Every Major American Sports Undeniable G.O.A.T
In recent years, every sports fan in the world has had an argument about the G.O.A.T. No, not the farm animal, but rather the acronym for the Greatest of All Time. You know what the best part is about discussing the GOAT? There’s never a definitive answer, so no one ever really agrees.
The reasons for your own choice of GOAT can often vary depending on which decade you grew up in, your favorite or even most hated players, and simply what you define as being “great.” Is it championships, entertainment, or even popularity?
We will discuss the GOAT for each major American sports league and then you’re free to tell us if we’re right or wrong.
NBA GOAT – Michael Jordan
You can say it’s Kareem Abdul-Jabbar or LeBron James, but no one will ever come close to Michael Jordan as the NBA GOAT. Jordan’s competitiveness and athleticism in the 90s were unrivaled. It’s often said that Jordan hated to lose as much as he enjoyed winning.
It wasn’t just the mind-blowing dunks, dramatic steals, and game-clinching shots, there was also an aura around “Air Jordan” that few basketball players, or even stars in any sport, will ever have again. The man commanded attention on and off the court with a larger-than-life personality, knack for winning, and of course all those spectacular highlights (not to mention, the famous “flu” game). There wasn’t much Jordan couldn’t do – as soon as he’d finish scoring, his determination would be just as unrelenting on the defensive end.
Sure, Jordan was no one’s idea of a perfect teammate, as the immense pressure he put on himself also translated to others around him. MJ could be cruel in a way he saw as kind, but if you could withstand his verbal barrages, then you could benefit from the success alongside him. Also, the less said about Jordan’s brief stint as a player for the Washington Wizards, the better.
The six titles speak for themselves, especially the three in a row earned after his first retirement, but you could say Jordan and his Chicago Bulls almost single-handily changed the face of the NBA forever. After the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona, in particular, Jordan was a global icon and fanfare from home games in Chicago was just as wild in other NBA cities too.
Larry Bird, a Celtics legend and competitor of Jordan’s during the late 80s, perhaps said it best after MJ scored 63 points against Boston in only his second season, stating that, “It’s just God disguised as Michael Jordan.”
- Averaged 30.1 points, 6.2 rebounds, 5.3 assists per game over his career
- NBA Hall of Fame inductee
- 6 championships
- 6 Finals MVPs
- 5 Most Valuable Player awards
- 14 NBA All-Star games
- 10 All-NBA First Team appearances
- Defensive Player of the Year (1988)
NFL GOAT – Tom Brady
Is it unusual to call someone the NFL GOAT when he’s still an active player in the league? Perhaps, but let’s be serious, Brady is a football legend and still has more left in him. Since his first NFL game in 2000, Brady has delighted fans with his work ethic, intelligence, drive to win, steady hand under pressure, and incredible accuracy with the football.
It would be remiss of us not to mention one of the best NFL wide receivers of all time, Jerry Rice, who was an exceptional player and still has the record for most touchdowns with 208. But as such a skilled quarterback and team leader, Brady is unquestionably the NFL’s greatest of all time. He not only has the talent but also the trophies and records to back it up.
As of now, Brady has seven Super Bowl titles (next closest is Charles Haley with five), three MVPs, and five Super Bowl MVPs, but what is the craziest thing? Brady is 44-years-old and is showing no signs of slowing down.
While many professional athletes retire in their late 30s, Brady refuses to stop and is currently the starting QB for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. And why should he quit? Brady and the Bucs won the Super Bowl in 2021 and they are a serious contender for the championship in 2022 and beyond. As long as Brady is playing, anything is possible.
- 7 Super Bowls
- 5 Super Bowl MVPs
- 3 NFL Most Valuable Player awards
- 14 Pro-Bowl appearances
- 4-time NFL passing touchdowns leader
MLB GOAT – Babe Ruth
It seems mad to call someone the GOAT when the last time he played was 1935, but there it is. Even decades later, there hasn’t been an MLB player quite like Babe Ruth.
From 1914 to 1935, Ruth was one of the most recognizable faces in the USA and arguably took baseball to dizzyingly new heights. The peak of Ruth’s prowess was during his Yankees years from 1920-1934, and it’s hard to imagine the fabled New York team would have quite the prominence today without Babe’s talent getting things started.
Ruth was such a powerful hitter of the ball that his .690 career slugging percentage has still never been beaten to this day. Although he’s third place in total all-time home runs (behind Henry Aaron with 755 and Barry Bonds with 762), Ruth’s achievement took many years to be overthrown and is continually marveled at as a jaw-dropping feat in the middle years of baseball.
The one knock on Ruth was that he played in an era vastly different to what we have now, as it was forbidden for people of color to play professional baseball until Jackie Robinson broke the barrier in 1947. It’s hard to know what Ruth’s achievements would have been like against a greater variety of athletes, but that’s something we’ll never know.
Ruth was also a fantastic pitcher in the early stages before he focused primarily on batting, even throwing almost 30 consecutive scoreless innings over the span of two World Series. In the height of his stardom, the media relentlessly targeted Ruth and his exploits off the pitch were always the stuff of curiosity by the general public. Ruth died in 1948 and is still fondly remembered by not just baseball fans, but also the sports world as a whole for his era-spanning accomplishments.
- Batting average of .342
- 714 home runs
- Earned run average of 2.28
- 7 World Series championships
- MVP (1923)
- 12-time home run leader
- Baseball Hall of Fame inductee
- NHL’s leading goal scorer, assist producer, and overall point scorer
- NHL Hall of Fame inductee
- 4 championships
- 9 MVPs
- 18 NHL All-Star games
NHL GOAT – Wayne Gretzky
When your nickname is literally the “Great One,” then it’s hard to argue your case against being the NHL GOAT. Wayne Gretzky utterly dominated ice hockey during the 80s and 90s, so much so that many of his records are still standing today. A proud Canadian and demon on the rink, Gretzky’s own size and strength weren’t anything to write home about, but his hockey IQ, speed, endurance, and ability to see plays way ahead of anyone else made Gretzky such a unique player.
Gretzky always managed to have some sort of hockey sixth sense and could seemingly predict oncoming checks from opponents, pinpoint exactly where the puck would land, and pull off either a shot on goal or assist at the correct moment.
As of now, Gretzky is the NHL’s leading goal scorer (894), assist producer (1,963), and overall point scorer (2,857) of all time. The Great One was even known for setting up his plays behind the opposing team’s net, with that particular spot eventually earning the nickname, “Gretzky’s Office.” Keep in mind that Gretzky retired in 1999, making all those incredible feats all the more impressive.
Although he won all four of his championships with the Edmonton Oilers, Gretzky’s trade to the Los Angeles Kings in the late 80s helped to catapult the popularity of ice hockey in California. When Gretzky retired in 1999, the NHL abandoned the usual waiting period and inducted him into the Hockey Hall of Fame straight away. His famous number 99 jersey was also retired for every team, which makes Gretzky the player with this tribute.
So, there’s the list of every major American sports undeniable GOAT (again, stop thinking about the animal). Agree or disagree? Comment below and discuss with your friends and family about who you think deserves be called the GOAT in every league.
Author: Joe Garland