The state of Michigan has been blessed with many talented athletes, with many obviously having played in Detroit. At the same time, there have also been many great athletes from Michigan that haven’t played in this great city of Detroit. It is a shame because many of the men who are on this list would have changed their respective Detroit teams for the better. Here are the top 5 athletes from Michigan who never played in Detroit.
#5 – Pat LaFontaine
Although Pat LaFontaine was born in St. Louis, Missouri, his family moved to Waterford, Michigan in 1972, where he graduated from Waterford Kettering High School. LaFontaine played 15 seasons in the NHL with the New York Islanders, Buffalo Sabers, and New York Rangers. LaFontaine scored 468 goals and recorded over 1,000 points in his career, along with being elected into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2003. It would have been interesting to see him in the winged wheel.
#4 – Jerome Bettis
Born and raised in Detroit, Jerome Bettis was a dominant running back at Mackenzie High School, in the heart of Detroit. Bettis was drafted out of Notre Dame by the St. Louis Rams as the 10th pick in the draft. Eventually, the Rams would trade Bettis to the Pittsburgh Steelers, where he would do the bulk of the damage. The 6th all-time leading rusher was a 6-time Pro Bowl participant and had over 13,000 rushing yards in his Hall of Fame career. Bettis ended his career where it all started, winning the Super Bowl in Detroit with the Steelers. It was really cool that Bettis was able to end his career on a high note.
#3 – John Smoltz
Although John Smoltz was drafted by the Detroit Tigers, he was never actually called up to Detroit because he was traded to the Atlanta Braves for Doyle Alexander. Smoltz was born in Warren but graduated from Waverly High School in Lansing. Smoltz tallied 213 wins, over 3,000 strikeouts as a starter, and 154 saves in his illustrious career. Smoltz was also elected to the Hall of Fame earlier this year in January. Still makes me wish Smoltz stayed and played for Detroit. He would have fit in well.
#2 – Derek Jeter
The newly retired Derek Jeter grew up in Kalamazoo and attended Kalamazoo Central High School. Jeter tore it up in high school and was so good that the University of Michigan offered him a scholarship to play there. But as we know, Jeter would be drafted by the New York Yankees, and the rest is history. The accomplishments go on and on for Jeter. He was a 14-time all-star, AL rookie of the year in 1996, A World Series MVP in 2000, won 5 Gold Gloves, and compiled over 3,400 hits in his career.
#1 – Magic Johnson
Earvin “Magic” Johnson was born and raised in Lansing and played at Everett High School. As we all know, Johnson was a product of the Michigan State Spartans and the NCAA tournament with the Spartans in 1979. Eventually, the Los Angeles Lakers drafted Johnson with the first pick in the ’79 draft. He would go on to win five titles with L.A., along with being a 12-time all-star, 3-time league MVP, and a three-time NBA Finals MVP, among many other accomplishments. Imagine if Johnson would have played with the Detroit Pistons– just something to ponder.