For some reason, I’ve always been intrigued by the sidekick (hero) or “right hand man”-type (villain) characters more than their top-billed counterparts. I liked Robin way more than Batman, preferred Rick to Magnum PI and always thought the Sandman was more intriguing than Mike Tyson. I think the greatest acting gig would be as the muscle for the criminal mastermind in a Bond movie. Even in the realm of dating, I’d usually end up being less attracted to the “it girl” and more interested in her best friend (my wife is the exception, by the way). So today, let’s honor 6 notable sidekicks from the world of sports:
Certainly one of the most successful sidekicks in history. The perfect compliment to Michael Jordan in the Bulls dynasty. Cemented sidekick status when he failed in his attempt to lead the Bulls after Jordan’s “retirement” to play baseball.
The current sidekick to LT in San Diego. He’s blocked for 1,000 yard rushers every year since his rookie year when he blocked for Red Grange. Essentially, the perfect fullback.
The debate about John Taylor (similar to many other sidekicks) is always this: did he just benefit from lining up across from Jerry Rice or was he a legitimate talent in his own right? I believe Taylor was beyond legit, a key member of the 49ers dynasty.
Just answer one question: how many titles did Gretzky win without Messier?
While the Admiral was a good #1 in his own right, his best contributions were alongside Tim Duncan as a sidekick, which led to 2 titles. Despite his great athletic ability, he seemed to lack the killer instinct to be “the guy” and carry his team. So, his partnership with Duncan was a perfect fit and should be the archetype for the aging star athlete: lead your team to the best of your ability, pass the torch and mentor your replacement, accept a diminished role and retire after you win a title. C’mon, KG, doesn’t that sound good?
It’s pretty difficult to consider any starting pitcher a sidekick, but Pettite fits the bill. The “package deal” in Houston and NY means that he and Clemens will be forever linked. A very good pitcher in his own right but any time you’re partnered with Clemens, you’re playing second fiddle.
I’m sure I missed a few great candidates. Feel free to add to the list in the comments.