The World’s Greatest – Part II

And part two!

Shout out to the pakastallion, blue dodger, swag flu, and darshan for the comments on the last posting and this current one.  For all assumptions please see part one (earlier posted article).

Before we get started, let us remind ourselves what we are trying to achieve.  Not only are we trying to break down the barriers between sports, but also the barrier between individual and team.  We are trying to find those few individuals that have transcended his respective sport and created a league of his own (again men only in this column, but if you know of any women that belong on this list, please comment!).  We are looking for those players that always jump to your mind whenever you think of the sport.  Simply put: the worlds greatest.  Now this will be open up to a large debate (yes, baseball is definitely tricky).  However, lets go ahead and shoot for the top 5 in the world’s top five sports (no particular order of importance):

Part II: Team

Michael Jordan – Basketball

Let’s be real, this one is a no brainer.  Whenever anyone, I said ANYONE, thinks of basketball, Michael Jordan is the man they think of.  This is true WORLDWIDE.  He was able to grab multiple MVPs, consecutive NBA championships, and become the poster child for the NBA.  He was a one-man machine that was able to transform a team from a little above average into title contenders.  The man was able to LEAVE the sport, come back and STILL dominate (see three-peat part II).  Opponents shivered when they knew MJ was going to be on the court.

Contenders:  Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Charles Barkley, Kobe Bryant (and so many more)

Joe Montana – Football

This one is tougher, since there are a different players on offense and defense (as oppose to hockey/basketball).  But no could ease the fears of fans better than Joe.  Every 49er fan (and all other fans as well) knew that whenever the 49ers were down by 0-6 points with only 30 seconds left on the clock, it was way too much time for Montana to comeback and win the game (31 fourth quarter come back wins).  Arguably, the QB position is the most important position on a football team.  The QB is the leader, is the decision maker, and is always the one the take responsibility for the team.  Montana is the epitome of great quarterbacks.  He has 4 superbowls and the only player to have 3 Superbowl MVPs.  All hail “Joe Cool”.

Contenders: Jerry Rice, Peyton Manning, Jim Brown, Lawrence Taylor

Pele – Soccer
Pele truly transformed the world of soccer for the better.  Not only was he superb on the pitch, but it was Pele that brought notice of the futbol world to the United States.  He was the top goalscorer of ALL TIME.  He is also the only player in the world to have three World Cup medals.  How can we not pick this guy as the best?  He was name dropped in “Ghetto Superstar.”

Contenders: Diego Maradona, Ronaldo, Zinedine Zidane, Johan Cruyff

Wayne Gretzky – Hockey

His nickname was “The Great One.”  I don’t need to say anymore (well one thing…the man’s jersey has been retired by ALL NHL TEAMS…keyword: ALL).

Contenders: Bobby Orr, Mario Lemieux, Sidney Crosby

Babe Ruth – Baseball

Determining who is the best in baseball is one of the most difficult decisions to make.  There have been so many stars that have excelled in the sport, especially with the diaspora of pitchers vs batters.  Statistically speaking, Willie Mays would be the greatest baseball player of all time (and the individual that I would pick first on my team if I was GM).  However, when we define the best player as one that not only won games for his team, but also increased fans overall, it is the Great Bambino that takes the cake.  When people think of one person in baseball, world wide, it is Babe Ruth (except for perhaps Ichiro in Japan).   Babe is one of the few persons to actually elevate above the normal human being and seems more like a mythical/legendary figure.  Although refuted, let us all be real…the man has a candy bar as well.

Contenders: Willie Mays, Jackie Robinson, Nolan Ryan, Alex Rodriguez

Honorable Mentions:  Sachin Tendulkar (Cricket), Darren Lockyer (Rugby)

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4 Responses to The World’s Greatest – Part II

  1. Darshan says:

    I think football and baseball are the hardest for sure, agreed. There is a huge case for Jim Brown in football, as I’m not sure anyone came to dominating football in their time as quickly as he did, and in such a fashion as he did. Although he retired quickly, it’s still important to note how much he accomplished in those 8 years? as a pro player.

    I think my pick would have been Rice (all-time leader in TDs over any position) – I don’t know of a player who played as long as he did without much of a drop in performance (Rice played for 20 years). He also holds records in almost every statistical category for receivers (only one I can think of that he doesn’t hold is the 23 single season TD receptions by Moss, which was previously set by Rice at 22). The receiver position is difficult to dominate over a long period of time – it’s hard to stay competitive against much younger, faster and physical cornerbacks as you grow older, but Rice did just that. I think a lot of it was attributed to his tenacity and determination, he was a born champion. Intangibles like that are usually what make someone stand out in a team sport.

    Also important to note are Terry Bradshaw, Otto Graham, Johnny Unitas, Troy Aikman, Dan Marino, and John Elway in the QBs category. Bradshaw, who also won 4 SuperBowls, was most famous for calling his own plays in the huddle. That’s pretty difficult to do for any QB, and again, it’s an intangible that leaders possess.

    It’s just way too hard to mention the best baseball player of all time. I would mention Ted Williams, Yogi Berra, Mickey Mantle, Lou Gehrig, and Hank Aaron. My pick for a youngster in this era is Ichiro. One of the most productive players baseball has seen in a long time.

  2. What about Bill Russell for NBA Basketball?

  3. The Unknown Sports says:

    Well said Darshan.

    But I would still take Montana over Rice in the respect that during the Niner dynasty, it was Joe that everyone went to in the time of need (with no small part from Rice, who is also my personal number 1 player of all time). Everyone looked to Joe to take full responsibility if the team needed to win. Like you said, the intangibles. It is just so tough overall for football and baseball.

    I would also argue the same for soccer…the midfielder does not get as much respect as the forward, even though many times it is due to the midfielder that controls the team (including the goals, through assists). Pushes the argument more towards Zidane.

    To MontanatoCrabtree, although Bill Russell dominated during his era, many pundits say that during his time he did not have to compete with a high number of equal caliber players (besides Wilt). Whereas Jordan lived in the era of Barkley, Malone, Wilkins,). I would still say that Bill Russell is still the man and holler at his medal of freedom award.

  4. kidveesh says:

    wait wait wait….Charles Barkley was a contender for GOAT for basketball???

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