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JetBlue Flight Attendant: Top 10 Bridge Burning Moments in Sports

Jon StarSenior Writer IAugust 10, 2010

JetBlue Flight Attendant: Top 10 Bridge Burning Moments in Sports

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    A JetBlue Airlines attendant made big news yesterday for his epic exit from an aircraft and his job. Steve Slater, a 38-year-old flight attendant, went off the rails and cursed out travelers aboard a JetBlue flight before grabbing two beers and making a triumphant exit into an arrest.

    Well Slater's career and likely his freedom came to a crashing halt with the momentous way he quit his job. He also instantly burned his bridge with JetBlue.

    But he is not alone. Athletes too have burned bridges with one act of betrayal or a stab in the back. Here is a look at 10 figures who cannot take back what they did.

LeBron James

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    Larry Busacca/Getty Images

    All it took was the words "I'm taking my talents to South Beach" for James to pour gasoline all over his bridge to Cleveland and light a match. James has since publicly thanked the people of Akron and Cleveland, but it matters not. 

    The first time James steps back into the Quicken Loans Arena he will feel just how disconnected from his hometown he has become.

Latrell Sprewell

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    What's one way to instantly burn a bridge with your team and shatter your credibility? Go choke out your head coach just as Latrell Sprewell did in 1997. 

    It only took 11 days for the Warriors to void the rest of Sprewell's contract. His career never truly recovered.

Dan Gilbert

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    In retaliation to James' departure, Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert issued an angry slam of his former superstar full of unreachable promises and vitriol. 

    Yet, regardless of how mad Gilbert was, all he really did was come across as a jilted lover and lost a significant amount of credibility with the media, NBA commissioner David Stern, and some NBA owners. Many were willing to give Gilbert the benefit of the doubt regarding the loss of James. Now he just sounds like a bitter, sore loser.

Straw That Stirs The Drink

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    Reggie Jackson already had a difficult time adapting to the Yankees clubhouse after his arrival in 1977. However, he made things worse when he famously told the New York Times that he was "the straw that stirs the drink" in the clubhouse.

    Jackson's printed comments infuriated teammate and captain Thurmon Munson, creating a rift that took nearly a year to close. 

Never Had to Lead

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    Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

    Back in 2001, then Texas Rangers shortstop Alex Rodriguez fired a shot across the bow at Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter by saying that Jeter was "blessed with great talent around him" and "he's never had to lead."

    That burned a bridge with the loyal Jeter who was very close with A-Rod prior to that statement. A-Rod's comments burned a bridge between the game's two biggest shortstops, a wound that did not heal until after the Yankees finally won a World Series with the two as teammates.

John Daly Walks Off

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    John Daly has a history of checking out of tournaments early, but one specific case at the 2006 FBR Open stands out: Daly made it through 27 holes of that tournament, but as he made the turn to No. 10 he just kept walking. Daly left his caddy bag in hand, walked off course, passed fans and security out to the parking lot, got in his car, and simply drove off.

    He didn't say a word to anybody. He had just had enough of his poor play and his train wreck of a personal life at the time. He was later seen enjoying himself at the Scottsdale Fairmont Princess Hotel as only John Daly could.

Lane Kiffin Bolts Knoxville

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    Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

    Lane Kiffin arrived in Knoxville with the promise that he would get Rocky Top back to the mountaintop. One year later and several secondary violations and Kiffin was at the podium taking the USC job. Tennessee fans immediately showed their rage at Kiffin who is unlikely to ever set foot in the state again.

    And all that came after he burned any chance of returning to the NFL as a head coach following his bizarre exit from the Oakland Raiders.

Nick Saban Burns Baton Rouge

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    Dave Martin/Getty Images

    It isn't that Nick Saban left LSU to take the Miami Dolphins job that chapped the hide of Tigers fans. It's that after two unsuccessful years in Miami, Saban returned to the college ranks only to lead LSU's biggest rival in the SEC—Alabama.

    It helped that Saban went 7-6 in his first year in Tuscaloosa while the Tigers won their second national championship of the decade, but Saban's emergence as the SEC's top dog continues to embitter the legion of LSU faithful.

    Also, Saban's dastardly exit from the NFL after flatly stating he would not coach Alabama left him with little credibility in the professional ranks.

Pete Rose

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    Pete Rose went down as one of the biggest criminals in baseball history for his gambling on the game. Yet, what really burned the bridge was his outright denial of his behavior for well over a decade before finally and painfully copping to a truth that many believed all along anyways.

    Rose supporters believe his admission to gambling on the game and already 20-plus years spent on baseball's banned list were punishment enough. However, it appears his admission was enough to drive Bud Selig's stake into the heart of Rose's chance at entering Cooperstown.

Agassi Burns Sampras

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    Andre Agassi and Pete Sampras were the faces of men's tennis for over a decade. They had their on the court rivalry and appeared cordial enough off the court.

    That was until Agassi released his tell all autobiography within which he calls Sampras dull and uninteresting, takes a shot at his intelligence, and lobbies accusations that Sampras is cheap.

    The reignited rivalry came to a head on the court when the pair bickered at each other during a charity event in early 2010. 

    The two attempted to smooth over the event, but it appears Agassi crossed a line with Sampras that Sampras is not willing to forgive.

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