In honor of Black History Month, the follow-up to Black History Month : Top Athletes Of Today and Black History Month : Top Athletes Of Today II, here’s a look at the top 10 African-American Athletes of today, part three.
Much like part one, many of the athletes featured have one championships, or are newly-minted champions, others are on the rise in their respective field and will most likely be debated and questioned.
Much like the athletes featured in the first and second Top Black Athletes of Today features, these top ten African-American athletes are at the top of their respective game.
- No.10 Pittsburgh Pirates CF Andrew McCutchen – The man known as “Cutch” is one of the most clutch performers in MLB today. A two-time winner of the Silver Slugger, Gold Glove and the NL Most Outstanding Player honors, the three-time NL All-Star would be named the NL MVP award en route to leading the Pirates to their first post-season since 1992.
- No.9 Cleveland Cavaliers PG Kyrie Irving – NBA Rookie of the Year, Three-Point Shooting Champion and All-Star Game MVP, the former Duke Blue Devil is one of the brightest up-and-comers in the NBA today. A two-time NBA All-Star in his first three years in the league, Irving’s ability to dazzle defenders with his dribbling, pin-point accuracy from long-range and ability to score in the clutch gives Cleveland hope for a bright future post-LeBron.
- No. 8 San Diego Chargers TE Antonio Gates – The most dominant pass-catching tight end of his time, the former undrafted free agent out of Kent State is the archetype of all NFL tight ends today. A former basketball player, Gates burst onto the scene in 2005, and would go on to eight Pro Bowls (2004-11) be named All-Pro five times (2004, 2005, 2006, 2009 and 2010) and the NFL 2000’s All-Decade team. One of the true pioneers at the position, Gates is the reason that tight ends are more preeminent on offense now, then at any other time in NFL history.
- No.7 New Orleans TE Jimmy Graham – If the aforementioned Gates is the standard-bearer of modern-day NFL tight ends, then another converted basketball player in Jimmy Graham is it’s future. Graham, who played one year of football at Miami(FL), Graham would go on to two Pro Bowls and named to the AP’s Second team All-Pro in 2012 and First-Team in 2013. Since 2012, Graham leads all NFL tight ends in touchdowns (25), targets (279) and yards (2,197)
- No.6 Seattle Seahawks CB Richard Sherman – Brash, bold and loud, the former fifth-round pick out of Stanford is the undisputed leader of Seattle’s vaunted “Legion of Boom” defense. The 154th overall pick in the 2011 draft, Sherman has self-proclaimed himself as the best cornerback in the NFL. He would back those words up in making a game-saving deflection in the end zone on a pass intended for San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Michael Crabtree.
- No. 5 Boston Celtics PG Rajon Rondo – One of the best all-around point guard in dribbling, assists and creativity, the former Kentucky Wildcat was the little engine behinds Boston’s vaunted “Big Three”. Before there was the LeBron/Wade/Bosh “Big Three” down in Miami, Rondo help fuel the “Big Three” of Paul Pierce, Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett to two NBA Finals appearances against the arch-rival Lakers, winning in 2008 and losing in 2010. With Garnett and Pierce now in Brooklyn and Allen down in South Beach, Rondo, who is coming back from a torn ACL, is now the undisputed leader and building block for new head coach Brad Stevens.
- No.4 Baltimore Ravens DE/LB Terrell Suggs – With Ray Lewis retired and now at ESPN, the man known as “T-sizzle” is the new vocal leader of the feared Baltimore Ravens defense. The former Arizona State product is the Ravens all-time leader in sacks (94.5) and with six Pro Bowls and a NFL Defensive Player Of The Year award in 2011 under his belt, the Ravens would reward Suggs with a new four-year $28.5 million extension through 2018, keeping him in the Charm City till the end of his career.
- No.3 Brooklyn Nets SF Paul Pierce – Forever a member of Boston’s “Big Three” along with Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett, “The truth” would be set free from Beantown and land in New York’s largest borough in 2013. A 2008 NBA Finals MVP for his performance in a six-game win over the Los Angeles Lakers, Pierce is one of the Celtic’s most-beloved players since Larry Bird and John Havlichek, and will undoubtedly one day see his jersey retired to the Garden rafters.
- No.2 Miami Heat SG Ray Allen – It isn’t too often that a player gets to be a apart of two of the most vaunted NBA trios in recent history. In the case of Ray Allen, he is the lone exception. One of the most accurate and feared three-point marksmen in NBA history, the man known as “Jesus Shuttlesworth” made one of the most dramatic three-point shots in NBA history in helping Miami beat the Spurs in Game six of the NBA Finals last spring. A two-time NBA champion, Allen is the modern stand of three-point specialists today.
- No.1 Brooklyn Nets PF/C Kevin Garnett – Fierce, feared and respected for his brashness in skill, Kevin Garnett inspires both rivals and teammates alike and a leader. The man known as “The Big Ticket” is one of the NBA’s most respected statesman and one of its most respected players. With an uncanny ability to pass and shoot for a big man, Garnett’s many accomplishments in winning being named NBA MVP (2004), Defensive Player of the Year and an NBA title (2008), the 15-time NBA All-Star and nine-time member of the NBA’s All-Defensive Team helps him stand out as one of the best power forwards to ever play the game.