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Old 02-28-2011, 12:17 AM
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Default Finals: Topic #2 - Greatest Athlete

Sorry for the delay. Got caught up in the tournament a bit this weekend.

The same scoring system will be in effect as before. As usual, four days per topic so the deadline for this is Thursday. I won't be revealing the scores until the topics are done.

Leading off is Big Sexy.

Topic:Who is the greatest athlete of all time? The criteria is up to you and you'll be graded on your overall argument as well as comparisons to other arguments.

Go.
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Old 02-28-2011, 02:04 AM
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When it comes to the question of greatest athlete of all time many names come to mind. Deion Sanders, Jim Brown, Babe Ruth, Muhammed Ali, Jackie Robinson, but the name that is above them all is that of Michael Jordan. Michael Jordan is not only the greatest basketball player of all time but he is also the greatest athlete of all time.

Accomplishments

We will start with college where as a Freshman at North Carolina he helped the Tar Heels win the National Championship by hitting the game winning shot in the championship game. In his Junior and final year at North Carolina he cleaned up with some of the most prestigious awards such as Naismith College Player of the Year Award, John R. Wooden Award, and the Adolph Rupp trophy.

In the NBA he was a 6 time NBA Champion, 6 time finals MVP, 5 time regular season MVP, 10 time scoring champion, 14 time NBA all star, and a 1 time Defensive Player of the Year. He and his Chicago Bulls were virtually unstoppable in the 90's.

In International play he was a 2 time Olympic Gold Medalist in 1984 and 1992. The Gold Medal that he won in 84 was when he was a part of an all college player led team so unlike the Dream Team, victory wasn't a guarantee.

I just scratched the surface of all his accomplishments if you'd like to see them all and all of his records then here you go: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of...Jordan#College

Athletic Prowess

Michael Jordan was an athlete in the truest sense of the word. He had strength, endurance, agility, and speed that was almost unmatched. He could score inside and outside, he had the speed to defend the smaller guards and the strength to hold his own against some of the bigger guards and small forwards. He could also jump out of the gym and when he was in the air he seemed to float for what seemed like an eternity. That ability helped him become a 2 time dunk champion and it helped him pull off some of the most amazing plays in NBA history.

Another thing that shows Jordan's great athletic prowess is the fact that he was actually able to just stop playing basketball abruptly in the prime of his career and go play minor league baseball. Now I'm not going to sit here and say he was some great baseball player but the fact that he was able to go out and play a game that he hadn't played since age 12 and look competent doing it is nothing short of remarkable. He was 31 when he signed the contract with the White Sox meaning he hadn't played baseball in 19 years. No normal human being can just pick up a sport after not playing it for 19 years and then all of the sudden be competing at one of the highest levels in the world. Yes, it was just Double A ball but I can't think of any other athlete that could have done what he did.

One final thing I'd like to discuss that show his great athletic prowess was his second NBA comeback with the Washington Wizards. In 2001-2002 at the age of 38 Michael Jordan came back to play for the Wizards. He hadn't played an NBA game in nearly 4 years and was obviously up in age at 38 but he still played at an extremely high level. In his first season back he played in 60 games, averaged 35 minutes per game, 23 points per game, 5.7 rebounds per game, 5.2 assists per game, and 1.4 steals per game. His next season at age 39 (he turned 40 half way through the season), Jordan was even more impressive. He played in all 82 games, averaged 37 mpg, 20 ppg, 6.1 rpg, 3.8 apg, 1.5 spg, and he shot 44.5% from the field which was a 3% increase from the previous year. MJ scored over 40 points three times that season and on February 21, 2003 he became the first 40 year old to ever score 43 points or more in a game. The man was 40 years old and still one of the better players in the league.

Legacy

A group of journalists for ESPN named Jordan the greatest North American Athlete of the 20th Century. http://espn.go.com/sportscentury/athletes.html
Larry Bird once referred to him as "God disguised as Michael Jordan." He was not only the best offensive player in NBA history but you'd be hard pressed to find a better defender in the history of the league. He played to almost perfection on both ends of the court. He was a winner, a great leader, one of the most competitive players to ever play the game, had a work ethic that was nearly unmatched, and he is the most clutch player in NBA history. In his final NBA game against the 76ers in Philadelphia, Michel Jordan left the game late in the third quarter. He had planned on staying out the rest of the game because it was out of reach but early in the 4th quarter "We want Mike" chants started in the arena. Late in the 4th he gave into the pressure from the fans and returned to the game. He was intentionally fouled with 1:45 to play and he calmly went to the free throw line and sank two free throws. Seconds later a Philly player was intentionally fouled, stopping the clock and allowing Michael to leave the game. For three minutes his teammates, opponents, officials, and the fans in attendance gave him a standing ovation. Remember, this is Philadelphia we are talking about. They boo Santa Clause. It was a testament to how great Michael Jordan truly was.

Close

Michael Jordan is the greatest athlete of all time. His accomplishments, athletic prowess, and legacy are unmatched by no other athlete. From fans, to opponents, to his teammates you will not get an argument from any of them on who the greatest basketball player of all time is and if you asked them is "Michael Jordan the greatest athlete period?" you'd probably be hard pressed to find many people who'd disagree. He goes by many names, "Air Jordan," "His Airness," "MJ," or simple "Mike." However, I'd like to add another name to that list, "Greatest Athlete to Ever Live."
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Old 02-28-2011, 07:41 AM
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Another interesting topic and of course another excellent opening post, this time from Big Sexy. But just like last round, Big Sexy should receive the "close but no cigar" award for picking a superbly gifted athlete, probably the second greatest ever, but in the end, he forgot one important person. The greatest athlete of all time is Tiger Woods.

In assessing the designation of the greatest athlete of all time, and who it pertains to, we need to look at it from a number of perspectives.

The player in question must be tremendously gifted physically. He must possess the attributes of strength, endurance, the ability to play through injury or to recover from injury, and flexibility/agility. The athlete in question must play his respective sport at an extremely high level physically as compared to his current peers as well as those who preceded him.

Over and above physical strength, the athlete in question must be mentally tough. He must consistently show the ability to play the game with ice water in his veins, while those around him are faltering and succumbing to the intense pressure that they all face. They must be able to face adversity and meet it head on, and rather than cower from it and be intimidated by it. They must be mentally strong enough to be able to play with the lead, without faltering, or "choking" as some would say. Likewise,they must be able to come from behind, and be mentally strong enough to make a push, like a predator, while his prey is withering under the same pressure.

They need to be psychologically tough, which is similar to, but exactly the same as, the last paragraph. The killer instinct, the ability to go for the jugular when they are in a position to do so, this is something that not all athletes possess. Meanwhile, they have to be psychologically tough enough to resist their opponent's attempt to do the same.

They must have dominated their sport in terms of awards and accolades. They must have won frequently and dominated their sport, from an early standpoint, right on through their professional careers. For Tiger Woods and professional golf, you need to have won awards and accolades at a torrid pace. Grand Slam victories must have been amassed frequently and in high numbers. Regular tour wins must have been as well. Success in general must have been commonplace for the athlete, to the point that every time he competes in his sport, he has to be feared and seen as the most significant person there, the one to beat.

The athlete in question needs to have broad appeal. Not only must he be well known in his particular sport, but he must be well know beyond it. He needs to be a household name on an international stage, someone who transcends the sport, someone who can be identified with one name, one word. Say the name Tiger, and everyone across the globe knows exactly who you are talking about.

The athlete must be marketable. This in and of itself is not crucial, but it relates to the international appeal as above. Attach his guy's name, his face, to anything,anywhere, anyone, and he is well known.

One factor that can be considered is the whole aspect of team game versus individual performance. Golf is, of course, an individual sport, whereby your successes and failures come down to you and you alone, there is no teammate to pick up your slack. If you have an off day, you don't have a teammate behind you to cover up your difficulties. You are in the spotlight, yourself. This is different from team sports. Tiger Woods does not have a Scottie Pippen or a Dennis Rodman to fall back upon.

The greatest athlete of all time has to be someone who, when all is said and done, has left a lasting and impressive legacy in his sport. When his time has come and he calls it quits, he will never be forgotten. His accomplishments must be significant enough to withstand the test of time.

Sure, Tiger Woods has fallen on hard times lately, and I do plan on discussing this. In the end, I will maintain that this is irrelevant to the question at hand.

My plan is to discuss all of this in detail, however at the moment, time is somewhat of the essence and I do not have sufficient time to get into the details to the extent that I likely will later today. This post has been intended to be bare bones only, putting my sentiments out there, with the justification of it all to come later today in subsequent posts. To be honest, I see Tiger Woods as being the clear and obvious choice in this one, and I wanted to select him before one of my fellow debaters beat me to it. Big Sexy had the opportunity to select Woods ahead of me, and thankfully he erred by not doing so. This post was intended to make him my selection before LSN80 beat me to it. I consider myself lucky that one of my esteemed fellow debaters made the mistake of bypassing on Tiger Woods and I did not want to chance this happening a second time. Tiger Woods is so clearly the correct choice here that if LSN80 had beaten me to it, anyone else I could have chosen would pale in comparison, making this debate much more of an uphill battle. I will be back later today to elaborate on my positions which I briefly touched on here, and to show you with conviction and certainty why Tiger Woods is clearly, the greatest athlete of all time.
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Old 02-28-2011, 09:41 AM
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When truly determining the greatest athlete of all time, I think it's most important that a set of criteria be established for said task. While there's so much ambiguity within different sports fan and journalists alike as to said criteria, there are some that are musts. Statistical dominance for me is a must. Pure athletic ability is another criteria that must be discussed. Finally, defining moments within the context of their sport is highly important. Based upon the criteria I used, it's easy to determine said athlete. With all due respect to Michael Jordan and Tiger Woods, Mario Lemieux is the greatest athlete of all time.

Statistical Accompishments and dominance:

I emphasize both because Mario Lemiuex, translated "The Magnificent One", demonstrated each throughout his career with the Pittsburgh Penguins. Dating back to 1984-85, Lemieux was the universal Rookie of the Year, not only within the NHL, but as named by the Sporting News as well. Lemiuex scored a goal on his first shot in his first game, the only player to ever accomplish this feat. That same year, as a rookie, he was named the All-Star game MVP. This was at a time in which greats such as Wayne Gretzky, Ray Bourque, Jari Kurri, and Mark Messier were at their peak, and yet Lemiuex bested them. He was and is the only rookie of all time to be named All Star Game MVP. When he retired, Lemieux was a 13 time All-Star, which happens to be the number of seasons in which he played. No other player in the history of the sport has accomplished this feat.

Despite never playing in a full season due to injury and illness, Lemiuex lead the league in scoring six times, was a 3 time league MVP, and holds the NHL record for points per game at 2.03, ahead of Gretzky's 1.92. Lemieux also lead the Penguins to back to back Stanley Cups in the 1990-1991 and 1991-1992 seasons. The second Cup is that of legend, as Lemieux had a back injury so severe that he was urged not to play in the Finals by his doctors, yet he lead his team in scoring and won both the Conn Smythe(playoff MVP) and Art Ross(season MVP) trophies despite said bad back that limited him to only 64 games. Despite missing 18 games, he lead the league in scoring, and besting greats such as Gretzky and Ray Bourque. In 20007, upon his retirement, Lemieux currently stands as the only player elected into the HOFwithout having to wait the mandatory 3 year period. A full list of achievements for the greatest player of all time can be found here. http://www.hockey-reference.com/play...lemiema01.html

Athletic Prowess:

Mario had the unlikely combination of size, finesse, and skating ability. Combine this with his speed, stickhandling, and size, and he was not only the ideal hockey player, but the ideal athlete. . He could outskate opponents with his speed, deke them with his stickhandling, and check them with his size. He was a phenomenal defensive player as well, as he set the NHL record that stands until today with 13 shorthanded goals in 1998-99. Not only was Mario athletically gifted, he displayed aan unmatched prowess for the intangibles of the game that have gone unmatched until this day.

Defining Moments:

Lemiuex had no shortage of these as well. His first defining moment, as mentioned earlier, was when he scored a goal on his first shot during his first shift in first game in the NHL. Lemieux lead the Penguins to back-to back Stanley Cups in 91 and 92, the second while on a back so bad he could barely lace up his skates. On this bad back his doctors urged him not to play on, he scored perhaps the greatest goal in NHL history here.



Above all of this may have been Lemiuex's comeback from Hodgkin's disease. He wasn't just stopping his career in 1993 to pursue other interests, he stopped it in order to undergo treatment for cancer. Despite coming down with cancer, Lemiuex returned two months later, flying to Philadelphia to play in a game the same day he received radiation treatment. Not only this, but he received a standing ovation from Flyers fans, with whom the Penguins shared a longstanding and bitter rivalry. He added a goal and an assist that game, and despite missing those games, he inconceivably lead the NHL in scoring that year. If that doesn't define an athlete and attest to his greatness as an athlete, I don't know what does. The year in which he retired for the first time in 1997, he lead the NHL in scoring. His final game upon his first retirement in 1997 was also in Philadelphia, in which he also earned a standing ovation.

Lemieux made a return to the ice almost three years later, this time as both owner and player. Lemiuex became the first player to also serve as owner of his team as well, as he had bought them out of bankruptcy and forfeited some 30 million in back pay he was owed in doing so. As for his return in December of 2000? He only assisted on a goal on his first shift, and added a goal and an assist. Find me another player who could step away from his sport for almost three years and contribute that way? What's even more unfathomable is that Lemieux again lead the league in points per game that year, after 3 years away. When he retired again in 2006, it was only after injury after injury and a heart defect. The year he retired? He was leading the league in scoring that year as well. All of these moments, greater then any other, serve as further proof that Lemieux is the greatest athlete of all time.

Conclusion:

There is no doubt that Lemiuex is not only the greatest hockey player of all time, but that "Super Mario" is the greatest athlete of all time. His statistical dominance is topped off by him being the all-time leader in points per game. "The Magnificent One's" athletic prowess was unmatched, as his speed, size, strength and hand-eye coordination have yet to be topped. I only touched on the tip of the iceburg with regards to his accomplishments and achievements, both on and off the ice. Finally, no player in the history of a sport has had more defining moments. His comeback from cancer to lead the NHL in scoring despite missing two months is something of legend. His heroics in leading the Penguins to back-to back Stanley Cups when he couldn't even tie his own skates is astounding. His greatness despite this is evidenced in the video above, perhaps the greatest goal ever scored. His return from retirement after three years away due to multiple injuries(not just pursuing another sport or marital inbfidelity) at the same level he left is absurd. His unselfishness in deferring $30 million in salary to save the team and become the only player/owner in league history is further testament to his intangibles. When you combine everything, there is no doubt that Mario Lemiuex is the greatest athlete of all time.
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Old 02-28-2011, 12:51 PM
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Originally Posted by hatehabsforever View Post
Another interesting topic and of course another excellent opening post, this time from Big Sexy. But just like last round, Big Sexy should receive the "close but no cigar" award for picking a superbly gifted athlete, probably the second greatest ever, but in the end, he forgot one important person. The greatest athlete of all time is Tiger Woods.
No offense to Tiger Woods as he is a tremendous athlete but I just don't see how a professional golfer could be considered the greatest athlete ever. Golf is a tough sport to play skill wise, I sure as fuck suck at it, but in terms of athletic ability you aren't exactly getting top of the line athletes out there all the time, eg. John Daly. Woods is obviously a superior athlete to most of his colleagues but still not nearly the athlete of a guy like Michael Jordan. You're not going to see Tiger Woods being able to have any type of success in any other sport.


Quote:
The player in question must be tremendously gifted physically. He must possess the attributes of strength, endurance, the ability to play through injury or to recover from injury, and flexibility/agility. The athlete in question must play his respective sport at an extremely high level physically as compared to his current peers as well as those who preceded him.
You just described Michael Jordan perfectly. He was tremendously gifted, physically rarely injured, and obviously played his sport better then any player before or after him. Let's also not forget Jordan's amazing performance in game 5 of the NBA Finals in 1997. The series was tied 2-2 and game 5 was pivotal. The day before the game MJ woke up in his hotel room sweating profusely and he could barely move. He was examined by medical staff and it was said there was no way he could play in game 5. The next day while still suffering from the illness, MJ decided he was going to play. Scottie Pippen said he didn't even think Jordan could put his uniform on let alone play. MJ not only played be he played remarkably. Utah had a 17 point lead at one point yet Jordan was able to lead them back. He scored 38 points in the game and the Bulls ended up winning. Had MJ not played the Bulls would have certainly lost and been forced to win two straight to win the NBA title.

Quote:
Over and above physical strength, the athlete in question must be mentally tough. He must consistently show the ability to play the game with ice water in his veins, while those around him are faltering and succumbing to the intense pressure that they all face. They must be able to face adversity and meet it head on, and rather than cower from it and be intimidated by it. They must be mentally strong enough to be able to play with the lead, without faltering, or "choking" as some would say. Likewise,they must be able to come from behind, and be mentally strong enough to make a push, like a predator, while his prey is withering under the same pressure.
Michael Jordan NEVER choked and he hit a plentiful amount of game winning shots in his career. As long as MJ was on the floor his team always had a chance to win. In just Jordan's second NBA season he led a below average Bulls team in the playoffs against one of the best teams in NBA history in the 85-86 Boston Celtics. Even though Jordan had missed most of the regular season (the only full season in Chicago he didn't play at least 78 games) he returned for the playoffs and in game two of the series he scored 63 points against the eventual champs and almost single-handedly won the game. Performances like this were common place for Jordan and more often then not they ended in wins.

Quote:
They need to be psychologically tough, which is similar to, but exactly the same as, the last paragraph. The killer instinct, the ability to go for the jugular when they are in a position to do so, this is something that not all athletes possess. Meanwhile, they have to be psychologically tough enough to resist their opponent's attempt to do the same.
Again Jordan did this all the time. He knew when he had his opponents beat and he made sure his opponents knew as well. Jordan is easily the most mentally and psychologically tough athlete in the history of sports.
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They must have dominated their sport in terms of awards and accolades. They must have won frequently and dominated their sport, from an early standpoint, right on through their professional careers. For Tiger Woods and professional golf, you need to have won awards and accolades at a torrid pace. Grand Slam victories must have been amassed frequently and in high numbers. Regular tour wins must have been as well. Success in general must have been commonplace for the athlete, to the point that every time he competes in his sport, he has to be feared and seen as the most significant person there, the one to beat.
I stated Jordan's accomplishments in my opening post and they are well documented. MJ has no shortage of awards and accolades.

Quote:
The athlete in question needs to have broad appeal. Not only must he be well known in his particular sport, but he must be well know beyond it. He needs to be a household name on an international stage, someone who transcends the sport, someone who can be identified with one name, one word. Say the name Tiger, and everyone across the globe knows exactly who you are talking about.

The athlete must be marketable. This in and of itself is not crucial, but it relates to the international appeal as above. Attach his guy's name, his face, to anything,anywhere, anyone, and he is well known.
I prefer to stick with athlete in the truer sense of the word and not bring in too much international appeal but if you want to with Tiger I can easily do it with Jordan. MJ has been a spokesperson for some of the biggest brands worldwide. McDonald's, Nike, Coke, Gatorade, and Wheaties just to name a few. Jordan has been fully retired for nearly a decade and his "Air Jordan's" are still one of the most popular shoes out there. He has been on the big screen with the movie Space Jam as well. Basketball is one of the more popular international sports right now and a lot of it started with MJ. He not only put basketball on the map in the US but he also helped its popularity grow worldwide.



Quote:
One factor that can be considered is the whole aspect of team game versus individual performance. Golf is, of course, an individual sport, whereby your successes and failures come down to you and you alone, there is no teammate to pick up your slack. If you have an off day, you don't have a teammate behind you to cover up your difficulties. You are in the spotlight, yourself. This is different from team sports. Tiger Woods does not have a Scottie Pippen or a Dennis Rodman to fall back upon.
That's all well and good but I really don't see how that makes one person a better athlete then another.

Quote:
The greatest athlete of all time has to be someone who, when all is said and done, has left a lasting and impressive legacy in his sport. When his time has come and he calls it quits, he will never be forgotten. His accomplishments must be significant enough to withstand the test of time.
Once again, describing MJ perfectly.

Quote:
Sure, Tiger Woods has fallen on hard times lately, and I do plan on discussing this. In the end, I will maintain that this is irrelevant to the question at hand.
Of course it's relevant. You talked about above having to be mentally tough and overcome things like injuries. This the most adversity Tiger has ever faced in his career and it is clearly affecting his play.


Quote:
Originally Posted by LSN80 View Post
When truly determining the greatest athlete of all time, I think it's most important that a set of criteria be established for said task. While there's so much ambiguity within different sports fan and journalists alike as to said criteria, there are some that are musts. Statistical dominance for me is a must. Pure athletic ability is another criteria that must be discussed. Finally, defining moments within the context of their sport is highly important. Based upon the criteria I used, it's easy to determine said athlete. With all due respect to Michael Jordan and Tiger Woods, Mario Lemieux is the greatest athlete of all time.
No offense to Mario Lemeieux as he is another tremendous athlete but most people including hockey experts don't even see him as the greatest hockey player of all time. In fact, many people don't even have him top 3. I don't see how an almost universally recognized top 2-5 hockey player can be considered the greatest athlete of all time.

Quote:
Mario had the unlikely combination of size, finesse, and skating ability. Combine this with his speed, stickhandling, and size, and he was not only the ideal hockey player, but the ideal athlete. . He could outskate opponents with his speed, deke them with his stickhandling, and check them with his size. He was a phenomenal defensive player as well, as he set the NHL record that stands until today with 13 shorthanded goals in 1998-99. Not only was Mario athletically gifted, he displayed aan unmatched prowess for the intangibles of the game that have gone unmatched until this day.
Lemieux was very talented and had some tremendous physical attributes but so did Wayne Gretzky. You know, "The Great One." The guy considered pretty much unanimously to be the greatest hockey player of all time. MJ was THE best basketball player of all time. You can make arguments to the contrary but those arguments would all be wrong.


Quote:
Lemiuex had no shortage of these as well. His first defining moment, as mentioned earlier, was when he scored a goal on his first shot during his first shift in first game in the NHL. Lemieux lead the Penguins to back-to back Stanley Cups in 91 and 92, the second while on a back so bad he could barely lace up his skates. On this bad back his doctors urged him not to play on, he scored perhaps the greatest goal in NHL history here.

Above all of this may have been Lemiuex's comeback from Hodgkin's disease. He wasn't just stopping his career in 1993 to pursue other interests, he stopped it in order to undergo treatment for cancer. Despite coming down with cancer, Lemiuex returned two months later, flying to Philadelphia to play in a game the same day he received radiation treatment. Not only this, but he received a standing ovation from Flyers fans, with whom the Penguins shared a longstanding and bitter rivalry. He added a goal and an assist that game, and despite missing those games, he inconceivably lead the NHL in scoring that year. If that doesn't define an athlete and attest to his greatness as an athlete, I don't know what does. The year in which he retired for the first time in 1997, he lead the NHL in scoring. His final game upon his first retirement in 1997 was also in Philadelphia, in which he also earned a standing ovation.
Those are all great moments but MJ had more then his fair share as well. The "flu game," all of his game winning shots, all of his championships, both of his comebacks, his 63 point performance vs the Celtics. The list goes on and on.

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Lemieux made a return to the ice almost three years later, this time as both owner and player. Lemiuex became the first player to also serve as owner of his team as well, as he had bought them out of bankruptcy and forfeited some 30 million in back pay he was owed in doing so. As for his return in December of 2000? He only assisted on a goal on his first shift, and added a goal and an assist. Find me another player who could step away from his sport for almost three years and contribute that way? What's even more unfathomable is that Lemieux again lead the league in points per game that year, after 3 years away. When he retired again in 2006, it was only after injury after injury and a heart defect. The year he retired? He was leading the league in scoring that year as well. All of these moments, greater then any other, serve as further proof that Lemieux is the greatest athlete of all time.
Umm, How about Michael Jordan? Jordan did the exact same thing. He returned nearly 4 years after his last game with the Bulls and led his team in points per game, assists per game, steals per game, and was 3rd on the team in rebounds per game.

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There is no doubt that Lemiuex is not only the greatest hockey player of all time, but that "Super Mario" is the greatest athlete of all time. His statistical dominance is topped off by him being the all-time leader in points per game. "The Magnificent One's" athletic prowess was unmatched, as his speed, size, strength and hand-eye coordination have yet to be topped. I only touched on the tip of the iceburg with regards to his accomplishments and achievements, both on and off the ice. Finally, no player in the history of a sport has had more defining moments. His comeback from cancer to lead the NHL in scoring despite missing two months is something of legend. His heroics in leading the Penguins to back-to back Stanley Cups when he couldn't even tie his own skates is astounding. His greatness despite this is evidenced in the video above, perhaps the greatest goal ever scored. His return from retirement after three years away due to multiple injuries(not just pursuing another sport or marital inbfidelity) at the same level he left is absurd. His unselfishness in deferring $30 million in salary to save the team and become the only player/owner in league history is further testament to his intangibles. When you combine everything, there is no doubt that Mario Lemiuex is the greatest athlete of all time.
I really don't see how you can say Lemieux is the greatest hockey player of all time let alone the greatest athlete of all time. The only thing that may make him better then Gretzky is the fact that you say Lemieux is the all time points per game leader but some of that can be contributed to the fact that he didn't play as many seasons as Gretzky and also didn't play as many straight seasons. With that being said, my calculations have Gretzky at 1.92 points per game and Lemieux at 1.88. This website confirms it for me http://www.statshockey.net/alltimeppg.html

You're a Pitt fan so there is obviously going to be some bias there (that's not a bad thing but it is a fact). As great as Lemieux was he is not the greatest athlete of all time. That honor goes to Michael Jordan.
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Old 02-28-2011, 03:36 PM
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Originally Posted by hatehabsforever View Post
Another interesting topic and of course another excellent opening post, this time from Big Sexy. But just like last round, Big Sexy should receive the "close but no cigar" award for picking a superbly gifted athlete, probably the second greatest ever, but in the end, he forgot one important person. The greatest athlete of all time is Tiger Woods.
The problem with golf is that Woods plays a very one-dimensional sport. What he does, he does very well, but it doesn't require the intense physical endurance, strength, speed and athletic prowess that other sports, especially hockey, do. There are no "offseason training camps" for golfers. Why? Because athletic ability isn't paramount to being a great golfer. For every Tiger Woods who prides themself on appearance and being in exceptional shape, you have a Phil Mickelson, who looks likes like your average joe. While the hand-eye coordination, mental focus, and great swing are nice, they certainly don't require athletic prowess. There are some who ridicule golf as being "not a sport", and while Im not among them, golf certainly isn't on the level in terms of physical ability and athleticism as hockey. And Tiger Woods simply isn't on the level of Mario Lemeiux.
This is about "greatest athlete" not "greatest player". The nod here goes to Lemeiux

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The player in question must be tremendously gifted physically. He must possess the attributes of strength, endurance, the ability to play through injury or to recover from injury, and flexibility/agility. The athlete in question must play his respective sport at an extremely high level physically as compared to his current peers as well as those who preceded him.
There perhaps hs been no physically gifted player in the history of sports as Mario Lemiuex. He had all the size(6'4, 235) of a plodding power forward, but the speed and grace of a smaller forward. He set the precendent for what a hybrid forward that combines size with speed and grace does to this day, and he's yet to be matched. His hand-eye coordination was second to none, and his endurance level was always top-notch. As for his ability to recover from injury? I'll take Lemeiux playing through a back that made him unable to bend and tie his own shoelaces to score goals like the one I posted then playing through a knee injury. Im not discounting the knee injury, Im just saying Lemeiux's was greater. Ill take Super Mario receiving radiation treatment for cancer one day in 2003 and flying to Philadelphia and playing the same night over any injury Woods played through, winning over a notoriously hostile Philadelphia crowd with a standing ovation. Bear in mind the long-standing hatred between the Penguins and the "Broad Street Bullies", and this makes the feat all the more remarkable.

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Over and above physical strength, the athlete in question must be mentally tough. He must consistently show the ability to play the game with ice water in his veins, while those around him are faltering and succumbing to the intense pressure that they all face. They must be able to face adversity and meet it head on, and rather than cower from it and be intimidated by it. They must be mentally strong enough to be able to play with the lead, without faltering, or "choking" as some would say. Likewise,they must be able to come from behind, and be mentally strong enough to make a push, like a predator, while his prey is withering under the same pressure.
They need to be psychologically tough, which is similar to, but exactly the same as, the last paragraph. The killer instinct, the ability to go for the jugular when they are in a position to do so, this is something that not all athletes possess. Meanwhile, they have to be psychologically tough enough to resist their opponent's attempt to do the same.
Id say this pretty much sums up what Lemeiux did. With the Penguins down 2 games to 1(one game Lemeiux couldnt play) in the 1990/91 Stanley Cup finals, Lemeiux scored perhaps the greatest goal of all time, breaking a 2-2 tie that the Penguins wouldn't relinquish. When most players would wait for help, Lemeiux took on two Minnesota defenseman at once. He pushed the puck through one defender's leg, skated around one and past the other, forced the goalie to commit left, then calmly pushed the puck to his backhand before flipping the puck into the cage and crashing into it himself. Buoyed on by Lemeiux's incredible goal, the Penguins didn't trail again in the series as they bested the favored North Stars 4 games to 2. If that's not the penultimate in leading one's team from behind to victory, then becoming that "predator"(the Penguins won the final game of the series 8-0) you described, I don't know what is. He scored 12 points in 5 games, including 2 goals and 2 assists in the 8-0 route in the finale on Minnesota ice. Lemeiux overcoming adversity in just playing that 4th game is incredible, and his performance is awe-inspiring.

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They must have dominated their sport in terms of awards and accolades. They must have won frequently and dominated their sport, from an early standpoint, right on through their professional careers. For Tiger Woods and professional golf, you need to have won awards and accolades at a torrid pace. Grand Slam victories must have been amassed frequently and in high numbers. Regular tour wins must have been as well. Success in general must have been commonplace for the athlete, to the point that every time he competes in his sport, he has to be feared and seen as the most significant person there, the one to beat.
This sounds like Mario Lemeiux you're describing. You can read my paragraph on his awards and accolades, or I can summarize them again. While the great Wayne Gretzky of the hockey world was surrounded by all-time great hetminder Grant Fuhr in net, superstars Jari Kurri and Mark Messier as linemates, and Paul Coffey on defense, Mario had Tom Barrasso in net, and Rob Brown and Kevin Stevens as linemates. They were solid, yet unspectacular players who thrived with Lemeiux as linemates. Barrasso was protected in giving up 4 and 5 goals a game by Lemeiux leading his team to 5 and 6 in back to back Stanley Cup wins. No player in the history of their sport has been an All-Star in every season they've played, but Lemeiux did exactly that with 13 All-Star nods in 13 seasons.

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The athlete in question needs to have broad appeal. Not only must he be well known in his particular sport, but he must be well know beyond it. He needs to be a household name on an international stage, someone who transcends the sport, someone who can be identified with one name, one word. Say the name Tiger, and everyone across the globe knows exactly who you are talking about.
And noone transcends their respective sport better then "Le Soixante-six", Mario Lemeiux. With hockey being a world-wide sport, there is perhaps no bigger name. Whether it be his remarkable play through back injuries, his comeback from cancer, his return from retirement to dominate the sport after three years away, or his saving the Penguins from bankruptcy by purchasing them, there is no more diverse sports figure then Mario Lemeiux. Tiger Woods, unfortunately, is known across the globe for the wrong reasons, being it cheating on his wife or going into rehab. While he is a great golfer in a tremendous sport, his being known on an international is due to his vulgar language on the field of play, and his highly publicized sexual life off of it. He may be known on a global stage, but it's for all the wrong reasons.

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The athlete must be marketable. This in and of itself is not crucial, but it relates to the international appeal as above. Attach his guy's name, his face, to anything,anywhere, anyone, and he is well known.
And this is something Woods is not. Despite maintaining a purposefully private life outside the hockey world, Lemieux still had major endorsements and marketability through Nike and Wheaties. Sports Illustrated featured him on six covers, wrote 205 articles regarding him, and dedicated 10 picture galleries to him. Not bad for America's "distant number 4 sport." http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/vau.../136/index.htm

Woods, on the other hand, has LOST said status of being marketable, with Gatorade, AT &T, and General Motors ended affiliation with Woods, costing him billions of dollars. Golf Digest, the leader in Golf coverage, suspended all coverage of him for a time. If anything, Tiger has gone from being marketable to not. If considered a factor, Woods must be considered to be going in the wrong direction. If anything, Woods is going in the wrong direction in this area.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tiger_W...ss_deals_ended
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One factor that can be considered is the whole aspect of team game versus individual performance. Golf is, of course, an individual sport, whereby your successes and failures come down to you and you alone, there is no teammate to pick up your slack. If you have an off day, you don't have a teammate behind you to cover up your difficulties. You are in the spotlight, yourself. This is different from team sports. Tiger Woods does not have a Scottie Pippen or a Dennis Rodman to fall back upon.
The same can be said for Mario Lemieux, to a greater degree. He wasn't surrounded by superstars when winning back to back Cups and winning 6 scoring titles and 3 MVP's, numbers that would have certainly been higher if not for his injuries and stiff competition from elite players such as Wayne Gretzky, Mark Messier, and Brett Hull. The reason the Penguins drafted Lemieux number 1 overall in 1984 was they were the worst team in the leaague, and averaging less then 7,000 fans in attendance. Lemieux had a team of mostly nobodies in the playoffs four short years later, and won the Stanley Cup two years after. As for other individual accomplishments, Lemieux became the only player to score five goals five different ways in a single game in 1988(even strength, short handed, power play, penalty shot, and empty net), and setting the all-time record of short-handed goals at 13 in the same year. He scored a goal on his first shot of his first shift, another record yet to be tied. His individual accomplishments with regards to his sport dwarf Woods.

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The greatest athlete of all time has to be someone who, when all is said and done, has left a lasting and impressive legacy in his sport. When his time has come and he calls it quits, he will never be forgotten. His accomplishments must be significant enough to withstand the test of time.
Mario Lemieux has ensured this. Remember, we are talking about greatest athlete, not greatest player here. His comeback from back surgery to lead his team of mostly nobodies to back to back Stanley Cups ensures this. His successful overcoming of back problems in the early 1990's and cancer in 1993 to play the same game in which had radiation guarantees this, as he scored a goal and assisted on two others in said game. Read the quote from Newsweek to further my point.

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Notwithstanding Gretzky's abiding majesty, posterity will never forget that no athlete—not even the sainted Lou Gehrig—has ever before Lemieux been struck down by a deadly disease at the very moment when he was the best of his sport at the best he ever would be. And since: Lemieux has achieved miraculously in remission, struggling, on the side, with a back injury so grievous that it has benched him after he merely laced up a skate. That is the stuff that answers people these days when they wonder where all our sports heroes have gone."

—Frank Deford, Newsweek

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mario_Lemieux
While Lemieux was winning Stanley Cups, overcoming back problems and cancer along with saving the Penguins from bankruptcy by forfeiting $30 million in owed money due to his love for the city, where did Woods go? While Lemieux left the game for some time and returned 3 years later to lead the league in scoring, Woods left the game due to marital infidelities and rehab and has yet to return the same player. Woods last victory in any tournament was two years ago. Here's an excerpt from an article hammerring home my point, with a link to the entire article.

http://www.pgatour.com/2011/r/02/28/monday-backspin/

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Source: PGAtour.com
Fast forward to Sunday night in the Arizona desert. Woods, whose last victory came two years ago, was nowhere to be found, having been bounced out of the first round of the World Golf Championships-Accenture Match Play Championship, while Donald was hoisting the trophy high in the sky and passing Woods in the Official World Golf Ranking in the process.
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Sure, Tiger Woods has fallen on hard times lately, and I do plan on discussing this. In the end, I will maintain that this is irrelevant to the question at hand.
This is relevant, because Woods has yet to show that mental focus, killer instinct, or championship pedigree in ANY form that he did before. While Lemieux returned stronger each time, Woods returned with play equal to just another golfer. Hardly what you would look for in "Greatest Athlete." Because that distinction when considering all factors clearly falls upon Mario Lemieux.
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Old 02-28-2011, 07:29 PM
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Originally Posted by Big Sexy View Post
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No offense to Mario Lemeieux as he is another tremendous athlete but most people including hockey experts don't even see him as the greatest hockey player of all time. In fact, many people don't even have him top 3. I don't see how an almost universally recognized top 2-5 hockey player can be considered the greatest athlete of all time.
Youre making the mistake of confusing "greatest player" with "greatest athlete." With all due respect to Gretzky and Jordan, Lemieux was the better athlete. And you're dead wrong when talking about Lemieux not being in the top 3. Im the modern era, it's Gretzky and Lemieux. Noone is near them in terms of greatest athlete. And Gretzky, for all his greatness, didn't have the tools that Mario Lemieux had. Gretzky had a shot that was described by many as "incapable of breaking a paper bag." He fooled goalies with great positioning, phenomenal hand-eye coordination, and tremendous mental aptitude. But he simply didn't have the tools Lemieux did, and neither did Jordan. This isn't a knock on Jordan, as even though I grew up a Lakers fan, (as Pittsburgh has never had an NBA basketball team), Jordan was hands down my favorite player. But Jordan didnt have the hybrid of skills Lemieux did. As I told Habs, he was a big man who played with all the skill and grace of a man much smaller. It's the equivalent of a center in basketball also being able to play the point guard position. Jordan never played with THAT skill, making him inferior to Lemieux in that aspect. Further, Lemieux holding the record for most shorthanded goals in a season with 13(which stands to this day is a testament to him being the complete package, as he was tremendous defensively as well. So was Jordan, but Lemieux was better. He combined the rugged style of being 6'4, 245 with the grace, stick handling, rocket shot, incredible athleticism, and precision passing that truly defined the hybrid type forward. He was the complete package, and noone has done so since.

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Lemieux was very talented and had some tremendous physical attributes but so did Wayne Gretzky. You know, "The Great One." The guy considered pretty much unanimously to be the greatest hockey player of all time. MJ was THE best basketball player of all time. You can make arguments to the contrary but those arguments would all be wrong.
I wouldn't even try to make the argument. While Kobe Bryant and LeBron James may someday be mentioned in the same breath as Jordan, he stands without question the greatest of all time in the sport of basketball. But while Gretzky may have been the great one, Lemieux was "Super Mario", "Le Magnifique", and the "Magnificent One". Taking little away from him, Gretzky was benefitted by having star power all around him. Lemieux was drafted to the worst team in the league, and single handedly carried the Penguins both to the playoffs and to back to back Stanley Cups, both while injured. He made journerymen players and linemates such as Rob Brown and Kevin Stevens play like All-Stars. Neither APPROACHED the success they had with Lemieux after leaving the team, and when both played on the Penguins without Lemieux, their numbers were halved. Gretzky's supporting cast of Grant Fuhr in net, Paul Coffey on defense, and Mark Messier and Jari Kuri as linemates were all Hall of Famers. As for Jordan, he never won a title before fellow Hall of Famer Scottie Pippen, and didn't after.
http://bleacherreport.com/articles/3...han-a-sidekick

The fact of the matter is, neither Gretzky nor Jordan, for all their greatness, would have approached their levels of success without their suporting casts. Yes, Mario played with Ron Francis, a fellow Hall of Famer, but Francis isn't even mentioned in the name of all time greats the way Pippen or Gretzky's sidekicks were. Yes, he played with Jaromir Jagr, but he was a rookie when the Penguins won their SECOND Cup. If that's not a testament to Lemieux's athletic prowess, nothing is. And the debate within the hockey community is between Gretzky and Lemieux, and it's divided. There are many who say Lemieux is GREATER then Gretzky, because of the disparity in supporting casts, Mario's stat averages, and his incredible moments while injured and following it. Here's one such example.

http://bleacherreport.com/articles/4...reater-than-99


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Those are all great moments but MJ had more then his fair share as well. The "flu game," all of his game winning shots, all of his championships, both of his comebacks, his 63 point performance vs the Celtics. The list goes on and on.
With all due respect to what Jordan did, Ill take Lemiuex's great moments over Jordan's. Scoring a goal on his first shift on his first shot in his first game. Being the only man in history to score five goals in five different ways is a testament to his all-around athleticism. Scoring the unbelievable goal that tilted the 1991 Stanley Cup finals in the Penguins favor. Playing on the same night he received radiation treatment for cancer and scoring a goal and adding two assists. Returning after a three year layoff and and assisting on a goal on his first shift, and adding a goal and another assist that evening. Buying the team out of bankruptcy while becoming the first player/owner in the history of the sport stands out as well. With all due respect to Jordan's greatness, these moments are a testament to Lemieux being the best athlete, which is what the debate is about.

Watch the compilation of Mario's top ten plays of all time. Note the speed, vision, creativity, split second decision making, hand eye coordination, and most importantly, pure athleticism that is on display here.



This should put to rest any debate over the "greatest athlete" debate. Noone on earth could do the things Mario Lemeiux did, and he made it look easy.

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Umm, How about Michael Jordan? Jordan did the exact same thing. He returned nearly 4 years after his last game with the Bulls and led his team in points per game, assists per game, steals per game, and was 3rd on the team in rebounds per game.
While Jordan may have lead his team, Lemieux returned after a three year layoff and lead the LEAGUE. He missed two months due to cancer treatment and still lead the league in scoring, both goals and assists. Again, a testament to how Lemieux's greatness as an athlete surpasses Jordan's.

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I really don't see how you can say Lemieux is the greatest hockey player of all time let alone the greatest athlete of all time.
I do. Gretzky played a twenty year career, while Lemieux's was only 13. Lemieux never played a full season due to various injuries, but remains the only hockey player to be named an all-star in every season he played, including Gretzky. Again, this is a debate over the greatest athlete of all time, not the greatest player, and Ive clearly shown through Lemieux's achievements, skill set, defining moments, and excellence in all facets of his game, among others, how Lemieux is the better athlete then both Gretzky and Jordan.

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The only thing that may make him better then Gretzky is the fact that you say Lemieux is the all time points per game leader but some of that can be contributed to the fact that he didn't play as many seasons as Gretzky and also didn't play as many straight seasons. With that being said, my calculations have Gretzky at 1.92 points per game and Lemieux at 1.88. This website confirms it for me http://www.statshockey.net/alltimeppg.html
There are a myriad of factors that show how Lemieux was greater then Gretzky, and Ive shown them above. Gretzky played in 1487 games in his NHL career as compared to Lemieux's 918. Much of the stat disparity can be made up for in this, and the fact that Lemieux never played more then 70 games out of an 82 game season.Lemieux was on pace in 1992-93 to break Gretzky's single season goal and assist totals before being struck with Hodgkins, by the way. The Penguins went on to win an NHL record 17 straight games immediately following Mario's return. Coincidence? I think not. The great Bobby Orr called Lemieux, "The most talented player I've ever seen". Again, this debate is about the "greatest athlete, and not the "greatest player". As for your stat disparity, I have an article that challenges that notion, putting Lemieux's total at 2.005, with Gretzky being at 1.92.

http://bleacherreport.com/articles/4...reater-than-99

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You're a Pitt fan so there is obviously going to be some bias there (that's not a bad thing but it is a fact). As great as Lemieux was he is not the greatest athlete of all time. That honor goes to Michael Jordan.
There is fact that Im a Pittsburgh fan, but there is nothing factual that there is bias because of it. Michael Jordan was a great athlete and the greatest basketball player of all time, and my personal favorite. But as Ive shown, this isn't about being the greatest player, even if that's a factor. It's about being the greatest athlete, and Mario Lemieux gets the nod in that aspect over Jordan.
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Old 02-28-2011, 08:13 PM
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In consideration of assessing the greatest athlete of all time, there is really no need to look beyond the incomparable Tiger Woods. As both LSN80 and Big Sexy said, one of the chief determining factors in making this designation is success. Whether it be championship titles, accolades, whatever, the person deemed to be the greatest athlete of all time has to be someone who has dominated his sport over an extended period of time, winning accolades along the way and boasting "statistical dominance.".

How can anyone argue this regarding Eldrick? Let's look at the Major titles first. Woods has won 14 titles, second only to Jack Nicklaus, yet Tiger is still only 35 years of age. He has won four Masters (97,01,02,05), three US Opens (00,02,08), three British Opens (00,05,06), and four PGA Championships (99,00,06,07). Looking beyond Major titles, he has won 71 PGA Tour titles. I will not list them all, that is what search engines like Google are for. 38 titles on the European Tour. 2 in Japan, 1 in Asia, 1 in Australia, and 15 elsewhere. He has a total of 97 professional victories on his resume. These are some pretty impressive accomplishments, definitely putting him in elite company, not only amongst golfers, but among athletes in general.

Tiger Woods was the Player of the Year 10 times (97,99,00,01,02,03,05,06,07,09). He was the money leader nine times (97,99,00,01,02,05,06,07,09). Tiger has won the Byron Nelson Award, for lowest scoring, eight times (99,00,01,02,03,05,07,09). He held the number one ranking for the greatest number of consecutive weeks. Within his illustrious professional career, the accolades go on and on. If there ever was someone with statistical dominance, it has been Tiger, in a sport in which statistics is absolutely paramount.

This should come as no surprise to anyone, though. He was dominant in college at Stanford as well. He won the first collegiate event in which he participated. He was the PAC-10 player of the year. He was a NCAA first team All American. He was the winner of 3 consecutive US Amateur titles. All of this success in college led to heightened anticipation of his professional debut in 1996, something which was so anticipated that it resulted in record endorsement deals (40 million with Nike, 20 million with Titleist). Not that the money in and of itself means anything, but let's face it, they don't hand out that kind of money to just anyone. Tiger was a collegiate player like no one before him, something which he more than followed up on in the professional ranks.

Prior to college, there was similar success in high school, and even childhood success. He won the Junior World Championships six times, including four consecutively from 88-91. Even as a young child, he was the consummate athlete. He broke the score of 80 at the age of 8, and even supposedly shot a 48 in 9 holes at the age of three. I could go on and on and on with statistic, after championship, after award, after accolade, but I think the point has been well established. Tiger Woods has got to be seen as a man in possession of such a plethora of statistical dominance, that you cannot help but consider him the greatest athlete of all time.

To be seen as the greatest athlete, you have to have tremendous physical skills. Strength, endurance, stamina, all are hallmarks of top athletes. Tiger Woods changed the way the game was played. His length off the tee is remarkable, so much so that it resulted in the PGA having to "Tiger-proof" many of the courses which hosted various PGA events. Even when such course changes were not being made, Tiger's physical stature is that of a tremendously gifted athlete. Look at the man, he's a beast. The strength he possesses brings an element to his game that simply is not always present in mere mortals. Tiger ends up with a crappy lie in a sand bunker, or a treacherous lie in fall grass, and he has the strength to blast out of it and not only salvage the hole, but likely still excel in it.

In considering physical components to his greatness, we can also examine Tiger's amazing ability to play through injuries and to recover from them. The greatest athletes have to be able to show physical resilience. Tiger has endured a couple of significant injuries, and yet he has managed to come back bigger and better than ever. Currently, he is in another bit of a funk, except this time it is mental as much as it is physical, which I will discuss a little bit later. As a testament to his greatness, Tiger has shown physical resilience in overcoming injuries in the past, and I am confident that will see this again, as he overcomes yet another example of physical adversity, to re- ascend to the pinnacle of the world of professional golf.

For those who do not think Tiger has displayed physical ability in the past, how about winning a major golf tournament, essentially on one leg, immediately before undergoing knee surgery which would result in him being on the shelf for an extended period of time. How about taking a swing, which has consistently been at or near the top of the golfing world, and retooling and reinventing it, to maintain his physical presence. The way I look at it, Tiger Woods has all of the physical tools, all of the physical dominance, that can only be possessed by someone who is the greatest athlete of all time.

Mental toughness and psychological grit, yet more characteristics of the greatest ever, which are certainly synonymous with Tiger Woods. Tiger possesses true ice cold, unflappable mental toughness. If he is leading a tournament in the late stages, no one goes for the jugular with more passion and less compassion than Tiger Woods does. No one deals with adversity like Tiger manages to do. His ability to stand firm under extreme conditions of pressure is something which has always distanced him from the rest of the golfing world, and the rest of the athletic world in general. Displaying a killer instinct like only Tiger can, no one can match the mental prowess and psychological demeanor of Tiger Woods.

Tiger Woods is a world wide phenomenon. He is, as I discussed way back in Topic #3, the most famous and recognizable professional athlete in the world. Show his picture to anyone, anywhere and they know who he is. Say the name Tiger to anyone, anywhere, and there's no need of a surname, or no need for further elaboration. Does this fact alone mean he is the greatest athlete of all time? No, but it is a distinction known only to professional athletes at the highest echelon of their respective sports. This high profile, this marketability and recognizability do not make him the greatest athlete of all time, but it is only an athlete of such inherent greatness that will end up having this type of ubiquitous appeal and profile.

One thing which makes Tiger's distinction as the best in the world even more obvious is the fact that he plays in a sport that is almost entirely singular, marked entirely by individual greatness. If Jordan had an off night, he had Pippen. If Lemieux struggled, he had Jagr. But a professional golfer has no one to fall back on, no safety net. The fact that Tiger remains at the pinnacle of the sport, and athletics in general, is attributable completely to his individual greatness.

When all is said and done, Tiger Woods will leave a lasting legacy in the world of professional golf, on the sporting world in general. People today know who he is, regardless of age, gender, race, or location. Generations to follow will too. Long after Tiger hangs up the cleats and calls it a career, people will speak of Tiger Woods as a true phenom, as a legend, and this is the sort of vernacular that only accompanies the truly greatest of all time.

Of course, I know what many people will say. It is all over for Tiger. He's done. For one thing, his physical injuries are catching up to him. His swing has been tweaked and retweaked so many times, that it cannot possibly be reinvented again. His injuries, whether it be the knees, the hips, whatever, Father time has caught up with him. And of course, the drama and the media circus surrounding his extramarital affairs have finally proven go be his Achilles heel. To which I say bullshit. For one thing, if Tiger Woods never picks up a wood or an iron again for the rest of his life, if he were to disappear from the face of the earth and go into seclusion, I would respectfully suggest that he has already accomplished more than enough to date to earn him the moniker of the greatest athlete of all time. Let's face it. Jordan is retired and is no longer building upon his legacy, and some are still touting him as the best ever. Lemieux is also no longer an active player in the NHL, and we are still discussing his greatness. So even if Tiger is truly done, even if his physical injuries and his emotional roller coaster have finally caught up with him, I would still respectfully suggest that what he has accomplished, on an amazingly consistent basis from the mid '90's to present day, more than qualifies him to be considered the greatest athlete to ever walk this earth. And don't kid yourself, the book is not closed on Tiger Woods, not by a long shot. He has overcome significant injuries in the past, and major structural swing flaws, and has risen above all of this to reclaim his throne. He has endured mental duress in the past as well, such as when he took an extended leave of absence from the game upon the death of his father, and he came back bigger and better than ever. For those of you who feel the Tiger Woods era is over, give your heads a shake and think again. The man is still only 35 years old. Personally, I have no doubt that he will fully get his act together from both a physical and emotional standpoint and when he does, watch out world. It will be a return to statistical dominance, a return to the pinnacle of the game. More accolades, more majors, and more hoopla. His numbers already speak for themselves and trust me, he isn't even done yet, not by a long shot. Once all is said and done, there will be no debate and discussion about it. The greatest athlete of all time will truly be seen to be the one and only, Tiger Woods.
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Old 02-28-2011, 08:46 PM
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Originally Posted by LSN80 View Post
Youre making the mistake of confusing "greatest player" with "greatest athlete." With all due respect to Gretzky and Jordan, Lemieux was the better athlete. And you're dead wrong when talking about Lemieux not being in the top 3. Im the modern era, it's Gretzky and Lemieux. Noone is near them in terms of greatest athlete. And Gretzky, for all his greatness, didn't have the tools that Mario Lemieux had. Gretzky had a shot that was described by many as "incapable of breaking a paper bag." He fooled goalies with great positioning, phenomenal hand-eye coordination, and tremendous mental aptitude. But he simply didn't have the tools Lemieux did, and neither did Jordan. This isn't a knock on Jordan, as even though I grew up a Lakers fan, (as Pittsburgh has never had an NBA basketball team), Jordan was hands down my favorite player. But Jordan didnt have the hybrid of skills Lemieux did. As I told Habs, he was a big man who played with all the skill and grace of a man much smaller. It's the equivalent of a center in basketball also being able to play the point guard position. Jordan never played with THAT skill, making him inferior to Lemieux in that aspect. Further, Lemieux holding the record for most shorthanded goals in a season with 13(which stands to this day is a testament to him being the complete package, as he was tremendous defensively as well. So was Jordan, but Lemieux was better. He combined the rugged style of being 6'4, 245 with the grace, stick handling, rocket shot, incredible athleticism, and precision passing that truly defined the hybrid type forward. He was the complete package, and noone has done so since.
Being a great player is part of being a great athlete. If that wasn't the case then all of the accomplishments we are all boasting about would mean jack shit and the answer to this question would be Bo Jackson hands down. Even if we are just talking about athlete in the very truest sense of the word and not considering anything else, Jordan still wins. MJ had speed to get by anyone in the NBA, the strength to power his way inside, the endurance to play a full 48 minutes, and a leaping ability that is almost unmatched. Anything Lemieux had in terms of athletics Jordan had it and he had more of it. When it comes to speed, strength, agility, and endurance the only thing Lemieux MAY have is strength. The rest go to Jordan. MJ was athletic enough where he could have succeeded at multiple sports, basketball was just the one he chose. Lemieux wasn't going to be able to succeed at a high level in any other sport.



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I wouldn't even try to make the argument. While Kobe Bryant and LeBron James may someday be mentioned in the same breath as Jordan, he stands without question the greatest of all time in the sport of basketball. But while Gretzky may have been the great one, Lemieux was "Super Mario", "Le Magnifique", and the "Magnificent One". Taking little away from him, Gretzky was benefitted by having star power all around him. Lemieux was drafted to the worst team in the league, and single handedly carried the Penguins both to the playoffs and to back to back Stanley Cups, both while injured. He made journerymen players and linemates such as Rob Brown and Kevin Stevens play like All-Stars. Neither APPROACHED the success they had with Lemieux after leaving the team, and when both played on the Penguins without Lemieux, their numbers were halved. Gretzky's supporting cast of Grant Fuhr in net, Paul Coffey on defense, and Mark Messier and Jari Kuri as linemates were all Hall of Famers. As for Jordan, he never won a title before fellow Hall of Famer Scottie Pippen, and didn't after.
http://bleacherreport.com/articles/3...han-a-sidekick
News Flash: Mario Lemieux didn't win a Cup until he was surrounded by great players and he never won one without those guys. In fact the first year the Penguins won the Cup Lemieux missed most of the regular season with a back injury. The team was carried by two future HOFers in Ron Francis and Larry Murphy, a great player in Mark Recchi, and a rookie in Jaromir Jagr. All of those guys were around for both of the Penguins Stanley Cup Wins. In fact I'd say Lemieux had just as much if not more help then MJ did and while Mario won two Cups, Jordan won 6 NBA titles.

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The fact of the matter is, neither Gretzky nor Jordan, for all their greatness, would have approached their levels of success without their suporting casts. Yes, Mario played with Ron Francis, a fellow Hall of Famer, but Francis isn't even mentioned in the name of all time greats the way Pippen or Gretzky's sidekicks were. Yes, he played with Jaromir Jagr, but he was a rookie when the Penguins won their SECOND Cup. If that's not a testament to Lemieux's athletic prowess, nothing is. And the debate within the hockey community is between Gretzky and Lemieux, and it's divided. There are many who say Lemieux is GREATER then Gretzky, because of the disparity in supporting casts, Mario's stat averages, and his incredible moments while injured and following it. Here's one such example.
Bullshit. See above for part of the reasoning. Scottie Pippen is no more mentioned as a great in the NBA then Francis is in the NHL. In fact if I was going to make a cross sport comparison Pippen to Francis would be nearly perfect. Don't forget about Joe Mullen who is another HOFer that was on those Penguins team. That's 3 current HOF guys right there Lemiex had. Actually he had 4 in Bryan Trottier but he was past his prime at that point so I'll throw you a bone. MJ never had all that help.

Please don't use bleacherreport as a reference for anything. It insults my intelligence.




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With all due respect to what Jordan did, Ill take Lemiuex's great moments over Jordan's. Scoring a goal on his first shift on his first shot in his first game. Being the only man in history to score five goals in five different ways is a testament to his all-around athleticism. Scoring the unbelievable goal that tilted the 1991 Stanley Cup finals in the Penguins favor. Playing on the same night he received radiation treatment for cancer and scoring a goal and adding two assists. Returning after a three year layoff and and assisting on a goal on his first shift, and adding a goal and another assist that evening. Buying the team out of bankruptcy while becoming the first player/owner in the history of the sport stands out as well. With all due respect to Jordan's greatness, these moments are a testament to Lemieux being the best athlete, which is what the debate is about.
So all of Jordan's game winning shots have nothing to do with him being a great athlete? All of his gravity defining dunks mean jack shit? All of his gutsy performances and all the times he carried the team on his back purely because he was just better and more athletic then anyone out on the court is nothing to you? Trust me, Lemieux was a great player and great athlete but he can't touch Jordan in either regard.

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Watch the compilation of Mario's top ten plays of all time. Note the speed, vision, creativity, split second decision making, hand eye coordination, and most importantly, pure athleticism that is on display here.
And you watch these Jordan highlights. Notice the ridiculousness of the mans athletic ability. Notice the creativity in the air.





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This should put to rest any debate over the "greatest athlete" debate. Noone on earth could do the things Mario Lemeiux did, and he made it look easy.
Lol that puts nothing to rest. I've seen Gretzky do similar and even more impressive things. Same goes for a guy like Ovechkin.


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While Jordan may have lead his team, Lemieux returned after a three year layoff and lead the LEAGUE. He missed two months due to cancer treatment and still lead the league in scoring, both goals and assists. Again, a testament to how Lemieux's greatness as an athlete surpasses Jordan's.
What? Are you seriously going to sit there and blatantly type something like that. Lemieux returned in 2000-2001 played in 43 games and had 35 goals, 41 assists, and 76 points. He finished tied for 29th in scoring. I don't know where you're getting your stats from but that's the second time you've provided completely false numbers. http://espn.go.com/nhl/statistics/pl...ints/year/2001



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I do. Gretzky played a twenty year career, while Lemieux's was only 13. Lemieux never played a full season due to various injuries, but remains the only hockey player to be named an all-star in every season he played, including Gretzky. Again, this is a debate over the greatest athlete of all time, not the greatest player, and Ive clearly shown through Lemieux's achievements, skill set, defining moments, and excellence in all facets of his game, among others, how Lemieux is the better athlete then both Gretzky and Jordan.
You've shown absolutely nothing but false stats and a highlight reel. Best athlete, best player, combination, however you want to cut it Michael Jordan is superior to Mario Lemieux in every aspect.



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There are a myriad of factors that show how Lemieux was greater then Gretzky, and Ive shown them above. Gretzky played in 1487 games in his NHL career as compared to Lemieux's 918. Much of the stat disparity can be made up for in this, and the fact that Lemieux never played more then 70 games out of an 82 game season.Lemieux was on pace in 1992-93 to break Gretzky's single season goal and assist totals before being struck with Hodgkins, by the way. The Penguins went on to win an NHL record 17 straight games immediately following Mario's return. Coincidence? I think not. The great Bobby Orr called Lemieux, "The most talented player I've ever seen". Again, this debate is about the "greatest athlete, and not the "greatest player". As for your stat disparity, I have an article that challenges that notion, putting Lemieux's total at 2.005, with Gretzky being at 1.92.
One great player saying you're the most talented doesn't mean much in the long run. Especially considering just like best player doesn't equal best athlete, most talented doesn't either. And once again bleacherreport is not a reliable source. You can look up the stats and do the math yourself or used the link I provided in my last post but Lemieux did NOT have a higher point per game average then Gretzky.





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There is fact that Im a Pittsburgh fan, but there is nothing factual that there is bias because of it. Michael Jordan was a great athlete and the greatest basketball player of all time, and my personal favorite. But as Ive shown, this isn't about being the greatest player, even if that's a factor. It's about being the greatest athlete, and Mario Lemieux gets the nod in that aspect over Jordan.
Whatever you want to take into consideration does not matter. Jordan was the better player, the better athlete, he was more successful. Everything points towards MJ being better. The greatest athlete of all time is certainly not Mario Lemieux. That honor goes to Michael Jordan.
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Old 02-28-2011, 10:12 PM
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Originally Posted by Big Sexy View Post
No offense to Tiger Woods as he is a tremendous athlete but I just don't see how a professional golfer could be considered the greatest athlete ever. Golf is a tough sport to play skill wise, I sure as fuck suck at it, but in terms of athletic ability you aren't exactly getting top of the line athletes out there all the time, eg. John Daly. Woods is obviously a superior athlete to most of his colleagues but still not nearly the athlete of a guy like Michael Jordan. You're not going to see Tiger Woods being able to have any type of success in any other sport.
There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that Tiger Woods is a tremendous athlete and that a professional golfer can be considered to be the greatest athlete ever. It is not like I am proposing a poker player, or a darts competitor, or a synchronized swimmer, to be the greatest athlete of all time. To suggest that the rigors of playing professional golf at the highest level does not constitute the distinction of a tremendously gifted athlete is incorrect and in fact surprisingly naive coming from you of all people. To play golf the way Tiger Woods has played it takes incredible skill and unprecedented athleticism. You are damn right it is a tough sport to play skill wise, and to play it as consistently as Tiger has for as long as he has, requires the type of physical prowess which can only be associated with the best of the best. There is a reason why John Daly, or Mark Calcavecchia, or Craig Stadler, have not amassed the statistical dominance that Tiger has. They were good golfers, but were unable to sustain the type of career that Tiger has, because they did not have the physical tools, the mental toughness, the psychological fortitude, or the stellar skill level that only Tiger has. If you want to generalize, you are right, the average golfer possesses neither the physical makeup, the mental presence, or the skill level that Tiger does. This is why they are not the greatest athletes of all time, Tiger is. This is not about golf versus football, or basketball, or hockey. This is about Tiger Woods versus the world, and from my estimation, he comes out on top, easily. The suggestion that his golfing ability would not carry over into the ability to play a second sport is totally irrelevant. Very few athletes have excelled in two sports, but that is meaningless to this discussion. And honestly, touting Jordan as a two sport athlete is a huge stretch of reality. His basketball acumen was second to none, but his venture into Double A baseball was lackluster at best, an experimental event, whereby he was cut more slack than virtually anyone before him, as a sideshow.


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You just described Michael Jordan perfectly. He was tremendously gifted, physically rarely injured, and obviously played his sport better then any player before or after him. Let's also not forget Jordan's amazing performance in game 5 of the NBA Finals in 1997. The series was tied 2-2 and game 5 was pivotal. The day before the game MJ woke up in his hotel room sweating profusely and he could barely move. He was examined by medical staff and it was said there was no way he could play in game 5. The next day while still suffering from the illness, MJ decided he was going to play. Scottie Pippen said he didn't even think Jordan could put his uniform on let alone play. MJ not only played be he played remarkably. Utah had a 17 point lead at one point yet Jordan was able to lead them back. He scored 38 points in the game and the Bulls ended up winning. Had MJ not played the Bulls would have certainly lost and been forced to win two straight to win the NBA title.
Of course I described Jordan perfectly, because the second best athlete of all time obviously shares a lot of the attributes of the actual best. Sure, he was tremendously gifted and rarely injured, much like Tiger until recent times. I am unimpressed with such urban legends as the MJ flu fairy tale. I don't doubt that he man was sick with the flu at the time, but here is a classic story which has been embellished so much that it likely is bordering on fiction. Lots of guys play professional sports while they have a cold or flu. Tylenol is a remarkable anti-pyretic. And he had a little help from his friends, a cast of teammates who were capable of picking up some of his slack, although in all honesty, none of them were Jordan-esque. As impressive a fairy tale as that is, if I even grant it due validity, it pales in comparison to Tiger Woods winning a major golf championship on one leg, all by himself, with no teammates, against the best of the world, immediately prior to knee surgery which would sideline him for an extended period of time afterwards. For every athlete, there will be tall tales of such mental and physical triumph over adversity. This is hardly unique to Jordan, and if anything, applies far more to Woods.



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Michael Jordan NEVER choked and he hit a plentiful amount of game winning shots in his career. As long as MJ was on the floor his team always had a chance to win. In just Jordan's second NBA season he led a below average Bulls team in the playoffs against one of the best teams in NBA history in the 85-86 Boston Celtics. Even though Jordan had missed most of the regular season (the only full season in Chicago he didn't play at least 78 games) he returned for the playoffs and in game two of the series he scored 63 points against the eventual champs and almost single-handedly won the game. Performances like this were common place for Jordan and more often then not they ended in wins.
No one is disputing Jordan's greatness. He was, after all, the second greatest professional athlete of all time. He was an incredible clutch performer, but he functioned as such in a team sport. Tiger has been every bit as clutch, but he has been solo. Whenever Jordan was on the floor, his team had a chance to win. Whenever Woods was on the course, he himself, without assistance, was always in the hunt as well.


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Again Jordan did this all the time. He knew when he had his opponents beat and he made sure his opponents knew as well. Jordan is easily the most mentally and psychologically tough athlete in the history of sports.
All of this is Tiger personified. He as well always knew when he had his opponents beat, and always managed to get into their heads to ensure this happened. Many a guy has challenged Tiger in his realm, and many of them have gone by the wayside, wilting under the pressure, shirking the moment rather than thriving from it. Jordan was mentally and psychologically tough, but with all due respect, Tiger was that much tougher.


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I stated Jordan's accomplishments in my opening post and they are well documented. MJ has no shortage of awards and accolades.
There's no denying Michael Jordan's impressive awards and accolades. He has amassed statistics and successes like few before him. A lot of his stats, though, are team stats rather than purely individual ones. His individual stats are numerous as well, but let's face it, they simply do not hold a candle to a list of the championships, titles, individual accolades, etc., that Woods has produced. I originally began with the intention of listing them all, when it quickly became apparent that there are not enough hours in the day to compile a list so comprehensive. I figured that if I added the entire listing of all that Woods has achieved, no one would read the entire post: no readers, no judges, no fellow debaters. If someone wants to see an itemized listing of everything that Woods has done, check it out via Google. Every bit as impressive as Jordan, in fact, far more so.



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I prefer to stick with athlete in the truer sense of the word and not bring in too much international appeal but if you want to with Tiger I can easily do it with Jordan. MJ has been a spokesperson for some of the biggest brands worldwide. McDonald's, Nike, Coke, Gatorade, and Wheaties just to name a few. Jordan has been fully retired for nearly a decade and his "Air Jordan's" are still one of the most popular shoes out there. He has been on the big screen with the movie Space Jam as well. Basketball is one of the more popular international sports right now and a lot of it started with MJ. He not only put basketball on the map in the US but he also helped its popularity grow worldwide.
Quite honestly, I would probably rank these two guys fairly equally with regards to international appeal and marketability. Except for one thing. Tiger Woods is far more of a global phenomenon. Michael Jordan is a true legend with tremendous appeal and recognizability, but if you expand beyond the confines of North America, I think Woods would quickly overshadow Jordan. How big is the NBA in Europe, or Asia, or South America or Australia? I don't know for sure, but I imagine that Woods is far more of a household names in such areas than is Jordan.


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That's all well and good but I really don't see how that makes one person a better athlete then another.
It doesn't really make one a better athlete than the other. I am simply suggesting that international appeal, marketability, and other such things, are typically reserved for the greatest of the great. And there's no one greater than Woods. No one. Because he is the greatest athlete of all time.


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Once again, describing MJ perfectly.
As I said earlier, it should describe MJ perfectly, as it does TW. There should be no surprise that the second greatest professional athlete of all time shares much of the descriptions of the truly greatest athlete of all time. Make no mistake about it, Jordan was no slouch. I was an enormous fan of his in the '90's. He is an incredibly gifted athlete, second only to Tiger Woods.



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Of course it's relevant. You talked about above having to be mentally tough and overcome things like injuries. This the most adversity Tiger has ever faced in his career and it is clearly affecting his play.
No, I maintain that it is irrelevant. Tiger has consistently displayed mental toughness, but he is, after all, a human being. This has been incredible adversity, both physical as well as emotional and mental. Sure it has been affecting his play. I imagine it will continue to plague him for another while yet. But come on, the man is still only 35 years old. He has plenty of time for an extended bump in the road, and can still overcome it and have continued success on the tour for another considerable period of time. Plus, as I said in my earlier post, even if Tiger does not overcome these difficulties, even if he never resumes his career and decides to throw his clubs away and never play the game ever again, it matters not. If we merely look at Tiger's career from the time he turned pro until 12/11/09, and do not look beyond it, I would still suggest that this time period alone, in and of itself, qualifies Tiger as the greatest athlete of all time. Jordan's career is over, he is not continuing to add to his legacy. Mario Lemieux's career is also over, he is no longer adding to his resume. So even if Woods' career is over too, which I certainly am not conceding, the bottom line is still the same. Tiger Woods is the greatest athlete of all time. He does not need to do anything else to make this statement categorically true. Except for one thing. I predict he will still add to his legacy, and significantly so. If I am wrong about this, he still goes down as the best ever. If I am right, the gap between himself and everyone else grows larger. Either way, the same bottom line, the best ever.

All due respect to MJ, he is an incredible athlete. As I said above, he is probably the second greatest athlete of all time. But at the top, at the absolute pinnacle, there can only be one. And that one is simply Tiger Woods, and there is absolutely no doubt about it.
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