Athletes: Who's The Greatest Of All?

Is Michael Jordan the greatest ever? Not just the greatest basketball player but the greatest athlete: a figure who not only dominates his sport but also changes the way it's played, who dominates that sport not only in his own time but also across time? Where does Jordan stand relative to Babe Ruth, say, or Muhammad Ali?

Let's knock down the basketball straw man first. If someone plays defense like Bill Russell, passes like Isiah Thomas, scores like Julius Erving and rises to the occasion like Larry Bird, it's hard to argue against him. The clincher comes in the context of...

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