The 25 Most Entertaining Athletes of All-Time

Justin EisenbandCorrespondent IDecember 24, 2010

The 25 Most Entertaining Athletes of All-Time

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    Over the last century, the world of sports has produced some pretty incredible entertainers both on and off of their respective fields of play.

    To truly be one of the most entertaining athletes of all time, one must be both impressive in his or her particular sport while also providing comedic or interesting material outside of the sport.

    Therefore, to judge each of these athletes, they must be both top-tier players at their respective games and interesting, entertaining people in the media.

    Here are the 25 most entertaining athletes of all-time.

25. Kobe Bryant

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    Before LeBron James accepted his role as the villain, it was Kobe Bryant who was the most hated man in the NBA outside of Los Angeles.

    While Kobe is not longer the public enemy number one, his cockiness and attitude as well as his ability to hit ridiculous shots make him one of the most entertaining players in the NBA today.

    Kobe has been in some of the funniest commercials featuring NBA players over the last decade. Whether it is the risky business Guitar Hero cover commercial or the Nike puppets, Bryant is one of the funniest players the league has produced over the last two decades. Appearing in the latest Call of Duty commercial gives him some mainstream credit as well.

24. Steve Nash

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    One could put together a Nash highlight reel just of behind the back passes. Steve Nash is the best pass-first point guard since John Stockton and has the MVP hardware to prove it.

    Nash also has credit making commercials and being behind the camera. Plus who would guess that Steve Nash is the best dancer in the NBA?

23. Hulk Hogan

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    The biggest personality to ever emerge from professional wrestling, Hulk Hogan has appeared in various television shows, movies and even his own reality show.

    While many of them featured some of the worst acting I've ever seen, his role as "Thunderlips" was actually one of the more memorable performances of the Rocky series.

    Whether you like him or not, it's tough to argue against Hogan as an entertainer, brother.

22. Rickey Henderson

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    Henderson is the best base stealer in the history of Major League Baseball. He is a legend of the diamond and a first ballot hall of famer.

    Aside from his electrifying play on the field, Rickey Henderson is part of some of the most legendary of the field stories.

    In 2003, Sports Illustrated's Tom Verducci wrote "There are certain figures in American history who have passed into the realm of cultural mythology, as if reality could no longer contain their stories: Johnny Appleseed, Wild Bill Hickok, Davy Crockett, Rickey Henderson. They exist on the sometimes narrow margin between Fact and Fiction."

    Well before Manny was being Manny, Rickey was being Rickey.

21. Lawrence Taylor

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    John Madden once said "Lawrence Taylor, defensively, has had as big an impact as any player I've ever seen. He changed the way defense is played, the way pass-rushing is played, the way linebackers play and the way offenses block linebackers."

    Off the field, the scariest linebacker to ever play has had a rocky public life. Numerous drug arrests and a recent arrest for statutory rape have continued to defame his public image.

    Still, Taylor has entertained in movies like Any Given Sunday, The Waterboy and Shaft. His ability to poke fun at himself as well as his revolutionizing on-field play are what make Taylor so entertaining.

20. Ron Artest

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    Forgetting about his embarrassing behavior at the Brawl at the Palace at Auburn Hills and other on court skirmishes, Ron Artest has actually been pretty entertaining.

    On the court, you never know what he is going to do.

    Off the court, his interviews and rap album are hilarious. I'm just not so sure he knows they are supposed to be comedies.

19. Keyshawn Johnson

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    How can you not be impressed by Johnson who wrote an autobiography on his rookie experiences called Just Give Me the Damn Ball?

    Johnson had his own fair share of amazing on field plays while compiling over 10,000 career receiving yards and 64 touchdowns.

    Keyshawn is always one of the best dressed analysts on ESPN. His pocket square-socks color coordination is unmatched.

18. Yogi Berra

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    Possibly the greatest catcher to ever play the game, few in the world of sports match Yogi Berra in terms of accomplishments on the field.

    Off the field, Berra is one the most clever and hilarious sports personalities of all time. From "it ain't over 'til it's over" to "it's deja vu all over again," has transcended the line between professional sports and pop culture with his famed quotations.

    There are few personalities that match that of Yogi Berra in the world of sports.

17. Dwight Howard

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    Dwight Howard was the only reason that the NBA All-Star Slam Dunk Contest was relevant again for a couple of years. You don't get the nickname Superman for being an ordinary player.

    Howard has made a name for himself off of the court with some hilarious impressions. His Charles Barkley impression has to be one of the best ever.

    While Howard may be known as the most dominant center in the game today, he is also one of the best interviews off the court.

16. Clinton Portis

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    Portis is a terrific player, maybe even a Hall of Famer, but it is not his on the field play which makes him one of the most entertaining athletes of all time.

    His personalities and characters provide some of the funniest sports interviews of all time. Just check out the clip to see why.

15. Brett Favre

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    I couldn't decide whether to put Favre on this list. I put him on the list and then took him off. Then I decided maybe he belongs. Favre has provided highlights for nearly 20 years.

    Off the field, his appearance in There's Something About Mary and various commercials have made him one of the most recognized athletes in sports.

    This year, the Jenn Sterger allegations have placed Favre further under the media spotlight albeit with a negative tint. Still, Favre has entertained us for 20 years, both on and off the field and is one of the most entertaining football players in history.

14. LeBron James

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    Before LeBron James took his talents to South Beach, he was one of the most-liked athletes in the world. We all "witnessed" his emergence into the NBA and the fall out from his free agency this summer.

    No matter one's opinion on LeBron as a person, his on-court entertainment appeal is unmatched. There is a reason that Miami Heat road games are the hottest ticket in the NBA this season, and it is none other than LeBron James.

    LeBron has appeared in numerous commercials and even an episode of Entourage. While his likability stock sank this offseason, he is still one of the most marketable players in the NBA.

13. Deion Sanders

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    Deion Sanders, known as "Prime Time," could be the best defensive back of all time. He is definitely one of the best multi-sport athletes in history. 

    Sanders has hosted Saturday Night Live, released a rap album (under MC Hammer's label) and appeared in commercial for everything from Nike to American Express.You can check him out in MC Hammer's video "Too Legit to Quit."

    Sanders invented the high-step into the end zone and is one of the best touchdown celebrators in NFL history.

12. Gilbert Arenas

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    Putting aside the whole gun incident, Gilbert Arenas is one of the funniest NBA players there are. Arenas, known as "Agent 0" when he had the jersey number and "Hibachi" for his shooting streaks, is off to a new start in Orlando.

    Since the incident which led to his suspension for most of the 2009-10 season, Arenas has become a more serious, focused player. Consequently, he hasn't been as funny or entertaining this season.

    Maybe after a while we can see Arenas from this clip.

11. Manny Ramirez

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    Some would say Manny isn't being funny, but that he is just being Manny. In any case, Ramirez has added some personality to the sport of baseball which has been marred by steroids and bad press in recent decades.

    Plus, he has one of the better "This is Sportscenter" commercials.

10. Tiger Woods

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    Tiger Woods turned a generation full of kids onto golf providing a youthful presence that was unprecedented in the world of golf. The most marketable man in the world until a little over a year ago, Woods was everything right about sports.

    After all the scandals came out, Woods was still entertaining. It was just in a different way. Woods hasn't had the same swagger on or off of the course since last Thanksgiving, but he still is one of the most entertaining athletes in all of sports.

9. Dennis Rodman

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    The original bad boy of the NBA, Dennis Rodman was nicknamed both "The Worm" and "Dennis the Menace" for his defense and rebounding talents.

    Rodman was also known for his antics on and off of the floor. Distinguished by his bright red or green hair, piercings and tattoos, Rodman appeared in several movies and was linked with both Carmen Electra and Madonna.

    Although I wouldn't blame you if you missed his movies Simon Sez or Double Team.

8. Allen Iverson

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    Responsible for in what in my opinion is the best sports interview of all time, Allen Iverson finally put to rest what it was that "we were talkin 'bout." Apparently, the answer was practice.

    From stepping over Tyronn Lue to his crossover mix on YouTube, Allen Iverson has provided some of the best in game highlights of the NBA over the past 20 years.

    Iverson has made waves off the court as well, mostly negative attention, with his actions. However, I prefer to think of Iverson as the one from this interview.

7. Chad Ochocinco

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    The mere fact that Chad Johnson legally changed his name to Ochocinco is enough to land him on this list.

    Add the fact that he currently has a reality show called Ochocinco: The Ultimate Catch and a segment on Sports Soup called "Child, Please" and Ochocinco must be considered one of the best personalities in all of sports.

    In case you were wondering what "child, please" means, here is a little lesson from Ochocinco himself.

6. Michael Jordan

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    Forget about basketball, Michael Jordan is the best athlete of all-time. He is the most recognizable American athlete in the world.

    While Jordan was one of the most entertaining players on the floor, his commercials set the standard for endorsements of the last generation.

    And if you didn't like Space Jam, you have to be crazy. He may be a terrible NBA executive, but who wouldn't want to be "like Mike."

5. Mike Tyson

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    "Iron" Mike is one of the best boxers of all time. His out of the ring personality has to be only second to Muhammad Ali.

    Sadly, Tyson's career was marred by the ear-biting incident and his brushes with the law.

    Still, Tyson's entertainment value cannot be questioned. Tyson's appearance in The Hangover has to be one of the best sports cameos of all-time.

4. Peyton Manning

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    You might like Peyton Manning if you like 6'5'' quarterbacks with laser-rocket arms. Manning has one of the most likable personalities in the world of sports today.

    His United Way SNL skit is the funniest clip any athlete has ever intentionally produced. Aside from that his Master Card commercials, ESPN clips and interviews make him the most entertaining football player in the league today.

3. Muhammad Ali

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    Muhammad Ali is often regarded as the biggest sports figure of the 20th century. His nickname as "The Greatest" and his notorious pre-fight taunts make him one of the most entertaining figures of the 20th century as well.

    Before any of the players on this list gained a reputation as a bad boy or a figure that transcended the sport, there was Muhammad Ali.

2. Charles Barkley

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    To be fair, Barkley has earned the status as one of the most entertaining athletes ever mostly with his actions off of the court. Barkley was a terrific player on the court and had his fair share of impressive highlights.

    However, as an analyst, Barkley has been one of the most clever, hilarious personalities on television. He has become as quotable as Yogi Berra, while impersonations of Barkley have exploded across YouTube.

    It is tough to pick the funniest Charles Barkley moment, but I think this one is the least "turrible."

1. Shaquille O'Neal

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    The only way to fairly describe Shaquille O'Neal would be "Shaqtastic." There has been no personality bigger than Shaquille O'Neal in sports history.

    O'Neal has gone from being "The Diesel" to "The Big Aristotle" to "The Shaqtus." He first entertained us with his backboard shattering dunks of the 1990s. 

    Along the way there have been some bumps in the road including whatever Kazaam was and his rap album.

    However, whether he is a police officer, actor, mixed martial artist or competitor in Shaq Vs., O'Neal has found a way to entertain throughout his career. He will undoubtedly compete with Charles Barkley when he retires and becomes an analyst.