5 Star Athletes of Our Generation Who Are Unfairly Disrespected

Adam Graham@@adam_grahamAnalyst IIAugust 2, 2011

5 Star Athletes of Our Generation Who Are Unfairly Disrespected

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    “I can’t get no respect” was a line made famous by stand-up comedian Rodney Dangerfield during his act in the 1970s and ‘80s. It’s a quote that many people can relate to in their day-to-day lives, as you can relate it to just about every profession.

    Even in professional sports, a world where the majority of star players are glorified, there are some who don’t get the respect they truly deserve. Whether it’s the media, the fans or even their peers who don’t appreciate them, they are often unfairly criticised for a variety of unknown reasons.

    Of course, there are plenty athletes that fans will simply hate because they left their team or did something that the public viewed negatively. But this list is meant for a select few athletes who have accomplished great things over the course of their careers, but for whatever reason are still not given the credit they deserve.

    It's interesting to read about some of the examples of how these superstars have been unfairly criticised during their careers. So let's find out who these athletes are and why they're generally disrespected by the masses.

Chris Bosh

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    Maybe it’s because he’s played the majority of his career for the Toronto Raptors, a franchise that’s treated with complete apathy in the United States. Or maybe it’s because his slender frame doesn’t exactly strike fear into the eyes of opposing power forwards.

    Regardless of the reasons, Chris Bosh is probably the least respected of any NBA All-Star amongst both the fans and his peers. For the first seven years of his professional career, Bosh played for the Toronto Raptors and became the face of the franchise upon the departure of the disgruntled Vince Carter.

    But despite being a perennial All-Star and having five straight years of averaging better than 22 points per game, Bosh was dismissed as simply being a good player on a bad team. He was even referred to as the “RuPaul of big men,” by Shaq just over two years ago.

    This wouldn’t be the last time Bosh was disrespected by Shaq, among other NBA stars. Remember when Amar'e Stoudemire went out of his way to single out Bosh on a New York radio station during his final season as a member of the Phoenix Suns?

    How about Kevin Durant referring to him as a “fake tough guy?"

    Then there was Carlos Boozer talking about the Miami Heat having two great players before Boozer’s Chicago Bulls were defeated by Bosh and the Heat in five games in the 2011 Eastern Conference finals. Did I mention that Bosh averaged 25 points per game in that series while Boozer averaged just 14.4 points per game?

    Now Shaq has taken another shot at Bosh, referring to the Miami Heat and their “big two” when announcing the release of the 2011-2012 NBA schedule. I’m not sure which is more ridiculous: the fact that NBA players continue to take unprovoked shots at a six-time All-Star or that the NBA actually bothered releasing a schedule for next season.

    Bosh is currently one of only 20 players to play at least 500 NBA games with career averages of 20 points and nine rebounds per game. But you wouldn’t know it by the amount of criticism he takes.

    At least his teammate, LeBron James, is still considered by the fans and his peers to be one of the best players in the world despite the hate he receives from many. Bosh, on the other hand, can’t seem to find respect from anyone.

    The best way to summarize the lack of respect Bosh has been shown throughout his career is by showing you this video. Enjoy!

Roberto Luongo

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    The city of Vancouver has been labelled a goalie graveyard over the years. It’s a place where, throughout history, many goaltenders of the Vancouver Canucks have struggled and been run out of town by the fans and media.

    Even superstar goaltenders aren’t safe from criticism in Vancouver, especially Roberto Luongo.

    When Luongo arrived in Vancouver in 2006, he brought a level of excitement to Canucks fans. They believed the Canucks finally had an All-Star goalie that was far too good to receive the same criticism as the franchise's previous goalies.

    But even then, there were critics who believed that Luongo was overrated because he had never made the NHL playoffs, even though he had played his entire career to date on horrible teams.

    The same critics reared their ugly heads after Luongo single-handedly led the Canucks to a division title and the second round of the playoffs in 2007. This was due to a soft goal he gave up in double-overtime that eliminated the Canucks from the playoffs. It’s funny how those critics didn’t talk about the 56 saves he made in the same game.

    This would be a small sign of things to come over the next four years for the Canucks netminder.

    Luongo has continued to play like an All-Star on most nights for the Canucks, but you wouldn’t know it by how disrespected he is by the fans, the media and even some of his fellow NHL peers.

    In 2010, ESPN did a small players poll that asked who the most overrated player in the league was. Guess who led the way in voting. The four-time All-Star, three-time Vezina Trophy nominee, and Olympic gold medalist named Roberto Luongo.

    It seems like whenever Luongo’s teams are successful, the praise goes to the skaters in front of him. However, when the team struggles, it’s always his fault. No one gave him any credit for backstopping Team Canada to Olympic gold in 2010, even though the team failed to win both of the two games he didn’t play in.

    This year for the Canucks, Luongo put up tremendous statistics and was again nominated for the Vezina Trophy as the NHL’s top goaltender. But it seemed as though all the focus of the Canucks' success was on the Sedin twins and Ryan Kesler.

    But none of the unfair criticism and disrespect that Luongo had received throughout his career even came close to the venom spit his way during the 2011 Stanley Cup playoffs.

    Luongo was brilliant during the vast majority of games. He posted four shutouts and was one of the best players on the Canucks during their run to the Stanley Cup Finals. But all he received was hate.

    There were comments on Twitter from several other NHL players mocking his play in the finals against the Boston Bruins. It also seemed as though every time he let in a goal, let alone lost a game, the media would ask if the team's backup would get the next start.

    While Luongo's inconsistency during that series definitely hurt the Canucks, his overall performance in the 2011 Stanley Cup playoffs was still very good. However, he was still treated with a general disdain by most fans and members of the media throughout the Canucks' playoff run. In my opinion, this cemented his place as one of the most unfairly criticised star athletes of our generation.

Donovan McNabb

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    One of the best quarterbacks in NFL history never got the respect he deserved during his prime.

    Donovan McNabb was treated more than unfairly from the moment he was drafted, when Philadelphia Eagles fans booed him mercilessly as he walked across the stage. He hadn’t even played a single down of NFL football yet.

    All McNabb did since that day was lead the Eagles to the most successful decade in their history.

    He is a six-time Pro Bowler and has nearly won the league MVP award twice. He currently has the second-best touchdown-to-interception ratio of all time, he is one of just five quarterbacks to record over 30,000 passing yards and 3,000 rushing yards, and he has the third-highest winning percentage among active quarterbacks behind only Peyton Manning and Tom Brady.

    But many Philly fans only seemed to focus on the negative aspects of McNabb’s career, like the Eagles' 6-10 season in 2005. This was the only year during McNabb’s tenure with the Eagles that the team finished below .500. McNabb’s alleged illness and three interceptions in his only Super Bowl appearance is something he’ll probably never live down either.

    It wasn’t only the fans in Philadelphia who treated McNabb unfairly during his time with the Eagles. Rush Limbaugh, who was working for ESPN as an NFL analyst in 2003, was extremely critical of McNabb and apparently never thought he was very good.

    Rush’s suggestion that the media was pushing for a black quarterback to do well is a debate for another time. However, his opinion that McNabb was regressing way back in 2003 still makes me scratch my head to this day and wonder why so many people had a problem with McNabb.

    The lack of respect shown to McNabb throughout his career has also come from the Eagles coaching staff and front office. To what else would you chalk up the numerous threats of McNabb being benched in favour of either A.J. Feely or Koy Detmer?

    McNabb was also disrespected during the end of his time in Philadelphia when the Eagles organization openly dangled him as trade bait without telling him about it beforehand. At least, that’s what Hall of Famer Warren Moon thinks.

    After playing for the Washington Redskins last season, one can only hope Donovan McNabb’s days of being disrespected are behind him. At the very least, he received a standing ovation from the crowd when he returned to Philly to play the Eagles for the first time as a member of the opposition.

    But then he was benched in favour of Rex Grossman by Redskins head coach Mike Shannahan only a few weeks later. Oops. I guess some things never change.

Alex Rodriguez

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    The man known as A-Rod is one of the greatest baseball players of all time, but you wouldn’t know it by his reputation.

    Rodriguez is not only one of the most hated people in sports, but he’s also been extremely undervalued throughout his career in terms of his accomplishments. Much of this has to do with Rodriguez playing for a terrible Texas Rangers team during the prime of his career.

    Despite his god-like statistics, fans and members of the media constantly criticised his performance simply because the Rangers weren’t winning. But considering baseball is the most individually focused of any team sport, this criticism was completely ridiculous. Players cannot make their teammates better in baseball and therefore, there wasn’t much A-Rod could do about the rest of his team. He’s not a pitcher and he can’t hit more than once every nine batters.

    In 2004 he was traded to the New York Yankees and that’s where the hatred really started to boil.

    It seemed as though Rodriguez shouldered all of the blame for every single season the team didn’t win the World Series. Of course, it didn’t help that he wasn’t delivering much in the playoffs, but did Joe Torre really have to bat him eighth in the lineup during the 2006 ALDS?

    This proved that A-Rod was not only being disrespected by the fans and media, but he was also being treated unfairly in his own locker room. Would Derek Jeter have ever been demoted to the No. 8 or 9 hole in the batting order if he had struggled a little during the postseason? I highly doubt it.

    There’s also the poll that Sports Illustrated conducts annually amongst MLB players in which Rodriguez has been named the most overrated player in the league on multiple occasions.

    I’m not quite sure how one of the greatest players of all time is overrated, especially when the majority of reporters tend to criticise him.

    Perhaps most of A-Rod’s peers just don’t like him and I won’t argue with them on that point. The guy comes across as a self-absorbed douche. He blows off the media constantly and he looks like he belongs on the set of Jersey Shore, so it’s easy to see why many people hate him. But that’s no reason to ignore his accomplishments and statistics on the field.

    Expectations have been extremely high for Alex Rodriguez ever since he was drafted first overall in 1993 and, for the most part, he has lived up to those expectations. Unfortunately, many fans have been too busy criticising him unfairly to truly appreciate his greatness.

Novak Djokovic

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    We are blessed to be living in an era that has given us three of the greatest tennis players of all time and perhaps this is the reason why Novak Djokovic is not shown enough respect.

    The only men’s tennis players that have been talked about as champions for the last several years are Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal. Djokovic has always been a distant third when it comes to discussions of who is the best player in the world. Sometimes he isn’t even mentioned in those debates and is grouped in with the second-tier stars like Andy Murray, Andy Roddick and Robin Soderling.

    He’s almost known more for his humorous nature and his antics off the court than he is for his play. Then there was the 2008 US Open when he was mocked by Andy Roddick for simply being injured and was disrespected by the fans just a few days later after he beat Roddick.

    But regardless of what is or isn’t said about Djokovic, he is currently ranked No. 1 in the world and has done more than enough to earn that ranking.

    He put together the third-longest winning streak in men’s tennis history by winning 43 straight matches from late in 2010 to the French Open in 2011. However, many people chose to discount two of those victories to put him behind John McEnroe’s streak simply because all his victories didn’t come in the same calendar year.

    Does that even matter in tennis? Of course it doesn’t, and the very fact that people tried to detract from Djokovic’s winning streak shows the lack of respect towards him.

    Djokovic is currently better than a pair of tennis players that are constantly being debated as the greatest of all time. Yet, he still can’t seem to find his way into those discussions and earn anywhere near the same respect as them.


    Thanks for reading. You can follow and talk to me on Twitter: @adam_graham