Words by: Rocko Rathon, Justin Richards, Omari White
From The Source Magazine Issue #269 | 2016
We’re witnessing the dawn of new athletic superstars in Cam Newton, Stephen Curry and Bryce Harper, all ready to dominate for years to come.
Professional sports have always been an integral part of the American psyche, often transcending race, politics, class, religion and any other entity that divides us as a people. Athletes are held in high regard, providing fans with memorable moments that last a lifetime. Legends, on the other hand, transcend their sports to become household names to even fringe fans. Every so often there is a new class that emerges, ready to take the baton to greater heights. In 2015, we witnessed the dawn of new superstars ready to dominate. Enter Cam Newton, Stephen Curry and Bryce Harper—three reigning MVPs who’ve become the face of their respective sports.
Since entering the NFL in 2011 as the first overall pick, Cam Newton has electrified with a new energy at the quarterback position. Standing at an imposing 6’5″ and weighing in at 245 pounds, the Atlanta native is a tall order for defenses with his blazing speed, strength and laser sharp accuracy. Having dominated in the NCAA in his final season at Auburn, the ceiling was high for Newton, but prognosticators highlighted his off-the-field issues instead of his prowess as an athlete. He quickly silenced the critics with an impressive first season, earning the Rookie of the Year Award.
Though he had proven his status as an elite QB in the following years with impressive play and Pro Bowl honors, the pundits were at it again, citing his inability to win when it mattered most. All of that was null and void in 2015, as Cam Newton led the Carolina Panthers to a 15-1 season, earned the coveted league MVP trophy and snagged the NFC Conference Championship en route to Super Bowl 50. All of which was done with authority as Newton poured on the points, with 45 passing touchdowns and 10 rushing.
Newton is currently the face of the NFL, being a fixture at children’s hospitals and organizing youth sports initiatives. He even popularized the “dab,” performing it after his many touchdowns, helping to take the Atlanta-based dance global, all while becoming one of the most popular athletes on the planet. Through it all, the most remarkable stat line to Cam’s credit is he’s currently one win away from being the only quarterback in football history to win the Heisman Trophy, NCAA National Championship, NFL MVP and that ever elusive Super Bowl trophy. Years ago, the quarterback position was almost exclusively for white pocket passers and with Newton’s dominance in 2015, it’s safe to say he will be the new prototype for QB’s coming out of college moving forward. Dab on them folk!
The former Davidson phenomenon is redefining the position of point guard one game at a time for the highly entertaining, reigning world champion Golden State Warriors. Stephen Curry is the quintessential general of the system experts believed would never lead to success at the highest level, redefining the art of becoming a long-range shooter. The NCAA and NBA record book is the perfect proof to naysayers that what Curry’s doing is far from average. During his 2015 NBA MVP campaign, Curry broke the previous single season record he set for the most three pointers made. Since the 2013 regular season, Steph was able to knock down 687 three pointers, roughly 40 more than Hall Of Famer Larry Bird in his entire 13 year career. Emerging as the frontrunner for a new era of basketball, Steph has been winning fans over with his hilarious off court antics, sneaker game (becoming the poster child of Under Armour) and even in rap culture, making Drake a believer of the “flick-of-the-wrist.” Other than wowing the league with amazing moments night in and night out, Curry’s showing America you can be a baby-faced assassin on the court and one of the most charismatic and driven athletes off it.
In a time where pro athletes are often portrayed as prima donnas or drama king and queens, young athletes nowadays have issues looking for the perfect role model to idolize on and off the court. Thanks to the style and class he carries, there’s hope for youngsters with Curry becoming the ideal athlete parents want their sons to imitate. From hearing doubts he’s never going to last in the league, to currently being in debates amongst the greatest shooters in NBA history, Dell Curry can pat himself on the back for the job he did raising Steph to become the three-ball icon he is today.
Most Major League Baseball players would take becoming a three-time All Star, winning Rookie of the Year and receiving an MVP award as a decorated career. For Washington Nationals Outfielder Bryce Harper, this is simply the warm-up to his Friday Night Lights. Harper’s stardom began when he hit a 502-foot home run as a teenager back in the International Power Showcase High School Home Run Derby. The Nationals then selected Harper with the number one overall pick in 2010, and there was no looking back. He wowed fans with not only his ability to dominate the game of baseball, but captured the attention of people under the age of 30 who might have left the game of baseball for other sports.
Twenty-three year old Harper (who still can’t rent a car) has quickly become the face of baseball. He’s posted a .289 career batting average, with 97 home runs and 248 RBI’s in his three seasons as a professional player. Harper is the lifeblood of a sport that desperately needed a transfusion of youth. The 23-year-old’s currently on contract for $5 million (the result of a two-year deal he signed entering last season) and will become a free agent in 2018, where it’s reported he could command a whopping $500 million contract—a.k.a. the biggest in major sports history. Things are definitely looking solid for the 90s baby from Las Vegas, Nevada.