Often referred to as the “Michael Jordan of rodeo,” Trevor Brazile can appreciate the comparison.
Growing up in the small town of Krum, Texas — population 4,157 — Brazile was a big Jordan fan who played guard on two Class AA state champion basketball teams for Krum High School.
“The rodeo schedule doesn’t always work out just right with the basketball schedule, but the coaches worked with me, and I was fortunate enough to play on some good teams,” he said.
Brazile, 38, didn’t get a chance to play under the “Friday Night Lights” in Texas, as Krum was one of the few high schools in the state that didn’t have a football team. But he ran track, competing in the 100-meter dash and 110-meter hurdles.
“That was something my folks always stressed growing up,” he said. “They wanted me to be a good athlete, and balance was a big deal to my dad and this sport.”
Brazile also took part in wrestling, gymnastics and martial arts before focusing all his attention on rodeo. He said being an all-around athlete helped him become the most decorated all-around pro cowboy ever.
“All the stuff I’ve done growing up has helped me along the way with balance and everything we do out in the arena,” he said. “Anytime you’re a well-rounded athlete, I think it gives you more opportunities.”
Competing at the National Finals Rodeo at the Thomas &Mack Center for the 17th straight year, Brazile added to his Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association record collection Saturday, when he clinched his 12th all-around world title — bringing his total of gold buckles to 21.
“I think they mean more to me the older I get,” he said. “It seems like my competition gets younger every year. That’s why I keep enjoying it more. At some point, there’s going to be a changing of the guard. So every gold buckle means more as time marches on.”
Along with his 12 all-around crowns, Brazile has won five steer roping titles (winning his fifth in November), three tie-down roping and one team roping.
Having already secured his second gold buckle of the season, Brazile is now taking aim at a Triple Crown. If he can win either the team roping or tie-down roping title this year, he’ll match Jim Shoulders’ mark of winning three Triple Crowns (1956 to 1958).
Brazile previously won the Triple Crown in 2007 (all-around, steer roping, tie-down) and 2010 (all-around, team roping, tie-down). If he were to win the Triple Crown with all-around, steer roping and team roping, it would be his third different combination.
“What makes it extra exciting is the chance at another Triple Crown,” he said. “After (Saturday night), one more (gold buckle) will complete it. So getting this one done gives me some peace of mind. I never take winning championships for granted.”
If Brazile wins his second team roping title, he also would become the first cowboy ever to claim multiple crowns in four categories.
Brazile is second in the team roping world standings and fourth in tie-down roping and is in the top five in the average in both events with four rounds remaining. After taking fourth in team roping Monday with heeler Travis Graves, Brazile finished out of the money in both events Tuesday night in front of a sellout crowd of 17,495 at the T&M.
Still, his total earnings of $369,015 is fifth on the all-time single-season list, which has his name written all over it, as he has compiled the top eight totals in PRCA history.
When it comes to championships, Jordan has nothing on Brazile, whose string of nine straight all-around titles trails only Guy Allen (11 straight in steer roping) for most consecutive world crowns.
Brazile has never met Jordan, but he did meet several NBA stars — including Rajon Rondo, Chris Paul and Pau Gasol — when the league’s 2010 All-Star Game was at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas, less than an hour’s drive from where Brazile played high school basketball.
“I got to give them some roping lessons,” Brazile said. “It was fun.”
There are a lot of pickup basketball games on the PRCA trail, but the king of the cowboys said he isn’t king of the court.
“No, no. I’ve twisted ankles,” he said. “I’ve learned to conserve myself on the court a lot more over the years.”
A consummate professional, Brazile — who has two children, 7-year-old Treston and 4-year-old Style, with his wife, Shada, a barrel racer who qualified for the 2013 NFR — can still talk a good game on the hardwood.
“In all our extracurricular sports, especially when we’re having fun against other guys in the industry, when we play ball, we do a lot more trash-talking in our hobbies than we ever do in our profession,” Brazile said.
He also loves to hunt and fish and is a big football fan. His favorite team? The Cowboys. Of course.
■ NOTE — Sage Kimzey placed second in the sixth round, scoring 73.5 points on Korkow Rodeos’ Bad Habit, to bolster his bid to become the second rookie bull rider to win a world title. The 20-year-old leads Trey Benton III by more than $62,000 in the standings and also leads the average as the only man to ride at least five bulls.
Contact reporter Todd Dewey at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-0354. Follow him on Twitter: @tdewey33.