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10 Great Athletes Who Never Won The Big One

Danny Parsons . . . Comments

The debate about the greatest athletes in every sport has been done to death. But what about the ones who didn’t win? The ones who missed out on their chance to win the big championship. When their opportunity came for sporting immortality, they didn’t take it. This list is dedicated to the people who will forever be known as the “one who let the big one get away”. List courtesy of Minsung Kim.

10

Greg Norman
Golf

Large British Greg Norman

Never won: Major US title

Greg Norman is regarded as one of the most talented, but also one of the unluckiest golfers in history. He was known for his unique style of play, and having one of the best swings in the game. He is generally thought of as the greatest driver of the ball, bar Jack Nicklaus. He won the British open twice, but never won any of the three US majors. On 5 occasions he finished second in one of the three major US titles; the Masters, the US Open and the PGA Championship. In many of these, he led for most of the tournament but always stumbled at the final hurdle.

Interesting fact: Bill Clinton fell down a set of stairs outside Greg Norman’s house in 1997, tearing tendons in his right knee cap.

9

Jimmy White
Snooker

Post54

Never won: World Championship

Nicknamed the ‘People’s Champion’, Jimmy is one of the most popular snooker players in the history of the sport. The left hander was known for his attacking style of play that enticed fans. He made it to an incredible six World Championship finals, including 5 in a row between 1990-94, but lost on every occasion. Four of those defeats were at the hands of Stephen Hendry, the most successful snooker player of all time. His most agonizing defeat came in 1994, in the last of his six finals. Needing to pot just a few more balls in the final frame of the match, he missed a routine black off the spot, allowing Hendry an opportunity to steal an 18-17 victory. Some will say that Jimmy never quite had that killer instinct to get over the line on the big occasions, but no one could argue that he was unlucky to play in the same era as two of the games’ greats: Steve Davis and Stephen Hendry.

Interesting fact: Jimmy’s bull terrier, Splinter, was dognapped and held for ransom in the late ‘90s.


8

Brazil 1982
Football

Brazil 1982

Never won: World Cup

Brazil has won the World Cup a record 5 times, yet their 1982 team is consistently voted their greatest ever side, and the best football team of all time. Many regard that team as better, even, than their ‘Golden Era’ team of the ‘70s that included the likes of Pele and Carlos Alberto. They went into the ‘82 World Cup in Spain as heavy favorites and their campaign got off to the perfect start. They cruised through their first three group games, scoring 10 goals in the process. They had a mouth watering attack comprising of Zico, Eder, Socrates, Junior and Falcao, whose slick passing and movement mesmerized their opponents. Their philosophy was simple: however many you score, we’ll score one more. In the second round they were drawn in the ‘group of death’ with Argentina and Italy. They breezed past holders Argentina 3-1, but lost 3-2 to Paulo Rossi’s Italy in one of the best World Cup games ever. If the Brazilians had a weakness that year, it was their defense. The brilliant Rossi scored all three goals in that game, and went on to score again in the final as Italy beat West Germany.

Interesting fact: The Brazilian Gold Frog is the smallest frog in the Southern hemisphere; it grows to just 9.8mm.

7

Dan Marino
American Football

Tumblr Lb6Souya4N1Qa3Dj5O1 500

Never won: Super Bowl

Known for his powerful arm and quick release, Dan Marino is one of the most prolific passers the NFL has ever seen. In his 17 year career with the Miami Dolphins, they reached the playoffs on no fewer than 10 occasions. He became a starter for the Dolphins mid way through his rookie season, and by the end of his second season he was named NFL MVP, and had set 6 single-season NFL records including 48 touchdown passes, destroying the previous record of 36. At the end of that season he made his first, and only, Super Bowl appearance, losing to the great Joe Montana and the San Francisco 49ers. Although he would never make it to another Super Bowl, he continued to smash record after record. At the time of his retirement, in 1999, he held almost every major NFL passing record, many of which still stand today.

Interesting fact: Marino made a cameo appearance in the Adam Sandler movie, Little Nicky, in which he asked Satan for a Super Bowl ring.

6

Gilles Villeneuve
Formula 1

49006

Never won: F1 World Championship

Gilles Villeneuve’s short F1 career tragically ended in 1982, when he was killed in a high speed collision during qualifying for the Belgium Grand Prix. Despite racing for less than 5 years, he had a long lasting impact on the sport and his rivals. He was famous for his all out, attacking style of driving, no better demonstrated than during an extremely wet practice at the US Grand Prix where he was, at one point, 11 seconds faster than any other driver. He recorded just 6 wins from 67 races, but this was mainly due to the fact that he spent the majority of his career in uncompetitive cars. Villeneuve came closest to becoming World Champion in 1979. Had he beaten his team mate, Jody Schecketer, in the Italian Grand Prix he almost certainly would have won the title, but he agreed to follow team orders and not challenge his team mate for the lead. He lost the championship that year by 4 points to Schecketer.

Interesting fact: His less talented son, Jacques, became F1 World Champion in 1997.
Honorable mention: Stirling Moss

5

Ted Williams
Baseball

Tedwilliams

Never won: World Series

Ted Williams was probably the greatest pure hitter that baseball has ever seen.  He had a career spanning 21 years, although he only completed 16 full seasons for the Boston Red Sox as he was twice called up to do military service as a Marine Corps pilot. His scientific approach to hitting changed the way baseball was played forever. In four separate seasons he won Most Valuable Player, and the Triple Crown twice each. However, he had a poor relationship with the media and his team’s fans. He often vented his anger in public, and never tipped his cap to the crowd. These were probably the reasons he didn’t get the public following that the more charismatic, but maybe less talented, players such as Joe DiMaggio had. In his only appearance in a World Series, in 1946, he produced a poor display going 0-for-4 in the last game as the Red Sox lost in seven. Five days before the game Williams was struck on the elbow by a curveball and was taken to hospital, possibly hindering his performance.

Interesting fact: Williams was a keen fisherman and was inducted into the Fishing Hall of Fame.
Honorable mention: Ty Cobb


4

Ivan Lendl
Tennis

Ivan-Lendl-1983-276-33A

Never won: Wimbledon

Despite never winning Wimbledon, Ivan Lendl is regarded as one of the greatest players of all time. He dominated men’s tennis in the 1980s, holding the number 1 ranking for the best part of 5 years. He has 3 US Open titles to his name, 3 French and 2 Australian Opens. Lendl made 19 Grand Slam finals in total, and appeared in at least one Grand Slam final for 11 consecutive years, a record only matched by Pete Sampras. He played mainly at the baseline, known for having machine like consistency with his ground strokes. However, the uneven bounces seen on Wimbledon’s grass courts somewhat neutralized his baseline style. He was forced to change his tactics for the grass court season, but his serve and volleying was not consistent enough to deliver him a title. He still had a very impressive record at Wimbledon, making two finals, in 1986 and 1987, and 5 other semifinals.

Interesting fact: In 1986, North Korea issued a postage stamp of Ivan Lendl.

3

Charley Burley
Boxing

Holman Williams

Never won: World Title

Born to a black father and a white mother, boxing managers of the 1940s have said that Charley Burley was ‘too good for his own good’. He was so feared as a fighter that he never got a title shot against any welterweight or middleweight champion of the ’40s. The list of fighters that ducked Burley include: Billy Conn, Marcel Cerdan, Jake LaMotta and even Sugar Ray Robinson, considered the best pound for pound fighter in history. To make things worse, most of the top white fighters also refused to fight him, a problem for so many black and mixed race boxers of the era. Because of this, Burley had a limited choice of opponents and regularly fought and knocked out fighters from welterweight to heavyweight divisions. He had to work, sometimes as garbage collector, throughout his career because he simply couldn’t get enough fights to pay his bills. He retired to go to work full time, because no one would fight him. By the end of his career he had knocked out three world champions in three different weight categories.

Interesting fact: Burley had a chance to appear in the 1936 Olympics, but refused due to Germany’s racist policies.
Honorable mention: Sam Langford


2

Johan Cruyff
Football

Johancruyff

Never won: World Cup

The three time European footballer of the year was recently voted the 2nd best player of the century, only behind Pele. In his only World Cup appearance he led Holland to victories over Argentina and champions Brazil, before they eventually lost in the final to West Germany. Cruyff was instrumental in Holland’s success, and was named player of the tournament that year. After helping Holland qualify for the 1978 World Cup, Cruyff surprised everyone by announcing his retirement from international football. The Dutch again made the final in ’78, and many believe that had Cruyff been in the side, they would have beaten winners Argentina. He made up for his lack of success with his country by the 10 league titles and 3 European Cups he won with Ajax, Barcelona and Feyenoord, as well as countless individual prizes.

Interesting fact: Cruyff was the first Dutch player to be sent off, and received a one year ban from the Dutch FA as a result.
Honorable mentions: Ferenc Puskas and Eusebio

1

Paula Radcliffe
Marathon

Paula-Radcliffe

Never won: Olympic Gold Medal

In her first London Marathon she set the second quickest time in women’s marathon history. A year later she had already set the two fastest times, over 3 minutes faster than anyone else. A leg injury in 2004 meant that she was unable to compete at anywhere near her best in Athens. She only managed to start the race by taking high doses of anti-inflammatory drugs, and wasn’t able to finish the marathon for the first time in her career. After missing out in 2004, she was determined to complete in Beijing and, despite being diagnosed with a stress fracture just 3 months prior to the event, she recovered in time for the 2008 games. She started well, but struggled towards the end with cramp, and only finished in 23rd. She still holds the women’s marathon record, and she now has 4 out of the 5 fastest times in women’s marathon history. Radcliffe is, without doubt, the greatest female marathon runner in history, and only misfortune has cost her an Olympic Gold.

Interesting fact: Paula suffered from both asthma and anemia, conditions that drastically effect running performance.



  • not crazy about sport but it was pretty interesting . Dan Marino is an interesting case , he could have one the super bowl its his own fault- LACES OUT DAN!!

    • won* retarded.

      • curiouslittlerhino

        ha that’s how i got my name… from the second movie

  • I’m pretty sure none of Marino’s records still stand. Brett Favre has surpassed all of his career numbers, and his 48 touchdowns have been surpassed twice now, once by Peyton Manning and once by Tom Brady. But still an all time great.

    • archworf

      Marino lacked the mental fortitude-if you could get him to pout the game was yours.

  • bestever2682

    carl malone, charles barkley, john stockton, allen iverson, patrick ewing, john starks… just to name some from basketball!!!

  • Ty Cobb should be on this list. Before Babe Ruth came along, Cobb was by far the most dominant player in Major League Baseball. He hit at least .316 in twenty-three straight seasons and his .367 career average is still the highest in history. He is second all-time in runs, hits, and triples, and is fourth in doubles. Ty Cobb played on a lot of very good teams, including three pennant-winners (1907, 1908, 1909) but missed out on postseason immortality each time. In my opinion, the sheer prolificacy of his work should afford him a spot on this list, instead of Williams perhaps.

    • By the way, Williams only won three MVP awards.

      • lol “only” three.

        • antlyon

          actually Williams won two MVP’s 1946 & 1949

    • Lifeschool

      Go TIGERS!

    • QDV

      Williams certainly deserves a mention, but the great Cobb is often forgotten, long in the shadow of Babe Ruth (and I mean no disrespect to him, as I really hate the Cobb/Ruth arguments), and often overshadowed by having been a totally rotten human being (while Williams’s foray into Futurama territory will probably overshadow his baseball reputation as the years pass). Guys like Ty Cobb and Ted Williams are the first ones you mention when someone says “X didn’t win a championship, therefore they’re no good,” as if Greg Foster’s getting a championship with the Lakers somehow boosts his status.

  • ez33

    I hope lebron james never gets an nba title! Sorry kobe bryant fan :D

    • elixir

      kiss kobe’s a$$..

    • Martin

      Why would you give out your negative “vibes” , and wish a great athlete ( regardless) of your personal feelings toward him) a bad thing like “NO TITLE EVER”….

      He deserves one….plain & simple, and your jealous, as well as probably suck at sports!!!

  • gggg

    please stop writing these boring lists. write some “bizarre” list.

  • Geliaebrina

    The greatest female marathon runner ever? What about Grete Waitz, who dominated the sport for over a decade, but never won the olympics either?

  • Rasputin

    “Brazil has won the World Cup a record 5 times, yet their 1982 team is consistently voted their greatest ever side, and the best football team of all time.”

    How? Not once have I seen it top any list of greatest football teams.

    • Yve

      Rasputin,I think it means Brasil’s best team…

      • Rasputin

        No it doesn’t. The first part of the statement “their 1982 team is consistently voted their greatest ever side” is talking about Brazil. The second part, “the best football team of all time” is talking about all the football teams. Please read properly Yve.

  • Plod

    What about WWE’s John Morrison he has held the Intercontinental Championship many times but has never won a WWE or World Heavyweight championship

    • Nicolelodeon

      Yes, because this sports list is going to list someone from a fake and scripted “sport”. Please. WWE and all that jazz is horrible fake and very annoying.

    • Clockwork

      That problem could have been rectified IF THE WRITERS WROTE HIM WINNING INTO THE SCRIPT!…I hope you’re joking.

  • ez33

    Wrestling is scripted plod.. u do know that?

    • gav

      LOL! Is there any “wrestler” who doesn’t own a belt?

  • GL

    I think Michelle Kwan should have been included having never won an Olympic gold medal.

    • Drewbert

      Totally agreed with this one. I was kind of surprised that she wasn’t on the list when she won numerous National and World titles…but got the short end of the stick in 1998 and just didn’t skate as well as she needed to in 2002.

      • Florence

        I totally agree here too. I kept scolling down expecting to see her on the list. She holds many records for consecutive titles won and number of medals won, yet never achieved Olympic gold.

  • gabryel

    hey , i was just wondering . i think allen iverson deserves a place.
    i want to see a movie of his life

  • Never won: World Cup

    Brazil has won the World Cup a record 5 times,

    OK…someone tell me why Brazil is on here then?

    • Brazil has won the World Cup a record 5 times, yet their 1982 team is consistently voted their greatest ever sideThey went into the ‘82 World Cup in Spain as heavy favorites but lost 3-2 to Paulo Rossi’s Italy in one of the best World Cup games ever

      —you can’t just skip some of the words, or it’s not gonna make any sense.

      • inconspicuousdetective

        don’t be so hard on him, the list title is 10 greatest athletes, not teams, and also lists Johan Cryuff individually and not his entire team as not getting a world cup. so if you want to get technical, then no, brazil shouldn’t be on the list.

        • rasputin

          Right you are and neither should Greg Norman and Ivan Lendl. In golf and tennis the four major tournaments have equal value, there is no such thing as “The Big One”. Both Norman and Lendl have won major tournaments so should be removed from this list.

          • gennaro

            Pretty sure every tennis player would choose to win Wimbeldon over the other 3 if given a choice

        • awww, that cat is good —- i wasn;t being hard, so much, and really i’m not saying brasil deserves to be on there.

          but …. im also semi-defending the list-writer cause it’s a fair job, and whether they belong there or not, the list is written to include that team, that year, which is somehting that isn’t really addressed by the commentor.

          honestly, i’m far far more surprised that barry sanders isn’t on here, than that the brasil f.c. is

          • inconspicuousdetective

            wow, i totally forgot about barry. and sorry, alot of trolls on teh intarwebz like to jump down people’s throats and not think about what they’re saying, not that you did that per say, but i was just being overly defensive. basketball got no love either, steve nash could have been a good addition, presuming he doesn’t win one. the window is closing.

    • Socrates

      The Brazil 1982 team. It does say that in the title and the copy, sport.

  • dxc93

    Great list! Not too specific to one country so was an interesting read. Thanks for including a range of sports.

    • archworf

      Yes, a range of sports. Also golf.

  • neeshd22

    @Chapman6640 I totally agree. I was like what?
    Well I actaully enjoed this list. Mind u I skipped thru the lame sports like driving a car and soccer. But I was very interesting.

    And I would like biazree lists ass well. But factual list please me all so.

    • Jerome

      So you don’t think it takes developed skill to race cars? Have you ever tried keeping something on the road at past, say, 125mph?

  • Spengler

    PAOLO ROSSI, not Paulo Rossi. There are no Paulo in Italy! Paulo is a spanish name.

    • Andres

      No, hahah, Paulo is Portuguese. The most common Spanish version is Pablo.

  • Scott

    Patrick Ewing never won a basketball championship.

  • Plod

    Yeah i know its scripted and fake but its entertaining

  • vanowensbody

    Great list

    Though Greg Norman winning the British Open might be considered winning a big one – I agree, he was very unlucky.

  • teacherman

    Love the old school Pitt picture for Marino!

    Hail to Pitt!!!!

  • oouchan

    I’m not a fan of sports, but this was an interesting read this morning. Also has a wide spectrum of sports/people and not one country oriented. I do feel bad for number one who seems to suffer injuries quite often.

    Nice list.

  • Xristos

    Gerrard would be on on the list when he retires.

  • David

    Alydar. Finished second in all three Triple Crown events to Affirmed.

  • Lifeschool

    Great list! Glad you included F1 – at least Villeneuve got the Canadian circuit named after him. Jimmy white – excellent call – and at least he had a video game made in his homour; Jimmy Whites Whirlwind Snooker. I might have gone with the British Soccer team for Italy ’90 – the one with Gary Lineker and Gazza balling his eyes out – but that’s just my bias :) The brits haven’t won a world cup in 45 years!! Other than that, really good effort – thanks. :)

  • Dano

    I would disagree that Jacques was less talented than his father. I think the better word would be less motivated. Once Jacques won the F1 title (having come amazingly close as a rookie) He went to a very un-competitive team and became a moving chicane. No one wanting to win another title would have gone to Honda at that time they were terrible.

    I have seen Jacques pull of some amazing drives in both F1 and Champ Car (RIP) You left out that he also won the Champ Car Title and a Indy 500 (back when it mattered) before moving to F1 and winning there putting him in company with Emerson Fittipaldi Mario Andreti and Nigel Mansell. Hard to call that less talented.

    • mom424

      My husband said almost the same thing – who’s the better driver; the guy who completes a ton of races, wins both F1 and Indy Car championships or the guy who raced a few times and died? Gilles Villeneuve was an awesome and exciting driver but he was also reckless. Too reckless.
      ps: I watched both drivers; I’m an expert by association. :)
      pps: Gilles first raced snowmobiles here in Canada.

  • Alucard

    NASCAR and other racing events ISN’T a sport. That is like saying you are going to jog and hopping on a bus.

    • mom424

      I would disagree. Have a look at David Coulthard as he tries to master an F1 simulator. Now try and imagine the same thing at and actual speed of 200 km/hr, 5gs in the corner and a track temperature in the 40’s (90+f). And he’s an ex F1 driver. I couldn’t do it either.
      [youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QLG32x0e9uE?rel=0&w=640&h=390%5D

    • Crimson_RTR

      By that logic, Football (Soccer) isn’t a sport. That’s like saying you are going to jog, and do it for an hour or two kicking something along the way. It’s disingenuous to assume that because something doesn’t sound hard when you phrase it using a stupid analogy, that there isn’t a huge amount of planning, cunning, and competitiveness that goes into it.

      I for one like soccer, so don’t take away what other people like too, even if it is race car driving.

      • Crimson_RTR

        anal.ogy**

    • General Tits Von Chodehoffen

      I agree that it is not a sport, but for different reasons. I think a sport requires athletic ability, and while I know a NASCAR race is not walk in the park the fact is the racers are just sitting there.

      • Jeff H

        I guarantee that if you raced 400 laps at Martinsville or 200 laps at Daytona, you’d change your tune. I’ve never done either, but I’ve seen those drivers get out of their cars exhausted after a race. And it’s not because they didn’t get enough sleep the night before. Sports also requires mental ability. That’s why not every college player that goes pro makes it in the NFL, NBA, NHL, etc.

  • Richard

    Did you consider Ricky Bruch for this list?

  • mom424

    Great list; very interesting, nice assortment of sports and nationalities. So much better than I anticipated.

  • Elemarth

    Thank God you mentioned *one* woman! It’s the first time I’ve seen a woman on a list of athletes here. Someone really needs to write a list about great female athletes. I can’t do it, because all I know about is gymnastics. In gymnastics, there are a ton of athletes who never won the medal they had their eyes on, or even went to that competition. I couldn’t possibly list them all.

  • Senpai

    cruyff is the greatest athlete that ever has lived or ever will live, he should be number one. actually, he stands above this list.

  • renee pussman

    Stupid List

  • Great list, happy Ivan Lendl was on it. However, I can’t help noticing you have interesting facts about all the people, but Brazil gets a fact about a frog. Couldn’t you have done a fact about Pele or something?

    • Rasputin

      I know, rather bizarre isn’t it?

  • JzaClza

    Charles Barkley, Marcel Dionne, John Stockton, Ron Hextall, Cam Neely, Jeremy Roenick. Also, John Elway never won a Bowl game in college.

    • Battman

      Thanks for finally mentioning NHL hockey. We could also add Darryl Sittler and Pat Lafontaine as two great players that never got their names on the Stanley Cup.

  • Jim

    Jonah Lomu: Earned sixty-three caps for the All Blacks and was the first true superstar in world rugby. Considered to be the greatest player ever to grace the field.

    Despite his greatness he never won a world cup. Sadly for all Kiwi’s he could not break the curse of the All Black’s failure at the world cup.

    Bonus: He also never scored against the mighty South African Springboks (arguably as a good a team as the All Blacks).

    • jeffthemaori

      Boo Springboks BOOOOOO …….haha. Anyway, after the last world cup I remember seeing something I didn’t think I would ever see… All Blacks fans burning the All Blacks flag.

  • castant

    What about Michele Kwan? Lame!

    • Michelle Kwan was an Olympic champion, a world champion, and a US champion… She should absolutely not be on this list.

      • reid1201

        Michelle Kwan was not an Olympic champion. Silver in 98, bronze in 02.

        • flaminio

          “The Big One” for figure skating is the Olympic Gold Medal, which eluded Kwan despite her many national and world championships.

          She should have been on the list.

      • Arsnl

        This comment reminds me a bit of those communists that re wrote history to please themselves. :p

  • Sports lists are usually “meh,” but this one was great! Very interesting, both in content and the way it was written. Good job.

  • jeff

    Michelle Kwan was one of the most dominant athletes of any individual sport but missed out on the Olympic Gold twice.

    Svetlana Khorkina comes to mind in gymnastics, having never won the Olympic All Around.

  • General Tits Von Chodehoffen

    I never knew about Charley Burley, what a badass!

  • Declan

    Hello 1990-93 Buffalo Bills. Dan Marino is Jim Kelly’s bitch. Eff Dan Marino. Jim Kelly, Thurman Thomas, Bruce Smith, Andre Reed. These are the men who should have won the big one. Dan Marino can suck a d.

    • Prince William

      HA HA! A Bills fan.

    • tdp

      The Buffalo Bills were invincible…until they had to play the NFC East

    • bigski

      bills are like the vikings only farther east and both lost a whole lot of superbowls….

  • karl

    Paula no longer hold the world record, it was beaten in this years London Marathon

  • flaminio

    Barry Bonds — HR champion, no World Series ring

    • Jumanji

      He doesn’t deserve one either.

  • sniper

    Bad list. It wasn’t very diverse

  • bigski

    archie manning….new orleans.

  • Struth

    Ron Clarke should be on this list as was a world champion distance runner who won everything except on olympic medal. He can take the place of that goofy lookin bloke in the shoulder pads!

  • Kurt Browning never won Olympic Gold despite being World Champion over Petrenko.

  • Almost

    Such a shame to leave out Grete Waitz. Arguably the greatest female marathon runner of her time and she never won an olympic gold medal. She died this year. Among her accomplishments are 9 wins in the New York City Marathon.

    From wikipedia:
    It was in 1978 that her association with the New York City Marathon began; she was invited to run there by race co-founder and director Fred Lebow, and in her first appearance she not only won but took a full two minutes off the women’s world record. She went on to win the race nine times and broke the world record three years in a row. In all, she lowered the women’s world record by an astonishing nine minutes, taking the standard from Christa Vahlensieck’s 2:34:47 down to 2:32:30 in 1978, 2:27:33 in 1979, 2:25:41 in 1980, and finally to 2:25:29, which she ran at London in 1983. Besides her marathon victories in New York and the 1983 World Championships in Helsinki, Waitz also won the London Marathon in 1983 and 1986 (the latter in a personal best of 2:24:54), as well as the Stockholm Marathon in 1988 at 2:28:24 (which as of 2011 is still the Stockholm course record for women).

  • jakeryder

    Snooker as an athletic competition. I’m having a tough time wrapping my brain around that.

  • Pedro

    Kruyff, or however it’s spelt, was a majestic player. The final that holland lost was most notable for the fact that tabloids revealed the entire team was partying with young girls in the lead up. Kruyff being married ( among other players) made it a big scandal. When the game kicked off they weren’t the same players or team.

  • xyzedro

    Danny Parsons, are you american?

  • Tree

    okay seriously thought Milkha Singh (indian) would be there.

  • caltrack616

    To add in racing, Michael Andretti never won the Indy 500.
    Mark Martin never won a NASCAR championship, finished 2nd five times.

  • jbjr

    Jim Ryun world record holder. Blew two chances at gold in the Olympics 1500m. 68 and 72.

  • Ri

    I’m Ri of Change Rules.net and I got directed here through TIME”s best blogs of 2011. Is Johan Cruyff ‘s case isolated? Because it feels shocking. Anyway, it’s pretty sad he got banned.

  • psychosurfer

    Very interesting list, however I think Sampras´failure at winning Roland Garros is equal to Lendel´s entry.
    Among boxers I also thought about Teofilo Stevenson.

  • Rowebot

    What about Ken Griffey Jr.? Possibly the best hitting center fielder of all time, and whose stellar defensive play made him a house hold name in the 90’s.

  • Disagreed99

    Why is Greg Norman and Ivan Lendl doing here in this list? Never won the big one means NEVER WON THE BIG ONE. Missing a US title, and the Wimbledon doesn’t mean never won the big one. If Ivan Lendl never won one of the 4 major opens, and Greg Norman never won a PGA open, I will agree. Missing one of the major titles doesn’t mean NEVER WON THE BIG ONE. This just means they are not able to complete their collection of the major titles

  • David Hopkins

    Good to see there’s a woman listed.

  • EbWinder

    Uhhhh charles barkley john stockton…

  • faithlessjuliet

    Where is Michelle Kwan?

  • oleok

    Raymond Poulidor is in cycling known as the eternal second. He finished second 3 times and third 5 times in the Tour de France. His last third place came at the age of 40! He didn’t even get to wear the yellow yersey once. His rivalry with Jacques Anquetil is one of the greatest of cycling history (Anquetil being the winner of that rivalry, with 5 wins at the Tour). He later battled with the greatest legend in cycling history Eddy Merxck for the win, but he was yet again unsuccesful. Hadn’t he been in the same era of these to, he would have won more than one Tour. Poulidour is in my eyes a little bit more fitting and deserving for a place on this list than Jimmy White…

    • oleok

      two*…
      And he has won the Vuelta a’España, Milan-San Remo and Le Fleche Wallone, but he is defenetly missing “The big one” (The Tour de France).

  • joey jo-jo junior shabadoo

    nolan ryan never won the cy young award. derek jeter never won mvp.

  • nailinhead

    Honorable mention under Ivan Lendl should highlight the greatness of female tennis great Justine Henin, who just missed out on the Wimbledon prize.

  • John

    Never mind jus Cruff the holland national team deserves to be on it, had extremelly good teams in world cups a few times nd have yet to win

  • PeteGill365

    Greg Norman shouldn’t be on there – winning The Open (not the ‘British Open’) is definitely a big one, it’s not a less significant win than any of the American ones.

  • matt

    what a terrible number one…absolutely terrible

  • flurry

    What about Steve Prefontaine..?

  • eduardo jaramillo

    How was george best not an honorable mention for best footballer to never win W.C.?

  • Michael

    For me, Michelle Kwan and Svetlana Khorkina should be included on this list.

    Svetlana Khorkina is the most successful gymnast in the world, with a world record 3 world championship all around wins, three olympic games, (matched by only 2 other gymnasts), the only gymnast male or female with a skill named on her on every apparatus, along with the most medals awarded to any gymnast since the 1960’s before gymnastics was popular. In Sydney she qualified first to the all around, but lost because of a mis-measured vault (which she had pointed out to organisers before vaulting), and lost by a tiny margin in Athens ’04, taking the silver medal in the all-round, despite qualifying first to that all-around as well, and winning the world championships all-around the year prior.

  • Gary Henzler

    No Michelle Kwan?!?!?!? She skated for over a decade on the international, amateur lever, never winning Olympic gold, but also never finishing any lower than third in any event or competition she entered from 1996-2004.

  • Charles

    Kathy Johnson, women’s artistic gymnastics, because of the Olympic boycott.

  • Them Bones

    I love the fact that there are a ton of different sports represented in this list.
    And i agree that most on this list really deserve it.
    But Paula Radcliffe number 1 on this list… seriously? She wouldn’t have come close to a spot on my top 10.

    Still an awesome list BTW!!! Very well thought out!

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  • Skater

    I think Michelle Kwan should also be on that list. She’s the most decorated American figure skater in history (as well as the face of figure skating and considered one of the greatest figure skaters of all time) being a 9-time national champion, a 5-time World champion and a two time Olympic medalist. What is she missing? The Olympic gold medal. She has a silver and a bronze but she could never get the gold. So sad ): she’s my favorite skater and she just couldn’t get the big one.