These days, lots of athletes—especially the super famous ones—have plenty of opportunities to try their hands at something other than sports.
But as the age-old saying goes, just because they can doesn't mean they should.
It seems that every NBA player thinks he is secretly a rapping savant—but that doesn't mean they all need to be out recording albums. Or that they need to accept every request to be on Dancing with the Stars or—worse—Splash.
The world would be a much better place if we didn't have to see Ndamukong Suh and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar belly-flopping into a pool.
From failed ventures with car dealerships to failed ventures as hip hop artists, here are some of the athletes who are better off sticking with what they know best.
It only makes sense that Chad Johnson wanted to keep himself occupied—and in shape—during the NFL lockout in 2011.
Unfortunately, he didn't make sense as the next big MLS star (if there is even such a thing).
While he waited for the NFL's labor dispute to resolve itself, Johnson decided to try out for Sporting Kansas City. He was, after all, a star soccer player as a child. But as he soon found out, that does not an MLS star make.
It's only fair to note that Ocho did experience some success during his trial period with the team: He was asked to play in a reserve game two days into his stint, but afterward, he wasn't offered a contract.
And then, the lockout ended and he helped get the New England Patriots to the Super Bowl. Point made.
This gem was produced back in the olden days of 2006, when Boston College's basketball team not only earned a spot in the NCAA Tournament but was projected to be a Final Four contender. (Yes, those days did exist).
In their inaugural ACC season, the Eagles were more pumped up for their home game against Duke than usual, as were the home fans—some of whom found themselves in a pinch when it came to getting tickets to the big game. Two of those fans? Luke Russert, who was a student at BC at the time, and his late father Tim, then the moderator of Meet the Press.
In this spoof, the elder Russert and then-BC star Jared Dudley came to the perfect compromise: Russert would allow Dudley to guest-moderate that week's episode of Meet the Press in exchange for a ticket.
But after trying his hand as the moderator of a debate over whether or not Yao Ming should be president, Dudley made the right decision to stick with basketball.
When Charles Barkley is in front of a camera, he isn't exactly the kind of guy who takes himself too seriously. He's funny. He knows he's funny. If making a worldwide audience laugh means making a fool of himself on national TV, he'll do it, and for that, we're eternally grateful.
The idea that Barkley isn't afraid to look like a fool is the only way to explain this Taco Bell ad, which ran during the 2010 Super Bowl.
It's actually hard to tell if this is supposed to be a rap or one of those scenes in musicals where someone just speaks loudly in time to music, kind of like Russell Crowe's entire performance in Les Mis. Either way, it didn't work out as a musical number—but it did in terms of comedic value.
In Barkley's defense, the writing here isn't exactly Oscar-worthy. Could they really come up with nothing better than, "The five-buck box. It rocks, it rocks"?
Curt Schilling is a go-getter. He believes that everyone should try something at least once. He doesn't like it when people tell him he cannot do something.
But in retrospect, he probably wishes he'd listened to the people who told him that running a start-up video game company wasn't the best idea. If he'd listened, it would have saved him millions of dollars.
Schilling's company, which he started in 2007, released just one game—Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning—before laying off its entire staff and declaring Chapter 7 bankruptcy in 2012.
The saddest part was, reports circulated in October 2012 that Schilling was going to have to part ways with the infamous bloody sock—perhaps the most legendary artifact of the Boston Red Sox' 2004 World Series victory—in order to raise money to cover his debts. He could have kept it if he had just stuck with what he was good at.
Tom Brady is good at a lot of things—winning Super Bowls, wearing Uggs, and marrying supermodels among them.
Dancing, however, is clearly not his strongest suit.
The New England Patriots quarterback and three-time Super Bowl champion was unfortunately caught on camera at Carnival in Brazil in 2011, and nobody who witnessed it was ever the same.
The saddest part about this is that he actually seems to be serious. He's not joke-dancing; he's real dancing. As in, he thinks he looks good, with his Rafael Nadal hair and drunk-grandpa-at-a-wedding moves.
Suffice to say Brady won't be in the running for a spot on Dancing with the Stars anytime soon.
Generally, it's customary that when a certain region of the world experiences a debilitating natural disaster, it receives sympathy and financial aid from the rest of the world in order to recover.
Generally, it is not customary that bloggers claim that those regions do not deserve help or financial assistance in the wake of natural disasters. And airing those opinions is what got Paul Shirley fired from his blogging job at ESPN.
In 2010, following the earthquake in Haiti, the former NBA star wrote a 2,000 word essay on the Flip Collective website equating Haitians to panhandlers and insisting that they didn't deserve assistance because nobody knew what they would do with it:
I haven’t donated to the Haitian relief effort for the same reason that I don’t give money to homeless men on the street. Based on past experiences, I don’t think the guy with the sign that reads 'Need You’re Help' is going to do anything constructive with the dollar I might give him. If I use history as my guide, I don’t think the people of Haiti will do much with my money either.
Except if you're using history as your guide, Shirley, you're the first person who has compared those ravaged by an earthquake to homeless people begging for money on the street. So that's out.
Just because you are a former undisputed world boxing champion doesn't mean you have the potential to dominate the world in anything and everything. See Evander Holyfield for evidence.
The boxing legend had the terrific idea to launch a record label called Real Deal Records at some point in the mid-1990s. At first, it wasn't a complete flop: Holyfield's label signed the group Exhale, which experienced some fleeting success.
Unfortunately, Real Deal Records didn't really strike gold with anyone else, and Exhale eventually faded into obscurity. And perhaps if Holyfield hadn't spent those precious resources trying to make a record label happen in the '90s, he wouldn't have had to auction off his Atlanta mansion for $7.5 million last year.
Just to be clear, Pau Gasol clearly has no future as a singer or as a success story on American Idol, The Voice, The X-Factor, or any other reality singing competition. He is blatantly, utterly tone deaf and talentless on the mic.
But if this hilarious karaoke-esque video had never seen the light of day, it really would have been a shame.
The Lakers forward and two-time NBA champion took to the stage last March to sing The Fray's hit song "How to Save a Life." First, the positives: Gasol made his impromptu performance during UNICEF's Schools for Africa event, and it certainly brought a lot of publicity to the cause.
The negative is that Gasol's singing is worse than the worst possible joke contestant on any season of American Idol ever. But you have to love the passion he pours into it. He really gave this song his all.
And it was for a good cause!
Antoine Walker was relatively successful as an NBA star, spending eleven seasons with Boston, Dallas, Atlanta, Miami and Minnesota. He was far less successful in his real estate ventures, which eventually ended up causing his bankruptcy and costing him over $12 million.
Walker filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in 2010, and it listed several properties under his ownership, including a home in Miami and three in Chicago. He reportedly lost millions in about two years and was one of the many victims of the recession in 2007-08.
Of his woes, he told the Christian Post:
Personally, I was involved in a lot of real estate projects with the banks where I was the personal guarantor of the loans and when the recession hit back in 2007 and 2008, the banks went really hard after the money. There's probably like seven to eight banks that we had loans with. And it kind of hit me all at once. I had to pay back the money.
Should have just stuck with basketball and held onto his money.
So in this case, she really shouldn't have quit her day job because the one she took up on the side isn't actually legal.
Turning to prostitution in order to make a quick buck—even if it happens to earn you lots of quick bucks—is never the right way to go, despite the preachings of City High and, apparently, Suzy Favor-Hamilton. In 2012, the three-time Olympian was busted as an employee of Haley Heston Private Collection, which is exactly what it sounds like.
As soon as Favor-Hamilton—a married mother of three, according to Radar Online—was exposed, she was promptly dropped from the lineup of speakers who were expected at an expo at the Disney Half Marathon in August, and she has lived in disgrace ever since.
If at first you don't succeed, try and try again. It didn't work out so well for Curt Schilling, but it did for Magic Johnson.
Magic has dabbled in many things since his career in the NBA came to an end. One of those things, however, didn't work out so well. The Magic Hour, an ill-fated talk show hosted by Magic, lasted for only a couple of months before it got the ax. Critics cited Magic's "nervousness" and a lack of chemistry with his cohost as the reasons for its failure, but hey—you can't be good at everything.
Fortunately, Magic understood that, so he wasn't crushed when his show was canceled after just two months. And in its aftermath, he found something he was actually good at: He now runs Magic Johnson enterprises, a company that is worth $700 million. Oh, and he owns the Dodgers, too.
When most NBA players want to dabble in hip hop, they release a song or two, or they are featured on someone else's track.
Not Delonte West. He planned to release an entire album.
The infamously embattled guard—who started out strong with the Celtics but fizzled out when personal, off-the-court troubles interfered with his game—planned to release a mix tape called The Lockout back in 2011 during, you guessed it, the NBA lockout.
The above video offers a glimpse into the mix tape, and compared with some others—like Kobe's, for instance—it's not terrible. It's not particularly listenable, but it's not an absolute abomination.
Unfortunately, kind of like Delonte West the NBA star, Delonte West the rapper never really caught on.
Some athletes harbor dreams of being musicians. Others yearn to be actors or dancers.
Rollie Fingers wanted to be a pistachio farmer. And it really messed things up for him.
Upon retiring, the Hall of Fame hurler—whose 17-year career spanned Oakland, San Diego and Milwaukee—decided to invest in pistachio farms, among other things such as wind turbines and Arabian horses. And like so many others on this list, he was forced to file for bankruptcy when he discovered that the world of pistachio farming isn’t quite as lucrative as he thought it might be.
Fingers eventually lost about $8 million, according to Business Insider, but he worked and sold baseball cards until his debt was cleared.
He should have just trademarked his moustache instead.
A very short time ago, Lenny Dykstra was worth nearly $60 million. One failed jet venture later… not so much.
The former center fielder and three-time MLB All-Star was once living the high life in the aftermath of his retirement, living off the profits of a rather lucrative car wash business. But when he started a jet charter company and a magazine geared toward athletes in 2008, everything went downhill.
Amid reports that his fortune was in jeopardy, Dykstra filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2009 and has faced a host of legal problems ever since. In 2011 and thereafter, he has been charged with bankruptcy fraud, obstruction of justice, identity fraud, drug possession, and more. In December 2012, he was sentenced to 6.5 months in prison, 500 community service hours and he was ordered to pay $200,000 in restitution.
Should have just stuck with the car wash.
The biggest takeaway to be gleaned from this slideshow is the fact that usually, when athletes decide to start companies in industries in which they have no experience, the word "bankruptcy" isn't far off in their futures.
Another example: Deuce McAllister.
The New Orleans Saints running back started a car dealership in Mississippi around 2008, and when it became clear to him that he didn't know how to operate a car dealership, he filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy shortly thereafter. He was later sued by Nissan Finance for allegedly defaulting on his payments and exceeding his credit limit, according to ESPN.com.
McAllister didn't deny any of this. In fact, according to ESPN.com, he filed a counter claim in which he insisted that Nissan Finance knew he "was a young professional athlete inexperienced in the motor vehicle sales business" and did little to help his dealership succeed.
... Then why start a car dealership in the first place?
This cameo doubtlessly gave us one of the greatest-ever performances by an athlete in a film. But that certainly doesn't mean that the acting was any good.
No, Brett Favre was entertaining in the 1998 film There's Something About Mary in spite of himself. He played a flaky quarterback who lost out on the girl of his dreams because of the shady antics of another dude who was into her.
He didn't have many lines, and he only appeared in one scene, but what a scene it was.
Favre himself didn't have much to do with the fact that his involvement was funny—that was left up to the writing, and Ben Stiller's incorrect pronunciation of his name as "Fav-ruh"—and his stiffness made it clear that he wouldn't be transitioning into a full-time career as an actor once he retired.
Sometimes, when athletes host Saturday Night Live, we're treated to the kind of comedic genius that we never knew existed. Look at what happened when Eli Manning hosted last year. Who ever expected him to be as great as he was?
Michael Phelps, on the other hand, had the opposite effect.
The most decorated Olympian in history hosted NBC's sketch comedy show in 2008, shortly after laying claim to eight gold medals in Beijing and establishing himself as the sports world's new heartthrob. Unfortunately, being a stellar swimmer doesn't translate into being a stellar comedian, as we soon discovered. Phelps proved to be awkward, stiff, unfunny and, most importantly, unable to read a cue card.
Some athletes just aren't meant for the bright lights of 30 Rock.
So we all love MJ. Obviously. He is the greatest of all time—at playing basketball.
As much as we may hate to admit it, owning and operating an NBA team doesn't seem to come as naturally to him.
Michael Jordan has owned the Charlotte Bobcats since March 2010, and when he became the first former player to own an NBA team, it was exciting. There was nothing MJ couldn't do; if anyone could turn the Bobcats into a contender, it would be him.
Apparently, we were wrong. In the three full seasons Jordan has been at the helm, the Bobcats have failed to produce an over-500 record, and talent-wise, they have failed to offer any indication that they will ever be anything other than the laughingstock of the NBA.
Obviously, he had to quit his day job because he got old—but maybe Jordan should have just accepted retirement for all its glory instead of trying this.
In retrospect, it's hard to figure out how this happened. How did Shaquille O'Neal—one of the most famous athletes on the planet—think it was a good idea to portray a giant genie in a ridiculous kids' movie?
Kazaam may have been entertaining, and it may have garnered Shaq some attention, but an award-winning performance, this was not. This was no He Got Game. If anything, it was funny when it wasn't supposed to be.
For further indication of just how bad this movie was: It has a 4 percent "rotten" rating on Rotten Tomatoes. That is 3 percent worse than New Year's Eve, for some perspective. Film critic Ester Iverem of The Washington Post wrote, "The movie's producers could use a genie of their own. Surely, if granted three wishes, they could have produced a better film."
Still, despite the resoundingly negative reviews, Shaq doesn't regret being a part of such a colossal failure. In 2012, he told GQ:
I was a medium-level juvenile delinquent from Newark who always dreamed about doing a movie. Someone said, "Hey, here's $7 million, come in and do this genie movie." What am I going to say, no? So I did it.
This season, it’s easy to see why Kobe Bryant might feel like he needs an outlet. The Lakers may be doing better right now than they have been at any other point this season, but this isn’t a team anyone expected to be struggling to claim the 8 seed in the West.
In an earlier time, however, Black Mamba seems to have thought he had a second career as a rapper. And one listen leaves you with no other conclusion than he must have been in the midst of a serious quarter-life crisis. It's hard to avoid secondhand embarrassment while listening to this, which sounds like it was produced in the same studio in which Marnie Michaels laid down her sweet track.
It makes sense, then, that they were both met with similar reactions.
In the end, Bryant came to the right conclusion: He makes much more sense as the face of the Lakers and as a five-time NBA champion. There's no way he could ever earn any hardware as a rapper.
P.S. What a creative song title.