How NOT to Celebrate a Championship

Amber LeeSports Lists Lead WriterJuly 5, 2013

How NOT to Celebrate a Championship

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    Winning a championship is a relatively rare occurrence for fans, franchises, and professional athletes alike. Well, for most of them. It's far more likely to be a once-in-a-lifetime experience than a regular event. 

    The urge to celebrate in a big way is only natural. Fans take to the streets immediately to enjoy the moment with their fellow fanatics. Franchises often take to the streets a few days later, usually on a parade route. And athletes take to the clubs for VIP victory parties. 

    Obviously, that's speaking very generally. Some people like to do their own thing, of course, which is totally fine because there is no right way to celebrate a championship. 

    However, there are plenty of wrong ways. When you're too wrapped up in the moment, bad things can happen. You can embarrass yourself, hurt yourself, hurt someone else or end up looking like a complete jerk. 

    You can even up in jail. A championship should be a night to remember, not 20 years to life. 

    Here are 21 ways NOT to celebrate a championship. 

21. Don't Get Too Drunk for Interviews

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    Players that win championships have very few responsibilities after the fact. Which is why they should be able to attend a few events and give a few interviews without incident. 

    Well, apparently that was too much to ask for the Bruins' Brad Marchand after their Stanley Cup victory over the Canucks in the 2011 Finals. Vancouver was the definitive favorite in the series, but Boston's victory wasn't the most surprising thing ever.

    Granted, it was a pretty serious stunner for Marchand, aka "The Little Ball of Hate", who was absent from team interviews three days after the championship because he had been partying a little too hard at Foxwoods Casino in nearby Connecticut. 

    If you're too drunk to give an interview for your championship DVD, you might just be too drunk at life. No judgment. Just do your job, hoss.  

20. Don't Break Car Windows

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    I'm not sure if this is a uniquely American tradition or what, but it seems like every time a Super Bowl or World Series is won these days, fans take to the streets and smash the hell out of car windows. 

    Seriously, it's like we're all just bottled up unruly vandals on the inside, and are just one championship celebration away from putting a brick, boot, or board through the windshield of some poor, unsuspecting stranger's car. 

    In the wake of the Ravens recent win in Super Bowl XLVII, countless fans took to the streets of Baltimore to "celebrate" by busting out the windows of some unlucky city residents whose cars were in the wrong place at the wrong time. 

    Ravens fans weren't the first to engage in this behavior and they certainly won't be the last. 

19. Don't Hit Up Denny's

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    Considering there's probably an athlete somewhere committing, covering up or getting arrested for murder as I write this, initially I hesitated to include the Heat's Shane Battier celebrating his recent NBA championship at a local Denny's. 

    He opted out of hitting up a Miami nightclub with his teammates, coach and even team president Pat Riley. Seriously, some of the Spurs didn't even opt out of that party!

    The fact that Battier preferred an intimate gathering of friends and a Grand Slam breakfast for $4.99 to being part of party that dropped nearly $100,000 on champagne…well, it makes me like him a lot more. 

    But c'mon—you just won a championship! Denny's is where your parents take you to celebrate a solid report card in the fourth grade. Battier could've done a little more celebrating while still keeping it low-key. 

18. Don't Duck and Run

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    Championships and fireworks go together like peanut butter and jelly, English people and tea or marshmallow vodka and root beer. They are as synonymous with American victory as the high-five or chants of "USA!"

    Seriously, there are two lines in our national anthem devoted to fireworks. That's how ingrained celebratory explosives are in the fabric of Americana. 

    So when Louisville defeated Michigan in the 2013 NCAA Tournament, Cardinals coach Rick Pitino should've been anticipating there might be something loud planned for the winner. But apparently, he was completely unprepared.

    Poor Pitino reacted to the surprise of fireworks like a fugitive on the run or a citizen of a war-torn nation. Hopefully he's getting some rest this summer. 

    Sure it was an embarrassing moment, but I guess it's better to be safe than sorry? 

17. Don't Be Cool Enough That the LAPD Applauds Your Restraint

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    Rioting is a really good way to immediately tarnish the shine on a championship. There's nothing wrong with a few thousand enthusiastic fans getting together downtown to celebrate a big win collectively. 

    As long as they don't go overboard. Kings fans certainly didn't go overboard celebrating their Stanley Cup Championship in 2012. In fact, it's safe to say, that they may have gone underboard. Even though that's not a real word. 

    Their jubilation was so restrained that the Los Angeles Police Department actually publicly complimented fans for their calm and reticence. Geez. Not rioting is a good thing. Neither is getting an "attaboy" from the LAPD.

    You want to be cool, but not too cool. 

16. Don't Drop the Trophy

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    Unless we're talking about the Stanley Cup, the trophy handed out with a championship isn't nearly as big of a deal as the event itself. That being said, it's still kind of a big deal, and should be handled with caution and care. 

    Especially when the hands handling it are leaning off the top of a double-decker party bus. 

    In April 2011, Real Madrid's Sergio Ramos proved to not be the most responsible trophy holder when he dropped the Copa del Rey off a bus during the celebration of their 1-0 victory over rival Barcelona in the final.

    Man, he must've felt like such a turd in the moment. 

    Unlike the Stanley Cup and the Survivor immunity idol, most teams get to keep their trophy after winning a championship, presumably meaning it can be replaced. Even so—you never want to be that guy

15. Don't Take Your Shirt off and Climb Things

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    Actually, you can take your shirt off in celebration if you promise not to climb anything. Not scaffolding. Not trees. Not phone poles. Not street lights. Not the broad side, or any other side, of a building. 

    None of it. 

    It's just that taking your shirt off and climbing things at a championship celebration often go hand-in-hand. How often do you see a guy hanging off six stories of scaffolding or scaling a building to fire up the crowd with his shirt on?  

    Very rarely.

    That being said, the guy celebrating the Blackhawks' recent Stanley Cup championship is obviously having a lot of fun. And I'm not opposed to fun. In fact, I'm quite in favor or it. 

    My only concern is that one drunken misstep is the only thing that separates this kind of fun from becoming the lifelong nightmare of everyone who watched a shirtless idiot fall to his death. 

    Talk about taking everyone down with you...

14. Don't Party with the Losers

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    After LeBron James decided to take his talents to South Beach in July 2010, within days he was on stage with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh promising to deliver eight championships to Heat fans. King James may have made the promise himself, but you'd assume the whole team would've been feeling the heat (see what I did there?) to deliver right away. 

    Especially since they were instantly considered the favorites for the season ahead. For whatever reason though, things just didn't gel for the "Big Three" in the 2011 Finals, and the Mavericks upended them in six games. 

    They may have looked like they were heading for a funeral during their post-game press conference, but some members of the Heat were really heading for a party. The Mavs celebration party. I guess the best way to feel like less of a loser is to hang with winners?

    Rumors began swirling the next day about the teams intermingling. A writer for NBA.com confirmed the rumor, but refused to name names—as if he were an accused communist in the 1950s being menaced by Congress or something. 

    Obviously, the Heat got all the bad press, deservedly so, but what were the Mavs doing partying with the losers to begin with? Who can celebrate properly surrounded by a bunch of dudes that would sell their souls to take it all away from you?

13. Don't Overturn Cars or Buses

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    When fans take to the street by the thousands, or hundred thousands, to celebration a championship, mob mentality can eventually get the best of some revelers. They engage in the kind of behavior that, under nearly any other circumstances, they would otherwise never be part of.

    Like overturning a car. Or a bus.

    Actually, maybe more people have the natural inclination to flip over vehicles than I think, but they just don't have the manpower on a given day.

    Whatever the case may be, the one thing that's certain is that when masses of fans gather to celebrate a championship, some combine their resources to do things that only massive feats of human strength can accomplish.

    Like overturning a car. Or a bus. 

    It's definitely happened in Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and San Francisco in recent years. And it's probably happened in plenty of other cities as well—but cataloguing them all would be excessive and quite research intensive. Sorry.

12. Don't Make a Political Statement

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    Winning a professional sports championship in the U.S. often comes with a ceremonial trip to the White House. The event consists of a free trip to our great nation's capital, a visit to a beautiful and historic mansion and a friendly photo op with the president. 

    Aside from the fact that the president is, in fact, present, the invitation and/or proceedings are in no way political. Nobody is asked to, let alone forced, to pledge his or her allegiance to the president or support for his policies before, during or after the trip. 

    It's simply a courtesy. If it's a courtesy that doesn't appeal to you, then do the courteous thing and politely decline. When you get up on your soapbox and turn it into a politically divisive situation, it looks ridiculously self-serving and the entire team is dragged down with you.

    Then again, I have to admit that I preferred the political explanation of former Bruins goalie Tim Thomas for turning down an invitation in early 2012 than that given by former Steelers linebacker James Harrison, who skipped the White House visits in 2006 and 2009. 

    Harrison said, "This is how I feel—if you want to see the Pittsburgh Steelers, invite us when we don't win the Super Bowl."

    Seriously, dude? Something tells me he doesn't get invited to a lot of parties. 

11. Don't Overdo It

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    You've heard the expression "dance like nobody's watching", right? It just means live your life free from worry about what other people are going to think about you. A nice little piece of advice…in theory. 

    If you take it too literally, you should really keep in mind that there probably are people watching. Particularly if you've got a television camera shoved in your face. 

    Just ask the University of Memphis cheerleader who famously lost her marbles after winning a national competition in 2011. She probably has a name, but over five million people will forever know her simply as "Epic Cheerleader Freakout".

    Showing a little restraint when you know people are watching could save you a lifetime of embarrassment and regret. 

10. Don't Start or Jump over a Fire

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    There are two kinds of people in this world. Those who see a bonfire on a city street and walk around it and those who see a bonfire on a city street and are compelled to jump over it. 

    Then again, I guess there are the people who started the bonfire on the city street to begin with. So maybe there are three kinds of people? Whatever. I guess I just find the idea of celebratory arson very difficult to grasp. 

    Be that as it may, when the Giants won the World Series in 2012, some judgement impaired fans decided that starting a bonfire on a street in the Mission District was a really solid idea. 

    It was probably the same type of people that decided jumping over said bonfire was a really solid idea. Unfortunately, when a fire erupts in an unexpected place, there's a chance that someone will unexpectedly fall into it. 

    Which is exactly what happened to a woman in that Mission District fire. She stumbled into the flames and was severely burned as a result. Other reports suggest at least two people were injured from falling into the fire. 

9. Don't Skip Town for a European Vacation

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    Championships don't come around every day. So when they do, you'd think anyone involved with a team would want to stick around for a couple of days and enjoy the fruits of their labor. Anyone but UCLA athletic director Dan Guerrero, it seems

    In June 2013, the Bruins won their first every national championship in baseball with an impressive performance in the tournament and win in the College World Series. It was a momentous occasion for UCLA sports, considering they've had far more trip-ups than triumphs over the last decade. 

    Finally some good publicity! All the more reason for the AD to want to be on hand. But apparently Guerrero, a former Bruins baseball player himself, had his summer vacation plans etched in stone and was already off to Italy by the time the celebration rolled around. 

    We all know those last-minute change fees on airline tickets can be murder. And Guerrero only pulls in about $1 million per year, so he was probably just thinking about the devastating impact that losing few hundred dollars would have on him.

    Latrell Sprewell knows what that's all about. He's got a family to feed, after all. 

8. Don't Get Ahead of Yourselves

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    Please excuse the tired cliché, but the one about not counting your chickens before they hatch is actually really solid advice. It's especially appropriate when it comes to planning for a potential championship.

    No matter how inevitable it may feel, there is nothing more embarrassing than prematurely celebrating a championship that doesn't happen. 

    To almost everyone in the world, the Patriots seemed unbearably destined for an undefeated season in 2008. The Patriots felt it too, which is why they decided to apply for trademarks on the phrases "19-0" and "19-0 The Perfect Season" as part of their preparations going into Super Bowl XLII.

    In all that championship hoopla, they must have forgotten to send the victory memo to the New York Giants. Oopsies. 

    That kind of embarrassment and letdown is why you don't rush the court until the clock has expired. It's why you don't buy your Super Bowl tickets before your team wins the conference championship. It's why you don't give coach the Gatorade bath until you're absolutely positive the game is over. 

    It's a huge fall from perceived champions to humiliated losers, particularly when it happens in the blink of an eye. So don't count your money, when you're sittin' at the table. And yes, clichés have synonyms. 

7. Don't Upload a Weird Video to YouTube

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    If you're under the age of 40, you probably are in agreement with me when I say that the Internet is a pretty great thing. And as someone who experienced life before its widespread existence, I actually have something to compare it to. 

    As much as I enjoy modern technology, sometimes I can't help but think back fondly on the days when people didn't feel the need—and certainly didn't have the ability—to share everything they say or do with the entire world. 

    The kid in this video with (who I imagine is) his mother celebrating the Ravens AFC Championship win in 2013 is a perfect example. Why did he record that close-up mess to begin with, let alone post it on YouTube?

    And since when do teenagers party with their moms and brag about it online? Boy, the world has really changed. 

    Sure, the video only has 201 views—not an impressive sum by any means. But frankly, it has 201 views too many. Celebrate with your mom all you want to, but pretend like you have some dignity, and friends your own age, and keep it to your damn self. 

6. Don't Pour Champagne on a Member of the Media

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    Obviously, Heat president Pat Riley thinks he's a pretty big deal—how else can you explain that hair of his? And, I suppose in reality, he actually is a pretty big deal.

    That being said, being a big deal isn't a free pass to ignore the basic rules of civility. Neither is winning two consecutive NBA championships. 

    Sure, you can see why Riley would have been pumped after that dramatic Game 7 victory over the Spurs in the 2013 NBA Finals. It's harder to understand why he thought it was appropriate to pour champagne over the head of respected reporter Rachel Nichols during a post-game interview. 

    I'm pretty sure you're not even allowed to do this kind of thing to the dancers inside the champagne room at a strip club. Meaning it should go without saying that it's not acceptable behavior anywhere else, either.

    Not cool, Riley. Not cool. 

5. Don't Pour Champagne on Yourself, Either

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    If there was ever anything weirder and more disturbing than president Pat Riley pouring champagne on reporter Rachel Nichols after the Heat's championship in 2013, it was Chris Bosh pouring champagne on himself after the Heat's championship in 2012. 

    Ain't no celebration like a Chris Bosh celebration 'cause a Chris Bosh celebration…never fails to creep out everyone that sees it. That's how the saying goes, right?

    There's not much else I can say about the scene he created because, I think it's fair to say, that the imagery on display here is pretty graphic. I mean, kudos to Bosh for being a good sport and letting Dwyane Wade and LeBron James get in on the fun, too. 

    But there's a lesson to be learned here. There is such thing as being too good of a sport. 

4. Don't Bring Your Guns

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    Honestly, as a fan, I know the excitement of winning a championship can be pretty overwhelming. You're in a group of drunk strangers and everyone is going bananas. If someone is carrying a firearm of some sort on their person, I can see why they may feel compelled to fire a few celebratory rounds into the air. 

    People that are extremely comfortable with firearms and the sound of gunfire sometimes forget that those things can inspire panic in people that are less comfortable and familiar with the joy they find in the Second Amendment.

    Firing a gun in a crowd of people may seem like fun in the moment, but it's a pretty bad idea. You could accidentally shoot someone. You could accidentally shoot yourself. Someone could mistake your celebration for a threat and return fire. 

    Or, horror of horrors, you could drunkenly misplace your gun! 

    The best way to resist the urge to shoot a gun is by not having a gun. The last thing you want to do is turn a championship celebration into a 20-year prison sentence for voluntary manslaughter. 

3. Don't Drop F Bombs with Cameras Present

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    Disembodied voice: "Hey Joe Flacco! You just won the Super Bowl—what are you going to now?"

    Joe Flacco: "I'm going to f*****g Disney World!"

    Okay, so that's not exactly the context in which Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco dropped the infamous F bomb after defeating the 49ers in Super Bowl XLVII in February 2013. 

    You know the Super Bowl, right? The sporting event that routinely breaks records as the most watched television event in U.S. history. If we learned anything from Janet Jackson's nipple, it's that there are a lot of easily offended complainers in an audience of 100 million. 

    Flacco obviously wasn't thinking about "Nipplegate" (or was he?) when he let his freak flag fly after the Ravens secured the victory. And, as it turns out, Flacco's freak flag is just a big purple and black flag with the F word all over it. 

    Let's just say, more than a few complaints were lodged with the freaking FCC. Streaks of on-air profanity rarely go over well on network television.

2. Don't Trash Your Own Damn City

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    Generally when you think of the city in California that's famous for their riots, Los Angeles comes to mind. But the riots in LA have been serious, real world stuff—like race relations, police corruption and issues relating to poverty. 

    The real rioters in Cali these days are the sports fans in San Francisco. Giants fans rioted after winning the World Series in 2010, but the San Francisco Chronicle reported that the streets were filled with "joyful mayhem".

    Which is the most positive spin I've ever seen put on a full-fledged riot. When the team won the big one again in 2012, the headlines weren't nearly as forgiving. The local CBS affiliate reported, "36 Arrested For 'Trashing San Francisco' After Giants' Series Win".

    The headline was derived from a statement of SFPD Chief Greg Suhr, who lamented the "almost mystifying belief that some people can just come trash San Francisco". Can't blame him for wondering what the hell is wrong with people after having to contend with such a mess.

    Of the 36 people arrested, 23 of them were booked on felony charges—two of which were gun charges. So if you're going out to celebrate a championship, leave the gasoline, matches, toilet paper and firearms at home. 

1. Don't Turn into a Disgusting Molester

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    Seriously. This one should really go without saying, but apparently it does not. 

    In January 2012 Alabama defeated LSU in the worst BCS Championship game ever (until 2013), a rematch of the field goal fest earlier in the season that the Tigers won 9-6. But hey, a championship is a championship, right? 

    Tide fans were their typical enthusiastic and generally insufferable selves while celebrating the big victory. Although there was one fan, Brian H. Downing, who took things up a notch, ironically, by sinking to new low. 

    Deadspin reported on the incident and posted a video of him rubbing parts of his exposed, uh, crotch region on the face of a passed out LSU fan, which quickly went viral. All the more disturbing were the onlookers openly wondering if the man was dead or alive. 

    In October 2012, Downing reached a plea deal on the very morning he was scheduled to begin trial on various charges, one of which being sexual battery, which can come with a prison sentence of up to 10 years. 

    He may have avoided the worst case scenario, but the judge still sentenced him to two years in the pokey for his disgusting display. So let that be a lesson to all of you who like to celebrate by taking your pants off! Stop it. 

    Stop taking your pants off in public and start following me on Twitter: