CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- When I heard about the Gazette's sesquicentennial tribute to West Virginia, I advised that the sports section cover simply be of the NBA logo. Over it could have been this simple, yet cocky headline: "Our guy."
In regard to athletics, the Mountain State doesn't need anything more than Jerry West, a native of Chelyan. Our favorite sports son lit up WVU. He lit up the NBA. His shadow is in the NBA logo. He is the logo.
In order to show humility to other states, we probably should just stop there. If you check out the list of West Virginia's sports stars and compare it to those of other states - at least on a per capita basis - we rock, plain and simple.
It's truly an embarrassment of riches. Yet, hey, it's birthday No. 150, right? Time to celebrate, right?
In sports we can look back at the excellence we've produced. And not only has there been excellence, but pizzazz. Our stars do things with flair.
The only man to ever win the NBA Finals MVP award from a losing team is West. And the only man to be named the Super Bowl MVP from a losing team is Wheeling native and WVU grad Chuck Howley.
Sometimes I wonder what the rest of the country would have done without our stars to liven things up.
Farmington native and WVU star Sam Huff jump-started the NFL with his "violent world."
Rand native Randy Moss has been shaking up the league for years.
Consider what Fairmont native Mary Lou Retton did for the sport of gymnastics.
Charleston's own Anne White wasn't a tennis player on the level of Serena Williams, but no one at Wimbledon will forget her spandex white body suit. Ever.
Golf? Despite the protests of Hot Springs, Va., we're claiming Sam Snead. No one had more flair than Slammin' Sam.
In hoops, we had not one, but two of the top 50 all-time NBA players in West and Hal Greer. We gave the NBA flashy players like Hot Rod Hundley, Jason "White Chocolate" Williams and O.J. Mayo.
It's almost not fair to the other states to list all. Greenbrier East standout Bimbo Coles played on the 1988 Olympic team. I'll briefly mention Tamar Slay, Patrick Patterson and Bill Walker.
Princeton's Rod Thorn nearly ran the NBA. Buckhannon's Chris Wallace was the general manager of the Boston Celtics and is now with the Memphis Grizzlies.
Oh, and the guy that coaches Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers? Mike D'Antoni? He's from Mullens.
This is a state, folks, where legendary college football coach Bobby Bowden couldn't make the grade. (Remember, though, his sons, coaches Terry and Tommy Bowden, grew up here.)