Tiger Woods lit up the PGA Championship Sunday, and the texts starting flowing: ARE YOU SEEING THIS? TIGER BACK! This is what happens in 2018: Awesome sports events are unfolding, and you text your friends and then go on social media to offer your thoughts. Here is the list of the Top 10 current athletes who, when you get a text about, you race to a TV to watch.
10. Odell Beckham, New York Giants. The biggest game-breaking receiver in the NFL since Randy Moss. You could argue Julio Jones or Antonio Brown are better, but Beckham turns 5-yard slants to 80-yard TDs, and he’s got a penchant for getting more than a couple in a game. He’s had nine multi-TD games in his four seasons.
1. Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors. One of the most unexpected megastars in NBA history, Curry has done the unthinkable: Led the NBA in jersey sales for four straight years during LeBron’s prime, There’s no better show in sports than when Curry is cooking and explodes for 20 points in a quarter. You can debate Jordan/LeBron, or Durant/LeBron right now, but without question, the must-see player in the NBA right now, is the guy fans show up to see dribble in pregame warmups: Stephen Curry. Curry’s meteoric rise has led to a generation of children who walk on the court and start at the 3-point line.
9. Floyd Mayweather. Would certainly be higher on this list if not for his age (41). Boxing fans will be upset he’s not above Conor McGregor, but fear not – both possess that star quality, and almost certainly will get in the ring or octagon one more time for another gargantuan payday. Mayweather owns the Top 4 boxing pay-per-view buys of all-time.
8. Conor McGregor. In another virtual tie, I’m leaning McGregor over Mayweather here because McGregor is still in his prime, having just turned 30. Of the UFC’s Top 5 pay-per-view fights, McGregor has fought in four of them. The UFC needs McGregor right now more than McGregor needs the UFC.
7. Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers. The stat everyone loves to provide from 2017 – Rodgers isn’t clutch because up until that point in his career, when trailing by more than 1-point in the 4th quarter against teams with a winning record, he was 0-35. That doesn’t mean Aaron Rodgers doesn’t deliver in the clutch, repeatedly. Ask the Bears. The Cardinals. Does anyone throw a better Hail Mary?
6. Cristiano Ronaldo, Portugal/Juventus. I’d listen to the Ronaldo > Messi take, as it’s very close. I could have listed them as “tied” given the attention both of them get at the World Club and with their clubs. When Ronaldo scored his 2nd goal vs Spain in June, every sports fan I know got to a television.
5. Lionel Messi, Argentina/Barcelona. All eyes are on Messi whenever he takes the field, but when he puts on a show, there’s no one better in the game. A clinical finisher and unbelievably skilled dribbler, Messi scores goals in bunches – here’s video of 40 of his hat tricks.
4. LeBron James, Cleveland Cavaliers. Good luck creating a positive sports list that doesn’t include one of the greatest players in NBA history. After Michael Jordan left the NBA, yes Kobe/Shaq won three straight and injected some life back into the NBA, but LeBron, for much of the last 15 years, has been a driving force in the league. Clutch: He’s been Top 10 in the NBA in 4th quarter scoring in 13 of his 15 seasons.
3. Tiger Woods. Had we done this list a decade ago, Wood is #1 for sure. And surely a certain segment of the population still feels he’s #1 because when he even shows of a hint of a rally, people freak out. In his prime, when Tiger trailed, the leaders quaked because they knew he was lurking. Nothing will beat the legendary 1998 comeback after trailing by eight strokes. Imagine if social media/text messages were a thing then …
2. Tom Brady, New England Patriots. When you turn on the game and it’s the 4th quarter, and the Patriots are tied or trailing, there’s no way you’re changing the channel. You’re urging your friends to turn on the TV, because it’s Brady time. He’s taken the baton from Peyton Manning, who ended his career as the leader in game-winning drives. Brady probably ends up with 2nd most.