Best Athletes of the 1980s

The Top Ten
1 Wayne Gretzky Wayne Douglas Gretzky CC is a Canadian former professional ice hockey player and former head coach. He played 20 seasons in the National Hockey League for four teams from 1979 to 1999.

The Great One, a big bash of records and awards, the man who lifted pro hockey in the United States. In 1982, he did a triple crown of awards: 1) ABC Wide World of Sports Athlete of the Year, 2) Associated Press Male Athlete of the Year, and 3) Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year.

His highlight reel of goals and moments made the sports nightly reel and gave CNN Sports Tonight an instant success. The Stanley Cups, over 3,000 points, and a place in hockey history forever. It's Joeysworld.

2 Larry Bird Larry Joe Bird is an American retired professional basketball player who played for the Boston Celtics of the National Basketball Association. Bird is a 3x champ, 1x ROTY, 1x Finals MVP, 3x 3PT Contest winner, all with the Boston Celtics. (1979-1992)
3 Joe Montana Joseph Clifford "Joe" Montana, Jr., nicknamed Joe Cool and The Comeback Kid, is a retired American football quarterback.

In 1984, movie fans went nuts seeing The Karate Kid. In 1986, 49ers fans went nuts seeing the comeback kid playing again. In week 1 of the NFL season, Montana led the 49ers to a 31-7 win over the still-rebuilding Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but during the game, Montana suffered a back injury. The injury was so severe that doctors suggested Montana should retire.

Then, in week 10, he was back and it became the NFL Lead Story of the day as he led the 49ers to a 43-17 win over the St. Louis Cardinals. At the end of 1986, he was named NFL Comeback Player of the Year (with Tommy Kramer), another reason why Joe is the best.
Its Joeysworld

4 Vladimir Salnikov
5 Lawrence Taylor
6 Magic Johnson Earvin "Magic" Johnson Jr. is a retired American professional basketball player who played point guard for the Los Angeles Lakers of the National Basketball Association for 13 seasons.
7 Eric Dickerson Eric Demetric Dickerson is a former college and professional American football player who was a running back in the National Football League for eleven seasons during the 1980s and 1990s.
8 Michael Jordan Michael Jeffrey Jordan, also known by his initials, MJ, is an American retired professional basketball player.

I totally disagree with this top ten. The absolute number 1 of the decade is Diego Armando Maradona. The number 2 belongs to Michael Jordan. MVP of the NBA in 1988, three consecutive years (1987, 1988, 1989) top scorer, twice best male basketball player of the year (1983, 1984) as a college player, Olympic champion with the National team (1984). Also, his personal best career year in the NBA was in this decade. Although three NBA super players were at their best in the '80s (Jabbar, Johnson, Bird), Jordan was the one that amazed everybody. Only club titles weren't in his hands.

9 Diego Maradona Diego Armando Maradona (October 30, 1960 - November 25, 2020) was an Argentine professional footballer. Widely regarded as one of the greatest players in the history of the sport, he was one of the two joint winners of the FIFA Player of the 20th Century award. Maradona was given the nickname "El Pibe... read more

He is still the God of football for the Argentinians (Messi hasn't managed to dethrone him).

10 Moses Malone Moses Eugene Malone was an American basketball player who played in both the American Basketball Association and the National Basketball Association from 1974 through 1995. The center was named the NBA Most Valuable Player three times and was a 12-time NBA All-Star and an eight-time All-NBA selection... read more
The Contenders
11 Carl Lewis Frederick Carlton "Carl" Lewis is an American former track and field athlete who won nine Olympic gold medals, one Olympic silver medal, and 10 World Championships medals, including eight gold. His career spanned from 1979 to 1996, when he last won an Olympic event.

He should be in the top ten. The number 1 of this list (Gretzky) is famous for 350 million people and totally unknown for over 6 billion... (also third as greatest athlete of all time!).

12 Mike Bossy Michael Dean Bossy or, according to some sources, Michael Jean Bossy was a Canadian former ice hockey player who played for the New York Islanders for his entire career and was a crucial part of their four-year reign as Stanley Cup champions in the early 1980s.
13 Naim Süleymanoğlu

One of the greatest athletes of all time, 'the Pocket Hercules' was the first weightlifter to win three gold Olympic medals and broke his first world record in the men's category aged 16!

14 Florence Griffith Joyner

Florence Griffith-Joyner is regarded as the fastest woman of all time. In the 1988 USA Olympic trials, she broke the world record in the 100 meters by 0.27 seconds, and in the same year's Olympics, the world record in the 200 meters by 0.37 seconds. I remind you that Usain Bolt improved the world record in the 100 meters by a total of 0.15 seconds and the 200 meters by a total of 0.13 seconds. She won 3 gold medals and one silver medal in the 1988 Olympics. She also won a silver medal in the 1984 Olympics.

Her world records still stand. They aren't the oldest (J. Kratochvilova, 800 meters since 1983), but if there is a record in track and field that will stand for half a century, it will be her 100 meters (10.49). She's quite forgotten by a lot...

15 Marvin Hagler Marvelous Marvin Hagler vs. Thomas Hearns, was a world middleweight championship boxing match between undisputed champion Marvin Hagler and challenger Thomas Hearns, the then reigning world's junior middleweight champion, who had gone up in weight for the bout.
16 Julius Erving Julius Winfield Erving II, commonly known by the nickname Dr. J, is an American retired basketball player who helped popularize a modern style of play that emphasizes leaping and playing above the rim.
17 Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is an American retired professional basketball player who played 20 seasons in the National Basketball Association for the Milwaukee Bucks and Los Angeles Lakers.

In 2013, Julius Erving (always an opponent of Jabbar) said that according to stats, Kareem is the number 1 of all time. Maybe this is partially true, but Jabbar is definitely in the top 5 of all time (positions 3-5 with LeBron James and Earvin Johnson).

18 Michel Platini Michel François Platini (born 21 June 1955) is a French football administrator and former player and manager. As the president of UEFA in 2015 he was banned from involvement in football under FIFA's organisation, over ethics violations. The ban will last until 2023. Regarded as one of the greatest... read more
19 Jackie Joyner-Kersee
20 Sugar Ray Leonard Ray Charles Leonard, best known as "Sugar" Ray Leonard, is an American former professional boxer, motivational speaker, and occasional actor.

Sugar Ray had many great bouts in this decade, one of which occurred on September 16, 1981, against Thomas Hearns. In the fight of the year, "The Showdown," Leonard came back after 12 rounds and trailing on all scorecards. He hurt Hearns with a right and then a combination of punches that sent Hearns through the ropes for a knockdown. In the 14th round, despite having a badly swollen left eye, Leonard kept punching after Hearns until referee Davey Pearl stopped the fight, giving the bout to Ray Leonard. With it, he became The Ring Magazine Fighter of the Year, ABC's Wide World of Sports Athlete of the Year, and The Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year.

Its Joeysworld

21 Marita Koch

From Germany comes Marita Koch, her specialty running full speed ahead. Throughout her career, she set 16 world records outdoors and 14 more indoors. She took part in the 1980 Summer Olympics and then the 1983 World Track and Field Championship, but one moment stands out.

On October 6, 1985, at the year's World Cup meet, she blazed her way at the 400 meters at a record pace so fast it was hard to explain. She set a world record of 47.60, a record that still stands. One of track's most unforgettable moments. It's Joeysworld.

22 Daley Thompson
23 Martina Navratilova
24 Zico

The White Pelé took part in three World Cups (1978, 1982, 1986), but none were victorious for his national team, though the Brazilian teams were eligible for the trophy.

25 Manuel Estiarte
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