Is Michael Jordan the Greatest Team Sports Athlete of All Time?

Moderators: Domejandro, jamaalstar21, zimpy27, BombsquadSammy, GeorgeMarcus, Goudelock, Prez, bwgood77, ken6199, Dirk

Kobe187
Freshman
Posts: 91
And1: 67
Joined: Jun 08, 2019

Is Michael Jordan the Greatest Team Sports Athlete of All Time? 

Post#1 » by Kobe187 » Sat May 23, 2020 7:12 pm

Is Jordan the Greatest Team Sports Athlete of All Time?

Babe Ruth
Wayne Gretzky
Tom Brady
Joe Montana
Jerry Rice
Jim Brown
Bo Jackson
Pele’
Maradona

There have been some legendary players in team sports throughout history that have completely revolutionized the game and changed the culture of the sport they play.

Michael Jordan likely had the greatest impact, more than any other athlete in history. Everyone wanted to be like Mike; his swagger, the way he played the game, the way he moved, the dunks, the buzz he created was phenomenal.

He revolutionized the game by showcasing how dominant a guard be. The cultural impact was huge from the low top shoes, to the gold chain, shorts being lower to the knee, etc. Jordan is not only the GOAT in basketball but all of team sports. Thoughts?

1. Jordan
2. Ruth
3. Gretzky
4. Pele’
User avatar
Sgt Major
Sixth Man
Posts: 1,941
And1: 3,270
Joined: Nov 09, 2018
 

Re: Is Michael Jordan the Greatest Team Sports Athlete of All Time? 

Post#2 » by Sgt Major » Sat May 23, 2020 7:14 pm

Messi doesn't belong in that group.
Det. Frank Pembleton: You know, sometimes you're funny. Then there's now.
Duke4life831
Retired Mod
Retired Mod
Posts: 21,454
And1: 33,852
Joined: Jun 16, 2015
   

Re: Is Michael Jordan the Greatest Team Sports Athlete of All Time? 

Post#3 » by Duke4life831 » Sat May 23, 2020 7:19 pm

The gap between Gretzky and every other hockey player is greater than any other GOAT in any other team sport.
Cavsfansince84
Head Coach
Posts: 6,253
And1: 4,840
Joined: Jun 13, 2017
   

Re: Is Michael Jordan the Greatest Team Sports Athlete of All Time? 

Post#4 » by Cavsfansince84 » Sat May 23, 2020 7:20 pm

I think you are complicating your original question by adding in the cultural impact aspect of it. Its like two different things you are asking imo. The greatest team sport athlete by definition of team is Russell I would say. 11 rings in 13 years with 5 mvps. In the context of team that is #1. If you are arguing cultural impact than maybe it is MJ though Ruth would also be up there. Brady in terms of team athletes could easily be argued as equal to or greater than MJ. Gretzky's obviously up there too along with a few soccer players.
Sedale Threatt
RealGM
Posts: 37,122
And1: 20,520
Joined: Feb 06, 2007
Location: Clearing space in the trophy case.

Re: Is Michael Jordan the Greatest Team Sports Athlete of All Time? 

Post#5 » by Sedale Threatt » Sat May 23, 2020 7:23 pm

If you're going to talk about extraneous factors like cultural impact, then yeah it was probably Jordan.

But in terms of pure individual dominance, Gretzky is tough to beat. Set career records in the NHL for goals, assists and points (goals/assists combined). Even even if you subtracted his roughly 900 career goals, he'd still hold the career record for points with nearly 2,000 assists. (This is f'ing incredible.) Led the NHL in goals five times, assists 16 times (first at 19, last at 37) and points 11 times. In terms of single seasons, he has the top two goal totals, and four of the top 10; the top eight assist totals, and nine of the top 10; and the top four point totals, and eight of the top 10. That's before you even get into his awards and championships.

I'm not even a hockey guy, but I'm pretty sure nobody's ever re-written a record book like Gretzky demolished the NHL's. Messi obviously had Ronaldo neck-and-neck in Spain, but I'm pretty sure those two did the same things for La Liga.
"Is Donald Trump an intellectual? Trust me. I’m, like, a smart person" - Donald Trump

"Suck it, and keep on sucking" - Diego Maradona

"You ain't caramel coated Cracker Jack" - Ol Dirty Bastard
Kobe187
Freshman
Posts: 91
And1: 67
Joined: Jun 08, 2019

Re: Is Michael Jordan the Greatest Team Sports Athlete of All Time? 

Post#6 » by Kobe187 » Sat May 23, 2020 7:40 pm

Duke4life831 wrote:The gap between Gretzky and every other hockey player is greater than any other GOAT in any other team sport.


True, but in terms of global impact and culture he’s not as high as Jordan, Pele and Ruth.

Gretzky statistically blows the 2nd greatest hockey player out of the water, but just like Wilt we shouldn’t focus only on the numbers. Gretzky is the greatest hockey player of all time, but Lemieux, Orr, & Howe aren’t far behind in terms of dominance and impact on the game.
Tor_Raps
Analyst
Posts: 3,742
And1: 5,286
Joined: Oct 14, 2018

Re: Is Michael Jordan the Greatest Team Sports Athlete of All Time? 

Post#7 » by Tor_Raps » Sat May 23, 2020 7:49 pm

Kobe187 wrote:
Duke4life831 wrote:The gap between Gretzky and every other hockey player is greater than any other GOAT in any other team sport.


True, but in terms of global impact and culture he’s not as high as Jordan, Pele and Ruth.

Gretzky statistically blows the 2nd greatest hockey player out of the water, but just like Wilt we shouldn’t focus only on the numbers. Gretzky is the greatest hockey player of all time, but Lemieux, Orr, & Howe aren’t far behind in terms of dominance and impact on the game.


Totally agree with your take. I'm actually one of those people who loved mario lemieux and he will always be the best hockey player to me.

If we went by stats only then Kareem/wilt could be considered better than jordan.
Doctor MJ
Senior Mod
Senior Mod
Posts: 41,510
And1: 9,926
Joined: Mar 10, 2005
Location: Cali
   

Re: Is Michael Jordan the Greatest Team Sports Athlete of All Time? 

Post#8 » by Doctor MJ » Sat May 23, 2020 7:55 pm

Kobe187 wrote:Is Jordan the Greatest Team Sports Athlete of All Time?

Babe Ruth
Wayne Gretzky
Tom Brady
Joe Montana
Jerry Rice
Jim Brown
Bo Jackson
Pele’
Maradona
Messi

There have been some legendary players in team sports throughout history that have completely revolutionized the game and changed the culture of the sport they play.

Michael Jordan likely had the greatest impact, more than any other athlete in history. Everyone wanted to be like Mike; his swagger, the way he played the game, the way he moved, the dunks, the buzz he created was phenomenal.

He revolutionized the game by showcasing how dominant a guard be. The cultural impact was huge from the low top shoes, to the gold chain, shorts being lower to the knee, etc. Jordan is not only the GOAT in basketball but all of team sports. Thoughts?

1. Jordan
2. Ruth
3. Gretzky
4. Pele’


When we talk about Greatest Sportsmen (and Sportswomen), we're always talking about someone who captured the imagination of the world. While it makes sense to think this would be more likely to happen with individual sports - early on boxers and olympians would have dominated the list - in the modern landscape it's pretty clear that that the biggest icons can come from team sports just about as easily as individual sport.

If we're asking who captured the imagination most, I'd mention 4 guys:

Babe Ruth - transformed baseball and essentially made it the #1 sport in the American landscape

Pele - the face of World Cup soccer, and specifically of Brazilian dominance - before Pele, Brazil was not the dominant soccer nation on the planet, but for the half century plus, it has been.

Muhammad Ali - the ultimate social justice icon among those who have already reached this stage. Things were a bit different in the Babe's day, but Pele and Jordan are well-known for doing whatever sponsors tell them to do despite knowing full well that they could try to do something different. You can disagree with what Ali advocated for, but you cannot deny that he was more important because of it.

Michael Jordan - of course. Remains the gold standard of athletic excellence to this day.

Ali was an individual athlete so we can eliminate him from this list if we want, but we should just understand that other guys being in team sports really isn't the reason they are a tier down from him.

Between the other 3 guys mentioned, the big question is whether Ruth being a spearhead from an earlier era helps him or hurts him in your criteria. Ruth essentially defined what it meant to be a celebrity athlete on a level beyond what was seen before, but he certainly seems less relevant today than Pele or Jordan.

Between Pele and Jordan, I'd like to here from non-Americans. What's undeniably the case is that Jordan's brand is stronger than Pele on a monetary level. Jordan's the reason Nike dominates sportswear, and he has his own brand that pays him F-you money every single year. Pele does dumb little Subway sandwich adds and when he opens his mouth people in his own sport tend to roll their eyes. I'd argue that Jordan had the wisdom to realize he wasn't wise enough to try to say anything important or significant about anything important or significant while Pele unthinkingly cannibalized his reputation with time...but the fact that he's not American or European is a big deal for a lot of reasons. The fact he's also the grandest icon of the #1 sport on the planet is important also.

Forced to make a pick between the 3 at this moment, I'd go with Jordan.

To circle back to two names already mentioned:

None of this is meant as a knock on Wayne Gretzky or Tom Brady. Both have good arguments for having had more accomplished careers in their sports than Jordan, but they aren't icons to the degree that Jordan is. Gretzky never will be, and the fact his sport is so minor is part of that (I don't like knocking hockey, I wish it were more popular than it is).

Brady is a guy who it seems like it should be possible to surpass Jordan at least in the US, but I think at the time of his retirement it's a given that he won't have matched Jordan. Where Brady's always had a shot to surpass Jordan is if he ends up having a second life in politics. I think that's become less likely with his uncertain connection to Trump. You either got a jump on that bandwagon or jump on the opposing one, and Brady's been Jordan-like with his refusal to take a stand.

Last note:

I'd be remiss without mentioning the other two basketball players to bring up: Bill Russell and LeBron James.

I've always said that if separate specifics of basketball skills, there's zero question whose athletic excellence is more respect-worthy between Russell and Jordan. It's Russell by a country mile. Anyone looking to try to adopt a mentality that allows for optimal success needs to study Russell. There is however the matter that the sports has been purposefully transformed since Russell's time to allow for Jordan-like guys to be more impactful than Russell like guys, and this was done to gin up popularity. It worked and thus it'd be a bit strange to put Russell forward here as basketball's representative.

LeBron vs Jordan is frankly a lot trickier if you're trying to separate based on actual play. Jordan was more dominant, but not by as much as people think, and LeBron's style is more optimized for the NBA rules that have been around since before Jordan joined the league (he just plays against more optimized competition). But while LeBron has an argument to be the Athlete of the 21st Century, to this point, there's no serious question of who the grander icon is. That's Jordan, and it probably always will be.
homecourtloss wrote:Only good thing about quarantine Is that Dr. MJ is posting again. :lol:


Tryin' to avoid the strident debates. I'd rather just help others understand.
otwok
Assistant Coach
Posts: 3,924
And1: 1,940
Joined: May 19, 2010

Re: Is Michael Jordan the Greatest Team Sports Athlete of All Time? 

Post#9 » by otwok » Sat May 23, 2020 7:57 pm

....
Doctor MJ
Senior Mod
Senior Mod
Posts: 41,510
And1: 9,926
Joined: Mar 10, 2005
Location: Cali
   

Re: Is Michael Jordan the Greatest Team Sports Athlete of All Time? 

Post#10 » by Doctor MJ » Sat May 23, 2020 7:58 pm

Kobe187 wrote:
Duke4life831 wrote:The gap between Gretzky and every other hockey player is greater than any other GOAT in any other team sport.


True, but in terms of global impact and culture he’s not as high as Jordan, Pele and Ruth.

Gretzky statistically blows the 2nd greatest hockey player out of the water, but just like Wilt we shouldn’t focus only on the numbers. Gretzky is the greatest hockey player of all time, but Lemieux, Orr, & Howe aren’t far behind in terms of dominance and impact on the game.


Appreciate the references to other hockey players. Lemieux absolutely deserves mention, but I particularly like the Orr reference.

So we're clear:

Wilt is far, far, far, far more problematic than Gretzky on this front.

Wilt is only the greatest statistical player in history if you're using really dumb stats. He's actually the textbook example of a guy whose body pushed him to team sports despite not having the brain to really understand teammate synergy.
homecourtloss wrote:Only good thing about quarantine Is that Dr. MJ is posting again. :lol:


Tryin' to avoid the strident debates. I'd rather just help others understand.
Duke4life831
Retired Mod
Retired Mod
Posts: 21,454
And1: 33,852
Joined: Jun 16, 2015
   

Re: Is Michael Jordan the Greatest Team Sports Athlete of All Time? 

Post#11 » by Duke4life831 » Sat May 23, 2020 8:03 pm

Kobe187 wrote:
Duke4life831 wrote:The gap between Gretzky and every other hockey player is greater than any other GOAT in any other team sport.


True, but in terms of global impact and culture he’s not as high as Jordan, Pele and Ruth.

Gretzky statistically blows the 2nd greatest hockey player out of the water, but just like Wilt we shouldn’t focus only on the numbers. Gretzky is the greatest hockey player of all time, but Lemieux, Orr, & Howe aren’t far behind in terms of dominance and impact on the game.


Ya once you involve cultural impact its clearly Jordan. Strictly with the sport though it's Gretzky. Pretty much imagine a player putting up video game like numbers like Wilt, but instead of doing that early in the sport, it was in the modern era and in the 80s and 90s. That is Gretzky. Also culturally speaking, while yes not even close to the same impact as Jordan, the fact that practically every sports fan knows who Gretzky is (or at least has heard of the name) even though he played a far inferior sport (talking about popularity) in hockey and his prime was 30+ years ago shows just how dominant he was.

Every sport you can make the arguments for other great players (just like the NBA with Kareem, LeBron and so on over Jordan). I still think the gap between Gretzky and anyone else in hockey is greater than any other individual that played in a team sport (just speaking on the court/ice/field).
thebigbird
Assistant Coach
Posts: 4,232
And1: 10,627
Joined: Jul 11, 2018
 

Re: Is Michael Jordan the Greatest Team Sports Athlete of All Time? 

Post#12 » by thebigbird » Sat May 23, 2020 8:31 pm

No? I mean it's not like he has the most rings of all of them. Russell was a superstar and nearly has twice as many as him. It's like Jordan fans set the criteria so it only fits Jordan. If you're comparing to someone with fewer rings, then rings make Jordan better. If someone has more rings, then Jordan is better for other reasons.
slamilcarBarca
Junior
Posts: 455
And1: 377
Joined: Nov 29, 2019
         

Re: Is Michael Jordan the Greatest Team Sports Athlete of All Time? 

Post#13 » by slamilcarBarca » Sat May 23, 2020 8:31 pm

why is bo jackson on this list?

He is the best athlete listed, with only MJ and Jim Brown worthy of an attempt at comparison, but the context appears to designate team success as a qualifier. his teams didn't win. and for all his obvious potential he didn't actually do much on an nfl field. the injury doesn't matter when assessing what did actually happen. i can't see him as a top 50, and maybe not even top 100, rb of all time. his numbers have already been greatly eclipsed by derrick henry. and as an athlete his is not superior to lamar jackson, who has had a bigger on field impact.

if it is due to his 2 sport achievement and athleticism combined, i still don't see it. he would be 2nd to deion sanders in that case anyway. deion was every bit the athlete, but also a champion. and his impact on the field was greater. even without being a willing tackler. his man coverage changed opponents gameplans and his return prowess changed tactics. his impact was massive.

replace Bo with lebron james. or barry bonds/willie mays.

the only player listed that has an argument, and a very good one, is wayne gretzky.
kinste
Sophomore
Posts: 198
And1: 258
Joined: Apr 11, 2016
Location: Munich
   

Re: Is Michael Jordan the Greatest Team Sports Athlete of All Time? 

Post#14 » by kinste » Sat May 23, 2020 9:12 pm

As European and big sports fan i don't even really know half the people you listed.

Babe Ruth -> no idea who he is and what sport he played
Wayne Gretzky -> i've heard of him, hockey player. But hockey ain't that big globally
Joe Montana -> heard of him before, QB, but nobody outside of the hardcore football fans in Europe / Germany would know him
Jerry Rice -> don't know him
Jim Brown -> heard of him, because Lebron greeted him once at a Cavs game. Is he football?
Bo Jackson -> never heard of him

You guys with your obesession for GOATs is pretty ridiculous. My favorit sports is football (soccer) and i have never once discussed with someone else for longer then 2min about some GOAT.
shakes0
Sixth Man
Posts: 1,794
And1: 1,942
Joined: Jul 14, 2017
Location: Chicago
       

Re: Is Michael Jordan the Greatest Team Sports Athlete of All Time? 

Post#15 » by shakes0 » Sat May 23, 2020 9:28 pm

Duke4life831 wrote:The gap between Gretzky and every other hockey player is greater than any other GOAT in any other team sport.



Yep. This is objectively the only correct answer. This poll should start at #2.
User avatar
UcanUwill
RealGM
Posts: 16,305
And1: 11,540
Joined: Aug 07, 2011
   

Re: Is Michael Jordan the Greatest Team Sports Athlete of All Time? 

Post#16 » by UcanUwill » Sat May 23, 2020 10:14 pm

kinste wrote:As European and big sports fan i don't even really know half the people you listed.

Babe Ruth -> no idea who he is and what sport he played
Wayne Gretzky -> i've heard of him, hockey player. But hockey ain't that big globally
Joe Montana -> heard of him before, QB, but nobody outside of the hardcore football fans in Europe / Germany would know him
Jerry Rice -> don't know him
Jim Brown -> heard of him, because Lebron greeted him once at a Cavs game. Is he football?
Bo Jackson -> never heard of him

You guys with your obesession for GOATs is pretty ridiculous. My favorit sports is football (soccer) and i have never once discussed with someone else for longer then 2min about some GOAT.


You seriously say you havent heard of Babe Ruth? I havent seen a second of Baseball, but I heard of Babe Ruth, He is legendary name, just like Joe DiMaggio, those are 2 Baseball names that everyone heard of, even if you havent heard anything about the sport. they Define time period, when you think of early 1900s, its Babe Ruth, its Al Capone, its Charlie Chaplin, you dont even need to be aware of their work you know these people.
twix2500
RealGM
Posts: 16,337
And1: 11,667
Joined: Dec 25, 2003
   

Re: Is Michael Jordan the Greatest Team Sports Athlete of All Time? 

Post#17 » by twix2500 » Sat May 23, 2020 10:17 pm

Michael Phelps

Sent from my SM-G955U using Tapatalk
User avatar
prophet_of_rage
RealGM
Posts: 10,233
And1: 2,643
Joined: Jan 06, 2005

Re: Is Michael Jordan the Greatest Team Sports Athlete of All Time? 

Post#18 » by prophet_of_rage » Sat May 23, 2020 10:18 pm

Duke4life831 wrote:The gap between Gretzky and every other hockey player is greater than any other GOAT in any other team sport.
It's Gretzky.

Sent from my SM-N970W using Tapatalk
TheEndIsNigh
Junior
Posts: 412
And1: 362
Joined: Dec 22, 2012

Re: Is Michael Jordan the Greatest Team Sports Athlete of All Time? 

Post#19 » by TheEndIsNigh » Sat May 23, 2020 10:19 pm

shakes0 wrote:
Duke4life831 wrote:The gap between Gretzky and every other hockey player is greater than any other GOAT in any other team sport.



Yep. This is objectively the only correct answer. This poll should start at #2.


Babe Ruth's stats are insane, and if you adjust for era they almost unfathomable. Is Gretzky really fast and away beyond Ruth in this discussion?
MrPerfect1
Lead Assistant
Posts: 4,679
And1: 2,596
Joined: Jul 02, 2013

Re: Is Michael Jordan the Greatest Team Sports Athlete of All Time? 

Post#20 » by MrPerfect1 » Sat May 23, 2020 10:31 pm

Jordan isn't even in the same league athletically as Bo Jackson or Dion Sanders.

Gretzky and Ruth shouldn't even be on the list. There are 300+ NBA current players who are better Athletes than Ruth and Gretzky

Return to The General Board