Drafting With The Stars
Portland and Seattle have it way too easy. They know exactly what they're going to do on Thursday night with the first two picks in the NBA draft. Where's the fun?! That's why we've decided to flip the script here. That said, what would you do if you were the decision-making GM for a fictional Las Vegas sports franchise just announced today? Let's say, hypothetically, every athlete currently on every team roster was at your disposal. Who would you choose to build a team, an image and a city around? Yeah, there's a lot to consider â€“talent, marketability, age, relationship to Pacman Jones- when making such an important decision. But on the flip, there aren't many criteria to the draft, just as long as the guy plays on a pro team (Sorry, Tiger) right this second (We'll holla, Candace Parker) in the United States (Nope, Ronaldinho). So, if you had the top pick in the All Sports Draft, who would go No. 1? Here's my listâ€¦
20. Martin Brodeur, 35 years old, hockey- When it's all said and done, Martie will go down as the first- or second-best goalie in history. His '06-07 numbers â€“an NHL-record 48 wins, 9th all-star game appearance- tell us as much.
19. Eddie Johnson, 23, soccer- We know you aren't all that familiar with soccer. But with this Kansas City star who recently notched back-to-back hat tricks for the first time in MLS history, you really need to make an exception.
18. Champ Bailey, 29, football- One of only 2 defensive players to be unanimously chosen for last year's All-Pro team (Miami's Jason Taylor was the other), this Denver corner didn't give up a single touchdown last season. (Yeah, read that againâ€¦)
17. Seimone Augustus, 23, basketball- Put it like this: If Kevin Garnett leaves, this Lynx guard becomes the best basketball player, male or female, in the entire state of Minnesota. That's just how good the '06 WNBA Rookie of the Year is.
16. Albert Pujols, 27, baseball- Batting just .301 with 16 dingers and 48 RBI, the St. Louis first baseman would be first to tell you he's having an un-Albert year at the plate. Even still, you can't name two guys more scary with a bat in their hand.
15. Dwyane Wade, 25, basketball- Flash appears to be a stand-up, family guy. The kids love'em. The camera loves'em. Everybody loves'emâ€¦ weeeeell, everybody save for opposing guards in the fourth quarter.
14. Ryan Howard, 27, baseball- Josh Gibson, Hank Aaron, Barry Bonds. If the reigning MVP keeps swinging for the fences like he's done the last two years, he'll easily join this list of great African-American sluggers.
13. Steve Nash, 33, basketball- Agree or disagree with Nash's two straight MVP awards (he narrowly missed a third this season), you're a moron if you don't think the wily Canadian has heart, smarts and a decent shot just inside the arc.
12. Tim Duncan, 31, basketball- Sure, the best player on the NBA's best team is kinda boring on the floor. But man, that victory parade the other day for the Spurs' fourth title since '99 looked fun as hell.
11. Yao Ming, 26, basketball- Chinese tourists flock to Vegas every day. Imagine how many would stay even longer if you had this seven-foot wunderkind's face plastering all your billboards.
10. Sidney Crosby, 19, hockey- Truthfully, we don't give a puck about the NHL, but when we hear folks comparing this Pittsburgh sensation (and youngest MVP ever) to Wayne Gretzky with zero hesitation, even we fall back in awe.
9. Reggie Bush, 22, football- Making world-class defensive backs look silly and selling Reeboks is the easy part. It's the whole "Put the Gulf Coast on My Backâ€ thing that's so impressive.
8. LaDanian Tomlinson, 28, football- Many thought hell would freeze over before we witnessed another Barry Sander or "LTâ€ on the gridiron. Amazingly, this Charger with the NFL record for most consecutive games with a TD (18!) is both.
7. Jose Reyes, 24, baseball- The exciting Dominican finished 7th in the NL MVP race last season. Trust and believe the base-stealing, wide-smiling Mets shortstop will win at least two before he goes to Cooperstown.
6. Peyton Manning, 31, football- The likeable country boy who could do everything (make 7 Pro Bowls, throw 70 yards, sell 700 products) but win the big game finally won the big game.
(Tie) 5. Kobe Bryant, 28, basketball; Shaquille O'Neal, 35, basketball- Unquestionably the hardwood's best talent in nearly a decade, No. 24 offers everything fans, franchises and Fortune 500s could ask forâ€”except much brand loyaltyâ€¦ The Diesel, on the other hand, likely won't yap as much to the media, but with just one functioning knee, his days of dominance on the court might be over.
4. Derek Jeter, 33, baseball- How many guys do you know that have had as many trophy chicks (Mariah Carey, Jessica Alba) as actual trophies (3-time Gold Glover, World Series MVP) yet still keep an untarnished image?
3. LeBron James, 22, basketball- Just ask anybody in Northeast Ohio if the do-everything guard with talent closer to Magic's than Michael's can take an organization to the Promised Land's doorsteps.
2. Tom Brady, 29, football- If there's one thing haters disparage more than a chiseled-face, All-American guy, it's a chiseled-face, All-American guy who can lead his team to three Super Bowl victories in four seasons.
1. Alex Rodriguez, 31, baseball- From '96 to '06, A-Rod led all Major Leaguers in home runs, RBI and total bases. But why stop there? The game's best player currently paces the '07 campaign in homers and RBI, too.
Just missed the list: Vince Young, Miguel Cabrera, Dirk Nowitzki, Walter Jones, David Ortiz, Michael Vick, DaMarcus Beasley, Dany Heatley, Ichiro, Landon Donovan, Shawn Merriman, Diana Taurasi, Ken Griffey Jr., Gilbert Arenas, Jamarcus Russell, Dwight Howard, Devin Hester.