FORT WORTH, Texas ― Every year, at the PBR World Finals there's a corridor leading from the locker rooms down to the arena floor inside the Thomas & Mack Center.
It's not just any hallway. It's famously known as the Hall of Champions, a mural of past gold buckle winners that lines either side.
A few years ago, two-time champion Justin McBride was standing there when an interview turned to speculation about the greatest among the greats.
"In his prime he was awesome. It was something really fun to watch."
He didn't know it, but he was leaning against an oversized photo of Chris Shivers from 2003 and McBride didn't pause or hesitate before emphatically stating, "Chris Shivers is the best…"
"I've never seen anyone more exciting to watch (or) look better on a bull," McBride continued. "He could just beat you, hands down, on a two-point-less bull ― because he's that good."
PBR co-founder and longtime Livestock Director Cody Lambert agreed with McBride's assessment of Shivers on a lesser bull.
"He's ridden the rank ones, he's ridden the flashy ones, he's ridden the easy ones and (did) it with a style that got the maximum amount of points out of every bull," Lambert added.
Throughout its anniversary season, the PBR will profile the Top 20 Moments in PBR History.
A profile of Shivers, who won the first of two world titles in 2000 and his second in 2003, is the latest in an ongoing series of moments. This week's moment is as pointed as McBride's assessment: "Shivers sets 90-point standard."
The talk of 90-point rides is the one bull topic in which there is little doubt as to whose name will dominate the conversation.
Shivers recorded 94 qualified rides in excess of 90 points or better. That is more than the combined total of Guilherme Marchi (48) and J.B. Mauney (43) ― who currently lead active riders in 90-plus rides.
The Louisiana native recorded his first 90-point ride with 92.5 points on Tony Lama Boots at the 1997 World Finals, and his last with 90 points on Delco in Atlanta in 2012.
He has three of the Top-10 scores in history, and five of the Top 25. He tied the highest score in PBR history with 96.5 points on Jim Jam and Dillinger, while also scoring 96 points on Trick or Treat and 95 points on Clayton's Pet and Navajo.
"When he was on his game, and when he was winning World Championships, I don't think anybody ever looked better," said PBR co-founder and nine-time World Champion Ty Murray.
In the first 12 years of his career, 24 percent of his 341 career rides were for 90 points or more. That means one in nearly every four times that Shivers made the 8-second whistle ― 82 times, to be exact ― he scored 90-plus points, including five for 95 points or better.
Shivers not only had a hand in the highest score in PBR history ― a 96.5-point mark first accomplished by Bubba Dunn in 1999 ― but he accomplished it twice.
The first of those came in January 2000 in Tampa, Fla., when he rode Jim Jam. He did it again the following year, in Las Vegas, during the World Finals when he rode Dillinger to earn the Lane Frost/Brent Thurman Award for the highest marked ride of the Finals. It was the second time in three years he had done so.
Furthermore, in the first six years of his stellar career Shivers never finished lower than ninth in the world standings and was actually in the Top 4 in five of those six seasons, including winning two world titles.
For more photos of Chris Shivers click, here.
Looking back, it's hard to imagine Shivers as a shy and soft-spoken kid from Jonesville, La.
Outside the arena, he's appeared on nationally televised sports shows ("The Best Damn Sports Show"), news programs ("The Today Show") and entertainment broadcasts ("Last Call with Carson Daly") with the same relative ease. Aside from bull riding publications and daily newspapers, he's been written about everywhere from Newsweek and Esquire to Rolling Stone.
In the arena, he was the PBR's first millionaire, and the first cowboy to earn $3 million in prize money. It should also be noted that he also claimed two Challenger titles in 1997 and 2000. When he retired at the conclusion of the 2012 Finals, he did so having nodded his head more times than anyone else in Built Ford Tough Series history (877) and has recorded more qualified rides (408) than anyone else.
"In his prime he was awesome," McBride said on that day in October, while standing in a hallway honoring some of the greatest riders to have ever ridden in the PBR's history. "It was something really fun to watch."
Follow Keith Ryan Cartwright on Twitter @PBR_KRC.
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