Michael Jordan to Jerry Rice: Has Messi Become the Greatest Athlete of All Time?
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Forget Lin-Sanity. Forget Tebow-Mania.
Messi is more than a fad, more than just another household name.
He is a revelation of sport, a revolution of athleticism, the strength of character personified in one unique soul.
Leo plays on a field of his own, where he is only limited by the capacity of his own dreams. Records shatter at his feet, but you wouldn't know it from hearing him speak.
Messi: An icon of Humility.
The world, often entranced into hopeless awe when watching the wizard at work, has forgotten that Messi's best years have yet to be played out.
Is the best athlete in the history of sport a five-foot-seven 24 year-old Argentinian with growth hormone deficiency?
We will look at the world of sport's best athletes and then rank them based on their personal achievements.
Soccer: Lionel Messi
Messi Under the Lights of Camp Nou
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Sorry Pele, sorry Maradona. Take your perennial argument over who was the greatest player of all time to the retirement home. Messi has taken the crown.
Both old-timers were known for their glorious goalscoring exploits way back when, but neither boasts the diversity of awards in Messi's ever expansive trophy case.
Messi has 238 goals and 95 assists in 318 senior appearances with Barcelona. This tally sets his career goals-per-game average at .74. Those are some good odds in a gambling sense.
Keep in mind, there are over 265 million people world-wide playing soccer. Messi is perhaps one in a billion. If you aren't buying into the pint-sized genius, just read the numerous accolades he holds below.
Messi's Trophy Shelf:
La Liga Title (Spanish League Winner): 5 - 2004–05, 2005–06, 2008–09, 2009–10, 2010–11
Copa del Rey (Tournament): 1 - 2008-09
Supercopa (Championship): 5 - 2005, 2006, 2009, 2010, 2011
UEFA Champions League: 3 - 2005-06, 2008-09, 2010-11
UEFA Super Cup (Championship): 2 - 2009, 2011
FIFA Club World Cup: 2 - 2009, 2011
Barcelona's All-Time Record Goalscorer: 238 goals
Barcelona Record Goalscorer: UEFA Champions League: 51 goals
Barcelona Record Goalscorer: European Competitions: 52 goals
Barcelona Record Goalscorer: International Competitions: 56 goals
Argentina (International Play)
FIFA U-20 World Cup: 1 - 2005
Olympic Gold Medal: 1 - 2008
(FIFA) Ballon d'Or: 3 - 2009, 2010, 2011
FIFA World Player of the Year: 1 - 2009
World Soccer Player of the Year: 2 - 2009, 2011
World Soccer Young Player of the Year: 3 - 2006, 2007, 2008
ESM Team of the Year: 5 - 2005–06, 2007–08, 2008–09, 2009–10, 2010–11
European Golden Shoe (Scoring Award): 1 - 2010
La Liga top goalscorer: 1 - 2010
Copa del Rey top goalscorer: 1 - 2011
La Liga Player of the Year: 3 - 2009, 2010, 2011
LFP Best Player: 3 - 2009, 2010, 2011
LFP Best Forward: 3 - 2009, 2010, 2011
La Liga Foreign Player of the Year: 3 - 2007, 2009, 2010
La Liga Ibero-American Player of the Year: 4 - 2007, 2009, 2010, 2011
UEFA Champions League top goalscorer: 3 - 2009, 2010, 2011
UEFA Best Player in Europe Award: 1 - 2011
UEFA Club Footballer of the Year: 1 - 2009
UEFA Champions League Forward of the Year: 1 - 2009
UEFA Champions League Final Man of the Match: 1 - 2011
UEFA Team of the Year: 4 - 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011
Onze d'Or: 3 - 2009, 2010, 2011
Bravo Award: 1 - 2007
Tuttosport Golden Boy: 1 - 2005
FIFA Club World Cup Golden Ball: 2 - 2009, 2011
FIFA U-20 World Cup Player of the Tournament: 1 - 2005
FIFA U-20 World Cup top goalscorer: 1 - 2005
Copa América Young Player of the Tournament: 1 - 2007
FIFPro World Young Player of the Year: 3 - 2006, 2007, 2008
FIFA/FIFPro World XI: 5 - 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011
Olimpia de Oro: 1 - 2011
Olimpia de Plata: 6 - 2005, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011
Male Best Athlete in Latin America: 1 - 2011
Marca Leyenda: 1 - 2009
L'Équipe Champion of Champions: 1 - 2011
Cristiano Ronaldo, Pele, Maradona.
Basketball: Michael Jordan
Michael Jordan, Suited up
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
Michael Jordan is the most iconic man in the sport of basketball. Sure, Kobe Bryant and Lebron James are making a shout to take the king off of his throne, but so far to this day their attempts are in vain.
Famously, "Air Jordan" was rejected from his high school's varsity squad his sophomore year, before training rigorously and having an All-American year as a senior.
If his spot atop the basketball hierarchy is in doubt, another one of the sport's all-time greats said it the best, "There's Micahel Jordan and then there is the rest of us." - Magic Johnson
Points: 32,292 (30.1 ppg)
Rebounds: 6,672 (6.2 rpg)
Assists: 5633 (5.3 apg)
Michael Jordan's Trophy Case:
NBA Champion: 6 - 1991, 1992, 1993, 1996, 1997, 1998
NBA Most Valuable Player: 5 - 1988, 1991–1992, 1996, 1998
NBA All-Star: 14 - 1985–1993, 1996–1998, 2002–2003
NBA Finals MVP: 6 - 1991–1993, 1996–1998
NBA scoring champion: 10 - 1987–1993, 1996–1998
NBA steals champion: 3 - 1988, 1990, 1993
NBA Defensive Player of the Year: 1 - 1988
All-NBA First Team: 10 - 1987–1993, 1996–1998
All-NBA Second Team: 1 - 1985
NBA All-Defensive First Team: 9 - 1988–1993, 1996–1998
NBA Rookie of the Year: 1 - 1985
NBA All-Rookie First Team: 1 - 1985
NBA All-Star Game MVP: 3 - 1988, 1996, 1998
NBA Slam Dunk Contest champion: 2 - 1987–1988
NBA's 50th Anniversary All-Time Team
#23 Retired by Chicago Bulls and Miami Heat
NCAA Champion: 1 - 1982
2× Consensus NCAA All-American First Team: 2 - 1983–1984
ACC Player of the Year: 1 - 1984
Oscar Robertson Trophy: 1 - 1984
Naismith College Player of the Year: 1 - 1984
John R. Wooden Award: 1 - 1984
Adolph Rupp Trophy: 1 - 1984
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Karl Malone, Wilt Chamberlain
Hockey: Wayne Gretzky
Dave Sandford/Getty Images
Wayne Gretzky wrote, edited, illustrated and published the National Hockey League (NHL) record book. When he retired in 1999, he held 40 regular season, 15 post-seasonand six All-Star records.
Another rarity among players, "The Great One" was inducted into the NHL Hall of Fame and his famous 99 jersey number was retired, all in the very same year he retired.
"The Greatest Player of All-Time" won the Stanley Cup four times with Edmonton in the 1980's.
894 goals in 1,487 games
Most goals, including playoffs: 1,016 - 1,487 regular season and 208 playoff games
Most goals, one season: 92 - 1981–82, 80-game schedule
Most goals, one season, including playoffs: 100 - 1983–84, 87 goals in 74 regular season games and 13 goals in 19 playoff games
Most goals, 50 games from start of season: 61 - 1981–82 and 1983–84 , 80-game schedule
Most goals, one period: 4 - February 18, 1981
Most assists: 1,963
Most assists, including playoffs: 2,223
Most assists, one season: 163 - 1985–86, 80-game schedule
Most assists, one season, including playoffs: 174 - 1985–86, 163 assists in 80 regular season games and 11 assists in 10 playoff games
Most assists, one game: 7 - on three occasions—February 15, 1980; December 11, 1985; February 14, 1986
Most assists, one road game: 7 - December 11, 1985
Most points: 2,857 in 1,487 games (894 goals, 1,963 assists)
Most points, including playoffs: 3,239 - 487 regular season and 208 playoff games. (1016 goals, 2223 assists)
Most points, one season: 215 - 1985–86, 80-game schedule (52 goals, 163 assists)
Most points, one season, including playoffs: 255 - 1984–85; 208 points in 80 regular season games and 47 points in 18 playoff games
Most overtime assists, career: 15
Most goals by a center, career: 894
Most goals by a center, one season: 92 - 1981–82, 80-game schedule
Most assists by a center, career: 1,963
Most assists by a center, one season: 163 - 1985–86, 80-game schedule
Most points by a center, career: 2,857
Most points by a center, one season: 215 - 1985–86, 80-game schedule
Most assists in one game by a player in his first season: 7 - February 15, 1980
Highest goals-per-game average, one season: 1.18 - 1983–84, 87 goals in 74 games
Highest assists-per-game average, career (300 min.): 1.321 -- 1,963 assists in 1,487 games
Highest assists-per-game average, one season: 2.04 - 1985–86, 163 assists in 80 games
Highest points-per-game average, one season (among players with 50-or-more points): 2.77 - 1983–84, 205 points in 74 games
Most 40-or-more goal seasons: 12 - 20 seasons
Most consecutive 40-or-more goal seasons: 12 - 1979–80 to 1990–91
Most 60-or-more goal seasons: 5
Most consecutive 60-or-more goals seasons: 4 - 1981–82 to 1984–85
Most 100-or-more point seasons: 15
Most consecutive 100-or-more point seasons: 13 - 1979–80 to 1991–92
Most three-or-more goal games, career: 50 -- 37 three-goal (hat trick) games; nine four-goal games; four five-goal games
Most three goal games, one season: 10 (done twice) - 1981–82 and 1983–84
Longest consecutive assist scoring streak: 23 games - 1990–91, 48 assists
Longest consecutive point-scoring streak: 51 Games - 1983–84 (October 5, 1983 to January 28, 1984, 61 goals, 92 assists for 153 points)
Longest consecutive point-scoring streak from start of season: 51 - 1983–84; 61 goals, 92 assists for 153 points (October 5, 1983 to January 28, 1984)
Teemu Selanne, Joe Sakic, Jaromir Jagr, Gordie Howe
Baseball: Babe Ruth
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images
In a sport that was severely tainted by steroids, Babe Ruth takes the top spot because, even without ever batting, he still would have been a Hall of Fame pitcher.
His first six seasons were played with the Boston Red Sox, and in 1916 he had an American League-leading record of 23-12 with a 1.75 ERA and nine shutouts. He then joined forces with the New York Yankees and forever became a household name.
(#) All-time Ranking
2,174 runs (4th)
506 doubles (45th)
714 homers (3rd)
2,217 RBI (2nd)
2,062 walks (3rd)
.342 AVG (9th)
.474 OBP (2nd)
.690 SLG (1st)
2.28 ERA (16th)
.671 PCT (10th)
All-Star: 2 - 1933, 1934
World Series Champion: 7 - 1915, 1916, 1918, 1923, 1927, 1928, 1932
AL MVP: 1 - 1923
New York Yankees: #3 retired
Major League Baseball All-Century Team
Major League Baseball All-Time Team
Baseball Hall of Fame
Barry Bonds, Christy Mathewson, Ty Cobb
MMA: Georges St-Pierre
Georges St-Pierre, Throwing a punch
Jon Kopaloff/Getty Images
Georges St-Pierre, often known as GSP or Rush, is the current UFC Welterweight Champion and the number one ranked Welterweight in the world.
He began martial arts studying at Kyokushin Karate, and later went on to learn wrestling, boxing and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. He turned pro in Mixed Martial Arts and went on to train with some of the sport's best fighters, including Rashad Evans.
Pound-for-pound, there has never been a more consistent fighter than the ruthless Canadian.
With his Karate base, GSP has wrestled down and submitted even All-American wrestlers, earning his title as a true Mixed Martial Artist.
His record speaks for itself. GSP is 22 wins and 2 losses as a professional.
Black Belt Magazine - 2008 MMA Fighter of the Year
Inside MMA on HDNet - Fighter of the Year 2009
MMAJunkie.com - Fighter of the Year (2009), Fight of the Year (2010)
Rogers Sportsnet - Rogers Sportsnet Canadian Athlete of the Year (2008-2010)
Spike Guys' Choice Awards - Most Dangerous Man of the Year 2010
Sports Illustrated (SI.com) - Fighter of the Year 2009
TKO Major League MMA - TKO Canadian Welterweight Championship (One time)
Ultimate Fighting Championship
Interim UFC Welterweight Championship (One time)
UFC Welterweight Championship (Two times, current)
Fight of the Night (Two times)
Submission of the Night (One time)
Second most consecutive championship defenses in the UFC (Six)
Most consecutive Welterweight Championship defenses in the UFC (Six)
Canadian Cover Athlete for UFC Undisputed 2009
Second most wins in the UFC (Sixteen)
St-Pierre along with Jon Fitch, holds the record for the most UFC wins by decision (9 Victories).
Wrestling Observer Newsletter awards
2008-2010 Most Outstanding Fighter
2011 MMA Most Valuable Fighter
Fighters Only - 2008 Submission of the Year
MMAPayout - Fighter of the Year 2009
World MMA Awards -Fighter of the Year 2009
Anderson Silva, Jon Jones, Wanderlei Silva
Football: Jerry Rice
Jerry Rice, San Francisco 49er
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Sure, yell at me for not putting a Peyton Manning, Drew Brees, Joe Montana, Tom Brady, fill in the blank ______. Jerry Rice is the most impactful American Football player of all time.
He may have not been the fastest receiver, but The "San Francisco Treats'" routes were always perfect, and he nearly always caught the ball even if a poor pass was thrown his way. He was the most driven and hardworking player in the league, also gaining renown for his fantastic blocking coming from his wideout role.
Jerry Rice owns the NFL record book, with his name inscribed next to:
Most Receptions: 1,549
Receiving Yards: 22,895
Having Jerry Rice line up for your team guaranteed you at least: 80 catches, 1,000 yards, 10 touchdowns, and 1 Pro Bowl player
Since his Records are too numerous to list, i recommend to skim through the record book to find them all.
Rated #1 NFL Player of all-time by NFL.com
13 - Pro Bowl selection (1986, 1987, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1998, 2002)
12 - All-Pro selection (1986, 1987, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2002)
3 - Super Bowl Champion (XXIII, XXIV, XXIX)
Super Bowl XXIII MVP
2 - AP NFL Offensive Player of the Year (1987, 1993)
3 - NFC Offensive Player of the Year (1986, 1987)
Pro Bowl MVP (1996)
PFWA MVP (1988)
UPI NFC Player of the Year (1988)
UPI NFL-NFC Rookie of the Year (1985)
Bert Bell Award (1987)
NFL 75th Anniversary All-Time Team
NFL 1980s All-Decade Team
NFL 1990s All-Decade Team
San Francisco 49ers #80 retired
Pro Football Hall of Fame (2010 Inductee)
Peyton Manning, Drew Brees, Joe Montana, Tom Brady, Jim Brown, Lawrence Taylor
Tennis: Roger Federer
Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images
Roger Federer has been the most destructive force in tennis history. He held the No. 1 ranking for 237 weeks between 2004 and 2008. Fed has 16 Grand Slams, during which he won five straight U.S. Open titles and Wimbledon championships.
Although he has slipped recently, his trophy count and previous dominance has yet to be rivaled.
Career Prize Money: $ 69,746,521
Record: 830 wins and 189 losses
Titles: 73 ATP World Tour and Grand Slam titles
Titles: 8 ATP and Grand Slam titles
Olympic Gold Medal: 2008
Bjorn Borg, Rafael Nadal, Rod Laver, Pete Sampras
Golf: Jack Nicklaus
David Cannon/Getty Images
Jack Nicklaus, "The Golden Bear," is one of the most accomplished golfers of all time. He sat out from many lesser tournaments in order to focus on the Majors, but still ranks second place with 73 victories on the PGA-tournament winning list. He has won the Masters six different times, on his last time at 46 years old, making him the oldest player to do so.
PGA Tour wins: 73
Champions Tour: 10
Masters: 6 - 1963, 1965, 1966, 1972, 1975, 1986
U.S. Open: 4 - 1962, 1967, 1972, 1980
The Open Championship: 3 - 1966, 1970, 1978
PGA Championship: 5 - 1963, 1971, 1973, 1975, 1980
Tiger Woods, Arnold Palmer, Phil Mickelson
Where Does Messi Rank Among These Stars?
Messi, Ballon D'Or
David Ramos/Getty Images
Taking all personal accolades and triumphs into account, here is the top eight of iconic athletes in all of sports.
Make your voice heard, leave your top eight in the comment section below. Would your list include other athletes? Leave a comment and see how your friends' lists compare to your own.
1. Michael Jordan
2. Wayne Gretzky
3. Lionel Messi
4. Jerry Rice
5. Roger Federer
6. Babe Ruth
7. Gorges St-Pierre
8. Jack Nicklaus