If you grew up watching sports in the early 2000s, you were aware the Red Sox had broken the curse of the Bambino, the Patriots were in the beginning works of developing a dynasty, while the Lakers were in the midst of theirs, and Real Madrid was the team to beat in the UEFA Cup. Here is a list of five athletes who will ring a bell of nostalgia and were a force you didn’t want to mess with at the start of the 21st century.
1. Tom Brady
The face of great Boston athletes throughout his tenure as the quarterback for the New England Patriots, this No. 199 overall draft pick has become one of the best football players of all time. An undoubted future Hall of Famer, he’s won five Super Bowls with the same team and is still itching for a sixth at the age of 40. Brady has also won various MVP awards and has demonstrated that age is simply just a number.
2. Shaquille O’Neal
The big man, “Shaq,” made quite the impressive track record when he became a legend in the NBA. Winning three straight consecutive championships with a young Kobe Bryant, his gregarious and entertaining personality left many to watch in excitement whenever he stepped out on a basketball court. Nowadays, he is an NBA analyst for TNT and is often seen heckling Charles Barkley pre-games, during halftime and even post games.
3. Derek Jeter
Having grown up in Boston as a devoted Sox fan, this choice was hard to make. However, “The Captain” always played with the utmost of class and for that, I will always hold respect towards him. He was humble even when they beat the Red Sox, and his commitment to being a team player has been recognized universally. He was a consistent threat during the postseason and no spotlight was ever too bright for him.
4. Tiger Woods
Unequivocally the most feared golfer to date, whenever people played against Woods from 2000-2008, they were competing for a runner-up spot. He dominated his sport like no other, winning championship after championship in commanding fashion. He has since fallen from the pillar of greatness he once held, however, he has competed well the last few tournaments he has played in and a comeback is definitely looking bright for him.
5. David Ortiz
Another Boston legend. After the 2004 postseason in which the Red Sox came back from a 3-0 series deficit against their rivals in the New York Yankees, Ortiz had officially cemented his legacy as one of the most widely recognized athletes of the 21st century. He not only put the entire Boston Red Sox team on his back, but he also carried the city of Boston on his back as well. Forever an icon in my eyes, he too deserves to be on this list.
These athletes will always be remembered as figures I grew up watching during my early exposure to sports. As a big sports fan, it was these guys that helped me to develop a strong passion for both watching and playing. They helped me appreciate the games they played like no one else in their sport had.