Nikola Jokic And The Other Sports Stars Who Are Currently The Best In The World

Jokic played a starring role to lead the Denver Nuggets to their first NBA Championship
17:01, 13 Jun 2023

The Denver Nuggets were crowned as NBA champions for the first time on Tuesday by defeating Miami Heat in the NBA Finals. 

The standout player for this incredible campaign has been their centre, Nikola Jokic. He scooped up the much-coveted NBA Finals MVP award, adding to his two MVP awards from the regular season in 2021 and 2022. It has been an outstanding campaign for the Nuggets and Jokic has been at the forefront of this historic achievement.

The Serbian became the first player in NBA history to lead the play-offs in total points, rebounds and assists. In the decisive game five against the Heat, Jokic contributed 16 rebounds to help secure his team their first Championship. To put it lightly, he has simply been unstoppable on court. We have witnessed greatness from him this season, making him not just the best basketball player in the world right now but perhaps one of the all-time greats.

With that in mind, it got us thinking about the stars who would be considered the best in the world across other major sports and how close they are to being regarded as their discipline’s GOAT?

Tennis (Men) - Novak Djokovic

Jokic’s compatriot Novak Djokovic is definitely the king of tennis, presently and all time. After collecting his 23rd Grand Slam title at the French Open on Sunday, the 34-year-old stands alone for the most major trophies in the Open Era. He has ruthlessly dominated this sport for many years. Roger Federer is out of the picture and Rafael Nadal is a year away from probable retirement, while Djokovic has still got a few years of greatness left on court to solidify his legacy.


Tennis (Women) - Iga Swiatek 

With four Grand Slam titles to her name by the age of 22, Iga Swiatek is certainly the best player on court right now. She claimed her third French Open crown on Saturday and racked up an amazing 37-game unbeaten streak in 2022. The Polish sensation still has a way to go to become the greatest tennis player of all time, specifically 21 Grand Slam trophies to emulate the great Serena Williams. But given how well she has done in her first seven years as a pro, you can expect more major titles to come flooding in.


Football - Kevin De Bruyne

Manchester City’s midfield maestro Kevin De Bruyne has been regarded as one of the best players in the world for several years. Following his side’s historic treble in 2022-23, including their first Champions League title, no one can doubt his position as number one. He is a player who has the most influence on matches with his defence-splitting passes and incredible vision.

And with 41 goal involvements in 49 appearances across all competitions for the Cityzens, you just can’t argue with those numbers. The Belgian is a long way from being considered the greatest ever though, with the likes of Pele, Diego Maradona, Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo having each dazzled for decades.

Rugby league - Nathan Cleary

The best player in the NRL's back-to-back champion team, Cleary edges out the likes of Cameron Munster and James Tedesco in the list of current greats. His leadership on the field and coolness in big moments have helped the Penrith Panthers to win Grand Finals in 2021 and 2022.

In truth though, he's not close to the legendary status enjoyed by players such as Andrew Johns, Wally Lewis, Johnathan Thurston, Ellery Hanley and Martin Offiah. It will take a few more elite years and a couple more titles for the Penrith Panthers half to stake a claim amongst that group.

​​Cricket - Steve Smith

While he might well be less of an untouchable than he was 2014 and 2018, the Australia vice-captain's form over the last 12 months suggests another great Ashes series could see him topple team-mate Marnus Labuschagne and New Zealand's Kane Williamson to become the world's number-one ranked batter again.

However, he will probably never overhaul geniuses like Sachin Tendulkar, Jacques Kallis and Allan Border with the bat and his legacy in his homeland won't come close to that left by the late, great leg-spinner Shane Warne. The 'Sandpapergate' episode doesn't do his GOAT claim any good either.

Boxing - Oleksandr Usyk

Oleksandr Usyk has been a phenomenon since turning professional in 2013. The supremely gifted Ukrainian cleaned out the cruiserweight division, reigning undisputed between 2018 and 2019, beating quality opposition such as Murat Gassiev, Mairis Briedis and Marco Huck along the way. By beating Anthony Joshua in 2021, Usyk became one of just three boxers, alongside Evander Holyfield and David Haye, to win world titles in both the cruiserweight and heavyweight divisions. 

Holyfield might just edge Usyk as the greatest cruiserweight of all-time, but ‘The Cat’ isn’t far behind. The 36-year-old isn’t likely to be in the conversation for greatest heavyweight of all-time when he eventually hangs up his gloves, but if he can get an undisputed showdown with the ever illusive Tyson Fury, and beat him, he’s without question one of the marquee division’s best boxers in recent memory.


Golf - Scottie Scheffler

American Scottie Scheffler rose to prominence in 2022 when he won the first major of his career. He dazzled as he took The Masters crown to pick up his first Green Jacket. The 26-year-old was awarded the 2021-22 Player of the Year award. He currently leads the PGA Tour rankings and his latest triumph on the golf course came in the Players’ Championship back in March.

Scheffler is still an adolescent when it comes to success on the PGA Tour, he has got a long way to go if he is to emulate Tiger Woods, the universally accepted GOAT of golf with 15 major titles, including five at The Masters.

NFL - Patrick Mahomes 

Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes is the biggest star in the NFL right now. Only Tom Brady (three) had won more SuperBowls than Mahomes (two) by the age of 27. Mahomes is continually shattering NFL records for passing yards, touchdowns, wins and more. He keeps getting better but it might take another 10 years playing at this level for him to challenge Brady’s GOAT status.

Formula 1 - Max Verstappen

Formula 1 is being absolutely dominated by Red Bull’s Max Verstappen. The Dutchman has won the last two Drivers’ Championships, following a last-ditch win in 2021 with a resounding success last year. In 2022, he gained the records for most wins and points in a season with 15 and 454 respectively. Verstappen currently leads the 2023 standings with five wins from the first seven races.

He’s still early in his bid to stand alongside the likes of Ayrton Senna, Michael Schumacher and Lewis Hamilton in the annals of Formula 1 drivers but he’s made a cracking start.

Snooker - Ronnie O’Sullivan

He may have missed out on claiming a record-breaking eighth World Snooker Championship title at the Crucible earlier this year but Ronnie O’Sullivan is still the best player around. The ‘Rocket’ has helped transform the sport with his entertaining style of play that has attracted a new generation of fans.

On world titles alone, Ronnie sits level with Stephen Hendry as the record holder in the modern era, while forerunners such as Joe Davis and Fred Davis remain untouchable. O’Sullivan probably edges it.

Darts - Michael van Gerwen

Despite missing out on a fourth world title at the beginning of the year, Michael van Gerwen continues to exude brilliance on the PDC Tour. In adding a record-breaking seventh Premier League trophy to his cabinet at the O2 in London in May, Van Gerwen toppled the in-form Gerwyn Price, who had been brilliant throughout the 17-week tournament.

The Dutchman still has a long way to go to match the sheer dominance of Phil ‘The Power’ Taylor though. The Stoke-on-Trent native won the World Championship and the World Matchplay titles 16 times apiece in an unparalleled run over a quarter of a century.

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