Best of the 2010s: Who was your favorite athlete of the decade?
The 2010s in Boston sports included six championships and five more instances where a local team was playing for a title only to come up short.
With each team boasting its own championship pedigree over the last decade, Boston sports fans were treated to some amazing athletes. Some already have seen their numbers retired, while others are bound to receive that same honor.
But who did the NBC Sports Boston on-air talent select as their favorite athletes of the past 10 years? Read on to find out...
Tom E. Curran: Tom Brady
If you failed to enjoy the 155 regular season games Tom Brady started, his 122-33 record in those games, his 3,689 completions on 5,741 attempts, the 314 touchdown passes, 79 interceptions, his 99.7 rating or even some of his 280 sacks then maybe you might have enjoyed his 16-6 playoff record and his 610 completions on 952 attempts (64 percent) for 7,071 yards with 45 touchdowns and 19 picks. If neither worked for you, the 23 game-winning drives in the regular season and the six in the playoffs may do the trick.
And if none of the above works for you and you somehow conclude you enjoyed watching someone other than the greatest quarterback in NFL history record the first unanimous MVP season in NFL history, complete a brilliant fourth-quarter comeback against the decade’s best defense in one Super Bowl, complete the greatest comeback in pro sports history in another Super Bowl, beat back an effort by the league to shame and discredit him and do all that with dignity and tenacity while trying to be a really good person while living in a fishbowl Michael Jordan could never have imagined? Well, then we disagree.
Joe Haggerty: Patrice Bergeron
He didn’t score the most goals, he didn’t make the most highlight reel plays and he wasn’t the Conn Smythe winner when the Bruins hoisted the Cup in 2011, but Patrice Bergeron was the engine for a B’s team that made it to three Cup Finals in the decade.
Bergeron is a surefire Hall of Famer at this point and will be a career Bruin, but he cemented that legacy during this decade with his four Selke Trophies and with his long record of winning.
He’s won a Stanley Cup, he’s won Olympic Gold and he’s won a World Cup and he’s done it all with modesty and professionalism along with being a damned good hockey player.
Chris Forsberg: Isaiah Thomas
Isaiah Thomas arrived at the trade deadline in February 2015 as a potential bench spark for what looked like a lottery-bound team, improbably willed the Celtics to the playoffs that year, then transformed into a 5-foot-10 MVP candidate who pushed Boston to legitimate contender in the East.
Thomas’ “King in the Fourth” exploits became a seemingly nightly occurrence and it was magical to watch the city embrace Thomas. Through it all, Thomas remained humble and focused on his next goal.
His body gave out during the 2017 postseason and he was unceremoniously shipped to Cleveland that summer, ending a magical 2 ½ season ride.
Phil Perry: Rob Gronkowski
He was one of a kind. That's cliché, but never has the description been more apt than when applied to the man-child who for a decade roamed a Patriots locker room that often felt like it was filled with automatons. The promotion of his brand was at times exhausting, but his play was sublime. At times he was a 6-foot-6, 265-pound ballerina, toe-tapping in the front corner of the end zone while hauling in a twisting one-handed catch. At times he was a bouncer, throwing a loud-mouthed safety "out the club." His teammates called him a football genius and "Beast Mode" in the same breath.
Off the field, he was overwhelmingly generous with his time, particularly to those in need. In the locker room, he was consistently available. I had conversations with him when he was thoughtful and open discussing how injuries led to self-doubt. I had conversations with him about the greats that played the position before him, and what he'd gleaned by watching them. Now he has an argument as the best to ever do it. I was an editor for our website in 2010, writing headlines on the Friday he was drafted. I started covering the team the following year. Fortunate timing.
Watching his career unfold as it did was often pure, unadulterated fun.
John Tomase: David Ortiz
Nobody provided better copy or more consistent clutch drama than David Ortiz. From this is our bleeping city to his teary wave goodbye, Big Papi repeatedly proved he was one of a kind.
This may be Tom Brady country, but for my money, no athlete has ever exerted his will on a championship more dominantly than Ortiz hitting .688 in the 2013 World Series. He only made five outs in six games, and one of them required a Carlos Beltran leap into the bullpen.
He called himself a bad man, and he backed it up.
Michael Holley: Tom Brady
No need to get cute here. Tom Brady was 33 at the beginning of the 2010 season. He’s the only player I can say this about: He was better from 33 to 42 than he was from 23 to 32. How ridiculous is that?
As it is, if you slice his 20-year career into three sections, you’ll have a Hall of Fame section no matter which one you get.
Philip Rivers. Next.
A. Sherrod Blakely: Kevin Garnett
When you talk about the Boston Celtics culture, there was no greater influence on it than Kevin Garnett. He was a straight-no-chaser baller who talked the talk and backed it up over and over again.
And from a purely selfish journalistic standpoint, he delivered verbal gems in post-game interviews unlike any Celtics player. There was no one like him and never will be, on and off the court.
Gary Tanguay: Danny Amendola
This is a tough one, because as I get older and quite frankly grumpier, I don't have the same affinity for players that I did when I was younger. Of course, we all love Tom Brady, but the whole TB12 things grates on me.
So, I will go with a throwback: Danny Amendola. He came from the Rams via free agency for $28.5 million ($10M guaranteed). In his first game as a Patriot he ripped his groin from the bone against Buffalo, but stayed in the game! He was never the same the rest of the year and took plenty of heat for it.
As his career progressed he took multiple pay cuts but was vital to the Patriots offensive success. Had eight catches and one TD in the SB comeback against Atlanta and in 2014 had two touchdowns in the Pats playoff-opening win over Baltimore. Plus, he is a great guy and was a pleasure to cover.
Tom Giles: Isaiah Thomas
Isaiah Thomas spent less than three years in Boston, but he gave you absolutely everything he had and returned the Celtics to relevance when they were supposed to be stockpiling draft picks. He was the ultimate underdog story — taken with the final pick in the 2011 draft — and actually came off the bench to start his Celtics career. And seemingly overnight, IT became a fan favorite and a star.
The pinnacle of the Isaiah Thomas experience was the 2017 playoff run when he put the Celtics on his back, leading them to the Eastern Conference finals with broken teeth, one hip and a heavy heart after the sudden loss of his sister. His performance in the seven-game series with the Wizards was outstanding, to the point that many of us thought he'd get a max contract.
Unfortunately, his greatness is often lost amidst a semi-rocky breakup over medicals and tribute videos and a career that hasn't been the same since. But for 2 ½ years, the Isaiah Thomas experience was unbelievable.