed the can of Pepsi and tried to drink it on the way down." Marshall didn't quite pull it off, but Kohn said, "He was getting there."