When the editors of ESPN The Magazine pitched the idea of The Debate Issue, one of the proposed stories was to select the great debaters from throughout the world of sports. They were looking for those athletes who regularly engage in back-and-forth discussions with anyone and everyone, be it fans, rivals or league officials.

Writers from other sports threw out suggestions such as Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson and Philadelphia Phillies closer Jonathan Papelbon.