PRUETT COLUMN: Greatest of my lifetime? Phelps
Published 10:13 pm Saturday, August 13, 2016
Let us take a break from football this week and focus more on a more global story.
Michael Phelps is far and away the greatest athlete of my lifetime. I am 36 years old, so use that as perspective.
There are really only three athletes even close in my mind, and they are Serena Williams, LeBron James and Bo Jackson.
Williams is the closest. There has never been a more dominant tennis player in the history of the game.
James is in the mix because of the freak athlete the guy is. James does things his size tells you he should not do on a basketball court.
Jackson would be the greatest of my lifetime, but the hip injury spoiled that. Jackson was a star at both baseball and football, unlike Deion Sanders, who was only a star player in football.
Then there is Phelps. Yes, he only plays one sport like James and Williams, so that should possibly be a knock against him and a vote for Jackson.
The elevating factor here is the dominance of Phelps and how long he has been this great.
Phelps’ first Olympic race came in 2000 in Sydney when he was 15. Heading into Saturday night’s relay race, Phelps has won more gold medals than 108 countries.
If Phelps were a country, he would rank No. 52 in the all-time medal count.
Did you comprehend that? That is taking dominance to a whole different level.
Phelps holds 39 world records, he won a record eight gold medals at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, and at the time this is written, he has won 27 medals.
How big is Phelps? Football is king in this country, especially when it comes to the NFL.
The Carolina Panthers were at the Baltimore Ravens this week for a preseason football game. When it came time for Phelps to swim during the football action, the game stopped. Stadium officials put Phelps’ swim on the big screen, and even Cam Newton took notice.
That is special.
I haven’t even mentioned Phelps is 31 at these Olympics in Brazil. He had five more gold and a silver heading into Saturday’s event. The age of 31 is considered old in swimming.
His age could be compared to if Kobe Bryant had led the league in scoring this past season or if Alex Rodriguez led the MLB in homers and batting average. Those things just do not happen.
Phelps does happen. He has done it again in Rio de Janeiro. That is why he is the greatest athlete of my lifetime and not guys like Tiger Woods, Magic Johnson or Barry Sanders.
Phelps has stood the test of time and he has won at every turn.
Gabriel Pruett: 721-2436. Twitter: @PaNewsGabe