Ten years. In the world of sports, it can seem like an eternity.
As this decade began, the Yankees were reigning World Series champions, the Saints were about to win the franchise’s first Super Bowl title, Kobe Bryant was on his way to leading the Lakers to back-to-back NBA titles and Tiger Woods – with 14 major victories by the age of 34 – was seemingly a lock to break Jack Nicklaus’ record of 18.
How things have changed. The Yankees, Saints and Lakers have yet to return to the pinnacle of their sports, and Woods went 11 years before winning his 15th major.
Then again, some stars who ruled the sports world in 2010 have managed to stay on top. Which ones deserve recognition as the greatest athletes of the past decade?
Thirty-five members of the USA TODAY Sports staff voted to determine the top 50 athletes of the decade. Points were given in descending order, so an athlete who was voted No. 1 received 25 points, followed by No. 2 receiving 24 points and so on. Point totals are in parentheses.
1. LeBron James (786 points)
The start of the decade coincided with James entering his prime, having just turned 25. He delivered, playing in eight NBA Finals and winning three…