The 20 Strangest BFF's in Sports
The world of the rich, famous and power (and all three) is a lot different from the place you and I know. Money, celebrity, no matter what industry or origin, seems to forge the kind of atypical friendships that are much harder to sustain when you're just a 9-to-5 kind of guy or gal.
This is why Pittsburgh Penguins co-owner Ron Burkle can jet around the globe with former president Bill Clinton, or why U2's Bono feels like the de facto Secretary-General of the United Nations. This isn't a bad thing, it's simply life's modus operandi.
So, it's no surprise that those men and women relevant to the world of sports find their lives and relationships intersecting with individuals outside their sphere; who run respected corporations, make great movies, or just happen to have their hands firmly on the levers of power.
The biggest stars in sports can't be expected to compartmentalize their lives to one venture, and as a result, some very interesting friendships have percolated up through the churn of celebrity.
These are 20 of the Strangest BFF's in Sports.
Charles Barkley and Tiger Woods
Recent evidence suggests that Tiger Woods is just better at hiding his vices, but there isn't much about either men, both in how they approach their respective sports, or public life, that suggest they are natural bros.
Charles Barkley forged his Hall of Fame career as the NBA's signature grinder: a dude who was nasty, who physically dominated the paint. Woods was the phenom: the boy wonder who simply evolved into a professional.
But, who am I to question the strange chemistry of platonic man-love?
Dwyane Wade and Tim Tebow
Dwyane Wade is a fantastic basketball player who's one of the best guards to ever play the game. Tim Tebow is a fantastic football player who can't seem to get on the field this season to do much more than protect the New York Jets punter.
While Wade and Tebow seem like different people, they both love the media. Tebow disarms you through his earnest back and forth, while Wade just defines the glamor of playing for the Miami Heat.
New York City seems to transform anyone who lives in it, or loves it, so in a way this all makes perfect sense.
Maryland and the Big Ten
I get it: moving from the ACC to the Big Ten means that Maryland gains access to millions of dollars (real and in-kind) it otherwise would never see, and the Big Ten Network gets a coveted piece of the DC television market.
But how in the name of Knute Rockne does the move make any kind of sense in terms of athletics?
I suppose if Nebraska can join the club, then Maryland is about as logical a choice as any school in the post-2010 Big Ten era. Be careful what you wish for: Terrapin fans and alumni are restless and the athletics program is less than excellent.
Roger Federer and Anna Wintour
Roger Federer is one of the greatest tennis players of all time. Anna Wintour is the famous/infamous editor-in-chief of the forest-destroying fashion magazine Vogue. I mean, why wouldn't these two be the best of buds?
Celebrity seems to be an element that more successfully achieve what no law or public policy has for society: create opportunities where none seem possible.
Federer turns to Wintour for fashion advice, and Wintour throws him extravagant birthday parties. Fame creates strange bedfellows.
Kobe Bryant and Stephanie Rice
I think mankind's beautiful and elite (or both) just naturally gravitate toward each other, like sailors to a siren song. It's natural to assume that when a guy like Kobe Bryant is seen socializing with Olympic swimmer Stephanie Rice, they must be more than friends.
Maybe they are, despite claiming otherwise. Who knows? I think great athletes (like great minds) just like hanging around each other. Like mutants in X-Men.
People like Bryant and Rice are members of an unofficial club that is exclusive, so the rest of us can only guess.
Lance Armstrong and Matthew McConaughey
This bromance probably appeared much more strange before Oct. 12, 2012.
Despite the fact that the image of Lance Armstrong and Matthew McConaughey smokin' doobies and playing bongos is less of stretch, their friendship remains one that few would have wagered on in some secret, future-forecasting gambling ring run in the 1970s.
Star Jones and Dwyane Wade
I'm not sure whether to feel impressed about whether Star Jones could be...maybe...coughin' it up with Dwyane Wade, or sad. The conflict is rooted in the fact that the possibility seemed to be the butt of a joke between Wade and Charles Barkley.
Don't get me wrong, the woman looks better than she ever has. But, they're just friends, because "Mr. Star Jones" is simply incompatible with space and time.
Jeremy Lin and Tim Tebow
This scrambles the sense because it feels so freaking right. Wait, the stories of Tim Tebow and Jeremy Lin actually share little in common, but they feel so synchronous. Or, is this just the haze of ESPN's driving narrative?
Tebow was a blue-chip recruit who signed with an FBS powerhouse, dominated as a three-year starter, won the Heisman, and ended up as a first-round NFL draft pick. Lin was solid player at Harvard who went undrafted and was claimed off waivers by the Knicks.
Oh well, it doesn't matter; they came off the bench and won some games, before finding each other.
Snoop Dogg and David Beckham
Here's a good exercise to test whether a friendship between Snoop Dogg and another celebrity is awkward.
Finish this sentence: Snoop Dogg feat. ___________
Yeah, Snoop Dogg featuring David Beckham makes little sense for the hip-hop industry or the sport of football, but it's happening.
Both moonlight as successful entrepreneurs, and are even considering investing together in the Scottish Premier League's Glasgow-based Celtic Football Club.
Jon Bon Jovi and Bill Belichick
This has to be one of those Jerry Lewis and Dean Martin dynamics, right? I know Bon Jovi isn't a buffoon, but in terms of the public disparity in flamboyance and charisma.
We've all heard about how "hilarious" and awesome Belichick is when the cameras aren't rolling (and Bon Jovi is more evidence of this, I suppose) but throw us a bone! The sweatpants and sleeveless shirts are much too subtle for the Two and a Half Men era.
Michael Jackson and Magic Johnson
If you were really drunk and someone unexpectedly asked you to say "Michael Jackson," the words might sound a lot like "Magic Johnson." Sometimes, things happen because they can't be any other way.
As bizarre as the pairing seems today, the two men were the dominant talents of the same era: Jackson in pop music, Johnson in professional basketball. Both endured shocking controversies, though the legacy of Jackson is one that is certainly surrounded in much more mystery.
So, their friendship looks great on paper, but jarring in photographs.
Demi Moore and Baron Davis
Hey, Demi Moore says that former New York Knicks player Baron Davis is just a BFF she got to know in Los Angeles. No hanky panky going here, no way.
Honestly, with Demi Moore's history, how could you presume to know the nature of any of her relationships?
John McEnroe and Henrik Lundqvist
Earlier this year, long-time acquaintances Henrik Lundqvist (which my Mac wanted to correct to Henrik Blunderbuss btw) and John McEnroe got together in NYC to jam out at the 'Rock of Dreams' benefit concert for children.
Vezina Trophy-winning, cum fashion-maven, and plain handsome, Henrick Lundqvist and tennis legend/forever badass John McEnroe are friends who just said, "Hey, let's put on a rock concert; we'll both play guitar."
Are you kidding me? This is more than strange...it's surreal. As in...something conjured from my wildest dreams.
Pete Wentz and Serena Williams
The art of making music and the talent of being an elite athlete seem to occupy different spaces in our life and culture, so when you hear about a musician and athlete being legit friends, it just seems off.
However, whether Gavin Rossdale and Roger Federer are doing whatever it is they do together, or Serena Williams is walking the red carpet with Pete Wentz, it's a much more common phenomenon than your high school experience would lead you believe.
Caroline Wozniacki and Rory McIlroy
I know these two are much more than BFF's, but their relationship needs to be included. If for no other reason than the fact that since Rory McIlroy and Caroline Wozniacki have been an item, Woz's skirts seem to be getting shorter while her ranking falls farther.
What really freaks me out though is that despite Caroline's hottie bona fides, the pair kind of look like siblings. Seriously. Look at that photo. And, for some reason, it reminds me of this.
Fernando Verdasco and Cristiano Ronaldo
When rising tennis star Fernando Verdasco and footballer Cristiano Ronaldo get together, it has to be the Ed Hardyiest environment outside of an Ed Hardy store.
If I were a single guy out on the town, and Verdasco and Ronaldo walked into the bar I'm patronizing, I'd pay my check and leave.
Shaquille O'Neal and Justin Bieber
Ever since Shaquille O'Neal faced off with adolescent pop star Justin Bieber in his show Shaq Vs., the world has wondered if there's more to this story than a single episode.
Well, not really. But, they are Twitter friends. And...the Biebs is pretty good at basketball. While we may not know the full extent of their friendship, the sight of Shaq in a pool with the diminutive teen idol lands the duo on this list.
Darius Rucker and John Daly
PGA rogue John Daly and non-threatening light-rock icon Darius Rucker both hail from the Charleston, S.C., area, so they have a connection rooted in geography.
But it's tough to reconcile the eccentric, reckless lifestyle of the talented Daly with the guy who inundated alternative rock radio with "Hold My Hand" in the mid-Nineties.
You have to admire Rucker being there for Daly through thick and thin; that's what true friendship is about.
Will Ferrell and Pete Carroll
Despite Peter Carroll's well-known history of pulling practical jokes on his teams, and being an overall goofball, it's still hard to watch a Seattle Seahawks post-game presser and say, "He's friends with Will Ferrell."
UGA and Smokey
Okay, you can file this one under wishful thinking, but SEC East hatred aside, wouldn't this be the most adorably wrong friendship ever?
Knoxville, Tenn., and Athens, Ga., are separated by 235 miles, so logistically it would be impossible, but seeing UGA and Smokey galloping around the field together makes so much sense outside the universe of college football.
Unfortunately, reality is a little more angry.
If you want to be my sports BFF, you'll have to follow me, Amber Lee, on the Twitter machine. Duh. Follow @blamberr