ESPN’s The Last Dance may have caused me to technically violate my NO GOAT POSTS Pledge, but this is across sports and I don’t think many currently view Pete Sampras as the Men’s Tennis GOAT. He did finish 6 Years at #1, win 12 majors, win the ATP World Championships 5 times, and was part of 2 Winning Davis Cup teams including a Herculean effort on Russian red clay in 1995. Michael Jordan won 6 NBA titles, was NBA finals MVP 6 times, was NBA scoring champion 7-times in the 1990s, and won a second gold medal in Barcelona (the first coming in 1984 in Los Angeles). Both men dominated their sports in the 1990s. I think it is nearly impossible to compare across sports, but why not in this time of Social Distancing? Also, Pete trails Jordan 0-2 for retirements from his sport in the 1990s. So I generally lean MJ on this thought experiment, but retiring twice during the decade in question … that is something I cannot discount.
Update: The more I think about it, Michael Jordan not playing at all in 1994 or 1999 (and 2000 depending how one defines the start and end of a decade) means that Michael posted a zero in 2 or 3 of the 10 years of the 1990s. Pete had a tremendous 1994 and won a major in 1999 (as well as 2000). Pete might have accomplished enough in those two-years to make him the male athlete of the 1990s over Michael Jordan.