Top 10 Sports Personalities of the Year
6. Mark O'Meara
Another athlete who was never expected to win the Big Game. Well, in 1998 he won two of them. Coming into this year he had 15 PGA Tour victories but a 0-56 record in majors. At the Masters in April he calmly stroked in a 20-foot birdie put on the 72nd hole to capture his first victory in a major. He added a British Open title three months later. At 41, O'Meara proved to the sport that to win you don't need to be in your 20s, drive the ball 350 yards, or be sponsored by Nike. It was a long wait for O'Meara, but his success in 1998 showed us how patience pays off. And why giving up is something you decide, not something others decide for you.
7. Jeff Gordon
Is this guy human? That's what people around NASCAR are starting to wonder about Jeff Gordon. Eleven wins in 1998, millions of dollars in winnings, millions more in endorsements, the prom queen wife. Lots of people have a reason to be envious. But they should love Gordon for how his popularity with the mainstream has helped lift the sport to higher levels of exposure and swell the bank accounts of all the competitors to higher levels as well.
8. Michael Jordan
Insert superlative here. Michael Jordan did it once again in 1998. Some of his career totals: 6 NBA championships. 6 NBA Finals MVP awards. 40 million points. This season was called the "three-peat repeat" and many of them have called it "a last dance." But with a lockout raging, the final chapter of the NBA epic has yet to be penned. Either way, when Jordan has long since been put out to stud on the back nine, the guys on the senior golf circuit had better watch their bad backs, because as everyone knows, Michael Jordan plays to win.
9. Eddie Robinson
National Treasures like Eddie Robinson come along once in a generation. Or, in Eddie's case, once in two generations. Coach Rob led the Grambling Tigers for an astounding 55 seasons, starting his first campaign way back in 1941. Over those many years he amassed a record of 408-165-15 to become the NCAA's all-time record holder in football coaching victories. Robinson retired following the 1997 season — 17 conference titles, 11 U.S. Presidents, and only eight losing seasons later.
10. Chamique Holdsclaw
The most dominant college basketball player last year was not Antawn Jamison. She didn't even play the men's game. She was Tennessee's Chamique Holdsclaw, and she led her team to an undefeated season and a national championship. It's not just Holdsclaw's considerable talent that makes her so valuable; it's her ability to get her teammates to "step it up."
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