The Biggest Scrooges in Sports

Amber Lee@@BlamberrSports Lists Lead WriterDecember 15, 2012

The Biggest Scrooges in Sports

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    Ebenezer Scrooge from the Charles Dickens' classic novel A Christmas Carol is one of the most well-known and enduring characters in literary history. The penny-pinching old man was so mean and so old and so miserly that, 150 years after the novel's publication, his name has become synonymous with those unpleasant characteristics. 

    Modern day Scrooges come in all shapes and sizes; and the sports world has its fair share. Some of them are just old, angry curmudgeons. Some of them are just inexplicably miserly. And then there are those that are both old angry curmudgeons and inexplicably miserly. Not the best personality traits to have paired together, but for some reason they go together like cookies and milk. 

    For the most part, the sports world is a young man's game that is stocked to the brim with big spenders and big personalities. But, as you know, there are exceptions to every rule. Let's take a look at some of the biggest Scrooges in sports. 

15. Gregg Popovich, San Antonio Spurs Coach

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    Scrooge Type: Mean and Old 

    Spurs coach Gregg Popovich doesn't mince words with the media, which has earned him a reputation of being a bit of a meanie. Not like a mean-spirited meanie, because Pop is a well-liked figure in the NBA, but more of a "Get off my lawn!!!" old man. 

    In October 2012, Popovich actually conceded the point during an interview with a Miami radio station, stating: "I know. I 'm a jerk. I'm going to go ahead and admit it publicly to the whole world." Pop also confessed that his wife has even asked him why he's so crass and condescending with the media.

14. 2009-10 Edmonton Oilers and Alberta Liquor Commission

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    Scrooge Type: Miserly and Mean

    Restaurants, like so many small retail businesses, operate on the razor's edge of profitability—and its servers almost wholly depend on that social contract known as gratuity. While an investment firm routinely eats losses with an eye on long-term success, one bad month can break a restaurant and its staff.

    So, when 45 Edmonton Oilers players threw a party at the Osteria de Medici in Calgary, and then freaked out until their $18,000 bill was reduced to $12,000, you think the players would come out on the losing end of the incident. Nope. The Alberta Liquor Commission opened an investigation over allegations the establishment served the party booze while intoxicated (shocking).

    Ultimately, Osteria de Medici was cleared of any wrongdoing, but the servers still lost over $1,100 on a 15 percent tip left by a party of 45.

13. LeBron James, Miami Heat

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    Scrooge Type: Miserly

    There has been talk of Heat superstar, and Sports Illustrated's 2012 Sportsman of the Year, LeBron James being a bit of a cheapskate with those working in the service industry dating back to his early days with the Cavaliers.

    The first report came in 2008 when sources at a Cleveland restaurant ratted LeBron out for a less than generous tip. He and a group of friends ran up an $800 bill, in Cleveland dollars (which is a lot), and left the staff with nothing but a measly $10 and a nasty taste in their mouths. 

    If you think King James learned anything from the incident, you're wrong. In 2011, James and Co. were at the Cosmopolitan hotel in Las Vegas for the bachelor party of the Clippers' Chris Paul.

    They were comped all night and stayed well into the morning; eventually leaving without dropping a single dollar for the staff. Earning him the No. 4 spot on the Miami New Times' list of worst celebrity tippers. 

12. Bud Selig, MLB Commissioner

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    Scrooge Type: Mean and Old

    Scrooge may have been the villain in A Christmas Carol, but he was also the boss. Scrooge may not be beloved, but he gets stuff done, even if some people aren't happy with the results. Thus, we have MLB Commissioner Bud Selig and league that is the ultimate example of the have vs. the have-nots.

    He is presiding over a period of relative labor stability; an achievement overshadowed by the steroid scandal and dumb decisions like declaring a tie to end the 2002 All-Star Game. In November 2012, when he chastised a reporter's tough question with an f-bomb, he reminded us that he who giveth can taketh away. 

11. Michael Jordan, Charlotte Bobcats Owner

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    Scrooge Type: Miserly and (kinda) Mean 

    According to various reports, Bulls legend Michael Jordan's 2007 divorce from his first wife Juanita cost him somewhere between $150 million and $260 million. Which may explain why he's such a cheapskate today. My assessment of His Airness as a tightwad is based on the word of three pretty credible sources. 

    1. Charles Barkley said MJ is "As cheap as they come" in October, 2012. 2. Wayne Gretzky once called out Jordan for woefully undertipping waitresses in Las Vegas. 3. Rapper Chamillionaire told a very convincing story about MJ trying to charge him $15,000 for a photograph at a charity event in 2009—it paints a very unflattering picture of the NBA legend.

10. Skip Bayless, ESPN

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    Scrooge Type: Mean

    This is almost too easy. There are few real people more likely to be visited by the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future than Skip Bayless. The media flame-thrower is powered by the anger of those he's outraged, rather than by calories.

    His Tim Tebow obsession seemed to sprout when the masses/press seemed resigned to criticize his ability as a quarterback even as the Denver Broncos continued to win—the spite was simply too shiny and furious not to seize.

    Bayless yells. He berates. He always points out when he's right and you're wrong (as well as how much more sex he's having).

    Simply put, Skip Bayless is Scrooge of the Twitter era.

9. Bill Belichick, New England Patriots Coach

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    Scrooge Type: Old, Mean and (based on his wardrobe) potentially Miserly 

    Patriots head coach Bill Belichick may be one of the greatest coaches of a generation, but you know he didn't get to where he is today by being a nice guy. In fact, Belichick is known as such a cold fish that when he made a joke at Super Bowl XLVI in 2012, it literally made international news. 

    He seems to have the respect of most of his players and an excellent relationship with Tom Brady, but he will never make a decision based on sentiment for them. As proven by his decision to release Tiquan Underwoood just hours before Super Bowl XLVI for pretty much no reason at all. 

8. Tiger Woods, PGA

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    Scrooge Type: Mean and Miserly

    Golf legend Tiger Woods has always had a relatively prickly relationship with the media and his high-profile divorce and even higher profile Major drought in the years since hasn't improved matters.

    He often comes across as cold or even hostile with reporters, so it was no surprise when his former swing coach revealed that he had never thought of Woods as 'happy' in any aspect of his life. 

    What did come as a bit of a surprise was the 2011 report by the Miami New Times which named Woods the worst celebrity tipper in the country. Maybe Tiger, who is worth more than a half billion, just doesn't carry much cash on him. But the story they cited about Woods re-pocketing a $5 tip after realizing he had previous tipped a waitress?

    Undeniably miserly for a guy who was playing $10,000 a hand blackjack. 

7. Woody Johnson, New York Jets Owner

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    Scrooge Type: Miserly, Mean and Old

    Just over a month away from the 2012 U.S. Presidential Election, his team sitting at 3-5 after getting shellacked 30-9 by the mediocre Miami Dolphins, and New York Jets owner Woody Johnson declared he'd rather see Republican candidate Mitt Romney win the election than see his team win games. He was being candid, but at the expense of long-suffering Jets fans.

    Johnson didn't have to say it, but he did. And it came amidst a drama-filled season that seems to encapsulate his tenure: head-scratching personnel decisions (Tebow being the one of the biggest) and strange spending priorities which underscore a generally stingy approach.

    Good tidings, Jets fans, because the owner can't be fired.

6. Nick Saban, University of Alabama Coach

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    Scrooge Type: Mean and Old

    There is no other way than the Nick Saban way, according to Nick Saban; a fact he made abundantly clear in his comments criticizing "hurry-up" spread offenses like the Oregon Ducks'. His points may be valid—the results indisputable—but the manner leaves a sour taste in your mouth.

    If you stand in his way, he'll step over you. Saban bolted LSU for the Miami Dolphins in 2004, despite repeated denials, then did the same to the Dolphins when he took the Alabama job in 2007 (the story about him literally stepping over an ill player has never been confirmed.)

    He's the Beetlejuice of football, so if you come calling, be prepared to pay a high price.

5. Bill Bidwell, Arizona Cardinals Owner

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    Scrooge Type: Miserly, Mean and Old

    Though his son and team president, Bill Bidwell Jr., now runs most of the day-to-day business of the Arizona Cardinals, this is still the elder Bidwell's team.

    He maintains a steady presence and his legacy as one of the most hardcore NFL penny-pinchers is cemented in the losing ways of the Cardinals—a legacy briefly transcended by a near Super Bowl win in 2009 and wild-card victory over Green Bay in 2010.   

    Since Kurt Warner retired, the Cardinals have returned to form in 2012.

    This is still the franchise of a man that slashed the payroll after any hint of success and cut costs to the point of driving anyone still standing away; who made a profit of $7.5 million off the University of Phoenix Stadium deal in 2007, while the public paid $298 million.

4. Mike Brown, Cincinnati Bengals Owner

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    Scrooge Type: Miserly, Mean and Old

    It's well-established that Cincinnati Bengals owner Mike Brown is one of those guys with the dubious distinction of being both laser-focused on the bottom line—to an extent that players perceive as far beyond even the stingier franchises—and terrible at running the team.

    Some of the biggest NFL draft busts got a phone call from Mike Brown on Draft Day, while no baggage seems to outweigh the talent of a troubled player/prospect.

    While his handling of the team may pain Bengals fans, in his reluctance to part with a single dollar has threatened many outside Hamilton County, Ohio. Brown's stubborn insistence on getting the lowest salary floor possible during the NFL CBA negotiations in 2011 almost derailed the current deal.

    Worse still? He's the only one who voted against New Orleans owner Tom Benson's request for a waiver on club-seat revenues in wake of Hurricane Katrina.

3. Adam "Pac-Man" Jones, Cincinnati Bengals

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    Scrooge Type: Mean and Miserly

    Bengals cornerback Adam "Pac-Man" Jones seems to have turned a corner in the last year, but he has been one of the NFL's preeminent problem children since the day he was drafted in 2005. Jones has been arrested for countless offenses over the years; all of which demonstrate both his meanness and his poor decision making skills. 

    No incident demonstrates the mean and miserly nature of Jones better than the infamous "making it rain" incident at a Las Vegas strip club the NBA All-Star weekend in 2007. Jones joined rappers Nelly and Jermaine Dupri and rained down more than $12,000 on the dancers, but became angry when dancers and club promoters swept his money off stage. 

    According to reports, Jones was just "making it rain" for show, and physically assaulted one of the dancers before being bounced from the club for trying to re-collect his rain. He and/or his entourage returned to the club later to shoot a couple of bouncers. In June 2012 Jones was ordered to pay $11.6 million in damages to those injured in the shooting. 

2. National Hockey League and NHLPA

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    Scrooge Type: Miserly

    Four work stoppages in two decades, with the latest coming just eight years after an entire season was lost in what was supposed be an example of "creative destruction."

    Instead of the salary cap and sweeping, fan-friendly rule changes putting the NHL and its franchises on a sustainable course, the owners, players and hockey lovers are back to square one.

    You think that the major pro league with the lowest revenue would do everything in its power to avoid all of the horrible consequences that come with losing at least half your season, but 90 days into the current lockout and both sides are meeting federal mediators...separately.

    The NHL and NHLPA may ultimately work out a deal, but a short, salvaged season is not exactly a gift.

1. Donald Sterling, Los Angeles Clippers

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    Scrooge Type: Mean, Old and Miserly 

    Evil movie villain, straight out of central casting, Donald Sterling has owned the Clippers since 1981. Their desperate reign of futility may have temporarily ended, but Sterling's not-so-Sterling reputation will last forever. 

    Sterling, peering over his gut from his courtside seats, has been known to heckle his own players. He has been accused of asking a former coach to cut medical costs by taping up injured players himself. He once tried to welsh on paying a fan who won a free-throw contest out of $1,000, until a lawyer stepped in. 

    Sterling has been sued for sexual harassment a number of times and has settled out of court a number of times. And in November 2005 he was ordered to pay upwards of $5 million in legal fees to plaintiffs' attorneys in a lawsuit that very damningly accused the Clippers owner of racism. 

    For some holiday enthusiasm from a non-Scroooge, follow me, Amber Lee, on Twitter: