Mohammed Ali once called himself the "greatest". Of course he was preceded by Jackie Gleason, also know as the "greatest". Or maybe it was Joe Louis. Wayne Gretzky was known as the "great one".
The "greatest of all-time" continues to be bandied about in scads of arenas. Was it Jimi Hendrix on guitar? Eric Clapton? Who was the greatest actor/actress in history? Was Michael Jordan the greatest hoopster? Tiger Woods the greatest golfer? Consider tennis. Are Serena and Novac the greatest of all time? Better than the body of work Martina and Roger accomplished before them? Now it's the Golden State Warriors being compared to a Chicago Bulls team of a couple decades ago. Between Tom Brady and Peyton Manning, who was the greatest quarterback? Or was it someone else from the past? Good grief, the argument still rages as to who was the greatest President of all-time. Or the best hitter in baseball. Or pitcher. Or pick any other position. Recently, Floyd Mayweather claimed to be the greatest. One thing for sure, Kobe Bryant had the greatest "farewell tour" of all time.
Idle thought: Back in 1939, Lou Gehrig was dying and he knew it. He got a five-minute speech in front of his home fans to say a final farewell. Kobe Bean, with the help of the media, was honored like the Pope hitting town for every one of 82 games. One was humble and had class to the end. The other was a self-perpetuating hype machine that will no doubt find a way to keep his name and mug prominent any way he can in the future. You sort them out.
A recent article in Sports Illustrated predicting the top college basketball teams of next year -- both boys and girls -- got back into the world of superlatives. Everybody seems to be the greatest.
One team has an incoming freshmen class that could conceivably feature the top two picks in the 2017 draft.
Those pesky "experts" consider another to have the nation's overall best class of recruits.
Yet another is not only expected to win their 13th conference championship in a row, but is considered a "finalist" for a "dynamic" prep forward. Gee, what could go wrong? And that's only the men.
The take on the women is even more "in-great-iating".
This team welcomes the Naismith National High School Player of the Year.
That team will be led by an All-America forward, has another post player that is the daughter of an NBA journeyman -- as if it matters -- and has the nation's top recruit on the way. The greatest.
But maybe not. Another has the country's top-ranked point guard prospect enroute.
Still another has the nation's top scorer -- and arguably greatest player of course -- plus a handful of former McDonald's All-Americans that are transferring in. Aren't they supposed to be the greatest? Even better than a sack full of McNuggets for three bucks with ranch and BBQ packets galore?
Yessirree, everybody's the greatest, but here's what I think I know ---
They'll all start to play this fall with their early patsy games and then on to their conference schedules. Throughout the season the pollsters -- to much public fanfare -- will "rank" them from 1 to 25, and beyond. These rankings will fluctuate throughout. A loss or two will see a team fall. A couple key wins will see them rise.
Then the almighty "Committee" will get together and decide who gets to play in the "great" tournament. While it's great over 60 teams are initially invited to the big dance, hence a paycheck or two and national exposure, in reality any team not in the Top 10 to begin with has little or no chance of winning the championship.
Come Final Four time, there's always a whole lot of greatness going on. The talking heads will tell you so.
But in the end, all the greatness here and greatness there will fall by the wayside, save one team that cuts down the nets and gets a parade in their hometown.
All the rest of the "greatness" stuff along the way is just hype.
Sure, hype equals money from the suckers, and the smart people have long (cha-ching) understood and capitalized on it.
Yet this whole "greatest" thing needs to be dialed back. I mean, what's next? A highly pompous gala, red carpet, limos, and first ever designer wardrobes that precedes statuettes being handed out to people that are the greatest at pretending they're something else? Or being honored as the greatest director in the parade of charades of the previous year?
Oh wait. We already have that.
And millions of people can't wait to tune in to see it every year.
Alas, this is definitely out of control.