The definition of a legend is one who changes the nature of the sport and forces his competitors to innovate their game in order to compete. By these standards, the three greats in my lifetime are:
1.Lawrence Taylor #56 Giants LB
Author Michael Lewis: The game of football evolved and here was one cause of its evolution, a new kind of athlete doing a new kind of thing. All by himself, LT altered the environment and forced opposing coaches and player to adapt. After linebacker Taylor joined the team, the Giants went from the second worst defense in the NFL to the third best. As DB Beasley Reece told the NYT, “I’ve seen quarterbacks look at Lawrence and forget the snap count.” Taylor also upended the entire salary structure in football because offensive left tackles (guarding the QB’s blind side) were making the second and sometimes the highest salaries on the team.
2. Michael Jordan #23 Bulls Guard
Author David Halberstam: Michael Jordan was a very good defensive player. Some considered the best ever at his position on defense. Here went credit to Dean Smith, who, sensing Jordan’s offensive brilliance and surpassing natural ability, had pushed him to excel on defense as well. Out of that early pressure evolved the rarest of players, a brilliant offensive star who also had a hunger for the exhausting and often neglected work of the gritty at the other end of the court. Talented point guard Joe Dumars of the Pistons used to talk about the time and effort Coach Chuck Daley used to establish the “Jordan Rules.”
3. And here we come to an athlete I consider the greatest of any sport in my lifetime. His creative tricks on the halfpipe, and the true fearlessness and athleticism he has displayed can compare to few others. He’s had a rough time in his personal life because he is despised by his competitors and has few friends. This may be because he participates in an individual vs. team sport and is so much more talented than anyone else even at the age of 31. In any case, no further words needed to describe this ‘sick’ dude from San Diego, CA:
Shaun White grabs Snowboard Halfpipe Gold on his very last run …