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  • greatest all-around athlete ever?

    (all sports)

    Check out a strong nomination in article now on front page.

  • #2
    Re: greatest all-around athlete ever?

    Have not seen the article in the LA Times by Matt Stevens although I read Rich Perelman's article. One should consider this when considering the Matt Stevens article - he called me doing some research for the article and asked my opinion. I told him that I thought Babe Didrikson had to be right up near the top.

    He had never heard of her. That's how reliable that list is.

    I would probably vote for either Jim - Thorpe or Brown.

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    • #3
      Re: greatest all-around athlete ever?

      Robinson or Thorpe..flip a coin... or let them arm wrestle for it.

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      • #4
        Re: greatest all-around athlete ever?

        Originally posted by bambam
        Have not seen the article in the LA Times by Matt Stevens although I read Rich Perelman's article. One should consider this when considering the Matt Stevens article - he called me doing some research for the article and asked my opinion. I told him that I thought Babe Didrikson had to be right up near the top.

        He had never heard of her. That's how reliable that list is.

        I would probably vote for either Jim - Thorpe or Brown.
        Stevens cited your opinions on several of those he listed:



        .

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        • #5
          Re: greatest all-around athlete ever?

          what a terribly researched article; shameful.

          ps--sorry, Bam, but Thorpe heads my all-overrated team.

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          • #6
            Re: greatest all-around athlete ever?

            Originally posted by gh
            what a terribly researched article; shameful.

            ps--sorry, Bam, but Thorpe heads my all-overrated team.
            I know, you've voiced that incorrect opinion a few times.

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            • #7
              Re: greatest all-around athlete ever?

              Originally posted by gh
              what a terribly researched article; shameful.
              I assume gh is commenting on the overall research, and not on the value of seeking out bam's opinion in connection therewith, of course. :wink:

              .

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              • #8
                Re: greatest all-around athlete ever?

                Wilt #2 ???

                I always liked Wilt Chamberlain, he was a larger-than-life character, an unstoppable scoring and rebounding machine on the B-ball court, and as a young man he was faster than anyone his size had any right to expect.

                However, I also watched Wilt Chamberlain play volleyball many times.
                He played about the way I would have if I had been standing on a step-ladder... high reach, zero mobility, mediocre skills, and a slow arm swing.
                Wilt often played on a four man team matched against college or club six-man teams as fund-raising events.
                The other 3 players on Wilt's crew were invariably some combination of the best half-dozen players in America, all V-ball Hall of Famers.
                They did a fabulous job of covering court and making Wilt look as if he actually had some game.
                Reality = a team of six Wilt clones would have lost a volleyball game to a good high school team.

                On the beach, playing two man V-ball it was the same story. Wilt always played with beach legends as partners and still could not have come close to making it to the last day of a major tourney.

                As for high jumping, Wilt's PR was waaaaay below his height. Not a doubt in my mind that Jackie Robinson could have jumped overhead any time any day from junior high through UCLA.

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                • #9
                  Re: greatest all-around athlete ever?

                  Speaking of volleyball, here's a story about a great athlete - Karch Kiraly. Couple years speaking at a sports medicine meeting in Minnesota and talk about how good pro golfers at the top level really are - and I compare it to all other pro sports. NFL way above college, NBA way above NCAA hoops, etc. After the talk, meet up in the back with one of the speakers, guy is abouy 6-4, thin, looks like a good athlete and he told me wanted to make another comparison. Seems the guy played varsity volleyball at UCLA, so he had to be pretty good. Then he told me that he would often play beach ball and sometimes played against Kiraly. When he had done so, Kiraly would play with Sinjin Smith, and the two of them would wear 40-lb weight vests, to treat it as a workout, and would beat him and his partner 15-0, 15-0!!! That's what it gets like at the very top levels of any sport. Its hard to imagine how good they are.

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                  • #10
                    Re: greatest all-around athlete ever?

                    Bo Jackson

                    A high school decathlete, a pro baseballer/footballer.

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                    • #11
                      Re: greatest all-around athlete ever?

                      Karch was phenomenal, clearly one of the great athletes of his generation. He dominated his sport for more than a decade, was by far the best at every level of V-ball he played. During one of those silly TV Superstars competitions he ran a 2:06 for 800 meters in flats having never run the distance, nor any other organized track race, before.

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                      • #12
                        Re: greatest all-around athlete ever?

                        Originally posted by wamego relays champ
                        Originally posted by gh
                        what a terribly researched article; shameful.
                        I assume gh is commenting on the overall research, and not on the value of seeking out bam's opinion in connection therewith, of course. :wink:

                        .
                        I did not take it like that.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: greatest all-around athlete ever?

                          Gh, can u explain why Thorpe is so overrated?

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                          • #14
                            Re: greatest all-around athlete ever?

                            The answer probably has something to do with his era: he was competing against pygmies (no offense to pygmies, of course; some of my best friends are pygmies).

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                            • #15
                              Re: greatest all-around athlete ever?

                              One reason Thorpe may be overrated is that he actually wasn't that great a baseball player. Sort of like Michael Jordan's baseball career.

                              I tend to think this can go in a number of potential directions. Seems to me Babe Zaharias and Jackie Robinson are beyond obvious; the modern accomplishments of Bo Jackson (all star in 2 professional sports) and Deion Sanders (championship rings in two professional sports) are pretty impressive as well. (A real wildcard would be Charlie Ward, who won a Heisman Trophy and started at point guard in the NBA Finals.) Wilt and Bill Russell were both pretty impressive in track and field even though they only dabbled in it, and were great basketball players. If I were to pick a track athlete besides Babe, I'd go with Jackie Joyner-Kersee because she was so great in both the long jump and the heptathlon.

                              The thing is, this all depends on how you conceive the question. I think that an "all around" athlete needs to excel in at least more than one discipline. The author of the LA Times piece seemed to think that amazing athletic prowress in a single discipline could be enough.I also think that it's easier to do multiple sports in high school than college, and in college than in the pros. Lastly, as with all these things, modern athletes are a quandry in that they are so much more athletic than past competitors but at the same time they also specialize more-- e.g., modern professional football players are far better athletes than Bob Waterfield, but Bob Waterfield played quarterback, defensive back, punter, and placekicker, all at an elite level in his era. How are you supposed to compare that to Tom Brady, who does one thing and does it far better than Waterfield did?

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