ESPN.com celebrates its 20th anniversary this week. We’ll be highlighting some of the top teams, athletes and moments that characterized greatness in sports from 1995 to 2015.
Michael Jordan, Michael Phelps, Serena Williams, Tiger Woods — which athletes defined the pinnacle of sports over the past two decades? Our staff chose the following athletes as the best of the best. Athletes were limited to those whose careers existed or their crowning achievements occurred within the last 20 years.
ESPN changes their website around, and then they drop this bomb on all of us. Pretty cool list if you ask me. So many players have stepped in between the lines the past 20 years, but only so many have dominated like the few on this list. I am not sure how they came up with their top 20, but there are some on here that I agree with, and some on here that I do not. As big of a LeBron James fan, no way is he ahead of Kobe.
Let me drop some knowledge on you and give you my top 5.
1) Michael Jordan
Won three straight NBA championships after retiring to give baseball a try. The greatest of all time averaged 29.5 points per game between 95-98 at which he was 32, 33, and 34 years old. Let’s not forget that he made a second comeback during the 2001-02 and 2002-03 season. His numbers were not spectacular, but the fact that he came back and played and played well at the age of 38 and 39 shows a lot.
2) Tiger Woods
Woods became a pro back in 1996 at the age of 21. Fresh out of college, Tiger took over the PGA tour, winning his first Major championship at the 1997 Masters. Since then, he was won a total of 14, with his last one coming back in 2008. Sure it has been awhile, but when Woods was on top of his game, he was on top of the world, dominating the tour. Tiger has earned close to $110,000,000 from his playing career alone.
3) Tom Brady
The greatest quarterback we have ever seen play…EVER. He is 10x better than Peyton Manning. It’s not even close. The Michigan man entered the NFL in 2000, and in his second season, started a dynasty with the Patriots and Bill Belichick. He has won 4 Super Bowl rings in 6 appearances, including 3 MVP awards for the big game. A former 6th round draft pick, Brady will go down as the greatest QB to ever play the game. It also doesn’t hurt to be married to a smoke.
4) Kobe Bryant
The kid from Philly made his debut during the 1996-97 season. Hard to believe he has been in the Association for that long. Kobe has won 5 NBA rings, to go along with two Finals MVP’s and one regular season MVP. Should have more if it wasn’t for Steve Nash and the rape acquisitions. Bryant once put 81 points in a game against the Toronto Raptors in 2006 at the age of 27. The Laker finds himself in third place on the all time scoring list with 32,482 points. Will be interesting to see how far Kobe can his extend his career after two season ending injuries.
5) Derek Jeter
Now batting for the Yankees, number 2, Derek Jeter. Jeets made his MLB debut in May of 1995 and won five World Series rings, including three in a row. The legend finished his career batting .310 with 3,465 hits, 260 home runs, and over 1,300 RBI. The short stop was the best at his position for years, making that signature play in the hole and the strong throw to first base. Like the four before him, there are so many accolades to discuss. As a Red Sox fan, I have no problem putting this super star in my top 5. He was that good! Hard to top a man that went out on top the way he did with the game winning RBI in his final home game at Yankee Stadium.