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Your Take: CNNSI.com users sound off

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Posted: Friday July 09, 1999 04:12 PM

We asked for feedback on Sports Illustrated's list of our favorite athletes of the 20th century. Here are more of your favorites who didn't make our top 20.

Click here to see other user choices, or here to give us your favorite.

Arthur Ashe. No athlete has had an impact on humanity to the degree that Ashe has. He was the first black male tennis player to win Wimbledon and the U.S. Open. However, more important than his tennis prowess was his impact on society. He stood up for what he believed in and was not afraid of anything -- not even getting arrested, as he was when he stood up for Haitian refugees. He faced the AIDS virus head-on and battled it like the hero he is. The Ashe legacy will live on forever. He is a true sports hero and my alltime favorite.
—Rob Litt, Minneapolis

Here's an argument for Mario Andretti. He is one of those few people whose name is synonymous with his sport. You think of a race driver, you think of Andretti, at least in America. He did it all: Indy 500 winner, Formula One champion, successful NASCAR driver at the Daytona 500. Even as a grandfather he still sought the one prize that had eluded him, the 24 Hours of Le Mans. There has been no successful American driver internationally in the past 20 years, since he took the F/1 championship in 1978. And all he has accomplished has been done with the class and character of a true sporting gentleman, a breed which no longer seems to exist in his sport (and is rare in any other sport).
—Pat, Charleston, W.Va.

Willie Mays. Excelled in every facet of the game and made it seem as though baseball was invented for him. A great joy to watch. If you enjoy baseball you would have to take great pleasure in watching him play.
—Lou Lepin, New York City

Dave Kreig. He quietly snuck onto many of the top 10 career stats lists for quarterbacks. He is the closest thing to a human version of the cartoon character Underdog.
—Paul Dorrance, Kansas City, Mo.

O.J. Simpson. He was a great at avoiding tacklers, and justice.
—Matt, Houston

Wilt Chamberlain. How many rules were changed just for his game, so he would not dominate more than he already did?
—Alex Sokolik, Secret Canyon, Colo.

Mike Schmidt. I think that he was the best fielder of all the great long-ball hitters. He also conducted himself with dignity in an often hostile environment where he was not truly appreciated until much later in his career than he should have been.
—Paul Roberts, Ingleside, Texas

Henry Aaron. He made everything look easy. Could hit for power, average and steal bases. Played practically every game until near the end of his career. His year-by-year statistics were consistently better than Mays, Mantle and Clemente. You could count on him for a .300-plus average, 35-40 homers and 120 RBIs.
—Larry Shively, Rustburg, Va.

My favorite athlete while growing up was Reggie Jackson. Although, he may not have been the strongest role model, I will never forget being 8 years old and watching him hit three home runs in the '77 series. To me it was the most incredible thing I'd ever seen. I still get goose bumps just writing about it.
—Jose R. Alvarado, San Juan, Puerto Rico

Doug Flutie. A winner wherever he goes! Destroys stereotypes about what athletes can and can't do. Proves that HEART wins!!!
—George Ferro, Somerset, Mass.

My favorite athlete is Lou Gehrig. He was the epitome of "the athlete," never giving up, always giving it his best, always putting forth 100% effort. He has made a lasting impression on my life. Whenever I am in a distance race like the marathon or a century bicycling race and I begin to get tired I think of Lou Gehrig, playing his heart out, unable to understand why his body is failing him, and I become energized and focused on the task of completing the race, giving it my all no matter what pain I feel. That is what an athlete is supposed to do, and that is how Lou Gehrig has inspired me.
—Bill Welcher, Whittier, Calif.

Mookie Wilson. He had a lot of heart on the old ball field. Out of all of the players on the New York Mets' 1986 World Championship team, Mookie deserved that ring more than anyone else, except for Jesse Orosco. Mookie had heart, hustle and grit.
—Brent Rogers, New York City

Steffi Graf. For sustained and renewed excellence throughout a generation of competition. Simply a marvelous, if not always ingratiating, athlete. Some found her demeanor arrogant or diffident, but she is a basically shy person who has lived her life on Centre Court, with a good deal of style and class. And when her body betrayed her -- more times than not in the last few years -- her heart never did. A ferocious competitor. And how about that smile this May at Roland Garros? Incomparable.
—Laurie Schmeling, Bloomington, Ind.

Lance Armstrong. Diagnosed with testicular cancer, he beat the odds and beat the disease. Now cancer-free after two years of treatment, he races again at the top of his sport, winning the Prologue of the 1999 Tour de France. A former World Champion and multiple stage winner in the greatest race in the world.
—Andy Stump, Orlando, Fla.

Florence Griffith Joyner. She was simply the greatest-ever combination of speed, power, grace and beauty. Her performances were Beamonesque, and she repeated them! Then she was taken before her time.
—Don Murphy, Berwyn, Ill.

Emmitt Smith is my favorite athlete of the 20th century. Emmitt has excelled on every level in which he has played, rewriting record books from high school to the pros. Playing in a day and age where athletes are more concerned about getting paid the right amount of money or getting the best endorsements,or playing in the biggest media market, Emmitt has been the ultimate professional on and off the field. His stats are among the greatest of all time.
—Ben Martinez, Clinton, Utah

Gordie Howe. In an age where most sports headlines are about petulant athletes caught up in scandal, Mr. Howe has been the best role model in sports for decades. NHL players have been called the most approachable in sports, and that's a credit to Howe, who set an example for Hull, Orr, Gretzky and other hockey icons.
—Greg Polinchuk, Winnipeg, Manitoba

Chad Rowan (Akebono). Although a large portion of the American audience has never seen Akebono perform, he is truly an athlete to be admired. Not since WWII has an American had such an influence on the Japanese society. He is a graceful and talented athlete that has no equal among the million-dollar whiners that are so prevalent in American sports. It is a shame that he had to travel from his native country to compete in his sport.

—M.L. Miller, Okinawa, Japan

Pistol Pete Maravich rates as my favorite athlete because he added a new and imaginative dimension to my favorite sport as a youth. I remember spending many hours trying to emulate his behind-the-back passes, off-balance runners and dipsy-doodle layups. Pistol Pete played with pizzazz!
—Al Barsch, L'Anse, Mich.

Roger Staubach. He was the ultimate in grace and athleticism. The Cowboys were never out of a game as long as Roger the Dodger was on the field. He was also a role model off the field, with his Naval background and involvement with the United Way.
—Dan Schmidt, Broken Arrow, Okla.

Bobby Hull was my boyhood idol, when you could have idols without cynicism. He exemplified hard work, strength, speed and the shot -- a blast that made the puck disappear until it was behind the goalie and slowed down by the net.
—Byron Hadjokas, Beloit, Wis.

Harmon Killebrew was undeniably one of the most intimidating home run hitters of the modern era and one of the finest and most honorable gentlemen to play a pro sport. He is one fellow who was always willing to be a role model, not only with his bat but with his life.
—Martin Lee, Waco, Texas

Christian Laettner. He was a true team leader who was always at his best when the game was on the line. Probably the greatest college basketball player of all time, who made the most famous basket of the century. Liked by few, hated by most, but would always do anything in his power to win.
—Randy Werzyn, Charlotte, N.C.

How about Satchel Paige. He was still pitching in the major leagues at age 57! He was so good, the league outlawed one of his best pitches. Who knows how much of an impression or how many records he could have broken/posted if allowed to play against his contemporary white ball players? I would also be remiss in not acknowledging Josh Gibson, the real home run king!
—Matthew Leslie, Los Angeles

Anthony Munoz. Raised by a single mother. A three-sport letterman (football, basketball, baseball) in high school. An outstanding athlete who played football and baseball at USC. Three major knee operations during college made him a risk in many eyes as a top draft pick. Ignored early fan disgust in Cincinnati to become the greatest offensive lineman in NFL history and one of the most beloved by fans in the Queens City. Inducted in 1998 to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Yet despite his talent, success, fame and fortune (good and bad), he is still the kindest man, greatest father and truest role model anyone could aspire to. This is the true American athlete of our times.
—Charles Bentley, Ontario, Calif.

Earl "The Pearl" Monroe, a.k.a. Black Jesus. He clearly wasn't the best ever like Jordan, nor was he a multiple winner like Russell or Magic. Couldn't shoot like West or the Big "O" and he didn't soar like the Doctor, but NOBODY had moves like the Pearl. He had moves that nobody had ever seen and, truthfully, no one since has been able to "shake and bake" like Monroe. A joy to watch, and one more thing: He defined "cool."
—Peter Straus, Chico, Calif.

How about the greatest stock car driver that ever lived, Richard Petty. A true gentleman in the world of motor sports who is known the world over. His record of most wins will probably fall some day, but no driver will ever dominate the sport as he did, in the era of the best driver not just the man with the best car.
—Scott Lindgren, Chassell, Mich.

Willie McGee. He once raised his arm after hitting a game-winning home run, and then apologized to the other team in case he had showed them up. When he became too old to be an everyday player, he accepted his role off the bench. Never greedy or selfish, he has always played the game like a kid in Little League, and he represents everything that is right in professional sports.
—Tom Scheppele, Kansas City, Mo.

Martina Navratilova. Although she didn't always have the temperament of a champion -- the nerves were sometimes too brittle, her killer instincts were blunted by her need to be liked by (American) fans -- but the sheer raw talent overcame that. Off the court she had the courage of a lioness -- leaving her family and defecting to the U.S. as a very young woman, and coming out in a very public and very honorable way. Navratilova is a true heroine.
—Ian Rashid, Bristol, England

Let's throw a cricketer in there. In his heyday, Ian Botham was the best. The records and match-winning performances speak for themselves. Then there was the entertainer and the persona that the English gutter media loved to goad. "If Ian Botham smokes pot then make the whole English team take it!"
—David Thomson, Brunei

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