The Top 10 Mythical Sports Matchups We'd Love to See
What would happen if Michael Jordan faced off against Kobe Bryant? Is Roger Federer really better than Pete Sampras? Was Mario Lemieux more talented than Wayne Gretzky? If given the chance, could Mike Tyson win a first grade spelling bee?
These are the questions that society needs to spend more time focusing on. Nobody cares if God exists or who’s going to fix the economy. Only sexually inactive nerds with full-time jobs and honest tax returns ponder these issues. The real winners in this world spend their time debating fictional sports matchups while wearing football jerseys, that the wives they settled for have tried to throw away repeatedly. Thus, in an effort to reach out to you – “Guy who wrote his grad school thesis on why the 1985 Chicago Bears defense was the greatest of all time,” we have decided to put together a list of the 10 mythical sports matchups of the modern era we'd like to see. Nothing before the 1970s, though (because for as great as the 1961 racially segregated Crimson Tide were they’d lose by 21 points to any team in the SEC today).
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10. Roger Federer vs. Pete Sampras
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Not sure what it says about the game of tennis that the two most accomplished athletes in the history of the sport have the commercial appeal of a WNBA sex tape, but the amount of sheer talent and athleticism each of them demonstrated in their own eras is impossible to ignore. They have a combined 29 major championships, 125 tournament titles, two insanely hot wives, and a legacy of dominance usually reserved for teenagers who lie about their age in order to play in the Little League World Series.
The Argument: Jimmy Connors once said that “In an era of specialists — you're either a clay court specialist, a grass court specialist or a hard court specialist... or you're Roger Federer.” Sampras, on the other hand, had a tremendous serve (even Andre Agassi, the greatest returner of all-time, struggled with it) and was methodical in the way he would draw opponents into his serve and volley style.
Result: Assuming that both men are in their prime, Sampras wins a best of five match thanks to his powering serve and remarkable net play. He was a more strategic player and would have drawn Federer away from the baseline, where he is typically more comfortable.
9. 2001 Miami Hurricanes vs. 2009 Cleveland Browns
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The 2001 Miami Hurricanes are simply the greatest college football team ever assembled – by a long shot. NFL standouts Andre Johnson, Clinton Portis, Frank Gore, Jeremy Shockey, Kellen Winslow II, Bryant McKinnie, Vince Wilfork, William Joseph, D.J. Williams, Ed Reed, Mike Rumph, and Phillip Buchanon all contributed to a championship squad whose average margin of victory over the season was 32 points. Conversely, behind the incompetent arm of Derek Andrerson (who insults unemployed Americans every week by demonstrating that no matter how bad he is at his job, he won’t get fired), the Browns have shown a level of offensive futility that has forced upper management to start a Tim Couch re-signing rumor just to get the fans excited again.
The Argument: Most people will see a matchup between an NFL roster and a college team and automatically dismiss the idea of the Hurricanes winning. But consider this; in their rookie seasons (just months after they stopped paying foreign kids to take their "Golf Course Management" exams) Portis rushed for 1,500 yards, Shockey had 74 receptions, McKinnie and Wilfork became near-instant NFL starters and Reed was just two seasons away from being named the NFL Defensive Player of the Year. This team was operating at an NFL level by the time they humiliated the Nebraska Cornhuskers in the BCS Championship Game.
Result: The Browns have the better all-around roster than their collegiate opponents, but the Hurricanes have more playmakers on their team. It would be difficult for Dorsey to adjust to the speed of an NFL defense, but with McKinnie protecting his blind side and Portis running the ball, the Canes would eventually find the Browns’ main weakness (football) and win the game. Miami 27- Cleveland 17.
8. 1989 San Francisco 49ers vs. 2004 New England Patriots
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This game is nothing more than an opportunity to finally have the sporting world stop comparing Tom Brady to Joe Montana every time he notches a come-from-behind victory over the Buffalo Bills. By pitting the 2004 Patriots (14-2 in the regular season and eventual Super Bowl champs) against Montana’s best team (also 14-2 with a Super Bowl championship), the world would finally see that Brady couldn’t hold a candle to the greatest quarterback of all time.
The argument: Joined by the greatest receiver of all time (Jerry Rice), Roger Craig, John Taylor, and a talented defense featuring Ronnie Lott and Charles Haley, the 49ers cruised to a 55-10 Super Bowl win, shutting down John Elway and the Denver Broncos. The New England Patriots, without any real talent at the wide receiver spot, scraped by the Philadelphia Eagles 24-21 in their championship victory.
The result: Joe Montana picks apart a slightly overrated Patriots defense and finally ends the “Brady is the new Montana” talk spewing out of New England.
7. The WNBA vs. Total Bankruptcy
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This is a rivalry that’s been escalating for nearly a decade thanks to non-existent television ratings, questionably androgynous players, and a league that seems to have eliminated everything that’s actually exciting about the sport. The main problem here is that WNBA officials overestimated how many people sit around saying “You know, I really love basketball, but I wish there was a league where I could watch substantially less athletic women that I’m in no way attracted to play at a level comparable to my son’s junior high school team.”
The Argument: With salaries getting out of control (some players are signing massive five figure contracts) and the Ripley’s Museum cutting into the league’s freak show dollars, it seems like total bankruptcy may eliminate the league that David Stern once called “something I don’t think will immediately fail.”
Result: The WNBA shattered the 17-month point spread originally placed on this battle, but it looks like their luck is about to run out. On the plus side, if anybody is looking to hire a 6' 4 " day laborer with slightly feminine features and no ability to dunk a basketball, the WNBA unemployment center may be able to help.
6. 1992 Duke Blue Devils vs. 1982 North Carolina Tar Heels
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With all due respect to the 1996 Kentucky Wildcats and 1990 UNLV Runnin’ Rebels, the lure of setting up a game between the two greatest teams from this Tobacco road rivalry was too great to pass up. The 1992 Blue Devils won their second straight championship thanks to a collection of the most talented, albeit annoying, players to ever play under Mike Krzyzewski. College stars like Bobby Hurley, Christian Laettner, Grant Hill, and Cherokee Parks helped lead Duke to a 34-2 record and a championship ass-kicking over the “Fab Five” of Michigan. Exactly one decade earlier, North Carolina, led by a young Michael Jordan, James Worthy, and silky smooth Sam Perkins (who back then still looked like he was one puff away from spreading peanut butter on some Cheetos), the Tar Heels won a national title over the vaunted Georgetown Hoyas and their star center Patrick Ewing.
The argument: Forgetting the fact that Laettner essentially started the run of Duke NBA draft busts and is still the answer to the trivia question “Name that awkward white guy in the back of the 1992 Dream Team photo,” he was the most impressive college basketball player to hit the scene since Bill Walton sported a red afro in Westwood in the early 1970s. Laettner, Hurley, and Hill were an unstoppable trio that could have defeated anyone, from any generation… Except for maybe the greatest player to ever play the game. During the 1982 season Jordan was in his prime as a sophomore at North Carolina and had begun showing flashes of brilliance throughout the season.
The result: The Laettner-led Duke teams were some of the best we’ve ever seen, but the Tar Heels were simply a better squad. Worthy could have gone toe-to-toe with Laettner, and Jordan’s competitive edge was enough to defeat the Blue Devils.