Best Professional Athlete (Team Sport) (2001)

Luis Gonzalez

In the past 12 months, the sky has fallen on many of Phoenix's sports superstars. Jason Kidd, Aeneas Williams, Keith Tkachuk and Jeremy Roenick have all been sent down the road. The only local sports team not in a total rebuilding mode is the Arizona Diamondbacks. Pitchers Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling have had their usual superb seasons, and free-agent acquisition Mark Grace has been nothing short of stellar. But one player looms larger than the rest: Luis Gonzalez. The trade that brought Gonzo to Arizona from Detroit for Karim Garcia in 1999 didn't get as much press as the Randy Johnson signing or the Curt Schilling trade, but it may have been the deal that put the Diamondbacks over the top. Not only has Gonzalez's batting average hovered around the .340 mark this season, but he had 51 home runs at press time. He was voted to the starting lineup for the National League in the All-Star Game (and won the Home Run Derby over Barry Bonds and Sammy Sosa, to boot), and was named NL Player of the Month in April and June.

All this, and he's the father of 3-year-old triplets, too. Anyone who can handle the pressures of the media spotlight and the home front has to be a star in our book.


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