The term G.O.A.T. gets tossed around pretty loosely these days, but in some cases the Greatest Of All Time are legit: NFL Patriots QB Tom Brady (remotely debatable between he and 49er great Joe Montana), NHLer Wayne Gretzky (no debate), NBA God Michael Jordan (only newbies challenge the notion with LeBron), MLB Sultan of Swat Babe Ruth (imagine if he were on steroids like Barry Bonds instead of regularly violating prohibition). Don’t get me wrong, Bonds was other-wordly, but there’s always that shroud of enhancement that hovers about.
The G.O.A.T debate gets really speculative and subjective when it comes to collegiate athletics: To the point where some think Florida’s Tim Tebow (Heisman Trophy winner and two-time finalists, but never stuck in the pros) is a G.O.A.T; that Duke’s Christian Laettner (1992 Dream Teamer who later masqueraded as a pro) is an all-time collegiate great; and Ohio State RB Archie Griffin (college football’s only two-time Heisman winner, who never amounted to much in the NFL) was among the best running backs in college football history.
And the G.O.A.T debate gets even dicier when it comes to high school preps, but Hen Hud A.D. Tommy Baker loves to get into this discussion once every couple of years with me and it goes something like this: Is Dave Fleming the greatest athlete of all time at Mahopac (undebatable, according to coaching legends like Frank Miele and Joe Corace)? Was Ric Beardsley or Chuck Jones the greatest at Lakeland? Do you go with Tommy Cottrell at Panas or Sean Lindsay, or perhaps Cottrell’s sister Tracy Cottrell-Parchen? Bryce Ford, at John Jay, is my hunch. Al Tandy, Greg Economou and Kathleen Staten ruled in their Hen Hud heyday as multi-sport studs in the ‘70s and ‘80s, but then student athletes like Mike Pritts, Kurt Thomas, Nicole Tamburri and TJ Olesczuk followed, so who’s your pick there? You would think Elton Brand at Peekskill is a no-brainer, right? But Tré Johnson was the truth, too. Is recently-graduated Brett Makar really the G.O.A.T. at Yorktown when you have guys like Roy Colsey, Donnie Weese, Pete Cariello and Paul Santavicca having tread before him? It’s debatable and fun to roundtable over.
Every school has its G.O.A.T.’s: There are many factors that go in to being the greatest of all time, but when you tally up the Putnam Valley High package in its entirety there’s only one G.O.A.T., and (IMO) it’s All-Section hoops/grid stud Darnel Shillingford, who became just the second boy in school history to score 1,000 career points in the Tigers’ 54-36 win over visiting North Salem last Tuesday. This, on the heels of a record-setting All-NYS football campaign that saw the senior lead PV to its first-ever sectional championship appearance last fall.
“Getting 1,000 points is nice and all but it won’t mean anything unless we get the gold ball,” the humbled Shillingford said in typical Shillingford style. “Playing varsity as a freshman people want to know if you can get 1,000, and I came in to school the year after (Ryan) Basso did it, so it was fresh in everyone’s mind, but me scoring 1,000 points doesn’t guarantee us winning a gold ball, so it’s a good moment but we gotta move past this and focus on the gold ball. Everyone’s picking it up, and it makes us wonder how good we can be when (injured) TJ (Brescia) comes back. ”
Shillingford, an A-student with Ivy League potential, can cement his “goatness” in Putnam Valley history this winter should he lead his state-ranked (No.9) Tigers (11-2) to the first gold ball and Section 1 title in PV hoops history, boys or girls. Even if he doesn’t, it’s still a widely held notion that Shillingford, an accomplished student and musician, is the best athlete in school history. Having talked with three longtime coaches at PV last week, we’re all in rock-solid agreement: Shillingford, who is a walking double-double the past three seasons for hoops Coach Mike McDonnell, is PV’s G.O.A.T.