Growing up, I took a liking to sports. At times it was intense— to the point of starting disagreements on the playground because I knew that my teams were the best. I felt that they deserved more than what they were recognized for.
As a sports enthusiast, I have carried that passion with me into adulthood and made it into a refined hobby, albeit a pricey hobby. But the price has been well worth it.
To say that I have watched a lot of sports is an understatement. Luckily, I have been witness to some pretty legendary things.
I remember my first time watching the Utah Jazz play on the floor of the Delta Center. I saw the greats Karl Malone and John Stockton have the game of their life. I remember the excitement and wonder as the game progressed. Although I could not tell you the outcome of that game if you asked me, it was an experience I will never forget.
I keenly remember my first major league baseball game. It was in Yankee Stadium, and I witnessed pitching legend Mariano Rivera come in for the 9th inning and close out the game. I remember the pure simplicity of watching one of the greats perform at the top of his game.
A year after my first game in Yankee Stadium, I returned to watch Derek Jeter step up to the plate and on the first pitch for the Yankees, followed that ball as it flew out of the stadium for what was probably the most perfect home run I have ever seen.
Last summer, I stood with a simple crowd and watched as the Los Angles Dodgers became the first team in over thirty years to win off of a walk-off balk (think of gaining a base when the pitcher flinches). I had the luck of watching history unfold before my eyes.
My point in these stories is really this: I have had the distinct honor of seeing players who I would call legends in their own right. Each one brought a certain class and distinction to what they did in their sport of mastery. To be honest, I respect them for what they have done. They have paid the price to become great.
On the flip side, I have seen a lot of the rising generation of athletes on the field. I have seen the Kobe Bryants and the Stephen Currys, the Lebron Jameses and the Chris Boshes of the world. And to be honest, I have a hard time giving them the respect that other skilled players have earned. In my book, they aren’t there yet.
That’s saying a lot for me. Many of the people I listed above — well, minus Bryant — have not yet done anything to impress me that much. Surprisingly, they still think they have earned the same respect as a Malone or a Jeter. The truth is, they fall woefully short of being legends.
However, who knows what time will tell. James has already risen to the top in several records lists, Curry still makes shots that are unbelievable and Bryant is almost a shoo-in for the hall of fame. They soon will join the long list of players and athletes that have earned that respect.
But until that day, they are just heroes. And heroes come and go. True legends never die. And that pedestal is only held by the best of the best.