The 100 Most Overrated Athletes of All Time

Ross LipschultzAnalyst IJuly 22, 2011

The 100 Most Overrated Athletes of All Time

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    "Overrated" may be the most difficult word to pin down to one criterion. 

    Yes, even more difficult than "sick" or "cool" or "planking."

    Athletes can be overrated for the money they earn, the family they come from, the team they play for, the competition they played against and so much more. So when a list of the 100 most overrated appears, everyone will have a different opinion of what is valued more.

    That's right—everyone.

    Suggestions and additions are welcome, but just know that yelling and screaming will secure your place on the "Top 100 Insecure Fans" list. Since it's impossible to know every sport, fans' voices have already been used to get the list together, so don't think I'm not listening

    With that, let's get going!

    P.S. Do not use the "I didn't think so-and-so was even ranked!" Everyone is ranked in his or her sport's community. End o' story.

100. Kwame Brown

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    The fact that he's in the NBA at all makes him overrated.

    Let my buddy Stephen A. explain.

99. Darin Erstad

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    Maybe L.A. fans just had the displeasure of hearing how great of a player Erstad was for so long and about how he brought so many intangibles to the team.

    If that's true, then this is a venting slide.

    He had one great year in 2000. One. The fact the Angels kept him around so long and made him into a "great" is astonishing considering he didn't hit for power or produce a lot of runs outside of his fluke year.

    Sorry, it's getting too personal.

98. Vincent Jackson

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    For the sake of argument, let's throw out his short season where he tried to hold out for top-receiver money.

    Why, you ask?

    Because he doesn't deserve it yet.

    In 2009, he didn't crack the top 10 in receptions or yards per game. He's been tabbed a great receiver in the NFL, but he wasn't even Philip Rivers' No. 1 target for the games he played in 2010.

97. Stephon Marbury

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    While you may hate him, Marbury was valued as a scorer and floor general for more than a decade, giving four teams a chance to overpay for his services.

    Or five, if you count the Celtics spending nearly $3,000 per minute on his services in 2009.

    Sure, 19.3 points and 7.6 rebounds per game is pretty good, but because Starbury did so with a 43.3 percent shooting clip and ignored defense to the tune of 14.2 wins added over his whole career, it's not so clear that he was worth the moolah.

96. John Isner

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    Other than his marathon match, Isner does not have much to show for the hype he's received. It's not entirely his fault, as U.S. tennis players get dubbed greats way too early in general.

    Being tall can be a big asset, but with the lateral movement and backhand Isner is "graced" with, it's hard to see what the "experts" saw.

95. Morgan Shepherd

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    Shepherd is revered around the NASCAR world for his kindness, friendship and respect for the sport.

    However, he's been racing a bit too long and should've considered retiring when the going was good.

    And it was great despite his performance. He was given the opportunity to drive the renowned No. 21 car for Wood Brothers Racing in his 50s, even though he'd won only three races in the previous 20 years.

94. Pau Gasol

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    He's a great player and has been the perfect second man to Kobe Bryant, but it has recently been speculated that he could make the Hall of Fame.

    Let's cool our jets, Turbo.

    If you ignore his "good player, bad team" years, he's a sidekick at best, something that doesn't make the Hall of Fame, even for international players. And his soft reputation may be coming back around to bite him despite claims he's one of the best offensive big men in the nation.

    Give me an alpha male attitude, and the Lakers big man would earn his recent pay raise.

93. Sergio Aguero

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    For a guy who appeared cut from the same cloth as Lionel Messi, Aguero has made sure to stand out...for all the wrong reasons.

    When your ESPN profile reads "selfish with the ball," it's not a good sign.

    Yes, he still has time to grow, but at 24, he's already been called one of the best strikers in the world, and that's not the case. He relies on being fed the ball and poaching a bit too much to reach his hype.

92. Derek Jeter

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    In June 2008, Sports Illustrated polled nearly 500 players on the most overrated athlete in baseball, and Jeter was numero uno.

    While 3,000 hits is nothing to scoff at, his place as an all-time great has been up for debate since he entered the twilight of his career.

    His offensive numbers wow you, but his defensive numbers aren't as impressive. He's been on the negative in defensive wins above replacement for all but three seasons and hovers right around the league average in fielding percentage. 

    Regardless, he's still a first-ballot Hall of Famer. In fact, Bud Selig might make a special ballot to get him in immediately.

91. Rajon Rondo

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    So many people try to put Rondo into the discussion for best floor general in the NBA, which is pure insanity. He shoots from outside the paint about as well as a baby operating an AK-47.

    He has plenty of time to go and will soon be far and away the best player in Celtics green. But until teams actually start to defend him when he's on the perimeter, he can't be in the top-five discussion.

90. Reggie Bush

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    It's not hard to believe that Reggie Bush makes this list, even ignoring the fact he was the most hyped college player in recent memory. The Saints claim he's important to their structure, but that doesn't seem true.

    There seem to be many suitors at his door if New Orleans replaces him with Mark Ingram, but the question is, why?

    Since his second season, his rushes per game have diminished each season and he can't keep it together for a full year. 

    Sounds like his dating life, too.

89. Gael Monfils

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    While Monfils has one of the best names on the ATP World Tour, his game doesn't match his name.

    After winning two titles and only reaching five finals in the past two years, it's hard to see how the Frenchman keeps his No. 7 ranking.

    Maybe ESPN just loves saying his name. It's just sexy.

88. Mike Singletary

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    Didn't you get tired of the "Mike Singletary's one of the best defensive players ever, so this is the year he'll turn it around for San Francisco" talk?

    If not, then you must not have had cable.

    What's funny is that while Singletary played for one of the better defenses ever, he wasn't the outright star. With never more than 3.5 sacks or one pick per year, he gained a lot of fame for the team around him.

    No doubt he was good, but not great.

87. Chris Bosh

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    Chris Bosh exemplifies the "good player, bad team" mantra. If he'd been drafted by a team with any other talent, he wouldn't have been the No. 1 power forward available in the 2010 offseason.

    He's a second option at best, but would've gotten  No. 1 money if he didn't take a pay cut to pay with friends. After the season started, it became clear the Heat wasn't the Three MyEgos, but instead Two and a Half Men.

    Don't believe me? Shaq said so, too.

86. Francoise Durr

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    While Durr is in the International Tennis Hall of Fame, it's pretty clear that her doubles success blinded fans of her less-than-stellar singles play.

    She did win a major, but only after Margaret Smith Court "retired."

    Going 1-for-51 in majors isn't anything to write home about, and neither are a mere five semifinals appearances. For a woman who spent significant time in the top three, that should be much higher.

85. Graig Nettles

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    Very good with the glove and a great clubhouse presence, Nettles delighted Yankees and Indians fans for years by being a standout guy.

    But because of that, his reputation got a bit overblown.

    Nettles was a pedestrian .248 hitter with a .329 OBP, and somehow he's been in Hall of Fame discussions. And while fans often claimed he had solid pop, the third baseman only eclipsed 30 dingers twice in his career.

84. Mark Jackson

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    Yes, he was one of the best passers in NBA history. And yes, he looks good spitting ridiculous clichés in suits. 

    Regardless, it's a bit surprising that people make him out to be a top flight point guard. He had a very low usage percentage or 16.9 for a player who was supposedly running most of the plays.

    Me thinks he got a big helping hand from his supporting cast.

83. Michael Waltrip

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    A common theme in NASCAR is to see classic racing families let down every so often, and Waltrip is no exception.

    While brother Darrell was a legend on the track, Michael just couldn't get it going.

    Four wins in 27 years implies he should've give up the dream a bit earlier. If you go 16 years with no victories, no matter the activity, you should quit. End of story.

82. A.J. Burnett

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    Let's not even talk about Burnett's so-so performance in New York, but instead focus on how he became so overrated. His fire-baller skills blew away the Steinbrenners and convinced them he would be a star in pinstripes.

    Look at the numbers—they're nowhere near as impressive.

    A second "ace" should not have a 3.81 ERA and 1.28 WHIP before The Big Apple, and both ballooned once he got there. Yet year after year, he ruins fantasy teams by the "pitcher on a good team, should be fine" logic.

81. Yao Ming

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    Maybe this is too soon, but it has to be said.

    If Yao Ming was 7'1", he would've been a good center, not the Hall of Fame candidate he's been made out to be since his retirement. He's had very low playoff success, but his numbers get inflated from being taller than the generation of shrinking centers in the NBA today.

    And a Hall of Famer should at least be in the top 200 for wins contributed with their offense or defense.

    Not so with Yao.

80. Doug Flutie

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    Loved by so many, but stat nerds aren't in that group.

    With a 76.3 passer rating and low-50s completion percentage, he's turned his face into a brand, and therefore made himself more beloved.

    Yes, he was great in Canada, but so was Celine Dion. A great person, but with only three double-digit touchdown season, a decent quarterback at best.

79. Jose Canseco

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    Jose Canseco has done so much since his playing days to make himself disliked, but as a player, he made six All-Star teams, won an MVP and was a fan favorite.

    Too bad his .266 average, .353 OBP and three 40-home run seasons in 17 campaigns make him about as much of a star as his (read: his brother's) boxing career did.

78. Jonathan Papelbon

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    Closers probably get too much credit in general, but Papelbon's meteoric rise breathes absurdity.

    Boston nation loves its go-to guy, but ever since that phenomenal 2006 season, it's tough to share the city's affection.

    In the past five years, his ERA has quadrupled and opponents' batting average and OPS have risen by nearly 100 and 200 points, respectively. Yet there's little question who Beantown wants to end the game, which is a head-scratcher.

77. Mike Tyson

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    While it isn't Tyson's fault necessarily, Iron Mike fought in a time when competition was sparse and matches were chosen like wires to defuse a bomb. From 1985-1986, he was undefeated in more than 25 fights, most ending in a knockout.

    But look at who he fought!

    Michael Spinks, James Tills, Tony Tucker and many other barely decent heavyweights. He never had a real rival or huge fight, and with losses to Buster Douglas and Evander Holyfield later in life, the big moments against higher quality appeared to get to him.

76. Amar'e Stoudemire

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    There are few power forwards who I'd give the ball to for one possession on offense over New York's No. 1. That beings said, there are many power forwards I'd want guarding the ball for one possession on defense.

    The problem, or prize, depending on how you look at it, for Amar'e is that he's never been in a system where defense was necessary, so his man-to-man is more like man-to-basket. His defensive win shares, the amount of wins contributed by a player due to his defense, isn't close to the top 50.

    If that needs to be cleared up, Derek Fisher is 44th. Yeesh.

75. George Brett

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    He's known as one of the more dynamic hitters in MLB history, but when you look at it, it's not as clear-cut.

    Only four seasons with more than 100 runs or 100 RBI isn't very impressive, and after his MVP season in 1980, he was a good hitter, but not a great one.

    The strangest part is that he did his best work before the age of 28, the age at which players normally hit their primes.

74. Dwight Howard

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    If a team's strategy to stop you on offense is to use Jason Collins, and it works, you can't be named Superman.


73. Kyle Petty

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    Were expectations possibly too high for this Petty coming after the great Richard Petty?

    Maybe, but if anyone races for 30 years in 829 contests, he or she should win more than eight.

    Even Butler shot a higher percentage than that in the NCAA title game.

72. Wayne Rooney

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    There's no denying Rooney's skills. He's been in the top 10 of Premier League scores annually and is quite the beloved footballer in England and across Europe. 

    But there's a Jekyll to this Hyde, and it shows up in the big moments.

    With no goals in his World Cup and Euro Cup appearances and a tendency to get frustrated, it's not hard to hear a collective "Bly Me!" from across the pond.

71. Zlatan Ibrahimovic

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    Hard to defend a €69 million contract for Ibrahimovic. He's been deemed a bit lazy and inconsistent in the big games and his production has plateaued since the 2004-2005 season.

    When you are making more money than the GDP of some countries, it's hard to support his low work rate and distance covered.

    If he wants to keep his reputation as a top-flight striker in tact, the Swede needs to amp up his game, despite his age.

70. Terrell Owens

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    Antics and showboating can only get so far with fans, who want winners first and foremost. 

    Normally, statistics are the deciding factor, but when teams deem you not worth the destruction of chemistry despite being the active leader in catches, you're clearly being overvalued by fans.

69. Ozzie Guillen

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    Guillen was an unbelievable defender, but he realized early on that his mouth was a lot more offensive than his bat, so he just stuck to playing well in the field.

    A .285 average, .287 OBP and no seasons with 100 RBI or runs. And that's a multiple All-Star?

    Didn't know baseball had a skills competition back in his day.

68. Michelle Wie

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    She's had the disadvantage of being over-publicized since the age of 14, creating an obvious barrier in her success.

    But for some reason, she's still the golfer in all the ads for the LPGA and still hasn't won anything.

    Take some advice from Al Davis and "just win, baby."

67. Robinho

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    If skill was drawn solely from transfer fees, Robinho would be at the top of the list of most skilled in the nation.

    For a guy who's scored more than 20 goals only once despite playing for three of the top sides in all of Europe, Robinho sure gets over-hyped. Maybe he should try hiding behind a last name.

66. Randy Couture

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    Another victim of the media machine, Couture became one of the selling points for UFC early on and was left as the poster child despite his age. When there were rumors of him fighting Fedor Emelianenko in 2008, he was being called a top-five fighter.

    That was his moment in the sun.

    Looking at his track record, it's hard to see where the hype came from. Yes, he beat Tim Sylvia, who has very mixed reviews, but losses to the other big boys like Brock Lesnar and Chuck Liddell will keep him off the elite fighting list.

65. Alfonso Soriano

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    He's settled down to more of a fair-to-midland player nowadays, but because he peaked young and with the Yankees, he became the talk of the town.

    Hell, the Cubs didn't even care that he'd played roughly no outfield before signing him to start in left.

    All of his personal accolades (All-Star selections, Silver Sluggers) made him a popular name, not his play. A .276 hitter with a .324 OBP shouldn't be such a great asset, especially when he's only knocked in more than 100 runs twice. 

64. Vince Carter

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    Carter was the modern Human Highlight Reel for much of his career, but when he became a regular on SportsCenter, fans forgot the pot holes in his game.

    AKA, everything else.

    With a sadly low points-per-attempt ratio and defense that would make matadors laugh, Carter gets too much credit for his aerial moves.

63. Carlos Boozer

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    People kept saying how Boozer's motor and energy make up for his lack of size. So when the motor's clearly not working, what's his saving grace?

    The Bulls threw the kitchen sink at a power forward who was a statistical beast in Utah. What people didn't realize is how relaxed he would become when he didn't have as much need to score the ball in Chicago.

62. Phil Mickelson

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    Is Phil Mickelson one of the best golfers around? Yes. Is he covered way more than he should be for his record?


    Mickelson has 39 wins in 436 events, only four of which were in majors. While that still makes him only second to Tiger in active major victories, he's only won one in the past five years, making it about time ESPN focus on someone who swings righty.


61. Mardy Fish

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    To be in the top 10 of anything, you should have to win at least one tournament per year. And while Fish almost matched his career total in wins in 2010 alone, you'd hope the No. 9 player in the world put up more of a fight consistently.

    Then again, he might be distracted. Have you seen his wife? Yeesh.

60. Emmanuel Adebayor

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    Adebayor started off his career fast and started running his mouth even faster.

    You'd think with only one 20-plus-goal season, he'd have the knowledge not to whine about everything under the sun.

    His coach, his team, his pay. It's like he's trying to pave a road with all the stuff he throws under the bus.

59. Marques Colston

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    Colston has the great advantage of playing with one the NFL's best pinpoint passers in one of the best vertical offenses in the last decade, so his numbers get inflated quite a bit.

    But if you put him somewhere else, his average route-running wouldn't have made him the darling of the NFL.

58. Fred Couples

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    There's a lot to be said for being well respected and a gentleman, but not nearly as much when talking about professional athletes.

    Couples is a nice fella, but it'd be nice for him to make his demeanor match his golf game.

    Most golfers who have held the top spot in the world have more than one major, but don't tell that to Couples. He's featured on CBS broadcasts more than Mentalist previews, yet hasn't won a PGA title since 2003.

57. Steffi Graf

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    Yes, she did win the Grand Slam and a boatload of titles, but when Monica Seles showed up in 1990, that reign ended in a snap.

    And when a radical fan stabbed Seles, cutting her time short, Graf started winning again. 

    In 2001, Sports Illustrated's Frank Deford said "Steffi Graf wasn't even the best [tennis player] in the heart of her career." 

    He couldn't be more right.

56. Ozzie Smith

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    Every team needs defensive studs, and Ozzie Smith was one of the best, with enough pomp for an entire team.

    But the circumstance wasn't there, leading to a more uneven player.

    Smith hits .262 for his career with a lackluster .666 OPS and didn't provide a lot of pop, either. 

55. Tim Tebow

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    Obviously, his reputation is based on his amazing college career and charm.

    But if that was good enough for fans to dub him the starter, Ed O'Bannon would've been a Hall of Famer.

    His new mechanics and style corresponded to a 50 percent completion percentage and so-so 82.1 QB rating. He has potential, but for him to take Kyle Orton's spot after Orton's two best seasons of his career is ridiculous.

54. Apolo Anton Ohno

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    He became a nationwide soon as the U.S. started caring about speed skating.

    Yes, he's got plenty of golds, but he hasn't medaled in world championships since 2008.

    He was featured on Sports Illustrated's cover for the Olympics, but sometimes you wonder if it was him specifically being featured or just taking advantage of Olympic fervor.

53. Paul Coffey

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    Coffey played for some of the best teams of the 80s and 90s, teaming up with Gretzky, Messier, Jagr and many more on his way to a bunch of championships.

    Unfortunately, this allows for some inflated numbers, because let's just say he wasn't a first priority on the scouting report, giving him easier chances.

    It's hard to argue he was indispensable with that many frequent flier miles: He was traded seven times.

    Also an interesting note: Three of his teams won the Stanley Cup immediately following his departure.

52. Jozy Altidore

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    U.S. soccer has done an admirable job building up its fanbase since the World Cup in South Africa, but they might want to stick to promoting the veterans like Donovan instead of the disappointments like Altidore.

    He's supposed to be the future of U.S. soccer, but if he can't put up more than two goals for a European team in a season, there's clearly something wrong.

51. Chris Webber

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    His numbers were great when he was actually on the floor.

    He averaged 55 games per season over his NBA career and wasn't the most dedicated player to battling inside, despite his size.

    However, he's underrated as an analyst. If you could hear him under Barkley yapping, you'd notice, too.

50. David Nalbandian

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    Widely praised by players and analysts alike for his skill and technique, he became a bit of a flop with only one major finals appearance way back in 2002 at Wimbledon.

    He peaked at No. 3 in 2006 despite only having three tournament titles to his name at that point.

    Looking around, the words "waste of talent" are getting thrown around a lot, and that's a bad sign.

49. Curtis Joseph

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    Joseph overall had a very stellar career, but year by year, he just couldn't get it all together after the age of 26.

    He never won a title, but his durability also held him back. He got a lot of credit for his teams' successes, but after his career 1993-1994 campaign, he averaged only 47 games per season and only led the NHL in one annual category: goals against.

    Cujo became CuNo.

48. Trevor Linden

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    While he was one of the most respected and well-liked players amongst fellow NHL players and the people of Vancouver, Linden used six strong years to buoy his wallet for his 20-year career.

    With no on-ice awards and a a career minus-64 mark, the Canucks really dug deep to make him worth the money.

    He just didn't return the favor later in his career.

47. Tracy McGrady

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    Never playing a complete season is one thing. Having a frighteningly low points-per-attempt mark is another. Never getting out of the first round of the playoffs is a third.

    Some people want this guy to get Hall of Fame consideration. I was unaware the injury list honored players.

46. Monta Ellis

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    Monta Ellis has been shopped around the entire NBA this offseason, but what's very strange is that he actually has so much value.

    People compare him to Allen Iverson, but with half the work ethic. High-volume shooters are slowly being phased out in the NBA, and since that's about all Ellis does, it's hard to see the Warriors getting anything great for him.

    By the way, this slide could've read "the Warriors want to trade him" and the point would've been made.

45. Alex Rodriguez

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    This year, Sports Illustrated conducted a poll of 185 baseball players to find out who was the most overrated in baseball.

    A-Rod won with 18 percent.

    While that may be based on his "extracurriculars," he's definitely had a lot of troubles casting aside his doubters. And with claims that he wears lip gloss, he may be take the MLB's top model role from Evan Longoria.

44. Albert Haynesworth

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    While he is now synonymous with lazy, Haynesworth at one point was thought to be an unstoppable force on the defensive line, leading the Redskins to give him the most guaranteed money of any contract in NFL history.

    But even when he was good, he was just decent.

    The Immovable Object only had two seasons of six or more sacks and played all 16 games only during his rookie year.

    If those aren't red flags, I don't know what are.

43. Brett Favre

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    Yes, Favre will make the Hall of Fame easily and some of his records will never be passed. But to even put him in the discussion as the best quarterback ever is pushing it.

    Diva-ness aside, he has a 13-11 playoff record, an 86 passer rating and never led the league in passing.

    While he had some great numbers, he can't be the best with some pedestrian numbers.

42. Pete Maravich

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    Pistol Pete never saw a shot he couldn't pass up, which makes him the original volume shooter. He's known as a legendary scorer, but so would anyone who averaged more than 21 shots per game.

    Also, he shot 44.1 percent from the field.

    His story is that he was dead-on from anywhere inside half court, but at that percentage, maybe he should've stuck to layups.

41. Philip Rivers

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    The word "elite" needs to be defined whenever Rivers comes into play. Yes, he's led a top-five scoring offense in all of his years as the starter, but he gets too much credit for this.

    The Chargers play six games in the worst division in football and Rivers had a legendary running back in LaDainian Tomlinson to bring more guys into the box and open up passing lanes until this year.

    Even still, the former Wolfpack member is 3-4 in the playoffs.

    Good, he is. Elite, he is not.

40. David Ragan

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    David Ragan had the unfortunate spot of succeeding Dale Jarrett with the UPS Logo.

    Sure, he's a different rider, but with great logo comes great responsibility.

    He's got only one win in 165 races despite coming onto the scene as a bright spot and a great hope for the No. 6 car. Even a non-NASCAR fan can see he's not living up to the hype.

39. Jeremy Shockey

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    This guy was a fantasy favorite for a while, but once you draft him for a season, you realize you never really wanted him.

    With two great years, he's helped himself to a fat stack of cash.

    Also, please note that the Giants' title run was with him on the injured list and that he was immediately replaced by Kevin Boss, who almost matched him in his rookie season.

    Sounds useful to me.

38. Caroline Wozniacki

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    This is simple: You can't be No. 1 in your sport without winning a major tournament. 

    I don't care if there's some intense algorithm to decide it, it just can't be. The top dogs win the big prizes. 

37. Lyoto Machida

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    His 17-2 mark is incredibly impressive, until you notice he's doing little damage and letting the decisions take care of the rest. His matches aren't the barn burners the UFC makes them out to be, but instead a lesson in karate.

    Only three of his wins ended in KOs, which people don't hear about when they hear his record. His style throws off his opponents, but when he finally fought someone who'd already seen his style, he got whipped, exposing his less aggressive style.

    Thanks, Mauricio Rua.

36. O.J. Simpson

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    No, this has nothing to with his criminal record. In fact, he may be on the underrated list for that part of his career.

    Simpson had three stellar years, but in seven of his campaigns, he couldn't crack 750 yards on the ground. He only found the end zone more than 10 times twice in 11 years, which points to his flare as his Hall of Fame ticket.

35. Keyshawn Johnson

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    Maybe being on TV 24-7 (even during the lockout, which makes no sense) has gotten to Keyshawn's head. The man is referred to as a "great" on ESPN and spent most of his career with heaps of praise for his on-field play.

    Sadly, or not, that's ungrounded.

    He said "Gimme the damn ball" but averaged less than four catches per game to the tune of 63.3 yards.

    Those sound like second or third-string numbers, not those of a receiver who multiple teams tried to build offenses around.

34. Elliott Sadler

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    Petty Motorsports gave him a strong team, quality equipment and huge sponsorship.

    Sadler didn't exactly return the favor, never finishing higher than 22nd while part of the team.

    Yes, he did improve his game steadily to make the Chase in 2004, but the fact that that's the only Chase he's made should say plenty about his abilities.

    Or the fact he has a paltry three wins and 19 top-five finishes in 429 career races.

33. Rocky Marciano

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    Can't blame Marciano for it, but his championship reign came about while the heavyweight pool was thin, leaving a young Rocky to take the likes of Joe Louis, Jersey Joe Walcott and Archie Moore.

    The only problem? Those fellas were all either in their late 30s or 40s by the time they fought Rock, leaving with a stellar record against lower quality opponents.

    A record of 49-0 is great, but what does it mean if you beat up the dinosaurs?

    ...Other than the fact that fighting dinosaurs sounds awesome. 

32. Ernests Gulbis

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    While Gulbis has fallen significantly, as recently as July 2, 2011, he was No. 21 in the world, rising weekly behind three tournament victories in three years. 

    He's been compared to Federer with potential, but maybe with his monumental drop, weak backhand and less-than-stellar résumé, Kournikova is a more apt comparison.

    Luckily he's got time.

31. Jim Rice

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    While he was definitely a star player, in the top five for MVP voting five times, he may not have been as deserving of a Hall pass as others.

    Remember, he had five great seasons at the plate and 11 good or average ones.

    His numbers don't necessarily display legendary status: His career WAR, or wins a player adds over a Triple-A-like replacement, was 41.5, putting him in a tie for 388th. That means he added less than three wins each year more than some random call-up would.

    It's good, but for the money, we might make a call to Triple-A. 

30. Eric Lindros

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    Lindros had a fundamental problem: He loved to play physical, but got hurt so easily.

    So when people saw this monster fly around the ice, they'd say, "Oh, if he could just stay healthy!"

    The problem was, he outperformed expectations originally, winning the MVP, but the injuries acted as a crutch later in his career.

    No one wanted to admit that that year might have been the outlier, not the pattern.

29. Sergio Busquets

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    Playing for the best teams, both in club (Barcelona) and international (Spain) play, can make a player get credit he doesn't deserve.

    Busquets is a great example.

    He's been the weak link on both of those teams and, despite their great wing talent, has only managed four goals and 10 assists from the midfield in 133 combined starts. His average passing is hardly exploited when most of his kicks are to legends or backwards.

28. Terry Bradshaw

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    Bradshaw's Steelers were some of the best teams in NFL history, which makes it surprising that his numbers are so low for a Hall of Famer.

    He sports roughly a 1-to-1 touchdown-to-interception ratio, a 70.9 QB rating and a completion percentage hovering right about 50 percent despite being surrounded by immense talent.

    With the bling for four rings, he blinds the fans from his stats.

27. Ronaldinho

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    Ronaldinho is the perfect example of where quality doesn't beat quantity. He had some of the best-looking moves in the entire world football scene but only had two years of great play and more than 20 goals.

    Sure, he could dance around the ball, but he never merited his place in the best-in-the-world discussion during those two years.

    If he wanted that title to stick, he should've joined Cheryl Burke in tap shoes.

26. Mike Alstott

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    Has there ever been a more-loved fullback? He became one of the Buccaneers' all-time leading scorers, but is it necessarily him doing the great work?

    Tampa Bay had a great line while he was there, and running backs like Warrick Dunn and Michael Pittman would do the legwork before Alstott would get the ball to score.

    And at his size, is any tired lineman (or brick wall, for that matter) really going to stop him? 

25. Antoine Walker

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    Later in his career, Walker petered out into a middle-of-the-road type, but even when he was an All-Star, his numbers were rather lackluster. There was a time when people thought he and Paul Pierce would lead the Celtics back to glory.

    Didn't work out, did it?

    On offense, Walker couldn't even average a single point produced (assisted or scored) per 100 possessions despite using more than a quarter of his team's plays.

    Maybe it's because he shot barely over 40 percent from the field for his career.

24. Dale Earnhardt Jr.

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    Family ties can make you a media darling; just ask Michael J. Fox.

    Junior's career has been buoyed by the love of his die-hard fans, but the numbers don't add up.

    Can he be a top driver with only 18 wins in 418 races and only three in the last six years? His 2003-2005 were some of record, but longevity usually makes legends.

    Just not in this case.

23. Bryan McCabe

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    Goals can be a bit blinding, and that's certainly the case for the veteran defender. He averages more than nine goals per year and is known for his risk-taking, something fans drool over.

    However, defenders play defense, and this one hasn't lived up to his contract or hype since 2005. Frontline players don't hover around a zero plus/minus for six straight seasons. 

    But with his kind of money, he can ride his hovercraft for days.

22. Carmelo Anthony

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    A one-trick pony, the Melo Man never really learned how to play defense.

    While that's easily masked in Mike D'Antoni's system, old coach George Karl remarked multiple times about how he would just go through to motions and lag, something a superstar doesn't do.

    As a scorer, Carmelo can be lumped in with the best. As almost anything else (defender, leadership, role model, etc.), he needs more time in the incubator.

21. Nolan Ryan

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    Ryan will always be remembered as one of the flashiest and dominating pitchers in baseball, but the words "best pitcher ever" shouldn't be used.

    A huge lead in all-time strikeouts is great, but is that all there is to pitching?

    He has just as big of a margin between him and the runner-up in all-time walks, but no one mentions that. Or that he held a mediocre 52.6 winning percentage with an average year of 14-13. Or that he never won a Cy Young. Or that he has a career 1.25 WHIP. 

20. Andy Murray

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    He's 24 and fourth in the world. Pretty good, right?

    Well, not when you consider he hasn't won a single major and only three tournaments in the past two years when his experience should be paying off.

    While he has shown the ability to win on all surfaces, he lacks the composure of a champion. It could be because it seems all of Britain's sporting hopes ride on his back.

    Pressure kills.

19. Grant Fuhr

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    Yes, some of Fuhr's teams played a high-risk, high-reward style while he was in the net, but can that really explain him being 74th all time in save percentage (.887), right around the league average for goalies during those years?

    He moved around a lot, and the styles should've changed. He belongs in the Hall, but maybe not on the pantheon of goalies.

18. Pete Rose

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    Charlie Hustle lived the quantity-over-quality argument both on and off the field.

    While he did rack up the most hits in baseball history, it's a tall order to claim that he's the best hitter.

    He leads Ty Cobb in hits by less than 100, but did so with almost 3,000 more at-bats. And his defense wasn't Hall of Fame worthy, as he was 54 runs worse than the average player at all of the positions he played.

17. Deion Sanders

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    No, this shouldn't suggest that Primetime wasn't one of the best cover corners ever. But for a guy who talked so much, it would've been nice if he wasn't a notoriously poor tackler.

    Or greedy.

    At the age of 32, he demanded $56 million from the Redskins despite having just been cut by the Cowboys.

    Sure, getting your cash is fine, but fleecing a team and providing only one season doesn't make your resume look good.

16. James Worthy

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    Big Game James was a phenomenal scorer, but put him on a team that didn't always feature a top-five player and things might have changed.

    He was an excellent No. 2 but didn't put up go-to-guy numbers like the Hall of Fame pedigree suggests.

    He's known as a scorer, yet only scored 17.6 per game and didn't help much on the glass despite his 6'9" frame. He had a tremendous stroke and was clutch beyond belief, but he also had a lot of help.

    He didn't get carried in to the Hall of Fame by any means, but he certainly didn't do it as the solo act he's often pegged as.

15. Shane Mosley

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    Someone put too much Sugar in Mosley's Kool-Aid, and he drank it up, boasting as one of the "best" boxers in the world.

    But without his fights against Oscar De La Hoya, which were controversial at best, his opponents either beat him down or were garbage to begin with.

    No one is taking away his three title belts, but for a guy who claims to be an elite boxer, why did he not fight other top-tier rivals in his prime?

    Shannon Taylor doesn't count.

    Then, when he tried to get into the ring with the big guns, he got smashed, notably twice by Vernon Forrest.

14. David Beckham

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    Beckham was a two-time runner-up for FIFA Player of the Year, so there's no denying he was a star at one time. In fact, his hair alone makes him a star.

    But that doesn't mean his L.A. Galaxy contract wasn't driven way too high and didn't hamper the team for years. Or that he made the fans of his new team believe in him to the point of an extreme letdown. Or that even for one of Europe's most-liked midfielders, he wasn't very consistent, with goals and assists going up and down.

    That's probably enough.

13. Pavel Bure

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    Bure had a great offensive game, but should a player who's one-dimensional merit $10 million per year?

    While he was in top-notch shape, the game became all about him, and the Canucks and Panthers were forced to sell their fans on this great offensive weapon.

    Sadly, the weapon wouldn't play a lick of defense, cherry picked and camped at the red line, leaving his teammates in the rearview mirror.

12. Dominique Wilkins

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    'Nique can't be denied as one of the best scorers the NBA has ever seen, but unless you are Hugh Hefner, scoring isn't the only thing that matters.

    Winning would've been nice, but even in his prime, Wilkins never took the Hawks past the second round.

    And you can forget about defense, as Wilkins has an absurdly high 108 points allowed per 100 possessions as well as a nearly 50-point difference in offensive and defensive win shares

11. Johnny Damon

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    While getting to 3,000 hits is a spectacular mark, Damon does it so unspectacularly that it could be a science.

    Four good years, a couple of which were contract-spurred, and he could go into the Hall of Fame despite a weak .354 OBP, which is tied for 563rd.

    And if you are talking about defense, fuhgeddaboudit. Manny Ramirez cutting off his throw from the outfield is the cherry on top, but Damon's defense work speaks for itself: He was only six runs better than the major league average at his position defensively.

10. George Mikan

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    This may be the toughest one on the list for me, as Mikan was the Great White Hope before there needed to be a Great White Hope. While it wasn't his fault, he gets a lot of credit for being a legend when being tall was his best attribute at the time.

    Sadly, a lack of competition and size made Mikan's numbers seem enormous, as did the absence of a shot clock until his last season. There were times when the 6'10" Mikan would just stand with the ball above his head, making for basketball that could only be out-bored by the 2007 NBA Finals.

9. Danica Patrick

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    She gets plenty of credit for being the first female driver to win an Indy Car race in 2008, but since then, Patrick's hype has well surpassed her actual accolades.

    She's been in Indy Car's top five once, winning one race in five campaigns. The resume didn't get any better as a NASCAR driver, as she's never won and finished in the top 10 only three times. 

    If her game was as good as her looks, there wouldn't even be a discussion.

8. Oscar De La Hoya

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    He was the sport's mega star for so many years and became christened one of the best of the decade because of it.

    Sadly, the results don't bear that out, and the Golden Boy suddenly looks a bit more Boron.

    De La Hoya still will make the Hall of Fame as a tremendous draw for the sport, but he's lost a lot of big fights (Trinidad, Mosley, Hopkins, etc.) and built his résumé on exciting bouts versus lesser opponents.

    He's an icon for the sport outside of the ring, but not so much inside.

7. Dion Phaneuf

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    At 26, Phaneuf was supposed to be a key part of the Maple Leafs back line, as GM Brian Burke referred to him as an "elite player" in an interview with ESPN when the team traded for him in January, 2010.

    Do elite players rock a minus-12 in the postseason? Do they decrease their points by half in four years?

    While he's still young, he's about as much of a star as a black dwarf.

    Astronomy five!

6. Lynn Swann

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    When people hear the name "Lynn Swann," it comes off as synonymous with "all-time great receiver."

    When people hear, "37 catches per season, one All-Pro selection, three Pro Bowls and two seasons with double-digit touchdowns," they don't think Lynn Swann.

    Too bad they are one in the same.

5. Tony Perez

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    The Big Red Machine's output was not only wins, but also a ton of Hall of Fame members. Perez must have been happy to be one of the gears, because other than two phenomenal years, he wasn't anything special.

    A career .279 hitter with a .341 OBP and about 72 RBI per year is not a legendary hitter. A player who on defense helped his teams to a whopping .9 more wins than an average replacement is not a legendary fielder.

    Yet, he has a plaque. Go figure.

4. Phil Rizzuto

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    Welcome to mediocrity! Rizzuto had an excellent year in 1950, winning the MVP, but other than that, he's one of the least worthy Hall of Famers.

    There's a reason it took him 40 years to get into Cooperstown. Actually, there are quite a few: A career .273 hitter with a .351 OBP, Rizzuto had only two seasons with more than 100 runs scored. 

    But hey, he wears the pinstripes, right?

3. Tony Romo

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    Fantasy football aficionados can relate to this conversation:

    "The Cowboys are going to rock this year, and Romo's got a ton of weapons."

    "Are you sure? He's let us down each year."

    "Of course! It's his breakout year."

    Six months later, Romo isn't the only one with his head and shoulders slumped.

2. Jack Dempsey

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    Dempsey often finds himself on lists of the greatest boxers ever, but it seems to be more for his name and what he did outside of the ring. 

    He won the heavyweight title from 37-year-old Jess Willard and only defended it five times in the following eight years before it got ripped from him in a dominating performance by Gene Tunney.

    He also didn't fight some of his eras greats, i.e. Harry Wills, leaving more questions than answers.

1. Joe Namath

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    Broadway Joe made one of the best Miss Cleo moments in sports history by calling Super Bowl III, but the stats don't tell such a great story.

    Winner? He was 2-1 in the playoffs. Accurate? Just a tick above a coin flip in completion percentage. Efficient? He threw 173 touchdowns to 220 interceptions, a ratio that doesn't seem Hall of Fame worthy.