WHEN IT COMES TO PIONEERING SPORTS SCIENTISTS, VICTOR CONTE RULES TODAY!
Fifty years ago today, Ike—that's President Eisenhower to you!—signed a bill creating the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. We call it NASA, and their early records were incredible. Think of this: they essentially created NASA in '58 as a reaction to the successful orbit of Sputnik by the Ruskies, and within eleven years, had landed on the moon without the technology that could get you a TI-83 calculator today. The thought of that is amazing. You can't even get dressed without checking the weather online, and they went to the moon. Today, in honor of those pioneering scientists, we rank pioneering sports scientists.
As the brains behind BALCO, you hate him. But think of how his enterprising, diabolical work will change sports forever. Just think of the athletes he's "behind,"—names like Barry Bonds and Marion Jones come up. Talk about GOATs turned goats. Even if his intent was morally wrong in your eyes, Conte has changed sports for the foreseeable future, and we foresee a long one.
James has created at least nine significant statistical measurements in baseball, and amazingly managed to see a game that was a hundred-plus years old in a new way. He's Moneyball before Moneyball. Hell, the other day Dusty Baker claimed that Adam Dunn was good because of his On Base Percentage. Even if James was already baseball's Galileo, getting Dusty to talk Sabermetrically is like allowing Ray Charles to see the stars.
While other sports have morphed like crazy—in baseball, they used to throw a runner out by drilling him with the ball—Naismith's original game has stayed pretty close to form. And as an innovation, remember, they started with a soccer ball, peach baskets and gym because the weather outside was bad.
JAMES ROBERT CADE
He was the professor of medicine and physiology at the University of Florida who invented Gatorade, that perfect blend of watered down goodness, electrolytes and sucrose. Or is that fructose? Whatever. Even psychologically, the stuff is good.
With all apologies to Bill Walsh, Don Coryell and even passing gurus like Martz or Spurrier, old Pop actually invented the forward pass. Before him, you couldn't be a multi-purpose back, just a punching bag. Montana, Marino, Manning … Pour one out.
DAVID FALK/MJ/PHIL KNIGHT
These guys took the athlete and turned him into a marketing machine. Everybody has been collecting checks since. Think that's not big? What's been produced more, Jordan symbols or crucifixes, in the last 25 years? Not trying to start a riot. Just asking a question.
HANK IBA/BOB KNIGHT
Argue about it all you want, but these two essentially invented and developed the motion offense that so many coaches still use a variation of today. Caution: may cause surliness.
RISING AND FALLING
SONNY VACCARO After orchestrating the Brandon Jennings move, the man's stock is rising.
ALEXANDER MCRAE The dude invented the Speedo, but our cover boy Phelps doesn't wear the fancy one. Seems topped out.