If you’re anything like me, you’re time is precious. You’ve gotta get 10 hours of sleep every day, eat five solid meals, and spend a good six hours planning on getting any work done. That doesn’t always leave enough for sports. Thankfully for you, I’ve put together a comprehensive power ranking of the athletes that are appointment viewing right now. Each guy on this list is doing something totally unique and totally fascinating in their respective sport right now – whether that’s through absolute domination, transcending father time, or straight-up revolutionising their sport (maybe in future editions of these rankings we might get lucky and get another mid-90’s Mike Tyson too, in which case you’re watching to see if he tears another ear off) all are in their own way worth making time for, so read on.
- Steph Curry, NBA (Golden State Warriors)
The whole reason I’m writing this list right now. There’s not a shot he doesn’t like, and not a shot that doesn’t like him. He makes the three look easier than betting on Charlie Sheen being the recipient of last week’s Hollywood HIV rumours. He can get hot anywhere, anytime, and even in a “quiet” game he’ll have at least three moments where he launches just Ron Artest-level dumb three pointers that have no right to go in, except they do. He was league MVP last year, and he’s now passed LeBron James for the title of “best basketball player in the world” – no easy feat.
- Gennady Golovkin, Boxing
If there was a real-life Ivan Drago, except personable, it would be Golovkin. At 34-0 with 31 KO’s (including a record 21-straight), the Kazakh is on his way to cleaning out the middleweight division with a combination of lethal punching power, innate boxing ability and an iron jaw. If you want an idea of just how scary this guy is, know that ex-WBC champ Miguel Cotto forfeited his belt knowing that if he’d have beaten Canelo Alvarez this weekend, he would’ve had to face Golovkin, who holds the interim title. He just spent the better part of eight rounds rearranging IBF champ David Lemieux’s face, and will now get to do the same against Alvarez in a PPV that is actually worth buying.
- Neymar & Luis Suarez, Football (Barcelona)
It’s kind of crazy to think that the best footballer in the world right now is on Barcelona, and isn’t Leo Messi, but that’s exactly where we find ourselves. Of course I cheated here and lumped his two strike partners together, but since the Argentine went down, the pair have been equally ridiculous. Case-in-point, they just made Real Madrid look like bloody Scunthorpe United with three of Barca’s goals in their 4-0 victory on Saturday. Messi or not, these dudes are scoring for fun right now.
- Novak Djokovic, Tennis
Arguably the world’s most dominant athlete, Djokovic is putting the finishing touches on his second three-slam season, and simply looks a class above right now. Part tennis player, part slugger, part contortionist, the Serb is worth watching if for just his return-of-serve alone. No one wins more points he has no right to than Novak Djokovic.
- Conor McGregor, UFC
Entering 2015 it was hard to tell if McGregor had merely talked his way into the UFC’s spotlight, but he’s shown since that he certainly deserves to be there. After putting himself on featherweight champ Jose Aldo’s radar with a knockout of Dennis Siver in January, the Irishman went and bulldozed Chad Mendes – the same Mendes who had given Also one of the toughest fights of his career – to prove he has the striking to back up his soundbytes. Aldo vs McGregor on December 12 is set to be the biggest fight of the year, in any combat sport.
- Todd Gurley, NFL (St Louis Rams)
Like Adrian Peterson, except younger and with a clean criminal record, Godd Turley has set the world on fire in the first five games of his NFL career. With the Rams’ absolutely putrid quarterback play, he’s been almost the entirety of their offense, carrying the team with a mix of speed, vision and power that no one could have expected this soon, given his ACL injury a little over a year ago. If the Rams’ QBs can stop sucking, and/or fire Jeff Fisher, Gurley’s the one guy who could leap well up this list.
- Roger Federer, Tennis
No one’s made a living off leaving fans speechless quite like Roger Federer, and he continues to do so at the age of 34, if just for the fact he’s still trucking in the top 3 while all of his contemporaries (Roddick, Safin, Hewitt, Ferrero, etc) are history. The way he’s adapted his game to fit his limitations has been remarkable, and the brand of hyper-attacking tennis he’s playing is just as entertaining as it was five years ago.
- Tom “Tim” Brady, NFL (New England Patriots)
Another old dude who shouldn’t be on this list, but has been equally incredible at an equally advanced age. While Peyton Manning is trying to find a whole-body donor on the black market, Brady is as good as he’s ever been. Through nine games this year, he’s got 24 touchdowns against 3 interceptions, which would seem borderline criminal if the NFL wasn’t, you know… the NFL.
- LeBron James, NBA (Cleveland Cavaliers)
The reason the greatest basketball player of the last twenty years is this far down the list is because he’s had a relatively inauspicious start to the 15-16 season, but the reason he’s on it at all is because of how abso-frickin-lutely incredible he was in carrying the Cavs during the NBA finals back in June. Nearly 31, LeBron’s learnt to measure his outbursts of brilliance, but don’t be surprised when we get a reminder very, very soon.
- Russell Westbrook, NBA (Oklahoma City Thunder)
Westbrook is Bestbrook. It doesn’t matter whether he shoots 10/30 or puts up a triple-double, every Thunder game with Russ is an experience. Will he launch contested 20 footers? Will he miss easy looks to Kevin Durant? Will he perform a singular feat of athletic brilliance? He’ll probably do them all. And when it’s all over, he might just go off on the press. Gotta love the Brodie.
So that’s it for the first “must-watch” power rankings. Expect these to be updated as necessary – could be months, could be days. If LeBron goes ballistic, I’ll let you know, likewise, if Dez Bryant looks ready to murder Greg Hardy, I’ll give a heads up. These are your ten for now, so get watching!