The Worst Trash Talk in Sports History
You're like an alcoholic away from the bar—all you do is miss shots.
You couldn't tackle me if I took a nap.
Happy Gilmore called—he wants his golf swing back.
Trash talk—and more importantly, trash talk far more clever than my offerings here—are a vital and entertaining part of sports. Trash talk can be a way to get a few chuckles while ribbing an opponent, or it can be a strategy employed to gain a psychological advantage.
But sometimes, it backfires. Sometimes, it isn't appropriate. Sometimes, it makes an athlete or coach look really stupid.
On this list, we remember the stupid.
Dishonorable Mention: Stick to Weather, Brick
Okay, so this isn't sports-related. But it is a wonderful example of terrible trash talk, so it's a nice way to get started.
25. Kevin Garnett vs. Charlie Villanueva
Nick Laham/Getty Images
After a 2010 game between the Celtics and Pistons, Charlie Villanueva took to Twitter to remark about a comment Kevin Garnett made about him during the game. From ESPN:
One of the tweets says: "KG called me a cancer patient, I'm pissed because, u know how many people died from cancer, and he's tossing it like it's a joke."
Garnett is known for his trash-talking on the court. Villanueva suffers from alopecia universalis, a medical condition that results in hair loss. The Detroit forward does not have hair on his head.
In a statement, Garnett refuted that he called Villanueva a "cancer patient."
"My comment to Charlie Villanueva was in fact 'You are cancerous to your team and our league,'" Garnett said. "I would never be insensitive to the brave struggle that cancer patients endure. I have lost loved ones to this deadly disease and have a family member currently undergoing treatment. I would never say anything that distasteful. The game of life is far bigger than the game of basketball."
Hopefully, Villanueva misinterpreted what Garnett said. But it's possible that he didn't—Garnett's passion has caused him to make unfortunate analogies in the past.
24. Terrell Suggs
Larry French/Getty Images
Terrell Suggs does not care for Tom Brady, which he has made evident over the years. But before the Ravens took on the Steelers in a divisional playoff game last year, Suggs didn't just talk trash about the Steelers.
No, he went after Brady too during an interview with Steve Phillips of SiriusXM's Mad Dog Radio (via Shutdown Corner):
Suggs: ... If I’m correct Manning’s only won one, both Mannings that is, and Philip Rivers doesn’t have any, and Tom Brady has three, I think, a questionable three. This guy won the Super Bowl, I believe, in his second year in the league and I’m not sure if that’s ever been done before. If it has, it’s been very rare.”
Phillips: “Now, what do you mean ‘a questionable three’ for Tom Brady? What do you mean by that?”
Suggs: “Oh, you know, you’ve got the tuck rule incident and then you’ve got the videotaping of the other team’s practices. It’s just like, OK, what’s going on here? You know? But, hey, it is what it is. They won the games no matter how you did it. But, um, it’s whatever.”
I just don't understand why you would be talking smack about a player you aren't even facing that week. Especially when you go out and lose your game to the Steelers that week, 31-24.
23. Brett Favre
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images
First, the quote from Favre's interview on 790 The Zone (Atlanta) in October (via Off the Bench). I put in bold the sections that seemed like trash talk to me.
“[Rodgers has] tremendous talent, he’s very bright and he got a chance to watch and see successful teams do it right. And so he just kind of fell into a good situation. On top of that, he’s a good player. I don’t think there’s any pressure on him now, the talent around him is even better than when I was there. So I’m really kind of surprised it took him so long. In the early part of last year season, it hadn’t quite clicked yet and I didn’t know it would. I just kind of figured when they hit their stride, they’re going to be hard to beat. And that’s what happened.”
Now, generally speaking I wouldn't consider a retired athlete saying something like the above trash talk. But given that Rodgers was Favre's replacement in Green Bay; and given the well-publicized "Will he, won't he?" retirement talk that kept Rodgers on the bench at the end of Favre's career; and given that Rodgers was last year's Super Bowl MVP and Favre never earned that honor; well, this just seems like trash talk to me.
Anybody else think Favre took a look at the numbers Rodgers was putting up and suddenly felt the need to remind people that when he was in Green Bay, things were harder? That it wasn't his fault they didn't win a second Super Bowl? That he would be doing this too? That Rodgers wasn't really that special?
That's my take, and in my book, that's trash talk.
22. Kiss of Death
Some may differentiate between taunting and trash-talk. I, for one, think they are the same.
One sure way to ensure your trash talk will be mocked for years to come is to get knocked out immediately after you say or act out your taunt.
21. Wes Welker
On one hand, Wes Welker's various foot references leading up to last year's divisional playoff game between the Patriots and Jets was subtle and hilarious, given that this video had made news a few weeks beforehand.
On the other hand, Bill Belichick did not want any of his players talking trash via the media and benched Welker for the first series of the game. While that didn't have any effect on the outcome, it should be noted that the Patriots lost the contest to an emotionally charged Jets squad, 28-21.
Sometimes good trash talk can be bad trash talk if it pisses off your coach and gives players on the other team added motivation. Bart Scott responded to Welker's foot references by noting "Be very careful what you say about our coach. His [Welker's] days in a uniform will be numbered."
Welker's smack talk was funny. It was also a really bad idea given the circumstances.
20. Riddick Bowe Versus Lennox Lewis
As trash talk goes, this is boring, unoriginal and appears staged. Feel free to take a nap while the video plays.
19. Ray Buchanan Makes Bold Prediction, Insults Shannon Sharpe
Ray Buchanan did his share of talking before Super Bowl XXXIII. From SI.com:
He guaranteed a victory for the Falcons, then stole the spotlight at media day by showing up in a dog collar symbolic of their underdog status.
He wasn't done there. As evidenced in the video above, he also went after Sharpe.
"Shannon can always win, because he can talk," said Buchanan, the Atlanta Falcons' Pro Bowl cornerback. "But Shannon looks like a horse. I'll tell you, that's an ugly dude. You can't tell me he doesn't look like Mr. Ed."
Mr. Ed and the Broncos had the last laugh, beating the Falcons, 34-19.
18. Mo Guarantees, Mo Problems
Mo Williams felt confident the Cavaliers would recover from a two-games-to-one deficit in the 2009 Eastern Conference Finals against the Magic. He went so far as to guarantee it. From Cleveland.com:
He was goaded into it, but Cavaliers point guard Mo Williams still guaranteed a victory for his team in the Eastern Conference finals against the Orlando Magic.
"There's nobody on this team, definitely not myself, who feels we're not going to win this series," said Williams, whose team trails in the best-of-seven series, 1-2, going into Game 4 here tonight. "Yeah, it's going to be tough. Yeah, we know that. We'll get this game, go home. With our fans, we don't see ourselves losing two out of three at home."
Of course, Orlando won in six.
17. Milorad Cavic Offers to Buy Michael Phelps a New Suit
Milorad Cavic was growing weary of hearing the media talk about how Michael Phelps' Speedo suit would slow him down leading up to the 2009 World Championships. Phelps had narrowly beaten Cavic in the 100m Butterfly in Beijing, so the rematch was highly anticipated.
Cavic only fueled the anticipation. From ESPN:
Cavic, who wears the Arena X-Glide, said the perception that Phelps has no choice except to stick with the Speedo LZR Racer because of sponsorship commitments is "a complete lie."
"I know he's making a lot of money from Speedo," Cavic said. "It's loyalty. But throughout all my experiences, I've learned this—free will is a gift with a price tag, and whatever you choose to do you're going to pay, but how much you're going to pay is really dependent on you."
And then he took it one step further.
"If Mike wants an Arena, he just has to say it," Cavic said. "If he wants a Jaked and they don't want to give it to him free, I'll buy it for him. He has options. I think in the media it's been portrayed that he has no option, he has to swim for [Speedo]. It's a complete lie."
As you can see, Phelps handled his business in the pool a second time and gave his suit a little tug to remind Cavic that he was the best swimmer in the world no matter what he was wearing.
16. Jeremy Roenick Gets Owned
Here's the thing: Jeremy Roenick had a solid bit of trash-talk when responding to Roy's assertion that he would have stopped Roenick's shot.
But when you get owned as badly as Roenick did by Roy's comeback—the classic, "I've got two rings and you've got none"—anything you previously said is rendered moot.
15. Arron Asham Taunts Jay Beagle
Fighting in hockey is fine. Taunting an opponent you just knocked out in a fight is wrong. Again, I associate taunting to be non-verbal trash talk, so I included this.
To his credit, Asham apologized for the motion after the game. From USA TODAY:
"It's unfortunate the way the fight ended," Asham said. "I wanted to win but I didn't want to go out and hurt anyone. It was uncalled for."
14. Shaq Gets the Last Laugh
Shaq was responding to the following quote from Vlade Divac. From SFGate.com:
As for the preseries clamor, including a quote from Kings center Vlade Divac that "if (the Lakers) don't have homecourt advantage this year, they're not going to win it," the Lakers muted that, too. "That's just fuel for our fire," said Fox, who before Game 1 guaranteed a Lakers victory in the series. "When both sides are taking trash, someone is going to come out looking like a genius."
Then again, maybe it is Shaq who shouldn't be talking trash. Many feel the 2002 Western Conference finals was the worst-officiated—and many more feel it was fixed—series in NBA history.
So yeah, everybody should have kept their mouths shut in this case.
13. Anthony Smith Should Have Kept Quiet
Jim Rogash/Getty Images
When the 9-3 Steelers were preparing to take on the 12-0 Patriots in 2007, little-known safety Anthony Smith decided to go all Joe Namath before the game. From ESPN:
"People keep asking me if we're ready for the Patriots," Smith said. "They should be asking if they're ready for us."
Is Smith so confident that he is willing to copy one of former Pittsburgh linebacker Joey Porter's familiar motivational ploys by guaranteeing the Steelers will win?
"We're going to win," Smith said. "Yeah, I can guarantee a win. As long as we come out and do what we got to do. Both sides of the ball are rolling, and if our special teams come through for us, we've got a good chance to win."
His (backpedaling) prediction didn't work out so well. The Patriots promptly smoked the Steelers, 34-13, and Tom Brady got in Smith's grill after throwing a touchdown pass on him.
12. Karma Is a Bitch
The excerpt you want is at the very beginning.
Thankfully, the hockey gods smiled down upon Steve Sullivan and offered him a little bit of poetic justice, seeing fit to injure the same fan who heckled and mocked him after Sullivan was hurt.
Under no circumstance should you mock someone who is injured. That's amateur hour, people.
11. Rory Sabbatini Talks Smack on Tiger for Some Reason
Stuart Franklin/Getty Images
This comes from back in 2007, before Tiger's whole sex scandal.
Here's one hard and fast rule about trash talk: If nobody outside of your sport knows who you are, don't talk smack about someone that just about everyone in the world is familiar with. From ESPN:
"The funny thing is, after watching him play last Sunday, I think he's more beatable than ever. I think there's a few fortuitous occasions out there that really changed the round for him at Wachovia. And realizing that gives me even more confidence to go in and play with him on Sunday again."
— Rory Sabbatini less than a week after Woods shot 69 to win at Wachovia Championship while Sabbatini shot 74. Paired with Woods again at the Bridgestone Invitational, Woods shot 65 to win; Sabbatini shot 74 to finish tied for second.
Another hard and fast rule about trash talk: Don't talk after you were just beaten. Just shut up and go after him the next time.
10. Um, Calvin Johnson Is the Best Receiver in Football, Rob...
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
Rob Ryan must not have seen tape of Calvin Johnson before the Cowboys played the Lions in October. That explains why he made the following remarks prior to the game.
From The SportingNews:
Though Ryan concedes Johnson is a “great receiver,” he contends he isn’t as good as the Cowboys’ duo of Miles Austin and Dez Bryant.
"We work against better receivers with Miles Austin and Dez Bryant,” Ryan told The Dallas Morning News. “They are probably two of the premier receivers in football, but this guy is right there. He's almost that good. He's excellent.”
Johnson finished the game with eight catches for 96 yards and two touchdowns, including the game-winning catch with 1:39 remaining in the game. He out-jumped two defenders for his first touchdown.
So unless they start calling Miles Austin or Dez Bryant earn the nickname "Optimus Prime," I think it is best to show Megatron some respect.
9. Not a Recommended Part of a Well-Balanced Diet
And the award for "Worst Trash Talk in a Sports Movie" goes to Shooter McGavin.
What's worse, Shooter's smack talk or his attire?
Too close to call.
8. The Dr. Suess of Boxing
When Lennox Lewis and Mike Tyson fought in 2002, the most appropriate adjective for Tyson was "over-matched."
Lewis dominated the fight, knocking out Tyson in the eighth round and winning every round except for the first.
7. "We Want the Ball and We're Gonna Score"
He may have gotten a bit ahead of himself on that one. More like "We want the ball and I'm going to end the game on a pick six," am I right, you guys?
This interception in overtime of a 2003 Wildcard game against the Packers ended the Seahawks' season.
6. Suh and the Lions Show Little Class
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images
When the Lions played the Falcons this October, several Falcons players felt strongly that Ndamukong Suh and teammates showed a lack of class while quarterback Matt Ryan was on the ground, injured. From PFT:
“I had respect for Suh before the game,” Falcons center Todd McClure told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “But when Matt was on the ground, the things he was saying and the trash he was talking was definitely uncalled for. There are certain things you don’t do. [He said], ‘Get the cart’ and several other things that I can’t repeat.”
Falcons receiver Roddy White said Suh was one of a couple of classless Lions.
“I lost a whole lot of respect for 90 [Suh] today, and also 92 [Cliff Avril], the [bleep] they were doing when Matt got hurt. That was unacceptable,” White said. “Like 92 was kicking [Ryan’s] feet, saying, ‘Get him off the field.’ We don’t do stuff like that. We don’t rally over guys when they get hurt. It was just inappropriate behavior. I mean, ‘Get the cart’? Are you serious? Come on. When you compete, you never want to see a guy get hurt.”
You don't talk trash on someone who is injured. It simply lacks class. And given the actions of Suh this season, it seems indicative of his style.
5. Frank Mir Gets Taken out with the Trash Talk
Frank Mir did a lot of talking before UFC 100.
Frank Mir got taken to the mat and taught a lesson about talking before UFC 100 by Brock Lesnar's fists.
4. Spike Lee Makes Reggie Miller Mad
Spike Lee is a courtside staple at Knicks games, and his trash-talking "feud" with Reggie Miller during games is well-documented.
But Reggie got the last laugh. From ABC:
Of course, Miller was talking about his legendary on-court clash with Lee during the 1995 Eastern Conference Semifinals, in which Miller’s Pacers annihilated Lee’s Knicks during the last moments of the game. Miller made the victory infamous with the throat/crotch grab he shot at Lee after scoring eight points in 8.9 seconds.
And Spike wasn't a very popular guy in New York after Reggie handled his business. From The Wall Street Journal:
"The New York papers all blamed Spike for inspiring me," Mr. Miller recalls. "If the Knicks had won the game, they'd have called him a hero for intimidating me."
3. Joe Glenn Guarantees Victory, Loses 50-0
Here's the summary (all of which is covered in the video): Wyoming's head coach Joe Glenn, at a luncheon before a 2007 game against Utah, guaranteed his team would win.
It didn't work out that way. Utah had a 43-0 lead in the third quarter when Utah's head coach Kyle Whittingham called for an onside kick. Glenn responded by giving the middle finger in the direction of Utah's sideline.
So to refresh: Poor sportsmanship on both sides, and a head coach guaranteeing victory before his team got smoked 50-0 in a game during which he also flipped the bird toward the other coach.
2. Fred-Ex Fails to Deliver
A. Messerschmidt/Getty Images
Freddie Mitchell (of all freaking people) talked smack about the Patriots before the 2005 Super Bowl between the Eagles and the Patriots. So how did that work out for him? From Peter King at SI.com:
He got himself well-hated by the Patriots for saying he didn't know the New England cornerbacks, and that he would "have something'' for safety Rodney Harrison during Super Bowl XXXIX. He had something all right: one catch for 11 yards. But that didn't stop him from opining harshly about the victors.
Even after losing the freaking game—one he had no impact in whatsoever—Mitchell was still talking.
"If you played this Patriot team 10 times, how many times do you figure the Eagles would win?'' I asked.
"Eight times,'' he said. "To me, the Patriots are not that good. We turn it over four times, and still they only beat us by three. We're the better team. But we turned it over too much. A good team crushes that Patriot team. I'm telling you, they're not that good. T.O. was hurt, and he still scorched them for over 100 yards.''
And yet, he had the audacity to be angry when he found out Belichick talked a little smack of his own after the game.
Speaking of Belichick, I told him Sports Illustrated had quoted Belichick this week as calling Mitchell "terrible ... We loved when he was in the game."
"Oh,'' Mitchell said. You could feel the steam over the phone. "I see. It takes a big man to talk after the game. Why didn't he say anything before the game? That shows what kind of guy he is.''
No, Freddie—it shows what kind of guy you are. Believe me when I tell you that Fred-Ex was not missed when he left Philadelphia.
1. You Need to Get One First, LeBron
Hey, guess what, NBA?
You...can't...stop...us. We're the Miami Heat. And we're not going to win just one championship, oh no—we're gonna win as many as we want.
No, LeBron didn't actually say any of the above. But that was the basic implication in what amounted to a form of league-wide trash talk, at least in my opinion.
Well, we're still waiting for you to back it up, LeBron. And before you go talking about even winning one championship, maybe you and your pals should worry about finishing a fourth quarter first.