Throughout each major league of any sport in the world, there are hundreds of talented athletes. However, only a few have managed to leave a lasting impact not only in the sport itself but also in the hearts of millions of fans around the world.
Here at Sports Authority of India, we recognize talent most especially those who managed to transcend what it means to be an athlete. In return, they’ve become household names and their influence on the sport will be forever etched in history.
In this blog, we wanted to look back at some of the names that made a huge splash in the world of sports not just to reminisce but to inform new generations of their talents. Keep on reading to learn more about them!
The NBA, the major league of Basketball, has seen many talented athletes throughout its 75 years in the industry. In fact, they recently inducted 75 of the all-time greatest players in the league to commemorate this milestone. Although they are indeed talented and considered the best in their sport, not all of them had the impact that these players did:
If you’re going to debate over who’s the GOAT of the NBA, you can’t leave Michael Jordan out of the conversation. There’s a strong case that MJ is the best athlete to ever play the sport and his stats and accolades speak for themselves.
For starters, Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls have won 6 championships in total, all of which are from a three-peat (1991, 1992, 1993, 1996, 1997, 1998). What’s more impressive is that throughout all of these championships, MJ was hailed as the Finals MVP in each one.
Aside from that, MJ has proven to be the best in the league during his era multiple times by winning the MVP award in 5 different years. Other accolades of MJ include:
- Defensive player of the year (1988)
- 14-time All-Star
- Dunk contest champion
- 3-time All-Star MVP.
However, aside from his accomplishments in sports, Jordan became a household name because of the excitement and the ferociousness that he has shown on the court. This playing style wasn’t seen before during that time and fans from around the world were in awe of his performance throughout his career.
His career off the court is nothing short of amazing too. He starred in one of the most beloved films in history, Space Jam during his hiatus from Basketball and until today, his influence is evident in the form of his shoe line.
The Jordan brand has produced some of the most valuable and beloved sneakers in history. They’re worth hundreds upon thousands of dollars and they’re sought after by fans from around the world. This isn’t just because the sneakers look stylish or cool but because of the history behind them and the name attached to them which is the GOAT of Basketball himself.
You can’t talk about MJ without bringing the player who was closest to him in terms of playing style and ferociousness on the court, Kobe Bryant. The Black Mamba is one of the best players in recent memory and although he was one championship away from tying his idol, his career is still nothing short of amazing.
Kobe entered the league in 1996 and won his first championship with the Lakers in 2000. This championship was just the first of what would become a three-peat similar to what MJ’s Chicago Bulls experienced. The league was no match against the powerful tandem of the young All-Star and the most dominant center in the sport, Shaquille O’neal.
What’s more impressive is that during this 3-season long dominance, the Los Angeles Lakers has amassed an amazing record of 148 wins and only 46 losses.
However, that’s just his first championship run. Fast forward to seven years later the era of Black Mamba arrived and he along with the Lakers captured back-to-back championships. This is more impressive considering the competition that they were faced with during that time. They had to face an MVP Steve Nash, a young LeBron James and finally, their rivals, the Boston Celtics who they lost to just a year before.
The lineup of Boston Celtics during this time was monstrous with Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen leading the team. However, Kobe was on a mission to get revenge and redeem their loss to the Finals in the previous year.
The second championship run of Kobe with the Lakers was also the time when the world witnessed the Black Mamba. This mentality would later be adapted by talented players of the next generation which is why we believe that Kobe is one of the most influential players of the NBA. Some of the players who admitted to being inspired by Kobe include almost all of the current roster which speaks volumes about his influence in the game.
Other accolades that Kobe has garnered throughout his career include:
- 2x NBA Finals MVP
- Most Valuable Player (2008)
- 18x NBA All-Star
- 4× NBA All-Star Game MVP
- NBA Dunk Contest Champion
- 11× All-NBA First Team.
To round up the trinity of players that are often brought up in the GOAT conversation, we have to mention the King, LeBron James. Currently playing for the Los Angeles Lakers, James has already created an impressive resume that supports the case why he’s one of, if not the greatest player to ever play on the court for some people.
The influence of the King is evident on the court as he’s shown to inspire other players that came after him. Some players even go on record to say that he’s the reason why they picked up the basketball in the first place.
However, the biggest highlight of James’ career is when you look at his accomplishments. From Finals to League MVP awards to becoming part of the All-Star numerous times, there seems to be nothing left for James to achieve at this point.
Most recently, he became the leading player in points, passing Kareem Abdul Jabar with 36,720 points.
Off the court, LeBron has also made his impact by starring in some movies with his first lead role being the main star in the sequel to the all-time classic, Space Jam. Space Jam 2: A New Legacy showed that James isn’t just talented on the court but in front of the camera as well.
Here are other notable accolades of LeBron James:
- 4x NBA Champion
- 3x All-Star MVP
- 4x NBA Finals MVP
- 4x NBA League MVP Awards
- 2x Olympic Gold Medals.
The world of American Football won’t be the same without its major league, NFL. As one of the most intense and physical contact sports in the world, it’s always impressive to see the toughness and athleticism of each player that runs the field. However, not all of them have made an impact like these players:
There are only a few people in the NFL that became so successful to the point that they’re synonymous with the league itself and one of those is Tom Brady. Even though he retired recently, what he left behind was a career that would be difficult to replicate because aside from his accolades, he was also an icon off the field.
His 22-year career was filled with accolades that supports the argument that he’s one of, if not, the greatest of all time when it comes to American Football. These achievements weren’t handed out to him. All of them were the result of his dedication to the sport and the aggressiveness he brings every time he’s on the field. Some of his accomplishments throughout his career include:
- 7x Super Bowl Champion
- 5x Super Bowl MVP
- 3x NFL MVP
- 15x Pro Bowl
- 2x NFL Offensive Player of the Year
- 5x NFL Passing Touchdowns Leader
- 4x NFL Passing Yards Leader.
Brady rode into the sunset with arguably the best career stats including most regular-season completions (7,263), passing touchdowns (624) and passing yards (84,520) in the entire history of the league.
When it comes to debating who the GOAT of American Football is, you’ll always see and hear the name, Jerry Rice thrown into the conversation, and rightfully so. Throughout his career (1985-2004), he has made an impact on the sport that’s still being recognized today and we’re sure to continually see in the future.
Playing in the Francisco 49ers, Oakland Raiders and the Seattle Seahawks, Rice has garnered the following notable accolades:
- 3x Super Bowl Champion
- 1x Super Bowl MVP
- 1x MVP
- 1x Second-Team All-Pro
- 10x First-Team All-Pro
- 13x Pro Bowl
- 1x Second-Team All-Pro
- 2x Offensive Player of the Year
Aside from his accolades, his stats throughout his career is also nothing short of amazing. After laying everything on the line and retiring in 2004, he left impressive numbers including:
- 208 touchdowns
- 197 Receiving touchdowns
- 1,548 receptions
Soar as high as these athletes!
These are some of the best athletes in history. By reading this blog, we hope that you’re inspired to be the best at what you do. Who knows, maybe you’ll see yourself along with these names in the future!