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GOAT - The eternal debate

Don't Skip Leg Day

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The only GOAT is the Rock, competed at collage football, wrestled in the WWE (or WWF yes I am that old), well respected actor, owns several other brands etc and seems like a stand up bloke.

No one greater really.
 

The_Blindside

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The only GOAT is the Rock, competed at collage football, wrestled in the WWE (or WWF yes I am that old), well respected actor, owns several other brands etc and seems like a stand up bloke.

No one greater really.
come here the rock GIF by WWE
 

Which Tyler

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A new gymnastics move, from conception through to competition
 

Cruz_del_Sur

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Just saw this, a tad late, i know. A couple of comments. Not all sports weigh the same when it comes to comparing an athletes accomplishments. I've seen the best polo player in history run circles around the competition. That can mean very little, if anything when 99,9999% of the population never had a shot at even trying the sport. I'm using polo as an extreme example, but the same principle applies to a lot of sports. Ice hockey, car racing, golf, etc. I guess the only truly global sports are football and a few track ones (such as 100 mts).

The argument basically goes something like this: has anyone ever done what Gretzky did? Well, no, but 95% of the population never even considered trying. So the question becomes, is it reasonable to believe that within that 95% there could have been someone as good as him, or better? I don't know, but I think it is a fair question.

The second comment is, it is hard to compare eras (I think the fairest (or least unfair) way is to compare how dominant people were at their time), but it is incredibly difficult to compare people in things such as team sports. Too many biases (forwards are 10x more popular than defenders in footie, just to name one).

The last point is bias. I am going to argue against bias by displaying mine. I like Messi, I think he is, talent-wise, something that we might never see for a while. But I acknowledge my bias. I am aware of it and consciously try to correct it. So when I listen to player talk about CR vs Messi, I do this.
If the one talking is Argentine I disregard his positive opinion about messi (same principle with Port and CR).
If the one talking is a Barcelona supporter i disregard his positive opinion about messi (same principle with Sporting, MU, RM, Juventus)
 

The_Blindside

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It’s the eternal pub or bar room debate. It’s the process of debate rather than getting to any actual answer as there is none IMO.

We could still narrow it down eg to Ali as the GOAT. But that is mainly due to his greatness at transcending his sport by giving up his heavyweight ***le to stand up for not enlisting in Vietnam because injustice still existed in the USA. But as a boxer? Yeh he was pretty damn special, but others would argue Joe Louis’ record was better or SRR was the pound for pound the better boxer.

Here’s a question for you @cruz - Maradona or Messi? Who is the greater in Argentinian eyes? Talent wise and achievement?
 

Welsh Exile

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If Maradonna had stayed off the gear he would’ve been the greatest ever (obviously still one of the GOATS even with the cocaine) but it’s Messi for me. Not that I’m an expert on soccer or anything
 

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It’s the eternal pub or bar room debate. It’s the process of debate rather than getting to any actual answer as there is none IMO.

We could still narrow it down eg to Ali as the GOAT. But that is mainly due to his greatness at transcending his sport by giving up his heavyweight ***le to stand up for not enlisting in Vietnam because injustice still existed in the USA. But as a boxer? Yeh he was pretty damn special, but others would argue Joe Louis’ record was better or SRR was the pound for pound the better boxer.

Here’s a question for you @cruz - Maradona or Messi? Who is the greater in Argentinian eyes? Talent wise and achievement?

Controversial opinion but Mike Tyson in his prime sparks out Ali.
 

The_Blindside

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Controversial opinion but Mike Tyson in his prime sparks out Ali.

Interesting. Ali had a chin on him. I would say he would have taken Tyson’s punches.

Ali 1964-1967 when at his peak v peak Tyson 1985 to 1988 would have been interesting. Still would have taken Ali as he was faster and would have used his jab and longer reach to control a young Tyson.
 

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Interesting. Ali had a chin on him. I would say he would have taken Tyson’s punches.

Ali 1964-1967 when at his peak v peak Tyson 1985 to 1988 would have been interesting. Still would have taken Ali as he was faster and would have used his jab and longer reach to control a young Tyson.
Yeah, don’t get me wrong I wouldn’t be putting my house on it or anything but I’m not so sure he was faster. Early 20s Tyson was ridiculously quick but they both were, obviously.

Fair points though and Ali’s jab was different league and I think if Ali got past the first 4 rounds then Ali would be favourite in the middle to later rounds but would’ve been a great fight to watch that’s for sure.
 

The_Blindside

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Yeah, don’t get me wrong I wouldn’t be putting my house on it or anything but I’m not so sure he was faster. Early 20s Tyson was ridiculously quick but they both were, obviously.

Fair points though and Ali’s jab was different league and I think if Ali got past the first 4 rounds then Ali would be favourite in the middle to later rounds but would’ve been a great fight to watch that’s for sure.
The closest to Tyson in Ali’s era was Joe Frasier. Ali always seem to struggle with Joe and his infamous left hook. And they had a trilogy of which 2 went down as two of the greatest fights ever - fight of the century and the Thriller in Manila. 2-1 to Ali in the end. Probably would have been similar if Ali and Tyson met in their prime I would imagine.

Sadly Tyson past his peak was not the same as prime Tyson and got mashed by both Holyfield and Lewis. Even Ali went way past his when he should have probably retired after the Thriller in Manila.
 

Welsh Exile

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The closest to Tyson in Ali’s era was Joe Frasier. Ali always seem to struggle with Joe and his infamous left hook. And they had a trilogy of which 2 went down as two of the greatest fights ever - fight of the century and the Thriller in Manila. 2-1 to Ali in the end. Probably would have been similar if Ali and Tyson met in their prime I would imagine.

Sadly Tyson past his peak was not the same as prime Tyson and got mashed by both Holyfield and Lewis. Even Ali went way past his when he should have probably retired after the Thriller in Manila.

Yeah good points. It’s also worth considering that as Ali was boxing in that golden era, he had much harder opponents than Tyson in his prime did.

I dunno, I just think 21/22 year old Mike was an insanely dangerous human being.

I also generally subscribe to the view that athletes in all sports get better as time goes on but boxing is a bit different to be fair and is a bit of an exception though heavyweights back in the day generally seemed a lot smaller than present day ones.
 

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Young Tyson was fearless at getting in on the inside and smothering his opponents within the first few rounds and then knocking them out at his peak. Buster Douglas exploded that and controlled him with his jab and somehow got up and the rest his history.

Once opponents figured out Tyson and stayed with him he wasn’t that fearsome anymore. Holyfield especially worked him out in their fights which led to Tyson getting so frustrated he took a chunk out of him and then you saw what Tyson well past his prime was destroyed by Lewis with his enormous reach and jab.

I also don’t think He was the same fighter after he split with his initial trainer and promoted by Don King in the late 80s.
 

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Take the current GOAT debate going on in tennis. Federer v Nadal v Djokovic. Nadal will likely surpass Federer’s 20 on Sunday, if as expected he reaches the final (not an absolute given). Does that then make Nadal the GOAT of tennis what with his heavy clay court record? Only ever won one indoor hard court ***le and no End of year World tour finals v the best 8 players each year?
 

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Take the current GOAT debate going on in tennis. Federer v Nadal v Djokovic. Nadal will likely surpass Federer’s 20 on Sunday, if as expected he reaches the final (not an absolute given). Does that then make Nadal the GOAT of tennis what with his heavy clay court record? Only ever won one indoor hard court ***le and no End of year World tour finals v the best 8 players each year?
No, because GOAT is too subjective when the stats are that close. But it definitely puts him in the conversation.
 

The_Blindside

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No, because GOAT is too subjective when the stats are that close. But it definitely puts him in the conversation.

Interesting. He’s definitely the GOAT of clay court tennis. I just can’t see in my life time anyone ever matching his clay court record. Unless a complete freak of nature like Bolt of tennis came along …. But an even bigger freak of nature than Nadal? He’d have to be genetically modified one.

But yes, I always preferred the way or style Federer played than Nadal. But that’s preference rather than based on stats.

Another measure of GOAT status is judged wins/record and how the team or individual played to win. Not an easy measure by any means.
 
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Which Tyler

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Yeah, GOAT on clay I'd certainly give you without the slightest hesitation.
This last 20 years though, clay is really the last of the specialist surfaces, and it makes up a good 40% of the tournaments; so being a clay specialist with next to nothing elsewhere (obviously, not the case for Rafa) can put you right at the top of your peers.

When comparing the big 3 in tennis (and IMO):
Roger is just the most naturally talented of the 3, with the most varied game which is in constant evolution - throughout a match, let alone year or career. In rugby terms, he'd be Dan Carter
Rafa is the most naturally gifted physical specimen - the man's an absolute beast, and it's a miracle his knees have lasted this long, but they have, and he's been able to subdue all opposition. In rugby terms he'd be (a better version of) James Haskell
Novak is the most well drilled, trained professional - he's just a machine who never stops grinding you down. In rugby terms, he's be Jonny Wilkinson

My bias is that I always prefer the natural talent in the sport to the best athlete or the best trained; but that's all subjective. When the stats are close, subjective is all that's left - which is why there'll never be any actual answer to "who's the GOAT" for almost any sport, let alone for all sport.
When stat.s tell the story, the whole story and nothing but the story, is when someone is just completely dominant - like Gretsky or Bradman. You could take their stat,s and divide them in 2 to make 2 athletes; and both would be in the conservation for GOAT in their sport. This is especially true for something like cricket which really, REALLY lends itself well to statistical analysis.
 

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Take the current GOAT debate going on in tennis. Federer v Nadal v Djokovic. Nadal will likely surpass Federer’s 20 on Sunday, if as expected he reaches the final (not an absolute given). Does that then make Nadal the GOAT of tennis what with his heavy clay court record? Only ever won one indoor hard court ***le and no End of year World tour finals v the best 8 players each year?
Woods v Nicklaus would be similar, Nicklaus is the best major golfer but Woods would be most people's GOAT. Hagan and Jones shouldn't be ignored either, all have their own points of separation.
 

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like Gretsky or Bradman.
With Gretzky he did have a contemporary to compare to on some angles (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mario_Lemieux), Gretzky is without doubt the best Forward to play Ice Hockey. However unlike Bradman the fact most of the great forwards statistically come from his era suggests it was a different game. at the time. Certainly goaltending has moved up an entirely different level since which has kept stats down in most watchers opinion.
Woods v Nicklaus would be similar, Nicklaus is the best major golfer but Woods would be most people's GOAT. Hagan and Jones shouldn't be ignored either, all have their own points of separation.
Woods V Niklaus will sadly be one of those that is impossible, Woods' back giving up for many years would of taken away so many chances whilst he was dominant.
 

Cruz_del_Sur

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Here’s a question for you @cruz - Maradona or Messi? Who is the greater in Argentinian eyes? Talent wise and achievement?
Will take some explaining. More along the lines of a couple of random thoughts without a congruent line. Just read. I'll try to give you a bit of both sides of the coin. Here it goes. Most Argentines would say Maradona. For me? Messi. Messi might be favoured a bit more by younger people, Maradona overwhelmingly more popular among older people.

My take. Raw talent-wise, Messi. Messi on his best day is better than Maradona was on his best day and Messi on his average day is/was better than Maradona on his average day. One of the differences is Maradona had his best at a world cup. Some might say that is a trait in itself, rising to the occasion, etc. In this day and age, saying that a person that has won several Champions leagues chokes is a hard sell imo. Is there more level in a world cup than in a champions league? I don't think so, I believe they are pretty even. Was Spain stronger than Barcelona? Was Germany Stronger than Bayern? I think the stage in terms of pressure and level is quite the same.

On that point:...Final Argentina vs Germany 2014: we had 2 crystal clear changes during the 90 min. You could argue Germany played better, but we created the best chances. Both of our forwards made silly decisions/executions of those chances. Had any of those gone in, I think a huge part of this argument would have been settled. Woulda, shoulda, coulda, I know. But to judge a player's place in history based on that sounds harsh, very harsh.

Maradona had 2 things going for him. He was a natural leader, Messi is not. Maradona had an aura of invincibility that was contagious. Having him on the field even on a bad day was a huge asset. On his worst day there were three opposing players distracted by his every move. You could argue the Barcelona players felt the same, as Messi did his talking with the boots. Maybe, but I am willing to concede on this front. I've never heard his teammates praise his leadership. When Messi is having a bad day, he doesn't even ask for the ball. Maradona would chop his leg before he did that. He made a mess, but he would never avoid the spotlight. It was his and only his, win or lose.
Countless of Maradona's teammates have talked about how he took the pressure off them, both on and off the pitch. Facing opponents and journalists. Tons of evidence. There is an argument to be made about Maradona making his teammates better.

The other one was the opposition. You could argue defenders are faster, stronger, tactically smarter today, and you'd be probably right. But the level of violence skilled players had to face back then was a different animal. The protection, for the lack of a better word, messi has is very different. From the game, the refs, the audience, etc. Someone going to break him is just unacceptable these days. He ruins the game for everyone. Everyone. That sort of violence was not only acceptable back then, it was expected.
On the other hand, I've heard quite a few defenders (Rio Ferdinand to name one) saying things along the lines of "it's not as if we don't try to foul him, we cant catch him".

Maradona's fame revolves a LOT around Napoli. Part of it is justified, part of it is just fantastic storytelling based on lies. The justified part was that Juve/Milan/Inter were monstrous teams that had always won everything and had tremendous line ups. It was also true that Napoli had never won anything. He came in, told everyone he'd change things and he did.
What is not true, is this fantasy that Napoli was basically a handcart with 10 dead horses who couldn't kick a ball and that Maradona carried them on his shoulders. Napoli had (besides Maradona), two Brazilian internationals (Careca and Alemao) and 5 members of the Italian national team. That means it had 8 national team members of Ita/Bra/Arg at the time. Hardly an average team.

One thing a lof of Maradona fans mention is that Maradona had more flair, that his playstyle was much more pleasant to the eye and that he was more resourceful. I disagree. I fundamentally disagree with that. What I do notice is the following, bit technical but will try to keep it simple. In football, you have what we call "lujos" literally luxuries. They are generally unorthodox moves that are crowd-pleasers but don't necessarily add to the scoreboard/gameplay. Two examples: First, imagine someone centres the ball to you. You could simply head the ball to score, or reposition yourself and do a spectacular overhead kick and score. Both are worth one goal. One is spectacular, the other is not. Second example: imagine you are rushed by a defender. You have the time to pass it to a teammate, but you chose to nutmeg the opponent, going backwards gaining nothing. But the crowd loves it. This might sound silly, but the use of the arms is a big tell.

Messi does very, very little of that. Let me explain: Messi does have and does use all of those resources. He can and has done all that. But he uses them in a strategically smart way. He uses a nutmeg to get out of a situation where no simple pass was available, not to humiliate the defender not to please the crowd. 100%. He uses an overhead kick when he is situated in a position where he cant score using his head. He never does things for the sake of doing them. He uses them for a purpose. Fans, on average, prefer more Maradona's way on this. Messi is more 'efficient' in this sense.

Considering all, if my life depended on it and I had to pick 11 players Messi would be my first pick. His combination of accuracy, speed, technique and decision making is out of this world. I've never, ever thought I would see someone as good as him on 1v1 from a standstill position. If you could face yourself 1v1, from a standstill position, yourself defending would win the overwhelming majority of times. The attacker has first touch but the defender has an extra meter, he can slide, and his job is to destroy, not to create. He wins most, from positions he shouldn't. I am not talking about getting someone off foot throwing the ball long and outrunning him. No. Ball standing still, defender picking his position, facing him, and losing, again and again and again. Hist first two touches and his acceleration are incredible.

I generally watch sports for two reasons: the beauty of the game and/or to follow my team. I couldn't give a flying turd if Barcelona won or loss. But the beauty he (and busquets, xavi, inisesta et al) created was something that hooked me to the screen like no other team (other than the ones I support) had done. I went out of my way to watch Barcelona's games even though I couldn't care less about the result.

On the other hand, from a storytelling point of view, I can see how Maradona's is a much more compelling and entertaining story. The guy walks into a room and the time stops. He went against anyone and everyone, fought all he thought worth fighting for (even when I stand opposed to those values), lost some, but one quite a few too. He treated empherors and begars just the same. He's dinner with silver crockery and found a bite from a garbage can when he was dirt **** poor.



What I genuinely do not understand is the CR vs Messi debate. I can understand Marcelo, Sergio Ramos and Zidane, defending CR, but I can't recall a single "great" player that didn't have some sort of allegiance to either (to eliminate bias) saying CR was the best. It fascinated me for a while.
I can recall quite a few Manchester United players (Rooney, Keane, Scholes) saying Messi was the best. Mourinho called Messi a god after he left RM.
I can't think of a single Barcelona or former Barcelona player saying CR was the best ever.

I know this will come across as incredibly arrogant, but the minute someone says something like that, I spend 1 minute trying to figure out whether he is making a point or whether he actually believes that. If he is making a point (defining his colors or something) i wont care, I'll let it slide, nothing happened. But if I think he genuinely believes that, I unequivocally lose interest in the conversation. It'd be like talking about football with someone who doesn't understand the most basic rules.
 

The_Blindside

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I much prefer Messi to CR. For me Messi is about 3 players rolled into one. Still, I would have both of them in my dream GOAT football team either side of Brazilian Ronaldo up front.
 
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