Let’s talk about Diego Maradona.
The Argentinian soccer legend underwent surgery yesterday for a subdural hematoma, which according to reports went well. It’s yet another chapter in the story of perhaps the most fascinating transformational sports figure in recent history.
Perhaps one day, the term “tortured genius” will just show a picture of Maradona. He is without a doubt one of the greatest soccer players to ever live, and there’s a stiff argument that he’s the best overall. The man won the 1986 World Cup for Argentina on his own, after all, as well as brought Napoli their only Serie A titles, which is not too far off from bringing the Bengals Super Bowl trophies. But no other player carries the same story. Pele doesn’t have much of a story other than the goals. Lionel Messi has the personality of blank drywall.
Spread it out to other sports, and you’ll find the same. Michal Jordan is almost certainly a sociopath, but everything about him was geared toward winning basketball games. The next interesting thing Wayne Gretzky has to say will be the first.
If you haven’t seen the HBO documentary “Diego Maradona,” seek it out. See what he meant to people, to nations. See how everyone needed a piece of him. See how quickly it got on top of him, as it might for most anyone. While Maradona had and has his demons, of all the sporting gods of our time, he may very well be the one that’s most human. The most reachable. His weaknesses are out there for all to see. Say that about another legend of that caliber, and you’ll find you can’t. It’s not to be celebrated, nor should it be demonized. It’s just natural.
For years everyone has wished he’ll find the peace he’s never been able to hang on to. Here’s to hoping he gets another chance.