More Than A Mouthful: The 20 Greatest Trash Talkers In Sports History
In 1992, a movie titled White Men Can't Jump was released. It quickly became a classic.
The movie was the story of two basketball hustlers, who did most of their work at pickup games at playgrounds.
It was during these pickup games that we witnessed some of the nastiest, craziest, most offensive exchanges of words. These exchanges of words effected the play and mindset of the victim.
These exchanges of words were called trash talk, and the playgrounds aren't the only place to find it.
In fact, trash talk can be spotted at nearly any major sporting event.
Trash talk can change the outcome of games and effect the way players are received throughout the league.
Let's take a look at the 20 greatest trash talkers in sports history. Enjoy!
20. Joey Porter
Joey Porter is one of the better pass-rushers of our generation, and when he slams you to the turf, he's going to let you know about it.
Porter's mouth has gotten him fined by the NFL on more than one occasion, but it hasn't changed Porter one bit.
He still has one of the league's most active mouths on and off the gridiron.
19. Chuck Person
Chuck Person has been referred to by many former NBA players, as one of the biggest trash talkers of the '80s and '90s, which is when trash talk in basketball peaked.
His name has been mentioned next to the likes of Larry Bird, Michael Jordan, and Reggie Miller when it comes to getting under his opponent's skin.
Now that is some elite company.
Person made a career of shooting three's and heckling opponents. His most memorable trash talk moments came in the '91 and '92 playoffs, when he went blow for blow with one of the greatest players and trash talkers in NBA history—Larry Bird.
18. Marco Materazzi
I don't like to include one-hit-wonders on my list, but Marco Materazzi's one hit was a HUGE one.
Materazzi didn't exactly have a storied career, but it does have one hell of a defining moment.
The last match of Zinedine Zidane's storied career went into extra time. During the extra-time period, an event that would have surprised a crystal ball occurred—Zidane was ejected after headbutting an Italian no-name soccer player in the chest, for seemingly no reason.
It was later revealed that Materazzi (the Italian no-name) had insulted Zidane.
Many claims were made as to what exactly Materazzi said, but we'll never know what actually happened.
Newspapers have suggested that he made a racist claim, Zidane has claimed that Materazzi insulted his sister and mother, while Materazzi has countered it all by saying that he simply called Zidane's sister a whore.
Either way, that was some counter by Materazzi. I'm surprised people still aren't off his back for that.
17. A.J. Pierzynski
There is no easier position in sports to heckle the crap out of somebody than catcher in baseball.
You're in the presence of an opponent who is trying to concentrate for 50 percent of the game.
A.J Pierzynski has been known to use this to his advantage more than any other catcher in the history of baseball.
The average sports fan turns off their television at the mention of his name. The average baseball player searches for some brass knuckles at the mention of it.
Even White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen—who has been known to mouth off often himself—said, "If you play against him, you hate him. If you play with him, you hate him a little less."
16. Shaquille O'Neal
Shaquille O'Neal has always been one of the most fun-loving players in the NBA, but if you mess with him, or he feels the need to mess with you, you're not in for anything pleasant.
O'Neal can trash talk with the best of them.
He can also roast people with his freestyle rapping.
Or at least he thinks he can.
One of his more recent feuds with Kobe Bryant was brought to a new level when he got up at a party and rapped "Kobe, tell me how my ass tastes."
He has also battled with Dwight Howard and Stan Van Gundy amongst others in recent years.
Shaq may hold the record for most feuds by one player in NBA history.
15. Juan Pablo Montoya
Juan Pablo Montoya has an ego bigger than Mo Vaughn's stomach.
However, the world of race car driving does not offer many chances to let out your emotions. Interviews are the only real chance to let people know what you think, and Montoya loves to let people know what he thinks.
His most famous trash talking moment came with race car legend Michael Schumacher sitting right next to him. Montoya famously said Schumacher was "either blind or stupid."
His rowdy personality has since taken the NASCAR world by storm.
14. Chad OchoJohnson
Anybody who has read my articles in the past knows that I refuse to call Chad Johnson by the last name Ochocinco.
There are so many problems with that last name, most importantly: It's English translation is not even 85!
As much as I hate this last name, it sums up Chad OchoJohnson (you heard me!) to a tee: He's stupid and he doesn't think before he talks.
OchoJohnson's most recent trash talking blunder came when he promised to change his name back to Chad Johnson if Darrelle Revis shut him down. Of course, when Revis did shut him down, he decided to go against his word and stick with Ochocinco anyway.
Johnson's other notable stupid moments include racing a horse, keeping a checklist of cornerbacks that couldn't cover him and even sending cornerbacks deodorant before games so they "don't sweat when covering Chad."
However, my favorite trash talking moment of Chad's career came when he sent out a laminated letter (pictured) to all NFL teams stating that it is "against NFL rules to cover Chad man-to-man."
13. Sean Avery
Avery has been identified as the NHL's most hated, annoying, potty-mouthed player on multiple occasions.
However, he embraces it.
Sean Avery has made a career of talking crap to nearly any other NHL player he comes in contact with.
In fact, his boisterous and cheap behavior caused the NHL to create a new rule dubbed "The Sean Avery Rule."
The Sean Avery Rule states that any player who positions himself facing the goaltender and proceeds to wave his arms or stick in the goaltender's face for the purpose of distracting the goaltender will be called for unsportsmanlike conduct.
12. Deion Sanders
Prime Time is regarded to as one of the greatest corners of all time.
He was a showboat who wasn't afraid to make the opposition look silly at all times.
Deion would bark at receivers right before picking off passes intended for them and then high stepping into the endzone.
Sanders loved to talk and showboat, and while not all the players loved him, the fans did.
11. Terrell Owens
You knew it was coming. The man who famously said, "I love me some me" has rightfully earned himself a spot on this list.
Owens has a reputation of sounding off on anybody at any time.
According to him, if he ran in an Olympic race he wouldn't finish last, Jeff Garcia is gay, Tony Romo favors Jason Witten, he's "the original 81," and so on.
Owens has the most active mouth in NFL history and the things that come out of it are stupid 99 percent of the time.
That's good enough for a spot on this list.
10. Spike Lee/John Starks
John Starks had two options back in the 1990s: talk trash or buy earmuffs.
Of course Starks chose the former, and him and his boy Spike Lee are on this list because of it.
Starks' Knicks went to war with the Bulls and Pacers during the '90s, and he was forced to cover two of the greatest trash talkers in sports history—Michael Jordan and Reggie Miller.
Starks got an earful every time he stepped onto the court with these guys, which is why he had to learn how to dish out the words.
Starks became a superstar of the trash talking world as he continued to go face to face with Reggie and MJ. He rarely let them get the best of him and he always had something to say.
However, Starks' trash-talking prowess was only to be outdone by famous movie director and diehard Knicks fan Spike Lee.
Lee made it known to the competition every single time one of his Knicks did something special.
Lee engaged in a small rivalry with Pacers' guard Reggie Miller, that had a Knicks' loss pinned on Spike Lee.
9. Charles Barkley
Having a nickname like The Round Mound of Rebound ensures that you are awesome.
Charles Barkley knew he was awesome and he let his opponents know about it.
Barkley was always in his opponent's faces on the court, and he always gave sportswriters something interesting with his interviews.
Barkley's trash talking bravado would earn him a spot in TVs across the nation where he still voices his opinions to this day.
8. Floyd Mayweather Jr.
Floyd "Money" Mayweather has put himself amongst the greatest boxing trash talkers of all time.
He talks the talk and he walks the walk.
He can get into almost anybody's head and make them think twice before stepping into the ring with him.
Mayweather's most famous rant was about Ricky Hatton, when he famously said, “When I retire, I’ll get Ricky Hatton to wash my clothes and cut my lawn and buckle my shoes. Ricky Hatton ain’t nothing but a fat man. I’m going to punch him in his beer belly. He ain’t good enough to be my sparring partner.”
"Money" Mayweather's mic skills earned him a short spot in the WWE for WrestleMania 24 where he took on "The Big Show."
7. Gary Payton
"The Glove" spent 17 years harassing other players.
Whether you were Michael Jordan or some scrub signed to a 10-day contract, Gary Payton would have something to say to you.
He never met a diss he couldn't respond to, and he never met a person he couldn't diss.
His great trash talk went perfect with his tough, in-your-face defense.
My favorite Gary Payton trash talking moment came in 1999 in a game against the New Jersey Nets. He told Nets' player Jamie Feick, "Man, you won't even be in the league next year." Feick was speechless and it seemed that he would just ignore Payton, until his teammate Scott Burrell walked over to tell Payton that he had hurt Feick's feelings.
I don't know if that says more about Payton or Feick, but if it does say something about Payton, it's that he has no mercy.
6. Mike Tyson
There's a lot I could say about Mike Tyson.
When the man talks, people listen.
He always has something intimidating and interesting to say.
He is the only man in boxing history who could scare the crap out of you before you ever stepped into the ring with him.
Here's my favorite Mike Tyson line of all time: "Lennox Lewis, I'm coming for you man. My style is impetuous. My defense is impregnable, and I'm just ferocious. I want your heart. I want to eat his children!"
Wow, Tyson is one scary dude.
5. Shannon Sharpe
Shannon Sharpe was one of sports most creative trash talkers.
Defenders had to be ready for anything every time they stepped within five feet of him.
He never met a player that he didn't have something to say to. Especially Ray Buchanan.
Just take a look at this video:
4. Reggie Miller
Reggie Miller could talk trash!
He got in EVERYBODY'S head.
Miller made a career of heckling other players, but his most famous work came against the New York Knicks.
Miller once got under John Starks' skin so much, that Starks headbutted Miller and was ejected.
In another meeting with the Knicks in the 1994 Eastern Conference Finals, Spike Lee was heckling Miller (who was having a tough night) from the sidelines. Miller then came out in the fourth quarter and scored 25 points, looking at Spike after each and every basket, as if to say "This is for you." Miller than gestured a choke sign directly at Spike Lee.
Reggie Miller changed the way people thought about trash talk.
3. Michael Jordan
It is unusual that Michael Jordan finishes second to anybody, let alone third.
However, third is certainly not a bad place to be on any list.
Michael Jordan victimized opponents with his amazing scoring touch. It was bad enough to defend him, but to have him in your face for 48 minutes letting you know about it every time he sinks a shot was damn near horror.
Jordan would burn the opposition with each and every move in his arsenal, and then get right in their face with a big grin for their embarrassment.
Jordan's favorite trash talk line that he resorted to very often was, "Doesn't your coach get mad when you don't guard me?" Right after he had just sunk a jumper right in their face.
My all-time favorite Jordan trash talk moment came in a game against the Denver Nuggets. Jordan approached the free throw line and told Nuggets rookie Dikembe Mutombo that he would shoot the next free throw with his eyes closed.
Jordan looked right at Mutombo, said, "This one's for you," closed his eyes, hit the free throw, and then said, "Welcome to the NBA."
2. Muhammad Ali
Muhammad Ali set the gold standard for trash talk, and to this day only one man has ever matched Ali's level of trash talk.
Ali said things that George Foreman and Joe Frazier are still trying to think of comebacks to, to this day.
His mouth was just as fast as his fists, and that's saying something.
Joe Frazier was never the same after Muhammad Ali started taking both mental and physical shots at him.
I'll leave you with this famous video of Ali at his best:
1. Larry Bird
Larry Bird is often the subject of many NBA stories and quotes when it comes to being confident and dedicated.
However, confidence can't even describe what Bird had in his ability, the man was out to embarrass the opponent, and he thought he could go out there and do it every night.
Luckily for him, he could.
No other player in the history of the NBA would have lasted with a mouth like his.
Bird has partaken in some of the most intense moments in trash talk history.
Here are a few of Bird's most famous moments:
Before the first ever three-point shooting contest in 1986, Bird walked into the locker room and just looked around for a while without saying a word. Once he finally had the entire room's attention he broke the silence and said, "I'm just looking around to see who's gonna finish in second."
On a Christmas day game against the Pacers, Bird told Chuck Person before the game that he had a Christmas present waiting for him. During the game, Person was sitting on the bench right near the baseline, Bird dribbled towards him, shot a three directly in front of him, and as soon as he released the ball, he turned to Person and said, "Merry F*%&ing Christmas!"
And then the ball went in.
Late in a tied game against the SuperSonics, Xavier McDaniel was covering Larry Bird. During a timeout Bird told McDaniel exactly where he would hit the game-winning shot. Bird then got the ball, dribbled right to the spot, paused, shot and swished it with two seconds left on the clock. Bird then said to McDaniel, "I didn't mean to leave two seconds on the clock."
Larry Bird was a menace on the court, and stories like these prove it.