Is LeBron James the World's Greatest Athlete?

Mark HauserCorrespondent IIMay 11, 2009

ATLANTA - MAY 09:  LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers drives past Maurice Evans #1 of the Atlanta Hawks in Game Three of the Eastern Conference Semifinals during the 2009 NBA Playoffs at Philips Arena on May 9, 2009 in Atlanta, Georgia.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Two years ago, when I wrote two articles, “The 25 Greatest Athletes of All Time” and “The 25 Greatest Basketball Players of All Time.”

I did not consider LeBron James for either article/list because he was only 22 years old and he was just finishing his fourth year in the NBA and not yet the best player in the NBA. 

Well, now he is the best player in the NBA, and this is about who is currently the best athlete in the world. And while I am not about to list my top 25, King James would be at the top of my list.

He is big, strong, powerful, quick, fast, agile, and graceful, has great balance and endurance, and can jump through the roof.  And he is a great leader and teammate and can dominate (possibly on the verge of his first of many NBA titles). 

He is a Greek God—only taller.  It appears that he could be great at practically any sport and was a high school football star.  Plus, he competes in the world’s second most popular sport. What more could you ask for in an athlete?

What other candidates are there?  What ever you think about golf, Tiger Woods has been the most dominate athlete in the world for the best decade. And while I have not seen Tiger play any other sport, he certainly appears athletic. 

Although, TNT basketball analyst Kenny Smith had a good line when this topic came up at the halftime of an NBA game when he said, “when Tiger can jump over a sand trap, I will consider him an athlete.” 

I have always considered Pele a good candidate for greatest athlete of all time because he was probably the best player of all time in the world’s most popular sport (soccer/football). 

Hence, by extension, I would automatically consider players such as Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi, Kaka, and three-time women’s Player of the Year, Marta.

Other potential athletes for us to consider would be tennis players Rafael Nadel and Serena Williams, swimmer Michael Phelps, sprinting sensation Usain Bolt, baseball slugger Albert Pujols, gymnasts Nastia Liukin and Shawn Johnson (Yang Wei just announced his retirement), NBA stars Kobe Bryant, Dwyane Wade and Dwight Howard, WNBA star Candace Parker, NHL stars Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin, and several NFL stars with my first choices being Adrian Peterson, Larry Fitzgerald, and Ed Reed.

I consider the hardest position to play in team sports to be quarterback so I would also include Tom Brady and Peyton Manning. 

I would also include the best cricket player, the best rugby players, and the best auto racers because they are very popular sports worldwide (I let you add them to my/our list since I do not follow those sports).  I am sure I am leaving out some obvious choices, but hey, that’s what I got you for.