Fan poll: Best American to play in the NLL? It’s Joe Walters vs. Brad Kotz

As we weave our way through this bi-weekly fan poll in search of the best American-born player to play in the National Lacrosse League, there have been plenty of memories stirred. While polls like this are hardly scientific, one of the things we like most about installments like these is the chance to remember players whose career wrapped up long ago. It’s easy to replay the great plays of current players, of course, so any time we can tip a cap to the American pioneers of the NLL, it’s wicked cool. It’s a way of letting them know their game may be gone, but it will never be forgotten. With that in mind, let’s roll into the next matchup, which features Joe Walters going up against one of the aforementioned old-timers, Brad Kotz.

Joe Walters

It may have taken a while for the career of Joe Walters to get on track, but winning has a way of making you forget about the rough start. Drafted originally by the Bandits in 2007, Walters never played for Buffalo. Traded to Philadelphia, he never played there either, waiting it out for a 2009 debut with his hometown Rochester Knighthawks.

His field skills out of the University of Maryland were never questioned but like so many Americans, the transition to indoor took some time and to his credit, he took his stick north and learned box lacrosse the best way there is to learn it: he played it. The result was not just being a part of a Mann Cup winner with Brampton in 2011, but being a strong contributor.

Three National Lacrosse League championships have followed and while he’s not leading the team in scoring, he’s providing a vital role by bringing depth and versatility to the Knighthawks. He had a career-high 41 points (15-26) this past winter, proving he’s a reliable shooter. His speed in transition is accentuated by his knowledge and vision, spotting teammates on the move while making smart decisions with and without the ball.

It’s been a wild ride for the past 3 NLL seasons for Walters, celebrating the ultimate celebration with family and friends. And all the while, he’s establishing himself as one of the greatest American-born players to suit up in the NLL.

Brad Kotz

Like so many lacrosse players throughout the history of the game, Kotz gained his notoriety with Syracuse University after a high school career at the legendary of West Genesee. Leading the Orange to an NCAA title in 1983 and the Orange lost in the 1984 and 1985 title games with Kotz in the lineup.

And so he came to the NLL with great expectations, and delivered. Joining the Washington Wave in 1987, he quickly established himself as a force in the ranks of pro box lacrosse. After losing in the 1987 final to Philadelphia, he found himself with the Wings in 1989 and led the team, and league, with 50 points (31 goals), en route to an NLL championship. The Wings won it all again in 1990 and Kotz was MVP of the 1990 game, scoring 3 goals and 4 assists in the 17-7 win over New England.

Known as a relentless worker and his accuracy in shooting, Kotz was a big part of the Wings and their prime. The 1989 title was the first of 6 in total for the Wings, who enjoyed a long and dominant run as one of the league’s pre-eminent franchises.

Bigger names and bigger stats followed Kotz in Philadelphia, but no one worked as hard as he did at getting better and it was an attitude that Kotz helped establish in Philadelphia. An attitude that persisted in the years to follow and raised the Wings to the status of legend they’ve become today.

Who is the best American-born player to play in the NLL?

  • Joe Walters (55%, 109 Votes)
  • Brad Kotz (45%, 91 Votes)

Total Voters: 200

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Chavez is an avid lacrosse player in Rochester and a journalist for the Democrat and Chronicle as well as a longtime Inside Lacrosse contributor. Email him at bob.chavez@nllinsider.com or go to RochesterSports.com.

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