Thursday, December 17, 2009

Quickie: Best. Decade. Ever.

Off the news that Tiger was named AP athlete of the decade, I lead today's SN column with an argument I've been wanting to make all year:

This decade has produced the best players ever in their respective sports in a ton of sports:


The common link: All are "individual" sports with little or no dependencies on others.

But Jimmie Johnson is arguably the greatest NASCAR driver ever. This decade, Barry Bonds established himself as arguably the greatest baseball hitter ever. LeBron may not be the best basketball player ever (yet), but he was certainly the best high school basketball player ever. And you could make a strong case that Carmelo was the best college hoops player ever. You could even make the case that, over the course of the decade, Peyton established himself as one of the greatest NFL players ever. And, yes, I'm willing to make the argument that Tim Tebow's career was the greatest of any player in college football history.

It's a testament to training. Cynically, we could say that's a euphemism for performance-enhancing drugs -- legal or otherwise -- but even above-board training methods are so advanced that it can take otherwise supremely skilled and blessed athletes (and most are some combination of natural physical gifts and extremely hard work) and turn them into "best evers."

I'll have a lot more to say about the decade -- I'd like to think that this argument is part of the larger argument that, if nothing else, this decade was overwhelmed by instant history and the superlatives that go with it. And I'd like to think that I had even a proud part of that through the Quickie. But I didn't start something -- I was merely an early adopter; "instant history" was an inevitability across media, sports and otherwise.

Lots more coming over the next two weeks on the decade we have just experienced -- and what's to come in 2010.

More you'll find in today's column:

*Kobe: His best season yet?
*Colts-Jags. Sorry, Time Warner, I wouldn't have watched anyway.
*Chris Henry: WTF?! -- updated, this is just sad, as is any death.
*Mark Ingram versus Ndamuknong Suh
*Would Jed Hoyer really trade Adrian Gonzalez?

Lots more in there. More later.

-- D.S.


Skinny said...

Why don't you make the arguments, Dan?

I'd love to hear how Carmelo's one year at Syracuse makes him the greatest college basketball player of all time. I'll even give you a few players to consider in the argument:

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
Bill Walton
Bill Russell
Oscar Robertson
Pete Maravich
Larry Bird
Wilt Chamberlain

Mats Lematos said...

You're kidding about Lance, right? Surrounded by a very powerful team (Postal's TTT blew away and demoralized Ulrich's T-Mo at least twice), fairly weak opposition, and he only races one big race every year. I'd compare Hinault favorably to Armstrong, and neither of those guys could even change Eddy Merckx's flat tires.

Jars said...

Skinny, lest you forget, this comes from the same guy who said that the annual release of a video game is a bigger event than the Conference Championship weekend.