Friday, May 23, 2008

The Next One vs. The King

Taking a look at the Big Four Sports in North America, Football, Basketball, Baseball, and Hockey (Note: Golf has probably replaced hockey) only Basketball and Hockey have players that have been almost unarguably deemed a single player as the best ever in their respective sports. If you need further explanation you probably don’t need to read this article, but we are talking about Wayne “The Great One” Gretzky and Michael Jordan. Every upcoming player, next superstar, or stand out prospect is measured against these athletes as a way to glorify or dismiss their achievements. These two sports are enduring a number of changes both to the games themselves as well as the image and attitude of the organization and it’s fans. That brings us to the two players that have been most closely compared to the best in their sport; Sidney Crosby and Lebron James. We all know Lebron’s story, the high school kid out of St. Vincent-St. Mary’s in Akron Ohio, the number one overall pick in the 2003 NBA Draft, Rookie of the Year, the stand out dubbed “King James”. The Cavaliers subsequently had the following records: 02-03 (Year before Lebron) 17-65, 03’-04’ 35-47, 04’-05’ 42-40, and 05’-06’ 50-32 final record and trip to the NBA Finals. The story line seems somewhat similar to Crosby who has been made the face of the Pittsburgh Penguins and the NHL. Crosby was picked first overall by the Penguins in the 2005 NHL Draft at the age of 18. The 2004-2005 season never happened due to a strike, but his rookie year the Penguins chalked up a record of 22-46-0-14, the following season their record jumped to 47-24-0-11, and finally this year he led the Pittsburgh to a 47-27-0-8 record and a trip to the Stanley Cup Finals. That leads us into the question: which was more impressive? Who is really worthy of being compared to the greatest ever? Keep in mind that both are playing in so called small markets. Lebron is playing in a small market where his team has never won a Championship, and renewed the sport in a city dominated by Baseball and Football. Crosby joined a club that was presumed dead in a sport that was facing a similar fate. Football is the only thing keeping Pittsburgh alive, especially since the Penguins haven’t been good since the late eighties early 90’s where they won a pair of Stanley Cups and had some of the best players in the NHL i.e. Mario Lemieux and Jaromir Jagr

Broken Down for Easy to Decipher Comparison

Crosby “The Next One”
Doubled Penguins record after one year
Took Team to Finals in 3rd year
Runner up for Rookie of the Year or “Calder Memorial Trophy”
Youngest player ever to score 100 points, and 7th player ever to do it as a rookie
2006-2007 Crosby became the youngest player to ever win the Art Ross Trophy for NHL scoring champion making him the youngest in the history of any of the Big Four.

Lebron “King" James
Doubled Cavaliers Record after one season
Took Team to Finals after 4th year
Rookie of the Year
Averaged 20 points, 5 rebounds, and 5 assists per game in his rookie season (3rd ever to do so)
2007-2008 Scoring Champion

You can go on for days with a number of youngest to and first to accomplishments for bother players careers, but it starts to get a little tedious. There probably will not be another MJ or Gretzky, but changes in the game allow for numbers to fall. After all records were meant to be broken. The question in my mind isn’t whether they are deserving of comparison or will meet those expectations, but whose accomplishments are more impressive in light of those comparisons?

4Real Out….