Had they been alive today, both Czech Olympian Emil Zatopek and American professional fighter Willie Pep would have turned 95 years old last Tuesday, September 19. Both were born in the year 1922.
Zatopek, winner of three gold medals inthe1952 Summer Games in Helsinki, and Pep (Guglielmo Papaleo in real life), were two of at least more than a dozen sports legends born in the third week of this month of September.
The list also includes present day greats Serena Williams and NBA player/coach Steve Kerr, ex-NBA commissioner David Stern, baseball manager Tom Lasorda, NBA coaches Arnoild “Red” Auerbach and Hubie Brown, NBA Hall of Famers Bob McAdoo and Scottie Pippen football strikers Ronaldo (Ronaldo Luis Nazario de Lima in real life) and Paolo Rossi and boxer Azumh Nelson. baseball slugger Rffael Palermo among others.
Born in Koprivnice, Czech Republic, Zatopek emerged the only man to rule the 5,000-meer and 10,000-meter runs as well as the marathon in the Helsinki Games.
Along with wife Dana Zatovkova, the couple, up to this day, is the on only husband and wife tandem to win gold medals in one staging of the quadrennial conclave known also as the “Greatest Sports Show Earth.”
Zatopek, who died November 22, 2000, was once the world’s best loved athlete. His peers in the long distance running still consider him the greatest Olympic champion of all-time.
Williams, born September 26, 1981 was the No. 1 Women’s Tennis Association ranked singles from 2002 to 2017 staying on top of the standing for 1,86 consecutive weeks, tying the record set by Steffi Graf. Some commentators, players and sports writers consider her as the greatest female tennis player of all- time. On April 19, 2017, she announced her temporary leave from tennis because of pregnancy.
Pep held the world featherweight crown twice between 1947 and 1950 amassing a record total of 1,956 rounds in the 241 bouts during his 26-year career, a considerable number of rounds and bouts even for a fighter of his era. His final record was 229–11–1 with 65 knockouts.
Kerr (September 27, 1965) is the current head coach of reigning NBA champion Golden State Warriors. A seven-time NBA ring winner—three with the Chicago Bulls and two with the San Antonio Spurs as a player.
Kerr owns the highest career three-point percentage (45.4%) for any player with at least 250 three pointers made in NBA history. He married Margot Kerr, his college sweetheart, in 1990.
Stern became Commissioner in 1984, succeeding Larry O’Brien. He is credited with increasing the popularity of the NBA in the 1990s and 2000s. He step down as NBA commissioner on February 1, 2014, 30 years to the day after beginning his tenure as commissioner.
His deputy, Adam Silver, succeeded him. On February 14, 2014, the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame announced that Stern would be a member of its 2014 induction class. Two years later he became a member of the FIBA Hall of Fame.
McAdoo (September 25, 1951) played for 14 NBA seasons and was a five-time NBA All-Star and named the NBA Most Valuable Player in 1975. He won two NBA championships with the Los Angeles Lakers during their Showtime era in the 1980s.
McAdoo played at the center and power forward positions. Aftr retiring from ghe NBA, he spent his final seven years career with the Lega Basket Serie A in Italy. He was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2000. McAdoo is one of the few players who have won both NBA and the FIBA European Championship.