The 20 Most Self-Centered Athletes of the Last Decade
Most, if not all, professional athletes and coaches are self-centered to a certain degree. Even the most selfless "team-first" types are still driven by a self-centered desire to squash the opposition and feed their own egos. It's not a bad thing, it's just the nature of competition.
A selfish need to win is what makes professional sports great—without it, we'd all just be like Bud Selig and settle for a tie. In fact, most of the greatest players and coaches in sports history are self-centered with a super-sized ego, which means a number of them are on this list.
The difference between most of the guys on this list and someone like Tom Brady is their friction with teammates and/or behavior off the field. You know Brady has a massive ego, but would he ever threaten someone for publishing a picture of him on a water slide? Or dancing like a goober at Carnival? No, because he has perspective.
Most of the guys on this list are great, but every single one of them lacks perspective. They can't quite balance being great and being likable—some can't even master being a decent human being. And before you dismiss this as "hating," just remember that I love more than half of these guys.
20. Dwight Howard, Orlando Magic
Last year, Magic superstar Dwight Howard wouldn't have come close to making this list. What a difference a year holding the fans, the media and the franchise hostage makes—right?
Howard cited "loyalty" as the reason he decided to stay with the Magic. But considering he didn't sign a long-term deal, it's more likely that he just wants a repeat performance next season.
And maybe he's entitled to it?
19. Chad Ochocinco, New England Patriots
When the talented, but inconsistent Bengals wide receiver Chad Johnson legally changed his name to Chad Ochocinco in 2008, it signaled a turn from T.O.-lite on-the-field antics to straight up narcissism.
As if the rumors of physical confrontations with his coaches and game-day meltdowns weren't enough to convince the world this diva believes there is indeed an "I" in the word team, this head-scratcher sealed the deal.
The ridiculous stunt ensured that even when the mic wasn't in front of Ochocinco, he was still the topic of conversation.
It only seems natural that as his production on the field has declined, he's tried to fill the space with reality shows and publicity stunts.
18. Bode Miller, Olympic Skier
There is no sporting event steeped in more history and global meaning than the Olympic Games. The Olympics embody the idea of national pride and team spirit. Apparently, United States skier Bode Miller didn't get the memo ahead of the 2006 Winter Olympics in Torino, Italy.
Miller decided to let the world know, in Ricky Williams fashion, that winning wasn't his top priority in Torino. In separate interviews, he declared he might "skip" the competition and was happy he was able to "party and socialize at an Olympic level."
He also discussed how he had competed in races while "wasted," for good measure.
17. Michael Jordan, Retired NBA
Michael Jordan is the greatest player in NBA history. He is a transcendental athlete who transformed the game and parlayed his greatness into an empire of endorsements and business ventures—but he is also supremely self-centered.
As a player in the NBA, the six championship banners hanging in the rafters of the United Center largely made his massive ego irrelevant. But as an entrepreneur, and human, it has been more problematic.
Incidents like his infamous 2009 Hall of Fame induction speech and his disastrous stint as owner and GM of the Charlotte Bobcats have only served to underscore the growing perception that Jordan just can't move past his self-centered ways.
16. Alexander Ovechkin, Washington Capitals
Washington Capitals left winger Alex Ovechkin is the perfect example of how a player's attitude and idiosyncrasies can be completely redefined if his team isn't winning; especially if that player also isn't producing.
From 2007-2010, the Capitals were one of the hottest teams in the NHL and Ovechkin was a rock star on the ice. His hard-hitting, brash antics endeared him to Caps fans, while drawing consternation from traditionalists, including nemesis Sidney Crosby, who once said, "I don't like it personally, but that's him."
After failing to win a Stanley Cup after six seasons, Ovechkin's attitude came under more scrutiny in 2011-2012. With his team struggling to stay in the playoff hunt, rumors surfaced about a feud between the fiery Russian and his soon-to-be-fired coach Bruce Boudreau.
Then came the cameo in a hip-hop video. With a new system and a new coach, more drama is certainly in his future.
15. Kobe Bryant, L.A. Lakers
There's no denying that Lakers superstar and living legend Kobe Bryant is a stone-cold killer on the court. Black Mamba is, quite simply, one of the best there's ever been.
Now, that being said, Kobe has often been accused of being self-centered—and deservedly so. Off the court, he's got a me-first attitude that rubs a lot of people the wrong way, and has led to some personal problems and scandal.
And, as everyone knows, on the court he's an incredible ball hog. Nobody has a problem with Kobe hogging the ball when he's on, but it's another story altogether when he goes 3-of-20 with seven turnovers.
14. Rex Ryan, New York Jets
Head coaches in the NFL have all mastered the art of always saying nothing—all except for, of course, Jets head coach Rex Ryan.
While most would prefer to let their team's play on Sunday do the talking, Ryan would prefer to do all that himself.
In just three years as a head coach, Ryan has become a sideshow who seems to feel most at home in the middle of a circus. It's fun for the rest of us, bit Jets fans have to be tired of the spectacle.
13. Randy Moss, San Francisco 49ers
When it comes to Ochocinco and T.O., they bring well documented and predictable baggage as a player and teammate; at least at the peaks of their respective careers.
Oh sure, they are both ego maniacs, but they're driven by the spotlight, and the need to be noticed. And while T.O. could very well be inducted into the Hall of Fame one day, and Ochocinco has had a good career, neither has the sheer talent and potential flashed throughout Randy Moss' career.
The mind of Randy Moss is more of a mystery. At this point, no one knows what motivates him, and everyone ponders what could have been. His history of sulking or giving up on plays is more subtle than screaming at the quarterback or coaches, but no less frustrating.
Is there any act more self-centered than quitting on your team? And how many times has Moss done that already?
12. Cristiano Ronaldo, Real Madrid F.C.
Real Madrid superstar Cristiano Ronaldo is almost a caricature at this point.
Picture a stereotypical playboy/professional athlete who is over-confident, over-groomed, over-sexed and over-paid. You're picturing Ronaldo, right?
There's no denying that he's talented, but even with just slightly diminishing talent, soon enough he's not going to be worth the cost. Ronaldo is simply unlikeable—disliked by many fans, opponents and even members of his own team.
11. Ozzie Guillen, Miami Marlins
Why are baseball managers almost universally crazy? Are crazy people attracted to the job, or does the job make otherwise sane people insane? I'm not sure what the answer is, but I am sure that in a profession with no shortage of clowns, Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen stands out most.
I'm not saying that's a bad thing or that he should stop—teams know exactly what they're signing up for when they bring Guillen on board. He's combative with players, fans, officials and he usually saves his best stuff for the media.
Ozzie Guillen is the producer, director and star of the Ozzie Guillen show—and that's Ozzie Guillen's favorite show. I guess that's just baseball, right?
10. LeBron James, Miami Heat
Settle down LeBron fans, I can already feel you seething about what you are going to perceive as "hating." But this isn't "hating," because I'm a LeBron James fan—I just recognize his weaknesses.
King James has done a lot to try to redeem himself in the public eye since making "The Decision" heard 'round the world. Even LeBron has admitted that his ESPN special was one of the worst ideas…ever.
9. Alex Rodriguez, New York Yankees
It's actually kind of difficult to put Yankees slugger Alex Rodriguez's level of self-centeredness into words. On the field, he usually performs (even if he tends to come up short in October). So that's not really the issue. Yes he's concerned about his own statistical records, but what baseball player isn't?
Off the field A-Rod is really where the vile, ego-maniacal super-villain we all love to hate tends to shine. He's cheated on his wife and discarded most girlfriends like used Kleenex. He's pitched a number of ridiculous fits over photos of himself in the paper, and even once over being panned to at the Super Bowl.
Oh, and who could ever forget his infamous self-loving photo shoot for Details magazine?
8. Tiger Woods, PGA Golfer
Like all the greats, golf legend Tiger Woods is generally thought of as self-centered. Woods himself has admitted that his once unstoppable game made him self-centered and even seemingly invincible at times—but then again, golf is an every-man-for-himself sport.
But it's not just on-the-course behavior, Woods' well publicized sex scandal and subsequent divorce are further proof. Without getting into the details, let's just say that you don't go through that many women in that short of time if you're thinking about anyone but yourself.
7. Allen Iverson, Former NBA
Allen Iverson is one of those maddening players who is insanely talented, but whose legacy feels incomplete, despite a very good career. Unfortunately, fair or not, he became a modern example of the "selfish" NBA player; a label he helped earn by his actions and words on an off the court.
The 2001 league MVP and 11-time All-Star's career is largely defined by one quote: "We're sitting here, and I'm supposed to be the franchise player, and we in here talking about practice. I mean listen, we're sitting here talking about practice. Not a game, not a game, not a game...but we're talking about practice."
Practice, man. Practice!
6. Jose Canseco, Retired, MLB
Hard work. Humility. Pride. Words like this are often used to describe the character of America's most beloved and admired sports icons. These are not terms that are usually (i.e. never) associated with Jose Canseco. Canseco was a decent baseball player who became one of the symbols of the steroid era.
After retiring in 2002, Canseco made headlines when he released his tell-all memoir Juiced: Wild Times, Rampant 'Roids, Smash Hits, and How Baseball Got Big, which described his own steroid use and implicated Mark McGwire and other key players from the 1990s.
Canseco managed to squeeze every drop of publicity possible from one of the darkest eras in MLB history.
5. Terrell Owens, Allen Wranglers
Has there ever been a player in NFL history who created more silly drama in the locker room, on the field, during interviews, or in his private life, than wide receiver Terrell Owens?
Owens has set the standard for all "diva" receivers now and for generations to come; getting penalized and fined for elaborate celebrations, attacking his quarterbacks' play and sexuality, producing/starring in bad reality shows, and engaging in bizarre media stunts.
By all accounts, T.O. is a tireless worker and gym rat, but where ever he goes, the drama follows him. Just like the loudest person at the party, he's not captivating, just desperate for your attention.
4. Manny Ramirez, Oakland A's
One of the more admirable qualities of some of the best coaches and managers in sports is that they find a way to connect with their players and bring the best out of them.
Even the most troubled, like Lawrence Taylor, were protected and praised by their coaches. So, it's not often you hear someone like former Red Sox manager Terry Francona describe one of his players as, "the worst human being I’ve ever met." But, that's exactly what he said when asked about Manny Ramirez recently.
The worst part is that in the current MLB system, a supremely self-centered jerk like Manny has a market value of about $500,000, despite being suspended for the first 50 games of the season, having a terrible attitude, and a history of awful sportsmanship.
3. Sean Avery, 'Retired,' NHL
Famed New York Rangers agitator Sean Avery recently announced his retirement—his "official" retirement. The distinction being that he hasn't been serious about hockey in years, so this was just a formality.
Avery hasn't filed official retirement papers yet, but he told Andy Cohen on Bravo's Watch What Happens Live, "I am officially retired; I threw my skates in the Hudson (River)."
Who knows if this is one of Avery's stunts, but it seems fitting that he announced his NHL retirement on the network that brought us Project Runway.
2. Floyd Mayweather Jr., Boxer
I feel like I should be upfront on the fact that I am not a Floyd Mayweather fan, because usually I find it difficult to hide my disdain for him. And it's not because I'm a hater—I like (or love!) 16 of 20 people on this list.
Since I've already made this personal, why stop now?
I think Mayweather is afraid to fight Manny Pacquiao and I'm sick of him holding the world hostage with the "will they or won't they fight" business. I think he's a dangerous and violent person who has no problem hitting women. I think the fact that he enjoys burning $100 bills in nightclubs prove that he is overpaid and out of touch.
I think Floyd Mayweather Jr. is one of the meanest, most overrated and ego-maniacal athletes in history.
1. Brett Favre, Retired, NFL
Brett Favre seems to be officially retired at this point, but those of us who loathed every minute of every day during his annual retirement saga are having a hard time believing that it could truly be over.
It was just a few months ago that Favre's name was being kicked around as a possible replacement for an injured Matt Schaub for the Houston Texans.
And that's only part of the story here. Remember how Favre thought he could woo a woman he'd barely met with nothing but some creepy voice mails and blurry pictures of his genitals?
Remember how salty he was at the Packers for daring to plan for a future without him and drafting a quarterback? And remember how he took out his saltiness on Aaron Rodgers for years before signing with a divisional rival to settle the score?
And then remember how he crapped on Rodgers' Super Bowl win by insisting the Packers should have had at least two by then with the talent around Rodgers?
Packers fans are forgiving of Favre, and I respect them for that. The rest of us are less forgiving.