Top 10 Greatest Sports Icons

From the crack of a bat to the swish of a net, sports are a universal language, binding us together in collective anticipation, shared triumphs, and communal heartbreaks. Now, you find yourself in the grandstand of a different kind of competition, one that transcends individual games. You're here to contribute to the ultimate roster, the list of the greatest sports icons.

These aren't just your everyday athletes; they're the trailblazers, the game-changers, the legends whose names echo in the halls of sports history. They're the figures who've inspired millions, from wide-eyed kids in backyards dreaming of their big break, to seasoned professionals striving to break records. These are the individuals who've pushed the boundaries of what's possible, from shattering records to breaking down barriers, from rewriting the rulebook to redefining their sports.

Picture them in your mind's eye. The unstoppable force of Babe Ruth at the plate. The transcendent skill of Michael Jordan soaring towards the basket. The unflinching determination of Serena Williams on the tennis court. The lightning speed of Usain Bolt on the track. The unparalleled dominance of Wayne Gretzky on the ice. And that's just scratching the surface. The list of sports icons extends far and wide, including stars from every corner of the sports world, each with their unique blend of talent, tenacity, and charisma.

This isn't about stats alone or just about championship rings. It's about impact. It's about those magical moments that take our breath away, the feats that defy logic, the stories that inspire and captivate. It's about the legacy these sports icons leave behind, the impact they've had both on and off the field.
The Top Ten
1 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

In his country "El Pibe de Oro" was always more than just a sports hero - he was a divine figure. It was the Houston Chronicle that described Maradona perfectly: he was the combination of Michael Jordan's athleticism, Babe Ruth's power and Mike Tyson's human fallibility. In a country that survived many social frustrations and several military dictatorships, El Diego became a symbol of hope and an idol to millions.

2 Muhammad Ali Muhammad Ali, born Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr. (January 17, 1942 – June 3, 2016) was an American professional boxer, activist, entertainer, poet, and philanthropist. Nicknamed The Greatest, he is widely regarded as one of the most significant and celebrated sporting figures of the 20th century, and... read more

Muhammad Ali (Cassius Clay) is definitely among the greatest boxers of all times, but not the number 1.
His career was exciting due to his selfish and provocative character. He had a lot of fans but enemies too. His involvement in several historic boxing matches (the "Fight of the Century", due to the tremendous excitement surrounding a bout between two undefeated fighters, Ali and Joe Frazier, "The Rumble in the Jungle" against George Foreman held in Kinshasa, and the "Thrilla in Manila" again against Joe Frazier) were among the most monumental sports' events of the 20th century.
But all these made him one of the greatest sports' icons that will be difficult to be forgotten.

3 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.

After the 1984 Olympics, Carl Lewis was continuously compared with Jesse Owens. But Owens' track and field career lasted only two years (1935-1936).
Carl Lewis was voted "World Athlete of the Century" by the International Association of Athletics Federations and "Sportsman of the Century" by the International Olympic Committee.

One of the most decorated athletes of all times.
The only disadvantage in his assessment is that he made only two individual world records in his career, both in 100m. He didn't manage to break Beamon's and Mennea's records although he was very close.

4 Michael Jordan Michael Jeffrey Jordan, also known by his initials, MJ, is an American retired professional basketball player.

Michael Jordan can be considered as the most talented athlete of a single sport of all times.
His name can be equal with the word spectacle.
He inspired a lot of basketball greats after him.
All we have seen him playing, we are sure that we won't see anybody like him in future. We are lucky.

5 Martina Navratilova

The former Czechoslovak and later American professional tennis player is considered one of the best, if not the best, female tennis players of all time.
She won 18 Grand Slam singles titles, 31 major women's doubles titles (an all-time record), and 10 major mixed doubles titles, combined marking the open-era record for the most number of Grand Slam titles won by one player, male or female.

6 Pelé Edson Arantes do Nascimento, known as "Pelé", was a Brazilian professional footballer who played as a forward. In 1999 he was named Athlete of the Century by the International Olympic Committee and was included in the Time list of the 100 most important people of the 20th century. In 2000, Pelé was... read more

Best footballer ever , GOAT footballer ever.
Those who saw him almost all of them agree. None of those media hyped fake Messi Ronaldo propagandas . Those who research about football history and are honest in their judgement knows Pele is no 1

7 Michael Schumacher
8 Bruce Lee Bruce Lee (November 27, 1940 – July 20, 1973) was a Hong Kong and American martial artist, martial arts instructor, actor, director, screenwriter, producer, and philosopher. He was the founder of Jeet Kune Do, a hybrid martial arts philosophy drawing from different combat disciplines that is often... read more
9 Mike Tyson Michael Gerard Tyson (born June 30, 1966) is an American former professional boxer who competed from 1985 to 2005. He reigned as the undisputed world heavyweight champion and holds the record as the youngest boxer to win a heavyweight title at 20 years, four months and 22 days old.
10 Franz Beckenbauer Franz Anton Beckenbauer (born 11 September 1945, died 7 January 2024) was a German professional footballer and manager. Early in his playing career, he was nicknamed "Der Kaiser" because of his elegant style, dominance, and leadership on the field. His first name "Franz" is reminiscent of the Austrian... read more
The Contenders
11 Roger Federer Roger Federer (born 8 August 1981) is a Swiss former professional tennis player who is currently ranked world No. 3 in men's singles tennis by the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP). He has won 20 Grand Slam singles titles, the most in history for a male tennis player. He has held the world No... read more

He is regarded as the greatest tennis player ever and he definitely is.
But his achievements and less compared to female legends Margaret Court and Martina Navratilova, in a sport similar competitive for men and women.

12 Johan Cruyff Hendrik Johannes "Johan" Cruijff (25 April 1947 – 24 March 2016) was a Dutch professional football player and coach. As a player, he won the Ballon d'Or three times, in 1971, 1973, and 1974. Cruyff was a proponent of the football philosophy known as Total Football explored by Rinus Michels, and is... read more
13 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)
14 Ayrton Senna Ayrton Senna da Silva (21 March 1960 – 1 May 1994) was a Brazilian racing driver who won three Formula One world championships for McLaren in 1988, 1990 and 1991 and is regarded as one of the greatest Formula One drivers of all time. He was killed in an accident while leading the 1994 San Marino Grand... read more

Although I can't say that he was the best driver of F1 of all times, his racing career and his death made him the greatest icon of the most distinguished sport.

15 Michael Phelps Michael Fred Phelps II (born June 30, 1985) is an American former competitive swimmer and the most successful and most decorated Olympian of all time, with a total of 28 medals. Phelps also holds the all-time records for Olympic gold medals (23), Olympic gold medals in individual events (13), and Olympic... read more

He is the greatest sports icon because all the medals he won in Olympics are recorded for his country.

16 Lionel Messi Lionel Andrés "Leo" Messi was born on June 24, 1987. He is an Argentine professional footballer who plays as a forward for the American club, Inter Miami CF, in the MLS. Messi is widely regarded as one of the greatest football players of all time. His birthplace is Rosario, Argentina.

Football is the most popular sport in the world by far.
Lionel Messi is the greatest football icon of the 21st Century.

17 Babe Ruth George Herman Ruth Jr., better known as Babe Ruth, was an American professional baseball player whose career in Major League Baseball spanned 22 seasons, from 1914 through 1935.
18 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.

Arguably the best Lakers player in team history and a PG that forever changed the position, Johnson has been praised for his accomplishments on the court since arriving in the league.
Yet off the court, Johnson has been less prevalent in the sports headlines since he announced that he was diagnosed with HIV on November 7th, 1991.

19 Tiger Woods Eldrick Tont "Tiger" Woods is an American professional golfer who is among the most successful golfers of all time.
20 Vasily Alekseyev

In 1993 was named the best athlete of all Soviet and Russian history.

In my opinion, greatest European athlete ever.

21 Jim Thorpe James Francis "Jim" Thorpe was an American athlete and Olympic gold medalist. A member of the Sac and Fox Nation, Thorpe became the first Native American to win a gold medal for the United States.

Best multi-sport athlete of the modern era.
In 1950 Associated Press elected him as the best athlete of the first half of the 20th century.

22 LeBron James LeBron Raymone James is an American professional basketball player for the Los Angeles Lakers of the National Basketball Association. LeBron has played for the Cleveland Cavaliers, Miami Heat, and the Lakers.
23 Serena Williams Serena Jameka Williams is an American former professional tennis player. The Women's Tennis Association ranked her world No. 1 in singles on eight separate occasions between 2002 and 2017. She reached the No. 1 ranking for the first time on July 8, 2002.
24 Hank Aaron Henry Louis Aaron, nicknamed "Hammer" or "Hammerin' Hank", was an American Major League Baseball right fielder who served as the senior vice president of the Atlanta Braves.
25 Nadia Comaneci

Comăneci is one of the world's most famous gymnasts and is credited with popularizing the sport around the globe.
She is the first gymnast to be awarded a perfect score of 10.0 at the Olympic Games (seven times) and her presentation remains unforgettable.
In 2000, she was named as one of the Athletes of the 20th Century by the Laureus World Sports Academy.

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