Athletes from Our Childhood Who Aren't as Good as We Remember

Nick Dimengo@@itsnickdimengoFeatured ColumnistMarch 14, 2013

Athletes from Our Childhood Who Aren't as Good as We Remember

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    We all had those guys growing up that we absolutely admired.

    Whether that was shown by buying their shoes, plastering posters of them on every inch of our bedroom wall or defending them when friends even mentioned the word, "Overrated."

    But looking back on some of them now, were they really that great?

    Some were. Some weren't.

    This is a tribute to the ones who may not have been as good as we originally thought.

25. Larry Johnson (Former NBA Player)

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    Though Grandmama won the Rookie of the Year in 1992 after being the No.1 overall pick, besides a couple good seasons that earned him All-Star bids, he didn't really leave too many lasting impressions.

    "LJ's" legacy got built up in college from his stacked teams at UNLV, but faded in the pros thanks to chronic back problems, forcing him to retire early.

24. Freddy Adu (Pro Soccer Player)

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    One of the more recent stars on this list, Adu hasn't quite accomplished any of the goals so many pundits had expected from the former teenage phenom.

    After signing with MLS team D.C. United at just 14-years-old, we all thought he'd lead U.S. soccer to great heights.

    As of right now, it looks like we all got fooled.

23. Penny Hardaway (Former NBA Player)

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    Before you get your panties in a knot, let us explain Penny's addition here.

    In his first four seasons in the NBA, "Penny" was one of the most versatile players in the entire league, displaying a rare playmaker's ability.

    But once Shaq departed for the Lakers, leaving Hardaway as "The Man," his career seemed to fade fast, battling injuries and the heavy weight of being the key guy.

22. Randall Cunningham (Former NFL Player)

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    When putting this list together, we asked ourselves this—Which athletes had a few good years statistically, but didn't quite lead their teams to great heights?

    Cunningham falls under that category for us.

    Sure, his '98 Vikings team went 15-1 and to the NFC Title Game, but he never seemed to get over the hump into elite status.

    Did he reinvent the QB position? Absolutely. But for being the first to change the way people looked at running QB's, he gained more praise than he probably deserved.

21. Miles Simon (Former College Basketball Player)

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    Simon had the shoes—ironically, those sick Penny "Foamposite's" that cost $200—and the game to help lead Arizona to a national title in 1997.

    After that though, what in the hell happened to this guy?

    He was solid enough to win Most Outstanding Player during that title run, but failed to make any impact whatsoever at the next level.

20. Hideo Nomo (Former MLB Player)

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    With a career winning percentage of .530, Nomo proved he was no slouch.

    But after taking the Majors by storm with his funky delivery and nasty stuff, the rest of the league seemed to catch-up to his stuff and figure him out.

    He may have won "Rookie of the Year" in 1995—helping him earn an All-Star spot—and actually tossed a couple no-hitters, but many of us forget after those first couple years, he was a very average pitcher.

19. Any First Round QB from the '99 NFL Draft

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    Remember when this QB class was supposed to rival that of the 1983 Draft when it produced Hall of Fame tossers John Elway, Dan Marino and Jim Kelly.

    What'd we get from them?

    A couple Pro Bowls, one Super Bowl appearance and a lot of inconsistency across the board is what we got.

18. Adam Morrison (Former NBA Player)

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    At this point, it's no secret that Michael Jordan really struck out by selecting Morrison No. 3 overall in the 2006 Draft.

    The former Gonzaga star became a fan favorite thanks to his underdog Zags making a run to the Sweet 16 in his junior season—though he caught some flack for his on-court tears.

    Though controversial, comparisons to Larry Bird were being tossed around, yet we now know those should have never even been whispered.

17. Darin Erstad (Former MLB Player)

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    Sure, Erstad had some great moments in his career—most notably his 2000 breakout season—but he was more just a great athlete than anything thanks to his punting days on the '94 National Championship Huskers football team.

    He won a World Series and is now the head coach for his alma mater's baseball team, but to us, it just seemed he received more praise than he really deserved.

16. Anthony Mason (Former NBA Player)

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    "Mase" had the shaved hair to match the bullying attitude.

    The former forward was a key contributor and enforcer for the mid-90's Knicks teams—and actually earned an All-Star nod—though back then it seemed like his game was more polished than it actually was.

15. Jean-Sebastien Giguere (NHL Goaltender)

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    Giguere's actually still in the league with the Avalanche, but that doesn't necessarily mean he's the No. 1 guy with them.

    If you went back to his 2003 season though, you'd think the goaltender was the next coming of Patrick Roy or something, when he earned the Conn Smythe Trophy for his playoff performances in leading the Ducks to the Stanley Cup Finals—which they lost 4-3 to the Devils.

    Though he did raise the Cup in 2007 as a member of the Ducks, for his spotty play and inconsistency, he was never as great as some might have thought.

14. Glenn Robinson (Former NBA Player)

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    The "Big Dog's" son may be hooping it for the Wolverines this year, but the former NBA player always seemed to just pack the stats while in his prime, but never lead his team to great success.

    Yes, he did win a ring with the Spurs in 2005, but that was far after his prime status had ended, only averaging 17 minutes per game for San Antonio during the season.

    He may not have been a bust, but he wasn't as good as we wanted to think he was either.

13. Dorsey Levens (Former NFL Player)

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    Maybe it's just us, but we always thought Levens was better than he really was.

    After looking at his stats though, he just happened to be the mainstay in the backfield for the Packers for a lot of years, eclipsing the 1,000-yard mark just twice in his 11-year career, and never leaving his mark on the team.

    He may have a ring, but that doesn't mean he was a great back.

12. Derrick Coleman (Former NBA Player)

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    Derrick Coleman is a sad case.

    The former No. 1 overall pick always had the raw talent to be absolutely unstoppable—and some nights he wanted to be just that—but more often than not,  he was lazy and played selfishly, taking a big night statistically over a team victory.

    Adding insult to injury, he's believed to have blown through his mega earnings from his playing days.

11. The Entire '94 U.S. Men's World Cup Team

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    Growing up playing soccer, we looked to guys like Cobi Jones, Tony Meola and Alexi Lalas as international stars comparable with guys like Roberto Baggio, Romario and current U.S. head coach Jürgen Klinsmann.

    Then reality hit us that made us realize these guys weren't anything even close to the skill level of the world's finest—though the squad had a great run on their home soil, leaving us with some very cool moments.

10. Natrone Means (Former NFL Player)

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    Means was an absolute beast for the Chargers in the mid-'90s, bullying any defender getting in his way.

    As luck would have it though, Means' greatest individual season just so happened to be the year San Diego made a run to the Super Bowl, making all of us then middle school fans assume he was a force in the NFL—but he unfortunately never again finished with more than 883 yards rushing in a season.

9. Tommie Frazier (Former College Football Player)

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    Frazier was a tremendous college football player, helping lead his Cornhuskers to a national title in 1994, and leaving the Florida defense dizzy and winded while trying to keep up with him.

    But after his great title season, Frazier was never able to parlay that into a professional career.

    For those who saw Frazier in the Fiesta Bowl, they remember trying to duplicate him in their backyard.

8. Michael Chang (Former Tennis Player)

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    Though Chang actually won a Grand Slam in his career (1989 French Open), the one thing we remember about him is that Reebok commercial with him.

    Other than that, his highest world ranking was No. 2—which was probably the quietest top-3 ranking in the history of tennis.

7. Keyshawn Johnson (Former NFL Player)

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    "Key" may have been a former No. 1 overall pick and star wideout at Southern Cal, but he earns a high spot here because he was always thought to be better than he really was.

    A three-time Pro Bowler, Johnson's claim to fame was his mouth and pouty personality, which helped him land a book deal entitled, "Just Give Me the Damn Ball!"

6. Stephon Marbury (Former NBA Player)

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    Oh "Starbury," how you seemed to have it all early in your career.

    As a dynamic point guard who played alongside Kevin Garnett in Minnesota, Marbury could have helped lead the T-Wolves to great heights.

    And though he had a solid NBA career, he wanted to be the main man so badly that he fell from grace thanks to his antics.

5. Brian Bosworth (Former Football Player)

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    What professional athlete do you know that writes an autobiography just two years into his professional career?

    "The Boz," that's who.

    Known for his outlandish personality, the former Oklahoma star may have earned headlines because of it, but his production on the field never matched-up.

4. Mo Vaughn (Former MLB Player)

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    As an Indians fan, I'm still convinced Vaughn paid-off voters for the A.L. MVP trophy in 1995, robbing Albert Belle.

    That aside, Vaughn's numbers significantly decreased after leaving Beantown to sign a multi-year deal with the Angels.

    Considering his first game with the team ended with him limping off the field, we all probably should have seen it coming.

3. Eric Lindros (Former NHL Player)

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    For any NHL fan, you know why Lindros lands as high as he does.

    An absolute troll, he was supposed to re-invent the sport, utilizing an enforcer's body with the skill of a versatile winger.

    He may deserve Hall of Fame consideration, but he's here for never quite living up to the legendary status he was given in his first couple seasons in the league.

2. Kordell Stewart (Former NFL Player)

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    Former Nebraska QB Tommie Frazier was referenced earlier as never making it to the NFL, but we'd like to think had he gotten there, his career would have been similar to Stewart's.

    "Slash" captured the excitement of kids everywhere because he was a break from the traditional, drop-back signal-caller, often lining up anywhere on the field.

    But his stats suggest that he was nothing more than what Tim Tebow is now—a freak athlete trying to play quarterback.

1. Bobby Bonilla (Former MLB Player)

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    Bobby-Bo doesn't top our list because he broke the hearts of every Cleveland fan back in the '97 World Series—though it didn't help his cause.

    No, the former big-leaguer's here because he never impacted the game the way he could have thanks to his unreal talents.

    Looking at stats alone, one would think he was a great player, but don't be fooled, because the way we look at a guy like Ken Griffey Jr. is how Bonilla could have been remembered too.