Greatest Athletes of the 20th Century (Sports Illustrated, 1999)

Greatest Athletes of the 20th Century (Sports Illustrated, 1999) This list of the greatest athletes of the 20th century (1900-2000) is from the book published by Sports Illustrated in 1999, the Greatest Athletes of the 20th Century by Tim Crothers and John Garrity. The book profiles 25 outstanding sports performers of the 20th century.

The list of athletes below is the order in which they are in discussed the book. This list is US centric, with the majority of these athletes from the USA. There are three females on the list, with Babe Didrikson the highest ranked. The top three here are the same as ESPN's list of the 100 greatest athletes of the 20th century.

Rank? Athlete Nationality Sport
1 Muhammad Ali USA boxing
2 Michael Jordan USA basketball
3 Babe Ruth USA baseball
4 Wilt Chamberlain USA basketball
5 Babe Didrikson-Zaharias USA golf / track and field
6 Wayne Gretzky Canada ice hockey
7 Rod Laver Australia tennis
8 Carl Lewis USA track & field
9 Jack Nicklaus USA golf
10 Pele Brazil soccer / football
11 Bill Russell USA basketball
12 Jim Thorpe USA track & field
13 Ted Williams USA baseball
14 Hank Aaron USA baseball
15 Larry Bird USA basketball
16 Jim Brown USA American football
17 Red Grange USA American football
18 Don Hutson USA American football
19 Magic Johnson USA basketball
20 Jackie Joyner-Kersee USA track & field
21 Joe Louis USA boxing
22 Micky Mantle USA baseball
23 Willie Mays USA baseball
24 Joe Montana USA American football
25 Martina Navratilova Czechoslovakia / USA tennis

source: the book Greatest Athletes of the 20th Century by Tim Crothers and John Garrity

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Lists Extra

Football/Soccer is clearly the world's most popular sport, and has the most popular athletes, but which sport has the fittest players (but not necessarily the greatest athlete). These players do not always earn the most. The best of the best have made it to our 7 Sporting Wonders Lists.

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