Sports fans -when they have nothing better to do -often debate on who was the best to play a particular sport.
Golfers can discuss for hours on end the merits of Bobby Jones, Ben Hogan, Byron Nelson, Arnold Palmer, Sam Snead, Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods.
Baseball enthusiasts can debate the merits of Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb, Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, Barry Bonds, Mickey Mantle, Cy Young and Nolan Ryan.
No matter what sport is being discussed, such conversations often are spirited, for there simply is no 100 percent correct sure-fire answer, if for no other reason than it is hard to compare those who dominated in different generations.
Yet, I have absolutely no doubt who was, is and likely always will be the greatest sports personality of my lifetime.
After all, he is known by those two words - The Greatest.
Of course, I'm referring to Muhammad Ali, who celebrated his 70th birthday over the weekend at a star-studded gala in Las Vegas.
Serious students of boxing will scoff at such talk, rightfully noting that pound-for-pound there have been many better fighters.
But there never has been a more transformational sports figure.
Ali's courage wasn't confined to the boxing ring. He grew up in Louisville as Cassius Clay, 1960 Olympic gold medal winner. But after claiming the world heavyweight title in 1964, he announced he had converted to the Nation of Islam and would be known as Muhammad Ali.
Those who grew up in the 60s understand the firestorm that created. But Ali practiced what he preached, refusing his induction into the U.S. military on religious grounds. He was arrested, tried, convicted and stripped of his title, but he refused to back down and eventually won the biggest unanimous decision of his life from the U.S. Supreme Court.
In the ring, Ali fought three epic bouts with Joe Frazier, three with Ken Norton, two with Floyd Patterson and the Rumble in the Jumble against George Foreman in Zaire, where he forever made the term 'Rope-A-Dope' a household name.
While today's boxing matches take place on Pay-Per-View, Ali often fought on ABC's Wide World of Sports, where ever-present at ringside was host Howard Cosell.
The two were as opposite as their backgrounds (Cosell was a New York Jewish attorney) but they made the perfect team.
Ali would recite poems, taunt his opponents and play to Cosell and the camera. He was The Prettiest, The Greatest.
Of course, it was an all an act, but one that played out on the world stage and brought boxing to an interest level it never had achieved.
When the Olympic Games came to Atlanta in 1996, there was much talk about who would light the Olympic flame.
In a scene we'll never forget, there was Ali, 12 years after being diagnosed with Parkinson's.
There's only one The Greatest, and he just turned 70.
Happy birthday, Champ.
Contact Dave Poe at firstname.lastname@example.org