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The Biggest Current Instigators in Sports

Nick DimengoFeatured ColumnistJanuary 17, 2013

The Biggest Current Instigators in Sports

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    When considering someone an instigator, we think of a relentless force trying to cause a scene.

    Someone who keeps poking at you, talking to you or trying to get under your skin like a gnat swarming around your ear at a summer picnic.

    And though athletes are a little bigger and stronger than a bug, they still can have the same annoying tendencies.

    Since so much of sports is mental, here are the biggest instigators who will do anything to get in the opposition's dome.

Dwight Howard, Los Angeles Lakers

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    Howard may come across as a happy-go-lucky kind of guy, but we all know what a real headcase he is after flip-flopping in Orlando, narrowing his list of team's to be traded to down and going after anyone who might question him.

    He's had ongoing feuds with Shaq over who the "real" Superman is.

    Has allegedly gotten his coach fired—who he clashed with.

    And is now pointing the finger at other people for the Lakers failures thus far this season.

    He doesn't elbow guys or get under their skin, but he does his damage with his words off the court.

Tony Stewart, Auto Racing

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    Stewart has long been the Dennis Rodman of auto racing by getting under the skin of everyone.

    Known to bad-mouth other drivers—while driving recklessly himself—and often then attacking them in the media, Tony's a jerk who loves to piss off anyone not named Tony Stewart.

    Hell, the dude's even ended up with a black eye for his instigating behavior.

Matt Barnes, Los Angeles Clippers

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    We're not sure what it is about him, but Barnes just seems likely someone who would actually punch another player in the face if he pisses him off enough.

    Well what do you know? Barnes did punch another player in the face! And it was at a Pro-Am game in San Fran a couple years ago.

    On top of that, Matty's been known to push the buttons of players for years, and isn't shy with running his mouth.

DeSean Jackson, Philadelphia Eagles

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    If you want our vote for the biggest showboater in the league, we'd easily put Jackson at the top.

    He's got all the speed and talent in the world, and he's definitely not shy about telling anyone not wearing an Eagles uniform about it.

    His premature TD celebrations are legendary, only fueling fire for another player to go off on him—even if it is just a kicker.

Bryce Harper, Washington Nationals

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    Maybe Harper's just still too young to understand?

    The brash, current NL Rookie of the Year winner is looked at as the next big thing in baseball, but thanks to him often showing-up opposing players, he's also open to get beaned every once in awhile.

    Don't believe us? Just ask Cole Hamels what he thinks about Harper's "showmanship."

Terrell Suggs, Baltimore Ravens

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    It's one thing to talk crap on the gridiron, but it's completely different when a player shows hate for another guy by posting pics of himself on Twitter wearing shirts aimed at other teams.

    He may be a great player—and defending NFL Defensive Player of the Year—but Suggs is probably lucky he doesn't play offense for fear that a monster of a linebacker, much like himself, would try to decapitate him.

Kyle Busch, Auto Racing

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    Even most casual racing fans know that Kyle Busch has earned a reputation for being a tremendous jerk.

    That's typically the moniker that comes along when a guy manages to wreck another driver during a damn caution lap!

    It's those kinds of stunts that make Busch one of the most hated drivers out there, and why we'd never feel safe driving in front of him—even if it was off the track.

Walter Samuel, Argentina National Team

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    Samuel, the Argentine international, is regarded as one of the toughest defenders in the world, which helped earned him the nickname Il Muro ("The Wall").

    But for his hard hits and tackles on players, he's also considered to be one of the dirtiest.

    It's his reputations and aggressiveness that earns him consideration as one of the biggest instigators in sports.

Steve Smith, Carolina Panthers

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    Much like his former juco teammate—former NFL wideout Chad Ochocinco—Smith just can't seem to keep to himself.

    He's been suspended for fighting with teammates before.

    And he's started fights with other teams too.

    Smith is one of those guys who backs up his talk on the field, but that doesn't mean DBs like to hear what he has to say.

Philip Rivers, San Diego Chargers

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    Rivers is a good (not great) quarterback, whose accomplished Pro Bowl and playoff berths with the Chargers, but he's also known to have one of the loudest mouths on the gridiron.

    The San Diego signal-caller will talk smack to anyone standing around him, and even has gone after opposing fans.

Steve Ott, Buffalo Sabres

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    Though Ott is still currently in the league, he was actually named as the third biggest agitator in league history.

    One might not argue after hearing about his numerous altercations that include trying to gouge the eye out of Anaheim’s Travis Moen, along with a number of other penalties for going after opposing guys.

A.J. Pierzynski, Chicago White Sox

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    We're not even sure A.J.'s teammates really like him?

    That's what the White Sox catcher gets for being a little too into himself and treating anyone stepping into the batter's box like dirt.

    Bro even kneed a Sox trainer in the nuts after getting hit by a pitch in his own junk once.

Gennaro Gattuso, Swiss Club FC Sion

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    Gattuso's one of our favorite players ever, but he definitely likes to start a lot of stuff.

    He's constantly badgering opposing players, committing hard tackles and yelling at refs.

    And then there was that whole choking out an opposing coach (after doing the same to his own), while yelling vulgarities in Scottish to him. 

Joakim Noah, Chicago Bulls

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    While in college, we remember Noah rolling into Rupp with his Florida teammates with swagger and cockiness.

    Since then, there hasn't been a bigger NBA player we've personally disliked more.

    To add fuel to the fire, he called out Cleveland—after the Cavs wiped-out the Bulls in five games during the playoffs—and is constantly doing things to piss off other players.

Ndamukong Suh, Detroit Lions

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    Suh's been voted as the dirtiest player in the league after altercations like stepping on another player's head, or head-butting a quarterback.

    He's a force down in the trenches, but he's a head case who constantly goes after anyone on the other team with trash talk and hard hits.

Kurt Busch, Auto Racing

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    We're not even racing fans, yet we still know Busch is one of the biggest instigators in the sport.

    Constantly running his mouth about other drivers, tossing-out crew members as if they were a piece of trash and verbally going after a media member, to say Busch has a little bit of road rage is like saying Brian Urlacher is a little bit bald.

Daniel Carcillo, Chicago Blackhawks

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    Unless you're a relatively big hockey fan, Carcillo's instigating might not be very well-known—especially since he's been out with a torn ACL since last January.

    How did he injure the knee? When he illegally boarded Tom Gilbert of the Oilers.

    When a guy injures himself while going after an opposing player, there's obviously going to be a fine line for him once he gets back on the ice.

Kevin Garnett, Boston Celtics

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    If a picture's worth a thousand words, than we wonder how many different things opposing players would say about KG after seeing the photo above?

    Other players respect the "Big Ticket" because he's a future Hall of Famer, but that doesn't mean they need to like him while playing the Celts.

    Nonstop chirping, slapping the floor on defense and overly dramatic celebrations make Garnett one of the biggest instigators of all-time.

Cortland Finnegan, St. Louis Rams

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    Living in Nashville, we know everything about how Cortland gets under opposing receivers' skin—but just ask Andre Johnson if Finnegan's a pest.

    Finnegan's undersized and scrappy, only adding to how irritating he can be throughout a game.

Metta World Peace, Los Angeles Lakers

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    Is there any doubt as to who would fill our No. 1 spot?

    World Peace is an in-your-face defender who has the ability to shutdown any player in the league, but more often than not, he reverts to trying to physically and emotionally bully them.

    With more incidents than we can list right here, Ron Ron's the guy you hate going against, but love when he's on your side, right Kobe?

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