LeBron James and the 25 Worst Traitors in Sports History
It's one thing for LeBron James to opt out of his contract with the Cleveland Cavaliers and sign on with the Miami Heat. Whatever.
But to schedule a one-hour prime-time special for the sole purpose of ripping the heart out of the City of Cleveland, whose fans have already suffered tragedy over the years, well, that might be the biggest dick move in the history of professional sports.
25. Chris Chelios: If Can't Beat 'Em, Join 'Em.
Chris Chelios falls into the "Left My Team to Play for Our Nemesis and Win A Championship" category of traitorous douchebags.
This is a guy who played for the Chicago Blackhawks for decade before moving on to their absolute arch-nemesis, the Detroit Red Wings.
Chelios, who oh by the way is a Chicago native, was 37 when he made the move, seemingly at the end of his career.
But then Chelios went on to play 10 more years and win two Stanley Cups with the Red Wings.
24. Robert Horry: Have Big Shot, Will Travel.
Another for the "Left My Team to Play for My Rival" file.
Horry spent six and a half years with the Los Angeles Lakers, coming on-board the same season that Shaq and Kobe arrived. He was a pivotal member of the team that got swept out of the 1999 playoffs by the San Antonio Spurs.
He was also crucial during the Lakers' three straight NBA Finals championships, hitting one of the biggest shots of all time to save the Lakers in the 2002 Western Conference Finals against the Sacramento Kings.
The Lakers' run of three straight championships came to an end in the 2003 playoffs when the same San Antonio Spurs knocked them out in the semifinals.
And what does this mumma-jumma do? He goes and signs in the offseason with the goddamn San Antonio Spurs and wins two more NBA championships.
23. Walter O'Malley: Took His Ball and Went to L.A.
If there is anything that the people of Brooklyn hate, it's sports. Specifically, Brooklynites hate baseball. Just can't stand it.
It was such a blessing when Walter O'Malley moved the Brooklyn Dodgers to Los Angeles. People in Brooklyn were so glad to have them gone.
To this day, it is difficult to find middle-aged people who grew up in Brooklyn who'll tell you long, drawn-out tales about the Dodgers and how terrible it was when they moved away.
Thank goodness for Walter O'Malley, because the last thing we need in America is Americana.
22. Randy Moss: Only Plays for Good Teams, Takes Checks From Any Team.
You can leave your team high and dry. You can sign a big free-agent contract elsewhere. You can sell your house and pretend you never played for a team.
But only the most despicable, disgraceful, disgusting sons of bitches quit on their team on the field before the season is over.
Randy Moss had a reputation in Minnesota for taking plays off, and when he got to Oakland it looked as though he might be taking entire games off.
Or, perhaps he was just getting old.
That he was simply tanking games in Oakland was confirmed when he went to New England—who got him on the big-time cheap because he looked washed up—and had one of the greatest receiving seasons of all time for one of the greatest teams of all time.
21. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: LeBron Part One.
LeBron James may be douchebag of the week, month, or even year, but let's not pretend this is the first time the best player in basketball left his team high and dry for greener pastures.
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was the number one overall pick by the Milwaukee Bucks in the 1969 NBA Draft, and he led them to an NBA title in just his second season there by averaging 31.7 points and 16.0 rebounds per game.
The Bucks wouldn't make it back to the NBA Finals, though, and Kareem forced his way out of Milwaukee after only six seasons, spending the rest of his Hall of Fame career with the Lakers and winning five more championships in the process.
That's right, Kareem Abdul Jabbar was a douchebag, too.
20. 1919 Chicago Black Sox: Cheated.
Quitting on your team is one thing. Actually handing a game to the other team is quite another, and handing the other team a championship is another thing altogether.
I don't know what baseball players were making in the early 1900s, and frankly I don't care.
When he banned the Black Sox from baseball for life, I'd like to think Kenesaw Mountain Landis had a little Samuel L. Jackson from A Time to Kill in him, and said something like "Yeah, I banned 'em, and I hope they rot in hell!"
19. Robert Irsay: Took His Ball and Went to Indianapolis.
Robert Irsay, of course, was the owner of the Baltimore Colts when he moved the team to Indianapolis in the middle of the night in the winter of 1983. The fans of Baltimore are still pissed off to this day, even despite the fact that their new team has won a Super Bowl.
(OK, confession time: I've indulged the Baltimore fans as long as I could, but I recently read the Wikipedia entry for the whole Baltimore Colts relocation fiasco, and I gotta say, it sounds to me like the Maryland state government was the one that screwed the pooch on this deal.
Apparently, they passed a law banning the use of public funds for a new stadium, and then passed another law allowing the city of Baltimore to take control of the Colts under eminent domain.
And this was Irsay's fault?)
18. Dennis Rodman: Beat 'Em, Then Couldn't Beat 'Em, Then Joined 'Em.
So Dennis Rodman and his Bad Boys Detroit Pistons serve as the perfect foil to the Chicago Bulls for years, until the Bulls finally overcome the Pistons.
When the Bulls finally beat the Pistons to go on to their first NBA Finals, Rodman and the Pistons famously walked off the court before time expired in the final game, refusing to shake hands or be gracious in any way.
And then six years later Rodman joins the Bulls? Are you kidding me?
Either be a "Bad Boy" or admit that all you really want is personal glory. But don't do both.
17. Tommy Bowden: At Least He Didn't Build the Levees.
Tommy Bowden comes to Tulane University and leads the football program to its first success this side of the Eisenhower Administration.
Bowden leads Tulane to a rare bowl game in 1997, then leads it to an undefeated season in 1998, making a sensation out of quarterback Shaun King and Rich Rodriguez's spread offense.
Then, despite desperate pleas from the Tulane community and the city of New Orleans as a whole, Bowden bolts for Clemson.
That jackass got everything that was coming to him, as he experienced very little success at Clemson and is no longer coaching football.
16. Mike Mussina: Made Baltimore a Yankees Farm Team.
Mike Mussina gets drafted by the Baltimore Orioles. Mike Mussina very much becomes an instant star. Mike Mussina enjoys 10 years in Baltimore that have Orioles fans remembering Jim Palmer.
Then Mike Mussina becomes a free agent and signs with the New York Yankees?!?!?!
Screw Mike Mussina.
15. Shaquille O'Neal: LeBron Part Two.
Let's not pretend that LeBron James is the first person to high-tail it on the team that drafted him when things don't go perfectly according to plan.
After being the first overall pick of the Orlando Magic, putting them on the map for the first time in franchise history, and even leading them to an NBA Finals appearance, Shaq bolted after only four seasons to go to Los Angeles.
Of course, we all know Shaq is a dick. I think we expected more from LeBron.
Alex Rodriguez: The LBJ of the MLB.
Alex Rodriguez is sort of the LeBron James of Major League Baseball or, put another way, LeBron James is now the Alex Rodriguez of the NBA.
He is one of the best players in his league and one of the best athletes in professional sports, but he couldn't handle being the player other players depended on. He was either unwilling or unable to make the players around him better, so he left the city that drafted him and paid him and made him a star and loved him in search of the opportunity to win somewhere else.
Are we talking about A-Rod or LeBron?
13. Lane Kiffin: Why Does Everyone Keep Asking Me About Loyalty?
Good news, LeBron. You may be douchebag of the week or even month, but "one-and-done" Lane Kiffin is the Douchebag of the Year for abandoning the University of Tennessee after only one mediocre year to go take over the USC football program.
12. Deion Sanders: Constantly Seeking to Piss Off His New Fans.
Rarely has a player been more brazenly about himself above all others more than Deion Sanders.
He came up with the Atlanta Falcons and the Atlanta Braves, and became a cult hero in Atlanta. For that, he rewards the team and the city by signing with the hated division-rival San Francisco 49ers, and is rude enough to win a Super Bowl.
Then, to the extent that he had developed any following in his single season in San Fran, he alienates those fans by signing with the 49ers nemesis the Dallas Cowboys and winning another Super Bowl.
After five years in Dallas, he goes on to sign with their arch-rivals, the Washington Redskins, and then after a year in Washington he goes on to sign with Washington's regional rival, the Baltimore Ravens.
It is as if Deion Sanders made every career move based on how he could most piss off the fan-base he was leaving.
11. Johnny Damon: Idiot.
Here's something everyone on the planet knows except Johnny F*cking Damon—when you are a key player for the Boston Red Sox and a crucial member of the 2004 team that overcame a 3-0 deficit in the ALCS to defeat the New York Yankees and win the Red Sox first World Series in 80-plus years, you don't then go out and sign with the New York Yankees.
Everyone hates you, Johnny Damon. Me, Boston fans, your mom—we all hate you.
10. Nick Saban: He Only Lies When His Lips Are Moving.
Saban blew off LSU to join the NFL. Then, when the going got rough with the Miami Dolphins, he swore to everyone in the world he wouldn't quit on the team.
He swore it up and down, right up until the day he announced he was quitting on the team to go coach at the University of Alabama.
9. J.D. Drew: Justa Dick.
Little known fact: The "J.D." in J.D. Drew stands for "Justa Dick."
Drew basically dicked over every team he ever had contact with. He refused to sign after being drafted by the Philadelphia Phillies, sitting out the entire year so he could be drafted again the following year.
He never gave 100 percent for the St. Louis Cardinals despite the enormous contract that he was given when he finally did sign.
After several above-average but not great years, he was traded to Atlanta where he enjoyed a career year. Of course, Drew dicked over Atlanta and left after his only season there.
But his Benedict Arnold moment came with the Dodgers, with whom he signed a five year $55 million contract that had an escape clause after two years. Drew missed most of his first year under the contract before playing 146 games in the second year and being an above-average player.
After leading all parties to believe he would not exercise the escape clause, he nevertheless opted out of his deal with the Dodgers and signed a bigger deal with the Red Sox.
But that's Drew. He's Justa dick.
8. Wade Boggs: Stop It, You're Embarassing Everyone. Even the Horse.
Wade Boggs, get your f*cking ass off that f*cking horse right this second! You're a goddamned Boston Red Sox legend, for Pete's sake! What in the hell are you doing?!?!
7. Manny Ramirez: Pushing and Shoving His Way Out of Town.
Manny left Cleveland much the way LeBron has—in search of much more money and an opportunity to win.
But his Benedict Arnold moments came during the 2008 season, when Manny began to sour on Boston.
Manny reported refused to swing the bat in certain late-inning situations, and then shoved to the ground an elderly clubhouse attendant, thus hastening his departure from the Red Sox.
Dude, if you need a trade, just ask for one. Don't go abusing old guys.
6. Carlos Boozer: This time, I Promise to Keep the Football Still.
After the 2003–04 NBA season, the Cleveland Cavaliers had the option of allowing Carlos Boozer to become a restricted free agent, or keeping him under contract for one more year at a $695,000 salary.
The Cavaliers claimed to have reached an understanding with Boozer and his agent on a deal for approximately $39 million over six years, which he would've signed if they let him out of his current deal.
Cleveland then proceeded to release him from his contract making him a restricted free agent. During this period, a few teams were also interested in signing Boozer, and Utah ended up offering a six-year $70 million dollar contract that Cleveland chose not to match, since it would take them well over the salary cap.
Carlos Boozer signed with the Utah Jazz on July 24th, 2004.
5. Terrell Owens: What's My Quarterback's Name? He Sucks.
How is Terrell Owens a traitor? Let me count the ways.
From Jeff Garcia to Donovan McNabb to Tony Romo, he has never had a quarterback that he hasn't thrown under the bus to the media.
Just one year into his big free agent contract with the Philadelphia Eagles, he demanded that his contract be renegotiated. When the Eagles refused, he became a constant distraction to the point of being suspended, deactivated, and ultimately released by the Eagles.
And then he had the audacity to sign with the Dallas Cowboys, the most-hated Philadelphia rival in sports.
4. Brett Favre: Love ME.
Lifelong Green Bay Packer signs with the hated Minnesota Vikings and nearly leads them to the Super Bowl?
3. Tiki Barber: Time to Take A Look in the Mirror, My Friend.
I chose this picture of Tiki because it makes him look like a self-absorbed prima donna, which is what he is.
After a playoff loss in 2005, Tiki called out the New York Giants players and coaches for their lack of preparation.
Then, in the middle of the 2006 season, Tiki announced that he was going to retire at the end of the season, casting a pall over and serving as a distraction for the remainder of the season.
After the 2006 season, Tiki had some additional harsh words for the Giants staff.
But Tiki got his, in the end: the year after he retired, the Giants won the Super Bowl.
2. Art Modell: Hey, Come Back With Our Team.
Despite having come out against franchise relocation during the Baltimore Colts debacle, despite the fact that the city of Cleveland overwhelmingly supported using a sin tax to raise revenues to remodel Municipal Stadium to update it for the Browns, and despite having promised never to move the team and having told melodramatic stories of how devastated he was when the Brooklyn Dodgers had left his native Brooklyn...
Art Modell moved the Cleveland Browns to Baltimore and changed the name to the Baltimore Ravens in 1996.
1. LeBron James: Miami's Bad-Will Ambassador.
I think LeBron James lost a lot of fans on Thursday, and not just in Cleveland. By holding a prime-time news conference to announce to the world that the City of Cleveland was losing one the best athletes in professional sports, LeBron showed all the qualities we suspect our favorite athletes possess but hope they do not.
LeBron showed the entire world that he has an enormous ego, he cares about himself first and all others second, and that the game of basketball is just that to him, a game.
He has displayed a selfishness that was missing during the Super Bowl coverage of Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints, or of Albert Pujols and what he means to the City of St. Louis, or even of Joe Mauer, the local boy turned good in Minnesota, choosing to sign a contract extension and remain with the Twins even though he could have made more money elsewhere.
LeBron said on Thursday night that this decision is all about winning. That is untrue; while winning may be a part of it, this is really all about LeBron.
For the City of Cleveland, it's just another day.