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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+ - 276 97
Peyton Manning is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Athletes of 2012
Peyton Manning New Orleans, Louisiana, United States of America

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LeBron James is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Athletes of 2012
LeBron James Akron, Ohio, United States of America

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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

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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

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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

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

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+ - 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

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

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

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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

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

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

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

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Jake LaMotta is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Athletes of 2012
Jake LaMotta New York City, New York, USA

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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Azumah Nelson is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Best Athletes of 2012
Azumah Nelson Accra, Ghana

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Roger Federer is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Best Athletes of 2012
Roger Federer Basel, Switzerland

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+ - 52 12
Joe Brown is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Best Athletes of 2012
Joe Brown Baton Rouge, Louisiana, United States of America

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Mike Trout is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Best Athletes of 2012
Mike Trout Vineland, New Jersey, United States of America

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

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Marianne Vos is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Best Athletes of 2012
Marianne Vos 's-Hertogenbosch, Netherlands

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Rūta Meilutytė is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Best Athletes of 2012
Rūta Meilutytė Kaunas, Lithuania

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Maria Sharapova is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Best Athletes of 2012
Maria Sharapova Nyagan, Russia

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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

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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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Natalya Antyukh is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Best Athletes of 2012
Natalya Antyukh Saint Petersburg, Russia

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Buster Posey is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Best Athletes of 2012
Buster Posey Leesburg, Georgia, United States of America

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Justin Verlander is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Best Athletes of 2012
Justin Verlander Manakin-Sabot, Virginia, United States of America

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R. A. Dickey is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Best Athletes of 2012
R. A. Dickey Nashville, Tennessee, 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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Zara Phillips is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Best Athletes of 2012
Zara Phillips Paddington, London, United Kingdom

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Bryce Harper is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Best Athletes of 2012
Bryce Harper Las Vegas, Nevada, United States of America

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Rory McIlroy is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Best Athletes of 2012
Rory McIlroy Holywood, Bangor, United Kingdom

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Drew Brees is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Best Athletes of 2012
Drew Brees Austin, Texas, United States of America

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Eli Manning is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Best Athletes of 2012
Eli Manning New Orleans, Louisiana, United States of America

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

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

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Anderson Silva is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Best Athletes of 2012
Anderson Silva São Paulo, Brazil