It’s one of the oldest cliches in sports but it’s oh so true, Father Time is undefeated.
Yes, even for a guy like Larry Fitzgerald. Fitz turned 33 Wednesday and after 12 years as one of the major faces of Arizona sports, his time is slowly coming to an end. (Which makes someone his age who is making dumb 1990s references and jokes on the Internet feel quite unaccomplished.)
With No. 11’s career entering its twilight, Steve Nash long gone, Shane Doan having been around almost as long as the Simpson’s and Paul Goldschmidt having a personality about as interesting as the 2016 Diamondbacks season, it’s time to pass the baton to the next generation.
For me finding that person is much like the election season, it comes down to a two person race. My vote goes to one of two young guys who fit the bill in town, Cardinals running back David Johnson and Suns guard Devin Booker
These guys have the personality, talent and upside to be the player synonymous with sports in the Grand Canyon state. Combined these two are just four years older than Doan. To put it in perspective, Book was 7 when Fitz started his Cardinals career. Despite their youth, both have professionalism and talent well beyond that of your typical player entering their sophomore campaign.
Fans fell in love with both guys and their style of play during their rookie seasons when injuries thrust them into the spotlight. Both showcased their personality, work ethic and passion in streaming documentaries that helped launch the city’s love affair with them.
It’s not just fans who see their potential either. Johnson’s running back coach says the ball carrier from Northern Iowa is destine for the Hall of Fame. Not to be outdone, LeBron James went out of his way to make it clear that Booker would soon be on the NBA All-Star team.
It’s like an Arizona Dr. Frankenstein — It’s FRANKENSTEEN! #RIPGeneWilder — built these guys in a lab with the sole purpose of ruling Valley sports. Johnson has the the good guy attitude that carried Doan, the small school charm of Kurt Warner and the on field swagger and passion that made Fitzgerald so popular. Booker has the calm and confident demeanor that was Nash’s calling card,the smile that is synonymous with Fitz and the raw confidence that helped Barkley dominate in the 1990s.
So who’s next? Not every young player lives up to the potential. Some fall so short of it that they make Danny Devito look like he’s 7-feet tall. Booker and Johnson have what it takes to exceed expectations. And Arizona sports fans better hope they do, because Father Time has a call in to the agents of this generation’s stars and it’s only a matter of time until he adds them to his list.