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Will the Cavs (at Boston) beat the Celtics tonight?

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Is Freddy Adu a bust?

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Daily Featured Ranking Question for 2022-05-04

The All Time Top 10 Most Exciting Athletes: Men by Mark D. Hauser

(To give your answer and view the results to this ranking question, go to: Greatest Athletes and Teams: Athletes: All Time.)

1. Michael Jordan 2. Muhammad Ali 3. Gale Sayers 4. Julius Erivng 5. Deion Sanders 6. Brett Favre 7. O.J. Simpson. 8. Barry Sanders 9. Kobe Bryant 10. Lebron James.

Relax -- it is just an opinion -- I doubt there is one person on this planet who would give the same exact answer. The same goes for your answer. Admittedly, there should be at least one soccer (football) player (probably Pele) on this list, but it is hard because I have watched so little soccer (partly because it is not an exciting sport with the current rules and partly because I grew up and I live in the United States.)

When choosing a video for the Daily Video recently for my site (UltimateSportsRankings.com) I looked at some highlights of Bobby Orr (one of my boyhood sports idols) and I realized he should be on this list. His end-to-end rushes were breathtaking. So, allow me to cheat and include those two athletes and call this my top 12.

Hopefully, this will make the soccer and hockey fans a little happier (and I am all about making you happy on mt site, after all, it is sports and it should be fun), but admittedly, not the baseball fans, since there are none on my list. I just do not find baseball that exciting. Not to worry baseball fans -- you get a vote too.

(I suspect if I was alive in 1919 when Baby Ruth started hitting all those home runs (more than entire teams), I would have been captivated by him and he would have made my list. I hope that makes the baseball fans a little bit happier.)

Michael Jordan needs no explaining, however, if you need one just read my article on the most exciting basketball players of all-time. (I don't want to turn off the 2 or 3 sports fans on this planet who are not Michael Jordan fans (silly fools).

To truly appreciate how exciting Ali was, you need to watch his 10 fights between 1964 and 1967 when he was in his prime. Here is a quote (since I cannot figure out on how to improve on this description) from my article on the 25 Greatest Athletes of All-time, "In the Cleveland ("Big Cat") Williams fight Ali never looked better, and it seemed as if he was beamed in from another planet -- 200 years in the future!"

"Never have I seen an athlete look so far ahead of his time in the display of athletic skills (yes, even more so than Jordan since Dr. J was in his league in some ways). Ali had blinding speed, unreal quickness, incredible agility, grace, style, underrated strength, toughness, heart, instincts, and brains. In short, an ideal physical specimen for sports." Gosh, I could not have said it better.

I will always have a soft spot in heart for Gale Sayers because he was the first athlete to make me run in the other room and get another person (my dad) to see him perform. I was 6 year-old football-nut who had just started watching sports and Gale Sayers was a rookie (1965). In short, he made me a sports fan for life.

And if you are younger than I am and have never seen Gale Sayers' highlights, youtube is screaming for you. While you are there you may want to watch highlights of Jim Brown and O.J. Simpson. Even though neither one has a likable personality (O.J. did until he killed 2 people) they sure were exciting to watch run with a football.

Julius Erving also needs no explanation (although in mt basktball article I did explain how I jumped out of my seat the first time a saw him dunk) and if you are young, it would be advisable to go back to youtube if never saw Dr. J highlights before.

Kobe comes close to Michael sometimes and Lebron will be thrilling for years to come. Deion's sheer athletic ability made him a pleasure to watch, and Barry's break-your-ankle-stop-on-a dime moves were always thrilling to watch.

I have been a lifelong Packers fan, but I am quite certain Brett Favre would have made my list even if I wasn't. And, hey Brett, if you are reading this (hey, you never know -- he is retired and has to find things to do): Can you please play one more year?

Please allow me a another bonus pick, Bruce Lee, and here is my explanation: How could I leave out the athlete with the quickest reflexes in the history of mankind? And maybe, pound for pound, the strongest athlete of all-time. I suspect if Bruce Lee was alive today in his prime he would dominate the Ultimate Fighting Championships and probably be the most popular athlete in the world. In addition, the UFC would be 10 times more popular than it is right now because of him.

For Pete's sake, could someone please invent a time machine already?


  • The most exciting athletes of all time only exist in the past 40 years, and only exist in the United States? 1. Pele (the most amazing scorer and passer in the world's most popular sport) 2. Red Grange (the first great modern professional athlete -- if you can make pro football popular and sell out stadiums for exhibitions, I submit you probably more exciting than someone who keeps people's attention in an established sport) 3. Verus (the gladiator - the only one about whom poetry was written and one of the few who won freedom despite eventually losing) 4. Huo Yuanjia (made wushu/kung fu an international sport via international matches against foreigners) 5. Michael Jordan (amazing individualist in a team sport -- a bit overhyped, though) 6. Houdini (yes, he was an athlete); 7. Wayne Gretzky (great scorer, passer in one of the fastest paced sports) 8. Babe Ruth 9. Magic Johnson (passing/scoring) 10. Gale Sayers (gets the nod over Barry Sanders because GS made incredible plays in so many different ways) 11 (tie). Sugar Ray Leonard; Milo of Croton. I actually suspect the famous ancient athletes should dominate this list -- we can learn about them 2500 years after their deaths, yet it is unclear which modern athlete would still be recognizable 25 centures from now, especially since America is unlikely to be the dominant culture (more likely Asia, in which case most of these athletes will have been forgotten).
    Posted by CryHavoc
  • Follow-up note -- no QB should even make the top 20, and John Elway, Fran Tarkenton, Steve Young, and Randall Cunningham are all above Favre, as they were great scrambers/runners as well as passers -- I opine that being exciting in more than one way trumps excitement as a pocket passer only.
    Posted by CryHavoc
  • No - not even close! Carl Lewis, Edwin Moses, Walter Payton, Roger Federer, Martina Navratilova, Mohammed Ali, Michael Jordan, Althea Gibson, are also worthy of consideration in sports I follow! We agree on Jordan! Ah, these debates are always fun. You need to do the 10 best in each sport!!
    Posted by JA Allen

Past Featured Ranking Questions

The All Time Top 10 NBA Centers by Mark D. Hauser
The All Time Top 5 NBA Shooting Guards by Mark D. Hauser
The All Time Top 5 NBA Point Guards by Mark D. Hauser
The 10 Greatest Boxers of All Time by Mark D. Hauser
The 10 Greatest Heavyweight Boxers of All Time by Mark D. Hauser
The Top 25 NBA Players of All Time by Mark D. Hauser
The All Time Top 10 NHL Players (non-goalies) by Mark D. Hauser

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