basketball The Best Athletes of 2012  

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List Rules Only 2012 performances on the field. Other years do not count

The best athletes of 2012 won Olympic gold medals, helped clinch team championships, broke world records and became some of the most admired athletes in the world. These athletic stars come from all sports and each offer something different to their adoring fans but they all accomplished incredible things during the 2012 calendar year. These are the best athletes of 2012.

With the 2012 London Summer Olympics the big highlight in the year in sports, it should be no surprise that many of 2012's best athletes were Olympic medalists. American swimmer Michael Phelps was easily the top athlete at the 2012 Summer Olympics when he brought home another six medals, bringing his career total to 22. But Phelps wasn't the only athlete to become an instant favorite at the 2012 games with sprinter Usain Bolt, tennis stars Andy Murray and Serena Williams and fellow swimmer Missy Franklin each winning big in their respective events.

There was much more to see than just the Olympics however with stars in the worlds of football, baseball, basketball and hockey, among other sports, dominating the action. Repeating their honors as top athletes of 2011, names like Aaron Rodgers, quarterback of the Green Bay Packers, Justin Verlander, pitcher for the Detroit Tigers, LeBron James, small forward for the Miami Heat, and Tiger Woods, pro golfer, all returned to see success again in 2012.

Selecting a top athlete for a calendar year is often a matter of opinion and fandom so if you see someone you think should be higher or lower, vote accordingly. Want to re-rank the list or add someone we missed, do all of that below and help us rank the best athletes of 2012.
Be sure to also check out the Biggest Sports Disappointments of 2012, Famous Sports Speeches and the Best Sports to Watch.

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Usain Bolt 
                    is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Athletes of 2012
Usain Bolt Sherwood Content, Jamaica

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Michael Phelps 
                    is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Athletes of 2012
Michael Phelps Towson, Baltimore, Maryland

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LeBron James 
                    is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Athletes of 2012
LeBron James Akron, Ohio, United States of America

4
+ - 276 97
Peyton Manning 
                    is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Athletes of 2012
Peyton Manning New Orleans, Louisiana, United States of America

5
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Gabby Douglas 
                    is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Athletes of 2012
Gabby Douglas Virginia Beach, Virginia, United States of America

6
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Adrian Peterson 
                    is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Athletes of 2012
Adrian Peterson Palestine, Texas, United States of America

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Kevin Durant 
                    is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Athletes of 2012
Kevin Durant Washington, D.C., United States of America

8
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Missy Franklin 
                    is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Athletes of 2012
Missy Franklin Pasadena, California, United States of America

9
+ - 432 305
Lionel Messi 
                    is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Athletes of 2012
Lionel Messi Rosario, Argentina

10
+ - 436 271
Calvin Johnson 
                    is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Athletes of 2012
Calvin Johnson Newnan, Georgia, United States of America

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Tom Brady 
                    is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Athletes of 2012
Tom Brady San Mateo, California, United States of America

12
+ - 345 243
Miguel Cabrera 
                    is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Athletes of 2012
Miguel Cabrera Maracay, Venezuela

13
+ - 335 294
Aaron Rodgers 
                    is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Athletes of 2012
Aaron Rodgers Chico, California, United States of America

14
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Henry Armstrong 
                    is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Athletes of 2012
Henry Armstrong Columbus, Mississippi, United States of America

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Manti Te'o 
                    is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Athletes of 2012
Manti Te'o Laie, Hawaii, United States of America

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Serena Williams 
                    is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Athletes of 2012
Serena Williams Saginaw, Michigan, United States of America

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Humberto González 
                    is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Athletes of 2012

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Aaron Pryor 
                    is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Athletes of 2012
Aaron Pryor Cincinnati, Ohio, United States of America

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RGIII 
                    is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Athletes of 2012
RGIII

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Wayne Rooney 
                    is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Athletes of 2012
Wayne Rooney Croxteth, United Kingdom

21
+ - 35 12
Hope Solo 
                    is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Athletes of 2012
Hope Solo Tri-Cities, Richland, Washington

22
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Anna Chicherova 
                    is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Athletes of 2012
Anna Chicherova Yerevan, Armenia

23
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Yuliya Zaripova 
                    is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Athletes of 2012
Yuliya Zaripova

24
+ - 53 10
Jake LaMotta 
                    is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Athletes of 2012
Jake LaMotta New York City, New York, United States of America

25
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Sebastian Vettel 
                    is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Athletes of 2012
Sebastian Vettel Heppenheim, Germany

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Tom Boonen 
                    is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Best Athletes of 2012
Tom Boonen Mol, Belgium, Belgium

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Roger Federer 
                    is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Best Athletes of 2012
Roger Federer Basel, Switzerland

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+ - 156 171
Mike Trout 
                    is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Best Athletes of 2012
Mike Trout Vineland, New Jersey, United States of America

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Azumah Nelson 
                    is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Best Athletes of 2012
Azumah Nelson Accra, Ghana

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Joe Brown 
                    is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Best Athletes of 2012
Joe Brown Baton Rouge, Louisiana, United States of America

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+ - 17 4
Sally McLellan 
                    is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Best Athletes of 2012
Sally McLellan Paddington, Sydney, Australia

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Maria Sharapova 
                    is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Best Athletes of 2012
Maria Sharapova Nyagan, Russia

33
+ - 16 3
Marianne Vos 
                    is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Best Athletes of 2012
Marianne Vos 's-Hertogenbosch, Kingdom of the Netherlands

34
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Rūta Meilutytė 
                    is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Best Athletes of 2012
Rūta Meilutytė Kaunas, Lithuania

35
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Rosannagh MacLennan 
                    is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Best Athletes of 2012
Rosannagh MacLennan King City, King, Canada

36
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Sebastian Brendel 
                    is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Best Athletes of 2012
Sebastian Brendel Schwedt, Germany

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Kobe Bryant 
                    is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Best Athletes of 2012
Kobe Bryant Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States of America

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Buster Posey 
                    is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Best Athletes of 2012
Buster Posey Leesburg, Georgia, United States of America

39
+ - 18 3
Natalya Antyukh 
                    is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Best Athletes of 2012
Natalya Antyukh Saint Petersburg, Russia

40
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R. A. Dickey 
                    is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Best Athletes of 2012
R. A. Dickey Nashville, Tennessee, United States of America

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Justin Verlander 
                    is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Best Athletes of 2012
Justin Verlander Manakin-Sabot, Virginia, United States of America

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Katie Ledecky 
                    is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Best Athletes of 2012
Katie Ledecky Bethesda, Maryland, United States of America

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+ - 177 220
Bryce Harper 
                    is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Best Athletes of 2012
Bryce Harper Las Vegas, Nevada, United States of America

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Drew Brees 
                    is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Best Athletes of 2012
Drew Brees Austin, Texas, United States of America

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+ - 138 178
Eli Manning 
                    is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Best Athletes of 2012
Eli Manning New Orleans, Louisiana, United States of America

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+ - 14 2
Zara Phillips 
                    is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Best Athletes of 2012
Zara Phillips Paddington, London, United Kingdom

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+ - 100 76
Rory McIlroy 
                    is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Best Athletes of 2012
Rory McIlroy Holywood, Bangor, United Kingdom

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+ - 178 229
Carmelita Jeter 
                    is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Best Athletes of 2012
Carmelita Jeter Los Angeles, California, United States of America

49
+ - 11 2
Alexander Vinokourov 
                    is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Best Athletes of 2012
Alexander Vinokourov Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, Russia

50
+ - 154 217
Novak Djokovic 
                    is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Best Athletes of 2012
Novak Djokovic Belgrade, Serbia