The greatness of NHL Hall of Famer Wayne Gretzky is often overlooked; but what if we told you that he may be the greatest of all-time — in any sport?
By Jonathan Goad
These five remarkable athletes deserve to be considered, but there’s one who might be even better than that group.
His name is Wayne Gretzky.
The vast majority of people will agree that Gretzky is the greatest hockey player of all-time. However, the conversation shouldn’t end there — we are just getting started, actually.
Here’s why he should be considered the greatest athlete of all-time in any sport; even in the same category as Michael Jordan.
Comparing the game of basketball to hockey is like comparing apples to toothbrushes, but we’ll give it the old “college try.”
Here is where both Michael Jordan and Wayne Gretzky rank all-time in their respected sports.
Dominating the stats
- Wayne Gretzky – 2,857
- Jaromir Jagr – 1,921
Difference – 936
- Wayne Gretzky – 894
- Gordie Howe – 801
Difference – 93
- Wayne Gretzky – 1,963
- Ron Francis – 1,249
Difference – 714
Look closely at those numbers. If you take away Gretzky’s goals, he STILL has more points than the guy with the second most points in NHL history. That is absurd!
Gretzky has put up the two highest seasons in total goals scored with 92 and 87. He also has two other top ten goals scored in a season. He scored 50 goals in a season nine times. He has the top eight seasons of total assists in a season and nine of the top ten.
“The Great One” has the top four spots for most points in a season. His record is 215 points in one season. No other player has scored over 200 points, and Gretzky did it four times!
M.J ranks only 4th on the all-time scoring list, 44th in assists, 137th in rebounds, and 3rd in steals. Very respectable numbers, but compared to “The Great One,” they’re not quite as impressive.
“His Airness” is only third on the single-season points total list with his best effort being close to 1,000 less than Wilt Chamberlain’s mark. His 259 steals in the 1987-1988 season rank 8th on the all-time single-season list. He doesn’t really have any other single-season records to speak of, outside of this mark.
Gretzky played in 18 All-Star games and was named to the All-NHL team 15 times in his 20 seasons. Gretzky won the Hart Memorial Trophy (MVP) nine times including eight in a row, Eight NHL MVPs in a row! That’s otherworldly!
“The Great One” won the Art Ross Trophy (Top point scorer) ten times. He did that seven years in a row. For those awards, the second highest is six each.
Gordie Howe won both awards six times, while Wayne Gretzky also won the Con Smythe Trophy (Playoff MVP) twice.
Michael Jordan won his fair share of awards as well.
- 14 NBA All-Star games
- All-NBA-team beneficiary 11 times.
- Ten-time scoring champ
- Nine-time All-Defensive team player.
- Five regular-season MVP awards
- Six NBA Finals MVPs
There’s no doubting the greatness of either player and the awards back that truth up.
The number of championships always comes up when debating the greatest players of all time. My argument has always been that if that is the primary criteria, then Bill Russell should be the G.O.A.T. of the NBA.
He won 11 championships in 13 years. That’s more rings than fingers.
Meanwhile, neither Gretzky or Jordan anywhere near winning the most championships in their respective leagues, but, I digress.
Wayne Gretzky won four (Lord) Stanley Cups. The most Stanley Cups won by a single player is 11 — with Henri Richard holding that title.
Michael Jordan won six NBA championships — which is five less than Bill Russell’s record (of 11).
I’m not trying to take anything away from Michael Jordan. He’s the best basketball player of all time.
However, I think Wayne Gretzky deserves a little respect when it comes to greatest athletes of all time.
No one was individually more dominant that “The Great One.” No one!
Instead of calling Gretzky the “Michael Jordan” of hockey, perhaps we should call Michael Jordan the “Wayne Gretzky” of basketball.
That’s right, I said it.
This is what domination truly looks like. They call him the “Great One” for a reason, folks.