Reporting Chris “Mac” McClain
After Steph Curry represented the QC by going off for 54 last night at MSG, I started thinking about the Best Athletes ever to play in the Charlotte area. This list includes Charlotte natives and folks who played here during their pro careers. After numerous listener suggestions and much debate, this is my Top 5.
1) Dale Earnhardt Sr.- The Kannapolis native might very well be the best ever to strap into a stock car. He shares the all time record (with Richard Petty) of 7 Cup titles and he is 7th all time with 76 wins. His combination of driving skill and intimidation was his calling card. He is easily the most polarizing driver in NASCAR history.
2) David Thompson- The pride of Shelby is the greatest ACC player ever and one of the best college hoops players of all time. He was a 3 time All American and he led State to the National Title in 1974. He spent 9 seasons in the ABA and NBA and was an all star 5 times. He averaged 23 ppg for his career and could have been even better if it wasn’t for the rough combination of a terrible knee injury and substance abuse issues.
3) James Worthy- ‘Big Game James’ hails from Gastonia and his college and pro hoops resume puts him on the list. He was the MOP of the Final Four during UNC’s title run in 1983. In the pros, he was a member of the ‘Showtime’ Lakers and won 3 NBA Titles in LA. He was an 8 time All Star who averaged 18 ppg in his 12 year career.
4) Dwight Clark- The pride of Garinger HS is know for making ‘The Catch’ in the 1981 NFC Title Game. He is the 49ers 3rd all time leading receiver and a 2 time NFL All Pro. He won two Super Bowl titles in his 9 years with the Niners.
5) Julius Peppers- This Bailey, NC native spent the first 8 years of his career with the Panthers. He averaged 10 sacks and 4 forced fumbles a year in Carolina and went to five Pro Bowls. Pep is 6’6 283 and moves like a big wideout. Throw in his hoops career at UNC and you have the definition of an “athlete.”