You see it every year in sports — a former all-star player, his skills greatly eroded, is released by his longtime team. Rather than retire, the player starts looking for another team, hoping to milk one more mediocre season out of his career. One attribute that makes great athletes special is their supreme self-confidence, but that becomes a negative if they’re convinced they can still perform when age and injuries have sapped their skills. The result can be sad to behold. Think Willie Mays in his bumbling stint with the New York Mets. Or Rickey Henderson playing in the minor leagues in his late 40s. Or Franco Harris shuffling around with the Seattle Seahawks.
On the other hand, some athletes know when to leave, walking away in their prime, or as champions. Here are 10 athletes who went out with a bang, at or near the top of their game. Some went out the sweetest way possible, winning a championship in their final hurrah.