Athletes I Love to Hate and Hate to Love

Tim Stoeckle@@TimStoeckleContributor IIIJuly 10, 2012

Athletes I Love to Hate and Hate to Love

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    Unless you're blinded by hometown loyalty, I'm sure there are athletes on opposing teams that have a special place in your hearts. Whether it's how they play the game or some other factor that draws you to them, we all have players who we enjoy watching.

    For me, it's players like Ryan Miller, Tim Tebow, Zach Randolph and Andrew McCutchen who I'm a big fan of, even though they don't play for my favorite team.

    But, I like to root for these guys. There are other players players on teams that I despise who I like seeing succeed. These are the guys that I hate to love.

    Then, there are the the athletes that just rub us the wrong way. The ones who we root for to fail. The ones who we buy tickets to watch play, just to heckle them.

    For me, these players mostly play for teams that I dislike. These are the athletes that I love to hate.

    As you read this, you'll quickly notice that this is coming from a Philadelphia sports fan. Fans of other teams will obviously have a much different list.  

Love to Hate: Osi Umenyiora

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    This is a relatively new hatred. As an Eagles fan, anyone who has beef with my running back has beef with me.

    Umenyiora tweeted (h/t NY Daily News) LeSean McCoy on Mother's Day, saying, "Happy Mothers Day Lesean Mccoy! Enjoy your special day!!"

    I didn't have much respect for Umenyiora before this, but after it, he just became another reason to hate the Giants.

Love to Hate: Tony Romo

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    It's not like Romo kills the Eagles, but the fact that he's on the Cowboys doesn't help his popularity with me.  

    I also think he's the most overrated quarterback in the league and gets way more attention than he deserves.

    I'm tired of hearing about who Romo is dating and what he does in his personal life.

Hate to Love: Tom Brady

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    I strongly dislike the Patriots; in fact, I strongly dislike all Boston sports teams, but Tom Brady is a special player.

    He is one of the best quarterbacks of all-time, and you can't help but respect how he plays the game.

    Brady goes about his business like a professional, acts like he's done it before and gives credit to his teammates.

Hate to Love: Derek Jeter

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    If you're not a Yankees fan, you hate the Yankees; there's really no middle ground.

    But, I respect talent, and Derek Jeter is a talent. Jeter plays the game the right way and somehow finds a way to keep out of the spotlight in New York City, unlike his teammate Alex Rodriguez.

    Jeter does everything right, offensively and defensively, and will be a deserving first-ballot Hall of Famer.

Hate to Love: Chipper Jones

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    Much like Jeter, Jones plays for a team I dislike, but his talent and attitude give me no choice but to respect him.  

    Whenever Chipper Jones comes to Philadelphia, I make sure to applaud him despite the fact that everyone around me is booing.

    Jones will go down as one of the best third basemen ever.

Love to Hate: Jose Reyes

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    I've always disliked the way Reyes plays the game.

    He's a lazy showoff, and he showed the world last year that he is selfish as well, pulling himself out of the last game of the year in order to win the National League batting title.

    And now that he's got his big contract, Reyes is only hitting .264 for the Marlins.

Hate to Love: David Wright

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    My least favorite baseball team has a player who I would absolutely love to see in a Phillies uniform.

    David Wright is solid defensively, clutch at the plate and a terrific leader.

    A lot of Phillies fans were probably happy when they found out that Wright wasn't starting the All-Star Game, but I was disappointed.  He is by far the best third baseman in the National League.

Love to Hate: Kevin Garnett

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    Watching a Celtics game is painful thanks to Kevin Garnett.  

    Garnett complains whenever a call doesn't go his way, and every time he makes a basket, he lets everyone know just how great he thinks he is.  

    Maybe it's because I didn't get a lot of chances to see him play, or maybe it's because I hate the Celtics, but I don't remember him being this annoying in Minnesota.

Hate to Love: LeBron James

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    Yes, that does say hate to love, not love to hate.  

    LeBron is despised around the country, but I'm a fan of his talent.

    I give him credit for wanting to win multiple championships, and I don't think going to Miami was that horrible of an idea. The man wants to win, and Miami obviously gave him the best chance to do just that.

Hate to Love: Evgeni Malkin

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    Almost every other player on the Penguins could be on this list under "Love to Hate" (one is), but Malkin makes the "Hate to Love" category.

    The Penguins star is a phenomenal hockey player who does his job without drawing too much attention to himself.  

    Malkin plays the game hard, but he plays it clean and he has earned my respect. 

Love to Hate: Sidney Crosby

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    The single most hated hockey player in the city of Philadelphia is Pittsburgh's Sidney Crosby.

    Crosby is the face of the NHL, and the refs will do anything they can to protect him.

    Crosby is the best player in the league; I'm not questioning that, but I think he needs to show a little more grit and toughness.

Hate to Love: Martin Brodeur

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    I can't help but respect one of the greatest goalies in NHL history.

    Brodeur is fantastic in net and has killed the Flyers for years, but I still can't hate him no matter how badly I want to.