The Detroit Lions currently invoke the "bad boy" image that has characterized Detroit athletes through the years (or centuries). While this may come of as an insult by some, it actually describes teams that are tough, competitive and fierce.
Many teams in the once proud city of Detroit have won countless championships with this label associated with them, proving that "bad" actually does mean good.
Rick Mahorn (on the right) anchored a Detroit Pistons team that was a true dynasty in the late 1980's. Before he and the Pistons introduced their defense-orientated brand of basketball, the NBA was in a race to 200 points. Then, the Pistons came along.
Mahorn, who was average in talent and athleticism, made up for this with high hustle and toughness. Rebounds were a highly valued commodity to Mahorn, who fought for them with his life (6.4 per game for a career average). While he was traded following the 1989 championship, Mahorn solidified himself as a true bada--.
Darren McCarty was a member of the feared Grind Line in Detroit in the late 1990's. This group carried an enforcing swag backed up by physical play.
To McCarty, this was a dream job.
He used his fists as much as his stick. While this overshadowed his solid offensive output and clutch playoff scoring ability, it sent the message that he and the Red Wings were a team to be feared and respected. Don't believe me, just watch.
Jim Leyland is a modern day incarnation of the Marlboro man, complete with the gritty appearance and the look of someone who really doesn't care what others think.
He takes a lot of criticism from media members and fans (even in Detroit) for his allegiance to Brandon Inge, his questionable lineup card, a perceived counter-productive batting order and his use of unreliable relievers. The result of this has been a competitive Tigers team and two postseason appearances. While to some that may not be an acceptable return on investment, it is something.
But the true BA comes out when Jim refuses to apolgize for his actions and does everything short of telling the person with the microphone to screw off. The words "sorry" and "mistake" are not in Jim Leyland's vocabulary, and he would much rather blow smoke in the face of a critic than explain himself.
Another member of the Grind Line, Kirk Maltby was quite the annoyance for opposing players in his day. Known more for his checking skills and knack for baiting opponents into penalties than scoring goals, Kirk was a vital member of the Red Wings teams that won four Stanley Cups.
While not the most talented player, he used his intelligence, toughness, physical nature and inner Badass to lay the foundation of a dynasty.
Don't recognize who that is, I'll give you a hint, he once was married to Carmen Electra for 30 seconds.
Before the neon hair color, the wedding dress wearing, piercing laden and cross-dressing, Dennis Rodman of the Chicago Bulls there was the tough, dependable and bada-- Dennis Rodman of the Detroit Pistons.
He relied more upon his on-the-court performances to define who he was and who the Pistons were. He was a master of going head to head with the other teams largest man for a rebound and more often than not coming up victorious.
Rodman solidified himself as arguably the best rebounder of all time and one of the best defensive players to ever put on a jersey (and later wedding dress) in his tenure with the Pistons. You want proof? How about two Defensive Player of the Year awards and four All-Defensive First Team selections while wearing a Pistons uniform?
Jim Scwatz's BA demeanor is masked by his shades and occasional fist pump, but make no mistake about it He is not a man to be taken lightly.
It takes a tough personality to take over a winless, non-competitive, and laughing stock of a team and turn them into competitive, aggressive, and feared contenders. It takes true grit to manage and control a certain player by the name of Ndamukong Suh, whose talent is rivaled by a frightening and sometimes dangerous tenacity.
Somehow Schwartz has accomplished this for the most part and has the Lions headed in the right direction.
A word of advice is to never let the hilarious celebrations foul you. Beneath those antics is a bada-- who is willing to take on anyone. Just ask Jim Harbaugh...if you can run fast enough to catch up to him.
Isiah Thomas was the smallest, yet the baddest of the "Bad Boys." While small in stature (barely 6'1), he possessed a fearless attitude that made him the most dangerous player on the court.
He was the leader of a physical and defensive minded group of players who ended two dynasties (The Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers of the 1980s) and hindered a third (the Chicago Bulls of the 1990's). All this, combined with a no apologies demeanor, made "Zeke" a despised yet feared man in the NBA.
Zeke is without a doubt the best pure point guard in the history of the game and is arguably the toughest to put on a uniform. Say what you want about Isiah, he played through injuries and lead his team to championships. People have forgotten this in light of his stint as a general manager, but don't think that innate BA has disappeared from Zeke.
His greatest bada-- moment came in the 1988 NBA Finals when his ankle became twisted. Zeke responded by giving his ankle the middle finger and scoring 25 points in a single quarter of play.
These self-entitled, arrogant, and unmotivated players of today wish they were the bada-- Isiah was.
You can look at Ndamukong Suh in two ways.
You can view him as an intelligent young man, a tenacious competitor, a once in a lifetime talent and an individual who plays a violent and unforgiving sport with passion.
Or you could view him as a brute, a hot head whose temper is displayed in violent instances, a bully, and a dirty player.
The only consensus that the masses can come to is that is that he is a Badass with a capital B. He gets fined for hits on quarterbacks on the regular. He has been suspended by the league for an on the field outburst. While this overshadows the fact that he is a once in a generation defensive player, it conveys Suh's true BA nature.
Want proof he's a bada--? Just google "Suh hit on QB."
Bill Laimbeer once said, "I don't fight, I agitate, then walk away."
He was the largest of the bad boys. He was the toughest of the bad boys. He was the most hated of them as well.
He was called the "Prince of Darkness" and "His Heinous." He even was mentioned in a Beastie Boys song.
Nevertheless, he was one the finest centers in the 1980s and early 1990s. While he had a miniscule vertical leap, he was a master of muscling and posturing his way to rebounds.
Laimbeer was a unique shooting threat. He drained more than 200 three-pointers in his 14-year career and frequently was a league leader in free-throw percentage. Another attribute was his ability to bait adversaries into committing fouls against him (sometimes real and sometimes the result of clever acting).
Bill Laimbeer's bada-- demeanor came out in the face of naive opponents who tried to invade his territory by the rim. They usually ended up face-down on the court with a shrugging Laimbeer standing over them.
Of course, the top spot goes to Cobb.
He was the first superstar athlete. He also was the first athlete people loved to hate.
He possessed a fiery temper, a win-at-all-costs nature, and frequently toyed with the minds of both opposing players and fans. Cobb's off-the-field incidents need not be mentioned. His proclivity to sharpen his spikes before each game is testament to why he was a hated man.
In spite of all this, Cobb is one the greatest baseball players and one of the finest athletes the nation has ever seen. His 12 batting titles, 4,191 hits and career .367 batting average support this. He was the epitome of a five-tool player before the phrase had entered baseball nomenclature. Cobb is rare in the fact that he was the most dominant player in his sport for the majority of his 21-year career.
But enough about his greatness. What about the bada--?
Stealing three consecutive bases was a regular thing for Cobb, as was winning a batting title, starting a fight on the field and fighting an opposing fan. Its debatable whether Cobb was as big as a brute as history has him out to be. One thing is for sure. He was a true bada--, and the first in the history of American sports.