The Stars and Stripes played so often around Phelps that it could have been his ringtone. He was unstoppable in the pool as he broke countless Olympic records. Firstly, he became the most successful male Olympian in history. Fellow swimmer Mark Spitz held the record for 36 years with seven golds. But Phelps soared past this as he won his eighth in Beijing (via The Guardian).
Finally, he became the highest-achieving Olympian ever, overtaking Larisa Latynina. The Soviet gymnast won the last of 18 medals in the 1964 Tokyo Games. Phelps competed in London and Rio De Janeiro to put his medal count at 28. Meanwhile, Phelps is a world record-holder in many styles. He also won many awards throughout his career in recognition of his achievements.
In 2020, Alvarez topped the Forbes List of Highest-Earning athletes. The Mexican boxer became a superstar because of his dynamic and aggressive style. He set multiple records on the road to greatness. Several of these occurred in 2021 as he won multiple titles. First, he defeated Billy Joe Saunders in front of the biggest crowd boxing has ever seen (via CNN). He went even further in his next bout.
Canelo fought Caleb Plant for the undisputed super-middleweight championship. This was a glorious moment for the Mexican because it was a chance to seal his legacy. Plant made life awkward for Alvarez but finally suffered a TKO in the 11th round. It was an incredible moment for Alvarez because he became the first fighter to unify the division.
2. Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. New Orleans Saints (2021)
Drew Brees held almost all of the NFL passing records before he retired in 2021. In 2017, the Saints star became the quickest player in history to reach the 70,000-yard mark. When he hung up his cleats, he had the most completed passes ever. However, he sat back and watched Tom Brady gobble up his accolades. The Bucs’ QB broke Brees’ record and became the first 80,000-yard passer ever in 2021.
But the records keep coming. Brady also has the most touchdown passes as well as the most attempts. Furthermore, the Pats’ icon has the most Super Bowl rings ever. His total of seven wins is more than any individual franchise. That’s because the Steelers and the Patriots both have six Super Bowls to their names (via CBS Sports). Brady is a relentless winning machine who refuses to drop his standards.
1. Golden State Warriors vs. New York Knicks (2021)
Ray Allen maintained some incredible three-point records in the NBA. Before he retired, Allen hit 2,973 three-pointers in 1300 games. But he didn’t count on the rise of Steph Curry. The Warriors’ icon is the most prolific long-range shooter in NBA history. Curry broke Allen’s longstanding record against the Knicks, finishing with 2,977.
Even more remarkable is how he achieved this feat. Curry only took 789 games to become the all-time leader (via The New York Times). This is ludicrous and at 33, he shows no sign of slowing down. It seems unlikely that anybody will come along to overtake him. However, everybody said the same thing about Allen. In the end, records are made to be broken. Athletes improve over time and records are made to be broken, but this will take something special.