NBCSports.com's top 5 athletes of 2009
1. Roger Federer
Roger Federer broke Pete Sampras' record for most Grand Slam titles this year when he won Wimbledon, defeating Andy Roddick in a five set marathon. He also won his first ever French Open, completing the career Grand Slam and regained the No. 1 ranking in the world from Rafael Nadal.
2. Zack Greinke
Despite having one of the worst offenses in all of basbeall, Zack Greinke still managed to go 16-8 with the Kansas City Royals in 2009. Even more impressive, though, he posted a miniscule 2.16 ERA, notched 242 strikeouts and recorded a 1.07 WHIP on his way to winning the American League Cy Young.
3. LeBron James
LeBron James has been one of the NBA's best players ever since coming into the league, but now he has the hardware to prove it as he was named the 2008-09 NBA MVP. King James averaged 28.4 points, 7.6 rebounds, 7.2 assists, 1.7 steals and 1.1 blocks per game. He led the Cavs to the Eastern Conference Finals but couldn't get past the Magic. James did increase his scoring average up to 35.3 ppg, but it wasn't enough. LeBron is also dominating once again thus far in the 2009-10 season.
4. Manny Pacquiao
In a time when boxing is struggling in terms of popularity, Manny Pacquiao has emerged as arguably the best pound-for-pound fighter in the sport. He notched high profile wins over Ricky Hatton and Miguel Cotto in 2009 and is the WBO World welterweight champion and IBO and Ring Magazine light welterweight champion. Pacquiao has also reportedly agreed to fight Floyd Mayweather in 2010 in what will be one of the most highly anticipated matches in recent memory.
5. Mariano Rivera
The Yankees' ageless closer is still one of the most dominant closers in baseball. Even at 39 years old (he turned 40 after the season), Rivera recorded 44 saves and posted a 1.76 ERA and a 0.90 WHIP. He was even more dominant in the postseason, notching 5 saves with an ERA of 0.56. He gave up just one earned run in 16 innings, and recorded 14 strikeouts as the Yankees won the World Series.
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