Lebron James will be crowned soon, with his first NBA championship, but is he the best athlete in South Florida sports history?
At this point, it is clearly a two horse race with Hall-of-Famer Dan Marino providing the only competition. Plenty of lengths behind are Shaquille O’Neal and Dwyane Wade.
Let me clarify my question. I’m not asking who has meant the most to the community or their franchise. I am asking which player in South Florida sports history, was the most dominant in their sport, regardless of how long they represented the south of the Sunshine State.
Let’s start with the Florida Marlins. I’m not talking about Jeff Conine or Dontrelle Willis. I’m looking for players like Miguel Cabrera, Gary Sheffield, Mike Piazza, Ivan Rodriguez, Andre Dawson, Moises Alou, Benito Santiago, and Trevor Hoffman. Would any of these players come into the conversation if we were talking about the Top 10 baseball players of all-time? No. Piazza is in the discussion for greatest catcher of all-time but that’s about it.
How about the Florida Panthers? Believe it or not, four Hall-of-Famers have played for this hockey franchise. They are Ed Belfour, Dino Ciccarelli, Igor Larionov, and Joe Nieuwendyk. The “Russian Rocket” Pavel Bure is also in the discussion but none of these Panthers are household names when we talk about hockey greats.
The Miami Dolphins boast Larry Csonka, Bob Griese, Larry Little, Jim Langer, Dwight Stephenson, Nick Buoniconti, Paul Warfield, Jason Taylor, and Zach Thomas. In the end, everyone knows Dan Marino is the greatest Dolphin ever.
The Heat provide us with Alonzo Mourning, Shaquille O’Neal, Tim Hardaway, Dwyane Wade, and Lebron James. Despite all the bridges he burned, Shaq is one of the best EVER. Unless Wade raises his game in the coming years, O’Neal will be regarded as the second best Heat player in history. Like Marino, Lebron James, while still in the midst of his career, is easily the most dominant player ever to don a Heat jersey.
Of all the players mentioned, only three make the discussion for Top 10 in the history of their sport. Marino and Shaq are in the discussion but will not be included in everyone’s list.
Right now, Lebron James, entering his prime, should be on everyone’s all-time NBA Top 5. I’ll argue that only Michael Jordan should be ranked ahead of him. Sorry, Kobe lovers. In the end, James will be the best player in NBA history.
At this moment, he is merely the best player in South Florida sports history.
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