Most of us are taught the value of sportsmanship from a very young age. It's an important lesson, given how intensely heated competitive sports can be. Being respectful, win or lose, is the best way to assure that cooler heads will ultimately prevail.
Most of us learn that lesson, but not everyone puts it into practice. There are people out there, athletes, coaches and fans alike, who just enjoy pushing buttons. It may not be the most sportsmanlike thing to do, but it's usually pretty entertaining for the rest of us.
Here are 25 of the most awesomely disrespectful moments in sports.
Clippers superstar Blake Griffin makes a habit of unleashing the kind of dunks that linger far longer than the two points they put on the scoreboard.
When Griffin punked the Thunder's Kendrick Perkins with this dunk in January 2012, it seemed like everyone in America took to Twitter to express their shock and awe. Kendrick probably hoped it would end then and there, but LeBron James' commenting on the dunk kept it in the news for days.
To the most casual baseball fans, understanding the endless array of unwritten rules to the game is daunting—seriously, I never know what's going on. Which is why I was stunned to hear people in the media defend Phillies pitcher Cole Hamels for plunking Nationals' rookie Bryce Harper in May 2012.
And, although I did appreciate the refreshing honesty, I was even more stunned that Hamels happily admitted he hit him on purpose. Talk about disrespecting a rookie.
It's no secret that Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco doesn't get much respect from inside or outside of Baltimore. Addressing the contract situation with running back Ray Rice before their franchise quarterback, really says it all. But being questioned by the media and being last in line for contract talks is one thing; being called out by your teammates is another thing altogether.
Despite leading the team to a division-winning record in the regular season and taking the team to the AFC Championship game, Ravens safety Ed Reed wasn't impressed with his quarterback. So, naturally, he decided to take his problems with Flacco's play to the media in the days before the squaring off with the Patriots.
When you hear the phrase "act like you've been there before," Rangers forward Artem Anisimov's actions after scoring a short-handed goal in December 2011 are exactly the type of thing it's referring to. In a game against the Lightning, Anisimov celebrated the goal with a sniper one-gun salute and, unsurprisingly, the opposition didn't take too kindly to the showboating.
You're a forward in the NHL—it's your job to score goals. Generally I'm not in favor of players jumping off the bench to engage in a brawl, but in this instance, I feel like Steve Downie had a moral obligation to do so.
Lakers agitator Metta World Peace earned a six-game suspension for elbowing the NBA's Sixth Man of the Year in a game against the Thunder at the end of the 2012 regular season. Then, when the Lakers met the Thunder in the playoffs, MWP again made headlines by informing the media that he had no plans to shake Harden's hand because he doesn't lower himself to shaking the hands of "substitutes."
Well, because what goes around comes around, the Thunder knocked off the Lakers with ease and eventually moved onto the NBA Finals. MWP wasn't done with Harden though, tweeting that he was "No brain All beard" during the Thunder's Game 3 loss to the Heat.
Let it go, dude.
Nobody ever likes the officials in a game; that's a given. But they are there for a good reason, because without rules, there would be chaos. So as much as an athlete doesn't like an official or disagrees with a call, he or she is still required to treat them with a modicum of respect.
Serena Williams may have recently won Wimbledon, but she completely lost it on a line judge at the U.S. Open in 2009. Williams was upset with a foot fault that was called on her and launched into a profanity-laced tirade that was capped with a death threat.
I don't think Ms. Serena was serious about the death threat or anything, but it's just good practice to avoid them altogether.
Potentially retired NHL irritant Sean Avery has been involved in so many moments of blatant disrespect over the years, that it was actually difficult to choose one.
Avery's comments about actress Elisha Cuthbert being his "sloppy seconds" could have easily made it, but I'm bored talking about that. And his cheap shot to the back of the head of Bruins goalie Tim Thomas was also a consideration but, again, I'm bored.
I think his response to an altercation with Jody Shelley perfectly encapsulates Avery's lasting legacy in the league. After they both take the bench, Avery proceeds to squirt Shelley with his water bottle repeatedly. It's disrespectful, childish, vindictive, stupid and not very imaginative—classic Avery.
In a game against France during the 2000 Olympics, Dream Team member Vince Carter unleashed this super dunk on Frederic Weis. It also hurts the ego to get dunked on, but Carter leapfrogging over the 7'2" Frenchman on the way to the basket probably made it hurt a lot worse.
Weis was selected 15th overall by the Knicks in the 1999 draft but never played a game in the NBA. Perhaps it was Carter's "welcome to the NBA" dunk that changed his mind?
Rivalry games in football are always intense. Whether you win or lose, emotions are running high in the week leading up to the game, and often in the week after. Obviously Clemson coach Dabo Swinney was still smarting from his Tigers losing their third straight to South Carolina in December 2011, because he lashed out at Steve Spurrier in a big way.
Too bad he was responding to something that Spurrier never even said.
Swinney went on a condescending rant that would have been inappropriate for a head coach even if Spurrier had said what he thought he said. The one thing Swinney doesn't mention is that the Gamecocks' paltry three-game streak, while not impressive to him, happens to coincide with his three-year tenure at Clemson.
In July 2012, former Yankee Reggie Jackson found himself in hot water for some controversial comments made to Sports Illustrated about current Yankee Alex Rodriguez. Jackson suggested there was a cloud over all of A-Rod's accomplishments because of his admitted use of performance-enhancing drugs.
True as it may be, Jackson should have known better than to take aim at one of his own. The Yankees organization was displeased and told him to stay away from the team for awhile. A-Rod was also displeased, commenting, "With friends like that, who needs enemies."
Jackson has since apologized in an attempt to make amends with the Yankees organization. The Yanks may forgive and forget, but A-Rod is probably less likely.
High school kids are expected to be impulsive and make poor decisions; that's just how teenagers operate. It's up to the adults in their lives—parents, teachers and coaches—to set a good example. Unfortunately, sometimes these adults fail miserably at this.
In October 2011, Felipe Barrera, the linebacker coach of the Mission Sharyland Rattlers, celebrated a win over the Donna Redskins by taunting the opposition with a "crotch-chopping" gesture. The incident earned him a suspension and was sent to the local athletics committee for further review.
Shawn Kemp, then of the Seattle Supersonics, delivered a dunk on Alton Lister, then of the Golden State Warriors, in the 1992 playoffs that is widely regarded as one of the most brutal of all time.
Not only did Kemp leap over Lister, knock him to the ground and score two points in the process, he celebrated by kicking Lister while he was down with some hilarious taunting.
I couldn't just pick one touchdown celebration because everyone would be freaking out about every other touchdown celebration that has rubbed them the wrong way over the years.
Randy Moss, Terrell Owens, Stevie Johnson, Chad Ochocinco and DeSean Jackson are just some of the frequent offenders over the years.
The customary handshake lineup in sports is all about sportsmanship and being big enough to congratulate your opponent for beating you. Sometimes that's a pretty tough pill to swallow, but sometimes life sucks…and sometimes the coach sucks.
In June 2012, Martin Tremblay, coach of the minor league Hornets out of Vancouver, spent an entire game taunting an opposing player who had injured one of his players. Following the game, during the postgame handshake, Tremblay shoved the kid to the ground.
The incident was reviewed by the Mounties, who recommended assault charges be filed against the cranky coach.
Legendary Bulls forward Scottie Pippen had plenty of memorable moments during his NBA Hall of Fame career. Unfortunately for legendary Knicks center Patrick Ewing, one of Pippen's greatest moments came at his expense.
In Game 6 of the Eastern Conference semifinals, Pippen's in-your-face dunk on Ewing was the highlight of the Bulls 93-79 victory over the Knicks. Pippen later described it as "probably the easiest dunk I ever did."
When the Chiefs hired Todd Haley in 2009, it's safe to assume that (then) running back Larry Johnson wasn't too impressed. By late October of that season, and following a 37-7 loss to the Chargers, Johnson decided to take his grievances public (via NBC Sports).
Johnson tweeted, "My father got more credentials than most of these pro coaches. Google my father!!!!!!!" and then followed up with, "My father played for the coach from ‘rememeber the titans.’ Our coach played golf. My father played for redskins briefley. Our coach. Nuthn."
Oooh Larry. Nobody misses you.
In June 2011, Canucks' Alexandre Brurrows made headlines for biting the Bruins' Patrice Bergeron during a game in the Stanley Cup finals. The incident was clearly visible, but Burrows didn't receive a suspension for his cannibalistic tendencies.
A few days later, Bruins tough guy Milan Lucic taunted Burrows over the incident, waving his fingers in his face after being pulled apart during an on-ice brawl.
Since the Bears traded for quarterback Jay Cutler's former Broncos teammate Brandon Marshall in the offseason, it seems the two are still on good terms.
This despite Marshall celebrating his Dolphins touchdown against the Bears in November 2010 by chucking the ball at Cutler's face after the play.
Forget Griffin's dunk on Kendrick Perkins; that was rough, but it was nothing compared to his dunk on Knicks rookie Timofey Mozgov in November 2010. Griffin nearly leaped over Mozgov, but instead of making it over him entirely, he slammed Mozgov's face square into his crotch.
The memory of another man shoving your face into his crotch probably stays with you awhile, so it's no surprise that Mozgov got some payback on Griffin with a hard foul in February 2012.
In November 2011, disgruntled Eagles receiver DeSean Jackson made one of the only meaningful contributions to the team he managed all season. In a game against the Giants, Jackson made a critical 50-yard catch in the second quarter.
And then, in typical DeSean Jackson fashion, he nullified the play by taunting the Giants sideline after the catch.
Magic superstar Dwight Howard has gone from one of the NBA's most beloved players to the most reviled player in the league in just over a year—pretty impressive stuff. Howard was reportedly concerned about pulling a LeBron by exiting Orlando on bad terms.
He decided the best course of action was demanding a trade, claiming to be loyal and getting the coach and GM fired, and then demanding a trade and giving just one option thereby giving the Magic zero leverage in the negotiation.
I'd hate to see what Howard would have done if he wasn't afraid of playing the villain. Something tells me Disney World would be on fire right now.
Josh McDaniels obviously didn't do much to endear himself to the fans in Denver, which is why the former Broncos head coach was fired after just over one season. But he also didn't do much to endear himself to divisional opponents either.
Not that he is supposed to be beloved by the opposition, but pregame goading is usually a responsibility of the head coach. In November 2009, McDaniels reportedly taunted Chargers linebackers before the game, saying "We own you guys."
Well, the Broncos lost that game 32-3, so let's call it even.
When the Penguins and Capitals met in October 2011, it was clear that both teams were ready to throw down. The play had been physical all game, but things didn't get serious until Caps forward Jay Beagle dropped his gloves and decided he wanted a piece of (then) Pens enforcer Arron Asham.
Asham happily obliged because that's what he gets paid to do, but Beagle's decision to pick a fight with Asham was definitely a head-scratcher. Asham made quick work of Beagle, and after he dropped him to the ice, he taunted him with a "go to sleep" motion on the way back to the bench.
Soccer fans have been known to get a little out of hand on occasion. Sometimes things get so out of hand that entire towns are set ablaze. But that's not really "disrespect" as much as "total insanity."
What's disrespectful is the racially based taunting that has been grabbing headlines on the regular in recent months. There have been a vast number of stories about this growing problem, but the February 2012 report that German fans were taunting Israeli player Itay Schecter with Nazi salutes during a training session was particularly disturbing.
It's soccer, folks. Is bringing up the Holocaust really the best way to support your team?
Shaquille O'Neal dished out countless memorable dunks over his career, but none were more memorable than this 2000 dunk on the Knicks' Chris Dudley. Shaq's dunk on Dudley was so epically brutal that it will shame future Dudleys for generations to come.
As if the dunk itself wasn't bad enough, Dudley's sad attempt at chucking the ball at Shaq after the incident really added insult to injury.