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Old 06-10-2011, 05:06 PM   #1
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Greatest Athlete Ever

I remember seeing an article comparison the different abilities of top athletes in many disciplines like endurance, speed, etc. I remember seeing Roger Federer and LeBron James on there, but there are so many articles on being the "greatest athlete" that I can't find it.

On another note, what is your criteria for being the greatest athlete ever? It's pretty hard to compare athletes in different sports, but I've always had a tough time coming up with a good argument for tennis, which is why I wanted to find the article in the first place. Opinions, rants, flame wars?

Edit: I think it was from ESPN or SI.
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Old 06-11-2011, 07:40 AM   #2
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I remember the article... but I made my own personal conclusion that it was a silly debate,
because of so many variables in how you'll rank the athletes.

It's kind of dumb to even try to rank athletes without categorizing them in their specific sport.
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Old 06-11-2011, 11:55 AM   #3
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Sports have revolutionized so much...especially in hockey. This thread is an awesome discussion.

Maybe in basketball if you took Kareem vs. Kobe at the top of their careers, who would top would be very curious to see...

But in hockey, if you take Gretzky vs. Ovechkin at the top of their careers....can't help to think that Gretzky had it easy way back when. Like, would Gretzky, if he started in 2005 would just have been utterly crushed while if Ovechkin started his career in '78 would have done much better than Gretzky.

Unfortunately, my sports knowledge doesn't go beyond hockey and the WWE, so I wish i can comment further.
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Old 06-11-2011, 12:25 PM   #4
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this thread is a good discussion as long as its apples to apples
once you start comparing motorsports to tennis, the argument is out the window
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Old 06-11-2011, 12:59 PM   #5
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IMO, how great an athlete is, is determined by how dominant he was in his sport.

That said, Tiger Woods is, hands down, the greatest athlete. Nobody has dominated their sport as much as Tiger has dominated golf.


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But in hockey, if you take Gretzky vs. Ovechkin at the top of their careers....can't help to think that Gretzky had it easy way back when. Like, would Gretzky, if he started in 2005 would just have been utterly crushed while if Ovechkin started his career in '78 would have done much better than Gretzky.
Disagree with that. It's not fair to say Gretzky had it easier back then. If the competition was weaker back then, then shouldn't our expectation of how good he was be lower too? He was ahead of the game at that time, and that's what you call dominance.

The same argument is often made up for Jordan...People say, well if Jordan played in 2005 when the competition seems to be a lot greater with athletes that can jump higher, accelerate faster, etc., then he wouldn't be as great. What those people fail to realize is that Jordan was ahead of his era. In fact, Jordan built today's game...The fade-away jumper, the high flying acrobatic moves to get to the hoop, the up-and-under, etc....those are all established by Jordan. You only saw Jordan doing those things in his era. The younger guys took after him and the rest is history. He formed the new game.

So again, when talking about the greatest athlete, use dominance as the main category to classify it.

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Old 06-11-2011, 03:27 PM   #6
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IMO, how great an athlete is, is determined by how dominant he was in his sport.
If that is your criteria, then I would argue that Esther Vergeer is the greatest athlete of all time. World Number 1 female wheelchair tennis player since 1999, unbeaten since 2001 with a 400+ winning streak, winner of several dozen Grand Slams and 5 Paraolympic gold medals, both in singles games and doubles. This is dominance.
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Old 06-11-2011, 05:13 PM   #7
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Never even knew there was Wheelchair Tennis...
How do they even rally?? They can't even cover the court quickly enough.
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Old 06-12-2011, 02:13 PM   #8
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Disagree with that. It's not fair to say Gretzky had it easier back then. If the competition was weaker back then, then shouldn't our expectation of how good he was be lower too? He was ahead of the game at that time, and that's what you call dominance.
.
In ways i think Gretzky had it easier. I want to refer back to a few rule changes my friend told me about, but i was too young to even remember the facts. But apparently there were some rule changes that pretty much slowed Gretzky down as a dominant player. The later players after Gretzky's time like Crosby and Ovechkin would be assumed didn't have the same 'freedoms' Gretzky had in his prime. Just like Jordan shaped the game of basketball, Gretzky did the same for hockey.

But as of right now, i cant back up what I just said, so its time for me to do a lil research.

On top of that, i don't think Gretzky was hockeys greatest player...just using him as example. Sure Gretzky had the career statistics, but imo, Bobby Orr was able to accomplish something that Gretzky could never touch...being the league's best defenseman AND be the league's top scorer.
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**Edited addition.

Here we go, here is one that I found:
Another rule that targeted a specific team, this time the Edmonton Oilers and Wayne Gretzky. From SI:

In the mid-'80s, the NHL stepped in and made it nearly impossible to see 3-on-3 situations by negating the additional loss of manpower when a second set of minor penalties is whistled.

Regarded as the "Edmonton Rule," the freewheeling Oiler teams of the 1980s used the tactic to great advantage. As soon as players went to the penalty box, the ensuing play invariably would involve an Oiler player jostling an opponent in hopes of goading him into a coincidental minor situation. The thought behind the theory was that with the Oilers' superior skating skill supplied by Paul Coffey, Wayne Gretzky, Jari Kurri, Mark Messier, Glen Anderson, et al, the more open space the better. They correctly calculated that extended stretches of 4-on-4 and 3-on-3 increased the likelihood of offensive annihilation.

So the NHL made a rule-change that made teams play 5-on-5 during offsetting/coincidental penalties -- known informally as "The Gretzky Rule." The rule was reversed in the early 1990s ... just in time for players like Mario and Jagr to exploit it.

Not to be confused with the other "Gretzky Rule," which reads "never coach a team in the desert."

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Old 06-15-2011, 11:43 PM   #9
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usain bolt

michael jordan

andersen silva

fedor

jon jones in a couple of years

shaq

that's all i can think of

golf is not a sport, and you dont need to be athletic to be good at this sport, you see some pro golfers with beer bellies, so gtfo with that shit

if we consider golf a sport then pool should be a sport too
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Old 06-16-2011, 12:10 AM   #10
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IIRC, it was a very biased Americentric list.
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Old 06-16-2011, 01:35 AM   #11
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usain bolt

michael jordan

andersen silva

fedor

jon jones in a couple of years

shaq

that's all i can think of

golf is not a sport, and you dont need to be athletic to be good at this sport, you see some pro golfers with beer bellies, so gtfo with that shit

if we consider golf a sport then pool should be a sport too
The OP asks for the Greatest Athlete Ever, and you throw in some MMA fighters?

No offense, but are you serious? It makes me think you're one of those TAPOUT/Affliction UFC fan boys. For "Greatest Athlete Ever," Jon Jones would not even come close. He's great, young and athletic, but by no means even top 25 all time MMArists. And would you consider Anderson (spell it right) Silva or Fedor Emelianenko the absolute best MMArist of all time, let alone athlete.

MJ is my fave. athlete of all time and deserves recognition. But Shaq? He's probably just top 10 NBA players of all time.

And I'm sorry to tell you, golf is definitely a sport. Some football players are fatter than golfers and most football positions take less skills than golf. Explain that.
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Old 06-16-2011, 02:18 AM   #12
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The way I see it, dominance is a major factor but not the be-all end-all.

For example, I wouldn't put Usain Bolt or Phelps on the list despite their dominance because I don't think the level of competition in track and swimming compare to other sports like basketball or football. I would be willing to bet that if swimming was a major sport in the world, and had lots of people participating, Phelps would not be as successful as he is. Secondly, I consider golf a sport and I would definitely put Tiger on the list because it takes a crazy amount of dedication to (formerly) be the best at something a lot of people take part in.

Anyway, here's my list in no particular order, except Jordan at the top. I just chose who I thought was the consensus greatest in their sport except I left off Shumacher and Federer because it's just too weird to have them, whatever their level of dominance, on a list with Jordan and Jim Brown.

Jordan
Tiger
Jim Brown
Gretzky
Babe Ruth
Pele
Ali
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Old 06-17-2011, 03:43 PM   #13
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For hockey wise hands down no question asked of Lemieux never had cancer and back issues Gretzky wouldn't come close to him. Don't get me wrong Gretzky is the man and is close to the top of the list for hockey players but I personally think Lemieux was on a different level.

But that's what if's you can't take that into account what could of been since there are players like that in every sport.

If you want to watch a good bball movie get the GOAT that's a great movie of what could of happened if things went differently growing up and I'm sure there are tons of stories like that out there.
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Old 06-17-2011, 04:43 PM   #14
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Agreed....athleticism-wise, Lemieux was better than Gretzky. However, i don't think that Lemieux had the same sense that Gretzky had. By the end of the day....i think thats what is gonna matter the most.

I still think that Bobby Orr was a better player though.
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Old 06-17-2011, 06:43 PM   #15
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I'm not a cyclist or anything, but in terms of best athlete mentally and physically...Lance Armstrong has to be near the top of the list. No team (well, not really) to help him out and hella long races. If I understand the thread we're talking best athlete...not best player in their respective sport so I think Lance has to take this one.
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Old 06-17-2011, 08:25 PM   #16
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I'm not a cyclist or anything, but in terms of best athlete mentally and physically...Lance Armstrong has to be near the top of the list. No team (well, not really) to help him out and hella long races. If I understand the thread we're talking best athlete...not best player in their respective sport so I think Lance has to take this one.
His team mate just came out saying he was using performance enhancing drugs. there's no way he's any where close to the top on this list. He's sitting in the stands with Marion Jones.
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Old 06-17-2011, 08:38 PM   #17
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Bwaaa, really? Didn't know that. Then yeah he falls down the list. Another one no-ones mentioned...Pacquiao?
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Old 06-17-2011, 10:06 PM   #18
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Speaking of a category such as Armstrong and Phelps or any athletes in independent sports.....triathletes, runners, etc.....they display true athleticism. All their conditioning and training is focussed on human performance.

Then you got your Gretzkys, Lemieuxs, Jordans and Tiger Woods who are evaluated on how they played their respective games.

Funny that Pacquiao is just mentioned.....because in my opinion, when it comes to boxing, both human performance and strategy are part of his regiment....So yeah, Pacquiao would definitely be someone I can agree with off the top of my head.


But yeah...if you're talkng athlete as a performance perspective....I would say it has to be Phelps.....considering swimming is not an easy event to be good at. And to be THAT good is saying something.
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Old 06-19-2011, 03:39 AM   #19
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Its an argument that will never be settled. Its hard to find something that everyone could agree on..

say..Tiger Woods, I believe he's still one back for most Majors won...even tho he DOMINATED the golf world

Most people still relate basketball to Jordan. One thing for sure MJ HAS NEVER LOST A CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES..LBJ and Kobe can say bye to that..again..its personal opinion.

Gretzky dominated the sport, but hey, what if Crosby played the entire season? his evolution surpasses Ovie in my mind.

Some people relate Greatest athlete to evolution of a sport today as well..

its all judgement and opinions...

id say move this thread to offtopic..should be interesting
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Old 06-19-2011, 03:49 AM   #20
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The OP asks for the Greatest Athlete Ever, and you throw in some MMA fighters?

No offense, but are you serious? It makes me think you're one of those TAPOUT/Affliction UFC fan boys. For "Greatest Athlete Ever," Jon Jones would not even come close. He's great, young and athletic, but by no means even top 25 all time MMArists. And would you consider Anderson (spell it right) Silva or Fedor Emelianenko the absolute best MMArist of all time, let alone athlete.

MJ is my fave. athlete of all time and deserves recognition. But Shaq? He's probably just top 10 NBA players of all time.

And I'm sorry to tell you, golf is definitely a sport. Some football players are fatter than golfers and most football positions take less skills than golf. Explain that.
If you're talking about football lineman, they are positions that are very underrated. Though these players may be "fat", their footwork alone blow "fat" golfers out of the water. Without a doubt in my mind I would take one of these fat football players over a fat golfer (with both being professionals of their respective sport).
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Old 06-21-2011, 07:45 AM   #21
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The best athletes I find are ones who can excel in a sport but play as a team and even when they are at their peak of their career give back to the community. Sidney Crosby does alot for children with tim hortons, Alex Kovalev as a kid was told he wouldnt be able to play sports because of his lungs i think, and he made it to the NHL, when he was in montreal he set up foundations for kids with similar problems to help them. Its these kind of athletes that are great, even though they make millions, he help out people in need.
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Old 06-23-2011, 08:59 PM   #22
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Greatest athlete ever? Hmm, that's a tough one.


Greatest basketball athlete? Michael Jordan. Six NBA championships. His Airness revolutionized the game of basketball with his dunks in early years followed by his fadeaway jumper in later years. An old school athlete who let his play do the talking. None of this LeBron bullshit of announcing his decision on national TV to play for the Miami Heat.

None of the of LeQueen "not five, not six, not seven" pep rally talk at the introduction of the 2 1/2 men in front of Miami fans.

Case in point. Game 5, 1997 NBA Finals. "The Flu Game." (Wikipedia):

Game 5: The Flu Game
June 11 1997
9:00 et Recap Chicago Bulls 90, Utah Jazz 88 Delta Center, Salt Lake City, Utah
Attendance: 19,911 NBC
Scoring by quarter: 16–29, 33–24, 18–19, 23–16
Pts: Michael Jordan 38
Rebs: Scottie Pippen 10
Asts: Jordan, Pippen 5 each Pts: Karl Malone 19
Rebs: Greg Ostertag 15
Asts: Karl Malone 6
Chicago leads the series, 3–2

Game 5, often referred to as "The Flu Game", was one of Michael Jordan's most memorable. On Tuesday, Jordan woke up nauseated and sweating profusely. He hardly had the strength to sit up in bed and was diagnosed with a stomach virus or food poisoning. The Bulls trainers told Jordan that there was no way he could play the next day. Jordan was sick, in more ways than one, with his stellar game.
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Old 06-23-2011, 09:32 PM   #23
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The best athletes I find are ones who can excel in a sport but play as a team and even when they are at their peak of their career give back to the community. Sidney Crosby does alot for children with tim hortons, Alex Kovalev as a kid was told he wouldnt be able to play sports because of his lungs i think, and he made it to the NHL, when he was in montreal he set up foundations for kids with similar problems to help them. Its these kind of athletes that are great, even though they make millions, he help out people in need.
i think for this purpose, we're talking strictly about their physique and their skil in their respective sports
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Old 06-23-2011, 09:59 PM   #24
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Roger Federer has to be up there on the list of most dominant in their sport.


However, if we are talking about the greatest athlete, I would assume that means an athlete who is not one dimensional in their sport, but would be reasonably competent in other sports. A tennis player isnt going to be good at football, a sprinter isnt going to be good at triathlons, etc


My personal opinion would be an MMA fighter would be the most well rounded physically and mentally. Someone like GSP (no Im not saying GSP is the greatest athlete of all time), is clearly good at combat sports. Has the explosiveness of a sprinter and the endurance of a distance runner. He can probably play a physical game (football), a quick game (basketball) and maybe a finesse game.
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Old 06-23-2011, 10:08 PM   #25
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Bruce Lee if you count martial arts as a sport
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