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Top 5 Athletes Ever....

Think about this one for a minute....who are your favorite all time athletes in the world. In any sport, in any era....

Name off 5 of your top choices...and if you want to tell us why, that would be great to hear...

mark the shoeshine boy
This is no particular order. Just how I thought them up. It's very hard to come up with just a Top 5. But these Athletes are held in high esteem in my opinion for what they brought to the games they played.

Jackie Robinson
Roger Clemens
Sandy Koufax
Bill Russell
Walter Payton
Lance Armstrong....see my avatar.
Tiger Woods
Pete Sampras

Second Team

Carl Lewis
Jack Nickalus
Martina Navratalova
Water Payton
The Great One
Well, I don't follow many sports (except basketball and recently soccer) but I'd have to say that:

Jordan: This one is rather obvious I would think. If you haven't done so in awhile go back and watch some Jordan highlight reels and you'll remember why he is the greatest.

Pele': I never got to see Pele play but since everyone in Soccer wants the number 10 jersey I'll have to put him on the list.

Rocky Marciano: This guy boxed when you used gloves as thin as paper and never lost. He also won almost every fight by knockout and was a little guy (relatively).

I'd like to say that I don't think Armstrong should be on the list. Mainly because there are about three other cyclist with much better records than him and they did it with worse bikes. Look up the records of Eddy Merckz. He won an equal number of tours but also won every other major tour around.

If I think of anyone else that I'd put on my list I'll repost. I guess I'm probably thinking Wayne Gretzky but I'm not a huge hockey buff so I'll let others speak to it.
Before the yanks reel off "World Series" (funny that no other country is invited?) stats by the dozen lets consider some truly world class athletes:

A contender for the greatest (all round at least) athlete of all time is the British decathlete Daley Thompson. He successfully defended his 1980 Moscow Olympic gold at the Los Angeles games of 1984. His performance was so great that even Time magazine gave him the cover and headlined it “The greatest athlete of all time?” Along with his two Olympic titles he had four world records, a World Championship in 1983, European Championships in 1982 and 1986 and three Commonwealth Games wins in 1978, 1982 and 1986. One hell of an athlete.

Apart from the British rower Steven Redgrave no Olympian has five successive golds in five successive games in an endurance sport. So that makes him one hell of an athlete in my eyes. It was gold in Los Angeles, Seoul, Barcelona, Atlanta, and Sydney.

The US sprinter and long jumper Jesse Owens is best remembered as the athlete who upset Hitler when he won four Olympic gold medals in 1936. His greatest achievement though was probably on May 25, 1935, when he set five world records and tied another in just 45 minutes. His long jump record that day of 26' 8 1/2" stood for 25 years.

Another golden oldie is “The Flying Finn” Paavo Nurmi who dominated distance running during the 1920's. Nine Olympic Gold medals, and three Silver. In the 1924 games, he won the 1500M and the 5000M races with only 55 minute rest in between. In his career he held 25 World Records in as broad a range of distances as 1500M to 20KM.

He's been mentioned already but the Belgian cyclist Eddie Merckx has to be up there because he won the Tour de France's five times and he did it with style. In his five victories he won 31 stages including the green sprinter's jersey three times and the polka-dot best climber's jersey twice. Generally thought of as the greatest cyclist ever.

Jim Thorpe was probably the greatest in the modern world.

Before a game he would take a bag of footballs out to the 50 yard line and proceed to dropkick field goals with the wind at his back. Then he'd turn around and in the other direction with the wind in his face he'd dropkick the rest of them for field goals.

No one today has his combination of speed, strength, and agility.
In no particular order, and a wild card pick*. . .

Michael Jordan

Jim Thorpe

Bo Jackson

Babe Didrickson

Carl Lewis

*Kurt Gibson (lettered in football, track and baseball at Michigan State, and though he's best known as a baseball player, he's still the all time leader in yards per catch in football at MSU--big, strong and fast)
Jesse Owens--gotta like an athlete that made Hitler cringe.

Mark Spitz--seven, count 'em -- seven medals in one Olympics

Michael Jordan--he redfined basketball

Jackie Joyner Kersee--if she did nopt cheat

tie--Wayne Gretzky/Pele
This one is tough, but in terms of pure athletic ability and amazing feats:

no specific order

Michael Jordan
Bo Jackson
Barry Sanders
Jim Thorpe
Jimmy Connors
Bo Jackson
Barry Sanders
Babe Ruth
Carl Lewis
And there are 5 or 6 great Olympic/collegiate wrestlers you could stick in here interchangeably, I think.
Wilt Chamberlin, Roger Clemins, Dan Marino, Mike Jordan, and Tiger Woods. Real tough to name just five, so many greats.
I am too young and too little a watcher of sports to really pick five all time greats.

I am surprised to see so few mentions of Pele, though, who was arguably the greatest player ever, in the world's most popular sport. And nobody yet has mentioned Garrincha, who was quite possibly Pele's equal.

Also wondering how people feel some of the up and comers in American football fit in the world of all around greatness. Specifically, Michael Vick, Reggie Bush, and Vince Young. MV is amazing, but I would hesitate to even suggest that he should be considered in this thread, except that I keep hearing how he is revolutionizing the role of QB. As for Reggie and Young, watching them play in the final last year was truly AMAZING.
Bush and Young might end up being average NFL players, weird how that works. Michael Vick isn't really revolutionizing anything, though I agree a lot of people say he is. You've got a great point about Pele. Just don't know enough about soccer to know.
Ok...here you go...

Joe Montana
Michael Jordan
When the clock is ticking down who do you want handling the ball? I say give me these guys.

Ali...watch some footage...the guy is the total package...size and speed.

Tiger Woods...ok, he hasn't surpassed Nicklaus, but I think this is only a matter of time. Barring a career ending injury...lets remember, this is golf and he is in better shape physically then anyone else in the field. So it is doubtful this will happen. He probably has 30 more years to surpass Jack. He is also arguably doing it in an era where the field is much more competetive then in Jack's time.

Last but not least...this should give people something to talk about. (Mark, you can thank me later as this should boost the posts in your forum)

Barry Bonds...
Barry Bonds- I don't think you should count him because of the roids. Imagine some of the other athletes mentioned if they had been roiding.

Btw I don't think Bonds was wrong to do them, baseball basically allowed them by not testing for them.
I say give it up for the regular joes who played the game right:

Nolan Ryan
Cal Ripken, Jr.
and Ozzie Smith

In football, I agree with those who have mentioned Walter Payton, and would add Reggie White, the Minister of Defense!

But that was just *my* favorites...:biggrin:
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