June 2, 2009

Who was the Greatest Athlete of the 80s?

This rare video clip that I dug out of the Pop Culture Fiend Archives asked that very question. So I broke it down and came up with the answer:

Navratilova dominated women's tennis during the mid-eighties, but in the early part of the decade, she battled Chris Evert for supremacy and by 1988, Martina had been overtaken by Steffi Graf...

Forget the 80s, had his career not been cut short by injury, Bo Jackson might very well be considered the greatest athlete of all-time. Still the only athlete to reach All-Pro level in two sports (he was elected to the MLB All-Star Game in 1989 and the NFL Pro Bowl that same year) Bo also won All-America honors and a Heisman trophy while at Auburn University. Unfortunately, all of this happened too late (1985 or later) for him to be considered the greatest athlete of the 80s...

Tyson was ferocious beast, a knock-out machine the likes of which boxing had never seen. But like Jackson, Tyson was virtually unknown prior to 1985. And although he would win his first heavyweight championship the following year, Tyson fought in an era where that division was grossly short on talent...

No doubt Jordan was spectacular in the 80s. At the University of North Carolina, he won a championship, was a two-time All-American, and the Naismith Award as College Player of the Year in 1984. As a pro during the 80s, Jordan was first team All-NBA three times, and won four scoring titles, on his way to becoming the greatest basketball player of all-time. But its worth noting that Jordan won exactly ZERO NBA championships in the 80s...

So my vote goes to Gretzky. During the 80s, The Great One won seven NHL scoring titles, four championships, and an amazing nine MVP awards. In the process, he obliterated a host of major NHL records, including most points in a season (215 in '85-'86), most goals in a season (92 in in '81-'82), and longest consecutive point scoring streak (51 games in '83-'84).

Related Posts:
The Photo That Launched the Nike Empire

Related Links:
Why Bo Jackson is the Greatest Athlete Ever
ESPN's Greatest Athlete of the 20th Century

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