Best and Worst Athlete Alter Egos

Nick DimengoFeatured ColumnistJuly 31, 2014

Best and Worst Athlete Alter Egos

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    Noah Graham/Getty Images

    As much as we all love our favorite athletes, a few of them are even better when they actually aren't themselves.

    Sure, athletes give us ridiculous plays that make us stand out of our seats and hit rewind on our TVs, but when they slip into an alter ego, they usually have us talking even more about what that character did—for better or worse.

    Since there have been so many athlete alter egos over the years, here are the best and worst that we've ever seen.

Jesus Shuttlesworth (Ray Allen)

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    He may be best known as Ray Allen, one of the most lethal shooters in NBA history to most people, but one of the better alter egos in sports history is Allen as Jesus Shuttlesworth—whom he played in the movie He Got Game.

    Allen—or Jesus—may not have gotten recognized as a serious actor following the role, but he still shot lights out in the flick, showing that he's deadly with a basketball in his hands on- or off-screen.

    Verdict: Good

Choo Choo (Clinton Portis)

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    While I admit that I enjoyed seeing former NFL running back Clinton Portis' Choo Choo character at post-practice press conferences during his nine-year career, one has to admit that it was a little bit bizarre.

    Sure, Portis drew some laughs and was quite the sight, but it was a little bit weird knowing that he just did it for fun and not for a reason other than that.

    Verdict: Bad

Wes (Kevin Love)

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    As the target of a ton of trade speculation, maybe Minnesota Timberwolves forward Kevin Love should just go hide by slipping into his Wes costume to avoid getting asked about stuff?

    Done up like an old man for a Pepsi Max commercial, Love may appear to be a sweet, old guy on the surface, but get him on the basketball court, and he'd take anyone who challenges him to school.

    It's just a reminder to always respect your elders.

    Verdict: Good

Griffin Force (Blake Griffin)

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    I'll say this—I'm not so much a fan of the latest Kia commercials that feature L.A. Clippers forward Blake Griffin in them.

    While the premise hasn't changed much—he's supposed to be a superhero and has even added a little sidekick—the ones with Blake traveling back in time were, in my opinion, a lot more witty.

    Still, Griffin gets props for not taking himself too seriously, so his alter ego is a winner.

    Verdict: Good

Leon Sandcastle (Deion Sanders)

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    If you don't like seeing Hall of Fame cornerback Deion Sanders dressed up as draft prospect Leon Sandcastle, there has to be something wrong with you.

    Sporting a massive fro and an epic mustache, Sandcastle worked his way toward becoming the first pick in the NFL draft in 2013, even bringing commissioner Roger Goodell in on the action.

    Neon Deion was one of the flashiest players the league has ever seen, so it was perfect having him play the role of the "next big thing" during this commercial.

    Verdict: Good

Charles Barkley (the Archaeologist)

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    If there's one thing we know about Hall of Fame hoops player Charles Barkley, it's that he isn't supposed to be buttoned-up.

    That's why the Old Spice commercial that he did during the '90s of him as a sophisticated man shoots an air ball for my tastes, because Sir Charles might have the name of royalty, but he has the personality of a comedian—which is better to watch.

    Verdict: Bad

Johnny Kilroy (Michael Jordan)

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    It may not have been a recurring character of Michael Jordan's, but the Nike ad that featured him as Johnny Kilroy during his brief retirement from basketball in the mid-'90s was still one of my all-time favorites.

    With actor Steve Martin telling the story about a secret "popcorn tape" that had other players talking about Kilroy's skills being similar to Jordan's, Nike created an alter ego of MJ's that some fans might have forgotten ever existed.

    Verdict: Good

Calvin (Calvin Johnson)

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    Look, Detroit Lions receiver Calvin Johnson might be an absolute beast on the football field, but when it came to this Nike ad, he was a mere mortal.

    Even with the help of legendary rapper Diddy playing the role of Johnson—who handles all of the distractions like signing autographs and talks to the press—the star wideout's commercial flops.

    Come on, Nike, the dude's name is Megatron. Couldn't you have spent millions of dollars creating an alter ego around that instead?

    Verdict: Bad

The LeBrons (LeBron James)

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    LeBron James might be the most popular athlete in the country, but he still knows to have some fun.

    James proved that a few years ago when he took on the role of four different alter egos, displaying serious, stylish, young and wise characteristics, making for a few hilarious sketches in Nike ads.

    I doubt there's a human being on the earth who wouldn't recognize LeBron walking down the street—especially since he's 6'8" and 250 pounds—but these costumes might make it a little bit more difficult.

    Verdict: Good

Uncle Drew (Kyrie Irving)

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    Being a Cleveland sports fan has been pretty cool these past few months.

    First, we got Johnny Manziel to play quarterback for the Cleveland Browns. Then we were able to get Kyrie Irving to commit to an extension. And, finally, we got LeBron James to return home to play alongside him.

    And I can't help but think that Kyrie's alter ego, Uncle Drew, played a part in helping to recruit Bron to head back to Northeast Ohio, because he's a wise, old man, that's for sure.

    Verdict: Good

Darian Foster and Marshawn Lynch Sr. (Arian Foster and Marshawn Lynch)

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    What do you get when you dress up two of the best running backs in the NFL as older men and they pretend to train their younger selves? Pure gold.

    Marshawn Lynch and Adrian Foster pretend to be Darian and Marshawn Sr., their fake dads who help them train to become running backs by putting them through ridiculous exercises.

    Seeing how the two are both beasts on the football field, though, maybe little Marshawn did "run that bear over," as the spot suggests.

    Verdict: Good

Cliff Paul (Chris Paul)

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    Besides the fact that I would get totally trolled on if I were to say the State Farm commercials with Chris Paul were anything but good, it's just a fact that the L.A. Clippers star's ads are actually pretty funny.

    As someone who loves a good story, they were great from the beginning by setting up how Chris and brother Cliff got separated at birth and have recently become a staple for Clips fans to cheer for.

    With these two together, Chris can break opponents' ankles on the court during games, while Cliff can insure them for the hospital bill to repair them. Sounds like a perfect team.

    Verdict: Good

Julie Foudy and Brandi Chastain (Foudy and Chastain)

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    Um, what?

    I don't know what Bud Light was thinking by releasing this commercial featuring former U.S. women's soccer team players Julie Foudy and Brandi Chastain, because it's just weird.

    If there's one thing we learned from this commercial and Foudy and Chastian's alter egos, it's this: They're bad—really bad—at playing anyone but themselves.

    Verdict: Bad

Lil' Penny (Penny Hardaway)

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    Genius.

    That's about the only word one needs to use to describe the ads that Nike ran during the '90s with former All-Star Penny Hardaway and his sidekick, Lil' Penny.

    Using the voice of comedian Chris Rock, Lil' Penny was a trash-talking, brash, flashy character who was the complete opposite of big Penny.

    The tiny figurine used his charisma to help Hardaway's shoes sell while getting to chat up quite the smokin' ladies—like model Tyra Banks.

    Verdict: Good

Grandmama (Larry Johnson)

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    In the history of sports alter egos, there hasn't been anyone better than former NBA All-Star Larry Johnson's Grandmama.

    Dressed as an old lady who lived in a shoe, LJ may have appeared to be your typical sweetheart, but when he strapped on his Converse shoes, he took no prisoners.

    The Grandmama character was so good that she even scored a cameo on the '90s TV show Family Matters—which proves the idea to dress Johnson up was worth it.

    Verdict: Best