The Chrony Sports Desk’s Favorite Athletes of All Time

The+Chrony+Sports+Desk%27s+Favorite+Athletes+of+All+Time

 

Sports have lasting effects on people. Whether it be memories we have of watching games and players with family and friends, or just feeling connected with the athletes themselves. Here are our favorite athletes of all time. 

 

Megan Rapinoe

Growing up playing soccer, I was always watching the sport whenever I could. College or pros, men’s or women’s, if it was on TV I was probably watching it. While I watched all forms of soccer, I had obvious favorites with the biggest being the United States Women’s National Team. I remember watching Carli Lloyd score a goal from midfield to clinch a World Cup for the US. And while I watched some of the greatest to ever do so in those moments, one has always had a special place in my heart. 

Forward Megan Rapinoe was who I wanted to be when I played, but keep in mind I was a 5’2 keeper who had bad knees and hated to run 97% of the time. But there was just something about how she held herself on and off the pitch that drew me in. 

And even though she has a Ballon d’Or Féminin to her name, the things she does when she isn’t repping either the USWNT or OL Reign kit are just as powerful to me. Not only is she a strong supporter of the Black Lives Matter Movement and gay rights, but also a key part of the equal pay fight for herself, her teammates and anyone who comes after her. 

But I think the moment that sealed my love for Rapinoe came in the World Cup in 2019 after she scored her first of two goals versus France to earn the US a spot in the Semifinals.

“Are you not entertained?”

And I will always be entertained watching one of the best forwards in the history of women’s soccer. 

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@s_mora99

 

Sidney Crosby

During the 2002 Winter Olympics hosted here in Salt Lake City, I was introduced to the game of hockey. At a preliminary-round game between the USA and Russia, I turned to my dad and told him I had to play hockey. Being a first-generation hockey player, neither my dad or my family had a team we followed. That was until we heard of this up-and-coming player Sidney Crosby who went by “Sid the Kid”. From that point on we followed Crosby religiously and became die-hard Pittsburgh Penguins fans and I even considered becoming a Canadian.

I was just 10 years old when Crosby was drafted and he instantly became my hero. My dad and I watched every one of his major accomplishments, from his OT shootout goal in the 2008 Winter Classic, first Stanley Cup in 2009, gold medal in 2010, back-to-back Stanley Cups in 2016 and 2017 and everything in between, we’ve watched it all together. I was even lucky enough to watch Crosby in-person at Madison Square Garden against the New York Rangers in 2010. If it wasn’t bad enough that Crosby had just won gold over team USA with team Canada, the Penguins walked away with the victory over the Rangers so you can imagine how happy those New Yorkers were, but regardless, I still proudly supported my hero.

Overall, that’s what makes Crosby such a special player to me, not only his incredible abilities and success but that watching him created lasting memories with my dad and family that I will cherish forever. Even now, in Crosby’s sixteenth season, I continue to watch the player who was my childhood hero, but now it’s with my son. While Crosby’s career may shortly be coming to a close, I cherish every game and hope to create more memories with my dad and my son watching this future Hall-of-Famer.

 

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@bagley_cole 

 

Klay Thompson

Klay Thompson is my favorite athlete of all time. 

There are so many memorable moments for me, it’s hard to pick just a few. We’re talking about the guy who, when he gets hot, is hotter than Death Valley. Some of the greatest shooting performances in the history of the game of basketball have come from Thompson, and there’s no greater show in the sport than when he’s on fire. Anyone who’s played basketball knows what it feels like to be “in the zone”. No one gets more in the zone than Klay.

Under his belt, Thompson has 37 points in a quarter (NBA record), 60 points in three quarters on 11 dribbles (first player since at least 1954 to score 60 with less than 30 minutes played), 14 threes in a game (NBA record), 10-11 from three in a game (10 in a row ties the NBA record). All of this goes along with the legend of Game 6 Klay, where he’s erupted multiple times with his team’s season on the line. He’s been a key part of three Warriors title teams.

He’s universally beloved in the NBA. His laid-back personality and well-timed one-liners always have everyone laughing. He doesn’t need the spotlight. Klay only cares about hoops, the beach, and his bulldog, Rocco. The prototypical NBA shooting guard, he plays hard on both ends of the floor and is always willing to sacrifice for the good of the team. He’s the perfect third option to put next to Steph Curry and Kevin Durant.

Thompson is a great personality, an awesome teammate, and an even better basketball player. His willingness to take a backseat to his co-stars while just showing up to have fun and shoot hoops has been invaluable to the Warriors for the last decade. He’s the most underappreciated star of this generation, and someone I admire and relate to on a very personal level. With two devastating injuries robbing him of his past two seasons, I’m counting down the days until I can see my favorite athlete of all time get back on the court to continue shooting the lights out.

 

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@e_pearce_

@nbacourtsidetv

 

Derek Boogaard

Derek Boogaard was just barely a teenager and already an imposing six-foot-tall. On a winter night in the Melfort Main Arena in Saskatchewan, he had heard enough chatter from the opposing hockey team and decided to settle his grievance with fists. He jumped the rink wall into the opponent’s bench and threw hands with everyone. Boogaard was ejected but was tracked down in the stands by scouts for the Western Hockey League, a traditional path to the NHL for junior players. 

Less than 10 years later, Boogaard was an NHL enforcer, lacing up for the Minnesota Wild and had already garnered a nickname, “The Boogyman.” Boogaard is not remembered for his skating and stickwork, but rather the punishment he dealt with the opposition who got out of line. Over the course of his minor and professional career, Boogaard saw the inside of the penalty box over 2000 times.

Boogaard was a giant of a man, but not impervious. Fighting on and off the ice since childhood had begun to take a physical and mental toll. He turned to alcohol and opioids to suppress the pain and continue to fight. A month before his 29th birthday, Boogaard was found dead in his apartment from an overdose. After his funeral, Boogaard’s parents donated his brain to the Sports Legacy Institute. After studying his cerebral tissue, the SLI found extensive damage that suggested he suffered from Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy likely caused by the repeated concussions Boogaard received brawling for a decade and a half on the ice. Scientists further suggested that he would have struggled with severe dementia by the time reached the age of 40. 

The tradition of fighting in hockey has garnered debate in recent years, in part due to the post-retirement struggles of multiple NHL enforcers of whom Boogaard is arguably the most prominent. CTE is getting harder for athletic organizations to ignore. In more ways than one, Boogaard gave his life to hockey. The NHL is trending toward a safer and more sustainable future for players, and for his sacrifice, they are indebted to Derek Boogaard. The Boogyman truly left it all on the ice.

 

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@JP_at_TheChrony

 

Javy Baez

Every once in a while, an athlete comes along that defies logic; you cringe with their decision making and then shake your head in amazement at what you just saw. Javy Baez, shortstop for the Chicago Cubs, is just that type of athlete. He drives coaches crazy when swinging at a breaking ball in the dirt four feet in front of the plate, then he lofts that same pitch into left-center field for an RBI single and you wonder, “How did he even make contact?”

Baez carries the nickname, el Mago, as a point of pride, even wearing it on his jersey at times. His baserunning is anything but textbook, yet Cubs coaches steer clear of asking Javy to do less for fear it could limit his creativity. Terms like “swim slide” and “Javy tag” have become common during Cubs broadcasts because of Baez’s supernatural ability to let the game come to him.Drafted in 2012, Baez has taken the city of Chicago by storm in his seven seasons with the big league squad. Serving as the starting 2nd baseman when the Cubs clinched their first World Series title in 108 years, earning NLCS co-MVP with teammate Jon Lester  along the way. Whether it’s the Friendly Confines of Wrigley Field or a rival stadium, don’t be surprised to hear a raucous chant of “JAVY! JAVY! JAVY!

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@bpreece24

 

Peyton Manning

No one player has had more of an impact on the tactics of the 21st football in the National Football League than Peyton Manning did. Manning was the first player to actively call plays at the line of scrimmage during his career with the Indianapolis Colts and Denver Broncos. No one in this history of the game, period, has had better command and read of the field than Manning. It’s well documented that after his second year in the league he was the one coaching the offense, not the offensive coordinator or head coach. Manning was the first player to do this and would be a style then adapted by the rest of the NFL. Now, most high-end elite QBs call their own plays at the line of scrimmage or have multiple options when going to the line.

Personally, Manning is my favorite athlete of all time because he bought me into the fold of being a sports fan. I started watching football in the eighth grade as a way to make friends and talk to people. The first football game I ever watched was the Broncos-Steelers game in 2012. That was it. I was hooked. I watched every game of Manning’s career from that point on. Manning was just a great example of leadership, humble while always taking responsibility for errors, never blaming coaches or teammates. Manning showed me a purpose: to out-prepare everyone in everything I try to do. There is no greater speech in sports than Manning’s retirement speech. Peyton Manning changed the game forever.

 

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@Eric18utah

 

Steffi Graf

Steffi Graf is one of the most accomplished female tennis athletes in the world. Her career started in the early 1980s and played until her retirement in 1999. During her time on tour, Graf won 107 titles where 22 of those wins were Grand Slam singles championships. Not only did she win 22 Grand Slams, but she is one of the only female tennis players to earn a calendar slam. A calendar slam is where a tennis player competes in every Grand Slam that year and wins every tournament. She is one of three only tennis players (male or female) to win more than four titles at each Grand Slam tournament (Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon, and US Open). Graf was ranked number one in the world for 189 consecutive weeks with a total of 399 weeks held at number one. She is one of the most influential tennis players in the recent era because her game was an all-around game where she used her athleticism to run around backhands to work for forehands, and when she needed to mix things up, she used her backhand slice. Some of her records still remain unbroken, but the day still awaits for her Grand Slam count to be surpassed.

 

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@DushEmily

 

Georges Niang

My favorite athlete is Georges Niang. Niang is a backup forward for the Utah Jazz, averaging 5 points and 2 rebounds per game. Known as “the minivan” by fans and teammates alike, Niang provides crucial minutes in the third quarter as well as garbage time. Niang recently reached the apex of his career year so far, by drilling 7/7 three-pointers on his way to a 21-point outing in a blowout win for the Jazz. Even though Niang’s impact on the court is immense, his locker room presence is even more important to the Jazz’s success as a team. While I have no proof, nor have ever talked to anyone close to the Jazz organization, Niang brightens every room he walks into. Niang functions as both a motivator and leader, while also being a stabilizer and a shoulder to cry on for teammates going through off-the-field issues. The steady guiding hand of Niang has led the Jazz to a blazing 26-6 record. As each Jazz game begins, I open my closet, grab my Niang jersey, and ceremonially put it on. While I have maintained this tradition, the Jazz has been a perfect 2-0. I will never watch another Jazz game without my Niang jersey. Niang inspires me every day, he inspires his teammates, and I believe he could be hoisting a final’s MVP trophy as the 2021 NBA season comes to a close. 

 

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@FrankAd68162488