Stephen A Smith disagreed with his former ESPN First Take co-host Max Kellerman over his top pick in the five best sporting GOATs of all time.
During an episode of ESPN’s First Take, Smith, Kellerman and co-host Molly Qerim kicked things off by showing NFL.com’s picks for the top five GOATs of all time.
NFL.com compiled the rankings after Tom Brady’s seventh Super Bowl triumph in 2021 and placed the NFL legend at No 1 ahead of NBA icon Michael Jordan.
MJ finished second in the rankings and NHL legend Wayne Gretzky came third, with Tiger Woods and Serena Williams finishing fourth and fifth respectively.
NFL.com named boxing legend Muhammad Ali outside of the top five, as well as the likes of Pele, Anderson Silva, Ric Flair and Usain Bolt making the 16-person list.
However, Kellerman offered his own take on the five best sporting GOATs of all time and dropped Brady from NFL.com’s No 1 spot to No 5 in his rankings.
The 49-year-old American sports host kept tennis legend Williams in fourth place, but he made the controversial decision to leave Gretzky out and put Ali in at No 3.
Golf legend Woods was removed entirely from Kellerman’s top five picks, with American baseball icon Babe Ruth entering the rankings.
Finally, Kellerman decided to name Chicago Bulls legend Jordan, who is considered the best basketball player of all time, his GOAT of all sporting GOATs.
Smith immediately disagreed with Ruth making Kellerman’s rankings and insisted that the New York Yankees hero wouldn’t make his top five.
Jordan enjoyed a prolific basketball career during the 1990s and captured six NBA championships and received six NBA Finals MVP accolades with the Chicago Bulls.
However, First Take co-host Smith explained to Kellerman why MJ would be in his top two picks for sporting GOATs, but Ali would take home the top spot.
“Even though you know how much I love MJ -- six-time NBA champion, six-time NBA Finals MVP, undefeated in championship competition -- I would still have MJ as No 2 on my list because I’m not putting anybody ahead of Muhammad Ali because I take into account the level of adversity you have to face in pursuit of your excellence,” he said.
“And when I think about it from that perspective, that’s why I put Ali over Michael Jordan.
“Ali getting denied the opportunity to fight for years, getting stripped of the heavyweight crown because of his refusal to enter the army because he didn’t want to participate in the Vietnam War and all of this other stuff.
“Him being a member of the Nation of Islam and some of the adversity that created, him being stripped of his title, not being allowed to fight and then coming back after losing to Joe Frazier and ultimately coming back to avenge that loss and then beating George Foreman.
“George Foreman was Mike Tyson before there was Mike Tyson. We understand how vicious and how menacing it was.”
Featured Image Credit: ESPN First Take/Alamy
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