Top Athletes of the Decade – 2000’s
The holidays are upon us, and with this comes the impending doom of lengthy credit card statements, bone chilling winters, and the inevitable dinner table family debacles. My younger years were spent watching my father and grandfather quarrel about political issues, whereas nowadays, with no political depth, I spend those dinners disputing the athletic prowess of my generation’s players versus those of yesteryear with the Ol’ Man. For every Lebron, I hear the Big-O. For Peyton Manning…Johnny U. Say Albert Pujols, Mickey Mantle, and so on.
With this insistence on us needing to rank our athletes of today within a historical reference, these “Top 10” lists have become second nature to us. I can remember 1999 bombarding us with enough Top 10 lists to spin my head around 3 times and soon after view everything in Top 10’s, Shawn Kemp’s Top 10 illegitimate kids, Oprah’s Top 10 weight classes, Tyra Banks’ Top 10 profound statements…you get the picture.
So, with the first decade of the 2000’s coming to an end, lets get a jump on the matter and preview the Top 10 Athletes, across the board, of the 2000’s.
10. Ichiro – Come on…remember how he burst onto the scene in 2001 throwing Terrence Long out as he attempted to advance to 3rd, therefore causing every MLB player to think twice from there on. In 8 seasons, he has 1805 base hits, never less than 200 and a career batting average of .331. Oh yeah, in those 8 years, 8 All-Star appearances, and 8 Gold Gloves. I repeat…come on!
9. Ladanian Tomlinson – Outside of Jim Brown, Walter Payton, and Barry Sanders, has to be the best of all-time at his trade. If there is a TD record out there LT either holds it or will. Fastest to 100 TD’s all-time, 31 TD’s in one year and more than 15,000 yards from scrimmage in 8 seasons..clearly he belongs on this list.
8. Peyton Manning – With the decade not even over, Manning has thrown for 37,295 yards, 277 TD’s to 123 INT’s, and has led his team to a 100-43 record. Manning is immersed in day-to-day disputes over not only being the best QB of this generation, but gets his share of votes for being the best of all time.
7. Zinedine Zidane – Sure, we could argue Ronaldhino, Luis Figo, Ronaldo and so on, but Zidane has been the most consistent and dominating player in the world this decade. Zidane led France to victory in the Euro 2000, was dominant for Real Madrid from ’01-’06, retired, came out of retirement to lead France in the 2006 World Cup, and is the only man I have ever seen knock someone to the ground by head butting him…in the chest!
6. Lance Armstrong – Clearly the most dominating athlete in the history of cycling, Armstrong came into the decade with a Tour de France victory in 1999, then won his 2nd in 2000, and 2001, and 2002, 2003, 2004 and 2005..yes, that is 7 and 7 straight! Oh yeah, he did all of this after beating cancer!
5. Michael Schumacher – In a similar fashion to Mr. Armstrong, Michael Schumacher came into 2000 and started it off right, with a Formula One World Championship, his first with Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro. He followed this up in 2001 with another championship, then 2002, then 2003, and yes, 2004. Dominant! In 2005 and 2006, he didn’t win, but he finished 3rd and 2nd overall respectively.
4. Kobe Bryant – Let me remind you that this list is the Top 10 Athletes not Top 10 Classiest, Chivalrous, Team-Oriented, contributors to a better society. With that said, in the decade of the 2000’s Kobe has 3 NBA championships, 6 NBA 1st Teams, 6 NBA Defensive Teams, 2 Scoring Titles and 1 MVP. He is a highlight reel on any given night and is the only player I have ever heard to be argued against Michael Jordan as the NBA’s greatest of all-time.
3. Tom Brady – The decade started off by being drafted in the 6th Round only to hold a clip board and rank fourth on a depth chart behind Pro-Bowler Drew Bledsoe as well as Michael Bishop and John Friesz. Then came September 23, 2001, soon to be a recognized Holiday in the New England region. Brady took over and led his team to the first of 3 Super Bowls. In 2007 he threw for 50 TD’s and finished with a QB rating of 117.2 Rating, while ALMOST leading his team to a perfect 19-0 season.
2. Michael Phelps – I can tell you that Phelps has won 14 Gold Medals over the past 2 Olympics and we could leave it that. But, that might lead one to think that is all he has done, so in fairness lets add 7 American Swimmer of the Year Awards, 5 World Swimmer of the Year Awards, 40 overall Gold Medals, including the Pan Pacific and World Championships, and 1 2008 Sports Illustrated “Sportsman of the Year” award.
1. Tiger Woods – We can spin this list to be Athlete of the decade, the last 15 years, last 20 years, or maybe even of all-time, and your going to get a strong case for Tiger Woods. Let me say this, I LOVE Jack Nicklaus…but Come ON! It cant even be a debate anymore. Tiger has been the PGA Player of the Year 9 times, and he is only 32 Years old…Nicklaus won it 5 over his career. Tiger has won 14 Major Championships, 12 of them coming during this decade. Quite simply, Tiger is the best athlete of this generation…sorry MJ.
Honorable Mention: Ronaldo, Annika Sorenstam, Tim Duncan, Kevin Garnett, David Beckham, Luis Figo, Ronaldhino, Sidney Crosby, Lebron James, Albert Pujols , Brett Favre, Shaquille O’Neal, Barry Bonds, Jimmie Johnson, and Roger Federer.
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