You think just because every network, newspaper, magazine, pamphlet, Web page, talk show, ham radio operator, beeper service and corner nut screaming at traffic has come out with one of those godawful 20th-century lists that I'm going to stoop that low just to bang out an easy column?
Unfortunately, after the 4,007th one of these lists there are only a few ridiculous categories left. And the winners are....
Greatest Four-Legged Athlete
Gallant Fox, who was not only a Triple Crown winner (1930) but also sired one ( Omaha, '35).
Greatest Athlete No Matter What the Spacklebrains at ESPN Think
If you knew somebody who entered eight of 10 events in the national AAU track meet and won five of them outright and tied for first in another; who won two gold medals in the 1932 Olympics and lost a third on a technicality; who took up golf and won 82 tournaments as an amateur and a pro; who was a three-time All-America in basketball; who won championships of one sort or another in billiards, cycling, shooting, speed skating, squash, swimming and tennis; and who pitched in several major league exhibition games, wouldn't you say that's the greatest athlete you've ever heard of? That's Babe Didrikson Zaharias.
Greatest Athlete Who Could Turn You into a Lump
Gordie Howe, who was his own goon.
Eric Dickerson, who never met a sideline he didn't love.
Atlanta Braves righthander John Smoltz, who suffered a chest bum trying to steam wrinkles out of his shirt while wearing it.
Mamie Van Doren, the star of such classics as Sex Kittens Go to College, who had a body that could make a monk bite a hole in a church pew and left a trail of dazed jocks—from Jack Dempsey to Bo Belinsky to Joe Namath—without ever mussing her beehive.
Charles Barkley, who's also the funniest, smartest and most honest. Scottie Pippen ripping Sir Cumference as a career failure? Please. Without Michael Jordan, Pippen is the world's tallest Domino's deliveryman.