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Asking sports fans to pick a GOAT is a recipe for disaster. Even if the question is isolated to the world of basketball, you’ll get a variety of answers. Some will advocate for Michael Jordan, while others stand behind LeBron James; there’s also an argument for someone like Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, but that’s a different conversation. If finding a consensus in one sport is tough, working across the entire athletic spectrum is borderline impossible.

A recent poll, however, attempted to do just that. And while there wasn’t a consensus, His Airness did manage to come out on top, defeating Tom Brady in a battle for sporting supremacy.

Let’s break it all down.

Morning Consult gave Michael Jordan the edge as the cross-sport GOAT

Before going any further, I want to establish the futility of trying to determine a singular GOAT across eras, let alone across sports. That challenge — how do you adjust for different rules, styles of play, and technological advancements — hasn’t stopped the debate from taking place, though. If there’s an argument at hand, sports fans are going to advocate for their favorite candidate.

Through that lens, Morning Consult polled “a representative sample of 2,203 U.S. adults” and asked a variety of sports questions. Many of them focused on the participants’ attitudes toward NFL quarterbacks from across the league’s history, and then athletes from other sports entered the mix.

Based on those results, Tom Brady ranked as the greatest NFL signal-caller, taking 43% of the vote among NFL fans and 33% of the result across United States adults. TB12, however, lost his grip on the top spot when the sporting scope expanded.

When the non-NFL athletes entered the fray, Michael Jordan soared to the top spot. Among sports fans, he claimed 19% of the GOAT vote, with Brady sitting in second place with 12%. The results stayed the same when polling all U.S. adults; MJ took first place (16% of the vote), and Brady stayed in second (9% of the vote).

That’s not the only endorsement that Michael Jordan has recently received

If you’re feeling especially cynical, you could argue that a general poll doesn’t matter much in the GOAT rankings when compared to the opinions of other athletes. In that case, we’ll point your attention to Charles Barkley’s all-time NBA ranking.

During an appearance on All the Smoke, Sir Charles was asked to provide his top five NBA players. Never one to hold back, though, the TNT talking head rattled off 15 names.

“Michael [Jordan], Oscar [Robertson], Wilt [Chamberlain], Kareem [Abdul-Jabbar], Bill Russell,” Barkley explained. “Kobe [Bryant], LeBron [James], Tim Duncan, Hakeem [Olajuwon], Jerry West. Those are my top 10.” He then rounded out the list with Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Shaquille O’Neal, Steph Curry, and Elgin Baylor.

Again, you could take issue with that basketball-specific ranking. Perhaps you want to assert that Chuck is biased since he went head-to-head with MJ and previously considered the living legend to be a close friend. Maybe you’ll contend that one man’s opinion, no matter how theoretically informed it is, doesn’t settle an entire debate. Those are both fair points.

With all of that being said, though, when both the pundits and the polls are suggesting the same conclusion, there might be something to that finding.

Who’s your all-sport GOAT? Let us know in the comments below.


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