Sports Lists

The 15 Most Unpredictable Athletes in Sports Right Now

Matt HaupertFeatured ColumnistJuly 3, 2014

The 15 Most Unpredictable Athletes in Sports Right Now

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    Hassan Ammar/Associated Press

    Sometimes, it's nice to root for a guy who's always going to do exactly what you expect.

    He'll show up on time. He'll play his hardest in the game. He'll speak to the media politely.

    But let's be honest—these aren't the guys who keep us tuning in every day.

    A world full of predictable athletes doing predictable things would give us very little to talk about. It'd make it a lot less fun to read the news. It would make Twitter completely obsolete.

    Today, let's celebrate the guys who make sports fun. The ones who march to the beat of their own drums. The ones who say what they think, and not just what they're supposed to say.

    At the end of the day, sports are just as much about entertainment as they are about competition. The 15 athletes on this list keep us on the edges of our seats perpetually wondering what they'll do next, and always, always entertained.

Manny Ramirez

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    Matt McClain/Associated Press

    The moment you think that Manny Ramirez has finally disappeared into the twilight—BAM, he’s back again, in the unlikeliest positions possibly imaginable.

    Ramirez recently took up a job as a player-coach for the Iowa Cubs, the Triple-A affiliate of those perennial contenders up in Chicago.

    It’s a genius move by general manager Theo Epstein and company. I’ve been saying for years that the one thing this team needs to win its first championship in over a century is a little extra outfield help in the minor leagues from a guy whose career will predominately be remembered for prima donna behavior and steroids.

    Well, maybe that and some starting pitching.

Tim Lincecum

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    Eric Risberg/Associated Press

    Ever since he made a big splash a few years ago by winning back-to-back Cy Young Awards—the only National League pitcher to do so other than Randy Johnson, Sandy Koufax and Greg Maddux—Lincecum’s pitching statistics have been as unpredictable as his grooming habits.

    One day he’s a shaggy-haired kid with the highest ERA in the NL, the next he’s a mustachioed menace throwing a no-hitter.

    On top of that, Lincecum has seemingly gotten weirder as his fastball has gotten weaker, as demonstrated by his appearance before a game last May in old-school glasses and a fat suit.

    Well, at least he’s still finding some way to keep us entertained.

JaVale McGee

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    Barry Gutierrez/Associated Press

    A guy with a nickname like The Great Adventure is guaranteed to provide his fair share of theatrics.

    Denver Nuggets center JaVale McGee has never made a lot of headlines with his play on the court—but his incomparably goofy personality has made him one of the most intriguing players in the league.

    To begin to understand the glory of McGee’s antics, you need look no further than his index finger—after a self-alley-oop in a 2013 game against the Rockets, McGee put his finger over his upper lip and revealed a small handlebar mustache tattoo.

    To get a fuller picture of what makes McGee the most lovably unpredictable athlete in sports, check out this feature by Benjamin Hochman of The Denver Post.

    But for now, just admire the fact that McGee displayed more creativity on a single finger than guys like Birdman could do on an entire body covered in ink.

Chad Johnson

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    Mark Humphrey/Associated Press

    Chad Johnson did us all a great big favor by signing with the Montreal Alouettes of the CFL and continuing his ever-captivating, never logical football career.

    This is the man who changed his name to the Spanish words for his jersey number. This is the man who raced against a horse just to jump-start a career doing sports stunts for charity. This is the man who tried out for a professional soccer team just because he wanted everyone to know that he could.

    As long as Johnson decides he wants to stay in the spotlight, he’ll remain one of the most captivating personalities in sports—and his declining skills on the football field have nothing to do with it.

Brian Wilson

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    Ross D. Franklin/Associated Press

    Brian Wilson’s weirdness extends so far beyond his bizarre ink-black beard.

    Wilson, whose hobbies include jigsaw puzzles and carpet laying, takes you on an adventure every time he speaks a word. He’s a man constantly striving for the overwhelmingly bizarre, and it seems like every interview he gives is just part of one big career-long prank.

    Wilson’s extreme grooming decisions promise a very singular personality, and it only gets better when you go beyond the beard.

John Daly

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    Jeff Haynes/Getty Images

    John Daly exploded into golf’s brightest spotlight after winning the PGA Championship in 1991, the same year he joined the PGA tour.

    In over 20 years since, his career has led to twists and turns that nobody could have ever imagined. Daly has battled alcoholism, gambling addictions and problems with his weight, and has seen his consistency on the golf course plummet.

    Daly hit rock bottom once again at a tournament last March, as reported by CNN:

    The 47-year-old carded 19-over-par 90 in Friday's second round of the PGA Tour's Valspar Championship, including an octuple-bogey 12 at the 16th hole of the Copperhead course at Innisbrook resort in Florida.

    Every year of age and every octuple-bogey distances Daly more and more from the prodigy who looked like such a dominant golfer so many years ago—and yet, for whatever reason, we all still hold out some hope that Daly will some day, somehow fulfill some of the potential that he once showed.

Richard Sherman

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    Elaine Thompson/Associated Press

    The loudmouth cornerback for the Seattle Seahawks thinks very highly of himself—and he’s always finding a new way of showing this to the world.

    Sherman made himself famous in a hilarious, adrenaline-driven interview with Fox's Erin Andrews following Seattle’s NFC Championship Game victory last season. He followed it up by signing pictures with the note, “Sorry Crabtree.”

    Sherman also went on a vicious rant against Skip Bayless right to his face in a delightfully awkward interview on ESPN’s First Take.

    Any man who stands up to Skip is a good enough man for me.

Yasiel Puig

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    Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Associated Press

    In just over a year in the Major Leagues, Yasiel Puig has quickly become one of the most polarizing players in the game.

    For every monster home run and extraordinary play in the outfield, there are two or three unexplainable blunders on the basepaths and a consequential errant throw.

    Additionally, to the dismay of many of the boring old men who populate this league, Puig loves to celebrate. He jumps, he screams, he flips his bat, and he takes his sweet time getting home after hitting one out of the park.

    Hate on Puig all you want, but he’s quickly proving that he’s no one-year wonder, and the energy that he brings to the game is something that baseball sorely needs.

Metta World Peace

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    The same man who instigated one of the largest brawls in the history of the NBA later went on to change his last name to “World Peace,” and this tells most of the story of one of the strangest personalities to ever play a sport.

    When asked about his name by Melissa Roland of the Los Angeles Times in the video above, World Peace gave a response fitting of a man named World Peace, changing the subject and instead expressing thanks that Jesus created people so that they would lose baby teeth as babies, rather than when they were 20 or 30 years old.

    Wow. What a blessing. A world in which we lost our teeth as adults would be a world in chaos and life would certainly not be worth living.

    It’s refreshing to hear a guy like Metta really put things into perspective, and remind us of the incredible things that we all must be grateful for.

J.R. Smith

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    Frank Franklin II/Associated Press

    If you ever find yourself playing an NBA game against the New York Knicks’ J.R. Smith, you’d be wise to take one of the following precautions:

    1. Wear Velcro
    2. Never take your eyes off your feet
    3. Never come within 30 minutes of Smith

    Over the past few years, Smith has become a shoelace untying vagabond on the court, receiving fines on more than one occasion for untying other players’ shoes during games.

    It’s an age-old adage that rings true whenever Smith takes the floor: If you can’t beat ‘em, do whatever you can to trip ‘em up instead.

R.A. Dickey

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    Al Behrman/Associated Press

    Nobody knew much about R.A. Dickey before he won the Cy Young Award for the Mets in 2012, and many have forgotten his name once again in the unimpressive years since.

    And yet, there are few people more worth knowing about in all of baseball than Dickey, regardless of his ERA.

    Dickey uses the Game of Thrones theme song as his walk-up music when he comes to bat. He wrote a children’s book called Knuckleball Ned about overcoming adversity. He has a small library on the top shelf of his locker.

    Dickey didn’t finally hit his peak until he was almost 40 years old—and when he finally made his name known, the entire league was better for it.

Nick Young

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    Danny Moloshok/Associated Press

    Maybe there was a silver lining to Kobe Bryant sitting out most of last season with a knee injury. In his absence, we all got the wonderful experience of seeing what happens when a guy like Nick Young is thrust into the spotlight.

    Well, long story short, he loves it. In his best moments, he was proclaiming himself the best shooting guard in the league, per Zach Harper of CBS Sports, and at his worst he was celebrating baskets far, far too early.

    Here’s hoping that Young’s career takes him to a team that lets him be the perpetual center of attention.

Johnny Manziel

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    PHIL LONG/Associated Press

    Since becoming the first freshman to ever win the Heisman Trophy and getting thrust right into the spotlight, Johnny Manziel has become a one-man reality series and a travelling tabloid star.

    Some of the highlights of the Manziel Show have included his trip to Vegas, his nightclub visits and, most recently, a selfie with Floyd Mayweather and Justin Bieber.

    This is the ultimate sign that Johnny Football has truly made it and has reached a level of success that other NFL quarterbacks could only dream of.

    After all, you don’t see guys like Peyton Manning, Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers getting quality time with the Biebs.

    Washed up losers.

Alex Rodriguez

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    DAVID KARP/Associated Press

    Who would have predicted the way Alex Rodriguez’s career would turn out when he was a 25-year-old baseball prodigy so many years ago?

    A-Rod went from a record $252 million contract with the Rangers, to a steroid scandal, to a full-year suspension, and in the process made frequent headlines due to his egocentric behavior (see: Centaur Portrait) and questionable dating habits.

    Rodriguez has gone from one of greatest of all time to despicable punchline, and his very name serves as a bright reminder of the embarrassment of the steroid era of Major League Baseball.

Luis Suarez

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    Matt Dunham/Associated Press

    When will Luis Suarez strike next?

    The soccer pitch has become a dangerous place over the years after a series of deadly biting attacks from the star Uruguayan striker. Though none of his bites have been fatal, that could just be a matter of time. In fact, according to Ian Steadman of the New Statesman, you’re actually more likely to be bitten by Suarez than you are to be bitten by a shark.

    Parents, take heed. Keep your kids safe and never leave them unattended anywhere near an ocean shoreline or a soccer ball.

     

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