Who are the Five Athletes You Wish You Saw Perform Live?

Life in a sports newsroom is essentially a working debate. We all have jobs to do, but it seems we can always make time to jump into an argument, no matter how ridiculous it may be.

Best bare footer kicker in the history of the NFL…I’ll debate that. (Tony Franklin)

What is the most unbreakable record in sports…that’s deep, I’m in. (Johnny Vander Meer back to back no hitters)

Brady vs. Manning vs. Marino vs. Elway … that’s a doozy, sign me up for that one! (Brady)

But truth is, some of the most enjoyable conversations are when we aren’t debating, instead we’re all trying to come up with the best possible answer to a question with no right answer. And that is where this list spawns from; there are no right answers, it’s all subjective (although I think mine are impossible to beat).

So please, top my list, beat me at this game, share the five athletes you really wish you could have seen live in the comments below…but first, let’s debate mine:

five athletes you wish you saw live

I think I would have been scared even in the front row.

5: Mike Tyson

Before becoming a punchline, Mike Tyson was without a doubt the baddest man on the planet.

Tyson was so feared in the ring that the air from his missed punches would send behemoths cowering to their corners. Phantom punches won seemingly half of his matches and it wasn’t because the fix was in, it was as if every opponent had the same thought run through their head, “oh crap if he connects on the next one, I may never get up”.

The first pay-per-view I ever bought of Tyson was against Carl “The Truth” Williams, it was over in 1:33 seconds, but it was worth every penny. I only wish I had a front row seat.

five athletes you wish you saw live

The last man to bring a championship to Cleveland

4: Jim Brown

Jim Brown could have done anything he wanted on a field. He was an All-American in Lacrosse, played on the basketball team at Syracuse and finished fifth in the 1956 national decathlon championship. What he chose to do was dominate in Football.

Brown played for just nine years in the NFL, but won eight rushing titles, three MVP awards and one NFL title, the last time Cleveland won a damn thing.

3: Pele

five athletes you wish you could have seen live

A magician with his feet, it would have been amazing to see him play at Santos in Brazil during his youth.

In 1961, at the age of 21, Pele was named a national treasure of Brazil.

Makes sense, since at just 17 he led Brazil to victory in the World Cup scoring two goals, the first of which is still considered one the greatest goals in World Cup history.

In the 1970 World Cup final vs. Italy, which would be Pele’s final match in World Cup play, the aging forward still dominated, netting 2 goals to push Brazil to a 4-1 victory, his third World Cup title.

Italian defender Tarcisio Burgnich, who was tasked with marking Pele in the match, said afterwards, “I told myself before the game, he’s made of skin and bones just like everyone else — but I was wrong”.

If that isn’t the coolest thing your opponent could say about you I don’t know what is.

Seeing Pele in the movie Victory (with Sylvester Stallone playing a terrible netminder) doesn’t count, watching him perform in some rockin’ Brazilian stadium, now that would have been cool.

2: Sandy Koufax

five athletes you wish you could have seen live

Yet another argument for the DH, Sandy Koufax’s career was cut short from sliding into second.

Fascinating for a variety of reasons, Koufax retired from baseball at the age of 30 after going 27-9 with a 1.73 era in his final season. He retired at his peak, struggling with traumatic arthritis in his pitching elbow, suffered diving back to second base to avoid a pickoff. (Yet another argument for the DH)

Koufax was told he’d eventually lose full use of his arm, but soldiered on for two more seasons totaling 658 innings, 53 wins, 699 K’s and a sub 2 era.

To put that in perspective, the last two seasons from Justin Verlander:

489 innings, 41 wins, 489 K’s and an ERA around 2.5

Koufax would have been a joy to behold.

five athletes you wish you could have seen live

Russell vs. Chamberlain would have been all-time great theater.

1: Bill Russell

Two NCAA championships, a Gold Medal and 11 NBA titles. Russell dominated the game without the ball in his hands, averaging over 22 rebounds and, some estimate*, 6 blocks per game over his 13 year career, at just 6’9” tall.

What’s even more amazing is that he was the 2nd pick of the 1956 draft! Some guy named Sihugo Green went 1st to the Rochester Royals.

His battles with Wilt Chamberlain would have been a sight to see, a tussle in the blocks as the underdog Russell scrapped his way against the behemoth Chamberlain. The NBA is the one sport made for one-on-one match-ups of superstars and none would have been greater to watch than Russell v. Chamberlain.

*Blocks were not an official stat until after Russell’s retirement so Hakeem Olajuwon holding the record is a farce.

So…Who are your Five?

About Brian Clapp

Brian Clapp has worked in the sports media for over 14 years as a writer, editor, producer & news director. After beginning his career in Atlanta at CNN/Sports Illustrated, he switched coasts to Seattle to work at Fox Sports Northwest. In 2010, Brian began pursuing a new found passion on the digital media side, launching a successful website and then taking on the role of Director of Content for WorkinSports.com & WorkinEntertainment.com.

Recently, Brian has become addicted to Google+ and LinkedIn so add him to your circles and make him a contact. No seriously, do it.

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  1. 5. Koufax
    4. Tyson
    3. Bo
    2. Jim Brown
    1. Ali

    • Great list Ted – Bo is one I should have included, would have loved to see him run right down the ramp, or blast through Bosworth… good stuff, we’re aligned on Koufax, Tyson & Jim Brown…that’s not bad!

  2. Greg Holman says

    My #1 would have to be Babe Ruth
    #2 – Since I’m a baseball Cardinal fan,
    Stan Musial
    #3 – Jackie Robinson
    #4 – Ben Hogan
    #5 – I feel obligated to include one football
    player since it’s my third-favorite sport,
    so I’ll go with Red Grange.

    • Love the baseball influence Greg – Jackie Robinson is a great call, would have been wonderful to see his strength of character play out live. Babe Ruth may have been tops on my list if it was athletes I’d like to have a beer with 😉

  3. Nancy Rivera says

    The 5 arhletes I wish I saw live are: Diego Maradona or Pelé, Roberto Clemente, Lou Gerihg, Muhammed Alí, Magic Johnson or Michael Jordan

    • Nancy – another great list, I would have paid just to see Clemente throw the ball in from right field! I’ve seen Magic and Michael…but Maradona would have been pretty cool. – Brian

  4. Tony Bougis says

    I was a professional soccer player back in the early 80’s! I happened to play against Germany’s all-time goal scorer, Gerd Muller! I saved a penalty kick from him. Also, against the late Georgie Best! It was an honor in my lifetime.

  5. Elemental Warrior says

    5. Hyperbole doesn’t make Tyson better… or make boxing any more honest. If you must have a boxer, Ali, who along with Foreman, Joe Lewis, and Joe Frazier would have taken Tyson apart. Holyfield would have won 2 out of 3. But if it has to be someone I’d not had a chance to see, Rocky Marciano.

    4. Jim Brown. Good eye. I’ll agree with both Jim Brown and Pele, in part because they earned the rep without huge media influence. Before the onslaught of the AFL’s early West-Coast offence in 1960 (trying not to mention the candy-axe “can’t touch the QB” rules of today*), football was in the trenches rough and tough. Besides that, anyone who could give Big Daddy Lipscomb the slip is all right in my book.

    * “Protect the QB” rules stem from the fact, before Arnold ushered in the steroid era, that an average QB weighed 210, and a DL 280. After steroids, QBs weigh 220 and DL’s 380. Any wrestling coach worth his salt will tell you never let ’em wrestle if there’s more than a 50-pound difference. Steroids ruin the pro game, for me. I used to watch every game on Sunday, now just the last ten minutes of the Super Bowl.

    3. Pele. No media hype. Yep, the real thing here. I played pro soccer and he was the bomb. I wish I had his footwork and dribbling abilities.

    2. Sandy Koufax. I’m not a baseball fan. So I’ll give you this one. Except I’d have to pick a position player, maybe Honus Wagner, Ty Cobb, Babe Ruth or Ted Williams. Here’s the deal. If all the modern players have had Lasik “to correct an imperfection” as sportswriters call it… then about 20% (or more) have 20-10 vision, as did Ted. How come the bums ain’t hittin’ .400?

    1. Bill Russell. He changed everything about the game, from the speed and score to how the pivot position is played. When he started, average scores were 70 and when he was done, scoring averaged 120.
    Before Russ, centers didn’t jump. He started the conversation about outlawing the dunk. Wasn’t Swede, all 7’4” of him. Wilt took the rap, but it was Russ. Experts say he averaged 10 blocks a game. Him blocking it didn’t mean it went into the stands; it was the start of the fast break. And if he didn’t block the dang thang, he’d grab the rebound and make an outlet pass to start another fast break before his feet touched the ground.

    Okay, now I’d want to put Jesse Owens and Jim Thorpe in there.
    Honorable mentions: It’d be interesting to see Louis Cyr or Angus McAskill at their athletic peak. Even Ivory Crockett, with a coach, enough funding to support his family, and actual running shoes. Maybe Bruce Lee.
    My list:

    5. Jim Brown.
    4. Bruce Lee.
    3. Pele.
    2. Bill Russell.
    1. Jim Thorpe. Overcame more than anyone else.

    • I like your list Elemental – it actually seems like we agree on much of it. I’ll concede Tyson is a guilty pleasure, there are far better boxers than he, but growing up in the 80’s he was just such an overpowering icon of the time.
      We agreed on 3 out of 5, which isn’t bad if you’re breaking down the history of athletics! – Brian

  6. Really like your list Brian some true greats there!

    My list:
    5. Lawrence Taylor – I love defence & he was one of the meanest
    4. Diego Maradona – could watch his solo effort against England in the 1986 World Cup over & over again
    3. Bo Jackson – because I didn’t know Bo
    2. Muhammad Ali – for he is the Greatest (after Mr. Edwards in my eyes) & oozed charisma
    1. Duncan Edwards – Manchester United; died at only 21 after the Munich Air Crash & thought to be the finest footballer of that generation. You only have to read what the best of that time say, to know he was something special

    • You have peaked my interest Andrew – I’m not familiar with Duncan Edwards or his story, but I’m going to read about him now. That’s one of the great things about interacting with people through the site, I get the chance to learn something too. Keep commenting Andrew, I really enjoyed your list. – Brian

    • Can’t believe I forgot him but he would slot in at my #2 position & knock Lawrence Taylor out of my top 5, and that would be the late great Ayrton Senna. Was a magician at the wheel of the car & seemingly made it dance around the track. Like Duncan Edwards stolen from us to soon. The documentary Senna is an amazing bit of work & you only have to look at this clip to know how special he was http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NeFqsWWG1qE

    • I’ve seen the Senna documentary it was fabulous. Tough to knock LT out of the top 5 though! – Brian

    • It is tough to knock him out but for me Senna does it! Just love the way he was always on the limit & his attitude to competitive racing. “First is everything. I don’t race to come third, fourth or fifth…if you no longer go for a gap then you’re no longer a racing driver”.

    • That’s a great quote Andrew – too bad he was taken from us too soon. – Brian

  7. First of all, excuse my English. Here’s my list:
    1. Magic Johnson. Jordan is the greatest to me, but my favourite is Earvin.
    2. Sebastian Coe. I am very fond of Athletics, and without Coe and Juantorena it wouldn’t be so keen on it.
    3. Mohammed Ali, he had something different.
    4. John McEnroe (I could see a 36 yrs old Bjorn Borg, and was enough to honoured the myth) and her magic touch volleying.
    5. Other sports. One of these: Maradona, Kempes, Rensenbrink (soccer-football); Jonathan Davies, Serge Blanco, John Kirwan (rugby); Lenísio, Jackson (futsal); Veselin Vujovic, Mile Isakovic (handball).
    Maybe next post could be the 5 greatest ever you have seen live.

    • Wow Jorge – a lot of international flavor there! You’ve given me a long list of people to learn about. I’ll tell you this, I grew up in Boston so I saw Magic live four times competing against the Celtics and Larry Bird, he was the type of transcendant player that you respected even if he routinely beat up on your team. – Brian

  8. 1. Gehrig
    2. Mays
    3. Koufax
    4. Bobby Orr
    5. Cobb

    • Nice list Brian – I grew up in Boston and am huge fan of Bobby Orr he’s one I should have included (matter of fact many of my Boston friends have been mad that I didn’t). I kind of had to choose between Russell and Orr, so I didn’t overload the list with Boston athletes, but you can’t really go wrong when you are deciding between those two transcendent athletes! I like the Mays call to, I sense you are a big baseball fan!


  9. 5. The Babe
    4. Ali.
    3. Pele.
    2. Wilt Chamberlain–He Was The Greatest
    1. Jim Thorpe.

    • Good stuff Peter – hard to argue with any of those, so many people have put Ali on their list I may have to adjust my thinking. I acknowledge he was a much better boxer than Tyson, but there was just something about Tyson the way he walked into the ring with a towel cut out over his head looking like he was going to destroy. That guy just amazed me in his hey-day.

      As I mentioned to someone earlier – The Babe would absolutely make my list of athletes I’d like to have a Beer with… maybe that’s a new post idea 😉

  10. My list has some on it that I saw play but not in their prime.
    1. Willie Mays (I saw him play against my Phils, but in 1971, when he was aging)
    2. Pele (again, saw him play but late in his career)
    3. Jackie Robinson (I ain’t that old)
    4. Gale Sayers
    5. Gordie Howe (again, saw him play, but he had gray hair)

    • DK you cheated! Just kidding – the fact you saw Pele, Mays and Howe play is a great story in itself. Did you see Pele with the Cosmos?

    • Yes, just a shell of himself. I saw some greats, but too late for them, and I was too young to really appreciate. That’s why my list is different. I wish I was older and they were younger. All the same, I know I was seeing the best. Willie didn’t hit a homer when I was there but Bobby (not Barry) Bonds did.

    • Good stuff DK – I always enjoy hearing about people’s real life sports experiences. – Brian

    • Amador Sanchez says

      1 – Roberto Clemente
      2 – Pete Rose
      3 – Dr. J
      4 – Jack Nicklaus
      5 – Nolan Ryan

    • Great list Amador – as I mentioned prior, I would have paid just to see Clemente throw the ball in from right field! Dr. J is another nice call, he was the first of a kind. Did you see how he can still dunk? Amazing! – Brian

  11. I have loved sports my entire life, thankfully I have been able to see quite a quite a few of the greatest ever. Growing up near St. Louis with a love of Baseball, I watched all the great NL players. Bob Gibson, Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, Clemente plus all the others. Lived in Chicago mid 80’s – now. From late 50’s – Now & what might be even better is meeting many of them in person without crowds, fans, reporters all wanting something. I was flying home after major surgeries, from playing the real life game; US Army Airborne Soldier. I was moved to 1st class due to two busted legs, my seatmate was Martina a great Tennis player. During our 4 hours we discussed some sports, yet it was just talking about her love for this country, traveling & food which I most enjoyed. I was waiting for my family at O’Hare airport one summer, when this guy stands waiting next to me both of us had jet lag & wanted to get home. A Charter bus pulls up, out comes College Cheerleaders after a camp, the guy standing next to me gives me a nudge in my side then says, Oh to be young again laughing the whole time. He had a golf cap on + dark sunglasses but his voice gave it away, here was Walter Payton next to me. We talked, joked about being young chasing a few skirts, great man. I won Sergeant/NCOIC of the year for Southern Europe (Italy, Turkey, Greece, Spain one year. Included was a trip to Berlin in the 80’s just after the Olympics before the wall came down. It was suppose to rain so several of us were waiting for a bus near the Zoo, I noticed that this tall man next to me was actually Edwin Moses who had won Gold only few days ago. The bus was due in 45 minutes, I asked Edwin Moses if he would let me buy him a Beer while waiting. We talked life, how unusual it was for a fellow American to recognize him. We ended up eating lunch while talking about goals, dreams each of us had. I have been very lucky in meeting famous, talented people so will stop with these. My top five to of seen in person play in their prime: 5-Pete “Pistol” Maravich; 4- Wayne Greztky; 3-Jim Brown; 2- Jesse Owens, especially at the Berlin Olympics; 1- JIM THORPE play Baseball, Football & of course his one Man Track & Field Dominance over the ENTIRE WORLD.

  12. Babe Didricksen Zaharias
    Babe Ruth
    Ty Cobb
    Jim Brown
    Jesse Owens

  13. Such an awesome discussion! My list would go like this:
    4-Steffi Graf
    3-Ted Williams
    1-Walter Payton

    • Desi – thanks for putting in your list! You’ve got some great one’s here, I was lucky enough to see Graf, MJ and Payton and they were all remarkable experiences. Ali and Ted Williams are incredible good calls – they would have been phenomenal! – Brian

  14. 1.) Satchel Paige
    2.) Babe Ruth
    3.) Ty Cobb
    4.) Jackie Robinson
    5.) Joe Jackson (in the 1919 World Series against the Cincinnati Reds)

  15. I loved looking at the above lists of Champions but I feel that it is a little biased towards Americans, Males and Major Sports like Baseball and Basketball. Being from Australia I think the lists should be a little more International and include some minor sports stars as well. There should be two list of 5 for Women and Men Champions I would have liked to see, so I have included them below.
    No. 5 Annika Sorenstam ( Golf- Sweden)
    This was a toss up between her and Mickey Wright but Annika record is unbeatable with 93 Professional wins (72 LPGA, 18 International, 3 others) !0 Majors and 8 times player of the year

    No. 4. Fanny Blankers-Koen (Athletics, Netherlands)
    She was named Top Female Athlete of the 20th Century by the IAAF in 1999 and was the first and only Athlete to win 4 gold medals at the one Olympics (1948) winning the 100, 200,metres sprints the 80 metres hurdles and the 4×100 relay, this feat has only been done by Jesse Owens(1936) and Carl Lewis (1984) Fanny went on to set a world record for the Pentathlon in 1951 and she set 7 world records in 7 events
    No.3. Heather (Blundell) McKay ( Squash, Australia)
    Heather is the greatest player to ever play the game male or female and she achieved something no other athlete has ever done she went unbeaten for 20 years between 1962 and 1981 winning every Major Championship which included 16 British Opens considered the Wimbledon of squash without dropping a game from 1962 to 1977. in her whole career she lost only 2 games. She also represented Australia in Hockey and Racquetball and was also a top flight tennis player, she was arguably Australia’s greatest sportswoman.

    No.2. Margaret (Smith) Court (Tennis, Australia)
    It was a toss up between Heather McKay or Margaret Court and I went for Margaret because she is world famous as the best women Tennis Player who ever played the game winning 24 Singles Grand Slams, 19 doubles Grand Slams and 19 mixed doubles Grand Slams a total of 62 Grand Slams. She and Steffi Graf are the only two women players to achieve the Yearly Grand Slam of winning all four Major Slams in a single year in fact Margaret completed the Boxed Set, the singles, doubles and mixed Titles at all four majors the French, Wimbledon, US Open and Australian Open. Margaret has dominated tennis more than any man has.
    No.1. Babe Didrikson Zaharias (Golf, Athletics, USA)
    Considered by most sports minded people to be the most versatile sportswoman ever, because she was a champion at every sport she played including an All American Basketball player, outstanding Baseball, Softball player, Tennis, Billiards, Diver and Ten Pin Bowler, however the Athletics and Golf were the Sports she is most famous for. In 1932 at the LA Olympics she won Gold Medals for the 80 metres Hurdles, the Javelin and Silver for the High Jump even though she finished equal first. She started Golf years later and won as an Amateur the US Amateur 1946-47 and the 1947 British Amateur before starting the LPGA circuit as a founding member where she won 82 events including 10 Majors plus 7 other Championships between 1947 to 1956 and won at one stage 14 tournaments in a row. Associated Press awarded her “Athlete of the Year” in 1932, 1945, 1946, 1947, 1950 and 1954. In 1950 she won all three US Majors as well being as the LPGA TOUR money winner, Unfortunately cancer ended her career in 1956 at the age of forty five.
    The Babe as she was known was inducted into both the Olympic Hall Of Fame and Golf Hall Of Fame.

    I will do the best 5 all time men tomorrow (TBC)

  16. 1. Bill Russell
    2. Jim Brown
    3. Jackie Robinson
    4. Mickey Mantle
    5. Wilt Chamberlain

    This is my first thought. I also like Musial and Gibson but such a cardinal fan, I thought I’d leave them off. Good question though

  17. Garry Spry says

    My top 5Champian Sportsmen I wish I had seen following on from my top 5 female sportswomen from yesterday were all arguably the very best in their sports ever and were in my opinion the greatest.
    No. 5. Rocky Marciano (Boxer-USA)
    The only ever undefeated undisputed Heavyweight Champion of the world holding all the crowns of boxing had 49 fights of which 46 were knockouts and he beat every fighter they threw at him including the Great Joe Lewis who himself was undefeated at the time when they fought and was up to then considered the Greatest Boxer, but even then his record couldn’t match Marciano’s. Even the Great Mohammed Ali was defeated 5 times in his 61 fights by various boxers in his career. There have been a lot of Champion Boxers but none as good as Rocky.

    No. 4. Carl Lewis (Athletics- USA)
    To me it was a toss up between Carl and Michael Phelps for number 3 or 4 but Phelps had the advantage of competing double the amount of events. For example Carl could only race in one 2oo metres individual race but, Phelps could compete in 5 individual races over 200 and whilst Carl could only compete in 4 events and Michael had 8 events., Carl won 9 Olympic Gold Medals, Michael won 18 both competing in 4 Olympic Games, however Carl Lewis in the Long Jump along with Discus thrower Al Oerter are the only Athletes to win the same event in 4 consecutive Olympics, but Carl also equalled the legendary Jesse Owens in winning the 100 and 200 metres, the Long Jump and the 4×100 metres relay in 1984 at the LA Olympics and in 1988 at Seoul he again won the 100 metres and the Long Jump, but he only received silver for the 200 metres. In 1992 at the Barcelona Olympics he won Gold in the Long Jump and Gold again in the 4 x100 relay team. At the Atlanta Olympics in 1996 at the age of 35 he again won the Long Jump proving to be the greatest Long Jumper ever with his record of 65 consecutive victories over 10 years is one of sports longest undefeated streaks. On top of his 10 Olympic Medals he won 10 World Championship Medals of which 8 are Gold and 1 silver and 1 Bronze. His Career spans from 1979 to 1996 and he could have won more medals had the Americans been allowed to compete at the banned 1980 Moscow Olympics never the less in that period he became the greatest Track and Field Athlete in history holding many world records.His accolades include being voted by the IAAF as “World Athlete of the Century”, “Sportsman of the Century” by the IOC, and “Olympian of the Century” by Sports Illustrated and their Athlete of the year in 1982-83-84.

    No. 3. Michael Phelps (Swimmer-USA)
    Beyond doubt the greatest swimmer the world has ever seen having won an amazing 18 Gold medals and 2 Silver and 2 Bronze medals in 4 Olympics and is considered the greatest Olympian with a total of 22 medals from 24 races. Winning 6 gold in Athens in 2004, 6 gold at Beijing in 2008 and 4 gold in London in 2012 and is still competing today hoping to compete at the Olympics in Brazil in 2016 which would be his fifth Olympics having competed as Sydney in 2000 as a 15 year old. Phelps also has set 8 world records in Olympic competition and 39 world records overall in his career with numerous other medals from the World Championships and Pan Pac’s as well.

    No. 2. Donald Bradman (Cricket- Australia)
    The most dominate Cricketer that has ever been, greater to the world of cricket than Babe Ruth was to Baseball or Jordon to Basketball. The Don as he was called was the greatest Batsman to play the game by a mile and his batting average of 99.94 runs per innings in Test Matches against other country’s is nearly 35 runs per innings more than the second best batsmen. Most great batsmen average between 50 to 55 runs an innings and very few achieve that. If Bradman had made just 6 more runs in his last innings in his last match he would have had an average of 100. Most teams make around 300 runs in a day between 11 players The Don made that amount by himself in a day on several occasions and his highest Test score was 334 runs in a Test Match and 452 in a first class State Match. The Don hit 29 centuries in less games than any other player in history and scored 6996 runs in 52 Test Matches and overall scored 28,067 runs in 234 matches with 117 centuries at an average of 95.14 runs. He Captained Australia to many victories between 1936 to 1948 an they played less test matches then than they do today. So good was he that England conceived the Bodyline a controversial plan to bowl fast at his body with full tosses to intimate and scare him to curb his scoring (that’s the equivalent to pitching at his body and not over the plate in Baseball) but that didn’t stop him or his team and later they became known as the Invincible’s . He made his Test Debut at 20 years of age in 1928 and played his last in 1948. Sir Donald Bradman was knighted in 1949 and his achievements are often cited as the greatest by any sportsman in any major sport in the world and he will be forever known as the Icon of Australian Sport.

    No. 1. Jim Thorpe (Athletics, Baseball, American Football, Basketball- USA)
    The most versatile athlete ever is my choice of the number one greatest sportsman that I would have loved to see and spoken to, he may not have been the best at any sport but he certainly was great at everything he competed in, from a young age at High School, in College, right to the day he retired from Pro Sport.
    James (Jim) Thorpe was a Native American Indian of the Sac& Fox Tribe with mixed European Ancestry born in 1988 in Oklahoma and in 1908, 1909 1910 he was selected as “All American” and at the age of 24 he was selected in the American Olympic Team for the 1912 Olympics in Stockholm and blew away the competition to win Gold Medals for both the Pentathlon (5 events, Swimming, Running, Fencing, Shooting and Horse Riding) and Decathlon (10 events- 100 Metres Sprint, Long Jump, Shot Put, High Jump, 400 Metres Run and 110 Metres Hurdles, Discus, Pole Vault, Javelin, and 1500 metres Run, all over two days) and set records that would stand for decades and he is still the only man ever to achieve winning both.
    After the Olympics he moved on to play Baseball with the New York Giants for 3 seasons before moving to the Cincinnati Reds in 1917 then returning to the Giants in 1918 finally playing his last season with the Boston Braves team in 1919. During much of his Baseball years he was also playing Professional American Football with Canton (Ohio) Bulldogs from 1915 to 1920 before joining the Cleveland Indians in 1921. Thorpe played with 6 different teams during his Professional Football career ending with the Chicago Cardinals in 1929. In 1950 the Associated Press bestowed on him two monumental honours The Greatest American Football Player and the Greatest Overall Male Athlete, other awards he has received were the “NFL 1920’s”All Decade Team” and the NFL’s 50th Anniversary All Time Team. In 1951 Thorpe was inducted into “The College Football Hall of Fame” and in 1963 he was inducted into “The Professional Football Hall of Fame”. In 1950 he was awarded “The National Press Award” for the “Most Outstanding Athlete” for the first half of the 20th century. But perhaps the ABC in 2001 summed it up when they voted him out of 15 contenders (including Ruth, Ali, Pele, Nicklaus, Gretzky, Lewis, Jordan and others)
    and awarded it to Jim Thorpe “The Greatest Athlete of the 20th Century”. and you know what, I concur.

  18. 1. Gale Sayers – the most beautiful runner on film
    2. Ted Williams – incredible combination of power and average
    3. Shoeless Joe Jackson – need to decide for myself – did he/didn’t he
    4. Walter Johnson – how hard did he really throw?
    5. Larry Doby – 2nd African American to play in the majors (just 10 weeks behind #42), more HR and RBI than Jackie Robinson, siven time all-star, never named on more than 3.4% of Hall of Fame Ballots. Someone needs to cheer for him.

  19. 5. Chad Ochocinco
    4. Greg Oden
    3. O.J. Simpson
    2. Michael Jordan (baseball)
    1. JaMarcus Russell