Verbal intimidation has always been the backbone of physical competition. Throughout history, the sports world has been flooded with colorful characters who possess a flair for the dramatic.
Some boast, others berate. But all are fearless in their pursuit of vocal greatness.
Forget those who ran their mouths in a losing effort or before a disastrous defeat, we're focusing on those who backed up their talk. These dudes made good on their promises.
Enjoy the 50 best trash talk lines in sports history.
Beware of flying saliva.
"If he calls that number, I'll be sure to pick up after the fifth ring."
After diehard Bulls fan Barack Obama told Kobe that Derrick Rose may have his number, the Black Mamba decided to embrace his 2010 championship victory in style.
“When I retire, I’ll get Ricky Hatton to wash my clothes and cut my lawn and buckle my shoes. Ricky Hatton ain’t nothing but a fat man. I’m going to punch him in his beer belly. He ain’t good enough to be my sparring partner.”
Before beating Hatton in ten rounds to become 39-0.
“I’m just looking around to see who’s gonna finish second.”
A confident exclamation from the ferocious Bird during the 1986 All-Star Weekend. He would win the three-point contest.
"Fatso there just forgot to shake my hand, I guess."
Odds are he didn't quite forget after the Rangers trounced the Devils in the first round of the 2008 playoffs.
Chad Johnson's Rule No. 1059: It is against NFL policy to cover Chad Ochocinco man to man. It has always been a rule but with the events of last year we must have forgotten who he was. Please note that he is still the most uncoverable receiver in the league. This rule is for the safety of embarrassment to all defensive backs.
An elegant letter demanding that double coverage or zone is necessary when covering Ochocinco. Another brilliant stunt by the diva that is Chad Ocho-Johnson-whatever, en route to his 1,047 yards receiving in 2009.
"My name is John L. Sullivan, and I can lick any son of a b*tch in the place."
Recognized as the last heavyweight champion of bare-knuckle boxing under the London Prize Ring rules, John L. finished with 32 wins, one loss, two draws and a no decision.
He became the first Heavyweight Champion of gloved boxing (1881-1892).
"What's the difference between a 3-week-old puppy and a sportswriter? In six weeks, the puppy stops whining."
Always the voice of reason.
"That's a clown question, bro."
In response to a reporter asking teenage phenom Bryce Harper if he would take advantage of the lower drinking age in Toronto following the Nats' win over the Blue Jays 4-2 on June 12 in which Harper smacked a 438-foot bomb.
That's a clown hairdo, bro.
"Come after me! I'm a man! I'm forty!"
Following a victory over the Texas Tech Red Raiders, OSU coach Mike Gundy shared with the media an Award-winning performance that few could digest comfortably.
He wasn't pleased with an article written about his quarterback Bobby Reid, and made it clear he wasn't in favor of scrutinizing amateur athletes. Bravo sir.
“We’re going to beat Kansas at home. We’re going to beat them their house. We’re going to beat them in Africa. Wherever we play, we’re going to beat them.”
Beating then-undefeated No. 2 Kansas in March of '08 marked the first time Kansas State beat Kansas in Manhattan since 1983. Unfortunately, the Wildcats would lose the return match in Lawrence. But Beasley made his mark.
"Dick Bavetta and Moses parted the Red Sea together."
The basketball world could barely wait any longer for the 2007 NBA All-Star Game, with 44-year-old Charles Barkley set to race 67-year-old referee Dick Bavetta.
Barkley won this battle.
"When my time on Earth is gone, and my activities here are past, I want them to bury me upside down, and my critics can kiss my ass."
Always an eloquent personality on that college basketball sideline.
"I'm not worried about the Sacramento Queens. Write it down. Take a picture."
The Lakers would lose to the Spurs in the Conference Finals during that 2002-03 season, but Shaq and company never had to worry about their purple neighbors.
“We only had one and that was Chandella [Powell],” he replied. “The other was the IQ card girl. Arianny [Celeste] kind of walks around and holds up her latest test score. One time when there was a title fight, she got all the way up to five and we were very proud of her.”
She's still the sexiest ring girl ever to approach the UFC. But we obviously couldn't exclude a Sonnen utterance.
"I'm not arrogant, I'm good."
“Get your popcorn ready, 'cause I'm gonna put on a show.”
And for 15 seasons he did, racking up 1,078 receptions for 15,934 yards. Along with a plethora of masterfully and arrogantly vibrant celebrations.
"They can't stop a nosebleed, 25th in the league, and we the ones that get disrespected."
Excluding the "Can't wait!" moment (considering the Jets lost to the Steelers in the AFC Championship Game), this tirade was monumental.
Rarely had the Pats ever been silenced so harshly.
"...In order for [the Ravens] to get to the Super Bowl, they have to beat us, and we're not gonna let that happen once we get that close. So that's not gonna happen in this lifetime."
Regarding Joe Flacco's chances of winning a title. So supportive.
"You think season is over?"
Down 3-1 to the Rangers in the first round of the 2009 playoffs, the Capitals eventually came back and won the series in seven games.
"It was fun...It was like they weren't even there. They were blacked out. Then we drove them out, they left."
Florida vs. South Carolina, 2001. Gamecocks fans initiate a stadium-wide "blackout".
Result: 54-17, Gators.
"How in the hell can u pay a man this much money that cant run tackle or catch."
Recent words from a gifted receiver who is clearly on to something. Financial debt solved.
“I thought it was funny. They got excited. It’s good. Sometimes you get your little brother excited when you’re playing basketball and you let him get the lead. Then you come back and take it from him.”
After rallying back from a 10-point deficit late in the fourth quarter to beat Michigan State 28-24 in 2007, Mike Hart was brutally honest about the "surprising" outcome.
"Was he big enough?"
After dunking on 6'1" John Stockton in 1988, Air Jordan heard a fan dare him to jump over someone his own size.
The next possession saw MJ dunk over 6'11" center Melvin Turpin instead. His concluding question silenced the haters.
"Take this outfit home and burn it."
Kevin Garnett just keeping it real. But seriously, keep the suit, burn the red loafers.
"I beat Klitschko and look what I did to his face! I was at my worst—just think [what would’ve happened] if I’d trained just a little bit harder. I didn’t need to fight him again."
Adding salt to the wound after defeating former WBO champion Vitali Klitschko.
"Kentucky has a heck of a punter, I know that."
After blowing out Kentucky 54-3 in October of 2011, and scoring three touchdowns in the fourth quarter, South Carolina's Steve Spurrier did what he does best.
Offer an awkward grin, dig under his opponents' skin and kill his haters with kindness. Ouch.
"You can't just stick your toe in the water." (As well as Wes Welker's double-digit foot references, see above)
Subtlety is always the most efficient method when attacking the foot-hungry Jets coach at his weakest spot. Stellar.
"It's almost like Jay-Z saying something bad about Soulja Boy. There's no comparison."
A bit of subtle arrogance from the man dubbed King. This was only after jealous journeyman DeShawn Stevenson called LeBron "overrated" following a regular season win over the Cavs.
James would get his revenge, as the Cavaliers would rout the Wizards in six games of that postseason. James' buddy Jay-Z would also spit a masterful diss.
"(He’s) a crook and a puppet, said I was the dirtiest player in the league. If that man was on fire and I had to piss to put him out, I wouldn’t do it. I hate him and will never respect him."
Note to Roger Goodell, call James Harrison anything but dirty.
"You will never see any player in the entire country play as hard as I will play the rest of the season. You will never see someone push the rest of the team as hard as I will push everybody the rest of the season. You will never see a team play harder than we will the rest of the season."
Following a rare SEC loss to Ole Miss 31-30 in 2008, Tim Tebow made good on a promise. The Gators would win the rest of their games and their third national championship. Epic.
"So we're down 0-2 and I know the next question is, ‘Are you guys dead?'. No, we're going to win the series. We're going to win one Tuesday, the next game's Thursday we'll win there. Then we'll come back and win the series on Sunday and everybody will say what a great series it was."
And they did following the 1993 NBA playoffs, No. 1 Suns vs. No. 8 Lakers, shocking start. But you can bet the Suns came back to win the series in five.
“Pele should go back to the museum.”
In response to the legendary footballer stating that Maradona "accepted the job of national coach because he needed the money". Shut down.
"All he does is talk. He's terrible, and you can print that. I was happy when he was in the game."
As much as he's despised around the sports world, Pats coach Bill Belichick became a hero when he shot down the over-inflated ego of I'd-like-to-thank-my-hands Freddie Mitchell.
The same dude who pretended to not know Rodney Harrison's name before Super Bowl XXXIX eventually secured one catch for 11 yards. Belichick's words were icing on the cake.
"If my mother put on a helmet and shoulder pads and a uniform that wasn't the same as the one I was wearing, I'd run over her if she was in my way. And I love my mother."
The man, the legend. Such determination.
"Just remember, the mailman doesn't deliver on Sundays, Karl."
Scottie Pippen's 27 points in Game 1 of the '97 NBA Finals paled in comparison to his one-line psych out with 9.2 seconds left—of the Utah Jazz's main man no less.
After getting fouled, league MVP Karl Malone (the Mailman) would miss both his free throws following this harsh reality check regarding mail on Sundays.
Michael Jordan would secure the rebound, call a timeout and eventually nail the game-winner in the waning seconds. Bulls win their fifth championship in six games.
“Right now, I am the Philly franchise. The Flyers are out. The Sixers are out. The Phillies are playing, but it is early in the season. I am the franchise right now and I have delivered more than I have failed. I am going to bring the championship home.”
An iconic proclamation from the Executioner, right before becoming the oldest boxer to ever win a world title (unanimous decision against Jean Pascal in May of 2011).
Like a fine wine...
“I don’t care what happens today, don’t care what happened in the other series. We will win Game 7.”
When the Pacers took the Bulls the distance in the Eastern Conference Finals, becoming one of only two teams to force a Game 7 in the Bulls' title years (Knicks in '92), they weren't ready for Jordan's determination and focus.
They won Game 7, and eventually their sixth title.
"Don't touch me, I'll beat your brains out."
The relationship between legendary journalist Howard Cosell and iconic boxer Muhammad Ali was one for the ages.
After Ali told him, "You can't fight. You can't throw no punches. You don't have no muscles..." along with several other quips (fist pressed to Cosell's chin), the brilliant Cosell responded perfectly (No. 1 on the Top 10).
Enjoy a taste of their camaraderie above.
"We’re going to win Sunday. I guarantee it."
Broadway Joe claimed victory before leading the Jets to an upset of the heavily-favored Colts in Super Bowl III. History was made.
"Damn! I didn't mean to leave any time left on the clock."
And this was after Larry Bird told Xavier McDaniel, "I’m getting the ball. I’m going to take two dribbles to the left. I’m going to step back behind the three point line and stick it."
The Sonics never had a chance.
"I'm the best ever. I'm the most brutal and vicious, the most ruthless champion there has ever been. No one can stop me. Lennox is a conqueror? No! I'm Alexander! He's no Alexander! I'm the best ever. There’s never been anyone as ruthless as me. I'm Sonny Liston. I'm Jack Dempsey. There's no one like me. I'm from their cloth. There is no one who can match me. My style is impetuous, my defense is impregnable, and I'm just ferocious. I want your heart! I want to eat his children! Praise be to Allah!"
After knocking out Lou Savarese in only 38 seconds, Mike Tyson continued scripting his violent legacy. He couldn't be silenced.
“We'll win tonight.”
Down 3–2 in the 1994 Eastern Conference Finals against the New Jersey Devils, one captain stood up for his team with a legendary guarantee.
And Mark Messier backed it up with a natural hat trick. The Rangers would win Game 7 in a double-overtime thriller, and the Moose would naturally score the Cup winning goal in Game 7 of the finals to secure the team's first Stanley Cup in 54 years.
"I can't really hear what Jeremy says, because I've got my two Stanley Cup rings plugging my ears."
In response to Jeremy Roenick questioning "where [Roy] was in Game 3" of the '96 Western Conference Finals. The legendary goalie and his pack of Avalanche would beat the Blackhawks in six and go on to win the Cup.
"Float like a butterfly and sting like a bee...his hands can't hit what his eyes can't see."
The man once known as Cassius Clay, before he won by technical knockout before the seventh round. Lyrical genius.
"I'll call the President. President, we need the National Guard! We need as many men as you can spare! Because we are killing the Patriots! So call the dogs off! Send the National Guard, please!"
Recorded during a 34-8 romping of the Patriots on November 17, 1996. Epic.
"Fo', fo', fo."
The league MVP promising three sweeps in a row en route to a Finals victory in 1983. It turned out to be fo', fi', fo'.
But 12-1? Not bad.
"After the fight I'm gonna build myself a pretty home and use him as a bearskin rug. Liston even smells like a bear. I'm gonna give him to the local zoo after I whup him."
And then he destroyed Sonny "The Big Bear" Liston to become the youngest boxer (22) ever to take the title from a reigning heavyweight champion.