It is hard to have a conversation about lacrosse with a Canadian without the name John Grant Jr. coming into the mix. Throughout my collegiate career, I had the pleasure of playing with many Canadians. I even lived with two wonderful Canucks my senior year of college. And as most lacrosse players do in their down time – we talked a lot of lacrosse.
We would share high school stories, talk about summer league games and just about every pro player we had ever seen play. Now, I knew who Junior was, as I had seen him play and knew he was an outstanding player. However, at the time, I didn’t truly appreciate the level of lacrosse that Junior was able to compete at year in and year out.
The bar I now work at on the weekends has Satellite TV, and for some reason we get all the Colorado Mammoth games. I’m not complaining! Being the lax junkie I am – every Saturday night I turn on the Mammoth game, neglect the dirty dishes and other duties, and I stand in the corner and watch box lacrosse.
Each week I watch John Grant Jr. in complete awe, and I simply marvel at the things he does on the floor. It was last Saturday that I remember watching him make one of the simplest of plays, but it was right then and there that I became obsessed with Junior and just had to write about him.
Let’s set the scene here:
The Colorado Mammoth were playing the Toronto Rock. Junior came off the bench, caught a pass, and went to the far boards where he normally goes. Nothing too crazy yet. What he did next though was the simplest of moves, that any modified player can make, but Junior did it with such grace and ease that I just stood there in amazement with my jaw on the floor.
As Junior jogged to a stop, the decibel level inside the stadium immediately rose as fans began cheering as soon as he touched the ball. He made the slightest of hitches to get top side, brought the stick to shoulder level, and fired a shot over the goaltender’s right shoulder. The ball was placed perfectly in the top right corner of the net, and Junior turned and simply jogged to the bench.
Just another day for Junior… but a revelation for me.
I don’t know what captivated me so much about this moment, but I was frozen for two full minutes trying to register what happened, and what I had just seen. It was nothing fancy, just a simple step and an even simpler shot. It might have been that all the fans got on their feet whenever he touches the ball, or it might be the fear that the other team feels when he has the ball in his stick. Something about this moment caught me and dragged me on the Junior bandwagon.
Whatever it was, I can safely say that John Grant Junior is the best in the business.
I went home after work and began my research about Junior, and then it hit me. All the accolades and accomplishments he has achieved over the years went WAY beyond what I expected. The career he currently has is almost unbelievable. Getting drafted out of high school, playing college ball at Delaware, playing for Peterborough and Coquitlam and both his MLL and NLL careers…
Look at all the records he broke, all the awards he has won, all the championships he has helped capture, etc., and it is hard to wrap your head around it all. But do the research yourself and prepare to be amazed. And these are only the written testaments to why his name should be thrown into the ring of greatest of all time.
It is not just statistics and records that make him one of the best, because the man is also a human highlight reel.
Behind the back, through the legs, around the world, and one handed shots are common place, and they are often done while splitting a double team. He has scored every way possible, and if it hasn’t been done yet, he is thinking about doing it, and will do it. He is pure entertainment on the lacrosse field, and a player that every kid should idolize. He has done so much to grow the game simply by the way he plays – he is responsible for putting fans in the seats.
John Grant Jr. had to sit out the 2009 season because of a knee injury. The surgery he had received led to an infection and there was a period where it looked as it Jr. wouldn’t be able to play ever again. I naively thought that this would affect his game, and this injury certainly would be the decline of his career. I was wrong.
John Grant Jr came back the following season firing on all cylinders and went right back to his old ways. It is only fitting that he is closing in on the single season points record in the NLL. He is at the peak of his game and shows no signs to slowing down. Just another reason on why I think that Junior is the best player in the sport right now.
One could argue that because of the new rules it is easier to score, or that he has a bunch of good players on the floor with him. And yes, this is true. But Junior truly elevates their game, and you can see it happening. You can see Adam Jones following Junior; he has adapted a similar style. It is not just style wise, but worth ethic as well. Jones and Junior own that left side, not just with their skill but the hard work they do on that side off ball.
Add on to these facts that Junior is averaging 8 points per game and is currently leading the league in points. In the NLL it is hard to be that good and go unnoticed. Junior has to play with a giant target on his back every game and yet he comes about with hat tricks and all sorts of assists. This is a proven testament to his work ethic and skill.
When you talk about the greats, you hear the arguments for the Gaits. Casey Powell is considered to be one of the all time greats, and his younger brother Mikey is often mentioned as well. In my opinion, you can not leave Junior off this list. He has done it at all levels of lacrosse, from Jr.s all the way to the professional leagues. He owns the NLL right now and is the main reason for the Mammoth’s success.
With two games left in the season, he is 12 points shy from the single season scoring record. Even if he doesn’t break this record, he has come so far from his injury, and done a great deal for the NLL this season to continue its growth. There is no doubt in my mind that he will break this record.
Junior is the best player in the game right now and at age 37 he is showing no signs of slowing down. As a Knighthawks fan, I am sad to say that I think Colorado has the best chance of winning it all. Just another championship to add to his list of accomplishments, but it’s all part of the job for Junior. He’ll pick up his stick and just keep going, the words quit and stop don’t register in his vocabulary.
That’s why John Grant Junior is the best in the business.