Salary scrutinizing and number crunching have headlined sports for some time; scouts, analysts, and fans continue to find new ways to judge athletic success. As we trace the best athletes in history, we may take into account their multi-sport capabilities and their overall success.

Michael Jordan

During his rookie season in the NBA, Michael averaged 28.2 on 51.3% shooting. He took no time to become a fan favorite and appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated. Michael Jordan is one of the best and most famous athletes of all time. In the 1990-91 season, he won his an MVP award after averaging 31.4 on 53.8% shooting.

Jordan played in his final NBA game in April 2003, in Philadelphia. After scoring twelve points in the match, he went to bench with four minutes remaining in the third quarter and with his team trailing the Philadelphia 76. In 1988, Michael was honored with the Defensive Player of the Year Award and became the first NBA player to win this award.

Wayne Gretzky

Wayne Gretzky signed a contract with the Indianapolis Racers of the World Hockey Association in 1978. He briefly played before being traded to the Edmonton Oilers. He won the Byng Trophy for sportsmanship and performance six times. After his retirement in 1999, Wayne was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame, making him the best player to have the waiting period waived.

Tiger Woods

The list of best athletes cannot be completed without mentioning Tiger Woods. In the initial years of his career, Tiger signed endorsement deals with General Motors, General Mills, Titleist, American Express, Nike, and Accenture. In 2002, it was reported that Woods was involved in all aspects of the launch of Buick's Rendezvous SUV.

Roger Federer

Many coaches and pundits have praised Roger Federer in the past. He won more Grand Slam tournament titles than any other player in the world. Roger received a Fans’ Favorite Award and two Stefan Edberg Sportsmanship Awards in 2007. In 2016, he was ranked by ESPN as the best player of all time. Jimmy Connors has described his versatility as "The best athlete.”

Lionel Messi

A lifelong supporter of Newell's Old Boys, Lionel Messi joined the Rosario club at the age of six.

After a year at the Barcelona's youth academy, Lionel Messi was enrolled in the Royal Spanish Football Federation in February 2002. During the 2003–04 season, Messi progressed through the club's ranks and debuted for a record four teams in one campaign.