There's a difference between loyalty to the home team--athletes
imported to play for our local colleges and pro franchises--and
the deep emotional bond we share with hometown heroes, the local
legends we knew back when. They are the boys and girls from next
door, or the next town. We watched them grow up, watched them
play when it was still play. Unfortunately, these luminaries are
almost inevitably dispersed because of sport's mercenary nature,
lured away by scholarships or contracts. Well, we're bringing
'em all back home for the millennium--not necessarily to where
they were born, but to where they first showed flashes of the
greatness to come. Thus, Broadway Joe is in Pennsylvania, not
Alabama or New York; and the Mailman is in Louisiana, not Utah.
The result: the top 50 from your state and, on the following
pages, a list of those from all 50 states. In short, the
ultimate home teams.
College player of year at North Carolina in 1984; six NBA titles
with Chicago Bulls; member of '84 and '92 U.S. Olympic
Seven-time Daytona 500 champion; tops NASCAR in wins (200),
poles (127) and wins in a season (27 in 1967).
Known as the Black Lou Gehrig; batted .340 and averaged 34 home
runs during 17-year Negro leagues career.
Three-time All-America led North Carolina State to 1974 NCAA
Two-time basketball and tennis All-America at Maryland; broke
Pete Maravich's single-season state high school scoring mark.
Alltime NASCAR money leader with more than $34 million;
seven-time points leader; sixth in career wins with 73.
Cy Young winner with 1974 A's; won 20 games or more five
straight years ('71 to '75); played on five World Series winners
with A's and Yankees.
MVP of 1982 Final Four led North Carolina to NCAA title;
seven-time NBA All-Star with Lakers.
Set then NFL records for attempts (508), completions (288) and
yards (3,747) with Redskins in 1967; played in five Pro Bowls.
Only man to win on PGA Tour and Senior tour in same year (1992);
won four majors.
As Cardinals outfielder from 1938 to '53 twice led the NL in
triples; batted .300 over 19 seasons.
Confessed spitballer won Cy Young in AL (Indians, 1972) and NL
All-state high school quarterback; starred as Chiefs linebacker
in Super Bowls I and IV; eight-time All-AFL.
Charlie (Choo-Choo) Justice
As senior tailback at Lee Edwards High led offense that
outscored opposition 400-6; at UNC from 1946 to '49 racked up
then NCAA-record 4,883 yards of total offense.
Pitcher played in major-league-record 1,070 games from 1952 to
'72, winning 143 and saving 227.
Three-time All-America guard is UNC's alltime leading scorer,
with 2,290 points; ACC player of the year in 1979.
Nine-time All-Star forward for Hawks is one of nine NBA players
to score more than 25,000 points.
First black man to win a PGA Tour event, the 1967 Hartford Open;
won '75 PGA Seniors championship.
Starred as a two-way starter at Minnesota; six-time All-Pro as
defensive end with Vikings.
Track standout at North Carolina set U.S. record with 3:58.9
mile in 1960; first person to run sub-four-minute indoor mile.
Won state high jump title for Greensboro High in 1969; '75 NBA
MVP; led league in scoring three times.
North Carolina State All-America quarterback; was NFL MVP with
Rams in 1969; All-Pro four times.
All-America basketball player at Wake Forest in 1920s; Demon
Deacons' first golf coach; played in '35 U.S. Open, '41 U.S.
Five-time NBA All-Star; scored 15,441 points and helped Celtics
win 10 championships.
Niners' No. 2 career receiving leader; made leaping catch
against Dallas in 1981 NFC title game to boost team to first
Minnesota All-America; averaged 20.2 points and 4.4 rebounds
with Hawks and Lakers from 1966 to '79.
First driver to win Daytona 500 and Brickyard 400 in same season
(1996); won career-high six events in '97.
Six-time 20-game winner went 193-128 over 15-year major league
career; led AL in complete games four times.
Member of 1976 U.S. Olympic gold-medal-winning basketball team;
six-time NBA All-Star.
Four-time NBA All-Star and eight-time all-defensive selection;
mainstay on 76ers' 1983 NBA title team.
Luther (Wimpy) Lassiter
Regarded by many as greatest nine-ball player; won 1969 BCA U.S.
Open and 1971 Stardust World all-around championship.
Two-time All-America at Indiana; played on 1960 Olympic
gold-medal-winning basketball team; averaged 31.6 points as a
rookie with Chicago Packers.
Five-time All-Star catcher; batted .333 in Pirates' 1960 World
Series win over Yankees.
Prince Nufer Dixon
America's dominant female swimmer in 1930s and '40s; set world
record in 50-meter backstroke in 1941.
Led underdog UNC Charlotte to 1977 Final Four; with Celtics, MVP
of '81 NBA Finals.
Hoke County High track star won long jump silver medal in 1976
Olympics; took '76 national title with U.S.-record 22'3" leap.
Quarterbacked Tarboro High to 3A title; struck out 36 in
18-inning game vs. Washington High; went 137-130 in majors from
1971 to '84; was AL Cy Young runner-up in '78.
Won 1954, '58 and '59 NASCAR championships and inaugural Daytona
500, in '59.
Won 47 poles and 50 NASCAR Winston Cup Series races from 1953 to
UNC's greatest all-around athlete won bronze in decathlon at
1948 and '52 Olympics; played fullback for Tar Heels.
All-state football and basketball player at Williston High;
played in 5,000-plus games with Globetrotters.
Won 46 races, including the Southern 500 three times; first
back-to-back Winston Series champion in 1956 and '57.
Charlotte Sting guard was runner-up in 1997 WNBA MVP voting; led
North Carolina State in scoring in '89, '90 and '91.
Started at North Carolina as 16-year-old freshman; Cavaliers'
career leader in points and rebounds.
Harvie Ward Jr.
Two-time U.S. Amateur golf champ (1955, '56) also won British
Amateur, Canadian Amateur championships.
NASCAR pioneer won 36 poles and 50 races; won 1965 Southern 500
Member of 1980 U.S. Olympic team; '82 NBA Rookie of Year;
averaged 18.3 points and 12.5 rebounds in 1986-87.
In 1940s the Father of Hang Gliding created delta wings, which
led to design of hang gliders.
Lions tight end from 1968 to '77; played in seven Pro Bowls;
caught then team-record 336 passes for 4,817 yards.
Walter (Teepot) Frye
Stoneville High shortstop is considered the best fielding
infielder in state history; coached Oak Ridge High to a state
title in 1974.