Editor's note: YCN contributor David King has compiled his list of the 10 greatest athletes for Houston. Hakeem Olajuwon easily won the top spot in user poll voting. Complete results are to the right.
Houston is well known for its diverse population, space program and unbearable summer heat, but the city has also had its share of great athletes over the years.
Here are the 10 best athletes in Houston professional sports history, based on their accomplishments and the bonds they formed with locals during their time:
In alphabetical order:
Craig Biggio (Astros, 1988-2007)
For years, Biggio was the most feared hitter in the Astros' lineup. He spent his entire MLB career with the Astros, snagging five Silver Slugger Awards and seven All-Star appearances along the way.
Earl Campbell (Oilers, 1978-1984)
The first man selected in the 1978 NFL draft, the running back quickly became the face of the Oilers -- now the Tennessee Titans. He rushes for more than 1,300 yards in his first four years as a pro.
Campbell won AP Offensive Rookie of the Year and Offensive Player of the Year awards during his first season with the Oilers, and he went on to win two more NFL Offensive Player of the Year awards. Factor that, plus his five Pro Bowl appearances and three first-team All-Pro selections and it's easy to see why Houstonians love Campbell.
Andre Johnson (Texans, 2003-present)
Still an active member of the Texans, Johnson has consistently been the one bright spot on the team's offense. Andre's ability to perform at his best under pressure has endeared him to locals, and he remains one of the most respected wide receivers in the NFL. His accolades include six Pro Bowl appearances and two first-team All-Pro selections.
Moses Malone (Rockets, 1976-1982)
Malone did a lot of relocating during his storied NBA career, but he spent more time with the Rockets than any other team. Malone was an instrumental part of the Rockets' 1982 championship appearance run, walking away with that year's NBA regular-season. With a previous regular-season MVP trophy and five of his 12 NBA All-Star appearances, Malone will forever be a monumental figure in Houston sports.
Bruce Mathews (Oilers, 1983-1996)
Drafted ninth overall by the Oilers, Mathews was an indispensable part of the Oilers' offense back then, opening many holes for the great Earl Campbell. Over the years, the 6-foot-5-inch, 305-pound behemoth played all offensive line positions, and he was pretty darn good at all of them, finishing his NFL career with 14 Pro Bowl and seven first-team All-Pro selections.
Yao Ming (Rockets, 2002-2011)
This gentle giant from China helped get the Rockets headed in the right direction, even though he spent a large portion of his NBA career fighting injuries. Yao gave the Rockets a solid inside presence -- at least offensively -- they hadn't enjoyed since the days of Hakeem Olajuwon, averaging 19 points and 9.2 rebounds per game during his career while shooting 52 percent from the field.
Warren Moon (Oilers, 1984-1993)
Moon ran the Oilers' offense for 10 years, and still has the fifth-most career passing yards (49,325). By the time his career was done, Moon had compiled a long list of accomplishments, including nine Pro Bowl appearances, two All-Pro selections, and a Pro Bowl MVP Award.
Calvin Murphy (Rockets, 1970-83)
Despite his 5-foot-9-inch stature, there was no stopping the quickness Murphy displayed on court in his 13 years with the Rockets. He averaged 17.9 points per game in his career, once made 78 straight free throws (still fourth all-time), and his No. 23 is retired by the Rockets.
Hakeem Olajuwon (Rockets, 1984-2001)
For years, "The Dream" -- more of a nightmare for opponents -- carried the Rockets on his back, propelling them to two consecutive NBA titles. His world-famous "Dream Shake" is still imitated by kids and professional basketball players all over the world, and his soft-spoken, humble nature off the court makes him one of the most loved athletes in Houston professional sports history.
Nolan Ryan (Astros, 1980-1988)
"The Ryan Express" tormented batters for years with his fastball, which often exceeded 100 mph. The right-handed pitcher still holds MLB's record for most career no-hitters with seven.
David is a proud Houstonian who follows a wide range of events from brutal combat sports to basketball.
- Sports & Recreation
- Earl Campbell