The July 7 issue of ESPN The Magazine surrounds player comebacks. How do the comebacks of some of sports' biggest stars compare? Read the arguments below and vote.
Which comeback was greater, Jordan's first or his second?
1995-98 Jordan: 8.0 APG
Whatever your metric of choice, it's clear: Early Jordan (1984-93) trumped Middle Jordan (1995-98). Early MJ got to the line more (.385 FT rate vs. .346), was a more efficient scorer and had more steals and blocks. Counter to the notion that he came to trust his teammates as he aged, Early MJ even had more assists (a career-high 8.0/game came in 1988-89) than Middle MJ did. Which is all to say: MJ was slightly worse during his first comeback than the greatest player of all time. -- Kevin Pelton, ESPN Insider
2001-03 Jordan: +3.0
Jordan's second comeback, in 2001, was unprecedented. No perimeter player in NBA history has scored more points at ages 38 and 39 than MJ. (And not for nothing, only Kevin Durant played more minutes this season than the 39-year-old Jordan did in 2002-03.) The Wizards had just 19 wins in 2000-01, before His Airness arrived; they had 37 victories in each of his two seasons. But don't trust us -- trust metrics: The Wiz were three points better per 100 possessions with Jordan creaking and crawling down the floor. -- Bradford Doolittle, ESPN Insider
Whose comeback was greater, Michael Vick's or Peyton Manning's?
Michael Vick: 100.2
When his 21-month prison stint ended in 2009, the debate was whether the NFL should welcome Vick back at all. That he would enjoy his best year -- a QB rating of 100.2, ranking behind only Brady, Rivers and Rodgers -- made the NFL's most notorious comeback one of its most remarkable as well. While some seethed that a man who ran a dogfighting operation could regain glory, Vick, as an Eagle in 2010, set bests for completion percentage (62.6), TDs vs. INTs (21 to 6) and yards per attempt (8.1). -- Mike Sando, ESPN Insider
Peyton Manning: 1.5 Percent
The word "comeback" hardly does justice to Manning's performance the past two years. He fought through four neck surgeries by age 37 and did the seemingly impossible: He got better. Everyone knows about last season's NFL records for touchdown passes (55) and passing yards (5,477), but these numbers were actually matched by a reduction in errors. Manning's 1.5 percent interception rate in 2013 was the best of his career. That ain't no comeback. It's a resurrection. -- KC Joyner, ESPN Insider
Whose comeback was greater, Ted Williams' or Bo Jackson's?
Ted Williams: 11.8 WAR
What's the only thing more impressive than coming back to the pros and dominating? Doing it twice. Ted Williams' season before his WWII service (1942) was the second-most valuable in Red Sox history, at 11.6 wins above replacement. After three years in the military, he returned to put up the best season in BoSox history, an 11.8 WAR in '46 that ranks among the six best seasons by any player not named Babe Ruth. After missing most of 1952-53 serving in Korea, and despite being in his late 30s upon his return, he still put up six additional seasons more valuable than any single year Bo Jackson had. -- Mike Petriello, ESPN Insider
Bo Jackson: 29 HRs
Bo Jackson was the most preternaturally gifted athlete of his generation, and when he shattered his hip playing for the Raiders in 1991, it potentially derailed two Hall of Fame careers at once. When he made his comeback -- on an early-'90s-era replacement hip -- one of sport's most dynamic players had to start from scratch. And that's what he did for two years, winning AL Comeback Player of the Year in 1993 by hitting 29 homers in 160 games and defying biology when most other players would have submitted. Bo knew comebacks. -- Dan Szymborski, ESPN Insider
Whose comeback was greater, Muhammad Ali's or George Foreman's?
Muhammad Ali: 26-2
In the gauze of history, Ali's comeback has been reduced to myth. But the true tale is all the more amazing. In 1967, at 29-0, Ali was denied a license for opposing the draft. He was exiled for three years before he regained the heavyweight title in 1974 by besting none other than Foreman. Ali defended that belt an absurd 11 times, going 10-1, and was 26-2 overall in his first 28 post-comeback fights. By going 1-3 in his final fights, did he hold on too long? Yes. Like most every other boxer in history. -- Bernardo Pilatti, ESPN Insider
George Foreman: 45
To prefer Ali's comeback over Foreman's is a sentimental reaction clouded in nostalgia. The reality is that Foreman's return, which began at age 38 after a 10-year absence during which he became an ordained minister, of all things, was all the more impressive for how few took it seriously. Ali's comeback featured more iconic wins. But Foreman's come-from-behind KO of Michael Moorer in 1994 -- making him, at 45, the oldest heavyweight champ ever -- was a win for the ages and the aged. -- Brian Campbell, ESPN Insider