To me this is a obvious question but I am interested to hear what all you in the zone think.
Michael Jordan is the greatest athlete without question IMO. The only athlete to dominate their sport and takeover single handedly the way Jordan did.
If you look at the NBA throughout history it always takes a big man to win a championship. Except for the Jordan years. To the best of my ability in order of NBA era:
Pistons-Lambier/Rodman/Mahorn/Salley (none great but all very good)
Celtics-KG (and a good Wallace)
This year it will be either Lakers w/Gasol/Bynum, Celtics w/KG, Heat w/Bosh, Spurs w/Duncan or Magic w/Howard that win the championship. Count on it.
Had Jordan not retired the 1st time the Bulls easily would have won the 2 championships in between the Jordan tenures making it 8 in a row for the Bulls and Jordan.
Jordan re-invented himself after the 1st retirement and established one of the most deadly weapons in NBA history the turn around jumper. He was the best player in the NBA again by far yet his style had changed.
No player in any sport was the best for as long or as indisputably as Jordan was. As I said above if he wouldn't have flirted w/baseball the Bulls would have even more championships and Jordan would have many more records.
The NBA MVP award is a joke, Charles Barkley, Magic Johnson and Scottie Pippen have said many times that if the award were literally for the best player in the league that is most valuable to his team as it's supposed to be Jordan would have won it every year practically.
Ruth, Ali, Pele, Gretsky, and ofcourse our beloved Montana and Rice dominated their respective sports like no others but none quite like Jordan. I for one do not think we will ever see another.