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1/25/2008 03:26:00 PM
Top Five Current Hometown Athletes
LeBron James has been giving the people of Ohio thrills for many years.
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images
By Lang Whitaker, SI.com
The strangest part about all the Super Bowl hype hasn't been the speculation about Tom Brady's injured foot, but that Tom Brady keeps hanging around New York City. There's a good reason for that, of course, but still, he's hanging around the enemy's home. Not many people seem to care, however, because that's how sports is these days. Players jump around from team to team, city to city, and have friends and homies all over the place. In fact, not many athletes stay with one team anymore, and even fewer have careers in and ties to their hometown (or near their hometown).
Here are my top five current hometown athletes…
1. LeBron James: He's actually from Akron, but it's close enough to Cleveland that everyone considers LeBron a homeboy. Maybe 'Bron can finally erase Cleveland's legacy of losing. Might want to lose the Yankees hat, though.
2. Barry Bonds: Originally from San Mateo, Bonds has spent the last 15 years in San Francisco.
3. Julius Peppers: Born in Wilson, N.C., and he's played his entire college and pro career in North Carolina.
4. Stephon Marbury: From Coney Island, played for the Nets and now plays for the Knicks. Well, technically he's on the Knicks.
5. Ken Griffey Jr.: Despite frequent trade rumors and a propensity to get injured doing even the most mundane things, the Cincy native has spent nearly the last decade playing for the Reds.
Who are your favorite current hometown athletes? Let us know below…
Lang Whitaker is the executive editor of SLAM magazine and writes daily at SLAMonline.com
Lance Berkman is a great Houstonian, a Rice alumni, and a guy destined to be a lifelong Astro (hopefully). He's clean, does charity work for Boys and Girls Country, Methodist Hostpital, and more. Oh yeah, his swing is beautiful too.
He grew up in the Twin Cites, had a football sholarship to Florida State after being named the "National High School sQuarterback Of The Year" in 2000 by The National Quarterback Club. He was named to the all state basketball team in Minnesota his final two years of high school. Yet he turned down the scholarship to Florida State and didn't pursue Basketball to instead enter the MLB draft where he was selected #1 by his home town TWINS ahead of Mark Prior.
After only striking out once in his entire high school baseball career he has continued his great hitting at the MLB level leading the American League in batting average in 2006 with a .347 average. He was the youngest player to win a batting title since A-Rod and was the first-ever American League catcher to win the crown.
It's hard to imagine another player on this type of list who is loved more by the hometown fans than Mauer is.
Minnesota fans don't want Santana to go to New York. They hated to see Garnett go to Boston. Cried when Tori Hunter left to California. Were angry when the North Stars left for Dallas BUT....even Carl Pohlad doesn't want to find out what would happen to him, his family or his soon to be new stadium if he ever decides to not pay whatever it takes to keep Mauer in Minnesota!!
Eric Weinrich - grew up in Gardiner, Maine, played defense for the University of Maine at Orono, then returned to the Portland Pirates (AHL) as a coach after 18 years in the NHL. He is actually playing for the team now.
To add some international flavour to the list here are a few athletes from around the world. Matt Bowen who plays for the North Queensland Cowboys rugby league team in Australia. Paolo Maldini who has followed in his father's footsteps and has played his entire 23 year career for AC Milan. Francesco Totti who has played for his hometown club Roma since he was a teenager and rejected moves to bigger clubs such as Real Madrid and Ac Milan.
Padres have a plethera of talent from SD from Mark Prior, Brian Giles, Heath Bell, AGonz, Oscar Robles (Tijuana), plus last year they had Wells who pitched a perfect game and Marcus Giles and the DR. Dave Roberts.
JOE MAUER, THE HECK WITH THE TWINS, WIN SOMETHING THEN CALL US, DIDN'T MLB TRY TO SHUT DOWN THE TWINS YEARS AGO, THEY SHOULD HAVE. IS MINNESOTA GOT A SPORT'S TEAM THAT HAS WON SOMEHTING THIS CENTURY. NO!!!
I'm pretty sure that the Twins won two world series in a 4 year span from 87 - 91 and not only those but they cleaned up their division 4 or 5 times since 2000, Joe Mauer is definately worthy of being included on this list, he did lead the league in hitting two seasons ago.
JOE MAUER, THE HECK WITH THE TWINS, WIN SOMETHING THEN CALL US, DIDN'T MLB TRY TO SHUT DOWN THE TWINS YEARS AGO, THEY SHOULD HAVE. IS MINNESOTA GOT A SPORT'S TEAM THAT HAS WON SOMEHTING THIS CENTURY. NO!!! ----------- Eloquently put. You’re a true wordsmith. English major, perhaps?
for your next piece why dont you do one for top athletes who wear headbands. that would give you another place to list lebron james. after that, what about top 5 performances by a cleveland cavalier this season. put lebron as top 5 dominant but leave roger federer off? you have extinguished your credibility
What about Josh Smith for the Atlanta Hawks, or Jeff Francoeur for the Braves...both grew up as fans of those team and played HS ball in Atlanta and were drafted by those teams as well, both now All-Stars...