clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Jordan Named Athlete Of The Century

ESPN has named
Michael Jordan the Athlete Of The Century.
The choices came down to Jordan,
Ali, Ruth, and Jim Brown. That's a tough field to choose from and we don't
envy the voters at all. It would be hard to vote against Ruth, whose
shadow still looms, even after all this time. Then there's Jim Brown, who
is arguably the greatest football player of all time - and also arguably the
greatest lacrosse player ever. No one else can claim to be the best in two
sports, at least not on his level. Then there's Ali, who backed up his
claim to be The Greatest, and also changed the social fabric of a nation.

We had expected it to be Ali, not least of all because he was willing to
throw his beliefs out there and take whatever came back, and because he overcame
so many obstacles and never backed down. But on the other hand, when
Jordan came out of retirement, a Chinese army battalion chanted his
name. Ruth, Ali, and Jordan had huge impacts, but Jordan, partly due to
the times, probably had a bigger international impact. Even that's
arguable though: when Malcolm X went to Mecca, the only words he had to
communicate with some people were Muhammad Ali. The Muslims were very
aware of Ali and very excited, which must have been poignant for Malcolm X, as
he had by then been cast out by the Black Muslims and was no longer allowed to
associate with Muhammad Ali.