The Worst Winners in Sports
There are some who win graciously, walking back to the sidelines or dugout with nary a smirk, knowing their amazing success was all the talking that was needed.
These are the other guys.
Here we have a breakdown of some of the worst winners in the world. Now, there is something important to mention at the top, because worst is a subjective term, because one person's heel is another person's champion.
Really, this is just a collection of athletic maestros who are good, know they are good and would very much like to inform you of how good they really are.
Consider this a cavalcade of the proud, bombastic and smack-talking. Just take a gander at Rickey Henderson up there if you want to know what we are talking about here.
Of course, we may have missed some truly gifted athletes who are also adept at running their mouths, so remedy that below.
For now, just sit back and enjoy the braggadocio of some amazing sports talents.
Rickey Henderson is the greatest of all time, just ask Rickey Henderson.
The posted video is a bit long, but it's well worth your time. It features the former speedster as he broke Lou Brock's longstanding stolen bases record.
Fortunately, Brock was in attendance to graciously hand over the stolen-base torch. That's when Henderson ripped that figurative torch away and blew it out like a birthday candle.
At the five-minute, 15-second mark, you get to hear Henderson's take on his personal accomplishment, and he is impressed. It's a bit hard to hear, but thanks to Wikipedia we have a transcription:
"It took a long time, huh? [Pause for cheers] First of all, I would like to thank God for giving me the opportunity. I want to thank the Haas family, the Oakland organization, the city of Oakland, and all you beautiful fans for supporting me. [Pause for cheers] Most of all, I'd like to thank my mom, my friends, and loved ones for their support. I want to give my appreciation to Tom Trebelhorn and the late Billy Martin. Billy Martin was a great manager. He was a great friend to me. I love you, Billy. I wish you were here. [Pause for cheers] Lou Brock was the symbol of great base stealing. But today, I'm the greatest of all time. Thank you.
Now we know where Kanye West gets all of his humility.
Michael Jordan could run his mouth about as well as he could fly through the air.
One of my favorite tales was delivered by a man tasked with having to guard the Greatest of All Time: Craig Ehlo.
The former Cavaliers player delivered this hilarious anecdote to Deadspin's Emma Carmichael:
He was never a bad talker or too arrogant, but it was just like what Jason [Williams] said: He'd tell you. He only did that to me one time, from what I remember. It was his 69-point game, and things were going so well for him that I guess he just went for it. We were running up the court side-by-side and he told me: "Listen man, I'm hitting everything, so I'm gonna tell you what I'm gonna do this time and see if you can stop it. You know you can't stop it. You know you can't stop this. You can't guard me.
"I'm gonna catch it on the left elbow, and then I'm gonna drive to the left to the baseline, and then I'm gonna pull up and shoot my fadeaway."
Jordan was a man of his word.
While Ehlo states Jordan was never arrogant about his trash talk, the crazy story is to be expected. Confidence is as much a necessity as a consistent jump shot.
To be the G.O.A.T., you have to think like the G.O.A.T.
Of course, continuing to stick out your chest well into retirement has been known to rub some people the wrong way. ESPN's Jon Greenberg went so far as to call Jordan's Hall of Fame speech arrogant. Others, like Adrian Wojnarowski, called it petty.
Whatever it is, the boasting is what made Jordan a compelling figure, and we wouldn't change any of it.
We couldn't possibly have a list like this without one of the greatest smack talkers in the history of sports. In fact, his "I am the greatest!" shout after beating Sonny Liston in 1964 may have been the impetus behind Rickey Henderson's passionate speech.
Presented for you is the waning moments of Ali's (then Cassius Clay) first bout with Liston. As you can see and hear, he has no issues with savoring the victory right after.
Of course, boxing and braggadocio go hand in hand. It's just that Ali was the best at this.
You had to have known that the rant heard around the world would make it onto this list. The polarizing postgame victory lap for Richard Sherman in the form of an interview with Erin Andrews split a football-loving nation in half.
On one end there were those ready to vilify Sherman for seemingly lambasting a recently defeated opponent. Others, like myself, championed Sherman for finally saying something intriguing during a time normally set for throwaway answers and cliched responses.
If we are counting football stars showing up the opposition with fancy and often hilarious dances, we could have included a multitude of names.
Guys like Chad Ochocinco will have to stay on the cutting room floor for the time being, because the moment former 49ers' receiver Terrell Owens celebrated on the Cowboys star sticks in the mind.
There was something utterly special about this particular show. It wasn't enough for Owens to embarrass you, he wanted to come inside the house, pop open the fridge and drink your beer.
Of course, the circus continued with Emmitt Smith and George Teague making cameos in an NFL video that never gets old.
The blur known as Usain Bolt nearly flew down the track at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, recording a lightning fast 100-meter time of 9.69 seconds.
One of the bigger storylines from the race, however, was the fact that he decided to pull up before the finish line, essentially showing off at the prestigious Olympic event.
You can see both the 100- and 200-meter races from that year at the Olympic YouTube page here.
Showing up world-class athletes is one thing, but really, all most people wonder is how fast Bolt could have gone, a question once pondered by New Scientist.
Remember, kids. Always run through the finish line.
Nancy Kerrigan had just endured a tumultuous time, suffering a surprise attack at the 1994 U.S. Figure Skating Championships and then enduring a seemingly endless media blitz into her private life.
All the while, she trained to capture gold at the 1994 Lillehammer Games, coming up just short in the end to the eventual champion Oksana Baiul.
At some point you just want to go home, kick your feet up and say screw it all. At least, that's our version of cutting Kerrigan some slack.
After getting the silver, Kerrigan was recorded being, well, icy as she waited for Baiul to receive her gold. And then she gave a grumpy and aloof performance with the media in her post-Olympic tour of the nation.
Winning a silver is a joyous occasion that only a certain number of athletes in the history of the world can lay claim to.
Kerrigan was not impressed.
Naseem Hamed was never the most gracious of winners, but he sure knew how to make both an entrance and an exit.
For our purposes, we give you the post-fight interview following his win over Augie Sanchez in 2000, one that features some classic lines.
Hamed starts with, "You know I bring drama, excitement. You know me, Larry. From my wicked entrance to my flip over the rope..." He then goes on to wish Sanchez well, says his opponent was formidable and then drops a, "Damn, I'm looking good."
Then again, Hamed, who would eventually amass a 36-1 record, wins a spot on this list for his bombastic entrances, like this one noted by Complex Magazine.
Here is the NSFW video link.
There are two sides to Mike Tyson. It just so happens that the darker side dominated headlines during his tumultuous boxing career.
It's almost funny to think the cuddly, movie-cameo star was once a vilified boxer. Ah, but he was.
The above video, as pixelated as it may be, features just one of his many post-fight rants. Jim Gray asks Tyson if his bout against Lou Savarese, one that ended in just 38 seconds, was his shortest.
Tyson takes a moment to remember his recently deceased friend, then states, "I didn't train for this fight. I only trained probably two weeks or three weeks for this fight."
And then he launches into a cutting diatribe that we will never forget:
I was gonna rip his heart out. I'm the best ever. I'm the most brutal and vicious and most ruthless champ there has ever been. There's no one that can stop me. Lennox (Lewis) is a conqueror? No. I'm Alexander; he's no Alexander. I'm the best ever...I'm Sonny Liston. I'm Jack Dempsey. There's no one like me. I'm from their cloth. There's no one that can match me. My style is impetuous. My defense is impregnable. And I'm just ferocious. I want your heart. I want to eat his children.
Tell us how you really feel, Mike.
Being a winner is a great thing. Some in the sports world would claim that it's really the only thing. However, it's a rather smart idea not to go around pointing out that others are losers.
However, the most interesting story to come from Laettner's illustrious basketball career was the story retold in a 2012 Fox Sports article by Karen Howell.
Howell writes that Laettner, "Once went around his Timberwolves locker room pointing at every one of his teammates and saying 'Loser, loser, loser, loser, loser, loser, loser, loser, loser, loser, loser' before pointing to himself and saying 'Winner.'"
The story was brought up in an interview with The Star Tribune's Michael Rand
Q You talked about a few incidents. One that has become part of local lore but I've never read you talking about was something apparently in the locker room. You were talking about how everyone else on the team is a loser but you're a winner. You're pointing at dressing stalls saying, "Loser, loser, loser" ... until you get to yours and you say, "Winner." Did that actually happen?
A You know, I don't know if that actually happened. I can't recall it happening. There might be some context. If it's true, maybe some context needed to be added, I don't know. But as I said, I made some mistakes along the way. Does that mean you should be crucified for it? And have your image forever tarnished? I don't know. But that's the nature of the beast.
Laettner certainly deserves some context for this story. However, it seems like the basketball world finds it far easier just to believe a story that very well may be in the realm of tall tale.
The 2008 Boston Celtics
Take a bow, Boston. Wait! Not yet.
The Celtics had just whipped their hated rival Lakers for four quarters, so a celebration was most certainly in order.
With that being said, perhaps they could have saved the Gatorade shower and near-court storming until the game actually ended. Instead, Doc Rivers was doused, the mess had to be cleaned up and the Lakers gaping wounds were exposed a few more painful minutes.
OK, we know we said that we weren't going to highlight receivers outside of Owens, but Randy Moss mooning the Packers faithful at Lambeau Field has a certain wonderful stupidity about it.
Moss certainly deserves a nod here for the faux mooning. Although we should inform Joe Buck that this is hardly a "disgusting act."
Now if he were to actually have mooned the crowd, perhaps then.