High school champion, NCAA champion, Olympics champion, World Cup champion, professional champion. Mia Hamm - Champion. Uploaded by businessweek.com.
As Americans revel in our improbable and wildly dramatic Women’s World Cup victory over Brazil this week, lots of us remembered back to the last time women’s soccer captured the national imagination. Mia Hamm led that American squad in capturing the World Cup, capped by a dramatic shootout win over China before 90,000 crazy fans in the Rose Bowl.
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Mia Hamm was always an individual soccer phenomenon. She led her high school team to the state championship. At UNC, she took the Tar Heels to four NCAA championships. She was the youngest American woman ever to win a World Cup at the age of 19 on the 1991 squad. She led the 1996 and 2004 women’s teams to gold medals in the Olympics. And her Washington Freedom team won a professional championship in 2003.
Now Hamm is the mother of twins (she married baseball star Nomar Garciaparra) and manages the Mia Hamm Foundation for patients with aplastic anemia, and their families. Her adoptive brother, Garrett, died of the disease. Did she lead women’s soccer to the promised land some predicted following that 1999 World Cup? No. But her athletic career and personal achievements have made all Americans proud.
Here’s an oldie but goody: Q. Who was the only person who could hold Michael Jordan to under 30 points per game? A. Dean Smith. Oh, the old jokes, they just never stop bringing a chuckle.
By now you know that Jordan didn’t make his high school basketball team as a sophomore. We don’t know that coach’s name, so we can’t make fun of him as we do Dean Smith. We can only say he ranks as one of the worst judges of athletic talent in sports history.
Jordan went from his hometown of Wilmington, NC to the University of North Carolina. All he accomplished his freshman year was to become ACC Rookie of the Year and make the winning shot in the national championship game. After winning the Naismith and Wooden Player of the Year awards as a junior, he entered the NBA draft.
Michael Jordan. Uploaded by popartdks.
He was chosen third in the first round of the draft. So we can induct two more coaches into our talent scout Hall of Shame.
Simply, Michael Jordan is the greatest player in the history of basketball. He did everything not just well, but extraordinarily well. He won six NBA titles, and was incredible in the clutch. Five MVP awards. Defensive Player of the Year. Slam Dunk Contests. He was selected ESPN Male Athlete of the Century. I maintain that honor should have belonged to Babe Ruth, but they didn’t ask me. (Yes, they should have.)
It’s a good thing he tried to become a Major League Baseball player. His failure in the minor leagues showed that he was, in fact, human.
Today’s video: Some of the greatest plays ever by the greatest player ever:
Copyright 2009-2011, Robin G. Chalkley. All material on these pages, and the listing of items as Great American Things, is copyrighted. The exceptions are the photographs and videos, which remain the property of their respective owners.
Header photo used courtesy of Flickr photographer too melo.