There can be little dispute that this list really consists of the most charismatic, the most iconic, the most notorious of athletes, not necessarily the best. In Tiger's case, however, there can be little dispute that he was the best. Nobody dominated his sport without a chemical assist in the way that Tiger has. And while Tiger remains #2 on the list of major tournament champions behind Jack Nicklaus, nobody has ever dominated the game of golf like Tiger has. All things considered, he is the Michael Jordan of the '00s.
2. Tom Brady and Peyton Manning
Football remains America's national pastime, and the QB remains the heart of any good football team, and these 2 guys were the best at the most iconic athletic position. They have to rate pretty highly if only on that basis.
3. Barry Bonds
How can he rate this highly? How can he not? Tiger is only competing with Jack Nicklaus. Bonds' accomplishment eclipsed those of the most immortal American athlete ever, Babe Ruth, to a degree that even Aaron and McGwire can't match. The fact that he became the poster child for the great athletic debate of our time only enhances his notoriety. But seriously, he was almost this good even without the 'roids, and I admit I am as much put off by the pious moralizing of the anti-'roids camp as I am by the 'roids themselves.
4. Michael Phelps
Greatest Olympic champion ever?
5. Shaquille O'Neal
Only Michael was as dominant since Wilt and Kareem.
6. Lance Armstrong
AP Athlete of the Year how many times in a row?
7. Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera
A-Rod is better, but these are the icons of what continues to be the most iconic franchise in America.
8. Shawn White
Seriously, don't you want your kids to grow up to be like Shawn White?
9. Roger Federer
Best ever but a bit weak in the charisma category if you ask me.
10. Venus and Serena Williams
Name me a more colorful pair of sisters in sports, ever. Maybe Flo Jo and Jackie, but they were only sisters-in-law.
11. Usain Bolt. Bolt, is right.
12. Annika Sorenstam. One of the classier people on the sporting horizon during the '00s.
13. Alex Rodriguez. The 2nd best hardball guy but not the most charismatic.
14. Apolo Ono. Pretty good skater, seems like a pretty good guy.
15. Albert Pujols. Great hitter.
16. Kobe Bryant and Tim Duncan. Overshadowed by Shaq but very effective.
17. Phil Mikkelson. Will go down in history as a foil, but a damn good foil.
18. Brett Favre and Kurt Warner. The older version of Brady and Manning.
19. Roger Clemens, Randy Johnson, Greg Maddux, Pedro Martinez. The great pitchers.
20. LaDanian Tomlinson. Remember when the running back used to be the superstar of the gridiron? Neither do I.
21. Shawn Johnson and Nastia Liukin. A great, great duel in the '08 Olympics.
22. Steve Nash. The point guard is the heart and soul of the modern basketball team, and yet there hasn't been a really super-duperstar "1" since Magic. Nash is just the next coming of Stockton.
23. Paul Hamm. It's fading from memory but the men's gymnastics competition from '04 was pretty exciting.
24. Lorena Ochoa. Seems like she coulda/shoulda/woulda done more.
25. Marion Jones. Another one whose disgrace sort of adds to the iconic appeal.