As the echoes of the cheers for Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera fade, I thought it would be fun to examine a kind of basketball equivalent.
I have in mind the particular triple capped off in London just a couple of months ago, when the U.S. Men’s Basketball Team won the Olympic gold medal. Prominent among the players on that team was LeBron James, who’d just finished leading the Miami Heat to the NBA Championship after the regular season which had seen him named the league’s Most Valuable Player.
Two men and one woman had previously achieved that particular triple distinction: Michael Jordan, Bill Russell, and Sheryl Swoopes.
No other MVP has played on both the winner of an NBA or WNBA championship and the winner of an Olympic gold medal within the same year, although a few others have earned all three baubles over the course of their careers.
In a sports world where athletes speak of winning a championship, OR an Olympic gold medal, OR an MVP award as an overwhelming achievement, what must it be like to be triply celebrated within a matter of a few months?
If the members of the Connecticut Sun cooperate, Tina Charles will be the next basketball player to find out. She is the MVP of the 2012 WNBA season. Though Sue Bird, Diana Taurasi, and Candace Parker got more ink, Charles was an important asset to the gold medal-winning Olympic team, which she led in offensive rebounds.
The Sun are presently battling the Indiana Fever in the Eastern Conference Finals. If they prevail, they’ll be three wins away from enabling Tina Charles to join Swoopes, James, Jordan, and Russell in a select group.
Hmmm. That’s five players…just enough folks for a starting line-up. But two of them are centers. Were you the coach, would you give Tina Charles or Bill Russell the opportunity to play the position? They both won national championships as college players in addition to the aforementioned triple. Russ won eleven NBA Championships. That has to be factored in, and he has about five inches on the six-foot four-inch Charles, which should also count for something. And then there’s the deference due to experience. But the flip side of that is that Russell may have lost a step. He’s 78 years old. Tina Charles is 23.