Not every athlete is created equally. Some look the part – they’re tall, muscular, and fast – but when the clock starts ticking, the truth comes out. Others are so young that fans can’t believe how transcendent they appear on the field or in the arena. The question is, what separates the best from the best? What makes Patrick Mahomes so dominant playing QB compared to his peers? How is LeBron James still able to play at an elite level deep into his 30s? These are the modern-day titans of professional sports!
Giannis Antetokounmpo Is Worth Every Penny
Not only is 2019 NBA MVP Giannis Antetonmkpo one of the best players in the league, he is also doing it while staying loyal to the dream that drafted him. Most players who dominate a sport like the “Greek Freak” does eventually take their talents to a major television market.
Choosing to break with the norm and show loyalty to small market Milwaukee, Giannis signed a five-year, $228.2 million extension with the Bucks in 2020.
Mike Trout Is Running Out Of Room On His Display Shelf
When you sign the biggest contract in the history of professional sports, you better have the resume to back it up. Anaheim Angels superstar Mike Trout knows how to walk the walk, having won multiple MVPs while arguably being the best player in baseball since his rookie season.
If there is one thing Trout is missing, it’s a World Series ring. Since entering the league as a rookie in 2012, Trout and the Angels have only made it to the playoffs once.
Patrick Mahomes Should Have Been Drafted With The First Overall Pick
Patrick Mahomes was 24-years-old in 2020 when he won the Super Bowl as the starting QB of the Kansas City Chiefs. The achievement came one year after winning the NFL MVP award, and three years after being drafted by the Chiefs.
Knowing that, it’s hard to believe Mahomes wasn’t taken with the first overall pick in the draft by the Cleveland Browns. Instead, Mahomes was taken by Kansas with the 10th pick, a pick they traded up for to snag their franchise signal-caller.
Lamar Jackson Was Supposed To Be A Wide Reciever
After a record-setting college career as the quarterback for Louisville, Lamar Jackson was told that if he wanted to make it in the NFL he would have to switch positions and become a wide receiver. Jackson refused and entered the draft at his preferred position.
The Ravens drafted Jackson with the last pick in the first round. In his first season, as a quarterback, he led the team to the playoffs. In his sophomore season, he won the NFL MVP. He is also the only QB in league history to record multiple seasons of 1,000 yards rushing.
Rose Lavelle Is The Face Of The United States Women’s National Team
The United States Women’s National Team in soccer has long been a dominant force in the sport. In the ’90s, Mia Hamm and Brandi Chastain dominated the sport. They later passed the baton to Alex Morgan and Hope Solo.
Now, the face of the USWNT is Rose Lavelle. She’s a transcendent player and one of the most dominant athletes in professional soccer. As long as health stays on her side, she should have an amazing career for years to come.
Lionel Messi Keeps Adding To His Awards Shelf
In 2019, Lionel Messi won the Ballon d’Or. The award is given every year to the male soccer player deemed to be the best in the world. Messi has won the award a record six times.
Nearing the twilight of his professional career, Messi is still one of the most dominant athletes in the sports, as proven by his 2019 achievement. Messi has also been nominated for the Ballon d’Or a record 12 times, tied with Cristiano Ronaldo.
He’s Called “King” James For A Reason
In his esteemed NBA career, LeBron James has led three teams to the NBA Finals, winning multiple rings in the process. Originally drafted by the Cleveland Cavaliers, James signed with the Miami Heat during his first go as a free agent.
James won the NBA Finals with the Heat before returning to his hometown team, Cleveland, to win the first title in franchise history. James then signed with the Los Angeles Lakers, where he won the title with his third team in 2020.
There Is No Equal To Novak Djokovic
For a long time, domination in the male tennis world was a battle between Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic. Ranked number one in the world, there is no question now that Djokovic is the most dominant figure in the sport.
Djokovic has won 17 Grand Slam titles in his career, the third most for a male player in history. In 2016, he reached one of the peaks of his sport when he held all four Grand Slam titles at the same time.
Tom Brady Continues To Be The Gold Standard
Patrick Mahomes might be the future gold standard in the NFL, but first Tom Brady has to retire. Playing into his mi-40s, Brady is still an elite-level talent with uncompromised accuracy and decision making.
Moving on from the New England Patriots and signing with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2020 may have even made Brady better! Most players decline sharply in the mid-30s. Brady has eyes on playing until he’s 50.
Freddie Freeman Is Finally Getting The Respect He Deserves
After a decade of being one of the best players in all of Major League Baseball, Freddie Freeman finally got the respect he deserved in 2020. Freeman was named the National League’s Most Valuable Player after hitting .341 and knocking in 53 runs during the 60-game shortened season.
Of course, Atlanta always knew how valuable Freeman was. In 2014, the team signed him to an eight-year, $135 million contract extension. It’s safe to say he has been worth every penny.
Aaron Donald Doesn’t Know How To Quit
Widely considered by his peers to be the best defensive player in the NFL, Aaron Donald is a true living legend. Since being drafted, Donald has been named to seven Pro Bowls, has been named the first-team All-Pro six times, and has been named the NFL’s Defensive Player of the Year multiple times.
In 2018, the Los Angeles Rams paid their star, signing him to a six-year, $135 million extension with $87 million guaranteed. At the time, it made him the highest-paid defensive player in league history.
Mookie Betts Helped Los Angeles Start A New Chapter
Ever since 1988, it felt like the same story for the Los Angeles Dodgers – dominate the regular season only to fall short of winning the World Series in October. After a devastating heartbreak at the hands of Mookie Betts and the Red Sox in 2018, the Dodgers traded for him.
The bold move, which took place at the start of 2020, turned out to be exactly what the franchise was missing. After beating the Dodgers in the World Series two years earlier, Betts led the team to its first championship title in over 30 years.
Katie Ledecky Is One Of The Most Decorated Swimmers In History
In 2016, competitive swimmer Katie Ledecky won three gold medals at the Olympics. Known as one of the best swimmers in the world, the performance cemented her place in history as one of the greatest freestyle swimmers ever.
In her career, the mid-20s swimmer has won 15 world championship gold medals, a record. She also has set 14 world records. Some people are born for one thing, and for Katie Ledecky, that was swimming.
Derrick Henry Is An Unstoppable Force
Derrick Henry needed a gargantuan effort during week 17 of the 2020 NFL season to become one of a handful of players in league history to rush for 2,000 yards. Proving no challenge was too hard, Henry rushed for over 220 yards to reach the height of his position’s mountain.
The monumental year rushing came after Henry signed a four-year, $50 million contract with the Tennessee Titans, the only NFL team he has ever known.
Naomi Osaka Is A Tennis Wunderkind
Naomi Osaka seemingly burst out of a cannon when she won her first Grand Slam title in 2016. Still a teenager then, she instantly established herself as a player to watch. Since then she has won three Grand Slam titles.
Osaka used her success to become a worldwide celebrity, earning endorsements worth nearly $20 million. Her $16 million of endorsement earnings in 2019 were the second most for a female athlete behind Serena Williams.
Christian Pulisic Was The Most Expensive American Transfer Ever
The future of the United States Men’s National Team for soccer is actually the present. Christian Pulisic was such a sensational teenager he skipped playing in Major League Soccer and went straight to the Bundesliga playing for Borussia Dortmund.
In 2019, Pulisic transferred from Borussia Dortmund to Chelsea of the English Premier League. The transfer fee was $70 million, a record-setting sum for an American soccer player in Europe.
Ronald Acuna Jr. Can Do It All
If there are any “five tool” players left in baseball, Ronald Acuna Jr. is likely one of them. The old school scouting term has fallen to the wayside with the rise of analytics, but essentially it means a player who can do five things well – run, throw, hit, field, and hit for power.
In 2019, Acuna Jr. scored 127 runs, hit 41 home runs, and stole 37 bases. The Braves rewarded their young star that season with an eight-year, $100 million contract.
Is There Anything Simone Biles Can’t Do?
If it wasn’t for the perfection of Simone Biles, it’s easy to believe that the American gymnastics team at the 2016 Olympics would not have won the gold medal. Biles didn’t just help the team take home top honors, though, she also won gold for her individual floor routine.
Since 2016, Biles has continued to win awards while signing massive endorsement deals, including one high profile one with food delivery service Postmates.
Joey Bosa Made Bank In 2019
Taken with the third overall pick by the Chargers in the 2016 NFL Draft, Joey Bosa has more than proven he was worth it. The defensive star is an unstoppable force on the field and has already recorded over 45 sacks in his career.
In 2019, just as his rookie contract was set to expire, the Chargers made Bosa the highest-paid defensive player in the league. The team signed him to a five-year, $135 million contract extension.
Chase Elliott Is NASCAR Royalty
The son of iconic NASCAR driver Bill Elliot, Chase Elliott has a chance to become a more decorated driver than his dad. In 2018 and 2019, Elliott was named the most popular driver in the sport, and his performance on the track matches his fandom off it.
Elliott is less than a decade into his career and already has eight Cup Victories to his name. In 2020, the young driver won the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, the first for Hendrick Motorsports since 2016.