The Ten Most Famous Figures in Sports, Part 1

From Bill Simmons’ always entertaining NBA Trade Value column, a nugget of a great idea emerges.

Quick question though: Yao is one of the 10 most famous athletes in the world, right? So what would the top 10 look like? I had a great argument about this with someone recently and we honestly couldn’t figure it out — definitely Yao and Tiger, definitely Beckham and Federer, definitely Phelps, maybe Thierry Henry, maybe a Formula One guy (I won’t even embarrass myself by guessing), maybe Kobe … and then … I mean … does LeBron make the list? Brady or (Peyton) Manning? Nadal? More soccer players? Any female tennis players? How do we figure this out? I have mentioned this question to a few different people and drawn a sweeping range of answers. Maybe there’s no answer. My head hurts.

Simmons shows some of his typical biases in writing about this, and some of his ignorance (Henry seems like an idiotic choice to any soccer follower, right?) hurts my head. But it’s an intriguing question:

Who are the ten most famous figures in sports?

So that’s my question to you. I’ll be working on a piece on this for tomorrow, but leave comments here or find me on Twitter and tell me what you think.

(Also: Simmons compares Dwyane Wade’s resurgence to Dr. Dre’s on “Still D.R.E.,” which I’ll agree is excellent. But if your resurgence is authored by someone else, and, in this case, Jay-Z, it is really yours? I’d have a hard time extending the metaphor to Wade getting Kobe/Jay’s help during the Olympics, but it’s maybe possible as a one-off for someone who knows something about hip-hop. Simmons doesn’t. He should know better.)

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