Tuesday, July 22, 2008

People in Sports I love...

After the "worst" list, what better to discuss than a "best" list? We all have our man crushes, so lets hear 'em.

10) Chipper Jones – Was drafted #1 overall out of high school the year before the Braves became yearly World Series contenders. He is as good as they come at the plate and has become an above average defensive 3rd baseman. It gets overlooked that he volunteered to move to LF when Vinny Castilla was signed while it is equally overlooked that Derek Jeter complained when A-Rod was brought in that he wouldn’t give up SS.

9) Charles Barkley – The reason Charles is so great is because he is at the point in his life where he doesn’t care what he says or who hears it. I watch TNT because I want to know what he thinks about NBA players and coaches and he will tell you without worrying about any consequences. His quotes on gambling, being rich, becoming old, etc are classic. Chuck is the man. Plus, he can always make you laugh by doing this…

8) Joe Johnson - Joe came to the Hawks when nobody else wanted to - And, he did this as he was entering his prime as a player. You gotta love and respect a guy that wanted to be "the man" on a bad team and was willing to take a few years of getting drilled by everybody in hopes it would pay off in the end. Joe isn't a superstar, but making all-star games is starting to become the norm and after making the playoffs, the Hawks are on the up-and-up. Unless ASG screws it up...

7) Ron Franklin - Since I had a few announcers on the "worst" blog, I had to put my favorite on this list. You know it is fall when you turn on ESPN Saturday night and hear Ron Franklin's voice calling a marquee match-up. His voice is awesome, he is always prepared, and never tries to do anything more than set up the action.

6) Tim Howard - One of the best 5 goalkeepers in the world is American - and plays for Everton FC. This makes you a lock on this list for me. Timmy is good enough right now to be captain of his club and for his country. He is brilliant in net and has world class reflexes and instincts.

5) Mark Richt - This one may be a little long. Coach Richt is taking some heat his off-season because naysayers think he "only recruits thugs" and like to make jokes about arrests. The truth is, 3 of the 7 charges from this off-season have been dropped and 3 more are underage drinking/DUI. Not that those offenses are minor, just not acts of what I think would be "thuggish." One guy, Michael Lemon, has a serious charge against him. His girlfriend cheated on him and he saw the guy at a party and picked a fight with him. That's the worst of it. It is waaaaay better in Athens than in a LOT of college towns. Even Vanderbilt had a player kick out a window of a squad car after being arrested. A Florida player stole a credit card off a dead woman and used it to buy gas. An Alabama linebacker had a cocaine operation going through 4 states. Much worse charges of drunk gun waving (Mizzou), pouring beer on cops (Wazzu), and Grand larceny (UVA), are happening all over the country. It is just a case of having 100+ college kids with little supervision away from the practice field/weight room. You know what that equals? Shenanigans.

Richt is a great coach and an even better human. To say he puts on a "front" and is a cursing psycho that only cares about winning behind the scenes is ridiculous. All he does is put my Dawgs in the mix every year by doing some outstanding recruiting/coaching/hiring/retaining.

4) Jessie Tuggle - Jessie had a very under appreciated career with the Falcons but was great on the field and in the community. He was the type of guy I could look up to as a pro athlete when I was growing up. He never left the Falcons and saw them reach an unimaginable Super Bowl as his career was ending. Just a good 'ol Georgia boy that went from Griffin to Valdosta to Atlanta to local sports hero.

3) Herschel Walker - Another great Georgia boy that, although a bit nuts now, will always be the greatest college football player of all-time to me. Quotes like "The ball ain't heavy" and his dominant career in Athens that started with an undisputed National Title make Herschel a lock top 3 on this list. He also has highlights like this…

2) Dominique Wilkins - 'Nique spent many years at #1 on this list and was only recently passed for the top spot. Somehow left off the NBA 50 greatest list, 'Nique had a hall-of-fame career playing for the Hawks. Growing up and attending his basketball camps were awesome. Further, he is the greatest dunker of all time (was robbed in Chicago) and lit up the Omni when I used to be at most games. Oh, and he also was a Dawg!

1)John Smoltz - I freakin' love this guy. He is great with the media, speaks what is on his mind, is a big game performer, great leader, great teammate, etc. If the Braves are 7 games behind the Mets and are entering a 4 game series at Shea in July, Smoltzie will tell anyone who will listen that they need to take at least 2 of 3. No cliche/Tom Glavine answers from this guy. He may go down as the greatest post-season pitchers of all time, won a Cy Young, and is still gutting out his career with 1/3 an arm. I think the reason he moved to #1 is I truly believe he wants the Braves to win another World Series as much as I do. There are a lot of athletes in this town that you can't say that about...


Beezbo said...

10. Calvin Johnson
Unbelievable. Worth the price every time.
9. Al Horford
It's like when we drafted Vick and we knew we had a stud that we get to watch grow into a absolute machine. #7 is now #G0173815, so now Big Al gets the attention. Making the dagger shot to put away Game 3 and getting in Pierce's mug as he was on the ground was amazing. Plus, I yelled "Feed the beast!" roughly 200 times during that game.
8. Warrick Dunn
Great guy, great player, great teammate. He wasn't too productive at the end, but he was always out there giving his all.
7. Keith Brooking
Also spent his whole career in GA. Always plays hard. I hate how locals have turned on him because he's lost a step. He's chosen to stay and play for us and that deserves respect. Like Chipper, agreed to play out of position when we brought someone else in (on several occasions).
6. Bobby Cox
Best manager/coach in Atlanta history. The players love him. He's old school. I remember somebody making a joke that he was a few years away from riding an electric wheelchair to the plate to argue with the ump. That was in 1992.
5. Chipper
Like Smoltz, he has made a rapid rise to the top. Each year I learn to love and appreciate this guy more than the year before.
4. Maddux
Greatest free agent signing in Atlanta history. I worshiped him back in the day.
3. Tuggle
Just like you said... a lifetime in GA. The only bright spot on some crappy teams. Staying loyal to the Falcons and being rewarded with the Super Bowl. I was at the game when his #58 was put in the Ring of Honor.
2. Smoltz
Ten years ago, he would have been behind Maddux, but he continues to move up and should really be 1a.
1. Nique
No doubt... my favorite athlete of all-time.

mike said...

Felix Jose, Al Horford, Juan Dixon, Bobby Cox, Jamal Anderson, Shawn Kemp, Ken Griffey Jr, Dominique Wilkins, John Smoltz, Henrik Larsson