From A – Z, the best list you ever will see,
of the greatest athletes and whom they should be.
Give it a look, give it a gander,
if you don’t agree it still won’t matter.
Blood, sweat and tears have been shed,
mind-numbing pain has come from my head.
Famous names have been left out,
only room for one—so please don’t SHOUT!
We can still be friends, if you don’t agree,
make a list of your own and put your mind at ease.
A•ALI, MUHAMMAD—“When you’re as great as I am, it’s hard to be humble.” No arguments here for the man with the mouth, who is simply “The Greatest.”
B•BONDS, BARRY—Is he or is he not juiced to the gills? That is the question. But regardless, the three-time MVP’s numbers speak for themselves with the single-season home run record, 681 career dingers (so far), and eight Gold Gloves.
C•CHAMBERLAIN, WILT—“The Big Dipper” was the most dominant player of his time and changed the rules of basketball. Seven scoring titles and 20,000 women later, the four-time MVP gets the top spot.
D•DIMAGGIO, JOE—“Where have you gone, Joe DiMaggio? A nation turns its lonely eyes to you.” The famous Simon & Garfunkel song will forever immortalize “The Yankee Clipper,” who amassed baseball’s most unbreakable record with his 56-game hitting steak.
E•ELWAY, JOHN—“The Drive” of the 1986 AFC title game alone gives Elway the nod. His two Super Bowl rings and 47 fourth-quarter comeback wins didn’t hurt, either.
F•FORD, WHITEY—With a career mark of 236-106, “The Chairman of the Board” has the best winning percentage of any 20th-century pitcher and was a six-time world champion with the great Yankees squad of the ’50s.
G•GRETZKY, WAYNE—“The Great One” FOREVER.
H•HOWE, GORDIE—Without him we might not have had Gretzky. “Mr. Hockey” played 33 years and his name is etched on Lord Stanley’s mug four times.
I•IVERSON, ALLEN—The toughest player in the NBA stands a measly 6’0” and weighs a smurfish 165 pounds in the land of giants. But “The Answer” is a three-time scoring champ and has an astonishing vertical leap of 44 inches.
K•KOUFAX, SANDY—The man from Brooklyn had a fastball better than most and a curveball that was the best. The record books show he had three 25-game winning seasons, three championships, four no-hitters, and a 0.95 ERA in four World Series.
L•LOUIS, JOE—Without “The Brown Bomber,” who knows where racial relations in the sporting world would stand? “Louis was a credit to his race . . . the human race,” wrote Jimmy Cannon.
The man faced obstacles and challenges no one in sports has ever seen. He held the heavyweight crown for 12 years (25 successful defences), and carried the hopes of every black person in the world on his broad shoulders.
N•NICKLAUS, JACK—Seventy-three tour victories and 18 majors, what more can you say about “The Golden Bear?” How about giving him the title as the greatest golfer ever.
O•OWENS, JESSE—In a span of 70 minutes, at the 1936 “Hitler Olympics” in Berlin, he broke three world records and tied a fourth, and caused embarrassment to Adolf’s idiotic cause. His time of 10.3 seconds in the 100m was run on a dirt track.
P•PELE—Otherwise known as Edson Arantes do Nascimento, the Brazilian’s highlights still awes the masses and is the most dominant footballer of all time.
Q•Name one world-class athlete who’s last name ends with Q.
R•ROBINSON, SUGAR RAY—“The king, the master, my idol,” Ali said of his hero. Robinson, at the pinnacle of his career, was a jaw-dropping 128-1-2 and is the best pound-for-pound fighter ever.
S•SAMPRAS, PETE—There was no better than “Pistol Pete,” who retired at the young age of 32 after winning a record 14 grand slams, 762 career wins, 64 singles titles, and held the #1 spot in tennis for 286 straight weeks.
T•THORPE, JIM—The man whose name translates to “Bright Path” has nothing but bright spots associated with his name. He is a member of football’s Hall of Fame, a gold medalist in the pentathlon and decathlon at the 1912 Olympics, and played six seasons of baseball.
U•UNITAS, JOHNNY—The three-time MVP’s streak of 47 consecutive games with a touchdown pass is compared to DiMaggio’s 56-game hitting streak, and “The Golden Arm” was named football’s best player of its first 50 years.
V•VEZINA, GEORGES—A dominant goalie (when their pads barely covered their body) during an era when goaltenders were not allowed to drop to their knees to block shots. “The Chicoutimi Cucumber” has his name immortalized on the trophy presented to the NHL’s best goalie each season.
W•WOODS, TIGER—At an age (28) when most players are just beginning to find their game, Woods already has amassed 40 PGA tour victories, eight majors, and is the creator of the “Tiger Slam” (holding all four majors at the same time).
X•I’m sure there’s a great Chinese table-tennis player that can fit this slot, but their websites are all in Chinese and the only thing I understand in Chinese are their fortune cookies.
Y•YOUNG, CY—Born as Dent Young, he was given the moniker Cy (Cyclone) because of his blinding fastball. He collected a staggering 511 victories in 22 years, including five 30-game winning seasons and 16 20-game ones, and had a career ERA of 2.63.
Z•ZIDANE, ZINEDINE—The midfielder affectionately called “Zizou” currently is the world’s best footballer, leading France to a World Cup in 1998 and the Euro Cup in 2000. He was voted Europe’s top player in the past 50 years.
Suggestions? Comments? Your own list? E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org
From A – Z, the best list you ever will see,