The sports world is full of successful people. There are athletes, coaches and executives who have paid the price to achieve greatness. Those are amazing people and I could probably make a list a mile long.
What about those who weren’t necessarily the best, but have achieved sports greatness or those who were just in the right place at the right time? This is my list of top most fortunate people in sports.
Patriots head coach Bill Belichick is one of the most talented coaches to ever lead a team. But it is also no stretch to say he is more than a bit fortunate to have a player of Tom Brady’s caliber fall in his lap in the sixth round of the NFL draft. If anyone is saying Belichick knew Brady would be a superstar, they are fooling themselves. Let’s not forget that Belichick received no parades in Cleveland as their head coach. Although nobody really wins in Cleveland, the point is Belichick has been more than a little fortunate to find himself coaching the New England Patriots. A coach is only as good as the pieces he has to play and Coach Belichick has had arguably the greatest pieces in the game. He still manipulates those pieces expertly and is considered one of the greatest football minds in the game.
What do you say about a man who has won 11, combined championships with two NBA teams? With arguably the best players in basketball, Phil Jackson has done what no other coach has done. Was it luck? I’d say to a degree, but Jackson had to be hired and trusted to lead the best ever. That is fortunate by itself. What makes Jackson special is that while he had the absolute best, he managed to get the best out of them. It is one thing to have the best players and get the best out of them, but ... Jackson had to manage those personalities and that had to be a feat in itself.
The sport of golf is fortunate. The PGA could not create a better world for itself if its members had written it themselves. As long as Tiger Woods continues to just show up, it doesn’t matter if he wins or loses, he brings attention to the sport. While some golfers and fans (including me) will say, “golf was here before Woods and will continue to be here long after Woods is gone,” the sport for the moment has no one (and I really mean no one) that drives ratings like Woods can. Even though Woods is the sports favorite bad guy, who the PGA loves to paint as a jerk, he is for now the center of the golfing universe.
Sports take a lot of commitment and sacrifice, but even those who have achieved the highest levels of success in their sport have had some things go their way. Don’t think I’m discounting anything the greats of the game have done to reach the levels they’ve achieved. This is a moment to take a look at how sometimes good fortune is better than all that goes into being great.