BCMG's Top 20 Male Athletes Of The Last 20 Years: Part One
Since we are closing out on the wild year that was 2020, the boys at Blue Collar Media Group decided to make a list of the top male and female athletes of the last 20 years. This list is an amalgamation of nine lists submitted by BCMG's writers and contributors from the US, Canada, and Great Britain. People-based their list off of their own criteria of what an athlete is with the top spot earning an athlete 20 points all the way down to the 20th spot earning them one point. Here are 20 through 16 of our list.
20. Lewis Hamilton, Formula 1
I know many, especially in North America, don't view Formula 1 as a real sport, but they'd be wrong. Although it's not quite as physically demanding as some other sports these guys are still in peak physical condition and have to have the mental fortitude to deal with the real life-threatening nature of their sport that athletes in more traditional sports don't. If this was a list of the most dominant athletes in a sport, Hamilton would surely be top five. That's how elite he is in F1. He finds himself at the bottom of the list mostly due to the North America bias but hey, at least he made the cut. Just this year Hamilton won his 92nd race of his career, passing Michael Schumacher for the most race wins of all-time. And after clinching this season's World Driver's Championship in November, Hamilton tied Schumacher at the top of the all-time list with seven - two more than the next closest on the list and three more than anybody in the last 50 years. Hamilton is 35 this year, the same age Schumacher was when he won his 7th championship. He may only have a couple more kicks at the can to pass Schumacher outright, but even if he doesn't get number eight, he'll still go down as the greatest F1 racer of all-time.
19. Tim Duncan, Basketball
Seeing Tim Duncan in the top 20 might come as a surprise to some people, although it shouldn't. A five-time NBA champion, two-time MVP and three-time finals MVP (two this century), Duncan was the real deal and is surely a first-ballot hall-of-famer. Duncan also ranks 17th in all-time NBA points and 6th on the all-time rebound list. Although he, shockingly, never won a defensive player of the year award, Duncan ranks 2nd all-time in defensive win share and was selected to the all-defensive first team an astounding 15 times. If you don't think Tim Duncan deserves to be here, you might just need to re-evaluate what you think you know about him.
18. Anderson Silva, MMA
UFC, unlike other sports, is harder to pinpoint who the single greatest of all time is. Sure, we can all rattle off a list of names who would be in the conversation but when it comes to picking a single fighter, it is almost impossible. In the major team sports, a win is a win. If you outscore your opponent, you win the game, simple as that. In UFC there are multiple ways to win a fight like submission, knock-out, technical knock-out and judge's decision. And when you mix in the different weight classes and each fighter's personal style, it further clouds the process of choosing the single greatest fighter. However, all that being said, if you were to make a short list of potential candidates for the honour of UFC G.O.A.T., Anderson Silva would be on that list. With a record of 34-10, Silva has more losses than most others in the conversation, but he also has more wins than almost everybody else. Silva holds the record for longest title reign in UFC history at 2457 days - that's over six years. In that time he defended his middleweight title a staggering 10 times.
17. Alexander Ovechkin, Hockey
Right from the moment he stepped on NHL ice, hockey fans knew this guy was just different. A rocket of a shot to go along with a relentless attack and a body built like a brick shithouse, Ovie started scoring goals and laying the body immediately in the NHL. In his 15 seasons he has eight 50 goal seasons - 10 if you want to count the two shortened seasons where he finished with 32 goals in 48 games in 2012-13 and 48 in 68 in 2019-20, a 55 and 58 goal pace, respectively. In the last 20 years there have been 27 50-goal seasons. Out of all the players to hit that mark, nobody appears on that list more than twice - except for Ovechkin. Simply put Alexander Ovechkin is the greatest goal scorer in NHL history and is doing it in a league that has never been as competitive or difficult to play in as it is now. He is the only person who even has a chance to break Wayne Gretzky's record of 894 goals. Ovie currently sits 8th on the all-time list but could reasonably end up in 4th or 5th by season's end.
16. Derek Jeter, Baseball
Even though he was nicknamed 'The Captain,' Derek Jeter was so much more than that to the Yankees - and the MLB as a whole. He was the face of the league for over a decade and was one vote away from being a unanimous selection to the hall of fame in his first year of eligibility. He wore number two but his career was defined by the number five. A five time champion, five time silver slugger and five time gold glove winner, Jeter truly was in a class of his own. He was also selected as an all-star a whopping 22-times including 13 seasons in a row. His career .310 batting average and 3465 hits is good enough for 6th place on the all-time hits list. There really isn't much more to be said about Jeter other than how he is undoubtedly one of the greatest players to ever step on an MLB field.
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