Back in February, we began a countdown of top 25 Oklahoma Sports Figures since 2000. Here are the links to earlier parts of our countdown:
After the jump, the top 5 most influential sports figures in Oklahoma as voted on by the public. Well, actually it was voted on by me and a few contributors to TLO.
5 Adrian Peterson
The Oklahoma Sooners have had their share of highly touted recruits. Billy Sims. Marcus Dupree. Brent Rawls.
But in the age of the Internet and scores of recruiting websites and gurus (and James Hale), AD was the most touted high school signee in recent OU history. He was dubbed Eric Dickerson with more power. A 210 pound back with track speed. He was slated as the starting tailback for the Sooners by the Nation long before setting foot on campus.
Unlike my weekly columns, AD didn’t disappoint.
If not for Matt Leinart, AD would have been the first freshman to win the Heisman. He amassed 1925 yards rushing. He recorded 9 straight 100 yard rushing games as a freshman. He added a dimension to the Sooners sorely missed in 2003 – a legit running attack. Unfortunately, he couldn’t play defense or call plays or block lineman or perhaps USC would not have obliterated the Sooners at the end of Peterson’s fabulous freshman year.
Adrian went on to rush for 4045 yards in his 2 and half years at OU. After leaving Norman, he made an immediate splash in the NFL, winning Offensive Rookie of the Year in 2007. During that season he rushed for a single game record 296 yards against the Chargers. He is a 4 time Pro Bowler and 2 time All-Pro. And is right now the best professional football player from an Oklahoma institute of higher learning. Yes, that includes you OSU.
4 Bob Stoops
Yes, he seems to have lost the Big Game Bob label. Yes, the program has had some minor NCAA problems during his tenure. Yes, he’s a smug ahole who likes to doosh it up at RePUBlic on an occasional Friday.
But name me 5 other football programs in America that wouldn’t take seven conference championships, 3 BCS bowl wins, and a national championship over the past 11 years. Oh, and a likely preseason top 2 ranking entering the upcoming season. Hell, name me 2 programs in better position right now.
Coach Stoops took Oklahoma football from a laughingstock to the top of the mountain in two years. I was a drunkass fratastic prick student at OU during the Schnelly and Blake years. We lost 26 games in 4 years with those two numbnuts running the program. We have lost 31 games in the 11 years Bob has been coach. Our number one selection might have brought Oklahoma into the conscious of those who didn’t know anything about the 46th state. But it was Bob Stoops that brought Oklahoma back into the national spotlight.
3 Sam Bradford
Is there anything more boorish than listening to a bad sports radio host interview an athlete? You get the same stock questions. You get the same stock answers. You get me and the rest of the educated world switching the station.
Apparently, the WWLS afternoon drive time hosts believe that we, the Oklahoma public, want to hear them interview Sam Bradford. Unbeknownst to me, Bradford has apparently not been available for interview by the dils masquerading as sports radio entertainment. According to Regular Jim Traber, it us, the Oklahoma public, that is being screwed by Sam’s slight. Not Jim. No way. He gets nothing out of interviewing the NFL’s Offensive Rookie of the Year. In fact, he could care less. And he’ll tell you how little he cares about interviewing Bradford over and over and over and over again. Like he does about everything he cares nothing about.
But I digress.
Bradford is simply the best quarterback born and raised in Oklahoma. He might end up being the best football player born and raised in Oklahoma. He is certainly the best college quarterback in Oklahoma history. Just ask Landry Jones, who despite a near record season and BCS bowl win, can’t shake the label “he’s not Bradford”.
2 Blake Griffin
Blake dominated college basketball during his sophomore season at OU. He led the county in rebounding. In the last 20 years, only two other high major ballplayers led the country in rebounding – Michael Beasley and Tim Duncan. He was the reason OU was the second best team in the country in 2008-2009. He is the reason they stayed within 40 of North Carolina that season. He is the reason Jeff Capel still has a job in Norman as of print time.
But honestly, who saw this coming, especially after missing his entire rookie season with a knee injury?
Yes, the highlight dunks are impressive. Yes, he is averaging 22.7 points and 12.5 rebounds per game. Yes, he was the first coach-selected rookie All-Star since Duncan. And yes, he won the Slam Dunk competition.
But more than anything, he looks so much better, faster, and more athletic than anyone else on the court. He has a chance to be the best in the game at any position, surpassing even this guy …
1 Kevin Durant
Oh no! Josh Fields is not number one!? What about Chianti Roberts?! Or [insert random OSU ‘rassler who won a national championship]?! Pity the poor Pokes – not a single Cowboy in the top 8.
But really, who else is going to be number one? Sure, Oklahoma is a football state defined by the success of the Oklahoma Sooners and to a lesser extent the Oklahoma State Cowboys. And to a pretty much non-existent extent the Tulsa Golden Cheese Wedges. But Oklahoma City and the state as a whole have received far greater national coverage (and frankly accolades) due to the rise of one Kevin Durant, a mother effing Longhorn.
Since arriving in Oklahoma City less than 3 years ago, Durant has made Oklahoma City NBA crazy. He is one of the great young talents in all of sports. He is a scoring champ. He is a National Team star. He is an MVP candidate. And he is the leader of the NBA squad best in line for future success. All this coupled with an attitude that I am sure Heat fans wish a few of their players possessed.
One other thing – he strolls into random downtown Oklahoma City sandwich shops every so often for a delicious Prime Rib and Peppercorn on wheat. AWESOME. I saw him at Quizno’s (quick plug for a free full size of toasted goodness) last year ordering said culinary delight. I smacked his ass and wished him good luck. He bolo punched me in the temple. I loved it.