As is true with everything in life, the world of sports is constantly evolving. And today’s athletes are the best there has ever been in terms of the overall talent level.
One of the most popular arguments among basketball enthusiasts is the Michael Jordan versus LeBron James debate as to who is the best player of all time. For now, the answer is Jordan with his six championships. But when James’ career is all said and done, he will go down in history as the best basketball player to ever play the game. And there are plenty of statistics to back that up.
James’ effective field goal percentage, a stat that accounts for the increased value and difficulty of a 3-point shot, is higher than that of Jordan’s. Jordan’s career FG percentage is .509 while LeBron’s is .524.
Another James stat that jumps was brought up by Tim Legler, an ESPN basketball analyst, in a video posted by ESPN on June 6. In Jordan’s first 10 seasons, he only led the Bulls in scoring, rebounds and assists in a single game 43 times. Yet James has accomplished the feat 96 times through 10 seasons, over double what Jordan did in the same amount of time. Wilt Chamberlain, the all-time leader in that feat, led his team in scoring, rebounds and assists in a game 118 times over 14 seasons. LeBron is on pace to crush that mark.
Looking at the NBA as a whole, athletes have gotten stronger and more athletic. There’s no denying that.
In the 1951-52 season, the first season this stat was made available, the average height and weight in the NBA was 6-feet-4-inches and 195 pounds. In the 2012-13 season, it was 6-feet-7-inches and 218 pounds. Three inches and 23 pounds is a huge difference in the basketball world.
In the NFL, today’s players are simply better than they were in previous eras. In the 1980s, there were 35 players drafted that are now in the Hall of Fame. There are at least that many players in the NFL who were drafted between 2000 to the present that will receive that honor as well. By my count, the number is pushing 40 and that doesn’t include anybody drafted in 2011 or 2012 — like Robert Griffin III, Russell Wilson or Andrew Luck.
Also, three of the top nine leaders in career passing yardage are currently playing in the league. Those guys are Peyton Manning, Tom Brady and Drew Brees.
As for the MLB, both the hitters and pitchers are better in today’s game. From 2009-12, six of the 23 perfect games in MLB history have been thrown. That’s a stark contrast to the 13, 14, 24 and 34 year droughts between perfect games that all happened before 1982.
Currently, there are 15 active MLB players that are ranked in the top 100 of career home runs, with Torii Hunter and Ryan Howard needing 22 and 24 respectively to crack that list. With how old the sport of baseball is, the fact that over one-seventh of baseball’s most elite list is made up of guys currently playing is astounding.
There’s simply no denying the fact that today’s athletes are the best there’s ever been in sports. They’re bigger, faster and stronger and have put up better numbers than sports have ever seen.