This is my first post on this forum and I must say how interesting I find these historical debates.
Originally Posted by krosero
I think if anything Laver's overall place in the GOAT debates will continue to rise, as tennis fans come to know more about his career. Right now the casual fan knows very little about his pro years before '68. What they do know of Laver is basically restricted to his two Grand Slams, and to his 11 Grand Slam titles. Many are not even aware, or are only dimly aware, that he played his best tennis during his pro years before '68, when he wasn't winning Slams because, of course, he was barred from them.
I agree, Laver seems to be one of the very few sporting legends whose status seems to rise over time. Usually a player is hyped to the hilt during their career, often beyond what their career accomplishments merit, and their ranking in GOAT lists gradually falls over time. However in Laver's case, he has consistently been No 1, or very close to it (always competing with the most recent great player) for many decades now.
I think this is because it is quite serendipitous that his great achievements in the classic majors (11 titles, including two CYGS's) already put him, even in a purely slam-centric debate, ahead of pretty much everyone other than Federer and, possibly, Sampras. Then people discover that he did so much more in the missing years of 1963-67, and it's easy to see why many still consider him GOAT.
Originally Posted by krosero
If anything, it's the modern players who will remain "fixed." We know everything that Sampras won. Everyone has always known it, because the modern media keeps track of all of it, and tennis fans have always had access to the information.
Same with Federer. His career is brandished in bright lights and documented in heavy detail.
Not so with older players like Pancho Gonzalez and Laver. That's especially true for a guy like Pancho who spent most of his career in the "dark ages" of the pro tours before '68.
You're treating the GOAT debate as if it were a set of columns with a fixed number of blocks in each column (Laver has 11 blocks, Sampras 14, Federer 17). It's not like that at all. People always can learn more, and revise their opinions accordingly.
Heck, fans have the right to revise their opinion even without learning new information, but just from re-evaluating their opinions of the tennis players in question.
It's not at all like fixed columns of blocks.
These are all excellent points.
As this thread is nominally about Borg and his place in history, I'd like to pick up on your point about revisions of opinion over time.
I feel that Borg most definitely is a GOAT candidate (and I can't really understand why 16 people have voted that he is not!) However, I think that the reasons for this status have changed over time. If you asked someone 30 years ago why Borg was a GOAT contender, they would have replied it was because of his 5 (consecutive) Wimbledon titles. This was his unique claim to fame in tennis history (post-Challenge round era).
However, since Sampras and Federer have now surpassed him in overall Wimbledon titles, and the latter equalled his consecutive titles, this achievement is no longer sufficient for Borg to be proclaimed as GOAT. So, ironically, it is Borg's 6 FO titles (which I'm sure he valued far less than his W titles) which are his primary claim to immortality - or, more accurately, the fact that he was utterly dominant at the game's biggest grass and clay court tournaments simultaneously. The average tennis fan today would tell you that Borg's greatest achievement is his 3 consecutive 'Channel Slams' - and that this is why he should be kept in the GOAT debate.
I just thought this was worth mentioning. I rank Borg 4th overall by the way, so most definitely a GOAT candidate (unless you are super-restrictive).