Retro | Sports

13 Sports Stars Every 90s Kid Idolized

If you came home from school, dropped your schoolbag, and flipped on ESPN as soon as you got in the door, this list is for you.

The 90s were dominated by huge personalities that still cast a long shadow over their respective sports. Take a name like Michael Jordan (yes, spoiler alert, he made the list), people will still debate whether today's MVPs hold a candle to his success in this decade.

And he's just one of many sports megastars that made this list. No matter who you cheered for, no matter what sport you loved, this list is for all you sports fans who spent more time watching SportsCenter than doing their homework.

So pump up those shoes and let's hit the court!

1. Evander Holyfield

Throughout the decade Holyfield became the undisputed heavyweight champion, had a fight interrupted by a parachuting fan, announced his early retirement from the sport, beat Mike Tyson in a surprise 11th round TKO, and had his ears chewed apart in their rematch. Throughout all this weirdness, Holyfield's tenacity and strength proved he was one of boxing's all time greats.  

2. Dennis Rodman

Say what you will about Rodman, "The Worm" will always be one of a kind. On a team where Michael Jordan dominated the spotlight every game, it took incredible talent to stand out. But then again, standing out is Rodman's specialty. Not only was Rodman a basketball phenomenon, he also achieved the peak of 90s cool: starring in an action film with Jean-Claude Van Damme.

3. Bo Jackson


There's a reason every kid on the playground wanted to have their own "Bo Knows" shirt. Already an accomplished football star, Jackson's career shift to baseball had it's own share of incredible highlights. There hasn't been a player before or since who shined in two sports like he managed to.

4. Mark McGwire

While the steroids scandal has put a dark cloud over McGwire's career, fans will never forget the excitement of his nail-bitingly close race for the single season home run record against Sammy Sosa. The exciting rivalry made baseball must-see viewing again, and nothing can take that away.

5. Michael Jordan

Six NBA championships, named the league's most valuable player four times in the 90s, what else needs to be said? Jordan's success with the Chicago Bulls created a lifetime of unbelievable highlights and a high bar for ever other basketball player to measure up to. And we haven't even mentioned Space Jam yet!


6. Brett Favre

It's amazing to think that when Favre earned the NFL's most valuable player award three years in a row (from 1995-97) he still had 13 years left in his career. In the late 90s you could set your watch by The Gunslinger's astoundingly consistent passing game, and his record for career pass completions continues to hang over today's biggest quarterbacks.

7.  Hulk Hogan

Call it sports entertainment if you want, but when Hogan, wrestling's biggest crowd-pleaser in the 1980s, reinvented himself as a villain, he reinvigorated a sport that was losing popularity fast. The "Hollywood" Hulk Hogan character and his posse the New World Order were the height of 90s bad guy cool, and that's the truth brother!

8. Wayne Gretzky

While Canadian fans were still mourning his move South, Gretzky hit his peak during his time with the Los Angeles Kings, drawing huge crowds in a city that wasn't known for its hockey culture. While these were the twilight years of The Great one's career, he still managed to break scoring records and excite hockey fans around the world.

9. Ronaldo

At age 17, Ronaldo cemented his spot in soccer history by helping Brazil win the world cup in 1994. What followed was a blur of highlight real goals with some of Europe's best teams. Even if you didn't watch soccer, seeing his skill on SportsCenter let you know this guy was the real deal.

10.  Shaquille O'Neal


There have been taller players, there have been players who earned their team more points, and there have definitely been players who made more free throws.  But, nobody rushed the basket like Shaq in his prime. When you were in his way, you moved, or you got moved.

11.  Andre Agassi

We could mention his big wins at Wimbledon, the French Open, the US Open (twice), or his 1996 gold medal win at the Atlanta Olympics, but all you need to know about Agassi's importance as a 90s icon can be summed up by his commercials with the Red Hot Chili Peppers for Nike.


12.  Barry Sanders

Barry Sanders averaged 1,500 rushing yards a season. At only 5'8", he proved that if nobody on the field can hit you, your size doesn't matter. To this day, Sanders is one of only seven running backs who've rushed over 2,000 yards in a season.

13. Ken Griffey Jr.

Forget his incredibe success on the field (where he earned 10 Golden Glove awards and 7 Silver Sluggers), more than any of the other stars on this list, Griffey excelled at marketing himself as the sports phenomenon that he was. Every day after school sports fans put his game into their Super Nintendo, so how could be anything but a baseball legend?

Which of these sports stars was your favorite? Who else should have made the list?

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