Worst Questions Ever Asked at a Sports Press Conference
Sometimes you have to feel bad for athletes, particularly when they are forced to answer terrible questions at press conferences—questions about snake venom or strip clubs, for example.
I do concede that for reporters, one of the hardest things in the world must be coming up with original questions for athletes—something unlike the tired old “What do you need to do to win” or “What could you have done better in the game?”
It's only natural that in an attempt to be original (and therefore more watchable and readable), weird questions will occasionally spill out of a reporter’s mouth.
But sometimes, a question is just so poorly researched, poorly timed or just plain poor that it makes you wonder what on Earth the reporter was thinking. Better yet, how does this reporter still have a job?
Here are the worst questions ever asked at a sports press conference. Pay close attention to the athlete responses as well, since they are often the most hilarious parts of these exchanges.
Honorable Mention: How Long Have You Been a Black Quarterback?
This one gets the old honorable mention because it is generally believed to not have actually happened.
According to ESPN.com, much hype surrounded the Washington Redskins’ Doug Williams prior to Super Bowl XXII—he was the first black quarterback to ever start a Super Bowl.
So some reporters started to joke around, and things got taken out of context.
According to SI.com, however, the following was an actual legitimate question: “Doug, would it be easier if you were the second black quarterback to play in the Super Bowl?”
Honorable Mention: Bryce Harper Clown Question
This one is an honorable mention because the question wasn’t exactly asked at a press conference. But it seemed downright wrong to exclude it from the list entirely.
Following a 2012 win over the Toronto Blue Jays, a reporter asked Bryce Harper (then 19 years old) if he was going to take advantage of the lower drinking age in Canada by going out for a “celebratory Canadian beer.”
Harper’s response, which instantly went viral, was nothing short of spectacular: “That’s a clown question, bro.”
Can I Measure Your Bicep?
Female reporters flirting with athletes is really not helping that whole glass ceiling thing.
Case in point: At Super Bowl media day in 2009, Ines Sainz of TV Azteca asked wide receiver Steve Breaston if she could measure his bicep.
In fact, according to AZCentral.com, she asked several players the same question as part of a “Strongest Right Arm” competition.
Defensive end Antonio Smith apparently won, in case anyone cares.
Johnny Football to Lure LeBron?
You’re probably aware that Johnny Manziel was drafted at No. 22 overall by the Cleveland Browns in the 2014 NFL draft.
At the customary introductory press conference in Cleveland, he was asked about another Ohio guy.
This reporter actually asked Manziel if he thought he could convince LeBron James to come back to Cleveland.
Here's Manziel’s humble and accurate response, via Yardbarker.com: “I don’t think I can do that.”
Russell Westbrook and the Troll
Sometimes the best way to avoid asking a bad question is to know your audience.
During the 2012 NBA playoffs, Russell Westbrook had simply had enough from one particular reporter. This reporter asked, “Do you think [James] Harden is a max player?” and “What would you rate him as a shooting guard in the NBA?”
Westbrook responded tactfully before abruptly telling the reporter, “No more questions” and calling him a troll.
Don’t mess with Westbrook. He is the Gregg Popovich of the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Bobby Ramos to Eric Spoelstra
Bobby Ramos from no credible news source was actually allowed to speak to members of the Miami Heat following their Game 3 loss to the Spurs in the 2014 NBA Finals.
Here's his “question” to Erik Spoelstra, via SI.com:
Coach, you gave San Antonio the credit, and you mentioned a couple times that you’re in The Finals. How does a team in their fourth Finals come out in The Finals, their first home game and get beat to the ball to get stomped the way they did? The kind of heart that your championship team has, to come out tonight like they did mentally has to be something that’s a problem.
Spoelstra’s classic response: “Clearly.”
Skip to the 4:00 mark for the good stuff.
Relaxed Les Miles
I’m all about creative questions from reporters, but this one is just ridiculous.
A reporter once asked LSU head football coach Les Miles, via Cracked.com: "Coach, all week you've seemed really relaxed. I'm wondering how much of that was actually true, real relaxation -- how'd you sleep last night? I mean, give us a sense of what you actually went through this week."
Miles’ response? Laughter, of course, followed by “That is not even relevant.”
Gregg Popovich: 2014 Edition
Gregg Popovich is master of press conference hilarity.
Prior to Game 2 of the 2014 NBA Finals, a reporter actually asked him, via USA Today: "Pop, for those of us that are not in this building more than at Finals time, does it feel normal air-wise to you, temperature-wise to you tonight?
Even worse, during the Western Conference Finals, some guy asked Pop how he would explain “five games, five blowouts” to “those who don’t really know the game.”
Seriously, how do these people have jobs?
Can Kobe Bryant Guard?
Following a big loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder in the 2012 NBA playoffs, a reporter literally asked Kobe Bryant if he can guard. One of the greatest players of all time—can you guard?
He immediately clarified by asking, “Can you guys guard them, as a team?”
Kobe’s response: “No.”
A stupid question deserves a response dripping with sarcasm.
Josh Beckett’s Ex-Girlfriend
Warning: Video NSFW
It’s a pretty low ploy to trot out the opposing pitcher’s ex-girlfriend to sing the national anthem of a big game.
But, the (possible) mind game had no effect on Josh Beckett in the 2007 ALCS. His Game 5 performance against Cleveland was masterful, bringing his Red Sox back within striking distance in the series, only down three games to two.
Following his 11-strikeout, one-run performance, Beckett was asked if he was bothered by his ex-girlfriend’s presence at the game.
He didn’t seem too happy with the question, responding, “I don’t get paid to make those f----n’ decisions.”
Bobby Ramos to LeBron James and Dwyane Wade
That press conference following Game 3 of the NBA Finals was a real doozy. Bobby Ramos was at it again, asking LeBron James and Dwyane Wade: "This is for both of you, you have a great defense. They’re averaging 104 points a game. You have a lot of offense, you haven’t broken a hundred yet. Is the problem your lackluster defense or is it the problems you’re having offensively, lackluster offense?"
After a good amount of understandable laughter from LeBron, Wade was able to maintain his composure enough to get out a semi-decent response.
Lance Armstrong and the Bad Metaphor
According to Time, Paul Kimmage asked Lance Armstrong at a 2009 press conference what he admires about dopers like Floyd Landis and Ivan Basso.
It probably wasn’t smart of Kimmage to address Armstrong at all, given his 2008 comments that labeled Armstrong as a cancer on the sport of cycling.
Armstrong may be an admitted cheater, but that specific metaphor was. well, unwise.
Instead of answering Kimmage’s question about Landis and Basso, Armstrong launched into an aggressive tirade that included “You are not worth the chair that you’re sitting on.”
In that one particular instance, I have to agree with Armstrong.
Super Bowl media day could have its very own “worst questions” list. In fact, the desire of reporters to ask memorable questions on this particular occasion has turned the whole thing into quite a circus.
But for the sake of variety, let’s only use the most ridiculous of the ridiculous questions.
For example, at Super Bowl XLVIII in February, a reporter asked Broncos defensive end Shaun Phillips if the Super Bowl was a “must-win game,” per NESN.com.
Patrick Kane and Overtime Goals
Following a win against the St. Louis Blues where Patrick Kane netted the game-winner in overtime, a reporter asked, “Was this your first overtime game-winner?”
So, it was in fact not. Kane has had several sudden-death goals—including, eh, a semi-major one in 2010.
Asking Kane that question is like asking Nolan Ryan if he’s ever pitched a no-hitter. Come on.
Tony Stewart and Thick Sarcasm
Have you ever spent a few minutes of a meeting accidentally daydreaming, only to snap out of it and be terrified to ask any questions for fear that you’ll ask something that was covered during your temporary trance?
One reporter had no such apprehensions.
Following Tony Stewart’s victory at the 2011 Sylvania 300 in New Hampshire, a reporter asked him how he overtook the lead with two laps to go.
The problem was that this subject had already been covered.
Stewart, a notoriously unkind interviewee, responded with biting sarcasm that was, unfortunately, fully deserved.
Skip to the 12:40 mark to start the idiocy.
Richard Sherman and Strip Clubs
Richard Sherman was the media darling of the 2013 NFL playoffs—due in large part to a spirited post-game interview with Erin Andrews.
So I’m not sure if this Super Bowl media day reporter was trying to rile him up again or what, but the following question, via SportingNews.com, was pretty weird: "All of you football guys going into the strip clubs, and throwing... raining down on these strippers. I think that's a bad example for our young ladies. How can we stop that? I think it's a bad example that we're setting for our young girls that they need to be strippers."
As Sherman displayed post-Erin Andrews, he is actually well-spoken and professional. He responded to this perplexing question as well as anyone probably could have.
Nicolas Mahut Won...or Did He?
It’s one thing not to do the proper research prior to a press conference. It’s an entirely different thing to not even know what happened during the preceding competition.
So, Nicolas Mahut did not win the 2014 French Open. In fact, he didn’t even make it past the first round.
This is why a reporter congratulating him after his losing match was supremely awkward. Mahut countered with “Congratulations? I lost.” To this, the reporter then asked his terrible question—“You lost? Oh.”
This wasn’t exactly a typical question, but the sheer inanity of the exchange warrants a place on this list.
Shaq and Snake Bites
This one is weird and hilarious.
Prior to Game 1 of the 2006 NBA Finals, Corby Davidson asked Shaquille O’Neal: "Let's just say that a snake bit your mom right here, right on the chest area, would you be willing to suck the venom out to win the title?"
Shaq handled it like a boss, responding lightheartedly, “No, but I would with your wife.”
Joe Montana Nicknamed Boomer?
According to SI.com, a reporter asked Joe Montana why people call him “Boomer” at the media day preceding Super Bowl XXIII. This was presumably in reference to Boomer Esiason, who played for the opposing Cincinnati Bengals at the time.
I’m not sure what Joe said, but an appropriate response along the lines of “They don’t” probably would have sufficed.