Top 10 Home-Grown Current New York Sports Icons
This slideshow represents the Top 10 current home-grown players in New York area sports and contains players who were drafted or signed by their current team and spent their entire career with that team.
New York sports fans attach themselves with their homegrown sports talents a little more because being in the biggest city in the world allows the local teams to spend more money on free agents and focus less on developing their own players as much as a small-market team would.
10: David Lee - New York Knicks
David Lee was drafted by the Knicks in the first round (30th overall) in the 2005 NBA Draft. After averaging just 16 minutes per game in his rookie season, he really broke out in his sophomore year.
He averaged a double-double with 10.7 points per game and 10.4 rebounds per game.
During the NBA's All-Star Weekend in 2007, Lee, playing for the sophomores, was named MVP of the Rookie Challenge, finishing with 30 points on 14-of-14 shooting from the field and 11 rebounds.
So far in 2008-2009, Lee has excelled in new head coach Mike D'Antoni's system, averaging 16.0 points per game and 11.9 rebounds per game.
Most Knicks fans like myself are hoping that GM Donnie Walsh will find a way to re-sign Lee without jeopardizing any chance at one of the top prized free agents on the 2010 free agent market.
9: Osi Umenyiora - New York Giants
The Giants struck gold with Osi Umenyiora near the end of the second round of the 2003 NFL Draft.
Umenyiora has had two excellent seasons in New York, one of which happened to end with a ring on his finger, during the 2007 season when the Giants defeated the Patriots in Super Bowl XLII.
Over the first two seasons of his career, Osi had eight sacks and 78 tackles to show for it over the course of 29 games.
The following season, he exploded onto the scene, tallying 14.5 total sacks with 71 tackles and four forced fumbles.
After this performance, the Giants rewarded him with a six-year, $41 million extension.
His 2006 season came up short, when he missed six games in the middle of the season due to an injury.
During the 2007 Super Bowl winning campaign, Osi reached the quarterback 13 times, while making 52 tackles and forcing five fumbles.
He also set a Giants franchise record by recording six sacks against the Philadelphia Eagles, contributing to an NFL record-tying performance of 12 sacks by the entirety of the New York Giants defense.
He missed the 2008 season due to a preseason injury when he suffered cartilage damage in his left knee and was forced to go under the knife for season-ending surgery.
Throughout his six-year career, Umenyiora has made a name for himself as part of a strong defensive front that the New York Giants put out every Sunday.
His 41.5 career sacks, 232 tackles, 14 forced fumbles and two defensive touchdowns in 72 games clearly gives him a spot on this list as one of the great home-grown players this city has produced who is still playing.
8: Patrik Elias - New Jersey Devils
Patrick Elias has been a fixture on the New Jersey Devils since he was drafted by the team in the 1994 NHL Draft.
The 32-year-old winger has played in 817 games for the Devils and has scored 294 goals, added 411 assists and has won two Stanley Cups during his 13-year tenure with the team.
Elias is the franchise's all-time leading scorer, while also holding franchise records for most points in a season (96) and most career game-winning goals (60).
He was also named the Devils captain on Oct. 5, 2006, becoming the seventh captain in team history.
A true leader for the Devils, Elias' credentials make him worthy of this list as a current home-grown sports icon in the New York area.
7: Shaun Ellis - New York Jets
Shaun Ellis was one of the famous four first-round draft picks by the New York Jets in the 2000 NFL Draft.
During that draft, the Jets grabbed a pair of defensive ends with back-to-back picks at No. 12 overall and No. 13 overall, with John Abraham being the other.
Ellis, also known as The Big Katt, has manned the left defensive end position for the Jets over the past nine seasons.
He's gone through four head coaching changes during that time (Al Groh, Herman Edwards, Eric Mangini, Rex Ryan) and has been able to survive each of them.
The 31-year old defensive end hasn't exactly been a double-digit sack machine his entire career, but he has solidified his starting spot on the defensive line since his arrival in 2000.
He is excellent at both defending the run as well as rushing the passer. He has 61.5 sacks on his career, along with 465 tackles and 11 forced fumbles.
In nine seasons, Ellis has played in 140 games, missing just four games during that time.
Ellis is currently the longest tenured New York Jet on the roster and after a solid 2008 season (60 tackles, eight sacks, two forced fumbles), he has shown no signs of slowing down.
6: Jose Reyes - New York Mets
Since his arrival on the scene in 2003, Jose Reyes has been the table-setter for the Mets offense since the 2005 season.
As any Mets fan would tell you, it has been fun to watch this kid progress and mature as a Major League hitter.
After getting a taste of the big leagues in the 2003 and 2004 seasons, Reyes was given the full-time job as the Mets shortstop in 2005.
His unbelievable speed gave the Mets an identity at the top of their order and a unique presence.
At the tender age of 25, Reyes has already become the Mets all-time stolen bases leader (290) and the franchise all-time triples leader (71).
In his six seasons in the majors, he has compiled a .287 career batting average, 290 stolen bases, 71 triples, 61 home runs and 310 RBIs.
He has led the league in triples during 2005, 2006 and 2008 as well as led the league in stolen bases between 2005 and 2007.
5: Henrik Lundqvist - New York Rangers
"King Henrik," as Rangers fans refer to him, has been the savior for the Rangers over the past few seasons. He was drafted by the Rangers in the seventh round of the 2000 NHL Draft.
After taking over as the starting goaltender for the team in 2005, he led the team to a 30-12 record with him in net with two shutouts and a GAA of 2.24.
Over the next three seasons, Henrik was nominated for the Vezina Trophy, given to the league's top goaltender, but missed out on winning the trophy each time.
At 25 years old, Lundqvist signed a six-year contract worth $41.25 million with the Rangers in February 2008.
Earlier this month, Henrik became the first goalie in NHL history to win 30+ games in his first four seasons in the league. With this on his resume, Henrik is on his way to a fantastic career.
Lundqvist is one of the biggest names in New York sports right now and will be over the next decade.
4: David Wright - New York Mets
David Wright is currently the face of the franchise for the New York Mets. The 26-year old was a first-round draft pick by the Mets back in the 2001 MLB Draft.
After a quick rise through the minors, Wright made his debut with the Mets on July 21, 2004. Since then, he has not looked back and has been the team's starting third baseman ever since.
With the way Wright has played, he is on his way to a fabulous career.
In five seasons with the Mets, he has a career batting average of .309 with 130 home runs, 489 RBIs, 92 stolen bases and 464 runs.
In 2007, Wright became just the third Mets player to join the 30-30 club, stealing 30 bases, while hitting 30 home runs.
During the same season, Wright was awarded his first Gold Glove and finished fourth in MVP voting.
The three-time All-Star third baseman is the best home-grown player to come out over the past five years in New York sports.
Wright, while still young, has quietly become the team leader.
3: Mariano Rivera - New York Yankees
Mariano Rivera is arguably the best closer in MLB history. The 39-year old signed on with the Yankees as an amateur free agent in 1990 at just 20 years old.
The team called up Rivera from the minors and tried him out as a starting pitcher in 1995, but mixed results pushed Rivera to the bullpen, where he became a fixture as the team's setup man during the 1996 World Championship-winning season.
After taking over for John Wetteland as the closer for the pinstripes in 1997, Rivera has not looked back.
Rivera is widely considered to be the best relief pitcher in postseason history, pitching in 76 games while recording 34 saves and an outstanding 0.77 ERA in 117.1 innings.
Hall of Fame closer Dennis Eckersley on Rivera: "The best ever, no doubt."
Trevor Hoffman: "He will go down as the best reliever in the game in history."
ESPN's Buster Olney: "No other player can instill calm in his team's fans as reliably as Mariano Rivera, the game's dominant closer and arguably the best relief pitcher of all time."
Rivera currently sits second on the all-time saves list, behind former Padres closer Trevor Hoffman with 482 saves and a career 2.29 ERA.
Without doubt, Rivera is one of the best home-grown talents this city has ever seen and is still going as strong as ever at 39 years old.
2: Martin Brodeur - New Jersey Devils
Martin Brodeur is arguably the best goalie the NHL has ever seen. He was drafted by the New Jersey Devils in the first-round of the 1990 NHL Draft.
The 36-year old netminder has is the only goalie in NHL history with seven 40+ win seasons.
He is also four-time Vezina Trophy winner (recognized as the league's best goaltender), a four-time Jennings Trophy winner, a ten-time NHL All Star, and a Calder Memorial Trophy winner.
Earlier this month, Brodeur became the NHL's all-time winningest goalie, surpassing Patrick Roy with the 551st win of his career.
Brodeur has led the New Jersey Devils to the playoffs all but one time during the course of his 16-year career, and has led the team to three Stanley Cup championships.
When the time comes, Brodeur is undoubtedly a first-ballot Hall of Famer. He is also one of the most recognizable names in New York sports.
1: Derek Jeter - New York Yankees
Derek Jeter was drafted in the first-round by the Yankees in the 1992 MLB Draft. He got his first taste of the majors in 1995, but was sent back down to the minors.
He became the Yankees starting shortstop in the 1996 World Championship winning season, while also winning American League Rookie of the Year.
Jeter went on to lead the Yankees to another three World Championships over the next four seasons.
Over his 14-year career, Jeter has been named to the All-Star game nine times, won the Gold Glove award three times, and was named the 2000 World Series MVP.
The New York Yankees named Jeter the 11th captain in Yankees history on June 3, 2003.
On Sept. 9, 2008, Jeter passed Babe Ruth for second place on the Yankees all-time hit list and is now just 186 hits behind Lou Gehrig's franchise leading 2,721 hits.
Jeter owns a career .316 batting average with 206 home runs, 1,002 RBIs, 275 stolen bases, 2,535 hits and 411 doubles.
With a few more seasons under his belt, Jeter is sure to surpass Gehrig and reach 3,000 hits.
You cannot make a New York sports icon list without Derek Jeter. Without doubt, a first-ballot Hall of Famer and the face of New York City sports.
That completes the list of current home-grown New York sports icons. A few names worth mentioning that didn't make the cut:
Jorge Posada, Jerricho Cotchery, Leon Washington, Kerry Rhodes, Brandon Jacobs, Brian Gionta, Darrelle Revis, and Rick DiPietro.