Ranking the Best Trash-Talking Stories as Told by Athletes

Nick Dimengo@@itsnickdimengoFeatured ColumnistMay 27, 2016

The Chicago Bulls’ Michael Jordan, left, exchanges greetings with the Los Angeles Lakers’ Earvin “Magic” Johnson, at halftime at the Great Western Forum in Inglewood, Calif., on Friday, Feb. 2, 1996. (AP Photo/Kevork Djansezian)
Kevork Djansezian/Associated Press

Trash-talking in sports is a way of life for many athletes.

Used to get in opponents' heads, when a person can ridicule, burn or straight up embarrass other players, it not only throws them off their game, but it can cause such a bad memory that it's almost unbelievable.

For those trash-talking stories that are Hall of Fame-worthy, this one's for you.

The One About Andrew Luck's Polite Trash Talk

As Told By: Nolan Carroll

Indianapolis Colts star quarterback Andrew Luck is the NFL's future because of his play, but he doesn't need to disrespect his opponents with silly trash talk.

At least that's what cornerback Nolan Carroll once described in an interview with Kevin Clark of the Wall Street Journal, where he had this to say about Luck and his overly polite chatter during games:

Carroll was walking back to the huddle when he heard "Great job, Nolan!" He turned around, searching for the person who said it-maybe it was a teammate, he thought. "Then I realized it was Luck who said it. I'm like ‘what's going on? Aren't you supposed to be mad?'" Carroll said. "So then I'm the one who gets ticked off because an upbeat attitude isn't something you see."

Looks like Luck just kills the opposition with kindness—and then with his superior right throwing arm, too!

Magic Johnson Learns To Never Doubt Michael Jordan

As Told By: Magic Johnson

There's a reason why six-time NBA champion Michael Jordan is perceived to be the best hooper to ever play the game—and it's because he had a drive and skills like no one has before.

And while playing in a pickup game against Magic Johnson during a Team USA practice in preparation for the 1992 Summer Olympics, the former Los Angeles Lakers superstar found out that there's no reason to give MJ extra motivation.

Johnson recently told his story to Jimmy Kimmel on Jimmy Kimmel Live, according to Michael Pina of Fox Sports (via Ananth Pandian of CBSSports.com) outlying perfectly why Jordan would never stop from winning.

An Unnamed Player Brings A Ref Into The Trash-Talking Competition

Bob Leverone/Associated Press

As Told By: Richard Sherman

If there's one thing we know about Seattle Seahawks All-Pro cornerback Richard Sherman, it's that he has enough confidence to make everyone in a room feel as though they can walk on water.

So it's not shocking that, during football games, Sherman is known to run his mouth to try and get beneath the skin of opposing players.

One incident Sherman heard, though, trumps all the others, as the Seahawks player told a story to Jack Moore of GQ magazine that included another athlete getting a referee involved—which sounds pretty sketchy to me:

The funniest one I've ever heard is when a guy famously grabbed a ref during a TV timeout and brought him over to a player on the other team and made the ref tell the other player that the first guy made way more money than this guy and that this guy would never be half the player. He made the ref say that. I mean using the ref to trash talk? That was awesome. There's nothing topping that. I don't even want to say the best I've said, because it's nowhere near that.

Sherman didn't want to throw anyone under the bus by giving out names, but whoever it was has some A-plus trash talk.

The Time Michael Jordan Referred To Himself As 'Black Jesus'

As Told By: Reggie Miller

Former Indiana Pacers guard and current TNT commentator Reggie Miller was one hell of a player back in his day, but even he had to learn the hard way that no one was going to push around Michael Jordan—not even during a preseason game.

Miller told a story to Jimmy Kimmel on Jimmy Kimmel Live (via Larry Brown of Fox Sports) about a time Jordan referred to himself as "Black Jesus," sending a then-rookie Miller to the locker room shocked at what just went down after MJ dropped 44 points on him.

Just another victim of Jordan's golden trash talk.

The Rumor That Ichiro Suzuki Learned Spanish Just To Talk Trash

SEATTLE- AUGUST 18:  Ichiro Suzuk #51 of the Seattle Mariners looks to steal second base during the game against the New York Yankees on August 18, 2002 at Safeco Field in Seattle, Washington.  The Mariners defeated the Yankees 5-2. (Photo by Otto Greule
Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

As Told By: Carlos Pena and Ramon Santiago

During his heydays with the Seattle Mariners, outfielder and former AL MVP Ichiro Suzuki helped reinvent the game of baseball with a dazzling display of speed, defense and the ability to hit nearly anything thrown at him.

It turns out, according to former MLB players Carlos Pena and Ramon Santiago, Ichiro also had quite the ability to talk trash—after learning Spanish to do just that!

Per Brad Lefton of the Wall Street Journal (via Mike Axisa of CBSSports.com):

After a leadoff single to open the game, Ichiro dashed to second on a steal. As he popped up safely from his slide, he looked at Santiago and deadpanned in Spanish, "No corro casi."

Loosely translated, he was telling Santiago, a native of the Dominican Republic, "I don't have my legs today." Before Santiago could stop smiling, Ichiro was stealing third two pitches later on those same heavy legs.

"I knew he always spoke through an interpreter," Santiago said recently. "And that was for English, so of course I never imagined he could speak such nice Spanish."


Veteran first baseman Carlos Pena remembered one of his frequent encounters with Ichiro. He was defending first for the Tampa Bay Rays, and Ichiro had just arrived on one of his patented infield hits. Ichiro peered over at Pena and asked, "Que coño tu mira?," or, "What the hell are you looking at?" Pena clamped his lips together to prevent the laughter from bursting through.

Ichiro, who came to the States from Japan prior to the 2001 season, could only speak English through an interpreter, yet here he was learning another language just to get into Latin players' heads. Boss move!

Pedro Martinez Wants To Drill Babe Ruth Right In The Derriere

BOSTON, MA - JULY 28:  Pedro Martinez, a former member of the Boston Red Sox,  waves as he is being introduced during a ceremony to retire Martinez's number 45,  before a game with the Chicago White Sox at Fenway Park on July 28, 2015 in Boston, Massachus
Jim Rogash/Getty Images

As Told By: Pedro Martinez

To this day, former Cy Young winner Pedro Martinez is one of my favorite athletes to ever play a sport.

Not the biggest guy physically, the passion and intensity "Petey" played with every time he took the mound was equal to the same type of heart former Philadelphia 76ers guard Allen Iverson played with. Neither would be taken for granted.

When a member of the Boston Red Sox, Pedro gave one of the best lines ever when referencing the then- Curse of the Bambino that had the Sox under siege, saying this after a 2001 contest, via the New York Post:

“I don’t believe in curses,” Martinez said. “Wake up the Bambino and I’ll face him. Maybe I’ll drill him in the ass.”

A most respectful man, Pedro repeatedly apologized for his language.

“Pardon the bad word,” he said.


“Who are the Yankees that I can’t beat them?” Pedro asked. “I’m starting to hate talking about the Yankees to anybody. Pretty soon, I’m not going to talk when we play the Yankees because the questions are so stupid and I’m wasting my time.”

Trash-talking a guy who, at the time, had been dead for 53 years? Ruthless.

Draymond Green Will Never Talk Trash To Tim Duncan Again

SAN ANTONIO, TX - MAY 08:  Tim Duncan #21 of the San Antonio Spurs is fouled by Draymond Green #23 of the Golden State Warriors during Game Two of the Western Conference Semifinals of the 2013 NBA Playoffs at AT&T Center on May 8, 2013 in San Antonio, Tex
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

As Told By: Draymond Green

Recently voted the NBA's biggest trash-talker right now, Golden State Warriors All-Star forward Draymond Green as the ability to get beneath the skin of nearly every one of his opponents—unless that person is Tim Duncan.

Green recently described the one time he tried talking crap to the future Hall of Famer, who rarely shows any emotion—and it didn't go as he thought.

Per Mark J. Spears of ESPN's The Undefeated:

I do have a Tim Duncan story. My rookie year I kind of talked junk to everybody. In the middle of the game I started talking to Tim, and I had already got into it with somebody on their team. I don’t remember who it was. But I started talking to Tim and he kind of just stared at me. I just kept talking junk to him and he kept staring at me.

At that point I realized during the rest of my career that I might as well not talk to him. Either, one, he is not going to talk back because he has no respect for me. Or, two, he is not going to talk back because that is who he is. Or, three, both. I figured then that was the last time I would talk junk to Tim. And that was the last time.

Duncan is a one-of-a-kind player, and a then-rookie Draymond Green learned that in an extremely unique way.

Larry Bird Tells Dominique Wilkins What's Up

BOSTON - 1983:  Dominique Wilkins #21 of the Atlanta Hawks and Larry Bird #33 of the Boston Celtics stand on the court during a game played in 1983 at the Boston Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, b
Dick Raphael/Getty Images

As Told ByDominique Wilkins and Doc Rivers

I've mentioned Michael Jordan a few times in this piece for being a Hall of Fame trash-talker, but Larry Bird was another guy who knew how to run his mouth better than almost anyone in NBA history.

While Bird had numerous victims, Dominique Wilkins was a guy who was treated unfairly on a number of occasions, as these two stories describe.

The first one comes from Wilkins himself, who told Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald about a time Bird went off during Wilkins' rookie campaign:

One of the first times I ever played against him, I went out for the opening tip and I went to shake his hand. He just stood there and looked at me stone-faced with his hands behind his back.

I was like, "Whoa." Then we were getting ready for the tip and he says to me, ‘You don’t belong in this league, Homes.’ I couldn’t believe it, but it happened so fast, I didn’t know what to think.

Then they had the ball and I was on him and he said, ‘I don’t know why they got you guarding me, Homes. You can’t guard me.’ Then, whap, he hit a 3. Then he came down again and said, ‘They made a mistake putting you on me, Homes,’ and he took another 3.”


Then a little while later, I came down on a break and he was backpedaling. I just went right after him. I jumped up and he tried to challenge, but I took that right through the rim. He fell and hit the basket support.

He got up and said, ‘I like you, rookie. You’ve got (guts).’ I was happy for a second, and then he said, ‘But I’m still going for 40 on you tonight.’ ”

He then paused the story, stepped back and smiled.

But I got him. He only scored 39.

And for those who need validation that no one ran their mouth as well as Larry Legend did, Doc Rivers once told another example of Bird owning Wilkins, going for 60 on the Atlanta Hawks in 1985.

Yep, Bird knew what he was doing.