After TheUndefeated released such a poor list of “The 50 Greatest Black Athletes of All-Time”–which had Steph Curry ahead of LeBron James– I thought it fit to make a list of the 10 greatest sportsmen. And no, I will not be discriminating by skin color.
The ranking isn’t based on who’s the most athletic, but who’s the best in their respective sports. The ultimate list of the world’s most skilled athletes.
DISCLAIMER: I left athletes who participate in individual sports of the list. I’m not immersed in those sports the way I am with team sports, and am unqualified to rank those athletes. Omitting individual athletes actually made the ranking a whole lot easier.
#10.) Clayton Kershaw
The best pitcher in baseball for six years now. No if ands or buts about it. He’s finished top-5 in Cy Young voting each of the past six seasons–winnning three of them– and will likely take the crown again this year, despite missing significant time.
His ERA has been sub-3 in each the nine seasons since his rookie year, and he’s had a sub-2 ERA in three separate seasons, and may do it again this season.
The only reason he’s so low on the list is due to his postseason struggles. If he leads his MLB-best Dodgers to World Series crown this season, he’ll have a legitimate shout for top-5 status.
#9.) Steph Curry
The greatest shooter of all-time, the first ever unanimous MVP, the guy who revolutionized the three-point shot, the list goes on. Since the era of Michael Jordan, there’s only one player that’s arguably changed the game as much as Curry, and that’s LeBron James.
Before Curry, the trend for NBA offenses was the run-n-gun style of Steve Nash and the Suns. Now, the trend for almost all NBA offenses is the 3-ball. Live by the three, die by the three is the new motto across the league, which is no small part due to Curry.
Steph’s best season came in 2015-16′, of course, where he averaged 31 points, 7 assists, and 6 rebounds on 67% true shooting, despite sitting out countless 4th quarters. Absolutely absurd.
#8.) Connor McDavid
Imagine an NBA rookie came into the league, got hurt halfway through his inaugural season, came back the next year, and had a better season than LeBron James. That was essentially what Connor McDavid did last season in the NHL.
Hyped like no other hockey player ever was before, McDavid, coming off an injury, produced the gold standard of hockey seasons–the 100-point year. He led the league in the most important stat while playing most of the season as a teenager. Needless to say, he could potentially be one of the all-time greats.
#7.) Kevin Durant
KD has been teetering on the edge of the ten best sportsmen for quite some time, but was able to crack the top-10 with his performance in the 2017 Finals.
Call him weak, call him spineless if you please, but you must also call him a champion. His 28.8 points per game in the Finals for his career puts him fourth all-time, behind Michael Jordan, Allen Iverson, and Jerry West, and one in front of LeBron James.
He also has four scoring titles, a Finals MVP, and regular season MVP to his name. KD’s more than deserving of the #7 slot.
#6.) Tom Brady
Brady has been at the head of the longest-lasting, and possibly best, dynasty the NFL has ever seen.
Brady’s Patriots have made the playoffs in 14 consecutive seasons with him at the helm, winning 5 titles in that time frame. He’s been a model of excellence all of those years, and has been a consensus top-3 quarterback in the league for over a decade.
He almost pulled off the impossible in 2007, and was a David Tyree catch away from a perfect 19-0 season. I still consider that the best season of all-time for a quarterback.
#5.) Sidney Crosby
For as dominant as LeBron James has been in the NBA, and Tom Brady has been in the NFL, Crosby has been just as dominant for just as long of a period in the NHL.
A three-time Stanley Cup winner and a two-time Hart Memorial Trophy Winner (MVP), it’s incredible to think that three of his prime years were cut short to due concussions. He could’ve had even more accolades, and added to his ridiculous point totals.
#4.) Mike Trout
At 26 years old, Mike Trout has more top-2 MVP finishes than Mickey Mantle. No, that’s not a typo. He’s had the misfortunate of playing in the same league as Miguel Cabrera during his reign, but his numbers speak for themselves.
He’s hit over .315 in 4 of the past 6 seasons, and has consistently knocked 30+ out of the yard. He’s only getting better, too, and if his current season wasn’t cut short by injury, his .350 average would be more than enough to make him the runaway MVP.
#3.) Cristiano Ronaldo
A goal-scoring machine. With Real Madrid, CR7 has more goals than appearances. If we didn’t live in the age of Lionel Messi, that would’ve been absolutely unheard of.
To put his goal tally in perspective, the Brazilian Ronaldo (R9)–who many cite as the best striker in history– scored 83 goals in 127 appearances with Real Madrid. Cristiano, as winger, has 285 goals in 265 appearances with Real Madrid.
Again, if we didn’t live in the era of Messi, most of us would consider Cristiano Ronaldo the greatest of all-time.
#2.) LeBron James
There’s not much left to same about this guy, so I won’t say it.
#1.) Lionel Messi
In football, there’s three main pillars of attack: goal-scoring, playmaking, and dribbling. Usually, a player specializes in one of the three. CR7 specializes in goal-scoring. Mesut Özil specializes in playmaking. Eden Hazard specializes in dribbling.
Lionel Messi is the best in the world at all three. Enjoy him while you can.