10 Sports Grudges That Need to End

Laura Depta@lauradeptaFeatured ColumnistApril 18, 2016

10 Sports Grudges That Need to End

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    Stephan Savoia/Associated Press

    Seattle fans have every right to be upset about the loss of their NBA team years ago, but why root against the Oklahoma City Thunder now? It's not Kevin Durant's fault the team moved.

    Even if SuperSonics fans don't dislike Thunder players personally, Seattle vs. OKC is still one of the many sports grudges that should come to an end. If Green Bay can get over the Brett Favre stuff, then Seattleites should be able to take some pride in a Durant title, right?

    Of course, some offenses should never be forgiven. Robert Irsay moved the Baltimore Colts to Indianapolis under the guise of night. What Lane Kiffin did to Tennessee, what Bill Belichick did to the New York Jets—it's understandable why resentment lingers in those instances.

    And yet, some things just need to stop. Is the Based God ever going to lift the curse on James Harden? Enough already. 

    The following are 10 sports grudges—mostly new, some old—that should come to an end, ranked from tiny issues to all-consuming beefs. 

Odell Beckham Jr. vs. Josh Norman

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    In December, New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. and Carolina Panthers cornerback Josh Norman went at each other all game, and things got ugly. The aggression was nearly constant throughout the matchup, and at one point Beckham took a shot at Norman's head.  

    Months later, the two are still at each other's throats. 

    Leading up to Super Bowl 50, Norman criticized NFL Network analyst Deion Sanders for what he perceived to be an approval of Beckham's actions.

    Fast-forward to late March, and Norman and Beckham were still adversarial, taking their feud to the Interwebs. The two traded jabs on Twitter after Norman said on two televised occasions he thought Beckham was "OK." 

    Is this going to continue into the 2016 NFL year? Some grudges should die with the season.  

Lil B vs. James Harden

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    How is this still a thing?

    Rapper Lil B started his foray into sports beefs with Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant in 2011. Later, he moved on to James Harden. According to Lil B, Harden stole a particular celebratory move of his, the "cooking dance," an offense that caused him to put a hex on the Houston Rockets guard.

    Though it would seem this fickle beef should have evaporated over time, it appears it's still going (though the degree of seriousness is debatable). 

    Lil B, aka the Based God, hails from from the Oakland area. In April, he went as far as to credit his voodoo powers with the Golden State Warriors' phenomenal season and Harden's lousy one.

    He tweeted, "The power of 'The BasedGods' curse made James harden get record most turnovers this year and the Warriors Nba most wins record - Lil B."

Cardinals Fans vs. Jason Heyward

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    Sports are a business, and athletes are employees. Their playing careers are their livelihoods, and though the passion of sports fans is refreshing and admirable, it also can also blind them to that fact.

    There is a long history of star athletes joining rival teams—Johnny Damon from the Boston Red Sox to the New York Yankees, Luis Figo from Barcelona to Real Madrid. And yet, to hold a grudge against a player for doing what's right for himself, his family and his career is almost always unfair.

    In December, the Chicago Cubs signed free-agent outfielder Jason Heyward, who most recently played with the rival St. Louis Cardinals, to an eight-year, $184 million deal.

    Cardinals fans lashed out. They went after him on Twitter with an aggression disproportionate to his "offense." Here's a sample tweet: "Jason Heyward is a TRADER WHAT A SCUMBAG."

    Heyward barters goods on the side? Who knew?

    One fan even gave him the LeBron James "Decision" treatment and set fire to his jersey.  

    The two teams meet on April 18 in St. Louis, and it's probably not too extreme to predict the Cubs' new addition will hear a few boos. The man played in St. Louis for one year. Settle down.

Jim Harbaugh vs. the SEC

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    In April, the NCAA disallowed satellite football camps like the ones on Jim Harbaugh's 10-day, seven-state "Summer Swarm" tour in 2015.  

    Michigan's head coach has been on a crusade to keep the camps, and he's fought opposition from other conferences, most notably the SEC.

    Harbaugh has publicly called out his detractors, often taking to Twitter to air his grievances against folks like SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey, Arkansas coach Bret Bielema, Georgia coach Kirby Smart and Tennessee coach Butch Jones.

    According to Creg Stephenson of AL.com, Smart suggested Harbaugh's plans for 2016 spring practices in Florida were a clear attempt to gain a leg up in terms of recruiting.   

    Harbaugh responded by tweeting, "If the Georgia coach is implying any intent on our part to break rules, he is barking up the wrong tree."

    The fight over satellite camps is a complicated one, but at least for now it has come to an end with the NCAA's ruling. Harbaugh's continued social media antagonism is not helping anything other than, perhaps, his own number of Twitter followers.

Landon Donovan vs. Jurgen Klinsmann

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    Jay LaPrete/Associated Press

    Ever since U.S. men's national soccer coach Jurgen Klinsmann left legendary forward Landon Donovan off the 2014 World Cup roster, Donovan has not-so-subtly had it out for the man.

    In October 2015, he suggested the coach should be relieved of his duties if a string of poor results continued. A few months earlier during the Women's World Cup, Donovan tweeted his approval of veteran Abby Wambach's presence on the team, which certainly seemed like a veiled shot at Klinsmann. 

    In March, the U.S. team lost to Guatemala during 2018 World Cup qualifiers, briefly putting its status for the tournament in real danger.

    Leading up to a critical rematch, Donovan said on the Dan Patrick Show (via Sports Illustrated), "If you can't beat Guatemala at home in a World Cup qualifier then you probably shouldn't be the coach. It's as simple as that."

    Donovan doesn't like the guy. That much is clear. It would be nice, now, if he could either let it go or stop talking about it.

St. Louis vs. Stan Kroenke

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    Billy Hurst/Associated Press

    Granted, the city of St. Louis has every right to be upset with Stan Kroenke for taking his Rams and hightailing it back to Los Angeles.

    St. Louis presented Kroenke with a stadium proposal to keep the team, and he expressed gratitude by publicly insulting the city in his relocation bid. Later, he left its citizens to foot the bill for the already built and now NFL-less Dome at America's Center.

    A St. Louis attorney took out a local Super Bowl ad made specifically to berate Kroenke. The loathed owner is even facing lawsuits from disgruntled fans.

    One fan, Gerald Goerger wrote, "As many St. Louisians feel, we do not hold grudges against any players, but we can't say the same for NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, Dallas Cowboys owners Jerry Jones (a big supporter of the Rams' ownership) and Rams owner Stan Kroenke," per Paul Thornton of the Los Angeles Times.

    That's fair. Did Kroenke act like a Grade-A weasel? Yes. Is losing a team hard? Yes. That said, the Rams are womp. They haven't had a winning season since 2003, and they might have just made a royally bad draft trade (TBD on the results of that one).  

    The reason this grudge should end is not because Kroenke deserves absolution, but because St. Louis is better off without dumping more public money into a mediocre team.

MLB vs. Pete Rose

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    Pete Rose, former player, manager and MLB's all-time hit leader, was famously banned from baseball in 1989 for gambling on games.  

    Rose has made several attempts at reinstatement, all futile. His most recent try was denied by MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred in December.  

    Per Bob Nightengale of USA Today, former MLB Commissioner Fay Vincent said, "Really, there is no other decision. Any criticism of it would be out of concern for Pete Rose. But this is absolutely the proper decision."

    Look, if MLB wants to keep the guy banned, that's not totally unreasonable. Its decision doesn't even appear to be based on resentment as much as politics.

    Then again, Rose is around all the time. The Reds will induct him into the team Hall of Fame in 2016, and he appeared on the broadcast of the 2015 MLB All-Star Game.  

    At this point, it just seems a little ridiculous for someone who is still so enmeshed in the fabric of baseball to be "banned from baseball."

Seattle Fans vs. Oklahoma City Thunder

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    Elaine Thompson/Associated Press

    In 2008, Clay Bennett moved his Seattle SuperSonics to Oklahoma City and took his young superstar Kevin Durant with him.

    The newly christened Oklahoma City Thunder proceeded to have success that long eluded the team in Seattle, making the playoffs every year from 2010-14 (though never winning the title).

    Fans in Seattle have every right to be upset with ownership for how things played out. Bennett stated publicly he had no plans to move the team then did it anyway, according to Sam Farmer of the Los Angeles Times. Boo.

    The problem is, some Seattleites actually really dislike the Thunder. Fans rejoiced on social media when the team missed the playoffs in 2015.

    Jenni Carlson of the Oklahoman wrote, "Sure, there will probably always be some people in Seattle who hate Oklahoma City because the Sonics left there and became the Thunder here."

    The anger toward Bennett is understandable, and for some Seattle fans that's probably where it ends. But for any fans who harbor resentment toward the players, that's misplaced. 

    Also, Seattle has one thing OKC will (probably) never have: a Super Bowl title. 

Everyone vs. Tom Brady

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    New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady has always been a polarizing guy. He is a handsome, talented Super Bowl champion married to an uber-famous supermodel. He also has a little Jim Harbaugh in him when it comes to officials, which doesn't generally help his image with football fans. 

    And then, Deflategate happened. Brady's demeanor throughout the saga was apparently less than satisfactory for some fans, many of whom who took the opportunity to mock him. The rude tone of some of his leaked personal emails probably didn't help.

    And yet, he is as loathed outside Boston as he is revered in it. In February, all past Super Bowl MVPs were honored during a pregame ceremony at Super Bowl 50. While each earned cheers from the fans at Levi's Stadium, Brady was booed excessively.

    It's unclear why folks are so keen on hating Brady with such vigor, but whatever it is it's out of hand. People don't have to like Brady, but a three-time Super Bowl MVP, as he's being honored for those very achievements, deserves at least a semblance of respect.

Baseball Writers vs. the Steroid Era

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    Each year, hundreds of baseball writers vote on which players, if any, should be inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

    Since baseball's steroids era enveloped the sport in the closing years of the 20th century, no player with even a sniff of a link to performance-enhancing drugs has been voted in.

    In 2016, home run king Barry Bonds received 44.3 percent of the vote, up from 36.8 from 2015, but still a far cry from the 75 percent needed for election. 

    Ken Griffey Jr., who was inducted, said, "I think you have a situation that they were Hall of Famers before all this stuff started, and you have to look at whole body of work," per Peter Botte of the New York Daily News.

    It's not relevant (to this argument) if players did or did not use PEDs. What is relevant is the purpose of the Hall of Fame.

    Its mission reads:

    The National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum is an independent, non-profit educational institution dedicated to fostering an appreciation of the historical development of baseball and its impact on our culture by collecting, preserving, exhibiting and interpreting its collections for a global audience as well as honoring those who have made outstanding contributions to our national pastime.

    Omitting some of the great players, tainted reputations or not, is omitting history that should be shared.