There are athletes that dominated their sports for years and are considered the greatest of all time. They won championships, MVP awards and eventually ended up in the Hall of Fame. There are other players who had breakout years and seemed to be the next superstar of their respected sport, but it didn’t quite pan out.
No matter which side of the coin a player fell, odds are that they were made virtually unstoppable in an installment of a sports video game. Here’s a look at the 20 greatest video game athletes of all time.
20. Rickey Henderson – RBI Baseball
Rickey Henderson was ridiculously fast in reality, holding multiple all-time record as he amassed 1,406 stolen bases over a 25-year career. That’s fast, but RBI Baseball made him like The Rocketeer. If you got the ball on the ground he was going to run out the throw and if you weren’t quick, he could pull off an infield double.
19. Marshall Faulk – NFL 2K1
The 2K games tried desperately to compete with the juggernaut that is Madden football by releasing NFL 2K and NFL 2K1 exclusively on the Sega Dreamcast.
The developers came up with features to set their game apart, including an insane juke move. No other player could pull of the juke quite like Marshall Faulk. It made him nearly impossible to tackle, but very possible for you to look like an idiot as you fell down yards away from Faulk in a desperate attempt to get your hands on him.
18. Vince Carter – NBA 2K1
Apparently being the greatest slam dunk competitor ever also made you one of the most dominant players to ever step foot on the court. His defense was like one of the Monstars from "Space Jam" and his offense was at a 99 rating.
So how do you stop him? Just load up the paint and force him outside, right? Oh did I mention that they also made him a Craig Hodges-like 3-point shooter? Unless you used the Lakers and put Kobe on him, Carter was going to destroy you.
17. Dell Curry – NBA Jam
Everyone wanted to dunk in NBA Jam. If they had a wide-open lane to the basket you’d better believe that a triple windmill dunk was on its way. That’s a fool’s game. The real winners knew that the best strategy was a solid three-point shooter and no one was more consistent than Dell Curry.
Players like John Stockton or Chris Mullin were good behind the line, but Curry was nearly automatic. If you were decent on defense - which Curry was also highly ranked in - and could get him on fire, you could quickly run up the score.
16. Nolan Ryan – Nolan Ryan Baseball
Why on earth would you let your friend pick Nolan Ryan to pitch against you in a game called Nolan Ryan Baseball? If you chose him against the computer, get ready for some bored outfielders because batters couldn’t come close to hitting his fastball.
15. Larry Bird – NBA 2K3
2K brought some classic players out of retirement and onto the court in 2003, including Larry Bird. We all expected Bird to rain down three pointers like Pacman Jones with a garbage bag full of singles at the strip club by the airport.
What we didn’t anticipate was that Bird would be given the dunking ability of a pre-child support paying Shawn Kemp. Larry Legend was a force that you could only hope to contain.
14. Goldberg – WCW/nWo Revenge
THQ had the task of creating a digital version of the most unstoppable wrestler ever to enter the ring. His real life matches often ended in a matter of seconds and his N64 ones weren’t far behind.
This was one of the most complete, accurate games ever made at the time and completely encompassed the dominance that was Goldberg. Not Whoopi, for the record.
13. Shaquille O’Neal – NBA 2K9
As great as the Shaq/Kobe combination was, this was the year that O’Neal was completely unstoppable. He had post up moves that you couldn’t defend, a hook shot that would make Olajuwon weep, and if you decided to double or triple team him, he had Steve Nash waiting on the perimeter to knock down a three pointer. The only thing you could do is punch your friend and hope he drops his controller long enough for you to score.
12 QB Eagles – Tecmo Bowl
Obviously Randall Cunningham, QB Eagles was the ultimate weapon. The rest of his offense was garbage, but all you had to do was pretend you were going to scramble then when the defenders ran towards you, toss the ball out to one of your trash receivers. His accuracy was off the charts so you didn’t have to worry about his passes going into the 4th row of the crowd.
11. Reggie Jackson – RBI Baseball
Ricky Henderson may have had the speed in RBI Baseball, but Jackson didn’t need it. Your only hope was to walk him because even if he hit the ball with a check swing it was going out of the stadium. You can’t throw the heat at him because, again, all he has to do is touch the ball and it’s going into the next county.
10. Mike Alstott – Madden 2000
I know Mike Alstott was a solid fullback, but whose genius idea was it to give him a 100 rating? Since almost every fullback play is a run up the middle, Alstott was guaranteed to pick up a handful of yards every time.
If you wanted to be a complete jerk, you could just keep using him on short little runs up the middle every time and win the most boring game in the history of football.
9. Mario Lemieux – NHL ‘94
Unless you used the Blackhawks, who had the highest rated defense, Lemieux was going to score more than Zack Morris at the Malibu Sands Beach Resort.
He had a 100 rating but to make it even worse, Jaromir Jagr, with the speed of Lightning McQueen, was on the other side of the ice. All you had to do was fly down the ice with Lemieux and score a goal or kick it to Jagr and get the assist.
8. Tiger Woods – Tiger Woods PGA Tour
I can’t stress this enough, if a game has a player’s name in the title, do not play against them. You’ll lose almost every time.
Sure Woods is spectacular in reality, but at least real life Tiger could have an off-day because of legal problems, loss of sponsors, or missing a club because his ex-wife threw it through his windshield. Digital Tiger has no distractions and was nearly perfect for every round.
7. Lawrence Taylor – Tecmo Bowl
Imagine Barry Sanders on defense except doubled in size and strength. That’s Lawrence Taylor. There probably isn’t a more dominant defensive player on any football game ever made, as he would plow over the unsuspecting linemen and be on top of the quarterback faster than Tiger Woods on an Applebee’s waitress.
6. Ken Griffey Jr. – Ken Griffey Jr. Major League Baseball
Again, it’s called Ken Griffey Jr. Major League Baseball so what exactly did you expect? Every other player in the game is a joke compared to him, as he can run faster, throw harder, and hit further than anyone imaginable. Your best bet against him was to walk him, or try to hit him with a pitch to teach him a lesson. Just like my dad did with me.
5. Michael Jordan – NBA 2K11
It took years to get an actual basketball game that featured Michael Jordan, unless you count that awful Space Jam game. When NBA 2K debuted 1996 MJ, it was everything you’d imagined.
This is probably the only athlete that you could max out every stat category and it wouldn’t be over the top. Also, Lebron is on 2K11 so you can dominate him with Jordan in the most therapeutic gaming ever. Have fun in South Beach, Lebron!
4. Mike Tyson – Mike Tyson’s Punch Out
There has probably never been a boxer as dominant as Iron Mike, but good lord, this was ridiculous. Once you fought through a field of fictitious monsters who all had a weakness, you get to Tyson who could end your life with a single uppercut. Imagine a toddler throwing a tantrum, but instead of tiny hands and feet flopping around, it was fists the size of your body.
3. Barry Sanders – All-Pro Football 2K8
In 2008, 2K didn’t have an NFL license, but found out an ingenious way to make a football game. They used retired players on fictitious teams that could be built using the ultimate fantasy football draft.
No player was more explosive, and rightfully so, than Barry Sanders. His compact size and ridiculous quickness made him stand above the competition, even against a squad of legendary defenders. He was undoubtedly everyone’s first pick.
2. Michael Vick – Madden ‘04
If your friend picked the Falcons, you might as well have sat the controller down and left to go make some Pizza Rolls. EA gave Vick the speed of a top tier running back and the passing accuracy of a Pro Bowl quarterback.
All you had to do was run a shotgun play and if your opponent sent an all out blitz, you toss it to a wide open receiver, or if they dropped back in coverage, you scramble for 15-20 yards every time. It was like HGH for your Playstation.
Next: The 10 Weirdest Video Game Glitches
1. Bo Jackson – Tecmo Bowl
There was one rule between my friends and me when playing Tecmo Super Bowl: you’re not allowed to pick the Raiders. Bo was completely unstoppable. He was twice the speed of any other player on the field and the only way to bring him down was with at least 2-3 defenders.
The most underused player in the game was the other back for the Raiders, Hall of Famer Marcus Allen. It’s like you could have the best hot dog in the state, or a hot dog formed on Mount Olympus by Zeus himself.