It’s that time of year…and decade again, where folks like yours truly decide for everyone who was the best at this and that…and the other. So, why not me? I mean I’m just as sharp as anyone else writing lists ranking people who accomplish on a single day what they couldn’t in a lifetime of training, studying, and gobbling HGH?
The one thing I love in an athlete more than anything is domination over their peers. Not just who is the best at X,Y, and Z…but who absolutely dominated their competition and left no question as to who was the best.
Supposing that all sports have a somewhat similar range of talent, deciding who is the best at a particular sport is always a fun and heated conversation to have with your people over some pints… or in the case of folks like me, Naysh, Birk, and Gavin…a few double talls. But simply deciding for all of you who the best hooper, baseballer, or footballer is…well…boring.
I decided instead to decide for you…the final decision of who was the most dominant athlete of this past decade.
The criteria is varied, but breaks down to a few categories.
- Individual performance in comparison to peers
- Records set
- Awards given
- Championships won
This is the definitive list. Seriously…ask anyone…
10. Max Scherzer
Why Max over Kershaw or Trout? A couple of reasons. One, Trout has never once carried his team to anything close to anything of note. He’s a great regular season player and puts up monster stats, but when it comes to this list I had to look at actual winning and losing. It may not be his fault…but thems the breaks.
Two, Kershaw has been to the same number of fall classics as Mad Max, but when the light shone the brightest Max was just flat better. Max has thrown 16.1 innings, gave up 7 earned runs and struck out 18 batters in the World Series while Kershaw has thrown 26.2 innings, given up 16 earned runs, while striking out 27. Close, but the cigar goes to Max.
In all the decade was one for the ages. Scherzer won 3 Cy Youngs, finished in the top 5 of voting every year from 2013-2019. He threw over 200 innings 6 times, led the league in strikeouts 3 times, led the league in wins 3 times, and led the league at screaming at his manager to stay in the dugout probably every year.
9. Canelo Alvarez:
From 2010 to 2019 Alverez was the best pound for pound boxer on the planet. He went 23-1-1 with his only defeat coming at the gloves of Pretty Boy Floyd Mayweather. He hasn’t lost since 2013, and avenged his only draw versus Gennady Golovkin. Despite a horrible commercial with Sly Stallone, he has rarely failed…
8. Steph Curry
I have Curry just below James because his overall numbers just aren’t as dominant. Yes he did go 3-1 versus LBJ in the finals, and he has 2 MVPs in the decade to James’ goose egg, but the overall numbers come close, but not close enough.
From 2010-11 to 2018-19 Curry put up averages of 24.3 ppg, 4.5 boards, 6.7 dimes, and 1.7 steals per contest. He also led the league in free throw shooting percentage 4 times while shooting a combined 90.5% for the decade. That is insane…that’s Dave Birk Lonedell R-14 Bobcat type of free throw shooting!
In his playoff career he did take his game up a notch averaging 26.5 ppg, 5.4 boards, 6.3 dimes, 1.6 steals and shot 90.6% from the line and hit 470 threes in 112 games. Though he never won that elusive finals MVP he was the head of the snake in Golden State, and led his squad to 5 straight finals and 3 rings overall.
Good God…look at this range…Jeff Kraus eat your heart out
From 2010-11 to 2018-19 the self-proclaimed King averaged 26.6 ppg, 7.7 boards, 7.5 dimes, and 1.5 steals per contest while being voted first team All-NBA 8 times. In that same span he went to 8 straight NBA Finals, won 3 rings, 3 finals MVPs, while putting up playoff averages of 28.8 ppg, 9.1 boards, 6.9 dimes, 1.8 steals and a block per contest. Personally, I cannot stand the Lebron James worship of the last decade, but I cannot deny his consistent greatness.
This is all the ink he gets from me.
*Gets text from Dan Haynes in 5-4-3-2-1…
6. Serena Williams
Serena is arguably the greatest female tennis player to ever live. She is unarguably the greatest of the 20th century. She was the most dominant of the first decade, and was the most dominant of this past decade. From 2010 through 2019 Serena won 12 Grand Slams, had 7 runner-ups, 3 Doubles Grand Slams and 1 runner-up. She won 2012 Gold in singles and Doubles repping the USA.
Not to mention she won 3 year end championships, 13 other WTA titles, and finished the year ranked number 1 in ‘13, ‘14, ‘15. There have been dozens of women who the tennis world tried to prop up as her rival, but no one has even come close. Serena is on a level no one in the 21st century is anywhere near.
If you got 20 mins to kill…just watch her. It is unbelievable.
5. Maya Moore
When looking at the accomplishments of Lebron James and Steph Curry it is hard to imagine ranking any other hooper above them, but Maya Moore has owned the WNBA.
- 4× WNBA champion (2011, 2013, 2015, 2017)
- WNBA Finals MVP (2013)
- WNBA MVP (2014)
- 6× WNBA All-Star (2011, 2013–2015, 2017–2018)
- 3× WNBA All-Star Game MVP (2015, 2017, 2018)
- 5× All-WNBA First Team (2013–2017)
- WNBA steals leader (2018)
- WNBA scoring leader (2014)
- WNBA Rookie of the Year (2011)
- FIBA World Championship MVP (2014)
- 2× EuroLeague Women champion (2012, 2018)
- Liga Femenina champion (2012)
- WCBA champion (2013–2015)
- NCAA champion (2010)
- NCAA Tournament Most Outstanding Player (2010)
She has won everything…literally everything. If LBJ or Steph had put together a decade like this we wouldn’t actually sound crazy when we try to compare them to MJ. This is the kind of decade that Jordan, Magic, and Havlichek would be proud of.
4. Rafael Nadal
Rafa is one of my 5 Favorite athletes of All-Time.* I will argue to the cows come home that the greatest athlete to ever live is Rafa Nadal at Roland Garros. 13 Grand Slams, 6 Grand Slam runner-ups (4-4 against Novak in finals), 20 ATP Singles titles with 10 runner-ups (3-7 against Novak in finals), a Doubles Gold Medal in 2016, led Spain to the 2011 and 2019 Davis Cup Championships, and finished the year ranked number 1 four times in ‘10, ‘13, ‘17, 19. This is one of the 4 greatest decades ever put together by a male tennis player. Look at Sampras in the 90’s, Federer in the 00’s, and the guy at number 2 on this list…
God…this dude is special…
3. Tom Brady:
I have never, not once, liked the Golden Boy. But…like Lebron earlier on this list I cannot look past his greatness.
From 2010-2019 TB “avocado ice cream eating – ball deflating” 12 is 120-32 as a starter in the regular season. He threw 310 TDs to only 78 picks. Then dude was 16-6 in the playoffs with 3 SB wins, 5 AFC Titles, 9 Pro-Bowls, 2 First-Team All-Pros, 2 MVP’s, 2 SB MVP’s. Begrudgingly, I have to admit he is the most accomplished QB to ever put on pads. Yes, Steve Young, Aaron Rodgers, and Peyton Manning were more talented…but they never got it done like the “cell phone smashing, 5.35 forty time running” Tom Brady.
2. Novak Djokovic
Novak just wrapped up the most dominant decade in the history of tennis. From 2010 to 2019 Djokovic won 15 Grand Slams, had 8 runner-ups (this means he was in 23 of 40 possible finals!!!!), won 4 year end titles, was ranked number 1 for 275 weeks, finished the year ranked number 1 five times (‘11, ‘12, ‘14, ‘15, ‘18) and number 2 three times, won 29 other ATP titles, and between 2011-16 the lowest he was ranked was 3rd in the World. That is insane.
1. Katie Ledecky
Who is the second best female swimmer in the world?
Exactly. Ledecky has single handedly dominated her sport over the past decade more than anyone. From 2010-2019 she set 14 world records, won 5 Olympic gold medals and a silver, 14 world championships Golds and a silver, 8 Pan Pacific Golds, and a silver and a bronze. She’s 21, headed to her third Olympic Games in 2020 and is already arguably the greatest female swimmer to ever live. There is no one even near her league, let alone in it.
Look at the end of this race…there isn’t even another swimmer in the frame…this is the damned Olympics!
So that’s it…that’s the list. You can argue…but I mean…come on…who ya taking out? I would say this…give me the argument against anyone on this list. If you got a problem with Max…take it up with him…yeah…that’s what I thought.
Until next time…long live Katie Ledecky
*My 5 Favorite athletes of all time
- Pete Maravich
- Rafael Nadal
- Ray Lankford
- Ray Allen
- Pete Sampras
**Honorable Mentions to this list: Michael Phelps, Mike Trout, Brooks Koepka, Justin Verlander, Yadier Molina, Andre Ward, Miguel Cabrera,
Huge apologies to Simone Biles…her omission is egregious as they come….