Allen Bridge, ‘Doah Staff Writer
April 2, 2014
What makes an athlete great enough to be called one of the best in the game? What makes an athlete so great that they are not only one of the best in their sport, but one of the best athletes to ever walk on this earth? Many things go into consideration in ranking the best athletes of all time such as personal credentials like titles or MVP awards. Here these athletes are not only being judged on their personal accolades, but how consistently great that athlete was, how they changed the way their sport is viewed or played, and if when they competed, could they do things that other athletes in their sport could not do? Let the countdown begin!
10. Tiger Woods: Considered to be the best golfer of his time by many and with still many years left to go in his career, it is only a matter of time until Woods is considered the best golfer of all time. He has won a total of 79 PGA Tour events, 14 majors, he owns the best scoring average ever in a year and in a career, he is one of five golfers to win all four major championships and is also the youngest to do so, and was named the PGA player of the year a record 11 times. Woods has had the kind of career that when people think of golf, they think of Tiger Woods.
9. Deion Sanders: He earned the nickname of “Prime Time” for a reason. Considered one of the best defensive players in NFL history and the best cover corner to ever play the game, Sanders used a mix of blinding speed, extreme body control and great natural instincts. In high school, Sanders was all-state in football, basketball, and baseball. In college, he played football, baseball and ran track at Florida State. He played nine seasons of professional baseball where he stole 186 bases in his career and made it to the World Series. In the NFL, Sanders played in eight pro bowls, was the defensive player of the year in 1994, was voted to the all-decade team of the ‘90s, and won two Super Bowl rings making him the only man to play in a world series and in a super bowl. As a defender, he had 7838 all-purpose yards, intercepted 53 passes and recorded 22 touchdowns.
8. Jackie Robinson: Everyone knows him as the first African American baseball player to break the color barrier and play in the MLB. He was named the National League Rookie of the Year, led the league in stolen bases twice, led second basemen in double plays made four years straight, was the MVP in 1949 along with winning the batting title, was a six time all-star, and helped lead the Dodgers to six pennants and one World Series Championship in his ten year career. Apart from baseball, he won a Junior Negro tennis title at the age of 17 while also lettering in four sports in high school and college where he played football, baseball, track and basketball.
7. Pele: Perhaps the greatest soccer player to ever play the game, Pele used his speed, explosiveness, dazzling footwork and control to maneuver past defenders to score 1281 goals in 1363 matches. He has won a total of three-year world cups with Brazil. On top of his goal scoring ability, Pele was also known for his fancy footwork. The creator of the “rainbow,” Pele was an idol among many players as they tried to duplicate some of his moves such as the rainbow, which still remain popular today.
6. Wayne Gretzky: Arguably the best hockey player ever, Gretzky was the most prolific scorer of all time. He scored 894 goals in 1,487 regular season games to go along with 122 career playoff goals. He’s recorded 1,963 career assists, 50 hat tricks and 2,857 career points. He earned the nickname “The Great One” as he is considered the best hockey player ever. He won the Stanley Cup four times and the Hart Trophy eight straight times. To go along with that, Gretzky has countless records that will most likely never be broken again.
5. Bo Jackson: One of the best running backs ever in the history of football, Jackson won a Heisman Trophy at Auburn University while rushing for 4,303 yards. He played professional baseball as well where he was a one-time all-star winning the MVP award that year, and finished his career batting .250 and hitting 141 home runs. In four seasons in the NFL, Jackson rushed for 2,782 yards scoring 16 touchdowns before a severe hip injury ended his career. He didn’t let his hip injury stop him from returning to baseball, as many doubted he could come back from it. “Bo Knows” is a popular slogan associated with Bo Jackson, as he knew he could come back from this injury and when he did, his first swing in a game resulted in a home run.
4. Babe Ruth: Considered the best baseball player of all time, Ruth surely revolutionized the game of baseball and made it America’s pastime. Ruth is a two time all-star and a seven time world series champion. He won the MVP award in 1923, was a 12 time home run champion and had the record for most career home runs at 714 before it was broken by Hank Aaron. He also held the RBI record before Aaron broke it too. He is first all time in slugging percentage too. Along with his slugging, Ruth also pitched as well. He has the record for most innings pitched in one game at 14 and posted two 20 win seasons as a pitcher before he stopped because he was deemed too valuable a hitter to pitch. He is a member of the MLB Hall of Fame and was voted to the all-century and all-time teams respectively.
3. Jim Thorpe: As a football player he played running back, defensive back, placekicker and punter. He was a two time All-American at Carlisle leading them to a record of 11-1 in 1911, and then to a National Championship the following year scoring 25 touchdowns and 198 points. He also competed as an Olympian in track. He won gold medals in the pentathlon and decathlon at the Olympic games in Stockholm. He is a member of college footballs and the NFL’s Hall of Fames and was a member of the NFL all-decade team in the ‘20s. Along with football and track, Thorpe also played professional baseball posting a .252 lifetime batting average.
2. Muhammad Ali: One of the best boxers of all-time, Ali is as decorated as they come. A fighter in the heavyweight class, Ali had very deceptive blazing speed, toughness, strength and heart. He was a three-time heavyweight champ and was undefeated until his title was stripped after refusing to serve in the U.S. military. He won a gold medal at the Olympic games in Rome in 1960. He regained his heavyweight title in the ‘70s winning it six more times and is a member of the boxing Hall of Fame.
1. Michael Jordan: Hands down, the best basketball player to ever play the game. He was a true champion winning six championships, five MVP awards, two Olympic gold medals, a ten time scoring champion, a 14 time all-star, nine all defensive selections, 11 time all NBA selections and a two time slam dunk champion. Jordan could do it all, he could score, he could play defense, he could pass the ball well, he could throw down flashy dunks and hit clutch shots when his team needed it the most. Jordan surely revolutionized the game of basketball. He made the sport the second most popular sport in America, has his own brand called Jordan, starred in movies and commercials and is now an NBA owner of the Charlotte Bobcats.