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Tywin et al.

Athletic Debate: Who Is The Greatest Of All Time?

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This seems like a fun topic since this is an international forum. There are no rules as to who you choose. Any sport is fair game, and you can post multiple athletes if your choice is defeated. There are probably no right answers, but there sure are a lot of wrong ones. Go!

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So I will start with my first choice: Jim Thorpe. Thorpe was a two time gold medalist at the Olympics, a multi-sport pro-athlete and a co-founder of the NFL. As he aged he could still crush young up and coming athletes in basically every sport, and maybe most impressively, his measurables from over 100 years ago stand up with current Olympians despite not having any of the advantages of today's athletes. On top of that, there are two funny stories that make me want to pick him. First, at the 1912 Olympics, Thorpe walked in on a ton of fellow Olympians trying to snatch something off of a very high chandelier. They kept putting money into a hat to take another shot, but they all kept failing. Thorpe walked over, paid his money and effortlessly grabbed it on the first try, picked up the hat full of money and left the room. That's so gangster. The other one is with a single hit, he ended the football career of Dwight Eisenhower. 

Jim Thorpe: G.O.A.T.

 

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10 minutes ago, polishgenius said:

Statistically, it's Don Bradman, who could have given up a third of his runs and still be easily the greatest batsman who ever lived.

I figured he would come up, but was his impact as great? I'd say no. Sometimes it's more than just the game, hence why Ali is called the GOAT even though he isn't the best boxer.

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Can of worms, crack open and .....some are more my list of favorites probably than truly greatest

I will only go by those I have personally seen play, and this is my list(Mt. Rushmore style) so it's just my opinion and fuck you if you just want to argue and tell me my list sucks. My list will have a bit of a local lean to it, Michigan.

NFL   QB - Brady - PFM - Montana and I guess Elway. I want to put Aikman here but I know I am strongly biased, I just think he was a better field leader.

RB - Payton - Sanders - Smith - Peterson (?)

WR - Rice - Moss - don't care enough!

Def - L Taylor - D Sanders - R Lewis - D Thomas 

NCAAF - Charles Woodson - D Howard - Anthony Carter - Ty Law and somewhat Tom Brady though he barely played. BTW this is just Michigan list 

MLB    Trout - M Cabrera - G Maddox - 

NBA  Jordon - Magic - Bird - LeBron. Gonna throw D Rodman in there just because it's my list and I can.

NHL Gretzky - Yzerman - Lidstrom - and that bitch on the Penguins who cries a lot

Olympics -  Phelps - S Biles - lol...Caitlyn Jenner

Boxing - Tyson 

MMA - LIddell - JPP - McGregor

What was this about again, think i got lost somewhere in here.

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17 minutes ago, Tywin et al. said:

I figured he would come up, but was his impact as great? I'd say no. Sometimes it's more than just the game, hence why Ali is called the GOAT even though he isn't the best boxer.



As great in what sense? I mean if we're talking impact on the world at large there's only one answer and it is Ali.

But if we're talking impact on the sport he was partaking in (though bearing in mind I don't even like cricket so my knowledge isn't deep on this) changed the way cricket is played in terms of teams trying to deal with him, leading to an enormous controversy around Bodyline bowling, and also was as far as I can tell a truly enormous star at the time. In those things he certainly wouldn't be the only runner but he's in the conversation.


But even if you set all that aside, note that I did say 'statistically', and in that arena, it's pretty much unquestionable. The quote in the article I linked about it being the most outsize talent in the history of human achievemnt is a bit hyperbolic, but I certainly can't think of anything else where achievement can be directly measured where anyone has even come close to being as much better at doing a thing than everyone else who has ever done that thing.


 

21 minutes ago, dbunting said:

MMA - LIddell - JPP - McGregor

Who's JPP? As a fairly new watcher of MMA, am I missing someone obvious here? A google search of that tells me GSP but gives absolutely not reason as to why he'd be JPP...


Also Jose Aldo is the Goatiest MMA fighter for me.



For boxing: I can't and don't argue with all the boxing historians who say SRR or Harry Greb are the greatest, but for me personally it's Roberto Duran, a perfect combination of unbelievable technique and being an absolute loon. And the most gifted is Roy Jones Jr, just a shame he never really got the fights to nail down his place in the pantheon.

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Baseball.... I'm going with Willie Mays... my logic is that Babe Ruth only played against white guys, and Barry Bonds played in an expanded league where many of the pitchers he faced would not have been in the major leagues during May's time... plus Mays was an amazing center fielder, 5 tool guy

Football, is tough because how does one compare a QB to a defensive end?... so I'll just say that Jim Brown on offense, and Lawrence Taylor on defense were the two most dominant players... 

Hockey... I'll say Gretzky --I know, obvious choice-- but he was insanely good... with all due respect to the great Bobby Orr....

Basketball, as much as my heart says Magic Johnson --the only person who legitimately could play all 5 positions on the court... I'll go with Jordan over LaBron.... with a serious nod to Oscar Robertson

Boxing... All I'll say is "Ali Boma ye"

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Is this a GOAT debate or who's the most athletic debate?........ I'll go with most athletic; Jim Thorpe was a good one, dominant in multiple sports during his time. I'll add Bo Jackson and Deion Sanders, both freak athletes, Jordan's obviously another one. Today's athletes are easy, LeBron could play any professional sport and probably be the best, football, baseball, soccer, golf.  OBJ, another freak athlete.

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6 hours ago, polishgenius said:

Who's JPP? As a fairly new watcher of MMA, am I missing someone obvious here? A google search of that tells me GSP but gives absolutely not reason as to why he'd be JPP...
 

Lol....yeah had football on my mind, GSP.  Also love the Roy Jones as a all time great boxer.

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It's Don Bradman. The guy was simply so far beyond anyone else in the history of the game - he was a complete and utter freak, and I honestly think you'd struggle to find any equivalent in any other sport.

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I am not athletic type, I don't follow sports regularly, but there is only one sportsman I ever wanted to be and that is Roger Federer. And that is what makes me my GOAT.

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40 minutes ago, Risto said:

I am not athletic type, I don't follow sports regularly, but there is only one sportsman I ever wanted to be and that is Roger Federer. And that is what makes me my GOAT.

Agreed!

I will also nominate Usain Bolt, the fastest man that ever lived. When I saw him live, it was unbelievable the way he moved.

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IIRC, last time we had this discussion, Bradman won with Gretzky comign second; mostly from people who don't know what cricket is.

 

Any objective measure puts Bradman top; by a country mile

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Ned Hanlan. Probably the greatest rower of all time. Up here in Toronto we have a nude beach named after him. 

Tom Longboat. Greatest long distance runner ever. 

Gordie Howe. NHL. When Lebron can play in the NBA in his fifties he can be the greatest in his sport. 

Babe Ruth. Coincidently he hit his first home run in pro ball where Ned Hanlan used to row. 

 

 

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9 hours ago, the Greenleif Stark said:

Today's athletes are easy, LeBron could play any professional sport and probably be the best, football, baseball, soccer, golf.

That's nuts by the way if you're being serious. He's extremely athletic but football (soccer), baseball and golf are predominantly skill sports it's not at all clear he has the requisite skill sets to be anywhere near professional level at, let alone probably be the best.

Soccer especially he doesn't really have the body type usually associated with the very best players (it's a bit of a stereotype but guys as big as him are probably going to end up goalkeepers or maybe centre backs and nobody's going to call players in those positions the best players in the sport). On top of that you have to be both fantastically naturally talented and pretty much dedicate your life to the sport from an early age to reach the very, very top level.

American football he probably could be really good in many positions but with the nature of the sport can you really be the best without being a quarterback? Again that's a position that's not really primarily down to athleticism.

If I was going to pick the best modern sportsman it'd have to be Messi for me. He's the best player in by far the biggest sport and there's a decent argument he's the best ever.

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12 hours ago, polishgenius said:

Statistically, it's Don Bradman, who could have given up a third of his runs and still be easily the greatest batsman who ever lived.

I know absolutely nothing about cricket but yeah that 99.94 average is insane.  I don't even get how that's possible.  Still, you could make an argument that Ruth's home run prowess was just as outsized compared to the competition at the time.  The previous single season home run record was 27 when Ruth beat it with 29 in 1919, then 54 in 1920, then 59 in 1921 - over twice the previous record.  To a lesser extent you could also argue (and my prior is one could also statistically demonstrate) Chamberlain's scoring was multiple standard deviations above the league average.  His 50.4 PPG average in 1961-62 is obviously twice as good as an elite player to this day, and in his first 9 seasons he averaged between 30 and 50 points per game.  His career rebounding numbers - 22.9 per game - are also about twice as much a regular elite rebounder - although Russell's were just as dominant.

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7 minutes ago, DMC said:

I know absolutely nothing about cricket but yeah that 99.94 average is insane.  I don't even get how that's possible.  Still, you could make an argument that Ruth's home run prowess was just as outsized compared to the competition at the time.  The previous single season home run record was 27 when Ruth beat it with 29 in 1919, then 54 in 1920, then 59 in 1921 - over twice the previous record. 

What's interesting about Bradman's record is that in a lot of sports standards have generally been going up fairly consistently with improvements around professionalism, fitness etc. That's why I'd consider Messi probably the best football players ever; football now is probably at the highest standard it's ever been at. It's not clear cut but I think you can make a reasonable argument batting in cricket is easier that it was when Bradman with playing with the addition of helmets, pitches better designed for batting (and covered) and a few other changes in the rules.

I'm not an expert on baseball but apparently 1920 was the start of the liveball era which probably factored into Ruth's jump (admittedly from already having the record) to being so much better.

 

 

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9 minutes ago, ljkeane said:

I'm not an expert on baseball but apparently 1920 was the start of the liveball era which probably factored into Ruth's jump (admittedly from already having the record) to being so much better.

Well, the counter-argument to that is Ruth's home run hitting was the catalyst for the end of the dead ball era - as his performance was clearly influential in rule changes including outlawing the spit ball and not using the same ball for the entire game.

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