Most influential athletes for this Generation?

We see the athletes who dominate the headlines of today. From Odell Beckham to Lebron James. Players that we idealize for their abilities on the court, and in many way, their personalities of the court. But who are the original influencers of todays megastar athletes? I take a guess with a few. Some are from the 90’s others are from the early 2000s, but no matter what, these players have had a major impact on the way athletes play today.

Michael Jordan

It is hard not to put the original goat on this list of influencers in todays athletes. From football to basketball, players in todays game strive to get the tag GOAT when it is all said and done. Michael wasn’t just your average athlete. He was gifted in the ability to push himself past his limits to reach the top of the NBA world. From his early stories of being cut from his High school basketball team, to his push to become great in the NBA. Michael has faced and exceed the expectations set before him.

When he came into the league, the NBA had a “MJ” already crushing the game; Magic Johnson. Magic was the ideal point guard of that era. He was tall, fast, strong, and could see the court like no other. But what made Jordan different was that Jordan could do that as well, but he could float like a butterfly in the air. Jordan revolutionized the style at which basketball was being played. Jordan hasn’t graced the court in a long time as a player, but the name Jordan is still on the court.

Jordan shoes are seen everywhere on the feet of major athletes as well as the kids shooting hoops outside on the playground basketball court;  all of whom are fans of Jordan, and who are hoping that a little of Michael Jordan’s skills and talents are put inside of their shoe so they can utter the words “Make Me Like Mike.”

Allen Iverson

The one guy who came into the league and crossed up the GOAT, Michael Jordan. Allen Iverson was one of the most polarizing figures in sports. The media tried to make him out to be a bad guy because he was different from all of the guys coming into the NBA.

Iverson had corn rolls, tattoos, walked into the arena before a game in a  long t-shirt and not a suit. He was, somewhat, the complete opposite of the Michael Jordan. He wasn’t tall,  he wasn’t balled, he was Iverson. Iverson brought personality to the NBA. He brought a connection to the fans that most at the time did not understand. Everyone was use to seeing NBA players in a suit and tie. They were use to seeing NBA players look more professional. The NBA was not ready for a guy like Iverson.

But, Iverson influence on the NBA is as much or maybe even more impactful than Michael Jordan. The NBA is littered with tatted up players with a personalized dress code that is all their own. Players don’t view the media as friends or allies like in the past; players see the Media as people they have to deal with. Players are able to speak their mind a little more than what they did in the 90’s. Iverson made it possible for NBA players to be themselves instead of masking it.

Iverson took the hits in the media and with teams, so that players like Kevin Durant, Lebron James, and Russell Westbrook are able to say what they want to say to the media. Is there still backlash from what players say, Yes, but it is not as crushing as it once was.

Serena Williams

If you want power and strength, look no further than the woman who as dominated women’s tennis like no other athlete has dominated their sport. Serena Williams has inspired many young African-American children to take up tennis. For a long-time, tennis seemed as if it was a white only sport, but with the emergence of Serena and Venus Williams, the game has changed for the better. Many girls look up to Serena as an ideal because she was able to take over a sport and dominate it for almost 10 years.

There is not too many women athletes that Americans can name off the top of their heads. Serena is an icon like no other, and that’s what makes her great.

Sean Taylor

It has been over a decade since the young NFL Star’s death at his home in Miami, FL. A home invasion gone wrong turned into Sean Taylor’s life being cut short at a young age. Although he did not play for many years in the NFL before his passing, Sean was able to make an ever lasting impact on the game of football. He was a hard hitting safety with the ability to make opposing quarterbacks throw the opposite way of where he is. He had to be planned for, when players studied film.

Sean Taylor impact on the game of football changed rules in the league, as well as, made up and coming athletes want to hit and play like him. London Collins, safety for the New York Giants, is a prime example. Many players dream of hitting like Sean, so his impact on the game is evident in the secondary.


(Feature Photo Credit: NBA.COM)

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