The 25 Biggest Trash-Talkers in Sports History

Nick Dimengo@@itsnickdimengoFeatured ColumnistFebruary 10, 2014

The 25 Biggest Trash-Talkers in Sports History

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    JOHN GREILICK/Associated Press

    In case you didn't know, trash-talking in sports, well, it's an art form.

    There are guys who do it really well, guys who just do it and then there are guys who would rather just let their play do the talking.

    With a key component of sports being the mental aspect, the greatest talkers are the ones who know exactly what to say and how to say it, striking both fear in their opponent and frustration.

    With Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman getting a lot of attention lately thanks to running his mouth, I'm taking a look back at some of the athletes who Sherman probably looked up to—assuming he wants to be one of the best trash-talkers ever.

Randy Moss

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    Former wide receiver Randy Moss might not have any rings, but he talks as if he's the greatest thing to ever play the position.

    In fact, he said exactly that during last year's Super Bowl media day.

    While Moss might be the type of guy who liked to talk a whole lot, he did let his actions speak for him—which usually fell on the ire of opponents in ways that words couldn't.

A.J. Pierzynski

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    There is a reason why current Boston Red Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski is routinely voted as the most-hated player in baseball. It's because he likes to talk. A lot.

    As if being named the most-hated ballplayer wasn't bad enough, Pierzynski actually had the dubious honor of being voted the meanest man in the majors by his peers.

    With a mouth that runs like the energizer bunny during a game, I just had to include Pierzynski to this list of all-time talkers.

Richard Sherman

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    I don't care that Richard Sherman has only been in the league for three seasons. In the few games that he's played, the dude has made quite the statement—both with his play and his words.

    From his asking Tom Brady if "u mad, bro?" following a win in 2012 to his more recent blowup on national TV following the NFC Championship win over the rival San Francisco 49ers, Sherman is the vocal leader for his Legion of Boom secondary.

    And with the way he uses Twitter to smash the haters, it separates him from other guys who did it just during the games before social media.

    With plenty of years left to play, Sherman will just continue to march up this list.

Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson

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    OK, so wrestling might not technically be "real," but I can't hold that against Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, because he was one loud talker while performing.

    Voted as the No. 1 trash-talker in the history of wrestling, The Rock didn't just go after opponents, he went after fans, reporters and, well, anyone he thought was disrespecting him.

    The fact that his sport was wrestling made the theatrics of it all that much better.

Sean Avery

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    One of the most hated men during his NHL career, Sean Avery didn't just talk about another guy, he took things to another, typically off-subject, level of discussing other players' girlfriends.

    Not afraid to say what was on his mind—no matter if it got him in trouble—Avery was the classic case of the type of guy you loved on your own team but hated to play against.

Drazen Petrovic

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    When you've got a shooting assassin—and resident trash-talker—in Reggie Miller giving you high praise as both a player and a yapper, then you've got something going for you.

    That's the case with the late Drazen Petrovic, who, as Miller mentions, not only could shoot lights out, but would talk as much as anyone on the floor.

    It's too bad no one understood what he was saying, but I'm sure that was used to his advantage.

John McEnroe

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    Puskar/Associated Press

    Sure, John McEnroe is typically associated with yelling at officials a number of times during his career, but don't mistake him for a choir boy when it came to talking down his opponents, either.

    One particular guy Johnny Mac loved to bash was fellow player Ivan Lendl, with one of his more famous quotes being, "I've got more talent in my pinkie than Lendl has in his whole body."

    The rivalry between the two is still alive and well today as well.

Pedro Martinez

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    Though former pitcher Pedro Martinez was slight in size, he was rarely short on words throughout his baseball career—especially when speaking of the New York Yankees as a member of the rival Boston Red Sox.

    Never shy about showing opposing teams who was bossMartinez loved getting under the skin of guys.

    To this day, his question to Karim Garcia—"Who are you?"—while referring to himself in third person might just be the greatest thing ever.

Kobe Bryant

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    The thing about Kobe Bryant's trash-talking is that, while he often gets thrown an opposing team's best instigator, he never seems to be threatened by that player's antics.

    Don't get me wrong, Bryant likes to talk. But it seems as if he takes aim at all-timers like Michael Jordan to remind everyone that he is still the alpha dog.

    Sure, we'll never see those two play one-on-one in their primes, but that still didn't stop the Black Mamba from letting everyone know he'd destroy MJ.

    Cut from the same mold as Jordan, Kobe acts as much like the guy as anyone ever on a court.

John Randle

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    As an undrafted guy, Hall of Fame defensive tackle John Randle always seemed to let his opponents pay for that—not only with his intense style of play, but by barking at them the entire game as well.

    When Randle wasn't talking smack, he was trying other forms of intimidating guys—namely covering his face with eye black—to help secure his image as the baddest man on the field.

    And if he happened to get to the quarterback, you better believe the offensive lineman he'd just beat was going to hear about it.

Matthew Barnaby

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    Although there's obviously a ton of hitting in hockey, for whatever reason, there isn't a whole lot of chirping that occurs.

    That doesn't mean it doesn't happen at all, though, and former right winger Matthew Barnaby is proof of that.

    One of the well-known instigators in NHL history, Barnaby did anything he could to piss off opposing players—not only talking, but then displaying a smug smile afterwards, which just made other guys want to hit him even more

Shannon Sharpe

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    To this day, Hall of Fame tight end Shannon Sharpe still enjoys throwing a few jabs at some of the guys in the league now that he's a studio host for CBS.

    But back in his playing days, boy, he was ruthless.

    It didn't matter if it was to other players or even the fans, Sharpe ran his mouth like it was a necessary requirement of playing football.

Kevin Garnett

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    Want to know how straight-up mean current Brooklyn Nets forward Kevin Garnett is when on the basketball court?

    Look no further than an instance in which he made his now-teammate Andray Blatche nearly well up during a game a few seasons ago.

    Hell, although it wasn't trash-talking per se, him cutting into former teammate Glen Davis actually made Big Baby cry like, well, a baby.

    And then there's the famous exchange of Garnett and Carmelo Anthony, which resulted in Melo hunting down KG's team bus to try and settle things mano-a-mano.

Chad Johnson

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    Whether you want to still refer to him as Ochocinco or not—he's since changed his last name back to Johnson"—the former wide receiver is one of the best mouth-runners to ever play a sport.

    Hell, even electing to modify his name was part of his trash-talking act, showing that he wasn't afraid to back up every single thing he ever said.

    Whether it was busting out a "Future H.O.F" jacket to drape himself with, making a checklist of defensive backs he would burn or sending props to other teams in anticipation of playing him, Johnson knew that talking a lot was to his advantage.

Gary Payton

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    One of the most relentless talkers to ever play a sport, Hall of Famer player Gary Payton knew exactly what trash-talking was for: to throw off his opponent and have him start thinking about him rather than the game.

    Although The Glove was always going at it with other guys, he has mentioned that there was a line players needed to stick to.

    Payton can say that now, but I wonder if he really held true to it over the course of his career?

Floyd Mayweather Jr.

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    Falling just inside my top 10, Floyd Mayweather Jr. might still be an active athlete, but that doesn't discount some of the spectacular trash-talking moments he has provided.

    In the same mold of Muhammad Ali, Money Mayweather rarely bites his tongue before saying something, with nearly no one off-limits.

    In fact, he's argued with guys during interviews and even in the ring following fights, as this video shows.

Satchel Paige

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    Associated Press

    The only reason I just can't put Hall of Fame pitcher Satchel Paige higher on my list is because, well, I'm just too young.

    As I've never seen the guy pitch—hell, he was already a 42-year-old rookie when he even broke into the majors in 1948—Paige has the misfortune of being a bit lower here.

    But don't be mistaken, the guy could talk as well as he could hurl it.

    While his major league career started later than most, he enjoyed an esteemed Negro League career that saw him go 100-50 with a 3.22 ERA, which gave him the confidence to do things like keep his defense in the dugout while he tossed to batters—during games—along with give some amazing quotes about how good he was.

Warren Sapp

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    J. PAT CARTER/Associated Press

    Hall of Fame defensive tackle Warren Sapp has said before that he has "a master's degree and two doctorates in this" when referring to his trash-talk prowess.

    And even with a helmet on, he didn't hold back from running his mouth at opponents.

    Although the big guy never restricted himself or backed down from anyone on the football field, one of his favorite targets always seemed to be Brett Favre, with neither one of them ever retreating from chatting it up.

    Even today, Sapp still finds reasons to talk about another guy.

Reggie Miller

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    Former Indiana Pacers guard Reggie Miller was a bad, bad man on the basketball court.

    With a shooting stroke that has nearly been unmatched in the history of the league—save for Ray Allen—Miller wasn't bashful about letting anyone know he was good.

    His most famous encounters came with famous New York Knicks fan Spike Lee, with the two trading jabs back and forth.

Terrell Owens

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    What made former wideout Terrell Owens so good at trash-talking was his creativity.

    While most athletes just stick to the usual chatter throughout the game, T.O. was the one who started involving props into his brash celebrations, taunting the other team as no one had seen before.

    Whether it was busting out a sharpie following a touchdown catch, eating popcorn, disrespecting a franchise or talking down other players, Owens was king of his generation.

Mike Tyson

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    The thing about Mike Tyson is that he just blatantly didn't give a damn.

    He didn't care if what he said made any sense, who he might be offending or if it was crossing the line because, to put it frankly, everyone feared him—and with good reason, as the guy was bizerk in the ring.

    Unlike some other athletes here, Iron Mike didn't care who or where you were, he was going to speak his mind—which often included a variety of vulgarity to get his point across.

Larry Bird

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    At first glance, likely no one would think that Larry Bird was as gifted in trash-talking as he was.

    Hell, although he stands 6'9", there were few who probably thought he could ball the way he could too, thanks to his "aww shucks" accent and general goofy appearance.

    But anyone who doubted him learned in a hurry that he was no joke.

    Bird's antics are, like his nickname, are legendary, with him taking solace in the fact that he could beat guys with both his game and his words.

Deion Sanders

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    While Deion Sanders is generally regarded as one of the best cornerbacks to ever play the game, his Hall of Fame-caliber trash talk is hands down some of the best that sports has ever seen.

    And because he was such a freak athlete, Prime Time had an opportunity to do it in both football and baseball.

    Sanders humiliated opponents by not only being better than them, but then being that bigger, stronger and faster kid who told you about how much better he was.

Michael Jordan

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    It didn't matter if it was in practice and he was throwing it at his teammates or during a game and he was ridiculing an opponent, Michael Jordan didn't have any mercy when it came to talking trash.

    And like most of the other athletes on this list, Jordan could back it all up, using an underdog mentality to keep a chip on his shoulder throughout his career, feeling as if he needed to continue to prove himself.

    Though there are many moments of MJ talking trash, my favorite is still the encounter with Muggsy Bogues, which ended with Jordan calling the 5'3" player an "f—ing midget."

    It may have been harsh, but it always worked for MJ.

Muhammad Ali

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    He may not have invented trash-talking, but boxing great Muhammad Ali helped perfect it.

    As big of an influencer as Ali was while he was still sending opponents to the mat, he left an even bigger mark on the psychological game in sports, as he would downright disrespect opponents before, during and after fights with his words.

    The problem for all of those guys? Well, Ali almost always backed it up.


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