(Born September 4, 1968) -- Buffalo has had some all-time greats pass through its pro sports teams over the years, but few could be called the best player in their sport’s history. John Tavares just might be the exception. If not, he’s in the argument.
Tavares grew up in Toronto, the child of immigrants from Portugal. He took to lacrosse at a young age, although he did play some college football in Canada. In 1991, the Detroit Turbos had his rights, and the Bandits traded Brian Nikula for Tavares. It was the most one-sided trade in Buffalo sports history.
Tavares immediately became a star for the Bandits. He made his mark in scoring the game-winning goal in overtime to give Buffalo a heart-stopping win over Philadelphia in the championship game of the 1992 season, the Bandits’ first. The forward also contributed to the only perfect season in the sport’s history in 1993.
What’s more, he’s still playing. Tavares is coming off another outstanding season in 2012 at the age of 43. He has every scoring record in National Lacrosse League history, and has won the MVP trophy three times.
Tavares teaches mathematics in a suburban Toronto high school, and coaches the girls’ lacrosse team there in his spare time. We won’t see his likes around once he retires.
--- Budd Bailey