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Ten greatest athletes in Cleveland sports history

Yahoo Contributor Network
Former Browns RB Jim Brown. Photo illustration for Yahoo! Sports.
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Cleveland YCN Greatest Athletes. Photo illustration for Yahoo! Sports.

Editor's note: YCN contributor Shaun Heidrick has compiled a list of the 10 greatest athletes for Cleveland. Jim Brown won easily over No. 2 LeBron James in user voting. Full results are to the right.

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It's no secret that Cleveland sports fans are a long-suffering bunch.

Going on nearly half a century without a championship in one of the four major sports, Clevelanders have seen the Browns, Cavaliers and Indians come tantalizingly close to the pinnacles of their respective sports numerous times. Unfortunately, through one circumstance or the other, the championship has always eluded Cleveland teams. The Drive, The Fumble, The Shot and Red Right 88, just to name a few, are constant reminders of the tragic comedy that is Cleveland sports.

Without championship teams to remember fondly, Clevelanders have always been fiercely loyal to the best players on their respective teams. There has been no shortage of great athletes in the long history of professional sports in Cleveland, so choosing the 10 greatest is a bit of a daunting task.

Still, in alphabetical order, these are the 10 greatest athletes in Cleveland sports history:

Lou Boudreau (Indians, 1938-50)
A Hall of Fame shortstop, Boudreau also managed the Tribe from 1942 to 1950, leading the Indians to their most recent World Series win in 1948. That same 1948 season also saw Boudreau hit .355 with 106 RBIs, netting him the AL MVP award. The .295 career hitter was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1970 and will forever hold a place in Tribe lore.

Jim Brown (Browns, 1957-65)
A key component of the 1964 Browns, the last Cleveland team to win a championship in the four major sports, Brown is arguably the greatest running back in NFL history. In nine NFL seasons, Brown led the league in rushing eight times and averaged a phenomenal 5.2 yards per carry for his career.

Austin Carr (Cavaliers, 1971-80)
Carr was a major part of the Cavaliers for a decade after their inception in 1971. After years of being the most reliable player on a series of dreadful Cleveland teams, Carr and his teammates shocked the NBA during the "Miracle of Richfield" season of 1975-76, losing in the conference finals to the eventual champion Boston Celtics. Carr is currently an announcer for the Cavs, and to this day remains one of the most beloved players in the team's history.

Rocky Colavito (Indians, 1955-59, 65-67)
Though he didn't wear a Tribe uniform for very long, Colavito is still remembered by Indians fans as the one who got away thanks to the inept Indians' brass at the time. After pounding out 40-plus home runs in 1958 and 1959, the Indians sent him to the Detroit Tigers in 1960 for Harvey Kuenn, still considered one of the worst trades in MLB history. Colavito did end up in Cleveland again in 1965, having two All-Star seasons before calling it quits in 1968.

Bob Feller (Indians, 1936-41, 45-56)
Feller possessed one of the most feared fastballs of any pitcher ever, earning him the nickname "Rapid Robert." Winner of 266 games during his career, Feller would've certainly had over 300 victories had he not served in World War II between 1942 and 1944. Feller was a first-ballot Hall of Fame inductee in 1962, and to this day is considered by many baseball pundits to be one of the best pitchers in history.

Otto Graham (Browns, 1946-55)
All Graham did was win. In his 10 seasons, the Browns won more than 85 percent of their games and remarkably played in the championship game every single year, winning seven of them. Graham was one of the first quarterbacks to air it out as professional football moved away from the "three yards and a cloud of dust" mentality of its formative years.

Lou Groza (Browns, 1946-59, 61-67)
Known as "The Toe" for his placekicking abilities, Groza also played on the offensive line for Cleveland at points during his two-decade career. Groza was a part of every single Browns team that has won a championship to date, and retired as the NFL's career leader in every major kicking category. A true Cleveland sports legend, Groza was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1974.

LeBron James (Cavaliers, 2003-10)

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LeBron James angered many Cleveland fans when he walked away from the Cavs. (Getty)

Derided by Clevelanders nowadays after humiliating the city on national TV during "The Decision" broadcast in 2010, James still earns a spot on this list due to an impressive body of work in Cleveland. In seven short seasons, James' Cavaliers teams rapidly ascended to the top tier of the NBA, peaking with a Finals appearance in 2007. A two-time MVP during his time with the Cavs, James never averaged less than 20 points a season.

Ozzie Newsome (Browns, 1978-90)
Generally considered to be one of the pioneers at his position, Newsome paved the way for today's tight ends that focus more on receiving. Newsome was a quiet leader on the 1980s Browns teams that could never seem to get past the Denver Broncos. Still Cleveland's all-time leader in receptions (662) and receiving yards (7,980), Newsome was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1999.

Mark Price (Cavaliers, 1986-95)
Price was the engine that powered the Cavaliers to the upper echelon of the NBA in the early-1990s. A point guard that was equally proficient setting up his teammates or creating offense for himself, Price averaged 15.2 points and 6.7 assists per game in his NBA career. Unfortunately, the Cavs could never get past the Chicago Bulls, who defeated Cleveland in four playoff series during Price's career.

Shaun Heidrick is a Yahoo! Contributor who has followed the Cleveland Indians for 25 years.

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