The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has seen more than its fair share of marvelous athletes. The Men’s Basketball and the Women’s Soccer programs are especially prolific in drawing in and turning out world class talent. (There are currently 16 NBA players from UNC, but the lifetime list of pro hoopers who wore the Carolina Blue is 83 players long.) Likewise Carolina has been a virtual farm team for the US Women’s National Team. The reigning World Cup Champion USWNT had nine UNC women on its roster.
Basketball god Michael Jordan and soccer cynosure Mia Hamm are widely considered the greatest athletes in their sports — at the very least the greatest out of UNC. Of course other sports at Carolina are also in the elite class: multiple Olympic gold medalist track and field star Marion Jones graduated from UNC. Hard to find a better athlete than Jones. But then there is Lawrence Taylor, the NFL Hall of Fame linebacker who changed his sport. (Taylor often flies under the radar because UNC is not a “football school.”) Regarded as the greatest defensive football player of all-time, Taylor’s athleticism is legendary and unsurpassed. Michael Lewis, author of The Big Short, quotes a fellow NFL player on the athletic majesty (and freaky advantage) Taylor possessed: “No human being should be six four, two forty-five, and run a four-five forty.” Then again, Jordan could fly. It’s a toss-up.