Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Messi Wants to Become 'Legend'

Is this anything like LeBron James telling reporters his goal is to be a "global icon"?

Well, yes, actually, it is.

Lionel Messi says he wants to be a "legend."

Interesting reality, from the perspective of a sports fan outside the United States:

Messi is more likely to succeed at his aspiration than is LBJ.

A fairly simple concept, really.

Basketball is America's No. 2 game. Except in those areas that prefer baseball. Then basketball is No. 3.

In many areas of the rest of the world, basketball is a fairly common No. 2 sport. Europe, where nearly every country has a pro league. Some parts of Africa. It might even be the No. 1 sport in, say, the Philippines.

But soccer? The game Messi plays?

If you're No.1 in soccer, you are really a global icon. And a legend, too. Soccer is the world's game, the clear No. 1 sport in the vast majority of the planet's countries.

Let's take a look at what Messi, a 22-year-old Argentina, already has done:

--His club team has won three Spanish League championships.

--His club team has won two European Champions League titles, and the Champions League victor generally is considered the best club team in the world.

--And just to reinforce that, Barcelona won the Fifa Club World Cup right here in Abu Dhabi, last December. With Messi playing the starring role.

--And, Messi is the 2009 Fifa player of the year.

Meanwhile ... LeBron James has won zero NBA titles. He has one MVP title.

LeBron may look like the greater athlete. He may act as if he is, and if he and Messi were competing in, say, the decathlon, LBJ probably wins. But in reality, he has to pick up the pace to catch Messi in "legend" status. Because he starts from so far behind him.

A soccer superstar is a household name just about anywhere in the world that isn't India.

A basketball superstar ... for him to replace soccer's best player in the minds of fans ... would take a very long run of over-the-top excellence. Not Most Valuable Puppet commercials. Lots of championships and MVP titles. Two or three huge Olympics performances. A starring role in several world championships. Which the would-be "global icon" hasn't managed yet.

Meanwhile, if Argentina and Lionel Messi win South Africa 2010, giving him a piece of every trophy there is to win in the world's most popular game ... it will be the unassuming little guy from Argentina who is the true global icon. And legend, too.
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