Within their own cities, they are second-string addresses, but Brooklyn, Compton and West Tampa each might well consider itself the center of the sports universe. Imagine a borough that has produced not only the winningest coach in NBA history, but the man who previously held that distinction... college football's second-winningest coach ... two boxers who grew up within a mile of each other and held heavyweight belts within three years of each other. And we haven't even brought up Joe Torre yet. Viewed from the perspective of sports history--or hundreds of miles above the earth--there's no arguing that, for producing elite talent, these are America's most fertile breeding grounds.
December 27, 2004
Onetime winningest NBA coach played on fenced-in rooftop court of P.S. 122 in Williamsburg.
Bernard and Albert King
NORTH OXFORD STREET
Fort Hamilton High grads three years apart, first-round picks of the New Jersey Nets four years apart; Bernard's been stumping for Brooklyn arena for Nets.
Before becoming an NBA Hall of Famer, he was a playground legend on the blacktops of Bed-Stuy.
Alltime winningest NBA coach didn't make Boys High team until his senior year.
Raised a mile from Mike Tyson, Bowe stayed straight, graduating from Thomas Jefferson High.
Heavyweight champ's tortuous path began with lawless upbringing on Brownsville streets.
NBA Dream Teamer in '92 led Xaverian High to state championship after transferring from Manhattan's Power Memorial.
Giants fan when Subway Series were the rule; won his own as Yanks' skip in 2000.
EAST 23RD STREET
Signal-caller at Brooklyn Prep grew up in same neighborhood as Vince Lombardi.
Known for hoops prowess at Lafayette High; only a bit player on the '55 Dodgers title team.
As 10-year-old in Compton, All-Pro lineman was stabbed 12 times protecting younger brother during a fight.
Red Sox and Dodgers All-Star was slugging shortstop and star defensive back in high school.
At '56 Olympic trials became first athlete to high-jump seven feet; won gold at that year's Melbourne Olympics.
WEST PIRU STREET
All-America outfielder at Centennial High was third pick in '74 draft, spent 17 years in the majors.
EAST COMPTON PARK
With Dad's urging, Serena and Venus got start on courts at corner of Atlantic Avenue and Compton Boulevard.
Three-sport star at Compton High knocked out teammate Pete Rozelle's teeth in basketball practice.
As student journalist, future NFL p.r. man turned commish helped Snider get big pub for a no-hitter.
EAST BENNETT STREET
Dominguez High teammate of Tyson Chandler's in '97--98; mom Diane still lives in his childhood home.
Five-time NBA All-Star rode the pine at Dominguez High, then got game in San Pedro summer league.
As freshman made daily 132mile round trip from San Bernardino before moving to nearby Buena Park.