Dwight Howard and the Biggest Prima Donnas in Sports
The world of professional sports comes with unlimited perks for many on the inside. They are showered with money, adoration, fame and praise; all for doing a job that many of us would kill do do for free. It's actually impressive that most manage to keep their perspective and behave like reasonable human beings.
And it's really no surprise that the lifestyle turns some in sports into complete prima donnas. The sports world just tends to attract a lot of oversized egos and short tempers. If everyone is telling you how great you are, and everyone can't be wrong, it doesn't take long for predisposed people to start believing their own hype.
Magic superstar Dwight Howard is a prime example. His rapid descent from beloved big man, to one of the most loathed prima donnas in sports, happened in just over a year. Howard can thank his inflated ego and absolute inability, or unwillingness, to look at the long-term consequences of his actions.
Okay, enough about this guy for now—surely we're all sick of talking about him—but we'll get back to him later.
Until then, let's take a look at some of the other biggest prima donnas in sports.
25. Jay Cutler
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There's something about Bears quarterback Jay Cutler that just rubs people the wrong way. Can you imagine any other quarterback in the NFL being subjected to Twitter taunts and questioning by fellow players for having the audacity to leave midway through a playoff game with torn knee ligaments?
It's partially his own fault, but partially out of his control. Cutler can't help that face of his—it's not his fault that it always reads as "I'd rather be anywhere but here." But he can help his childish behavior around paparazzi and other members of the media.
After all, that all comes with the territory when you're engaged to a reality-television tart.
24. Mike Wallace
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Steelers wide receiver Mike Wallace followed up a solid rookie season in 2009 with two stellar seasons in the years following. Despite a slight decline in production in 2011, Wallace had rightfully earned a place in the discussion about the best receivers in the game.
As is common with high-profile players at his position, it certainly didn't take him long to embrace his own hype. A restricted free agent going into the 2012 offseason, Wallace was considered one of top three available prospects.
At least he was before he told the 49ers that he wanted a bigger contract than the eight-year, $120 million deal the Cardinals gave superstar Larry Fitzgerald in 2011. You're good, kid, but you sure aren't Larry Fitzgerald…at least not yet.
23. Bryce Harper
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Just a few months into his rookie season, it feels a little early to start labeling Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper a prima donna. Not that it's stopping everyone outside of Washington from doing so.
In mid-June 2012, NBC New York reporter Josh Alper perfectly articulated Harper's reception in the majors:
There seemed to be nothing but daggers waiting for Harper as he made his way to the minor leagues. Everything from his choice to skip his senior year of high school to go pro sooner to the amount of eye black he wears to his general personality sent off signals of an entitled prima donna that you would love to hate.
Phillies pitcher Cole Hamels wasn't the only one eager to give Harper an unpleasant welcome. Many fans were displeased with Harper's inclusion in the 2012 All-Star game and, naturally, Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen has plenty to say about the kid.
I can't pretend I think this prima donna sentiment is entirely grounded in reality, but it seems to be the sentiment around the league.
But I do know that Harper sure didn't do himself any favors when he rushed to trademark "That's a clown question, bro," after Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid used it during a press conference in late June.
22. Vince Young
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In his first two seasons at the University of Texas, quarterback Vince Young attracted some attention in the South, thanks in large part to his athletic potential. It wasn't until his All-American season in 2005 that Young finally made it into the same conversation as USC quarterback Matt Leinart.
And after he led the Longhorns to a stunning victory over the Trojans in the BCS Championship game the same season, Young officially leapfrogged Leinart in draft potential. Young and Leinart were the first two quarterbacks chosen in the 2006 NFL Draft—Young was selected third overall by the Titans, while Leinart was the 10th overall selection by the Cardinals.
Neither quarterback lived up to expectations, but Young's tumultuous tenure in Tennessee earned him a reputation as an unstable prima donna. After a promising start, injuries and a strained relationship with (then) Titans coach Jeff Fisher cost him most of the 2008 and 2009 seasons.
21. Chael Sonnen
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UFC fighter Chael Sonnen is one of the biggest names in MMA. After weeks of trash talking leading up to his rematch with Anderson Silva in UFC 148, Sonnen failed to deliver on any of it. He was TKO'ed in the second round by Silva in what many considered the most highly anticipated bought in UFC history. After the loss he said that he was "still better than that guy."
It was the same story when Sonnen first challenged Silva in 2010. There was no shortage of trash talk from Sonnen in the weeks leading up to UFC 117, but he was taken down by submission in the fifth round. After his first loss, Sonnen said he didn't regret any of his talk, but he was later notified that he tested positive for performance enhancing drugs prior to the fight.
Despite the losses, a very mysterious halted campaign for Oregon State Representative and a strange feud he incited with UFC ring girl Arianny Celeste, Sonnen insists he isn't the prima donna. In January 2012, Sonnen labeled every other fighter of today as the ungrateful prima donnas.
Because that seems more likely than it just being him.
20. LeBron James
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Ever since LeBron James' ill-fated decision to participate in "The Decision," the one-hour ESPN special to announce surprise news that had been reported hours earlier, he has been pegged as one of the biggest prima donnas in sports.
Everything about "The Decision" was a bad idea, even the phrasing about "taking his talents to South Beach," and it really added fuel to the fire. Instead of taking a hint, LeBron decided to up the ante with a high-profile pep rally and a promise of 10,000 championships (give or take).
Since late 2011, LeBron has done his best to make amends and it seems to be working. His championship with the Heat in 2012 and Dwight Howard's continual bungling are making him look better every day.
If LeBron can keep himself from inserting himself into non-LeBron stories on Twitter, he could eventually shake this label for good.
19. Alex Rodriguez
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Yankees slugger Alex Rodriguez is undoubtedly one of the most disliked athletes in professional sports. A-Rod has been called: "The Man Baseball Loves to Hate" by the New York Times, "A-Roid" by the NY Daily News, "A-Fraud" by teammates and former manger Joe Torre, and was recently told there is a cloud over his entire career by former Yankee Reggie Jackson.
Ouch. Prima donna, another name often hurled his direction, actually seems kind of nice in comparison. A-Rod's infamous A-Rod-loving photo shoot with Details magazine in 2009 didn't do much to dispel that perception. Neither has the endless parade aging actresses he's been linked to since cheating on, and then divorcing, his wife.
18. Dez Bryant
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Troubled Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant's problems recently took a turn for the worse. The details of the investigation are still pending, but if the allegations of assault brought by Bryant's mother turn out to be true, he's going to be facing the iron fist of commissioner Roger Goodell, the NFL's judge, jury and executioner.
The July 2012 incident was Bryant's first arrest since being drafted by the Cowboys in the first round of the 2010 NFL Draft, but it wasn't the first time his conduct has raised eyebrows. At training camp in 2010, (then) rookie Bryant attracted attention for refusing to carry the pads of veteran receiver Roy Williams. And in July 2011, Bryant skipped out on a memorabilia show just days after former mentor Deion Sanders suggested the Cowboys sever ties with him.
In January 2012, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones publicly called Bryant out for what he "suspected" was a lack of conditioning and the reason he would "lose concentration in the last part of the game." Two months later former NFL coach Herm Edwards echoed Jones' statements about Bryant's conditioning and added that he had yet to learn the playbook.
Who thinks this is going to have a happy ending? Nobody? That's what I thought.
17. Andy Roddick
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For someone who won his first and only Grand Slam over a decade ago, at the U.S. Open in 2003, Andy Roddick sure knows how to draw attention to himself during disappointing losses. These days when Roddick loses his marbles, the incidents are usually referred to as his "latest freak out."
Perhaps the frequency and severity of the incidents are increasing as his frustration mounts, but he definitely needs to work on his temper tantrums.
16. Many Ramirez
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For reviled free-agent slugger Manny Ramirez, the phrase "Manny being Manny," basically translates to prima donna. It was a phrase that was used throughout his nearly 20-year career in MLB to explain away any and all of Manny's insane behavior.
Being short with the media, testing positive for performance enhancing drugs, demanding to be traded, arbitrary refusals to play, unrealistic contract demands, physical altercations with teammates and other various forms of douchebaggery—all just "Manny being Manny."
15. Darrelle Revis
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Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis has been, arguably, the best cornerback in the NFL for the last 3-4 seasons. The Jets' aggressive, if not desperate, pursuit of Revis during his holdout in 2010 was chronicled on HBO's Hard Knocks, giving Revis all the leverage in the world.
There was already no greater fan of Revis Island than Darrelle Revis, providing him with even greater leverage was probably not the best idea.
After coming to terms with a four-year contract in 2010, it looks like Revis may again be a no-show at training camp in 2012.
Revis has said that he wants to "retire as a Jet," assuming they roll over and drool every time he decides he's underpaid.
14. Alexander Ovechkin
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There's no question that Capitals superstar forward Alexander Ovechkin is one of the toughest and most talented players of a generation.
His recent seasons have been marred by extended slumps and rumors of strife between him and his coach Bruce Boudreau and later Dale Hunter.
In Boudreau's case, it was more than just rumors, considering he was ousted mid-season in November 2011—just weeks after a very public on-air spat. But superstars getting their coaches fired is standard stuff in professional sports—it's just easier to replace a coach.
It was Ovi's decision to skip the 2012 NHL All-Star game as a punishment for a suspension he received by the league that proved his prima donna status. Well, that and his off-season foray into the Russian rap scene.
And who knows if Dale Hunter's decision not to return as head coach had anything to do with Ovi, but it certainly seems plausible.
13. Chad Ochocinco
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Personally, I've always found Dolphins wide receiver Chad Ochocinco to be a relatively likable guy. Unlike his one-time partner in crime Terrell Owens, Ochocinco's antics over the years rarely have come from a place of malice.
Most people were willing to look the other way when he was stepping over the line, as long as his production on the field warranted the extra patience. Unfortunately, his talk continued through, and after, the 2011 season with the Patriots—by far the worst season of his career.
Ocho has continued to make a spectacle of himself in the tabloids, on reality television and on Twitter. As if that wasn't enough, in July 2012, the 34-year-old receiver also revealed his plans to play until age 40. No word on if playing flag football with some high school kids counts towards his goal.
Hey Chad, how about we take this one season at a time?
12. Metta World Peace
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Metta World Peace, the Lakers ironically named brawler, has had a career marred by controversy and suspensions. Which is the reason he's played for five different teams since being selected 16th overall by the Bulls in the 1999 NBA draft.
His most infamous incident came while playing for the Pacers in 2004. In a game against the Pistons in Detroit, MWP found himself on the receiving end of a fan's thrown beverage and his retaliation sparked a full-on brawl in the stands.
He received an indefinite suspension and was soon shipped out of town, making troubled stops in Sacramento and Houston before landing with the Lakers in 2009.
At the end of the 2012 NBA regular season, Ron Artest reared his ugly head and delivered an elbow straight to the dome of the Thunder's James Harden, earning MWP a seven-game suspension.
The Lakers would go on to lose to the Thunder in the playoffs, but being absolutely dominated didn't deter MWP from referring to Harden as a "substitute," refusing to shake his hand and Tweeting during the finals that Harden was "No brain all beard."
11. Justin Schultz
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Canadian hockey player Justin Schultz is a highly touted prospect who, at the age of 22 and never having played a game, has already set himself up for failure in the NHL.
Schultz was drafted No. 43 overall by the Ducks in the 2008 NHL draft, but he was never able to come to terms with the team and began a process in May 2012 that would make him an unrestricted free agent.
He made his preference of playing in western Canada known, and his agent reportedly told the Red Wings they were "not on (the) list of teams" Schultz would consider. Apparently the Oilers were on that magical list because they signed him in July 2012.
Maybe Schultz will live up to the hype after shunning the entire United States and half of Canada, but if he doesn't, he'll be hearing about it on a nearly a nightly basis for years to come. Perhaps even for the rest of his career.
10. Terrell Owens
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There have been few athletes in recent memory whose prima donna shenanigans have cost them more dearly than Terrell Owens. The once prolific wide receiver's career is tainted, in the eyes of most, by his years of wreaking havoc in the locker room of nearly every team he played for.
Owens suffered an ACL tear in spring 2011, and although he recovered in record time, he was forced into semi-retirement after his post-recovery workout attracted zero interest in October 2011.
The Wranglers said Owens had been cut due to "lack of effort" and blowing off a visit to a local children's hospital. He denied the accusations, demanded an apology and insisted the Wranglers' decision was financially motivated because they couldn't afford to pay him what they promised.
Owens is currently hoping for another chance in the NFL, which is critical if he wants to go out on a good note. T.O.'s numbers might be Hall of Fame caliber, but his reputation will loom large when he reaches the age of eligibility.
9. Mario Balotelli
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Over his relatively short career, Manchester City striker Mario Balotelli striker had earned a reputation of being more trouble than he's worth.
The 21-year-old footballer has already been subjected to fines and suspensions for a large number of various disciplinary issues—some more serious than others.
Despite his penchant for in-home fireworks and an explosive temper, Balotelli's talent is undeniable. He had performed well with City previously, but it was Balotelli's performance for his native Italy at Euro 2012 that attracted worldwide attention. In fact, it was so impressive, that he was labeled "untouchable" by his own agent.
Balotelli was great, but how much does that label mean when it's coming from your own agent? Plus, his agent should know better than pumping up an already inflated ego. If a client eventually bursts, it's going to be money out of his agent's pocket.
8. Sidney Crosby
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Like Nationals rookie Bryce Harper, Penguins superstar center Sidney Crosby earned a reputation as a prima donna very early in his career that follows him to this day. Opponents and fans have long accused Crosby of being a "whiner" who gets preferential treatment from the referees.
And it's not just the players and fans who have taken issue with Crosbyl he obviously rubs coaches and members of the media the wrong way, too. After a game in April 2012, Rangers coach John Tortorella was fined for calling Sid The Kid a whiny player on an arrogant team.
Retired player-turned analyst Jeremy Roenick, who is championshipless and often drunk, soon echoed Tortorella's statements and had previously gone on record about being bored with Crosby's stupid brain problem.
7. Randy Moss
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For over a decade, wide receiver Randy Moss was hands-down the most talented player at his position in the NFL. Unfortunately, he was also hands-down one of the most temperamental and sporadically productive players in the game. Moss said it himself: he played when he wanted to play.
Moss had an up-and-down seven seasons (but mostly up) with the Vikings and two disappointing seasons with the Raiders before being traded to the Patriots in 2007. His years in New England were three of the best statistical seasons of his career, particularly in terms of touchdowns and first downs.
After three years of keeping it together, Moss decided to take his contract frustrations public at a bizarre postgame press conference in September 2010. The Pats traded him to the Vikings just three weeks later, where he lasted all of four games before the Vikes had enough and he was claimed by the Titans.
Moss took all of 2011 off before being signed by the 49ers in March 2012. He reportedly charmed teammates and head coach Jim Harbaugh early on, but let's see how long until there's trouble in paradise.
6. Skip Bayless
Image via Deadspin
I was torn on whether to include ESPN's FirstTake analyst Skip Bayless on this list. Sure he's a prima donna, but considering his lies regarding his high school junior varsity basketball achievements, it seems wrong to even consider him as someone "in sports."
I decided to look up the official definition of the word and if it swayed me in one direction or the other. "Prima donna" is defined as: A very temperamental person with an inflated view of their own talent or importance. Honestly, I was surprised there wasn't a picture of Skip right next to it.
Bayless has made quite a career for himself by screaming at others for being wrong, boasting about himself being right, and insulting every athlete not named Tim Tebow or Tom Brady.
Bayless knows, when it comes to ratings, there is no difference between love and hate—so he chooses to be the vile, self-aggrandizing weasel that comes most naturally to him.
5. DeSean Jackson
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Like many diva wide receivers before him, the Eagles young star DeSean Jackson turned a difficult contract negotiation into a season-long saga. After an 11-day holdout in the summer of 2011 that accomplished nothing, Jackson decided to end the hold out and arrived at Eagles training camp on Aug. 8.
Despite lack of progress on his contract, he insisted that he "always wanted to be an Eagle" and that he believed his "game speaks for everything." But within a month, Jackson's tone had changed and he declared that his health was his top priority, rather than catching footballs.
His play on the field reflected his priorities and Jackson's stats, effort, enthusiasm and attitude spiraled downhill through the rest of the season.
Naturally he was rewarded for sabotaging the entire season with a massive new contract in March 2012.
4. Ozzie Guillen
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In June 2012, Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen was named baseball's least respected manager by a survey in Men's Journal. The timing of the survey, completed by 100 MLB players, with Guillen's controversial comments about Fidel Castro, and the ensuing scandal, probably didn't help his case.
But the fact that Guillen garnered 36 percent of the vote, 22 percent more than second-place finisher Bobby Valentine, proves his track record of tantrums and tirades have cost him the respect of many. Not that he's losing any sleep over his reputation in baseball; in fact, it's quite the opposite.
In the last few days alone, Guillen has worked to stir up trouble with Nationals' breakout rookie Bryce Harper and has taken aim at his former organization, the White Sox.
Guillen's backhanded compliments of Harper were interspersed with vague threats, name calling and mocking. And his self-serving comments about his tenure in Chicago reminded everyone why they were happy to see him go.
3. Floyd Mayweather Jr.
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Boxer Floyd "Money" Mayweather Jr. is one of the definitive prima donnas in sports today. Money is short on patience and long on ego. Which is pretty much what you'd expect from a guy who gets paid to beat people up for a living and has never lost a fight.
But Mayweather is rarely willing to let his record or his winnings speak for him. Instead, he conducts press conferences with 50 Cent, shows up to fights on the arm of tween sensation Justin Bieber, and wears more diamonds and fur coats than the late Elizabeth Taylor.
And as for his nemesis Manny Pacquiao, who knows what the truth is behind their inability to agree to terms on a fight. Although Floyd Money may think his eagerness to publicly lash out at Pacquaio makes him look tough, but it actually does just the opposite.
2. Sean Avery
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Before potentially retiring on a Bravo TV talk show in March 2012, agitator Sean Avery enjoyed an infamous decade as the NHL's biggest prima donna. I said "enjoyed" quite purposefully, because Avery's inner fashion diva seemed to relish every moment of it.
Avery's most famous incident came in 2008, his reference to actress Elisha Cuthbert as his "sloppy seconds" earned him an indefinite suspension from the league—one of many suspensions over his career.
Actually, 2008 was a pretty busy year for Avery; it was the same year of his hilarious off-season internship at fashion magazine Vogue.
It was also the year the "Sean Avery Rule" was implemented, which was the result of Avery's inexplicable attempt to distract Devils goaltender Martin Brodeur by parking in front of him and waving his hands in front of his face during postseason play.
In August 2011, Avery was arrested at his home after a confrontation with police at his home in Hollywood Hills. The officers involved were there in response to noise complaints and Avery greeted them by challenging them to a fight and calling them "fat little pigs."
Essentially, Sean Avery is the Naomi Campbell of the sports world.
1. Dwight Howard
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Dwight Howard, the soon to be ex-superstar of the Magic, seemed to have the best intentions when his contract status became an issue in early 2011.
He tried to say the right things about wanting to win a championship in Orlando and was reportedly "annoyed" by comparisons to Carmelo Anthony and LeBron James.
Over the last 18 months, Howard's ill-conceived plan to please everyone has done the exact opposite. Howard has gone back and forth constantly on his desire to stay in Orlando and win a championship and pledges of loyalty, to demanding a trade.
The Magic, in a desperate attempt to win him over, even fired head coach Stan Van Gundy and general manager Otis Smith.
He was unmoved by that decision and reportedly was demanding and dismissive during a meeting with new GM Rob Hennigan and his attempts to woo Howard back. At least Howard managed to distance himself from LeBron and Carmelo—too bad it was in the absolute wrong direction.