Sports offered a mixed bag over the last 10 years, integrity often fading into the background and the 2000s producing nearly as many scoundrels as it did stars.
A decade that gave us the BALCO scandal and a corrupt Olympic figure skating judge at the 2002 Salt Lake City Games also served up transcendent figures such as Lance Armstrong, Roger Federer and Tiger Woods, all in their athletic prime and each perhaps the greatest-ever champion in his chosen field.
Of course, as Woods’ carefully crafted image eroded over the last month amid a series of tabloid-ready revelations, even the best of the best weren’t immune to embarrassment.
In some cases, the stars were the scoundrels.
Herewith, Times staff writer Jerry Crowe delivers a Hall of Fame and Hall of Shame for the ‘00s:
Lance Armstrong -- The seven-time Tour de France winner made cycling, cancer awareness and yellow wristbands cool.
Usain Bolt -- Electrifying the 2008 Olympics with his jaw-dropping speed and power, the Jamaican sprinter bolted to prominence at Beijing even when slowing to celebrate.
Tom Brady -- Landing Gisele Bundchen would have been enough for most, but the 2007 NFL MVP added three Super Bowl rings, a record for touchdown passes and an unbeaten regular season.
Kobe Bryant -- Maybe he’s not the next Michael Jordan, but the Olympic gold medalist and four-time NBA champion is a close facsimile.
Roger Federer -- Athletic, artistic and articulate, the Swiss champion broke the record for Grand Slam titles and convinced many that he might be the greatest player in tennis history.
Jimmie Johnson -- In winning an unprecedented four consecutive Sprint Cup championships, NASCAR’s leading man ran circles around the competition.
Manny Pacquiao -- The pugilistic pride of the Philippines has won seven world boxing titles in seven weight divisions.
Michael Phelps -- An eight-time gold medalist at the Beijing Games, the greatest swimmer of all time has accumulated more gold than any other athlete in Olympic history.
Albert Pujols -- Baseball’s most feared hitter is a three-time most valuable player whose first nine seasons rank among the greatest in the sport’s long, storied history.
Tiger Woods -- Current scandal aside, there’s no denying Woods’ dominance on the golf course, where he has bagged 56 PGA Tour victories and 12 major titles since 1999.
Ron Artest -- Long before he joined the Lakers, the then-Indiana Pacer ventured into the crowd at Auburn Hills, Mich., and sparked a massive, suspension-inducing brawl among players and fans.
Barry Bonds -- Baseball’s steroids scandal also touched Mark McGwire, Roger Clemens, Alex Rodriguez, etc., etc., but the surly all-time home run king of the San Francisco Giants was its central figure.
Kobe Bryant -- Sexual-assault charges against him were later dropped, but the Lakers star showed an ugly side of his personality one summer night in Eagle, Colo., in 2003.
Plaxico Burress -- The former New York Giants wide receiver is remembered as much for the self-inflicted gunshot wound that landed him in prison than for catching a game-winning touchdown pass in the Super Bowl.
Tim Donaghy -- The disgraced former NBA referee went to prison for betting on games that he officiated, then tried to implicate others even as a league investigation found that he acted alone.
Marion Jones -- The world’s fastest woman, it turned out, used performance-enhancing drugs and was forced to forfeit the five medals she won at the 2000 Olympics.
Floyd Landis -- Lance Armstrong’s former teammate finished first in the 2006 Tour de France but later was disqualified and banned from cycling for doping.
Michael Vick -- Participation in an illegal dogfighting operation sent the NFL’s most exciting quarterback to prison, derailed his career and drew the ire of dog lovers.
Serena Williams -- Her foul-mouthed tirade at the U.S. Open drew a record fine and proved that female athletes can act as boorishly as their male counterparts.
Tiger Woods -- His fall from grace was astoundingly swift.