Phelps Lands On Another ESPN.COM List; This Time a Bit Higher

by Retta Race 25

April 02nd, 2015 Industry, News

We reported earlier this week that the greatest Olympian of all time, Michael Phelps, was ranked #9 on’s list of top athletes from 1995 – 2015.  SwimSwam readers had quite a bit to say regarding where Phelps was positioned in that ranking, as did mainstream media outlets.  Hosts of “Mike & Mike”, Mike Greenberg and Mike Golic, commented earlier this week that, sitting #9 on the top athletes list was a big miss; instead, pegging the Baltimore native within the top 3, alongside Serena Williams and Tiger Woods.

Another chance for, um, friendly debate, has now arisen.  As part of their continuing 20th anniversary celebration, takes this ranking business one step further and has composed a list of “touchstone moments” over the same time frame, as selected by the organization’s staff.  These moments represent leaving the ultimate lasting impression on fans everywhere and are permanently within America’s consciousness.  So, where does Phelps fall on this additional lineup?  Take a look.

  1. 2004: Red Sox rally from 0-3, beat Yankees to reach World Series
  2. 1995: Cal Ripken breaks Lou Gehrig’s consecutive games streak
  3. 2008: MICHAEL PHELPS nabs eight gold medals in Beijing Olympics
  4. 1999: Brandi Chastain’s shootout goal wins Women’s World Cup
  5. 1996-98: Michael Jordan and Bulls three-peat
  6. 2000: Tiger Woods wins three majors in one season
  7. 2008: Giants upset previously undefeated Patriots in Super Bowl
  8. 2003: Cubs’ NLCS run turns when fan interferes with foul ball
  9. 1997: Tyson bites Holyfield’s ear in rematch
  10. 1997: Jordan battles flu, makes Jazz sick
  11. 1995: Reggie Miller scores eight points in 8.9 seconds
  12. 1996: Kerri Strug fights off pain, helps U.S. win gold
  13. 1998: Mark McGwire hits home run No. 62
  14. 1996: Muhammad Ali lights the flame at the Atlanta Olympics
  15. 2006: Vince Young leads Texas to comeback over USC
  16. 2006: Kobe Bryant scores 81 points against Toronto Raptors
  17. 1997: Baseball retires Jackie Robinson’s No. 42
  18. 2015: Malcolm Butler’s INT helps Pats thwart Seahawks’ repeat
  19. 2001: Piazza’s HR in first Mets home game after the 9/11 attacks
  20. 2001: D-backs rally in 9th to beat Yankees in World Series Game 7


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#1 drives me insane. ESPN grossly over-exaggerates/estimates the number of people who actually care about the Yankees/Red Sox rivalry (two teams that play each other 18 times a year). Coming back from 3-0, but c’mon… the most iconic/touchstone moment? Please.


In Boston it’s the most iconic moment! 😉


Actually, i agree on that one. That was the greatest sport achievement I have ever witnessed in my life. Bar none.


It’s not about the greatest sports achievement, it’s the touchstone moments. I’m thinking even more USAmericans who watch ESPN, if you limit it to that audience, could answer “who won 8 gold medals at a single Olympics” than “who beat who in the American League championships in 2004 to get into the World Series?”


By biggest achievement, i mean sports moment. I dont know if you know, but that someback over the Yankees propelled them to their first title in 86 years. I guarantee you that more people know the end of “Curse of the bambino” than phelps’s 8 golds. thats just a fact. watching that happen live was the greatest moment i have ever seen.


I can assure more people know about Phelps than the Yankees in 2004 at this game at this time. The amount of promotion and advertisements Phelps has gotten surpasses the Yankees by more than a 1650!


Couldn’t agree with you more. As a non American citizen I had never even heard about this even though I am aware of the existence of both the Red Sox and the Yankees. But even here in Taiwan, Phelps is a household name and everyone knows about his 8 gold haul in Beijing. Phelps is a hero all over the world, not just in the States. Certainly if you are talking about ‘touchstone moments’ they need to have a broader appeal. The entire world identified with Phelps when he broke Spitz’s record but the same is not true of the Red Sox beating the Yankees. That is not to diminish their achievement, but perhaps these rankings should be categorized: American… Read more »


#1 Red Sox win, yeah! 🙂
#7 Patriots lose! 🙁

But, #3 Phelps becomes the GOAT! Hooray!


Better, getting there. Sounds like it’s a “most memorable” list. Ripken is awesome and that’s amazing, but not quite in the same league as Phelps, IMHO. Same for #1, (and I’m a Red Sox fan), if for nothing else than the simple fact that it was the Olympics and the whole world was watching, rather than just the subset of USA baseball fans. If that feat by Phelps can’t make #1 most memorable than I doubt anything in swimming ever could.

Kerri Strug should be higher, as well as Tyson/Holyfield, ugly as it was, who can forget it? (though I wish I could.)

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