Matthews: Right Time To Retire John Grant's Jersey

THE RIGHT TIME AND THE RIGHT PLACE TO RETIRE JOHN GRANT JR.’S JERSEY NO. 24

I’ve often mentioned that I believe that John Grant Jr. was the best player in the history of pro sports to wear a R-O-C-H-E-S-T-E-R uniform in his particular sport.

Grant’s sport was lacrosse – indoors and outdoors – and was at the elite level in both. An all-time great in a major-league sport.

Grant was a proud Rochester Knighthawks for 11 National Lacrosse League seasons (he sat out one of those seasons after near-fatal knee surgery).  That’s a long tenure for any athlete in any city. Regy Thorpe played 15 seasons and Fairport’s Tim Soudan played 11 seasons with the Knighthawks. Jody Gage played 10 seasons for the hockey Amerks. My records say no one played 10-or-more seasons with the Red Wings or Royals or Lancers.

Several pro teams didn’t last that long in Rochester5.

Grant’s No. 24 jersey will be retired before the Knighthawks game versus the Georgia Swarm Saturday, February 2. John, wife Raygen and their daughter will fly in from their home in Denver. The family lived in Rochester for several years – Gabrayel was born here, He won the team’s Community Service Award three times.

It is fitting that Gran t’s number will be the first retirede by the K-hawks. No player has mkeant more to the franchise – on the floor or at the turnstiles. He was the best player on the team and usually the best and most-exciting player in the league. His brilliant moves and spectacular goals and shots often made ESPN Sportscenter’s Top 10 Plays on Saturday nights.

Grant was the No. 1 overall pick by Rochester in the 1999 NLL draft. He scored 433 goals and 894 points for the Knighthawks.

On October 27, 2010, Grant was traded to the Colorado Mammoth in a blockbuster deal that brought All-NLL goalkeeper Matt Vinc to Rochestrer.

In six-plus NLL seasons for Colorado, Grant scored 235 goals and won his second NLL Most Valuable Player Award. His No. 24 was retired by the Mammoth March 24, 2018.It is fitting that his Knighthawks No. 24 jersey will be raised to the rafters of Blue Cross Arena at the War Memorial in the final seaon of the original K-hawks. Owner Curt Styres is taking most of the roster to Halifax, Nova Scotia, after this season.

But the Knighthawks will remain in Rochester. The team’s name, the records and the championship banners will stay. And – most of all – memories of a consistently successful and exciting team. The #24 jersey on display will help assure that Rochester sports fans never will forget the team’s greatest player.

IS BASEBALL’S HALL OF FAME BERCOMING TOO CROWDED?

Some baseball writers believe there already are too many players enshrined in the Hall of Fame.

I’m not ready to go that far, but I understand their thinking.

The next few years for newly-eligible players do not feature many truly great ones or can’t-miss Hall of Famers.

Maybe it is time to put less pressure on the writer-voters to submit the maximum 10 players on their ballots.

Here are the partial lists for the first-time eligible for the next several years and my opinion on their Hall of Fame chances:

FIRST BALLOT SELECTIONS – Derek Jeter (2020)...David Ortiz (2022)...Adrian Beltre (2024).

EXCELLENT CANDIDATES, MIGHT NEED TO WAIT A FEW YEARS TO BE ELECTED – Alex Rodriguez (2022)...Carlos Beltran (2023).

VERY GOOD PLAYERS, MIGHT GET IN EVENTUALLY – Bobby Abreu (2020)...Tim Hudson (2021)...Prince Fielder (2022)...Mark Teixeira (2022)...Joe Mauer (2024).

GOOD CAREERS BUT NOT LIKELY TO EVER BE ELECTED – Everybody else, including Adam Dunn, Jason Giambi, Paul Konerko, Alfonso Soriano, Mark Buehrle, Torii Hinter, Ryan Howard, Joe Nathan and David Wright.

SU SHOOTERS: FROM DUDS TO STUDS

For most of this college basketball season, Jim Boeheim’s Syracuse Orange were among the worst-shooting teams in the nation.

But in the last three games – Atlantic Coast Conference victories over Duke, Pittsburgh and Miami – SU was a cumulative .456 from beyond the three-point stripe (37-of-81).

The Orange are 14-5. Including 5-1 in the ACC, with a big test at 10th-rasnked Virginia Tech Saturday night.

Believe It Or Not: Through Wednesday night, Lehigh was leading the nation’s 351 Division 1 basketball teams in three-point field-goal percentage: .456.

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