I am an unabashed Boston sports homer. It has been a glorious decade plus now of Boston sports. Each of the big four teams have taken home a championship, and in the cases of the Red Sox and Patriots, several. The rest of the country’s sports fans hate us with the power of 10,000 suns, and I love to sunbathe in their hate. Nothing makes me feel better than seeing fans of other teams across the country spew their hate-filled diatribes against our teams. With the recent “Deflate-gate” scandal, this has reached levels of hate even I thought was unattainable. I get it – I really do. Growing up in the Boston area, I HATED (and still do) the Yankees. I often say to people not from the New England area that you are taught three things at birth – how to eat, how to drink and hate the Yankees. If I am being honest – this hatred of NY from our slice of the world stems from them being so good for so long. Yep – we were jealous. The old expression really fits here – “they hate us cuz they ain’t us”. Now, with the decade plus of success Boston teams have enjoyed, the shoe is on the other foot – and I am loving every second of it. With Boston sports now at an apex never before experienced here, my friends and I now often argue who are the greatest in each sport. The “Mount Rushmore” of each team is an argument heard a lot around these parts – and it is a tough one. It is tough because we have so many all timers in each respective big four sport that it is really hard to pick just one as the G.O.A.T. of Boston sports. What follows is the four athletes in Boston sports history that I think should be on our “Mount Rushmore”. The rules are this: only one slot per each big four team. The person can be from any era of the team and they have to have won at least one championship (sorry Ted Williams). Here we go:
- Bobby Orr, Boston Bruins – probably the easiest choice of any of the four Mount Rushmore faces to anoint. Orr is not only the greatest Bruin ever, but in the discussion for greatest player in NHL history too (although I concede, homer or no, that Gretzky is the G.O.A.T.). As a defenseman, he changed hockey forever. He was not only outstanding in the defensive end of the ice, but was one of the best offensive players ever too. Up until Orr, defensemen didn’t score a lot, never mind have 100 point seasons. Some of Orr’s accomplishments include: First defenseman to score 30 goals and 40 goals in a season and also the first player to record 100 assists in a season. He is the only defenseman to win the Art Ross Trophy as league leader in scoring and the only player ever to win the Norris Trophy, Art Ross Trophy, Hart Trophy, and Conn Smythe Trophy in one season. Wow. Oh yeah – dude also won 2 championships with the Bruins and has one of the most iconic moments in NHL history – so iconic we built a friggin statue of it outside of the Garden. Honorable Mentions: Cam Neely, Ray Bourque, Phil Esposito, Johnny Bucyk, Eddie Shore.
- Larry Bird, Boston Celtics – I can hear all the people screaming Bill Russell as I type this – and he was AWESOME – but this is my list and I gotta go with Larry Legend. The nickname says it all – you don’t call a guy “legend” if you aren’t the best – and Larry was one bad dude. Larry Bird entered the NBA on the Celtics on a team that the year prior was the worst team in Celtics history. As a rookie, he took a team that did not yet include Parish, McHale, DJ, etc. and took them to the Eastern Conference Finals. From that great rookie season, he and the Celtics were (along with the Lakers) the dominant force in the NBA for a decade plus. Larry was a cold blooded assassin on the court – talking trash and backing it up with clutch play and cerebral basketball skills. He literally struck fear in his opponents – just ask Magic Johnson who famously said “Larry Bird is the only player I feared”. 3 championships and 3 MVPs in his resume backs that up. Yes – Russell had more championships, but that was against a much smaller league and quite frankly, lesser competition. Larry and his Celtics team were playing all time teams of his era like the Magic/Kareem led Lakers, Dr.J/Malone led SIxers and Isaiah/Dumars led Pistons. That is the decision maker for me. Honorable Mentions: Bill Russell, John Havlicek, Bob Cousy, Kevin McHale, Robert Parish, Dennis Johnson, Paul Pierce, Dave Cowens, KG, Tiny Archibald
- David Ortiz, Boston Red Sox – While Bird and Orr seem logical to most, this one I know is going to generate some controversy – but bear with me. Yes – Ted Williams was a better player. Yes, Yaz, Rice, Pedro and many others over the years might have had more “talent” (whatever that means). But answer me this – has anyone in Red Sox history had more implact and been more clutch when it counted (read: playoffs) than Big Papi? I don’t want to hear the Steroids BS. Maybe he did do it – I don’t care. I also know greats like Mickey Mantle were popping antihistamines for a playing edge. Don’t care there either. Papi has 500 plus home runs, and along with Manny Ramirez formed the most feared 3-4 combo of their era, and maybe all time. Papi has won THREE championships with the Red Sox. I capitalize THREE to emphasize the point that, up until him and those teams, it had been about 10,000 years since they had even won ONE. In all three of those championships, Papi was CLUTCH. From his late inning heroics in 2004 and 2007 to his otherworldly performance in 2013 – those don’t happen without him – period. He is my choice to represent the Sox on Mount Rushmore. Honorable Mentions: Ted Williams, Carl Yasztremski, Pedro Martinez, Roger Clemens, Wade Boggs, Jim Rice.
- Tom Brady, New England Patriots – growing up in the 80’s in Massachusetts, I never thought it was possible for me to love an athlete more than I loved Larry Bird. That has changed since the emergence of the greatest living human being today, Tom Brady. People forget that the Patriots were the laughingstock of the NFL for decades. Hell – even our stadium was a joke. That all changed in a game against the NY Jets when Mo Lewis literally almost killed Drew Bledsoe. Enter the chosen one – the greatest athlete of all time and easily the best NFL player of all time. Brady has literally owned the NFL since he took over that fateful day. He owns the highest winning percentage among all time NFL QBs – and it isn’t even close. He has 4 Superbowl championships – tied for most all time, and lots of MVPs (regular season and Superbowl) to boot. Think about this for a second – he did all of this without the great offensive stars around him that players like Manning and others have enjoyed over the years. The best receiver he ever played with was Randy Moss – and that was for only three seasons. This guy literally makes everyone around him better and is the pure definition of winner. Honorable Mentions: Troy Brown, John Hannah, Tedy Bruschi, Vince Wilfork
There it is. For all my non Boston readers, sorry but not sorry. Keep hating – it makes us stronger. Who would you put on the Boston Sports Mount Rushmore? Until next week – there is no spoon.