In the 21st century, no athlete has exhibited grace, athleticism and a killer instinct like legendary Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt. He has eclipsed legendary American sprinters Jesse Owens, Michael Johnson and Carl Lewis as the single greatest sprinter of all time. Bolt is the closest thing to a perfect athlete since a 1990 Bo Jackson. It goes a long way to explain why he is the greatest athlete of the 21st century. More
It is incredible how a swimmer is the second greatest athlete of the 21st century. Michael Phelps has shattered every single major record in the sport of swimming. He’s done it effortlessly; dominating his sport on the same level as Serena Williams, Michael Jordan, Wayne Gretzky did in theirs. Who would’ve thought that this skinny, frail young man from Baltimore could make the 2000 U.S. Olympic swim team at the tender age of 15. Seventeen years, Phelps is laughing all the way to the bank and into sports immortality.
Although Phelps didn’t medal at the 2000 Sydney Games, just by making the team at such a young age gave sports fans hope that he could mature into a championship swimmer. Beginning with the 2004 Athens Games, Phelps began his quest for immortality. At the still tender age of 19, Phelps won six gold medals at the 2004 Olympics, falling just one short of Mark Spitz’ 1972 Olympic record of seven gold medals. Phelps was now determined to not only equal Spitz’ record, but surpass it. In the 2008 Beijing Games, not only did he surpass Spitz’ record of seven by winning eight gold medals, he surpassed him as the single, greatest swimmer in the history of the sport. His total medals won after the 2008 Games were 14 Gold and two Bronze Medals, making him one shy of legendary Russian gymnast Larisa Latynina’s all time record of 18. He would shatter that record with his performances in the next two Olympic Games.
It is amazing to think that an athlete could win four gold and two silver medals in a single Olympics and be considered past his prime, but that’s what so called experts were claiming after Phelps turned in that exact performance at the 2012 London Games. Phelps came into the 2012 Games with a ton of pressure on him, yet he continued to dominate by winning six medals. At the age of 27, he retired from competitive swimming. Thankfully, his retirement lasted only two years. He had one more Olympic Games left in him.
The 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games saw Phelps once again dominate the field, as he won an additional five Gold and one Bronze Medal. He finally retired at the age of 31 with a mark that will never be equaled again: 28 Medals, including 23 Gold. He has 29 world records in swimming. He is the single, most accomplished swimmer and Olympian of all time, making Michael Phelps the second greatest athlete of the 21st century.
Lebron James is not only one of the five greatest athletes of the 21st century, he’s one of the five greatest basketball players in the history of the sport. Other than Magic Johnson and Oscar Robertson, no one else comes close to being an all around complete player than Lebron. Since debuting in the NBA straight out of high school in 2003, only Kobe Bryant can make a claim to be on Lebron’s level as far as dominating play in the NBA. James’s historical 14 year career is still far from over. At 32, he is playing some of his finest ball. These are many of the reasons Lebron James is the third greatest athlete of the 21st century. More
Two weeks ago, after the New England Patriots incredible, come from behind victory in Super Bowl LI over the Atlanta Falcons, there has been constant debate over Tom Brady’s status as possibly the greatest QB in NFL history. In my opinion, not only did that win cement his place as the greatest quarterback in NFL history, it cemented his place as the greatest NFL player of the 21st century. It also places him as the fourth greatest athlete of the 21st century.
It’s been 17 years since Tom Brady was selected in the sixth round of the 2000 NFL draft. Incredible, Brady was a mere afterthought on draft day. So called football experts downplayed his potential and ability. Yet, beginning with the 2001 NFL season, Brady began to prove all these so called experts and naysayers wrong. In 2001, after Patriots starting quarterback Drew Bledsoe was injured a mere four games into the season, Brady began his legendary run. He shocked the world by leading the Patriots to one of the biggest upsets in NFL history, a Super Bowl XXXVI victory over the heavily favored St. Louis Rams, a team led by future hall of famers Kurt Warner and Marshall Faulk. Brady won his first of five Super Bowls and first of four Super Bowl MVP’s. In 2002 and 2003, Brady would lead New England to two more Super Bowl titles. After only five years in the league, Brady already had three Super Bowl titles. He was far from finished.
In 2007, Brady would set the NFL record for most touchdown passes with 50. He also lead New England to an undefeated regular season record of 16-0. However, in what was the greatest upset of the 21st century, New England shockingly lost in the Super Bowl to the New York Giants. It placed a huge asterisk next to their undefeated regular season. Four years later, Brady and New England were upset again by the Giants in the Super Bowl. So called experts were beginning to question Brady’s legacy.
In Super Bowl XLIX, New England trailed by ten points to the defending champion Seattle Seahawks in the fourth quarter. Brady, with ice water in his veins, led two great touchdown drives to take the lead by four points. Seattle had a chance to win with seconds left, but a game saving interception at the goal line secured Brady and the Patriots their fourth Super Bowl championship. The best was yet to come.
Just two weeks ago, late in the third quarter, the Atlanta Falcons had what seemed to be an insurmountable 28-3 lead over New England. Then, all of a sudden, Brady began the single greatest comeback in NFL history. He was akin to a machine, hitting pinpoint passes all over a tiring Atlanta defense. With less than a minute to play in regulation time, Brady tied the game at 28. Then, in the very first possession of the very first Super Bowl to go to overtime, Brady the machine kept rolling. He orchestrated a 75 yard drive that culminated in his fifth Super Bowl championship and fourth Super Bowl MVP, records that he now solely owns. At the age of 39, Brady continues to play on an elite level. Back in 2005, I christened Brady the “Golden Boy.” The Golden Boy is the greatest quarterback I’ve ever seen in forty years of watching the NFL. He’s also the fourth greatest athlete of the 21st century.
In this new series of articles, I will concentrate on the five greatest athletes of the 21st century. Since the year 2000, there have been a plethora of great athletes in every single sport. Starting with this article, I will focus on five men and women who dominated their sports consistently since 2000. Today, we start with the greatest boxer and fifth greatest athlete of the 21st century: Floyd “Money” Mayweather. More
Denzel Washington is one of the five greatest actors of the last twenty years. His body of work is on par with Pacino, De Niro, DeCaprio, Clooney or anyone else from this era that you could name. His most recent film, “Fences,” is one of his most emotional and captivating performances ever. Just an incredible performance by this acting giant.
In the history of popular music, there has never been an individual who was the total package like Michael Jackson. He had it all; charisma, style, vocal brilliance, stage presence and an innate ability to improvise creative dance moves out of nowhere. It is why he’s the single, greatest R&B singer of all time. More
In the history of the NBA, no player has had a bigger impact on the sport than Allen Iverson. While he’s not among the top ten players in the history of the sport, he’s the definitive greatest when it comes to cultural impact. No one comes even close. Not even Michael Jordan, the consensus greatest of all time. In today’s NBA, his impact is seen throughout the league in his style of play and the way he carried himself.
When Iverson first appeared in the NBA in the fall of 1996, the NBA had been since its inception a very conservative league. Despite being over 80 percent African American, the players all dressed and looked like Madison Avenue picked out their clothes and music. Iverson single handily changed that look. He was, as Chuck D so poignantly pointed out in his autobiography, the first true NBA hip hop star. He brought the hip hop style to to the league. He was the first NBA player to wear cornrows, gold ropes around his neck and tattoos all over his body. Soon, many of his brethren followed. He entered the league right after Tupac Shakur was murdered. It was as though Tupac was reincarnated as Allen Iverson, the “Answer.”
Because he was so unapologetically Black and young, Iverson received a barrage of criticism from the NBA, former players and critics. He was labeled a thug and a disgrace to the league. Yet, even though he played for the Philadelphia 76ers in a city that was notorious for booing their own, the city embraced him like no one before or since. He is without a doubt the most beloved Philadelphia athlete in the history of that great city. Why? Because Philadelphia fans recognize hard work, determination and great heart. Through his entire career, Iverson played through a rash of injuries. At less than six feet tall and 165 pounds, Iverson played with reckless abandon. The Sixer fans saw this and showered him with adulation, despite what outsiders were saying about him. It was his playing style that has had the greatest impact in the history of the sport. An impact that is so prevalent today.
When Iverson entered the league twenty years ago, the league was dominated by big men like David Robinson, Patrick Ewing and Shaquille O’Neal. In 2016, the NBA is dominated by the little men, the point guards who emulate Iverson’s style of play. The list of players who idolized Iverson and copied his style is endless: Derrick Rose, James Harden, Russell Westbrook, Damian Lillard, Kyrie Irving and the reigning two time NBA MVP Stephon Curry all have elements of Iverson’s style in their games. Iverson was a point guard when he first came in the league. He was immediately shifted to the shooting guard position, but physically he was in a point guard’s body. The players I mentioned above all grew up idolizing Iverson. Curry and Irving’s signature crossover is a direct impersonation of the move Iverson made famous when he crossed up Jordan in his rookie year. Westbrook and Harden play with a reckless abandonment reminiscent of a prime Iverson. At one time Rose was seen as the successor to Iverson’s style until injuries robbed Rose of his greatness. And Lillard today carries a mediocre team just like Iverson did throughout his career as a Sixer.
Two months ago Iverson was inducted into the Pro Basketball Hall of Fame as a first ballot induction. Fittingly, he was inducted almost 20 years to the day Tupac died and when Iverson made his NBA debut. He was the best little man to ever play the sport of basketball. He was a cultural icon. A man despite being torn with injuries and criticisms galore, became a legendary ball player, both on and off the court. Who is the single, most culturally impact individual in the history of basketball? “THE ANSWER, ALLEN IVERSON!!!!!”
In the history of R&B music, there has never been a more flamboyant artist than the legendary James Brown. No other artist has as many nicknames: “The Hardest Working Man in Show Business,” “Mr. Excitement,” “Soul Brother No. 1,” and his most famous moniker, “The Godfather of Soul.” Brown has influenced more singers than any artist in the history of music: Prince, Michael Jackson, Rick James, and Sly Stone are just a few of the legendary artists who were influenced by “The Godfather.” More