This week I’m ranking my top-10 favorite athletes of all-time.
10. Amar’e Stoudemire
Believe it or not, a little less than a decade ago the New York Knicks were relevant. Stoudemire was the catalyst and led the team with 25.3 points per game while also leading the Knicks to their first playoff appearance in seven years. Although his career was quickly derailed by injuries, this Knick will always hold a special place in my heart for providing a sense of hope (albeit slim) for Knicks fans everywhere, even if it only was for a few seasons.
9. Larry Fitzgerald
Not only is Fitz one of the greatest receivers of all-time, but he is an even better person. Fitzgerald is respected throughout the league for his kind personality, incredible skill and remarkable dedication to one of worst franchises in NFL history. And when he did get his chance at a playoff run in 2008, Fitzgerald put together one of the greatest runs ever—hauling in 30 receptions for 546 yards and seven touchdowns over four games. Wow.
8. Lebron James
You either hate him or respect the crap out of him, and personally, I fall on the latter. Say what you want about his control issues and “championship chasing.” The truth is that Lebron doesn’t chase championships, he provides them. Just take a look at Lebron’s two stints in Cleveland. When he was there they were a perennial contender and when he left they fell to the worst record in the league. Coincidence? I think not.
7. Kurt Warner
Here is a case of an incredibly inspiring sports story. After going undrafted in 1994, Warner joined the Arena Football League from 1995-1997 where he gained NFL recognition from the St. Louis Rams. After being signed in 1997 to a futures contract (he led the Rams to two Super Bowls in three seasons between 1999-2001.) After poor play and injuries between 2002-2003, Warner took a backseat to Marc Bulger. He then signed a one-year deal with the New York Giants starting the first nine games and leading the team to a record of 5-4 before being benched for a young Eli. Following his stint in New York he was shipped off to Arizona where he beat out the tenth overall pick, Matt Leinart, for the starting job. At the tail end of his career in 2008, Warner shocked the league by leading the Cardinals all the way to Super Bowl XLIII where they fell just short.
6. Steph Curry
Growing up I loved the game of basketball and always wanted to play but my height always hindered my ability to score. After I watched the undersized Curry lead Davidson University all the way to the Elite Eight in 2008 I gained some hope. He wasn’t dunking, or even driving a lot. He was creating space off the dribble and launching deep three-pointers; you don’t need height for that. However, Curry’s performance was met with skepticism by scouts and the media alike claiming his height was a huge concern entering the draft. It seems to me that the only concern is the scout’s evaluation process.
5. Rob Gronkowski
Part-human part-robot, Rob “Gronk” Gronkowski is one of the most unique personalities in the history of sports. From his classic spikes to his ill-timed dance moves Gronkowski is the perfect balance of fun and focus. There are two things you can always count on and that is that Gronk will work hard, but have fun while doing it. In the words of Gronk himself, “yo soy fiesta.”
4. Aaron Judge
All Rise! Here comes the Judge! Boy, if you would tell me a few years back that a 6 foot 7 inch outfielder would lead the Yankees back to the playoffs, I would have called you crazy. Another unique character, Judge is surprisingly large for his position but still manages to excel in every area. He has great range in right field and his height allows for some theft out there as well. However, it’s his even keel personality, strikingly similar to Derek Jeter, which separates Judge from the rest. He is truly the full package; he just may need a few extra stamps.
3. Mariano Rivera
In sports, it’s very rare to be unanimously considered the best of all-time at a particular position. In the case of Mariano Rivera, however, it isn’t even close. Rivera has the most saves ever with 652, and a sparkling career 2.21 ERA. However, it was his performances in October that fans will remember most. More people have walked on the moon (12) than have scored on Rivera throughout his sixteen postseasons (11). Let that sink in.
2. Julian Edelman
The feistiest little man in the NFL and Tom Brady’s most reliable target, Edelman was originally drafted 232nd overall in the seventh round of the 2009 NFL draft as a quarterback out of Kent State. In his first full year as a Patriot, Edelman spent the season playing on special teams, wide receiver and even dabbled as a cornerback for Bill Belichick’s defense. Much like other players on this list, Edelman has made a name for himself in the playoffs. After his performance in this years AFC Championship game, Edelman in now second all-time behind Hall of Famer Jerry Rice in postseason receptions with 105 and fourth all-time in postseason yards with 1,271.
1. Tom Brady
As a die-hard Patriots fan, no athlete has brought me more joy than Thomas Edward Patrick Brady. As the years go by people continue to doubt his abilities and all he does is prove them wrong. No other athlete I have witnessed has stepped up time and time again in the biggest moments. It doesn’t matter who is calling the plays or who is catching his passes, Brady continues to defy the odds. As far as I’m concerned there are three certainties in life: death, taxes and a Tom Brady Super Bowl.