Posted: Friday March 16, 2007 11:18AM; Updated: Friday March 16, 2007 1:54PM
In honor of the official holiday of the 10 Spot, St. Patrick's Day, we'd like to recognize the most prominent Patricks (plus Pats, Paddys and Pattys) in sports history. Erin go bragh!
1. Patrick Roy: The four-time Stanley Cup-winner may be the finest goalie of alltime. He leads in career wins (551) and playoff wins (151). Perhaps most significantly, he taught millions of Americans that the letters that comprise his last name don't always rhyme with "coy."
2. Patrick Ewing: OK, so he didn't win a title and might not have understood the meaning of the word "guarantee." Still, the Big Fella earned his spot as one of the NBA's 50 Greatest Players. He entered the league as a fearsome shot blocker, but when his balky knees limited his mobility he re-invented himself as one of the best jump-shooting big men ever through hard work and -- let's be honest -- buckets of sweat. Honorable mention NBAers: Pat Cummings, Patrick O'Bryant (OK, NBDL).
3. Pat Tillman: An All-American as an undersized linebacker at Arizona State, Tillman surprised many NFL observers by excelling for the Cardinals after a switch to safety. Then he shocked even more pundits by retiring after his fourth season, turning down a $3.6 million contract, to enlist in the military in May, 2002. Moved by the 9/11 attacks, Tillman and his brother, Kevin, became Army Rangers. Tillman served in both Iraq and Afghanistan before he died in a friendly fire incident in the latter country on May 28, 2004. His number has been retired by both the Cardinals and ASU. Honorable mention NFLers: Pat Summerall, Pat Swiling, Patrick Kerney, Patrick Surtain, Pat Haden, Pat McInally, Pat Tilley, Pat Leahy, Paddy Driscoll (a QB from 1920-'29 and Hall of Famer).
4. Pat Riley: Ewing's former Knicks mentor didn't bring a championship to New York but won four as a head coach with the Showtime Lakers before adding a surprise title last year with the Heat. Loses some points for inspiring a generation of coaches with slicked-back hair. Still coaches the Heat when he feels up to it, which seems curiously to coincide with the health of his star players.
5. Pat Summitt: The former Patricia Head is the winningest coach in NCAA basketball history (men or women) with 941 wins and counting. The super-serious Summitt has won six titles with the Lady Vols yet was still willing to don a cheerleader's outfit at a Tennessee-Florida men's game this season to repay UT men's coach Bruce Pearl's body-painting act at one of the women's games.
6. Pat LaFontaine: The hockey Hall of Famer played his entire career in the state of New York for the Islanders, Sabres and Rangers. The slick center finished with 1,103 points in 865 games and would have had more if not for problems with concussions. Honorable mention NHLers: Patrick Marleau, Patrick Elias, Pat Flatley, James Patrick, Lester Patrick, Craig Patrick.
7. Patrick Rafter: The two-time U.S. Open champ from Australia reached the No. 1 world ranking in 1999 but held it for just a week, the shortest reign in tour history. Honorable mention: Patrick McEnroe, Pat Cash, Patty Schnyder.
8. Padraig Harrington: We need at least one true Irishman on the list. Harrington hasn't broken through yet in a major but he's won twice on the PGA Tour and 10 more times on the European PGA circuit. He's also played on four straight Ryder Cup teams, the last three won by the Euros. Honorable mention: LPGA founding member Patty Berg, who won 60 LPGA titles including 15 majors.
9. Pat Burrell: Pat the Bat has never really developed into the consistent, big-time slugger he was supposed to be, though he does have six straight 20-plus homer seasons. Plus, he's the subject of this quote from Dallas Green: "It's neat to have money, it's neat to have good looks, it's neat to have broads all over you." Honorable mention MLBers: Pat Listach, Pat Borders, Pat Tabler, Pat Mahomes, Pat Zachary, Pat Combs.
10. Danica Patrick: If this was a list of Q-ratings or endorsement income, this IRL driver would rank at the top. Since it's about accomplishments, though, she's lucky to squeak in at No. 10. Then again, the graphic accompanying today's 10 Spot would be much the poorer for her absence.
Honorable mention: Patrick Vieira (soccer), Patrick Arnold (BALCO chemist), Dan Patrick and Mike Patrick (broadcasters).