The world of sports has the power to bring about millions, if not billions, of viewers, uniting countries to compete against each other in championships and bringing about globalization. When you think about the best athletes in the world, a few key names come to mind. 

From their extra-large clothing sizes (players like Manute Bol come in at a whopping 7’7) and their game-day apparel that influences fashion trends, our sports heroes are large both figuratively and physically. 

Whether you’re new to the world of sports or just want to read about the athletic greatness of icons both past and present, here are some of the most notable basketball and football athletes in the world and their humble beginnings. 

Michael Jordan

Michael Jordan may be one of the most iconic athletes of all time, with his influence going far beyond just the world of basketball. 

His athleticism, skill, and competitiveness led him to a career in basketball, with his speed, agility, leaping ability, and coordination being unparalleled. 

During his time in the NBA (1985–2003), Jordan was a prolific scorer, averaging over 30 points per game on average. He was not only an offensive powerhouse but an exceptional defender as well. 

Jordan was known to demonstrate his skill the most in crucial situations, and his ability to rise to the occasion during high-pressure moments earned him the reputation as the most clutch player in NBA history.

His fierce competitiveness and championship success grew his influence outside of basketball, creating a brand around himself. 

Today, his debut brand, Air Jordan, remains a cultural icon and has played a major role in popularizing basketball worldwide.

Tom Brady

Tom Brady stands at 6-foot-4 and remains one of the most notable football players in history. Brady’s record is unparalleled, with seven super victories, more than any other player in history. 

Brady is also one of the most consistent players, with his career spanning over two decades of playing at an elite level. He’s known for his dedication, meticulous preparation, and ability to motivate other players on the team. 

Brady’s understanding of the game alone and ability to adapt to different situations allow him to exceed expectations. His relentless pursuit of excellence is what has allowed him to have a long and successful career in football. 

Like Michael Jordan, Brady’s influence goes beyond the field, but his beautiful ability on the field is what allows him to have a transformative impact on any team he joins. 

LeBron James

Born in Akron, Ohio, LeBron James stands as one of the best players in NBA history. Coming in at 6-foot-9, LeBron began playing basketball when he was just 9 years old and joined the NBA at the ripe age of 18. 

LeBron is known for his incredible versatility on the court, being able to kill it in many positions while showcasing his skills as a scorer, playmaker, and defender. 

Despite his size, he’s able to carry the agility of a guard while overpowering opponents with his prowess. 

LeBron has a deep understanding of the sport he plays and uses it to make quick decisions on the court and quickly react. This gives him control in games and supports his teammates with his adaptability. 

James is not only an exceptional player; he’s instrumental in leading his team to success. His influence extends both on and off the court, using his platform to encourage positive change in various communities. 

Jerry Rice

Jerry Rice’s career goes beyond exceptional. 

He holds numerous records, including the most receptions, receiving yards, and receiving touchdowns in NFL history, dominating the list of the best players in football. Rice’s commitment to the game and dedication to his craft set the standard for training. 

Rice was a well-rounded player, and his versatility and ability to route run, catch, and run yards made him a major threat in offensive schemes. 

He had a knack for making big moves in crucial game-defining moments, never cracking under pressure. He played for over 20 seasons and maintained his performance throughout his career. 

Rice’s numerous records and milestones in the NFL make it clear why he’s one of the greatest football players of all time. 

Magic Johnson

Magic Johnson was not only notable in size (he’s a whopping 5’9), but his presence alone was large both on and off the court. His size and skill made him versatile in his career, allowing him to play many positions with exceptional skill. 

In spite of his size, he could handle the ball with the skill of a point guard and even make a great center. Magic won five NBA championships, and his skill as a leader helped make his teammates better. 

Magic Johnson was key to the fast-paced, endlessly entertaining “Showtime” Lakers. His playstyle, flashy passes, and fast-paced offense made basketball more exciting and brought about a new legacy in basketball. 

Magic’s style revolutionized the point guard position, emphasizing the importance of court vision, passing, and overall basketball IQ. 

Peyton Manning

Last on our list is Peyton Manning. 

Manning is known as an outstanding quarterback because of his accuracy, quick decision-making, football IQ, and ability to read defenses. He was the master of adjustments, audibles, and recognizing defensive formations. 

Manning played 18 seasons and maintained his exceptional performance throughout his career. Manning was also known to be a leader, commanding the offense, calling plays, and rallying his teammates. 

Manning won two Super Bowl championships, one with the Indianapolis Colts and the other with the Denver Broncos. 


In this article, we’ve highlighted a few players in the world of basketball and football who have demonstrated an unparalleled pursuit of excellence, resilience, and determination. 

The quest to break records and make sports history isn’t just about numerical milestones; it symbolizes the dedication, sacrifice, and unyielding commitment these players have. 

The journey of these players isn’t just about setting new benchmarks; it is also about the values of perseverance, discipline, and relentless pursuit of improvement that serve as the benchmark for generations of players to come. 

The landscape of sports has been shaped by the above players, leaving an enduring legacy in athletic history. 

Megan Isola holds a Bachelor of Science in Hospitality and a minor in Business Marketing from Cal State University Chico. She enjoys going to concerts, trying new restaurants, and hanging out with friends. 


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