Christian Laettner is a now-retired basketball player, who played for four seasons in college and thirteen years in the NBA, playing the position of center.
Christian Laettner was born in 1969, and thus was coming of age in basketball in a time when the game was having a surge of popularity. He was entering college at a time when Magic Johnson and Michael Jordan had transformed the image, (if not the mechanics) of the game. Laettner played basketball at Duke University, and was a key player on a team that went to the Final Four every season he played, and won the championship twice. Laettner was a very good college player, and he also had the fortune to play on a well-established college team that was a perennial contender.
Along with being a college basketball star, Christian Laettner also was handsome, being somewhat preppy. For playing the position of center, he was also (relatively) lithe. Also (and this is significant), he was white in a sport that was dominated by black players.
In 1992, the rules for the Olympic Games were changed so that professional players could play, and thus was formed the first Olympic Dream Team, with America's (and the world's) best basketball players gathered on to one team. Originally, ten NBA players were chosen, with the last two players undecided on. Eventually, they chose Clyde Drexler, from the NBA, and Christian Laettner, who had just finished his college career. Christian's spot was probably given to him for political reasons: they had to include at least a single college player. During the same summer, Laettner was drafted third in the NBA draft, by the Minnesota Timberwolves, behind Shaquille O'Neal and Alonzo Mourning. Both had had less distinguished college careers than Laettner, but the general consensus was that they would adjust better to the tougher professional game.
This belief was born out, and after his great college career, Laettner did not reach superstar status in the NBA. Part of this was due to bad luck: he was traded many times, mostly to teams that were not very good contenders, and he also had a string of injuries. While his professional career might not have been a standout, and might have been a disappointment after his college career, there is still much worse fates than not making it to superstar status in the NBA.