Ranking the 20 Athletes You'd Never Want To Play With
As much as team chemistry is overhyped or downplayed, depending on the situation, there is no denying that what happens in the locker room can be as significant as what happens on the field.
Not every athlete can be the kind of teammate and leader that inspires others around them, but there is an expectation that an individual put the team first when it matters most.
Those athletes who create drama also create distractions and quickly wear out their welcome, because what happens away from the game can ultimately influence what happens in it.
Sometimes it's better to have a slightly less talented athlete than an exceptionally talented cancer who cares little about the past, present or future.
Here are 20 athletes you'd never want to play with.
20. Carmelo Anthony, New York Knicks
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I was as bored with "Linsanity" as anyone when it finally came to an end weeks after it began in 2012, but that doesn't mean I think the Knicks are better without the youth and enthusiasm that came with having Jeremy Lin as their point guard.
Carmelo Anthony, I imagine, feels differently.
Lin rose to prominence while Anthony was out with injury, and rumors that the two weren't exactly on the same page persisted throughout their time together, despite what Anthony had to say about their relationship. The fact that he called Lin's contract "ridiculous" speaks volumes.
Melo, simply speaking, has not made the Knicks any better than they have been in recent years. Going from zero playoff wins to just one isn't all that impressive. Sorry.
19. Jaromir Jagr, Dallas Stars
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His resume speaks for itself, but future NHL Hall of Fame right wing Jaromir Jagr lit a small, but significant fire to his bridge to the Pittsburgh Penguins when he walked away from the team in 2001 as a free agent.
Fair or not, the Czech sniper gained a reputation as a somewhat moody personality who is cold to the local media and also a hardcore gambler. In his later years, however, he seems to have softened a bit and dispelled much of the perception of a distant locker room presence.
But at 40, he is what he is. While his teammates certainly love having his shot, they also know that crucial dollars are now dedicated to an aging superstar who is injury prone and limited on the ice. On top of that, he’s a rental—a one-year player guaranteed to at least dabble in the “will he or won’t he” free-agent drama.
18. Tim Tebow, New York Jets
Before you start hyperventilating, let me explain. New York Jets quarterback Tim Tebow is a baller, a leader and a fantastic teammate. However, due to forces beyond (and, in some measure, within) his control, Tebow is no longer just a man, but a spectacle.
If Tebow is welcomed into your locker room, you may get a beast for the goal-line offense, but with it, you’re going to get the whole package: a glaring media spotlight, a larger-than-life personality and a permanent quarterback controversy.
17. David Beckham, Los Angeles Galaxy
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In his heyday, footballer David Beckham was the biggest name in soccer, with skill and talent that surpassed his movie-star good looks.
Now that he’s in the twilight of his career, it’s inevitable that a man who commanded a $6.5 million annual ransom to bring his celebrity to the L.A. Galaxy would begin to invite criticism.
Grant Wahl’s book The Beckham Experiment describes Beckham as a cheap diva who—with the assistance of his personal manager—clashed with Landon Donovan and drew the ire of his teammates.
While the claims of the book can be disputed, the fact remains that Great Britain didn’t name Beckham to its 2012 Olympic team.
16. Rajon Rondo, Boston Celtics
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Boston Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo is without a question a key contributor to a team that still had enough talent and desire to take the Miami Heat to Game 7 of the 2012 NBA Eastern Conference finals.
But the guy is eccentric, and while he may turn it up and dominate a quarter, he’s inconsistent and clearly has issues playing a positive role in maintaining the team’s chemistry. It’s alleged that Rondo’s weirdness drove off Ray Allen after a season when rumors surfaced about ongoing tension between the two.
Plus, he and Kevin Garnett certainly didn’t exhibit good sportsmanship when they said, “Nah,” to the postgame handshake after their Game 7 loss.
15. Lolo Jones, U.S. Women's Track and Field
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For most elite athletes, making the Olympic team is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, so you can imagine how it feels when one of your teammates seems to coast into the 2012 Summer Games on hype and a whole lot of endorsements.
If that wasn’t bad enough, Lolo Jones appears to have been a terror behind the scenes while failing to live up to the her own hype. Competing in a single event—the 100-meter hurdles—Jones placed fourth for the second consecutive Olympics.
14. Dez Bryant, Dallas Cowboys
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When the Dallas Cowboys selected wide receiver Dez Bryant in the first round of the 2010 NFL draft, they knew they were getting a kid with some baggage, but they also thought his playmaking ability was well worth the risk.
For the other guys on the roster, this wouldn’t be a problem if he helped the team win. However, between injuries and the dropsies, Bryant has failed to live up to expectations.
13. Dwight Howard, Los Angeles Lakers
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After the miserable circus that was the Magic's 2012 season, it's hard to believe that anyone outside of Brooklyn would be happy to be playing with the NBA's most demanding big man, Dwight Howard. After months spent teetering between staying in Orlando or leaving, Howard eventually decided the only team worthy of his talents was the Nets.
Thankfully for Lakers fans, this isn't likely to be a big issue this fall. Kobe Bryant would play ball with Charles Manson if it gave him a better chance to win a championship or two and allow him to pull even with or surpass Michael Jordan's ring tally.
Plus, Howard was always a likable, nice guy before all this—hopefully his Lakers stint can repair his image and his attitude.
12. Alexander Semin, Carolina Hurricanes
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As the 13th overall pick in the 2002 NHL draft, right winger Alexander Semin was expected to become a key scoring threat for the Washington Capitals. When he was paired with the beastly Alexander Ovechkin, the franchise and its fans had dreams of a new dynasty and multiple Stanley Cups.
However, from a controversial legal battle after the 2004-05 NHL lockout that kept Semin in Russia until April 2006 to injuries and inconsistency on the ice, he never lived up to expectations.
While uneven play on the ice would be enough to convince his Capitals teammates that losing Semin would be addition by subtraction, he went there—using his agent and the media to air his unhappiness with the team.
Now, he’s the Hurricanes’ problem.
11. DeSean Jackson, Philadelphia Eagles
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This could have very easily been Steelers wide receiver Mike Wallace or any other young wideout in the NFL who expects "Larry Fitzgerald money" without a Larry Fitzgerald resume. Jackson held out briefly in 2011 before halfheartedly returning to contribute nothing all season.
Even though he's improved in 2012, he's been mostly mediocre. Jackson also continues to be demanding of his head coach, as well as unhinged and hyper-sensitive when it comes to the local and national sports media.
He just seems to be more trouble than he's worth at this point.
10. Josh Beckett, Los Angeles Dodgers
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There are few people more intolerable in this world than well-off people like Dodgers pitcher Josh Beckett who insist on playing the victim. Beckett's performance on the mound has been in a downward spiral since 2008, and his patience with the media had been waning in recent years, to say the least.
After his trade, he was quick to point the finger at the Boston media as the excuse for his bad attitude, decrease in production and overall horribleness.
Sorry, Josh Beckett!
We all know that monsters are born, not created by the media. And how did that trade work out for the Dodgers? Not well, as you may recall.
Oh, and the fact that more another dead-weight Red Sox pitcher (Jon Lester) is the only one defending Beckett means absolutely nothing to me. The Sox should've included Lester in that trade too.
9. Metta World Peace, Los Angeles Lakers
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Lakers forward Metta World Peace has come a long way since his days as the Pacers' Ron Artest. Yes he's still kind of an unpredictable lunatic, but he's probably too old to jump into the stands at the Staples Center and start a brawl with Clippers fans.
He seemed to be turning over a new leaf in Los Angeles in recent years, but everyone was reminded of his sordid past in 2012 after an elbow to the head of Thunder shooting guard James Harden. That left Harden with a concussion and MWP with a seven-game suspension, the majority of which stretched into the 2012 playoffs.
8. Chris Johnson, Tennessee Titans
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When Titans running back Chris Johnson criticized his own offense in September 2012, everyone who was familiar with his last 18 months worth of contributions in Tennessee—or complete lack thereof—collectively rolled their eyes and shook their heads in disbelief.
A laugh at the expense of the overpaid running back complaining about the run game not working is also appropriate. Johnson famously held out in 2011 for the big bucks, and when the team finally caved to his demands, he even more famously returned to the team as a useless gold-plated stump.
7. Hope Solo, U.S. Women's Soccer
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U.S. women's national soccer team goalkeeper Hope Solo is widely considered one of the preeminent talents in the world at her position. But just because someone is talented doesn't mean you want to deal with them on a daily basis.
Solo first showed her true colors in 2011, when she was eliminated from ABC's Dancing with the Stars: She pouted and refused to grant any interviews in the immediate aftermath.
Then, during the 2012 Olympics in London, Solo made headlines around the globe when she went off on a Twitter rant directed at former U.S. player Brandi Chastain.
Solo took exception with relatively innocuous comments made by Chastain, now an NBC Sports broadcaster, during the games. Solo refused to back down on the comments, and Chastain refused to get down in the muck with her.
6. Andray Blatche, Brooklyn Nets
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The Washington Wizards finally dropped 6'11" and nearly 300 pounds (on his worst days) of waste when they decided to amnesty Andray Blatche in July 2012. Dumping their tubby, undermotivated big man was the best move Washington has made in years.
Surrounding John Wall with useless turds for years couldn't have been good for the youngster's development, and there's no way Blatche is going to do anything but cause problems in Brooklyn. That's fine though…let Jay-Z worry about this kid's fluctuating waistline.
5. Tim Thomas, Boston Bruins
In the "Facebook Post Heard Around the World," Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas explained why his conservative ideology simplified his choice not to join his teammates at the traditional White House ceremony honoring their 2011 Stanley Cup championship.
While the team’s response to the protest ranged from mild to mildly critical, the fact that he didn’t get full-throated support indicates that his teammates likely thought it was the wrong time to put politics first.
No matter where a man or woman falls on the political spectrum, injecting it into the ultimate accomplishment of your sport will rarely endear you to the people in the locker room.
4. Chris Perez, Cleveland Indians
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You had a choice of playing in St. Louis where you get 40,000 (fans) like Beltran chose to do, or you can come to Cleveland. It’s going to take more money to get him to come to Cleveland. That’s just how it is. That’s another thing that you have to go against. It’s not only the payrolls of the (American League) East teams, but that kind of stuff.
However, his candid assessment of the franchise and its environment must burn the guys on the roster who don’t have a choice—you know, the guys who were developed by the team and are getting their best shot at the major leagues.
Bill Belichick and the “Patriots Way” may be boring, but it produces results.
3. Jay Cutler, Chicago Bears
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Bears quarterback Jay Cutler is one of the more unlikable people in professional sports. His body language and bitter-beer face are always more excessively analyzed/criticized after a Chicago loss than his actual performance on the field.
And it's not just the media pointing fingers at Cutler; his teammates, aside from Brandon Marshall, don't seem fond of him either. Then again, would you jump to the defense of someone who pushed you around on national television and then stood behind it?
2. Andrew Bynum, Philadelphia 76ers
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For years, the Lakers front office seemed unwavering in its support of talented big man Andrew Bynum. But you have to wonder if his own words following L.A.'s ouster by the Oklahoma City Thunder during the 2012 playoffs are what finally sealed his fate.
Bynum's feelings about being an NBA star are ambivalent at best, and he made it clear that he didn't care about staying with the Lakers, nor did he care what anyone thinks about him not caring. Bynum's flagrant fouls, suspensions and poor attitude won't be missed in L.A.
Good luck, Philly.
1. Santonio Holmes, New York Jets
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As a Steelers fan, I can say that I was very upset when they traded Santonio Holmes to the Jets in 2010 for a fifth-round draft pick. It just seemed to me that the 2009 Super Bowl MVP was worth more than that—perhaps even worth paying for.
Turns out they were right and I was wrong, as usual. Holmes has been an absolute nightmare for the Jets, and his perma-feud with quarterback Mark Sanchez shows no signs of ending. Holmes has complained about being the "scapegoat" and has even gone off on the media.