In this week's Top 5, we're looking at the Greatest American sportsmen.
Seeing as we're from New Zealand, we don't get to see a lot of American sports (we're limited by what they show on ESPN...), so forgive us if we've left someone out.
But then, you won't argue with our picks anyway, will you?
What can we say about Tiger? The guy truly is one of the greatest golfers of all time, and has certainly been the most dominant in recent history - not to mention the highest money earner in golf. During his career so far, Tiger has amassed 65 PGA Tour wins and 14 Major Championships, second only to Jack Nicklaus with 18. Once he's back from his knee injury, we're sure he'll surpass Nicklaus's record. The golfing world better make the most of his absence, because once he's back, we're sure he'll continue where he left off.
Jesse Owens is a true legend. Not only in the athletic world, but amongst all sportsmen. He dominated at the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin, winning four Gold medals on the track - 100m, 200m, long jump and 4x100m relay. "So what?", we hear you say, "A lot of people have won more than that!". What makes Owens great was the fact that he did this in front of Adolf Hitler's Nazi Germany, who claimed Aryan superiority and inferiority of blacks and other minorities. Owens became one of the game's great heroes, and was well received in Germany despite the colour of his skin. His record of four golds at one Olympics was held until 1984, when it was broken by Carl Lewis.
'Babe' Ruth is considered the greatest Baseball player of all time - and he didn't need the assistance of steroids, either. From 1914-1935 Babe revolutionised the game, helping to raise the games popularity during the 1920s. During his twenty-one year career, Babe became a master of hitting, and his record speaks for itself - .342 average, .690 slugging percentage and 1.164 on-base plus slugging. In 1936, Babe was one of the first five players inducted into the Hall of Fame for his services to the game, and in 1969 (baseball's 100th Anniversary) was named the greatest baseballer of all time. He will probably be best remembered for his famous point to the outfield before hitting a home run, but as far as American legends go - he's definitely amongst the best.
Jordan is without doubt the greatest Basketball player of all time, and his impact on the Chicago Bulls during the 1990s tells the story. Six NBA championships (1991, 92, 93, 96, 97, 98), five MVPs, two Olympic golds (1984, 92), fourteen All-Star appearances - and the list goes on. Jordan has done it all, including a brief stint at Baseball and a Hollywood movie (Space Jam). Everyone wanted to 'Be like Mike', and it's no wonder. The guy was a freak on the basketball court, and the things he could do left other teams in awe of him. We think this quote from Magic Johnson says it all - "There's Michael Jordan, and then there's the rest of us".
He could 'float like a butterfly and sting like a bee', and would mentally break down an opponent before he even stepped into the ring. With a record of 61/56/5, with 37 wins by way of knockout, you can hardly argue with him being at number one. He was one of the greatest performers outside of the ring, and the greatest fighter in it. On October 30, 1974, Ali fought George Forman in Zaire. It was the famous 'Rumble in the Jungle', and was the first time we saw the rope-a-dope. He took everything Forman had, waiting patiently for Forman to tire himself out - and by the eighth round, Ali was ready to unleash.
Which he did.
He lost only five fights in his entire career (to Berbick, Holmes, Spinks, Norton and Frazier), and in 1999 was named the 'Greatest Sportsman of the Century'.
How can we argue with THAT?
Honorable mentions - these guys were close (oh, so close...) but didn't quite make it:
Lance Armstrong, Carl Lewis and Joe Montana. And, after these Olympics - Michael Phelps?