It’s summertime, and that means it’s time for another SportzEdge ® Bracket-style, 64-team tournament! Feel the excitement!!!
Last year, we changed the course of modern human civilization with the Coolest NCAA Logo Tournament, which became a national phenomenon along the lines of a presidential election, Caitlyn Jenner’s ESPY speech, or DeAndre Jordan changing his mind about where he wants to play basketball.
This year, we decided to take on a question scholars have been debating since the 1800’s, maybe.
Who is the greatest athlete in Connecticut history?
There are plenty of outstanding candidates, from Hall of Fame quarterback Steve Young, to four-time Boston Marathon champion Bill Rogers, to all-time great featherweight boxer Willie Pep.
The athletes we considered must have grown up in Connecticut, and we counted only their prowess on the playing field, so coaches, executives and contributors like Walter Camp were not considered.
JIM CALHOUN REGION
1. Brian Leetch
NHL defenseman: 1987-2006
Leetch became a star athlete very early in his life. In high school, he shined in both baseball and hockey at Cheshire High School, and later, at Avon Old Farms. In college, Leetch focused solely on hockey at Boston College where he was an All-American. He was also a top-10 draft pick by the New York Rangers in 1986.
Leetch played 19 NHL seasons– 17 seasons with the New York Rangers. He won a Stanley Cup in 1994 and was the NHL Playoffs MVP in that same year. Leetch is one of 82 players with 1,000 career points. He’s a Hall of Famer and arguably the “Greatest Ranger of All-Time.”
16. Chris Dudley
NBA center: 1987-2003
The Yale graduate and diabetes survivor played 16 years in the NBA with the Cleveland Cavaliers, New Jersey Nets, Portland Trail Blazers and New York Knicks. The 7-footer served as Patrick Ewing’s backup and played big minutes in the 1999 NBA Finals. Dudley is memorable for his charitable efforts off of the court, using his self-named foundation to raise money to help kids living with diabetes. He’s also notable for being an incredibly bad free throw shooter, finishing six whole seasons shooting less than 40 percent from the stripe.
In his career (886 games), the journeyman averaged 3.9 points per game, 6.2 rebounds per game, and 1.2 blocks per game.