Thursday, February 16, 2017

Finding the Sidney Crosby of other sports, and beyond

Sidney Crosby is about to hit another milestone. The Pittsburgh star is now just one point away from the joining the 1,000-point club, and will be looking to hit the mark Thursday when the Penguins host the Jets.

It will be just the latest accomplishment for a player enjoying one of the best stretches in recent hockey history. In the last 12 months, Crosby has won a Stanley Cup and a Conn Smythe, along with a World Cup and tournament MVP honors. He's leading the NHL in scoring this year and has a good shot at winning his third Hart Trophy as league MVP. And he's not even 30 yet.

It's hard to come up with new ways to praise Crosby. His status as the best player in the game isn't in any serious dispute these days, and even fans of other teams have come to respect him. Telling hockey fans about how great Sidney Crosby is almost seems like a waste of time; at this point, you're preaching to the choir.

But what about everyone else? Most of the people out there aren't diehard hockey fans, and it seems like they should get an opportunity to enjoy Crosby, too. But how? That's trickier, since it's hard to really appreciate somebody you're not familiar with, or may have never even heard of.

So in honor of what will soon be his latest milestone, I figured I'd do my part in helping to spread the Crosby legend. They say the easiest way to learn about a new topic is to compare it to something you already know. So let's do that. Let's reach out to fans of other sports and beyond, as we try to identify the Sidney Crosby of other fields.

The Sidney Crosby of the NBA is: Lebron James.

We might as well start with an easy one. Like Crosby, James was a heavily-hyped phenom before he even made his pro debut. Like Crosby, he was the first overall pick in his draft year. And, like Crosby, he's faced plenty of criticism over the years, both fair and unfair, thanks to the bright spotlight that comes with being the best.

Granted, Crosby's never switched teams, and he's certainly never done it with a televised special like James' unfortunate appearance in "The Decision." But Crosby did have his own shady made-for-TV moment back in 2005, when the league orchestrated a special lottery to determine which team would get to draft him. It's not a perfect comparison, but it's close enough.

Don't overthink it. Lebron is the Crosby of the NBA. Next.

The Sidney Crosby of the NFL is: Hmm. This one's trickier.

If we're talking about the best player, we should be picking a quarterback. But Tom Brady doesn't really work. Neither does going back through history for guys like Joe Montana or John Elway. Peyton Manning is probably the best match we can find here, but it's a stretch.

So I'm going to go in a different direction by narrowing the focus a bit: The Sidney Crosby of NFL wide receivers is Antonio Brown. Crosby may not have his personality or social media skills, but he shares a couple of important characteristics. For one, we get the whole Pittsburgh connection. But they also share a dilemma: Where do they rank among the best at their position?

Both players are probably the best right now. Both have a younger player nipping at their heels for that honor, in Connor McDavid and Odell Beckham Jr. And most importantly, both are facing an almost impossible task of achieving "best ever" honors, because the guy at the top of the list is just too good.

In Brown's case, that's Jerry Rice. In Crosby's, it's Wayne Gretzky. Both were so far beyond anyone else that future generations were just battling for second place. (Also, in this metaphor Randy Moss is Mario Lemieux—record-setting freaks who may have been the most skilled of all time but didn't play long enough to challenge the all-time numbers.)

>> Read the full post at Vice Sports

New book:

Buy it today: | | iBooks

1 comment:

  1. That's a long way to go for a Phil Kessel joke. I read the whole thing, though. Bravo.