The five boroughs have produced some all-time great athletes in the past. Unfortunately, it doesn’t appear any of the current crop of active athletes raised in the city will be put in the same category as Mike Tyson (Brooklyn), Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (Manhattan) or John McEnroe (Queens).
That’s not to say the present sports landscape is barren of athletes who have done their city proud — and that doesn’t even count those who were born in the city and grew up elsewhere.
NYC’s rich basketball heritage is alive and well thanks to NBA standouts such as the Bobcats’ Kemba Walker (Bronx) and the Pacers’ Lance Stephenson (Brooklyn) — plus Bulls All-Star center Joakim Noah, who split his childhood between Manhattan and France. It’s tempting to count Carmelo Anthony, but the Brooklyn-born Knicks star spent more of his formative years in Baltimore.
The ladies can ball, too. Tina Charles (Queens) of the Connecticut Sun already has an MVP award on her resume.
New York still is producing baseball players, but with the retirement of Manny Ramirez (Manhattan), the current crop doesn’t look quite as bright. Braves reliever Anthony Varvaro (Staten Island) has a fine 2013, and Jason Marquis (Staten Island) has put together a long career. Queens’ Mike Baxter and Manhattan’s Dellin Betances played for the Mets and Yankees, respectively, last season in limited roles. Beyond them, few others have made a name for themselves in the majors yet.
Boxing remains strong, especially in Brooklyn. Paulie Malignaggi outpointed Zab Judah at Barclays Center in December in a battle of two of the borough’s finest fighters of the current generation. While the NFL rarely sees former city kids, the Jets have a couple on their offensive line in starter Willie Colon (Bronx) and reserve Oday Aboushi (Brooklyn).
Even rarer are hockey standouts, who tend to come from Long Island more often than Manhattan island.
Brothers Joe and Brian Mullen (Manhattan) had successful NHL careers, as did former Ranger Nick Fotiu (Staten Island), but none of them have played in at least 17 years.