Is Lyle Thompson the New King of Lacrosse?
The Iroquois Nationals may want to reconsider their accommodations.
The morning after dominating England in their first Federation of International Lacrosse (FIL) World Championship game in eight years — a 15-4 fireworks show that featured several braid-whipping highlight-reel goals by the four Thompson brothers — they could not escape the throngs of autograph seekers Saturday in the lobby of the host Renaissance Hotel in Denver.
Lyle Thompson especially has become a magnet. And that's not going to change if he keeps dropping one-handed runners like candy from a piñata. The kids love this guy, selfies galore. Even their moms and dads are gushing.
Thompson handles the attention with grace. Seeing him smile for the cell phones and take the time to ink every lacrosse ball, t-shirt and program, I could not help but think of how much he has matured in the last year.
Some stars wilt under the spotlight and seek solitude. Thompson used to be that way, but he seems now to have fully embraced his role as an ambassador for the sport. It's amazing to think that just a year ago, this kid, who will turn 22 in September, had braces. It's amazing to think Thompson, who set the NCAA single-season scoring record this year at Albany, has another year of college lacrosse left to possibly challenge Rob Pannell's career scoring mark.
Thompson, who has averaged 93 points per season and had 128 in 2014, is 75 shy of Pannell's all-time scoring record of 354.
Since both Thompson and Pannell, an attackman for Team USA, are participating in these world games — and there's also a guy named Paul Rabil in the mix — it got me thinking.
Who is the most popular player in lacrosse? Who is our sport's LeBron James? Who is the king?
For the record, Thompson has 7,357 followers on Twitter. But since he still is in college, he has not even begun to scratch the surface of his potential marketability. He doesn't have the platform of a Rabil (49,000-plus followers) or a Pannell (12,000-plus followers).
Doesn't it give you goose bumps anticipating the U.S.-Iroquois game Tuesday?