Thursday, February 4, 2010
Lemieux is deity of Pittsburgh
Sports fan and other folks have their stars, but I am willing to bet that none of them mean as much to their respected cities as Mario Lemieux means to Pittsburgh.
If we were ancient Greece, Pittsburgh would have been renamed Lemieux and there would be countless temples around the city where thousands would pay homage to him. I don't think it's an exaggeration.
Finding a needle in a haystack is easier than finding a Pittsburgh fan that has a bad thing to say about Lemieux. It's truly a unique situation. I have no doubt that Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, LeBron James and other star athletes are beloved in their cities. But I don't think they will ever reach the level of absolute awe Pittsburgh fans hold Lemieux in. Heck, when stories circulated that he and his business partners were interested in buying the dreadful Pittsburgh Pirates, the city actually got excited about baseball again. Unless you're from here, you have no idea how hard that is.
People remember Lemieux for saving the Pittsburgh Penguins on three separate occasions. First, it was on the ice. The team stunk and never smelled a championship. Lemieux shows up and and is the biggest thing in the sport since Gretzky. He led the team to two Stanley Cups despite playing with a back that most people could not manage their desk jobs with, let alone play hockey.
His talent can't be overstated. He would have finished his career with an average of more than two points per game if he didn't try to come back one more time and play with Sidney Crosby. No matter what kind of game plan opposing teams had for him, he always seemed to find the back of the net, or at least an open teammate who then found the back of the net. Watching him throughout your life was such a treat, you felt like you were witnessing events that no others could achieve.
Second, he bought the team and saved it from leaving the city. Sure, he might have done this so he could get paid the large sum of money the franchise owed him, but I'm OK with that.
Third, he helped get a new arena and keep the Penguins in Pittsburgh for a long time to come.
How many players, coaches, executives or anyone can claim to have done so much for one team and city?
Forget ancient Greece. If we were to build temples honoring Lemieux today, I'm sure thousands would flock through the doors.
Blues Brothers - Soul Man