American sport has almost taken over my life – the almost is debatable if you ask my girlfriend or close friends.
But, for anyone that tunes in at 3am of a Monday morning like I do you will see the individual and team brilliance that makes walking around Monday afternoon like a zombie it all worthwhile.
For me, these are the athletes who have excelled my love for the sporting landscape;
CALVIN JOHNSON (Detroit Lions, NFL)
In a game where only the strongest dare to stride – Calvin Johnson strides the furthest.
A physical specimen like few others at his position of wide receiver, Johnson’s physical gifts are matched only by his humble nature and other-wordly set of skills.
Despite playing for the often lowly Detroit Lions, Johnson has performed better than any wideout in the NFL in the past eight seasons since entering the league after a standout career at Georgia Tech.
Johnson carries with him the nickname of Megatron, thanks to his seemingly effortless ability to destroy opposing defenders, no matter how many are assigned to quell his output.
Injuries and a gigantic workload have seen Johnson succumb to niggling injuries across the past twelve months but with added weapons on the Lions’ offence, expect the classy Megatron to lead his team to some success.
KEVIN GARNETT (Brooklyn Nets, NBA)
Above is an interview between Garnett and legendary Georgetown coach John Thompson.
Garnett was with Minnesota at the time and despite lofty expectations, the team achieved little.
You can see how much it hurt Garnett to see his team losing.
Those who have been lucky enough to be around Garnett describe him in one word – intense.
And as KG’s career slowly screeches to a halt, his real fans will never – and could never – forget the way he transformed professional basketball.
Entering the league straight from high school, Garnett – alongside fellow prep-to-pro star Kobe Bryant – re-defined the pathway for America’s most talented high school players.
As dozens of high schoolers skipped college and headed straight for the NBA, the league put a halt to the rend and decided to demand at least one season of amateur play from any NBA prospect.
Garnett’s other legacy is left by the way he transformed the power forward position.
Listed at 6-11″ (211cm), ‘The Big Ticket’ became much more than a typical big man as he brought elite passing, playmaking, all-court defence and leadership to the position.
In his 2004 League MVP-winning season, Garnett gave a whole new meaning to versatile as he averaged 24 points, 14 rebounds, five assists and over one steal and two blocks per game.
Almost all young, talented big men entering the NBA these days say they model at least part of their game on Kevin Garnett – and rightly so.
MATTHEW RICHARDSON (Richmond, AFL)
Richo’s acceptance speech after being inducted into the AFL Hall of Fame typified his knockabout character and once again displayed exactly why the football public loves him.
Having met ‘Richo’ before, he will be embarrassed to be listed alongside global superstars like Calvin Johnson and Kevin Garnett but he doesn’t have a choice.
As a youngster growing up in a country town, Richardson was the one player who I looked up to when it came to footy.
The only thing I did not like about the Tasmanian was his ponytail – but fortunately that was erased later in his career.
Recently inducted into the AFL Hall of Fame, Richardson went from a talented, highly credentialed key forward to a National poster boy for anyone who had a second favourite player.
One Brownlow Medal night was hi-jacked when Richardson seemingly came from the clouds to almost steal the medal, despite being well and truly into the twilight of his career.