The 20 Biggest Brush-Offs
When we see an athlete blow somebody off—whether it's a reporter, a coach, a former teammate or a fan—we love it. Secretly or not-so-secretly, it thrills us.
Mostly, it's funny. We expect athletes to be calm, cool and collected when facing the media, mostly because they should be used to the drill. So when they lose it—in front of a televised audience—it's awesome.
Unless it happens to you.
Back when Tom Brady and Bill Belichick were just starting to become household names, I saw David Givens at a Celtics game and asked him for an autograph. He declined because he was afraid I was going to incite a riot of people who wanted his autograph. Which would be reasonable, except for the fact that he's David Givens.
Here are some people who are much better at executing the brush-off than a middling Patriots receiver.
20. Kate Middleton Denied by Olympian
Think about how enraged Justin Bieber's or Taylor Swift's Twitter minions would become if anyone denied one of the pop stars a handshake on national television.
Now imagine that reaction, except if the Biebs or T-Swift were actual royalty. Welcome to the world of Jessica Ennis.
Ennis—a native of England who emerged from the 2012 Olympics as the heptathlon champion—appeared on the BBC's Personality of the Year Awards, according to Deadspin. The network tapped the duchess as a guest presenter, and she obliged, appearing publicly for the first time since her front-page news battle with morning sickness.
And how did Ennis honor her? By denying her a handshake after receiving her award. Was it intentional? Of course not. Ennis clearly had her hands full. But it's still hilarious and awkward.
19. Cristiano Ronaldo Won't Sign Autograph for Fan
In terms of the top international sports superstars, Cristiano Ronaldo has to be someone who is near the top of the list. Of course, that means he has tons and tons of fans, and it's understandable that he doesn't always have time to stop and sign autographs for all of them.
But the reaction this fan had to getting rejected by the Real Madrid star is one for the books.
On his way out of some kind of appearance, Ronaldo rushes into a cab and brushes off a female fan who is trying to get him to sign a soccer ball. A dude in the crowd of photographers and fans goes ballistic, and the rejected fan finally joins in, approaching Ronaldo's cab with her ball and trying once again to get him to sign it.
And again, she is denied, but she responds to the brush off with a top-notch zinger about Portugal and its chances of making the World Cup.
18. McKayla Maroney Not Impressed with Hug
We all know that McKayla Maroney is not one to mask her emotions when she is unamused.
The U.S. Olympic gymnast started a revolution over the summer when she failed to land one of her vaults, lost out on the gold and couldn't muster up a smile during the medal ceremony. And apparently, her sour expression lasted far longer than those few seconds the national television cameras caught her.
Here, we see Maroney accepting a hug from a rather earnest fellow competitor, who seems to be clinging to Maroney for dear life. Meanwhile, Maroney barely even gives her a "there, there" pat on the back, and her enviable stone face never wavers.
17. Kevin Garnett Denies Lakers Fan
Kevin Garnett is one of the most emotionally intense NBA players on the planet. Actually, he's probably one of the most emotionally intense human beings on the planet. He takes himself—and his loyalties—very seriously, and ever since becoming a member of the Boston Celtics, that has meant showing the proper amounts of disdain for anything or anyone affiliated with Boston's rivals.
So if you're a Lakers fan or ball boy, don't expect to be getting an autograph from KG anytime soon.
A couple of years ago, when the C's were visiting Staples Center, a Lakers ball boy had the gall to ask KG for an autograph on a ball, according to Marc Spears via NBC Sports. KG responded with a tasteless yet funny dagger: "You got a better chance of catching Bin Laden."
But hey. Maybe the ball boy should try again, in light of what happened about three months later.
16. Doug Williams Loses His Mind at Fan
Back in the days of old, long before the age of RGIII began in Washington, Doug Williams was kind of a big deal.
The quarterback was the MVP of Super Bowl XXII, when the Redskins beat the Broncos. But unfortunately, that's pretty much where his personal highlight reel ends. Even the year he won the Super Bowl, he only started two regular-season games and lost both of them; he would retire after posting a 5-7 record over the following two seasons.
These days, apparently, he is a very angry man.
The details here are shoddy, but what appears to be happening is a fan asks Williams for an autograph and is upset about being denied. Maybe something happened before the camera started rolling, but in any case, Williams seems none too happy with the fan in question. Beware of some strong language.
15. Andy Roddick Tells Reporter to Retire
One such occasion came about after he lost in the opening round at the China Open in 2011. He was understandably upset. He was in the midst of a terrible year, he was clearly on the downward ascent and the fact that people kept asking him when he was going to retire—as if he was playing so poorly that it had to be imminent—was annoying.
During the post-match news conference, one reporter drudged up the nerve to ask Roddick if the rumors were true and he was on the verge of hanging up his hat. Roddick eye-rolled his way through the convoluted question, responded with, "I think you should retire," then stormed out.
That's how you brush someone off.
14. Hasheem Thabeet Rejected by Kendrick Perkins
When you try to high five someone and he or she denies you, it's embarrassing and awkward. So kudos to Hasheem Thabeet for playing it off like a pro.
Earlier this year, the Oklahoma City Thunder were in the midst of a bout with the Timberwolves when Kendrick Perkins got hit with his fourth foul and was pulled from the game. Perk was obviously unhappy with the call, and Thabeet recognized that. So in an effort to pick up his teammate's spirits just a little bit, he offered up his hand for a high five as Perk dejectedly dragged himself to the bench.
There's no way Perk didn't see that hand, but he denied Thabeet anyway. And instead of acting awkward, Thabeet simply opted to give himself a high five and sat back down.
13. Tom Brady Rejects Eli Manning
Now, it's possible that this one has been a tad overblown. It's possible that Tom Brady didn't intend to blow off his nemesis, Eli Manning.
Or maybe Brady would just want you to think that. He's Tom Brady! He hearts everyone, even Eli.
Back in February 2008, when the Patriots were still 18-0 and Peyton's little bro was still kind of a joke, Manning jogged past Brady during Super Bowl XLII pregame warm-ups and appeared to tap Brady on the arm in a show of respect. It seems, however, Brady wasn't into it because he didn't reciprocate and instead stared down the back of that No. 10 jersey as it disappeared into the sunset.
And ever since then, the Patriots haven't been the same. The Curse of Eli.
12. Heather Cox Denied by David Shaw at Rose Bowl
So, this was awkward.
This bowl season was a big one for Stanford head coach David Shaw, who commandeered the Cardinal to a win over Wisconsin in Pasadena. Understandably, he was frazzled immediately after the game, when there were a million reporters and cameras and players roving the field.
So when ESPN sideline reporter Heather Cox tried to grab him for the usual postgame reaction, it didn't go exactly as planned. At first, Shaw tried to get away before Cox had asked him a single question, then reconsidered—for one question. Then, he started to walk away while she was in the midst of her follow up, fixing her with a clueless smile as he made his getaway.
Cox finally cut her losses and let him go, but not before audibly muttering, "Are you kidding?" on air.
11. Russell Westbrook Doesn't Like Your Question
In this reporter's defense, I think we've all heard some variation of the "did you win or did the other team lose" question. It sounds kind of stupid and nonsensical, but we know what it means.
Either Russell Westbrook doesn't, or he didn't have the patience to think about it after a tough loss.
During a postgame scrum at the Oklahoma City guard's locker earlier this year, a reporter posed the age-old question only to provoke a perplexed and borderline disgusted reaction from Westbrook. He couldn't hide his disdain as he reeled back, barked, "What?" and then decided that he'd had enough tough questions for the day and disappeared.
10. Tommy Tuberville Leaves His Ex-Recruits Hanging
So what do you do when you're the coach of a college football team, and you're at dinner with a bunch of your recruits, and you get a call from another program offering you their vacant head-coaching position?
You disappear to the bathroom, take the phone call and leave your recruits behind at the restaurant, never to be seen again. At least that's what it would say in Tommy Tuberville's manual.
The former Texas Tech head coach was reportedly in the middle of a dinner with at least three recruits when he got a call from Cincinnati offering him the job. As prospective offensive lineman Devonte Danzey tells it, via Yahoo! Sports:
The waitress brought our food out, and we thought [Tuberville] went to the bathroom, but he never came back to dinner. Then next thing I know, the next day, he made an announcement that he's going to Cincinnati.
The ultimate stand-up.
9. Jeremy Schaap Takes on Bob Knight
During his coaching days, Bob Knight got pleasure out of making reporters uncomfortable. He tried to scare them. His mission was to make them always remember that he was the boss.
When he tried that with ESPN's Jeremy Schaap—son of legendary broadcaster Dick Schaap—it didn't go over as well as planned.
The two sat down for an interview in September 2000, when Knight was at Indiana. The curmudgeonly coach—who, according to the L.A. Times, had a tendency to ramble—did not take well to Schaap's attempts to reel him in, snapping that Schaap needed to "let him finish."
When it was clear there was no way to smooth things over between the two, Knight landed the final dagger, telling Schaap (via the Times), "You've got a long way to go to be as good as your dad. You better keep that in mind."
So who brushed off whom here? Maybe we should call it a draw.
8. Olympic Swimmer Turns Down King James
Who rejects LeBron James? This chick does.
Apparently, U.S. Olympic swimmer Lauren Perdue wasn't impressed by King James' recent NBA title, or, you know, the fact that he's the best basketball player in the world right now. She was so unimpressed by him that when LeBron asked her to eat with him in the dining hall, she denied him.
The two met just before the 2012 Games were set to begin, and Perdue Instagrammed a photo of the two of them together (above) and revealed his proposal to the world.
Her reason for rejecting him?
"I said, 'Um, I'm sorry, I have a curfew.' So I turned that one down, yeah," she told the Charlotte Observer.
7. Bill Belichick vs. Eric Mangini
Everybody knows that Bill Belichick is not someone you want to cross. So how did Eric Mangini miss the memo?
The former Patriots defensive coordinator, who left New England to become head coach of the rival New York Jets in 2006 and famously clued in the NFL on the whole Spygate thing, is Belichick's Public Enemy No. 1. Belichick doesn't like a traitor, and he certainly doesn't like a tattletale.
Of course, all this meant was that a postgame handshake between the two coaches would become a national news story when their teams met.
As everyone expected, Belichick didn't exactly receive his former assistant with open arms after the Patriots beat the Jets in the Wild Card Round of the playoffs in 2007. According to him, there were just too many people standing in between him and his nemesis—but we know what was really going on.
Note: Beware of language.
6. Jim Boeheim Denies Andy Katz
What was once a lovely friendship has circled the drain and produced an uncomfortable, antagonistic mess.
Such is the current state of affairs between Jim Boeheim and Andy Katz.
The longtime Syracuse head coach and the veteran ESPN college basketball reporter butted heads at a press conference following the Orange's loss to UConn a couple of weeks ago. Katz posed a question, and instead of responding to it, Boeheim glared at him and muttered, "I'll answer anybody's question but yours because you're an idiot and a disloyal person. There are a few other things I could add but I'm not going to go there."
Apparently, the beef stems from some prying Katz did into former 'Cuse assistant Bernie Fine—who was accused of molesting two ball boys—but it's safe to say that Katz isn't getting his questions answered anytime soon.
5. Suzy Kolber vs. Joe Namath
Though this one definitely falls more on the side of embarrassing and awkward than funny, it still ranks as one of the most infamous brush-offs of the decade.
In December 2003, Hall of Famer and Jets legend Joe Namath stood on the sideline of a game and drunkenly attempted to answer ESPN reporter Suzy Kolber's questions. It did not go well. Namath could barely string together a coherent sentence and eventually gave up completely, instead focusing on his quest to kiss Kolber.
ESPN cut the interview short once it realized that Namath was intoxicated, and he later apologized for the incident and entered into an outpatient alcohol rehabilitation program.
4. Kobe Bryant Death Stares Mike Brown
From the get-go, it's been a rough season for the Lakers. That much was obvious from one look at Kobe Bryant just a few games into the year.
When L.A. signed both Steve Nash and Dwight Howard in the 2012 offseason, everybody thought it was an instant guarantee that the Lakers would represent the Western Conference in the 2012-13 NBA championship.
Now, of course, we know they are a long shot to even make the playoffs. Forget about a title.
And there was nobody who was more frustrated than Bryant when L.A. started off the season 1-4. Check out the death stare he pinned coach Mike Brown with in the midst of that fourth loss in five games.
What does a death stare from Kobe Bryant get you? Fired, apparently.
3. Erin Andrews Says 'No Thanks' to 50 Cent
Fox Sports reporter Erin Andrews had no idea what she'd gotten herself into at this year's Daytona 500, when she halted her quest to find Danica Patrick in order to conduct a quick on-camera chat with 50 Cent.
She doubtlessly regrets that move in retrospect.
This is so awkward that it is honestly difficult to watch. Andrews goes in for the hug, and Fiddy goes in for the full-on kiss. Not a cheek kiss, an actual kiss. In her effort to dodge him, she physically recoils, mutters, "I have to find Danica Patrick!" and then uncomfortably asks him how he's enjoying the festivities—all while slowly backing away from him.
But 50 Cent would not be denied. Instead of letting her run off to get her interview, he followed her while blatantly checking her out.
And now we know exactly what Andrews meant when she asked, "Can you guys believe this?"
2. KG Denies Ray Allen
Earlier, we saw Kendrick Perkins shun teammate Hasheem Thabeet by accident.
This, however, was no miscommunication. This was no accident.
We've already gone over Kevin Garnett's loyalty. It's important to him. When he signs with a team, he feels that he has a duty to that team and will not depart until the job is done. He can't, therefore, relate to someone like former Celtics teammate Ray Allen, who decided to jump ship and join the hated Heat this offseason, even though Boston GM Danny Ainge had objectively offered him a better deal.
So in the 2012-13 season opener, when Allen made the rounds to greet his former teammates and coaches as the Heat prepared to face the Celtics, he approached KG for a handshake or at least kind word or two.
You can probably guess how that went.
1. 'That's a Clown Question, Bro'
Sometimes, when reporters ask something really dumb, they deserve to be shamed. And there is nobody better at the art of shaming than Bryce Harper.
The Washington Nationals phenom and NL Rookie of the Year had a breakout campaign in 2012, and as a result, he often fielded lots of questions from lots of reporters at the end of every game. And perhaps because of his age, the 19-year-old outfielder often got some weird questions.
This was one of them.
Some imbecile asked the 19-year-old what his favorite beer is. Even after being warned by a media relations staffer to cease his line of questioning because Harper was not legally permitted to drink alcohol in the United States of America, the reporter kept harping on it until Harper dismissed him with the line of the year: