The Worst Moments of the 50 Best Athletes in Sports Today

Zack PumerantzAnalyst IIIJanuary 19, 2012

The Worst Moments of the 50 Best Athletes in Sports Today

0 of 50

    Amidst the surfeit of awe-inspiring athletic talents patrolling our sports arenas is a tightly knit selection of bright-shining stars who have combined natural ability with relentless determination to become today's best.

    As they each bask in the ambiance of prosperity, these superstars undoubtedly look back on their unique journey, from painful failure to magical success.

    But there is likely one moment that stands tall, separating itself from the rest of the pack with a undeniable significance.

    Whether they turned careers around or led to tarnished legacies, these occurrences humbled even the most confident legends of today.

    Let's take a look at the worst moments of the 50 best athletes in sports today.


50. LeSean McCoy

1 of 50

    As Philadelphia Eagles fans look back on this year's "Dream Team," it becomes clear that there were many turning points during the season, many instances when a lack of focus clogged any potential success.

    Electric tailback LeSean McCoy may have run for 1,309 yards and 17 touchdowns for the 8-8 Eagles, but it was the viciously hilarious punch he unloaded on his coach that had Andy Reid fizzing like a steaming tea kettle.

49. Sebastian Vettel

2 of 50

    As he sat in his car with a sense of utter bewilderment, 2010 and 2011 World Champion Formula One star Sebastian Vettel knew this race was far beyond over.

    A ride back to the pit in a less-illustrious Chevrolet Lacetti was quite the classy exit.

48. Rafael Nadal

3 of 50

    After losing numerous points in this strenuous fashion, it was clear that Spanish tennis star Rafael Nadal seemed ready to fall to a younger, more exuberant participant at the 2011 U.S. Open.

    An epic four-set, four-hour match ended in Novak Djokovic's victory dance.

47. Anderson Silva

4 of 50

    As the current UFC middleweight champion with 14 consecutive wins and nine title defenses, legendary MMA warrior Anderson Silva is always expected to perform at a high and respectful level.

    His questionable tactics during UFC 112 against Demian Maia, including mockery and tomfoolery, were ubiquitously unappreciated and eventually sent UFC president Dana White into a frenzy.

46. The Klitschko Brothers

5 of 50

    While Wladimir is the WBA (Super), IBF, WBO, IBO and Ring Magazine heavyweight champion and his older brother Vitali is the current WBC heavyweight champion, this brotherhood had one major setback in their legendary journey towards immortality.

    Dating since 2009, Wladimir and actress Hayden Panettiere went their separate ways in May of 2011, eliminating arguably the sexiest part of any Klitschko fight.

    The sports realm was equally disappointed.

45. Jose Bautista

6 of 50

    Thanks to terrific camera work, we get to appreciate a master of his craft at work.

    With every Jose Bautista home run comes another pitcher yearning to throw the Toronto Blue Jays star a ferocious inside fastball.

    Considering Baltimore Orioles pitcher Jake Arrieta had an ERA of 5.05 last year, it's safe to say this was his only option.

44. Maria Hoefl-Riesch

7 of 50

    Rather than "feeling the course out," Olympic gold medalist Maria Hoefl-Riesch should've probably approached the slope with full force in hopes of bringing home another accolade.

    After winning the 2010 World Cup title, the feisty German alpine ski racer disappointed fans with a ninth-place finish in 2011, 2.47 seconds behind the sexy Lindsey Vonn.

43. Cam Newton

8 of 50

    While he did win the Heisman Trophy en route to leading Auburn to its second national championship before becoming the first-overall pick last year and eventually becoming the first rookie quarterback to throw for 4,000 yards (take a deep breath), Cam Newton is still remembered for his controversial days at Florida.

    The prodigious passer was arrested for allegedly stealing a laptop during his time as Tim Tebow's backup.

    He was eventually suspended from the team after it was discovered he not only had the computer, but brilliantly tossed it out of the dorm window to avoid getting caught.

    The athletic phenom seems humbled by his second chance and appears ready to approach greatness.

42. Novak Djokovic

9 of 50

    Despite a mostly memorable 2011 that included a 41-match winning streak and 10 titles, Serbian tennis star Novak Djokovic continues to be haunted by his miserably disappointing loss to David Ferrer at the ATP World Tour event in November.

    During his fifth defeat in 75 matches this year, the 24-year-old made 33 unforced errors and clearly didn't possess the spark that led to his plethora of memorable victories.

41. Usain Bolt

10 of 50

    He may be the fastest man in the world, but three-time Olympic gold medalist Usain Bolt needs a bit of training on the dance floor.

    While the Jamaican sprinter is clearly beloved by the crowd for his natural athleticism, his post-race endeavors are often baffling.

40. Drew Brees

11 of 50

    Towards the end of a brilliant 2005 season in which the former San Diego Charger threw for 3,576 yards and 24 touchdowns, developing signal-caller Drew Brees found himself facing plenty of adversity following an aesthetically displeasing conundrum.

    With precise surgery, relentless determination and two interested NFL teams (Miami Dolphins and New Orleans Saints), Brees was able to fight his way back.

    All he's done since then is win a Super Bowl for Louisiana and cement himself in perennial MVP talks.

39. Caroline Wozniacki

12 of 50

    Considering she has held the spot of World No. 1 for 66 straight weeks, it's safe to say that Danish tennis legend Caroline Wozniacki hasn't faced too much recent adversity.

    With natural beauty, an iconic shot and funny tendencies, this seemingly perfect budding star possesses only a few humorous action shots to make fun of.

    She's in desperate need of a carrot.

38. Marta

13 of 50

    She may have been FIFA World Player of the Year five times, but Brazilian star Marta tarnished a bit of her legacy when she displayed a wide array of classless acts during the World Cup quarterfinal last year against a feisty United States squad. 

    As her team descended towards defeat, fainting, flopping and feinting headlined a remarkably pathetic showing. 

    This game left a bad taste in the mouths of Marta's beloved fans.

37. Dirk Nowitzki

14 of 50

    He may be known for his undeniably clutch play on the hardwood, but it's German star Dirk Nowitzki's killer instinct during press conferences that has fans paying close attention.

    Despite 10 All-Star team selections and an MVP award (2007) , the massacre of this innocent insect continues to shadow the Dallas Maverick star's legendary legacy.

36. Tim Thomas

15 of 50

    With every unsportsmanlike penalty comes another reason why the NHL and its fans despise notorious instigator Sean Avery.

    After producing one of the best goaltending seasons in history last year en route to a Stanley Cup victory, Boston Bruins man-in-net Tim Thomas couldn't be messed with in any facet of the game.

    Cheap shots won't be ignored.

35. Tamika Catchings

16 of 50

    While she's never been able to avoid the spotlight, Indiana Fever star Tamika Catchings has yet to elude the injury bug as well.

    From ending her senior season at Tennessee early because of a knee injury to missing 13 games of the 2007 WNBA regular season with a plantar fascia injury in her left foot and experiencing a ruptured Achilles in the playoffs that same year, Catchings couldn't catch any luck. 

    Now a reigning MVP, her brittle 2007 continues to haunt this budding star.

34. Wesley Sneijder

17 of 50

    While he was named 2010 UEFA midfielder of the season, Dutch footballer Wesley Sneijder is undoubtedly pleased with his new role in the WAG world.

    Cristiano Ronaldo's endless list of conquests gets even longer during this awkward award ceremony.

33. Xavi

18 of 50

    A key component of the Barcelona team that won six titles in 2009, Xavi won World Soccer Player of the Year in 2010 and has received five Ballon d'Or nominations during his illustrious career.

    While his life may seem perfect, the star Spanish footballer has dealt with his fair share of sadness.

    With Barcelona teammate Eric Abidal's liver tumor headlining the news, Xavi has seemingly experienced his "worst moment."

32. Jon Jones

19 of 50

    Not only did he admit to spying on Rampage Jackson, but current UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones shared with fans his apparent affinity for the obscure interview.

    As the youngest title holder in league history, Bones Jones can essentially speak any dialect he pleases.

31. David Freese

20 of 50

    After winning the 2011 NL Championship Series MVP Award and the 2011 World Series MVP Award amidst an improbable World Series victory for the St. Louis Cardinals, budding star David Freese learned of a detrimental departure that is sure to hinder his team's success next year.

    With Albert Pujols joining the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim for 10 years and $254 million, Freese will have to once again carry the team on his back.

30. Jimmie Johnson

21 of 50

    While he did become the first driver to become Associated Press Male Athlete of the Year (2009) and has four Driver of the Year Award wins, Jimmie Johnson's roadside manner during the race at Pocono was reminiscent of a classless prima donna.

    World-class road rage at its best.

29. Georges St-Pierre

22 of 50

    He may only have two losses in his career, but current UFC welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre earned a lifetime of bruises during a brutal UFC 69 against Matt Serra in 2007.

    While he's now ranked as the No. 1 welterweight in the world according to Sherdog and MMAWeekly, the Canadian fighter undoubtedly looks back on a memorable self-destruction that changed his life.

    All it took was three minutes and 25 seconds for The Ultimate Fighter 4 winner to TKO his illustrious opponent. 

28. Shaun White

23 of 50

    While he already resembles an inebriated Scott "Carrot Top" Thompson, two-time Olympic gold medalist snowboarder Shaun White stretched the limits with his iconic Halloween costume.

    Wendy would be honored.

27. Kevin Durant

24 of 50

    Following their first lead of the fourth quarter, the feisty Dallas Mavericks would rip the pulsating heart out of Kevin Durant's chest en route to an NBA Finals appearance.

    While the former Texas star rarely fails, there was a 7' German and his pack of loyal supporters who couldn't be stopped on this night.

26. Sidney Crosby

25 of 50

    This once-promising star continues to look back on the hit that seemingly changed his career.

    A perennial All-Star who led the Penguins back to relevance after being chosen with the first-overall pick of the 2005 NHL Entry Draft and receiving the moniker "The Next One," Sidney Crosby has yet to elude the concussion problems that limited him to 41 games last season and only eight this year.

    Pittsburgh fans are crossing their fingers.

25. Luke Donald

26 of 50

    Spending over 100 weeks in the top 10 can sure get boring, and current World No. 1 Luke Donald seemingly needed a refreshing change to keep him stimulated.

    Unless he's yearning for a career in the porn business, this mustache may be a bit out of line.

24. Lindsey Vonn

27 of 50

    As the first woman ever to win three consecutive overall World Cup and downhill championships (2008-2010), American alpine ski racer Lindsey Vonn is looked up to by youthful slopers yearning for her guidance.

    Following her iconic photo shoot with Sports Illustrated, however, Vonn can't possibly let any unnecessary bruises hinder her modeling career.

23. Tom Brady

28 of 50

    Undefeated and ready to capture his fourth Super Bowl ring and further deepen his cemented name in the record books, Patriots star Tom Brady was eventually conquered by one comically unintimidating specimen. 

    Witnessing Eli Manning almost single-handedly carry his New York Giants to arguably the biggest upset in history was easily the most heart-wrenching moment of Brady's otherwise-glorious life so far.

22. Justin Verlander

29 of 50

    Despite winning both the AL Cy Young and the AL MVP awards this past season, fireballer Justin Verlander is seemingly searching for some extracurricular entertainment.

    With multiple no-hitters to his name, Detroit fans might expect him to be continuously practicing his craft.

    But with a 100-plus mph fastball and a knee-buckling12-6 curveball in his repertoire, the Tigers ace seemingly spends his off-time enjoying the streets with his fans instead.

21. Richie McCaw

30 of 50

    In leading his New Zealand national team to their second Rugby World Cup title in 24 years, legendary rugby star Richie McCaw was caught in the middle of an abusive mosh pit of sorts. 

    During their 8-7 defeat of France in the 2011 Rugby World Cup final, the fierce New Zealanders found themselves in a brutal battle for possession.

    McCaw was lucky to escape alive.

20. Dwight Howard

31 of 50

    He may be fierce around the basket, but Orlando Magic phenom Dwight Howard has seemingly mastered the art of standup comedy.

    His fans have yet to be disappointed during any of his acts of brilliance.

19. Manny Pacquiao

32 of 50

    11-0 at the time of his fight against Rustico Torrecampo, the lightning-quick Manny Pacquaio seemingly needed a humbling defeat to re-stimulate his zealous nature.

    Now a superstar in the boxing industry, the Filipino legend seems destined for immortality in the sports world.

    His first loss was perhaps his best moment, in retrospect.

18. Calvin Johnson Jr.

33 of 50

    Since being chosen with the second-overall pick of the 2007 NFL draft, all former Georgia Tech phenom Calvin Johnson Jr. has done is produce 5,872 yards and 49 touchdowns receiving while earning the moniker "Megatron" for his dominating athleticism.

    With a physical stature of 6'5" and 235 pounds, and the ability to run a 40-yard dash in 4.33 seconds, Johnson can only be stopped by idiotic referees.

    As the Chicago Bears so eloquently revealed to us, teams can only hope for a group of misguided and possibly sympathetic zebras patrolling the field.

17. Peyton Manning

34 of 50

    Arguably the greatest quarterback of all time now sees his future in doubt amidst trade rumors and now-questionable ability following a season-ending neck injury that led to his team finishing 2-14 last season.

    With the Indianapolis Colts expected to take Stanford star Andrew Luck with the first-overall pick in the upcoming draft, Peyton Manning is seemingly at a crossroads for the first time in his life.

16. Michael Phelps

35 of 50

    Sports Illustrated magazine's Sportsman of the Year in 2008, legendary swimmer Michael Phelps was seemingly seen as a higher power after he achieved an astoundingly unlikely eight gold medals at the Beijing Olympics...

    Until the water dweller was caught with a frowned-upon smoking device that undoubtedly helped him survive on land.

    With a diet like this, we can't say we're surprised.

15. Derrick Rose

36 of 50

    A looming legend in Chicago, former Memphis star Derrick Rose is more than beloved by Bulls fans.

    Security was nowhere to be seen.

14. Pavel Datsyuk

37 of 50

    He may be known as perhaps the best two-way forward in the NHL, but Russian star Pavel Datsyuk seemingly has a bit of soul in him as well.

    Despite four consecutive Lady Byng Memorial Trophies for performance and sportsmanship (2006-2009), a Hart Memorial Trophy (MVP) nomination and two Stanley Cup rings with the Detroit Red Wings to his name, Datsyuk likely garnered more curious eyes when his phone spontaneously began moving its hips.

    James Brown certainly attracted a worldwide audience.

13. Chris Paul

38 of 50

    A former NBA Rookie of the Year (2006), four-time All-Star and perennial MVP candidate, pure point guard Chris Paul has had a prosperous career thus far.

    With success comes a following, and the new Los Angeles Clippers handler was ready to handle any mysterious creatures that attempted to invade his surroundings on this night.

12. Albert Pujols

39 of 50

    With two World Series rings as a St. Louis Cardinal and a hefty new contract with the Los Angeles Angels, voracious slugger Albert Pujols seems destined for immortality.

    His inhuman ability was finally revealed during this iconic commercial.

    As if we didn't know.

11. Cristiano Ronaldo

40 of 50

    It turns out Real Madrid pays their notorious playboy more than $15 million per year to flop like a kindergarten child yearning for attention.

    His plethora of conquests surely will be attentively waiting for a chance to kiss his boo-boos.

10. Alexander Ovechkin

41 of 50

    After finishing his rookie year with 52 goals and 54 assists, 2004 first-overall pick Alexander Ovechkin gave Washington fans plenty of reason for optimism.

    While his on-ice talents couldn't be denied, the perennial MVP candidate seemingly wasn't completely fulfilled.

    The 13-year, $124 million contract he signed with the Capitals in 2008 evidently gave him plenty of start-up cash to initiate a musical career.

    Easily his most dominating performance.

9. Floyd Mayweather Jr.

42 of 50

    The undefeated boxing prima donna may have caused worldwide heads to drop in defeat after he knocked out an unaware Victor Ortiz, but it was Floyd Mayweather's defensive responses to HBO's Larry Merchant that had fans exhilarated.

    He's never seemed closer to defeat.

8. Tiger Woods

43 of 50

    Once revered for his breathtaking consistency amidst 14 professional major golf championship wins (second-highest after Jack Nicklaus' 18), legendary golfer Tiger Woods is now associated more with strippers and infidelity.

    However, while his tarnished legacy and string of disturbing conquests seem to collectively headline the worst moments in this superstar's life, his surprising haircut in 2007 was undoubtedly the start of his demise.

7. Kobe Bryant

44 of 50

    With an MVP Award and five championship rings gracing his trophy rack, Lakers great Kobe Bryant has rarely experienced failure.

    This epic miss will continue to be engraved in our minds as it shadows his prestigious Los Angeles legacy.

6. Abby Wambach

45 of 50

    The magical run towards a World Cup title that ended with a heartbreaking shootout loss to Japan couldn't possibly be dismissed as routine.

    A four-time winner of the U.S. Soccer Athlete of the Year award, and the third-highest all-time goal scorer for the U.S. National Team, soccer legend Abby Wambach seemed numb during an unavoidable post-game interview.

    She continues to carry the country's hopes on her shoulders.

5. Derek Jeter

46 of 50

    While the 12-time All-Star and five-time World Series champion hasn't had many unfortunate moments on the field, New York Yankees shortstop and 3,000-hit man Derek Jeter remembers one incident away from the diamond that garnered plenty of attention.

    Getting shot by Mark Wahlberg wasn't the star shortstop's most clutch moment.

4. Blake Griffin

47 of 50

    A budding legend, high-flying phenom Blake Griffin is rarely contained by eager defenders, but as an intern he certainly garnered some perspective.

    Seemingly his most difficult adjustment, interning undoubtedly led to the maturation of the Los Angeles Clippers star and helped mold him into the hilarious celebrity he is today.

3. Aaron Rodgers

48 of 50

    While many fans might expect the Cheeseheads' loss to the G-Men in the 2012 Divisional Round to be Aaron Rodgers' most unhappy moment, his team's crumbling performance against the talented, yet injury-plagued Kansas City Chiefs had bigger consequences in retrospect.

    With the loss, the 13-1 Green Bay Packers decided to rest their starters the rest of the way.

    Like the Indianapolis Colts during most of their prosperous years, the once-invincible Pack lost momentum and fought off rust en route to a giant playoff loss.

2. LeBron James

49 of 50

    Before making a production of his high-profile decision to "take his talents to South Beach," former Cleveland Cavalier LeBron James had perhaps one last game to leave a good taste in fans' mouths.

    Owner Dan Gilbert must have been smashing his furniture during the majority of his superstar's half-hearted performance.

    "The King" watched his once-promising legacy begin to tarnish piece by piece.

1. Lionel Messi

50 of 50

    An early bloomer on the soccer field, Lionel Messi was in the running for FIFA World Player of the Year at the tender age of 21, before eventually winning the 2010-2011 UEFA Best Player in Europe Award.

    Often compared to legendary footballer Diego Maradona, the Argentina national team captain doesn't seem too well-rounded away from the arena.

    He may be 24, but Messi's on-plane demeanor reeks of a misguided pre-teen.