Austin Rivers and Robert Griffin III argue over whether an NFL player could play in the NBA on ESPN's Get Up. Screen grab: ESPN

Last week, Austin Rivers insisted he has no regrets about starting a debate regarding whether NBA players could play in the NFL and vice versa.

That may be the case. But it would also be more than understandable if he’s since changed his mind.

On Wednesday, the former NBA guard joined ESPN’s Get Up as a panelist to discuss the ongoing NBA Playoffs. But in the show’s second-to-last segment, it used Josh Allen’s half-hearted comment that he could give an NBA team “a good six or seven minutes off the bench” as a launching point to reignite the debate that Rivers first started more than two weeks ago.

Predictably, the conversation devolved into Rivers and fellow ex-NBA guard Jay Williams defending basketball players and NFL reporter Kimberley A. Martin vouching for football players. After Martin stated that she could see an NFL player playing in the NBA “way easier” than she could see an NBA player making the transition to the NFL, Rivers told her that she had “lost all credibility” before launching into a monologue in which he repeated many of the same points he first shared on The Pat McAfee Show two weeks ago.

Somehow, that wasn’t the testiest part of the debate. Robert Griffin III proceeded to join the conversation and — as you might have guessed — the former NFL quarterback opted to side with Martin while taking Rivers to task for his original statement.

“Listen, Austin, your comment was very disrespectful in the very beginning to football players, but that’s neither here nor there,” Griffin said. “I do think that Josh Allen at 6-5, 237 pounds, could give you seven minutes of tenacious D off the bench… but I’ll take it even further for you, Austin, because I respect the game of basketball. And I know there are a lot of hoopers in the NFL. I think a guy like Keon Coleman, who was a two-sport star not only in high school, but also played at Michigan State, he could go to the NBA right now and score a point before any basketball player that you could mention could come to the NFL and score a touchdown.”

“If he could, he would,” Rivers replied.

Rivers pointed out that the best counterexample to his statement would be Charlie Ward — who despite being a Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback, was largely a backup point guard in the NBA. That, however, proved to be the wrong player to single out to Griffin, who used the opportunity to tout his own bonafides.

“I’m a Heisman Trophy winner, Austin. I know Charlie Ward was a basketball player,” the 2011 Heisman Trophy winner said. “He was a quarterback that should have played in the NFL and he went and played in the NBA. Come on, man. Like I know that.”

That’s where the debate ended, with host Mike Greenberg — who had his feet on the table for much of the segment — admitting that he had lost complete control.

“This conversation is ridiculous,” Rivers said.

“Yeah, but you started it,” Greenberg correctly noted.

As relative media newbie, Rivers likely didn’t realize what he was starting when he first made his comments two weeks ago. But if he didn’t know then, he’s certainly aware by now that ESPN has no qualms about running a debate topic into the ground — no matter how ridiculous it might be — so long as it elicits strong stances and emotions on both sides of the argument.

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About Ben Axelrod

Ben Axelrod is a veteran of the sports media landscape, having most recently worked for NBC's Cleveland affiliate, WKYC. Prior to his time in Cleveland, he covered Ohio State football and the Big Ten for outlets including Cox Media Group, Bleacher Report, Scout and Rivals.