OT: Yinzer Thoughts pt 1: Greatest Athletes of all Time

Discussion in 'Pittsburgh Penguins' started by ColePens, Oct 24, 2018.

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  1. ColePens

    ColePens RIP parabola & Fugu

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    With some of these trips where we have a couple days off, i'm going to start a series. Some OT questions just to get a vibe from Pens fans and see what you think. We have a great community here so I'd love to hear your take on some common topics. This one: GOAT athlete.

    Rules: There are no rules. This is seriously your preference. The criteria can be based solely off stats. The criteria can be based off your personal preference. The criteria can be based off a combo of a little bit of everything.



    Okay.. there is one rule. Be respectful.
     
  2. ColePens

    ColePens RIP parabola & Fugu

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    My personal criteria: I think what makes the GOAT athlete is a combination of dominance in their respected sport, transcended the game, won championships, and have signature moments that are frozen in time. More important - they left a mark on the game and the world that will never ever be taken away from them. And here is my list:

    1) Michael Jordan: I don't think anyone will really argue me here. Even kids who never saw 23 play a game want to "be like Mike". He transcended basketball, the free throw dunk is signature to this day, and does anything else need to be said? He IS basketball. GOAT athlete.

    2) Mario Lemieux: Yeah... it's biased. I never saw a player dominate the game of hockey like #66 did. He won championships, has one of the greatest goals of all time in the SCF, and did it while battling severe back injuries and cancer. Dude is a legend. And what puts him on this list so high is how he transcended an entire city based on his athletic ability. He built a hospital and has probably done more for the organization, sport, team, city off the ice than he did on the ice.

    3) Roger Federer: Tennis is what it is today because of Fed. He changed the flat ball serve/volley tennis and made it cool to finally be a fan. He dominated the game with consistency and grace. The dominance he had in tennis is unlike anything and he did it for over 10 years. It's insane.

    4) Serena Williams: She changed women's tennis forever and even women's sports. Her dominance is brilliant. And she got equal pay for women in the tennis world. She is the most dominant female athlete of all time.

    5) Tom Brady: And I'll get **** for this. IMO what makes an athlete the greatest of all time is the level of consistency and dominance. Tom Brady turned a team that was pretty meh into an all time juggernaut. And holy **** the consistency of play. I hate it because it probably took 2 SBs away from the Steelers, but you cannot deny he is the GOAT football player. I'll get **** for this, but it's true.


    Just missed and why:
    - Tiger Woods: Would have been #3 on my list but after his scandal, he is human. If he would have even remotely kept up his greatness, he makes this list.

    - Bo Jackson, Jim Brown, Thorpe, etc: I was born in 1985. Unfortunately I missed a lot of the older days. I'll admit it's my lack of seeing them play and dominate the sport that keeps this era off the list.

    - Muhammad Ali: Same as above. I have seen his fights. I've heard the stories. I just didn't live in the era of his dominance and brilliance so it's hard to put it in context.

    - Phelps: This one probably deserves to be #5.
     
  3. pixiesfanyo

    pixiesfanyo Registered User

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    Kris Letang: He’s Malkinesque.
     
  4. Pengwins

    Pengwins Registered User

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  5. Andy99

    Andy99 Registered User

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    I’d have to add Nadal to Federer....completely different players but I think Nadal was as influential on the sport as Federer....it’s kinda like Mario and Sid...Federer is so talented that not a lot of players can play like him....Nadal plays an athletic, gritty, grinding game, that more players could try to match but really can’t do it as skillfully....he’s beaten Fed many more times head to head...have to think he should join him on your list
     
  6. Tom Hanks

    Tom Hanks Mistakes brought to you by my iPhone.

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    I’ll put in some Australian ones who definitely stack up against the worlds best of all time as there will be a lot of North Americans in these lists.

    1) Sir Don Bradman: The greatest cricketer of all time. Absolutely dominated his peers when he played (1928-1948).

    They didn’t play as many games back in those days so not the most runs of all time but his average is 99.94. Needed 4 runs in his last game to average 100 but went out for 0 :laugh:. To put his average in perspective scoring 100 is a huge deal for a cricketer (called a century). Also the closest average during his time was 57 and even today the closest anyone has gotten their average is 61.

    He also has the most double and triple centuries despite only 52 matches (most of the best batsmen have played 100-200 matches). 4th highest score of all time of 334 (mine is 16 :laugh:). He also scored 26% of Australia’s runs average each game. A team of 11 in a game.

    He played in a time before the rule changes to better protect the batsmen and the equipment back then is not what it is today. Under the new rules he would have been even more dominant.

    2) Rod Laver: Known as the ‘Rocket’ one of the best ever tennis players and the home of the Australian Open is the Rod Laver Arena.

    (From an article)
    It’s difficult to assess how Rod Laver would have fared against the players of today, but I suspect the redheaded Aussie would have done just fine. It’s hard to argue with the “Rockets” record. He was ranked number one in the world for seven straight years (1964 – 1970) and has more career titles (200) than anyone in the history of the game.

    He is the only player to have twice won the Grand Slam, doing it once as an amateur in 1962 and again as a pro in 1969. If Laver was not excluded from the Grand Slam tournaments during a five-year period in the mid-1960s, who knows how many he would have won. During this time period, the pre-open era, the Grand Slam tournaments were for amateurs only. The “open era” in tennis did not begin until 1968, when professionals were finally allowed to compete in the Grand Slam events. Given that Laver was ranked number one in the world during this five-year period, it’s likely he would have won many more Grand Slam titles
     
    Last edited: Oct 25, 2018
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  7. molon labe

    molon labe Registered User

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    John Brzenk

    Without question the most dominate arm-wrestler of all time. Beat guys twice his weight multiple times - and took him til his mid 50s to be dethroned. Great Netflix documentary on him and he's also featured in the Sly movie "Over the Top."
    [​IMG]
    Great soundtrack there too:

    (Disclaimer - if you don't drive a mid-90s Price is Right Chrystler Sebring convertible, the song may not be for you.)


    Arnold Schwarzenegger

    Not a bodybuilder among us who has not looked to this man, or this picture for inspiration:
    [​IMG]


    Michael van Gerwen

    Dude is freakish with the darts. Seriously, if you've never spent a Saturday morning hungover watching some good ole' English darts on BBC, you haven't lived. ONE-HUNDRED-EIGHHTTTYYYYYYYY
    [​IMG]
     
  8. wheelz87

    wheelz87 LGP

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    Nah Tiger absolutely needs to be on there - scandal and all. He IS golf. He is the reason I got into golf and the same with millions of others. The guy is in his 40s now and who gets the largest crowds? Spieth, Thomas, DJ, McIlroy, Koepka..? Nope, and all great players. When Tiger is there on a Sunday, as he was this past year, there is nothing better than watching and fist pumping along with him. TV ratings with/without him speak for themselves.

    My second day of vacation this past Summer was spent on the couch hoping he'd win #15. I'm at the beach, looking outside.. sunny as can be.. I wasn't gonna miss it. Would have been the sports story of the year. (yes I do have problems)
     
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  9. Tender Rip

    Tender Rip Well balanced genius. Like, really smart.

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    ...and like dart and even chess, golf is a game, not a sport :D .

    Will watch the world burn now
     
  10. orby

    orby Registered User

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    Nolan Ryan merits mention...850 more career strikeouts than the next guy. No one will ever come close.
     
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  11. Don'tcry4mejanhrdina

    Don'tcry4mejanhrdina Registered User

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    Well, it is something old fat guys do to relax.....
     
  12. Don'tcry4mejanhrdina

    Don'tcry4mejanhrdina Registered User

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    Even though I hate the guy, I'd throw Floyd Mayweather Jr into the mix. 50-0 and usually dominated his opponents.
     
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  13. Winger for Hire

    Winger for Hire Praise Beebo

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    I have a hard time classifying current day boxers as GOATs because of the insane politicking and fight dodging that goes on, especially with Mayweather. I mean he dodged his best opponent for, what, 5 or 6 years until Manny was 2 or 3 fights past his sell by date and looking to cultivate his life after fighting.

    Plus, I can't consider a professional fighter who used his girlfriend/wives as an unwilling sparring partner. You don't have to be a saint to be a GOAT (in my mind), but you certainly can't be a heinous piece of **** who cultivated his career to dodge meaningful and challenging fights to preserve "50-0".
     
  14. Peat

    Peat Registered User

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    Hanks beat me to it. I grew some ridiculously dominant West Indies and Australian teams (well, dominant over England...). Then I learned about what Bradman did and... it just doesn't compute. There's a strong argument for Bradman being the most statistically dominant guy in his own sport ever.

    The other really one I'll add is Jonah Lomu. Probably not the best rugby player of all time, but in terms of impact and changing the game he was huge. Literally. He is rugby like Michael Jordan is Basketball in Cole's example or golf in Wheelz.
     
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  15. Winger for Hire

    Winger for Hire Praise Beebo

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    Sorry, weird double post
     
  16. Pens1566

    Pens1566 Registered User

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    When I hear/think "greatest athlete", I tend to look above a single sport itself and a broader definition of pure athlete. It's a different discussion than "best of all time in [sport X]. Guys like Carl Lewis come to mind.

    HM to Bo Jackson for what he displayed in several major sports.
     
  17. Al Smith

    Al Smith Registered User

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    Eddy Merckx. Dominated all aspects of cycling in late 60s early 70s.
     
  18. AverageJoeFan

    AverageJoeFan Mad cat Sponsor

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    So my scale is not on anything except how that athlete impacted me watching the sport.
    1) Michael Jordan - for me the only reason I watched the NBA. I was completely mesmerized watching him and was never a Bulls fan. Transcendent.
    2) Mario Lemieux - Watched him carry a team for multiple years. This is biased for sure, but my GOAT in hockey for sure.
    3) Tiger Woods - The only reason I ever watch golf.
    4) Nolan Ryan - The guy I wanted to be growing up. I emulated everything he did in baseball throughout my short lived career. No nonsense, dominant. Powerful.
    5) Larry Bird - much like Michael he transcended the sport for me in many ways.
    6) Jack Lambert(Steelers defense in the 70's) - When defense mattered. Every single defensive set played, I would wait for a bone-crushing hit.
    7) Sugar Ray Leonard - When boxing was fun to watch. This guy is someone I would try to never miss.
    8) Bo Jackson - Football, baseball. Both pro. He was amazing to watch in both sports.
     
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  19. Tender Rip

    Tender Rip Well balanced genius. Like, really smart.

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    In all seriousness, a name that is sorely missing is Usain Bolt.
     
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  20. wizmet12

    wizmet12 wizmet1_2

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    Wayne (well, duh),
    Mario,
    Jordan,
    Pele,
    Senna,
    Lev Yashin,
    Nick Faldo,
    the Undertaker (duh)
    Ray Bourque
    Dom Hasek
     
  21. vodeni

    vodeni Registered User

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    I thought the only one athlete has the nick name The Greatest. Ali!
     
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  22. Winger for Hire

    Winger for Hire Praise Beebo

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    My sister-in-law is a fairly prominent swim coach; basically one step down from Olympic level and is currently grooming at least one swimmer to be an Olympian. So I've heard stories about different swimmers from conferences, trainings, through the grapevine stuff, and what-have-you. So I've heard insane stories about Michael Phelps that force me to put him in the highest echelon of the GOATs.

    Apparently when Phelps first really broke into the scene, he was just naturally great. He would train, but not like you would think a record breaking athlete would. He'd stay in shape and listen to his coaches, kind of. But when it was time for his meets, he was able to flip a switch and be dominant Michael Phelps. It wasn't until his whole weed thing and comeback that he decided to actually take training and practice seriously. I would always hear from my SIL about how much BETTER he could have been had he took training seriously and worked on different things.

    So someone like that, hyper-talented with minimal effort put into maintaining their dominance is something special and deserved he to talked about as one of the greats in all of sport. I'm just not sure as to where I would put him in the list. I'm not sure exactly where I would put most of the athletes I considers GOATs.

    Most of my list, mainly limited to guys I saw:

    Mario- This is a Pens board, I don't think I need to really say anything else

    Wayne Gretzky- I mean, this is a hockey board. Do I need to explain? We can argue about Mario v Wayne, but regardless, they are both gods of hockey

    Tiger- Dude was flat out dominant. Just think about golf betting, how varied and almost random it is, and during Tiger's run not only was he a favorite in just about every event, he was the favorite by miles. It was more news when Tiger finished outside the Top 5 then when he won. If you want to see dominance, just look at the 2000 US Open at Pebble Beach. Tiger won it at -15 and second place was waaaaay back their at +3. Come on, son.

    Ali- I'm too young for Ali, but the stories, the video clips, the legend are enough for me to realize how amazing this man was.

    Michael Phelps- See above

    Michael Jordan- Man was a beast on the floor, a marketing cash cow, Nike's golden god. This man owns the name "Mike".

    LeBron- Every bit as good a Jordan. Period. And to boot, wants to make the world a better place with his fame and fortune. That's good enough for me.

    Barry Bonds- Go ahead and take a look at his B-R page (Barry Bonds Stats | Baseball-Reference.com). This man was a fine wine, only got better with age. Sure, there's the steroid cloud, but it doesn't take away from his natural ability. You still need to be able to be a great baseball player to put up his numbers. All sports have their "*" eras and moments. Greenies, questionable competition, segregation, steroids, and generally bending the rules and taking advantage of grey areas isn't just a baseball or Bonds thing. You can pick out a lot of great players in different sports and find similar things.

    Pele- Ask your average person on the street to name a handful of soccer greats. I imagine you'll get a random sample of greats but Pele will be named by everyone.

    Jesse Owens- This man metaphorically punched Hitler square in the mouth and took home 4 golds in the 1936 Berlin games.

    Tennis Greats (Federer, Nadal, Sampras)- I don't know or follow tennis much, but I know these three are in a class above all.

    I'm sure I'm missing a handful, but these are the guys I think automatically when I think of GOATs.

    Other athletes on track to challenge for GOAT status- Mike Trout, Sidney Crosby, Cristiano Ronaldo, Leo Messi, Simone Biles

    Athletes I know should be on my list, but for reasons and time aren't- Jack and Arine, Serena Williams, Annika Sorenstam, Johan Cruyff, numerous baseball players (it's my speciality and don't want to bog down the list and make it even longer), Carl Lewis, Bobby Orr, Jackie Joyner-Kersee

    Athlete who is too good for any of these lists- Zlatan Ibrahimovic
     
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  23. Peat

    Peat Registered User

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    I like talking about guys with that ability to excel in multiple sports - problem is the barrier of entry to pro sports these days is so huge that people no longer really get the opportunity to have a go at two or more unless the codes are super closely related. How many managers these days would be willing to let a guy like Jackson split focus?
     
  24. Shady Machine

    Shady Machine Registered User

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    Uh, Lebron James isn't on your just missed list?
     
  25. Bingo71

    Bingo71 Registered User

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