Thursday, June 21, 2007

The global superstar

A couple of weeks ago the Sunday Independent had a long, back-page article about Lebron James. This paragraph caught my eye.
The [NBA's] growth worldwide probably has a lot to do with [Michael] Jordan, who was one of those sportsmen who perform at such a sublime level that they transcend the confines of their own game. Their excellence is such that even people who know nothing about the sport they play recognise them as superstars. Pele was one such star and is perhaps Jordan's only rival as sporting icon of the century gone by. That's how good the Bulls' man was.
A few years ago I was in the middle of a big discussion as to who was the most popular or famous sportsman of the twentieth century. The discussion included Irish, English, Italian, Australian and American contributions. We agreed on Pele and Jordan as sort of 'tied for second', but the one name who we all agreed was bigger than both of them was Muhammad Ali. Ali is still The Greatest.