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|David Robinson rises above the rest of today's athletes.|
Robinson was the ultimate team player. He stepped aside and let Tim Duncan be the man as a rookie, he himself having been the No. 1 guy since he was drafted. Most athletes with big heads and egos and contracts would have left or whined about something like that. He shows on and off the court how a professional should conduct themselves. Off the court, he gives back to his community and didn't get caught up in drugs and all that junk. He also served his country in the military and I respect that.
He doesn't whine about calls, he RESPECTS other players and coaches, and proves that determination and commitment can accomplish anything. He's an MVP, he is a champion and he is a representative of this country on many fronts. David Robinson is a symbol of loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity, and personal courage on and off the court. He is a true hero.
The greatest sports hero has to be Walter Payton. Walter was a man small in stature but big in heart. He was my inspiration throughout my athletic career. A fan in Chicago once said that Micheal Jordan was a great hero, but inaccessible. Not Walter. He was great and very accessible. He was the people's hero. He embodied the virtues that many of our sports figures lack. He was faithful, responsible, determined, humble, and honest. An all-around class act. He was a truly refreshing face in sports history.
He faced life with the same dignity and commitment that he faced death. He showed young ballplayers what it meant to play the game and never forgot that he was blessed.
Newport Beach, Calif.
|We'll never forget the heroics of Air Jordan.|
I shouldn't have to list reasons why, but here it is, for those with severe memory loss:
Nobody in sports could be a bigger hero than MJ. Who else could command a five-minute standing ovation as a visiting player -- in PHILLY?
My grandfather passed away when I was 7. My parents got divorced when I was 12. I went away to college when I was 18, and my dog died when I was 21. That's a lot of changes and endings. But since I was 2, Cal Ripken was always there. The guy saved baseball and never let the fans down, no matter how silly the rest of the game appeared around him. He might not have had the jaw-dropping highlights like some of the other heroes on the list, but he redefined the position of shortstop, his statistics are as good as anyone's (with 3,000 hits and 500 homers), and his relationship with the fans was as good as any player who ever played the game.
In an era of overpaid athletes and whiny superstars, Cal may not have coddled the media like the Jordan's of the world, but he was there at the ballpark every single day, talking to the fans that he played for. As he made his way around Camden Yards during his victory lap after breaking Gehrig's streak, the fans weren't just reaching out to him, they were reaching out to an old friend. And he was reaching right back, to the average-Joe fans that he so embraced.
Los Angeles, Calif.
|Lance Armstrong's determination always puts him ahead of the pack.|
After the personal, physical and emotional tests that he has been through; I can't believe you left Lance Armstrong off of your list.
Battling back to health is quite an accomplishment, but to dominate the most strenous athletic event in the world -- three times -- certainly makes him a hero. Go, Lance, go ...
You speak of Jackie Robinson in glowing terms, which is how he should be spoken about. Robinson was a professional who had to face an overwhelmingly racist America. However, Jessie Owens was an amateur who traveled to Berlin at the height of the Nazi regime and embarrassed Hitler with his incomparable talent. He lifted up America and its people. It was an act not just for African Americans but for the world against intolerance.
I'll get a lot of grief for this, but if it is the "everyman" that captures the heart and imagination of the sports fan, then some recognition must go to my hero, Arnold Palmer.
He took the game of golf to the masses, brought it to the public golfer. His working-class attitude toward the game (yes, I know, he was raised on a country club), his work ethic and his charisma carried golf to the next level. The masses became the audience. It wasn't just for the golfers anymore.
In some sense, he gave birth to golf on television. He enjoyed the crowds, the attention, the chance to give back (unlike someone in today's game) and carried their hopes in each slashing swing. There were greats before him (Jones, Hogan, Nelson, et al.) and great players, perhaps the greatest of all-time, followed him. But, no one gave the game at the most proper moment a true gentleman, hero, and spokesperson. Arnold Palmer IS an American and worldwide hero.
How on earth can you be so Xenophobic? There is no question about it. Mr. Edson Arrantes do'Nacimento -- "PELE".
Even Muhammad Ali knew it as soon as he met him. For crying out loud, wars in some countries actually stopped when he came to play there. If they would have had the endorsement machines that they have today, you would be saying, "Michael who?" Simply the greatest player in the world's favorite sport. And I am a true blue American!!
Babe Didrikson Zaharias
The only woman you've listed was Billie Jean King. How about Babe Didrikson Zaharias? An Olympic gold and silver medalist in javelin, hurdles and high jump, she was a three time All-American in basketball, earned her nickname after hitting five home runs in a single baseball game, and once won a team title in track and field when she was the only team member (the second place team, with twenty members, came in six points behind her).
Not too shabby, huh?
And all of this was before her golf career, which gave her 82 titles in twenty years and included a 17-in-a-row amateur tournament win streak. She won her third US Women's Open after undergoing an operation for intestinal cancer. She is a founding member of the LPGA, and probably most driving force in its creation. She ultimately died of cancer at only 42. Imagine what her legacy would have been with another twenty or thirty years in sports? She was a trailblazers for women's athletics and a hero for all.
Especially in New England, it's gotta be Bobby Orr. He completely changed the game. It wasn't long after Orr signed with Boston that all the kids were playing hockey in the street.
Wayne Gretzky was the greatest scorer, but Orr was the best player. To this day I have never seen a single hockey player take the puck and skate around the rink with opponents chasing him trying to get the puck away. Orr would do that on a regular basis. You'd think he had Velcro on his stick to make the puck stay with him as he circled around opponents, leaving them wondering where he went. In hockey -- he was the combination of Bird and Magic. And on top of all that, he maintained a squeaky-clean image.
A black man in a white sport, he transcended all barriers, globally. He became a credit to his sport, his family and his culture. His tough spirit on the court was never expressed in his life. A soft-spoken man, but his words spoke volumes to many. He was taken before we were ready for him to go. He left a mark that won't soon be forgotten.
I am in full agreement that Jackie Robinson is the greatest hero in the history of sports ... no question about it. But I cannot imagine a reason why Ted Williams was not on the list. We're talking about the greatest hitter of all time, and a man who sacrificed the heart of his career to go off to fight in WWII. His numbers are unbelievable as is, but give him those years in the prime of his career, and they would become sublime. As far as a clutch player, does it get any better than homering in your last at-bat? And for guts, how about NOT taking a seat in the last game of his .400 season when he would have been assured of reaching that remarkable number. Hard-nosed, courageous, a flare for the dramatic, a war hero, and utterly brilliant.
Teddy Ballgame should be on the list.