Kobe-Shaq Relationship Disaster and the 25 Most Inevitable Moments in Sports
Benjamin Franklin once said: "The only certainties in life are death and taxes."
Obviously Mr. Franklin never watched sports. Although, I guess it's not his fault, because the only sports they had back then were cricket and rounders.
If he had watched sports, he would know that some things that happen are just as predictable as death and taxes.
Here's a list of 25 moments in sports that came as no surprise to any true sports fan.
25. Tim Lincecum Busted for Marijuana
Tim Lincecum is one of baseball's best pitchers despite looking like a 14-year old girl.
With his shaggy hair and childlike appearance, he kind of reminds you of the punk kid who lives next door and won't stop skateboarding on your property.
That's why it came as no surprise when Lincecum was cited for marijuana possession in 2009.
I don't know if pot is considered a performance enhancer, but Lincecum is a two-time Cy Young award winner and led his team to the 2010 World Series.
24. Terrell Owens and Chad Ochocinco Lead to Failure
The Bengals looked to revamp what was once a potent offense by picking up notoriously egocentric wide receiver Terrell Owens in the summer of 2010.
It was a risky move considering the Benglas already had the second-biggest loudmouth in the league, Chad Ochocinco, catching passes for them.
Nobody in the world thought that the tandem would produce positive results, and all of our speculations were proved correct when the Bengals finished the season at 4-12, losing 10-straight games at one point.
Owens' deal was only for one year, so I don't think they'll be bringing him back for the 2011-12 season. Just a guess.
23. Mark Cuban Fined for Twitter Comments
We didn't know it was going to be Mark Cuban, but when Twitter started to take off as a form of social media in 2009, we knew that sooner or later somebody in the sports world would post something stupid and get fined for it.
It's certainly no surprise that it was Cuban, who made billions by selling his website and is always on the forefront of technological trends.
It's largely stopped NBA players from getting into Twitter-related trouble, but it definitely hasn't stopped other athletes from making idiotic comments.
22. Kobe Bryant Injures Ankle
In 2008 Kobe Bryant revealed his new sneaker, the Kobe IV, and they immediately created controversy because of their unique design.
The shoes were low-tops, and looked more like cross-trainers than basketball shoes. People immediately shouted: "You can't play basketball in those! You'll sprain your ankles!"
Kobe answered his critics by saying there was no need for high-tops and that soccer players and other athletes perform in low-tops, so why shouldn't basketball players be able to?
Kobe wore the shoes for two years before the inevitable happened: he twisted his ankle in a playoff game against the New Orleans Hornets.
Although Kobe had rolled his ankles before, this was the most high-profile ankle injury he had since he adopted the new sneakers, and it was one that we all saw coming.
21. Raiders Make Terrible Draft Pick
Since making the Super Bowl in 2002, the Raiders have become one of the worst franchises in the NFL, and that's largely due to their recent blunders in the draft.
The most famous one, of course, was 2007 No. 1 overall pick JaMarcus Russell, who has already eaten himself out of the league at the ripe age of 25.
The Raiders also made a huge mistake by going for super-fast-but-not-super-talented receiver Darius Heyward-Bey in the first round in 2009.
If there's one thing that's become a certainty in sports, it's that the Raiders will screw up in the draft.
20. Shaq Injured for Celtics Playoff Run
The Celtics signed Shaq before the 2010-11 season in an effort to bolster their front line in case of an eventual rematch with the Lakers in the NBA Finals.
The only problem was that Shaq was a 7' 1", 330-pound, 38-year-old center who played in only 53 games for the Cavaliers the previous season.
As fans, we didn't give Shaq much hope of making it through the season healthy. Sure enough, he only played 37 games during the regular season for the Celtics.
On top of that, the Celtics traded their starting center, Kendrick Perkins, midway through the season with the hopes that Shaq would be able to return for the playoffs and clog up the middle.
Of course, that didn't happen either, as Shaq has yet to play for the Celtics in the playoffs. As it stands, they're down 0-2 to Miami and if they lose it will be in large part because of Shaq's absence.
It's hard to believe that the Celtics organization couldn't foresee that Shaq would be injured for the playoffs. We all did.
19. Stephen Strasburg Gets Tommy John Surgery
The hype around Nationals rookie pitcher Stephen Strasburg was immeasurable. The phenom from San Diego State was considered one of the best pitching prospect in the history of the game.
When he was finally called up in June 2010, he didn't disappoint, striking out 14 batters in seven innings in his debut against the Pirates.
In the following weeks Strasburg proved that he was no fluke, as his 100-mph fastballs and devastating breaking balls made National League hitters cry.
The kid's future seemed unlimited, and the only thing that could stop him was injury. Of course, the history of young pitchers throwing that hard is not great, and it was only a matter of time before Strasburg got hurt.
He tore his UCL and had Tommy John surgery towards the end of the 2010 season. He will miss the entire 2011 season and hopes to come back strong in 2012.
Hopefully one day we'll be adding "Stephen Strasburg Bounces Back From Tommy John" to this list, because you hate to see an injury ruin a young player's career.
Although we can't say we didn't see it coming.
18. Donald Sterling's Racism Goes Public
Clippers owner Donald Sterling is one of the most hated men in the NBA (probably the most hated before "The Decision"), by everyone from fans to his own players.
Sterling got into some hot water after being prosecuted in 2009 for discriminating against Hispanic and African-American tenants in the buildings he owned. Sterling got out of the mess by paying out a $2.73 million settlement. Somehow the news was kept relatively quiet and Sterling suffered no fines or suspensions from the NBA.
The mess came on the heels of Elgin Baylor's suit in 2006, which claimed that Donald Sterling fired the former Clippers GM because he is African-American (the case has since been ruled in Sterling's favor), so it was even more of a surprise that Sterling received no punishment from the league.
Still, with all that, the majority of people outside of Los Angeles were unaware of Sterling's racist tendencies. That is until March 2011.
On March 2, Sterling ran an ad in the paper informing fans about the Clippers' upcoming celebration of Black History Month. The problem is that Black History Month has been February for the past 35 years.
On top of that Sterling claimed he would celebrate black history by "admitting 1,000 underprivileged kids for free." Apparently Sterling thinks that all African-Americans are underprivileged or all underprivileged kids are African-American.
Either way, it was only a matter of time before Sterling's history with racism became a public matter.
17. Jose Canseco Loses MMA Debut
Jose Canseco made a lot of money playing baseball, but apparently has none of it left. He's always pulling money-making stunts, but his dumbest idea had to be trying his hand at MMA.
In May 2009, Canseco stepped into the ring with the man-mountain Korean Hong Man Choi, who stands 7' 2" and weighs 330 pounds.
As everyone and their mother predicted, Canseco got stomped and was knocked out just 77 seconds into the fight.
In true Canseco fashion, Jose blamed his knee (not his lack of training or ability) for the loss:
“I hurt my knee back home real bad but I didn't want to disappoint the fans. I knew that at some point during the fight my knee was going to give out and once I was down I knew I wasn't going to get up."
16. Blake Griffin Injured in Rookie Season
For those of you outside of L.A. who are unaware, there is something floating around called the "Clipper Curse."
Basically it means that any promising young talent that comes to the franchise is either an underachiever or gets hurt...or both.
Danny Manning, Terry Cummings, Shaun Livingston, Michael Olowokandi...the list goes on and on.
That's why we all cringed when we saw ultra-talented No. 1 pick Blake Griffin jumping all over the court and dunking on people with no restraint in the preseason of 2009.
Sure enough, he injured himself on a dunk in a preseason game and missed the entirety of what would have been his rookie season.
Luckily for the Clippers he came back stronger than ever, but an inescapable sense of fear still rushes over us every time Griffin jumps for one of his monstrous dunks.
15. Bobby Knight Fired by Indiana
Bobby Knight had been the basketball coach at Indiana University since 1971 and had brought the school three national championships, but his tenure was marred by a series of blowups and accusations.
That's why, in 2000, it came as no surprise when Knight was fired by Indiana amid allegations of grabbing a freshman player by the arm.
Knight was already on a "zero tolerance" policy after numerous incidents of allegedly assaulting players, so this was the last straw.
To be honest Knight probably lasted longer than we thought he would at Indiana, but it was definitely no surprise when he was fired for grabbing a player.
14. Fighter Doesn't Know When to Quit
If there's one thing you can count on in boxing and MMA, it's a fighter not knowing when to retire.
We constantly see fighters announcing their retirement, only to come back months later for "one last fight."
Examples abound, but the most famous are Muhammad Ali, Larry Holmes, George Foreman, Randy Couture, Chuck Liddell, and Ken Shamrock.
There's nothing worse than watching a once-great fighter taking a pounding against a fighter he has no business being in the ring with, so let's hope this trend ends soon.
I wouldn't bet on it, though.
13. Greg Oden Is a Bust
There's no way the Blazers could duplicate the Sam Bowie debacle. There's just no way.
That's what Portland fans were telling themselves the night before the 2007 draft, but everyone else was thinking to themselves: "I'm pretty sure this Oden guy could be a bust. Go with Durant...he's a sure thing."
Instead the Blazers ignored Greg Oden's injury history and drafted him to be the franchise center of the future.
In four years, Oden has played a total of 82 games. In those games he's been respectable (9.4 points, 7.3 rebounds and one questionable picture sent to a girl). Meanwhile Durant has blossomed into the best scorer in the league for the OKC Thunder and has them on the verge of the Western Conference Finals.
The Blazers are left wondering what might have been and have to be asking themselves how they didn't see this coming.
The rest of us certainly did.
12. Mike Tyson Gets Face Tattoo
We always knew Mike Tyson was a little on the...eccentric side. After being disqualified for biting off a piece of Evander Holyfield's ear and spitting it onto the mat, we knew Tyson was capable of pretty much anything.
That's why it came as no surprise when Tyson showed up in 2003 with a large tattoo covering the left side of his face.
It pretty much confirmed our suspicions that Tyson had finally gone off the deep end, and he entered what Bill Simmons appropriately dubbed "The Tyson Zone," meaning no headline about him would be too outrageous for us to believe.
We may mock the tattoo, but the artist may be making a lot of money soon...and preventing the release of one of the most anticipated comedies in years.
11. Vince McMahon's XFL Folds After One Season
- Those rules are in place for a reason.
- You don't mess with football in America
In 2001, the WWE was so popular that Vince McMahon was looking to branch out into other sports.
He decided to try to carve into the football market by creating the XFL, a more "Xtreme" version of professional football, that would play during the NFL offseason.
The XFL promised harder hits, fewer rules (like no fair catches), and more scantily-clad cheerleaders. By the end of the first season, McMahon had learned two things:
The viewers (all three of them) failed to embrace the new brand of football with less talented players, and the league folded after just one season.
Although it did leave us with one of the lasting nicknames in all of sports, Rod "He Hate Me" Smart, who actually had a pretty decent post-XFL career with the Carolina Panthers.
Better than the nickname itself is Smart's explanation, as told to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:
"Basically, my opponent is going to hate me. After I win, he's gonna hate me. It is what it is...For example, (when) I was on the squad in Vegas and coach was putting other guys in, (if) I felt I'm better than them, you know, hey, 'he hate me.' See what I'm saying? I feel as if everyone hates me, from my mom to my dad and even my brothers and sisters everyone "hates me"."
10. Portland Trail Blazers Have a Key Injury
The Portland Trail Blazers have been one of the best franchises in the NBA, making the playoffs in 21 consecutive seasons from 1983-2003. Unfortunately, they've also been one of the unluckiest.
They've been able to overcome them and fight into the playoffs, but you can always count on at least one key Blazer being injured in any given season.
It started with Hall of Famer Bill Walton who, after being drafted by Portland in 1974, saw his potential stifled by injuries. He averaged only 52 games played over his first four seasons with the Blazers and lost the entire 1978-79 season to injury before heading to the Clippers.
It didn't stop with Walton. We all know the historic blunder that was Sam Bowie, but there's also Greg Oden and Brandon Roy.
The tandem was supposed to be the future of the franchise, but now neither one can seem to get on the court for any extended period of time.
Still, through all this they persevere and put together a solid playoff team year in and year out. It's quite a testament to management and the coaching staff, but you can only imagine what they could do if their best player didn't get injured every year.
9. Baseball Player Accused of Taking Steroids
What? No way! I truly never saw this coming!
Those are words you're certain not to hear when steroid allegations start flying towards a Major League Baseball player.
Barry Bonds was officially questioned about taking steroids in 2003 and admitted to taking both the "cream" and the "clear." It came as no shock to America, who had watch Bond's home-run totals (and his head) grow at an exponential rate.
In the years since, we have seen everyone from A-Rod to Roger Clemens to Manny Ramirez linked to steroids in some way, and the accusations are nowhere near ending.
As of now, there's really not one player who is above suspicion. Even if Derek Jeter was found to have taken steroids there would be one bold New Yorker shouting, "I told you!"
8. Brett Favre Interception in 2010 NFC Championship
After an excruciating will-he-or-won't-he saga before the 2009-2010 season, Brett Favre decided not to retire and suited up for the Minnesota Vikings.
Favre went on to have his best season as a pro, posting career high 107.2 passer rating while throwing 33 touchdowns and a career-low seven interceptions.
This led many people in Minnesota to hope that Favre was a changed man and that he'd left his Tin Cup days behind him.
With the Vikings and Saints tied at 28 in the final minute of the 2009 NFC Championship game against the Saints, we all just got the sense that Favre was going to do something stupid.
Our suspicions were validated when Favre threw an ill-advised pass over the middle and had it intercepted. The Vikings eventually lost in overtime.
Favre had room to run, which could have put the Vikings in good shape for a game-winning field goal, but the gunslinger decided he had to go for it all, just like the old days.
Apparently he forgot that the Super Bowl was on the line and thought he was playing against the Detroit Lions.
7. Joe Torre's Yankees Three-Peat
The New York Yankees won at least two World Series championships in every decade from the 1920s to the 1970s, which made it all the more shocking when they were shut out for the entire decade of the 1980s and the beginning of the 1990s.
Notice how nobody outside of New York was in a state of panic?
We all knew that eventually the "Evil Empire," as it's known outside of the Big Apple, would regain its form and rise once again to prominence.
That's exactly what happened in 1996 when a young Derek Jeter led the Yankees to their first title in 18 years. After losing the next year, the Yankees re-asserted the fact that they were back on top of Major League Baseball by running off three-straight World Series wins from 1998-2000.
Can't say we didn't see that one coming.
6. Blake Griffin Wins 2011 Dunk Contest
Talk about a no-brainer. Blake Griffin mesmerized us with gravity-defying, contortionist dunks all year long, so when it was announced that he was competing in the 2011 Dunk Contest, we might as well have handed him the trophy right then and there.
Griffin faced some serious competition, but in the end his dunks, along with the showmanship of Kenny Smith and the help of a Kia and a choir, led him to victory.
Blake winning Rookie of the Year could also be on this list, but that wasn't really inevitable considering he's on the Clippers and nothing good ever happens to the Clippers.
The best part about posting anything about Blake Griffin is that it gives me a reason to link to one of his dunk compilations, so here you go.
5. Sidney Crosby Scores Game Winner at Winter Olympics
Hockey is Canada's national sport, so when the Winter Olympics began in Vancouver in 2010, the Canadian hockey team was not only favored, but expected, to win the gold medal.
Despite an upset loss to the United States in the early rounds, Canada made it all the way to the finals in a rematch against the US.
The game was tied after regulation and went into sudden-death overtime, when pretty much everyone knew how things were going to turn out.
Sure enough, Canadian Sidney Crosby, the best hockey player on the planet, scored the game winner and won the gold medal for the Canadians in their own Olympics.
Could it have turned out any other way?
In case you were wondering how much Canadians (and everyone else) expected their team to win, just take a look at the headline from the next day's Vancouver Sun.
4. NFL Player Assaults Woman
It really doesn't matter who the player is, this headline never, ever, ever, surprises us. Not ever.
There have been countless examples but let's take the most recent unpleasantness with Albert Haynesworth, who reportedly swiped a credit card down a female server's cleavage and then grabbed her breast while he was out with his buddies.
Before you condemn him as guilty, you should know that his defense is that he doesn't "even like black girls." That should hold up in court.
It has to be some kind of combination of testosterone and a sense of entitlement that makes NFL players unable to control themselves around women, but you can count on at least one of these stories a month.
3. Kobe-Shaq Relationship Ends in Disaster
Who couldn't see this one coming from a mile away? Two of the greatest players in the history of the game, Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant led the Lakers to three consecutive championships from 2000-02, but even during the run, the feud between Kobe and Shaq was apparent.
Each star felt that he should be "the man" on the Lakers and it led to countless disputes.
That's why it came as no surprise when, in 2004, Shaq was dealt to the Miami Heat. It was officially the end of the Kobe-Shaq Era in Los Angeles and it was reportedly a result of Kobe marching into owner Jerry Buss's office and giving an "it's him or me" ultimatum.
Who knows how many championships they could have won had they been able to get along, but I think we all knew that eventually it was going to blow up.
Luckily for us, the feud continued (in song form) well after the two stars parted ways.
2. NCAA Investigates Major College Sports Program
It's almost become part of the celebration: cut down the nets, tear down the goalposts, raise the banner, start preparing for an NCAA investigation.
Pretty much every major college program that has success is immediately put under scrutiny for recruiting violations, illegal benefits, or some other prohibited action.
The most recent victim is Auburn football, the 2011 national champions. Their quarterback, Cam Newton, already had his own mess to deal with and now the whole program is under investigation.
The only successful schools that seem to be under the radar are mid-majors, but would any of us be surprised if we saw the headline, "Butler Basketball Investigated for Recruiting Violations"?
I think not.
1. Michael Jordan's Final Shot (Sort Of)
Until LeBron James wins eight championships or Kobe Bryant saves a child from a burning building, Michael Jordan will be the greatest basketball player who ever lived.
And 1998 was his final season with the Chicago Bulls, so how could the Finals not end with Jordan hitting a game winner and riding off into the sunset?
Of course that's what happened, and he threw in a clutch strip of Karl Malone on the play before just for a little icing on the cake.
Bryon Russell and Utah fans are still screaming about the push off, but you can't mess with history. Michael had to hit that shot, and it was going to happen either in that game or Game 7.
Of course, Jordan returned to the court in 2001 to play for the Washington Wizards, but this shot is the lasting impression for one of the greatest careers in sports history.
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