Really Awkward Sports Interviews

Nick Dimengo@@itsnickdimengoFeatured ColumnistAugust 4, 2014

Really Awkward Sports Interviews

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    Let's face it, sometimes people just want to be left alone.

    Unfortunately for pro athletes and coaches, though, they're required to talk to the media almost anywhere they go, answering questions that are fired their way.

    Sometimes, they give us funny replies, while other times, things get really awkward.

    This article is for the latter moments, when a few interviews go sour for whatever reason, leaving us all wondering what the hell we just saw.

Mike Gundy

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    A coach is expected to take the heat when something goes bad with his team and players, jumping to the front of the line to defend his guys under any circumstances.

    And that's what Oklahoma State Cowboys football coach Mike Gundy was doing back in 2007 when he hollered to a reporter, "I'm a man! I'm 40," when replying to a critical article of then-backup quarterback Bobby Reid.

    It may have been one of the most memorable rants in sports over the past decade—and really strange to see—but it turns out the coach's words sort of backfired, causing Reid a bit of emotional distress.

Lance Armstrong

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    After everything that's happened to former cyclist Lance Armstrong in the past couple of years—most notably, his admission of using PEDs in 2013—I still sort of agree with his outburst on a reporter back in 2009.

    When a particular reporter referred to Lance as a "cancer" when he announced his return to competitive cycling, Armstrong responded back quite harshly—and with good reason—as he has battled cancer himself and wanted to make sure the word wasn't tossed around lightly.

    Still, Lance was wrong, because the truth did come out a few years later.

Arian Foster

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    This recent interview by Houston Texans running back Arian Foster is probably more funny than awkward, but I still had to mention it.

    Players are told to answer things as politically correctly as possible, making sure they don't include personal opinions and avoid any controversy or speculation with their words.

    It seems Foster took that to heart, repeating the same answer 11 times to reporters following training camp.

    Hey, the guy's just trying to be the best teammate he can be.

KG Clowns Craig Sager

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    There are plenty of moments in which TNT's NBA sideline reporter Craig Sager gets clowned—most notably by San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich.

    But Sager found out there are more guys in the league than just Pop who like to poke fun at him and his outrageous outfits.

    So after a somewhat uncomfortable interview in which former Boston Celtics forward Kevin Garnett was forced to answer a question about former teammate Stephon Marbury—whom he had a bit of a feud with—KG turned the weirdness into humor, telling Sager he can't just pull out anything from his closet and wear it.

    Who knew The Big Ticket had such solid fashion advice?

Jim Rome vs. Jim "Chris" Everett

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    Sports reporter Jim Rome really knows how to push people's buttons sometimes.

    No instance proved that more than when he was interviewing former NFL quarterback Jim Everett, though, and Rome continuously referred to him as former female tennis star Chris Evert—to his face!

    Rome had long done it behind a microphone or camera, but to belittle a pro athlete just feet from him is a ballsy move, and it resulted in one of the most awkward and classic dust-ups fans have ever seen.

I Wanna Kiss You

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    Hall of Fame quarterback Joe Namath has been known to be quite the playboy—especially while leading the New York Jets to a Super Bowl III title.

    So while it wasn't surprising to see Broadway Joe hit on sideline reporter Suzy Kolber during a Jets game back in 2003, it was a bit shocking—and awkward—when Namath did it on air while drunk.

    Talk about being a dirty old man.

Dwight Howard and Stan Van Gundy

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    Anytime a superstar athlete is involved in trade rumors, things can be a little testy and uncomfortable.

    But when the guy who's being talked about as bait is just feet away from the head coach who is being interviewed about the entire process—and answering questions about that player wanting the coach fired—it's even stranger.

    That was the case back in 2012, though, as former Orlando Magic coach Stan Van Gundy got a surprise visit from Dwight Howard while both were with the team, with Stan Van forced to help himself ease the tension by sipping on his Diet Pepsi to keep the mics at bay before D12 answered questions about the same subject.

Kobe Bryant

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    It's never a good idea to throw anyone under the bus on something, but especially not someone who helped win a guy championship rings.

    As much as I admire Kobe Bryant, when he mentioned that he thought former teammate Shaquille O'Neal had probably paid off women to stay silent about certain things, it was a low blow in a feud that got way out of hand.

    Seeing ESPN's John Saunders pretty much roll his eyes at Bryant's suggestion that he didn't have Shaq's phone number is hilarious, as is watching Kobe struggle to explain himself.

Pete Rose vs. Jim Gray

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    On a night when MLB's all-time hits leader, Pete Rose, was supposed to be honored for making the All-Century team, leave it to a reporter to make things sticky.

    It's what longtime sports journalist Jim Gray did back in 1999 while interviewing Rose prior to a World Series game, putting the batting champ on blast from the very beginning and trying to get him to admit to gambling on baseball on live TV.

    As great and experienced as Gray is, this is one interview that he probably wishes he had done differently.

Andrew Wiggins

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    Maybe it's because I'm a Cleveland sports fan, or it could be due to the fact that I was still pretty drunk from the night prior, but I found this Andrew Wiggins interview extremely awkward.

    Stating that he just wants to play for whatever team wants him while trying his hardest to avoid answering questions about his future with the Cavs, this year's first overall pick looked really uncomfortable doing this satellite interview.

    Plus, his responses sound like what a guy says before he's drafted, not while he's wearing the uniform of the team that selected him.

Deion Sanders

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    Way to be the bigger man, Deion Sanders.

    In a moment when he was celebrating a division title win in 1995 with his Atlanta Braves teammates, the former two-sport star did something that really pissed off analyst Tim McCarver: doused him with a couple of buckets of ice water.

    With McCarver critical of Sanders playing both football and baseball on the same day a week prior, the player just wanted to let the booth guy know he didn't appreciate the chatter.

    I'd kill for the chance to celebrate in a locker room. McCarver, though? It didn't appear like he enjoyed himself.

Floyd Mayweather vs. Larry Merchant

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    If there's one thing an athlete hates, it's feeling like he's being disrespected.

    And, as we all probably know, boxing great Floyd Mayweather Jr. isn't one to just let another person have their own, bad opinion of him, often standing up for himself in every situation.

    So when talking with reporter Larry Merchant following a fight in 2010, Money Mayweather let the old guy hear it, saying Merchant never gives him a fair shake and that Merchant didn't know anything about boxing.

    As awkward as the interview was, Merchant's response was even stranger, saying he'd kick Mayweather's ass if he were 50 years younger.

Bobby Bonilla

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    A playground fight between two kids is one thing, but a face-to-face altercation between an athlete and a reporter is as rare as the steak I ate last night.

    Telling a reporter to "shove that mic up as far as you can stick it," former MLB player Bobby Bonilla went off on the dude in the locker room, even prompting him to "make your move," which, in my mind, means Bobby Bo was ready to throw down.

    It's a good thing Bonilla's teammates held him back; otherwise, it could have ended badly.

Shawne Merriman

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    Sometimes, talking about the past is a touchy subject.

    And two people who found that out the hard way were reporters Bomani Jones and Dan Le Batard, who, while interviewing former NFL All-Pro Shawne Merriman late last year, saw the former player just get up and leave the conversation.

    Really harping on the fact that Merriman had dealt with homelessness due to several house fires while growing up, the former athlete just decided that removing himself from the conversation was best, leaving Jones and Le Batard stunned and confused as to what had happened.

David Schultz and John Stossel

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    Anytime an interview ends with the questioner getting nailed by a pro athlete, it has to be awkward as all hell.

    And that's exactly what happened when John Stossel actually asked former pro wrestler David Schultz about the validity of the sport, with Schultz not finding the question all that amusing.

    It's one thing for an athlete to get mad and raise his voice to a reporter, but it's a completely different level when they actually hit another person while being interviewed, with Schultz asking Stossel if he thought the pimp slap he gave him was fake or not.