The 20th century was one of the most important centuries for sports. Not only was it the era when sports like football, soccer, basketball, and horse racing hit it big, but it was also the time of some of the greatest athletes of all time. In this article, we are going to look over a few of the greatest athletes of the 20th century, whose influence is still remembered today.
Pele and Diego Maradona – Soccer
Soccer remains the undisputed king of sports. With over 3 billion fans the world over, it is the most popular game of all time. And no two names are as important to soccer as Pele and Diego Maradona. Their accomplishments in club and international plays are the stuff of legend. Their play style is still studied by footballers to this day. And most importantly their success rate at the FIFA World Cup are unmatched.
Pele was the headliner for Brazil. In his time, and still today, Brazil is one of the most successful countries in the realm of international football. Even among top-tier players, Pele distinguished himself as the best, earning the nickname O Rei (or the King). Sadly, he passed away in 2022, on December 29.
Diego Maradona was an Argentine player, who won the Player of the Century award in 2000. He attained fame for his dribbling skills and ball control. Nicknamed the Hand of God, Maradona’s legacy is carried on today, as his country won the latest iteration of the World Cup. Argentina was one of the top contenders to win the cup, especially according to betting sites like Bet Station.
Michael Jordan – Basketball
There are very few names in history that are intricately tied to a sport. And when people think of basketball, they can’t help but think of Michael Jordan. Despite any personal failings, there is no denying that Michael Jordan is the undisputed king of the National Basketball League. Over the 15 seasons he spent with the Chicago Bulls he won six championships, was selected for the All-Star NBA team fourteen times, and holds the record for the playoff scoring average, with 33.4 points per game.
Today, MJ’s net worth is estimated at around $1.7 billion dollars. He is the principal owner of the Charlotte Hornets NBA team, and the 23XI Racing organization. In 2016, President Barrack Obama awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom for his contribution to the sport of basketball, as well as his societal impact. On top of that, ESPN placed him on the top of their list of the 100 Most Influential American Athletes of the 20th Century.
Wayne Gretzky – Ice Hockey
Ice Hockey is to Canada what soccer is to the rest of the world. And no athlete comes close to the impact that Wayne Gretzky had on the sport. Aptly nicknamed “the Great One”, Mr. Gretzky has been called the greatest ice hockey player of all time, not just by fans, but by experts, and rival players. He is the only player to have scored over 200 points in one season, certainly a feat worth commending. Gretkzy retired in 1999, at which time he held 40 season records, 15 playoff records, and 6 All-Star records, for a total of 61 NHL records.