sports The Best Athletes of 2011  

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List Rules Only vote for athletes based on their 2011 season

Whether they led your favorite team to a championship or helped a rival team eliminate yours from the playoffs, the best athletes of 2011 provided us with hours of cheers (and a few tears) throughout the year in sports.

These fine athletes accomplished feats never before completed, like when Tom Brady passed for a ridiculous 517 yards in a single game, but also showed that they were human, like when Peyton Manning was ruled out at the beginning of the 2011 NFL season.

Other athletes were in the news for the wrong reasons, like tennis star Serena Williams who was criticized for her on-court profanity or Cam Newton, the number-one NFL Draft pick who dealt with a pay-for-play scandal that shortened his college football career.

Even entire teams were in the news, many for overcoming big obstacles to win a championship, like the Boston Bruins in the NHL, or for huge collapses right before a playoff run, like the Boston Red Sox in the MLB. Others were laughed at when high expectations ended in disappointment, such as the dramatic year for LeBron James and the Miami Heat, who lost in the NBA Finals.

In the end, only one sports team from each league or sport could be named the best, the champions of the year and from each league comes an MVP, one person that stood above the rest in accomplishing great things. Those most valued players, and a few who may not be sporting a new championship ring, but still played quite well, make up the best athletes of 2011.

Check out more lists like Best Athletes of 2012, Ugliest Athletes of All Time, Sexiest Male Athletes

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+ - 107 79
Dirk Nowitzki is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Athletes of 2011
Dirk Nowitzki age 39

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+ - 97 76
Usain Bolt is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Athletes of 2011
Usain Bolt age 31

3
+ - 90 65
Novak Djokovic is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Athletes of 2011

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+ - 84 98
Aaron Rodgers is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Athletes of 2011
Aaron Rodgers age 32

5
+ - 66 78
Derrick Rose is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Athletes of 2011
Derrick Rose age 29

6
+ - 88 55
Lionel Messi is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Athletes of 2011
Lionel Messi age 30

7
+ - 71 72
Manny Pacquiáo is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Athletes of 2011

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+ - 37 13
Michael Schuhmacher is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Athletes of 2011

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+ - 66 84
Tom Brady is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Athletes of 2011
Tom Brady age 40

10
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Lindsey Vonn is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Athletes of 2011
Lindsey Vonn age 33

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+ - 48 34
Sebastian Vettel is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Athletes of 2011

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+ - 33 15
Mario Götze is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Athletes of 2011
Mario Götze age 25

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+ - 31 11
Nicklas Lidström is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Athletes of 2011

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+ - 18 4
Sally McLellan is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Athletes of 2011

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+ - 31 18
Wesley Sneijder is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Athletes of 2011

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+ - 48 52
Rafael Nadal is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Athletes of 2011
Rafael Nadal age 31

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+ - 16 1
Therese Johaug is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Athletes of 2011

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+ - 17 2
Lewis Hamilton is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Athletes of 2011

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+ - 45 59
Kobe Bryant is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Athletes of 2011
Kobe Bryant age 39

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+ - 15 3
Tatyana Chernova is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Athletes of 2011

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+ - 14 2
Marit Bjørgen is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Athletes of 2011

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+ - 14 2
Thomas Morgenstern is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Athletes of 2011

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+ - 15 1
Maria Höfl-Riesch is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Athletes of 2011

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+ - 18 3
Chipper Jones is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Athletes of 2011
Chipper Jones age 45

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+ - 15 1
David Storl is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Athletes of 2011
David Storl age 27

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+ - 36 22
Wes Welker is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Best Athletes of 2011
Wes Welker age 36

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+ - 12 1
Andreas Thorkildsen is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Best Athletes of 2011

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+ - 12 1
Brian McCann is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Best Athletes of 2011
Brian McCann age 33

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+ - 25 11
Apolo Ohno is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Best Athletes of 2011
Apolo Ohno age 35

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+ - 19 5
Casey Stoner is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Best Athletes of 2011
Casey Stoner age 30

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+ - 14 1
Sofiya Velikaya is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Best Athletes of 2011

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+ - 23 10
Dont'a Hightower is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Best Athletes of 2011

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+ - 15 10
Anderson Silva is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Best Athletes of 2011

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+ - 14 1
Jodie Williams is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Best Athletes of 2011

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+ - 14 1
Betty Heidler is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Best Athletes of 2011
Betty Heidler age 34

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+ - 36 21
Hope Solo is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Best Athletes of 2011
Hope Solo age 34

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+ - 15 2
Linn Jørum Sulland is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Best Athletes of 2011

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+ - 40 56
Blake Griffin is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Best Athletes of 2011
Blake Griffin age 26

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+ - 14 2
Kim Clijsters is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Best Athletes of 2011
Kim Clijsters age 34

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+ - 27 16
Jimmy Graham is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Best Athletes of 2011
Jimmy Graham age 31

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+ - 31 20
Shaun White is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Best Athletes of 2011
Shaun White age 31

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+ - 13 2
Samantha Stosur is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Best Athletes of 2011

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+ - 13 2
Stacy Lewis is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Best Athletes of 2011
Stacy Lewis age 30

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+ - 11 1
Mohamed Farah is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Best Athletes of 2011
Mohamed Farah age 32

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+ - 21 10
Dustin Pedroia is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Best Athletes of 2011

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+ - 13 2
Ashton Eaton is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Best Athletes of 2011
Ashton Eaton age 29

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+ - 42 69
Peyton Manning is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Best Athletes of 2011

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+ - 12 7
Dwyane Wade is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Best Athletes of 2011
Dwyane Wade age 35

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+ - 20 20
Arjen Robben is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Best Athletes of 2011
Arjen Robben age 33

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+ - 12 3
Valentina Vezzali is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Best Athletes of 2011