There is a right way and a wrong way to go about heckling.
You keep it up clean, creative and above all else—you strike while the iron is still smoking.
The following are some of the finest distractors, trash talkers and verbal assassins in the game. They know what they're doing, and one way or another, they'll get a rise out of you.
Golf is not an ideal sport for heckling.
The constant hush, stern crowd conduct rules and vigilant officials make sure that anyone who makes a peep is removed from the premises and beaten with large saps in the parking lot.*
Not all heckling is verbal, however, as Arizona Diamondbacks second baseman Aaron Hill found out during the 2014 Phoenix Open.
Hill was playing in the pro-am portion of the tournament with American golf pro Billy Horschel when a group of his Diamondback teammates arrived at the course waving giant Fathead posters featuring Hill’s face.
Josh Collmenter, Patrick Corbin, Eric Chavez and Charles Brewer were the perpetrators of this “show of support” and proceeded to follow the pair around the course, holding up their freakishly large distractions (one of them featuring a nose ring and an eye patch) every time Hill attempted a shot.
*Public beating unconfirmed.
Legend. Myth. Torch bearer of the art of fleshly distraction.
Duke Speedo Guy is all these things, but at his core he was a heckler whose brand of distraction has been oft imitated but never equaled.
As someone who’d rather fall on a camp fire than cheer for Duke, this is the highest praise I can offer. It’s not hard to do, either. The man was an institution of the moment, and his impact on the game cannot be exaggerated.
The highest level taunters work like snipers in the tree line. They observe the scene, pick out the highest value target available and then they wait.
Spouting off constantly does the opposite of proving your ability as a verbal assassin. Hecklers who go bulk over quality are only tolerated for so long before they themselves become the heckled.
The key to going down as a heckling hero is choosing your moment and making it count, as this one Jets fan (and I guarantee it was a Jets fan) proved. His line wasn’t clever, but he got in close enough to push the button on Rex Ryan.
One shot, one kill. It’s the heckler way.
You know how you know you’ve transcended the game? When the game changes itself to keep up with you.
The NBA had to change its free throw rules after Wilt Chamberlain started dunking his foul shots from the charity stripe. The league also had to adapt to Robin Ficker, the most mercilessly effective heckler to ever attend a professional basketball game.
A lifelong Washington Bullets fan, Ficker spent every Bullets home between the years 1985 and 1997 laying waste to the opposition from his seat behind the away team bench. He read passages from players' and coaches' biographies, ran his mouth over a “megaphone” (read: large cone) and generally drove opponents crazy.
The league eventually had to institute a new rule forbidding fans from engaging in “verbal abuse that interferes with communication between coaches and players.”
Penetrating the shell and jamming a fist full of rock salt in the open wound—that's how you crack a player.
This method was used to devastating effect on Dwight Howard in 2013 by a Dallas Mavericks fan who may or may not have been an extra in Road House.
It's unclear what the man said, but whatever it was hit Howard's soft spot and made the big man throw the ball his way. Again, what you say or do doesn't matter. It's getting the reaction that means everything.
He was just trying to hook a brother up with some of that sweet, tangy EPO-blood.
Imagine a less likable Lance Armstrong. That's Alberto Contador.
The prickly Spanish cyclist was stripped of his 2010 Tour De France title after testing positive for PEDs and served a one year suspension from professional cycling. Contador made his big return to the grand tour scene at the 2012 Tour De France and was greeted with a fitting response by many cycling fans.
One fan took it upon himself to dress up as a doctor and offer Contador a swig from his blood pack during the torturous ascent up the Alpe d'Huez. Clearly, Contador wasn't a huge fan of the gesture.
A group unlike any other, the Stephen A. Smith Heckling Society was a pack of men who did exactly what it sounds like they did—heckle Stephen A. Smith.
They've since retired, but during their three year reign, the SASHS managed to attend multiple NBA Drafts and turn each one into a Triumph the Insult Dog comedy of trash talking.
No one in attendance was safe from their harangues, least of all Stephen A. Smith and his penchant for cheese flavored snacks.
They say "knowledge is power," and sometimes that power is the ability to enrage talented people with lots of money.
Take this Nashville Predators fan for example, who used a bit of contractual sports knowledge to hash out Duncan Keith's financial situation while the Blackhawks defenseman sat in the penalty box.
"You make $72 [million]?" the heckler asked. "You're sitting on the bench!"
Keith aimed a Gatorade spritzing directly at the crack in the glass and soaked the heckler's face, which is the emotional equivalent of a standing ovation for a heckler.
You don't pick on people when they're down, unless they're a New York Yankee and you're purposefully trying to crush their will to continue.
Such was the case between Yankees manager Joe Girardi and a Chicago White Sox fan in 2012. The White Sox had just capped a three-game sweep of the Yanks and Girardi was in no mood for an interruption of his post game press conference.
Again, another case when the timing of the heckling made all the difference.
Spike Lee—the windup toy that never runs out of juice.
Every Knicks home game is a trip to the theater for the television and movie producer. If he isn't jawing with one of the players on the opposing team, he's busy holding his arms parallel to the ground in amazement.
In short, the man is an institution and probably the most likely of any court side celebrity to talk trash during a ball game.
The Vancouver Canucks Green Men took a page from Always Sunny in Philadelphia and made it their life's calling.
Force and Sully have been attending Canucks home games since December, 2009. The two men had ordered their suits with the initial plan of wearing them to a Seattle Seahawks game, but a delay in shipping caused the outfits to show up late.
Instead of saving them for another day, the two decided to head out to Vancouver Canucks game. One of their employer's had season tickets next to the away penalty box, and the rest is handstands, frozen waffles and history.