10 Greatest Lacrosse Players of All Time

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If you have to name a few of the greatest lacrosse players of all time, whose name comes to mind? Let us look at the 10 Greatest Lacrosse Players of All Time. 

Lacrosse is a competitive sport, and you need to be physically tough to play the sport. Players need to cradle, scoop, throw, and catch the ball. Similarly, it requires a lot of dedication and technique if you want to play the sport.

Lacrosse is the oldest North American sport whose origin traces to the indigenous people of North America and dates back to the early 12th century. The game has since come a long way and has been extensively modified from the original.

Even though the sport has a long history, it is not very popular and is still evolving. The 2023 World Lacrosse Men’s World Championship is set to begin from June 21 to July 1, 2023 at San Diego State University and the University of San Diego . 

Gary Gait
Gary Gait (Source: Times Union)

Today, we are looking at 10 greatest lacrosse players of all time in this article. Please stick with us till the end!

The players we are talking about have all the physical and mental attributes required to play the sport.

Their skills and understanding of the game have earned them a spot as the greatest lacrosse player in the sport’s history.

Quick Overview

Before getting into the details, here is a table with the overall players’ position.

Player’s Name Position
10. John Grant Sr. Forward / Attack
9. Jim Thorpe Not Specified
8. Dave Pietramala Defenseman
7. Oren Lyons Goalkeeper
6. Michael Powell Attack
5. Paul Rabil Midfielder
4. Jim Brown Not Specified
3. Brodie Merrill Defense / LSM 
2. Jimmy Lewis Attack
1. Gary Gait Not Specified

10 Greatest Lacrosse Players Of All Time

We have compiled our article with references from internet sources like LacrossAllStars, SportsBrowsers, etc. 

10. John Grant Sr.

The first athlete on our list is John Grant Sr. He is a 48 years-old lacrosse player who made his National Lacrosse League (NLL) debut in 2000.

Grant Sr. played in the junior lacrosse league before his senior professional debut.

Similarly, he also played the sport during his college years and ranked tenth on the NCAA Individual Single-Season Leaders list.

John Grant Sr.
John Grant Sr. (Source: Sportsbrowser.net)

The NLL franchise Rochester Knighthawks drafted Grant Sr. the first overall in the 1999 NLL Entry Draft. Following his debut in 2000, he was named NLL Rookie of the Year. Similarly, he also played for the Major League Lacrosse (MLL) teams.

On June 18, 2022, Grant Sr. became one of the eleven inaugural class of inductees to be inducted into the Professional Lacrosse Hall of Fame.

9. Jim Thorpe

On number 9 of the greatest lacrosse players of all time is Jim Thrope. Thrope was an all-rounder athlete whom the Associated Press ranked as the “greatest athlete” from the first 50 years of the 20th century.

Some might argue that Thrope played lacrosse only in his high school. However, that does not make him any less the greatest lacrosse player.

Jim thorpe
Jim Thorpe (Source: Instagram)

We rarely come across legendary athletes like Thrope. There is only a handful of athletes who are versatile athletes like him. Consequently, to honor this legendary athlete, the town of Him Thrope, Pennsylvania, was named after him.

8. Dave Pietramala

Dave Pietramala is widely regarded as one of the best defensemen in the history of lacrosse. He is the only lacrosse player to win a men’s lacrosse NCAA national championship as both a player and coach.

Pietramala attended Johns Hopkins University, where he played part of the college lacrosse team. While attending the University, he was a member of the 1987 National Championship team.

In 1988 and 1989, Pietramala was awarded the Schmeisser Award as the nation’s top defenseman. Likewise, he was also awarded the 1989 Enners Award as the nation’s top player.

Dave Pietramala
Dave Pietramala (Source: Inside Lacrosse)

Professionally, Pietramala played for the Major Indoor Lacrosse League team, Pittsburgh Bulls, and also for the U.S. men’s national lacrosse team. At the International Lacrosse Federation World Championship, he won two world championships.

After retiring from his playing career, he began coaching. Pietramala is inducted into the National Lacrosse Hall of Fame.

7. Oren Lyons

On number 7 of the greatest lacrosse players of all time, we have Oren Lyons. He was born in 1930 and is a Native American Faithkeeper of the Turtle Clan. He was one of the most recognized lacrosse players at Syracuse University.

Lyons attended the University on an athletic scholarship in lacrosse. While attending the University, his academic and athletic accomplishments earned him the Orange Key award. Similarly, he was also named an All-American.

Oren Lyons
Oren Lyons (Source: Instagram)

During his graduation year, the Syracuse Orange men’s lacrosse was an undefeated team. After graduation, he played lacrosse for several teams, including New York Lacrosse Club, New Jersey Lacrosse, and Onondaga Athletic.

6. Michael Powell

Michael Powell is a 40 years-old former professional lacrosse player. He is well known for his diverse set of skills and hence on number 6 of the greatest lacrosse players of all time.

Powell was a high school All-American and attended Syracuse University. He was the first freshman in the University’s history to be named a First Team All-American.

During his college lacrosse career, he leads the University to several championships and wins. Powell’s decision gave quite a surprise to the lacrosse community when he decided not to play the sport for the Major League Lacrosse (MLL) in 2004.

Michael Powell
Michael Powell (Source: Lacrosse All Stars)

However, in 2005, Powell joined the MLL after Baltimore Bayhawks drafted him. Similarly, he was part of the U.S. World Team that played in the 2006 World Lacrosse Championship.

He was the leading scorer on the U.S. team. Currently, Powell is a singer/songwriter and visual artist.

5. Paul Rabil

On number 5, we have 37 year-old former American professional lacrosse player Paul Rabil. He played collegiate lacrosse at Johns Hopkins University.

In the 2008 Major League Lacrosse Collegiate Draft, Boston Cannons drafted Rabil the first overall. While playing for the team, he received several accolades like MLL Offensive Player of the Year, First-Team All-Pro, MLL First-Team All-Pro, etc.

Paul Rabil
Paul Rabil (Source: Lacrosse.com)

Rabil also played for the National Lacrosse League (NLL) and Premier Lacrosse League (PLL), which he founded with his brother, Mike Rabil. He added several more accolades to his career highlight list while playing for both leagues.

Previously, Rabil held the world record for the fastest lacrosse shot at 111 mph. In September 2020, Rabil announced his retirement from professional lacrosse.

4. Jim Brown

Jim Brown is another athlete on our list who played several sports professionally. He is one of the greatest professional football players but is also widely considered one of the greatest lacrosse players.

Brown attended Syracuse University, where he played multiple sports. While he excelled in other sports, he was best known for his accomplishment in lacrosse. He was named a first-team All-American in lacrosse in his senior year.

Jim Brown
Jim Brown (Source: Sports Illustrated)

As a lacrosse player, Brown was a very dominant player. Consequently, the rules were changed to players required to keep their sticks in constant motion when carrying the ball. However, there is no such rule currently in lacrosse.

Brown decided to play football after finishing college. But he will forever be remembered as one of the greatest lacrosse players and is even inducted into the Lacrosse Hall of Fame.

3. Brodie Merrill

The 41 year-old Brodie plays for the San Diego Seals of NLL and the Cannons of the PLL.

Merrill played lacrosse in his high school and college years. During his college year, he was named First-team All-American and was awarded the Schmeisser Award for being defensive player of the year.

NLL team Portland LumberJax selected Merrill as the first overall player in the 2005 NLL Draft. The following year in his rookie season, he was named the NLL’s Rookie of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year.

Brodie Merrill
Brodie Merrill (Source: The lax mag)

Similarly, Merrill has also played for the MLL teams, where he was the league’s all-time ground ball leader.

On August 21, 2021, Merill became the first player to play 200 professional field lacrosse games in the sport’s history.

2. Jimmy Lewis

In our second place, we have Jimmy Lewis, a professional lacrosse player. He played lacrosse for the U.S. Naval Academy, also known as the Navy, from 1964 to 1966.

The Baltimore Sun named Lewis the “greatest living lacrosse man” in 1966. He had the fifth highest score in Navy men’s lacrosse with 169 career points. He was named First-team All America honors while in college.

Jimmy Lewis
Jimmy Lewis (Source: Capital Gazette)

Similarly, Lewis was awarded the Jack Turnbull Award thrice, given to the U.S. top collegiate lacrosse attackman. While in the Navy, he leads his team to three straight National Championships and 22 games of wins.

Lewis is considered the top Navy lacrosse player of all time. In 1981, he was inducted into the National Lacrosse Hall of Fame.

1. Gary Gait

For the first place on our list, we have a 55 year-old Canadian former lacrosse player, Gary Gait. Currently, he is the head coach of Syracuse University’s men’s lacrosse team.

Gait played collegiate lacrosse at Syracuse University, where he set several records. He and his twin brother Paul were the star lacrosse player at Syracuse.

In 1991, Gait started playing for the Major Indoor Lacrosse League (now NLL) after Detroit Turbos drafted him. Similarly, he has also played for Long Island Lizards, Baltimore Bayhawks, and Hamilton Nationals of MLL.

Gary Gait
Gary Gait (Source: Wikimedia.org)

Gait spent most of his professional career playing for the NLL teams. Similarly, he also played for the Canadian national team and helped the team to win the 2006 World Lacrosse Championship.

In 2022, Gait was inducted into the Professional Lacrosse Hall of Fame. He was one of eleven inaugural class inductee members.

Conclusion

To play lacrosse, you need to be both physically and mentally strong. You need to develop your stick skills and ball handling and be nimble on your feet. With such various requirements of skills, lacrosse is one of the most challenging sports. 

We hope you enjoyed our article. Do you agree with us, or do you have a different opinion? Who do you think deserves to be called the greatest lacrosse player of all time? Do let us know!

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