Sports

Ranking the 15 most fun athletes in sports

With a name like “Super Bowl,” it better be fun. Right?

Two of the NFL’s most fun athletes will be on opposite sides Feb. 7 when the Buccaneers and Chiefs meet in Super Bowl 55. But how do Rob Gronkowski and Patrick Mahomes compare to their peers in other sports?

Keeping in mind those who are fun to watch — either because of talent or antics or both — and those who just seem to have fun at work, here is The Post’s unscientific list of the 15 “most fun” active athletes in sports:

1. Patrick Mahomes, Chiefs, NFL

Take bathroom breaks at your own risk when Mahomes has the ball because there’s nothing he can’t do at any moment, including throwing the ball out of the stadium from field level. Inventing new arm angles for passing into tight windows wasn’t enough, so he started throwing no-look passes. And he creates fun touchdown celebrations, like giving piggyback rides.

2. Zion Williamson, Pelicans, NBA

He is so much fun the NBA created an unusual restart format to its COVID-19-interrupted season just to keep his team’s playoff hopes alive. A sensation since high school, Williamson is finally free of the minutes restriction he had as a rookie, and his proliferation of dunks and blocks make it seem like he is in the air more than on his feet.

3. Fernando Tatis Jr., Padres, MLB

Monster home runs. Jumping catches. Daring baserunning. The son of an MLB All-Star grew up in the game, but he doesn’t play by the antiquated unwritten rules that turn off younger fans. He hasn’t even played a full season’s worth of games in his career but is an MVP candidate and a nightmare for the clubhouse attendants laundering dirty uniforms.

4. Lamar Jackson, Ravens, NFL

Jackson is both a throwback and a next-generation star. In one way, watching him scramble is reminiscent of a Pop Warner game, when the best and fastest athlete plays quarterback. In another way, he has revolutionized the position in the NFL by doing things previously only seen in video games. His spin moves, stiff arm and stutter steps are mimicked on playgrounds.

5. Steph Curry, Warriors, NBA

He really is the Every Man’s Star. In a league of giants and biceps, the 6-foot-3, 185-pounder shoots better than anyone ever — he recently made 105 straight 3-pointers in practice! Curry changed the game from when it was played inside-out to outside-in. He is an assassin who brings along his smiling daughter to news conferences.

6. Simone Biles, gymnastics

simone biles flipped her way onto the post fun athlete rankings
Simone Biles
Getty Images

The most decorated American in the history of her sport broke the mold of most Olympians by appearing in mainstream culture more than once every four years. The flying contortionist packs a lot of artistry and power into a 4-foot-8 frame. She plans to defend the gold medals she won in three of four individual events in 2021.

7. Francisco Lindor, Mets, MLB

He plays the ultimate kid’s game with a toddler’s energy. You can’t be called “Mr. Smile” without having fun. He wears the nickname on his jersey during MLB Players Weekend because “as soon as you say smile, you smile.” The face of a new era of optimism for the Mets packages five-tool skill with poise.

8. Luka Doncic, Mavericks, NBA

When he is not registering triple-doubles, Doncic is part of the crowd. He signed autographs before every tipoff — when fans were allowed in — and he seems to enjoy tumbling into the stands or unexpectedly popping into camera shots with funny faces. NBA legend Jerry West once said, “It’s fun to watch his genius.” Only LeBron James got more fan votes to the 2020 All-Star Game.

9. David Pastrnak, Bruins, NHL

Nicknamed “Pasta,” his chipped-tooth smile is an iconic hockey image. He sings along to warm-up songs, jumps up and down in synchronicity with fans behind the glass and plans team-wide Halloween costumes. Of course, his elite scoring ability also helped him become marketable enough to land hilarious Dunkin’ Donuts commercials.

10. Bryson DeChambeau, golfer

Who has more fun golfing than the eponymous character in “Happy Gilmore,” played by Adam Sandler? Maybe the bulked-up DeChambeau, whose record 492-yard drive is like a scene straight out of the movie. Fans gasp when he swings. The size of his following is growing now that he is winning major championships.

11. Rob Gronkowski, Buccaneers, NFL

No one has more off-field fun than “Gronk,” who looks like a professional wrestler and sounds like a frat boy — his famous “Yo soy fiesta!” line translates to “I am party!” He hosted a “Gronk Beach” Super Bowl party in Miami during his one-year retirement. He’s not as dominant as he once was, but he still gives angry touchdown spikes and runs over tacklers.

12. Lionel Messi, FC Barcelona, soccer

So many of Messi’s goals over the years inspire a “How did he do that?” reaction. For the casual fan, there is awe in the accuracy of his quick-strike left foot. For the diehard, the Argentinian’s patience, intelligence and dribbling are captivating.

13. Coco Gauff, tennis

She became an overnight sensation at age 15 when she beat her idol Venus Williams at Wimbledon in 2019. Gauff’s powerful serve, fearless play and humble image make her a crowd favorite at every stop on the Tour. “CocoMania” is real.

14. Artemi Panarin, Rangers, NHL

artemi panarin high kicks make him an easy addition to the post's fun athlete rankings
Artemi Panarin has mastered scoring and high kicks.
Getty Images

Does he belong at Madison Square Garden or Radio City Musical Hall? Panarin’s high leg-kick celebrations earned him the nickname “Russian Rockette.” He plays with skill — finalist for the 2019-20 Hart Trophy — and a flair that only increases around his Russian cohorts. His dog has an Instagram account (@mr_riziy) with nearly 30,000 followers.

15. Mookie Betts, Dodgers, MLB

With apologies to Mookie Blaylock, there just aren’t a lot of adults going by “Mookie.” It’s a fun nickname for an oversized kid who wears an oversized chain around his neck and unbuttons the top of his jersey. He is a dream for television crews to mic up because of his chatter and managers to start because he fills the entire boxscore. 

nypost.com

New York Post

The New York Post is a daily tabloid newspaper in New York City. The Post also operates NYPost.com, the celebrity gossip site PageSix.com and the entertainment site Decider.com.

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