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05-07-2006, 01:10 PM

Sports' biggest villains
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Kevin Hench / FOXSports.com
Posted: 6 days ago

Remember the good ol' days when a sports villain was just the guy that kept beating your team? I mean, he wasn't actually a villain. He wasn't a horrible person who mistreated everyone around him.

Well, that's all changed now. Bucky Dent could no longer be considered a villain just for breaking the hearts of New Englanders. Nowadays sports villains are truly contemptible people, megalomaniacal narcissists and sociopaths.
Usually when I deliver a top ten list, I go from 10 to 1 to build the suspense, but I just can't wait that long to name Barry Bonds the No. 1 villain in sports.

1. Barry Bonds
The only guy with an approval rating lower than Dick Cheney's. Even Giants fans, who have long forgiven his boorish behavior because of his on-field excellence, are starting to reconsider Bonds. Once he loses them, there will be nobody left.

Though he will never reach Ty Cobb's hit total, he may break the Georgia Peach's record for most-poorly-attended funeral.

Just when you didn't think he could get any worse, reports surface of death threats to a mistress recorded on an answering machine. Boy, this sure tells you a lot about the guy.

A) He's not real big on loyalty even to his younger, newer wife.

B) He's a bully.

C) He's an idiot. Here's the thing about recordings, they can be saved and handed to district attorneys.

Instead of intentionally walking Barry, why don't pitchers just start plunking him with the first pitch of the at-bat? It would speed up the game and delight about 99 percent of the fans. His head is so huge and he wears so much body armor it's not like he could get hurt.

2. Bobby Knight
It's a real shame that this mean-spirited blowhard might break the NCAA career wins record of a class guy like Dean Smith.

When Knight finally retires, this delightful funnyman sure will be missed. Here are some of the many hilarious memories he'll leave us with.

Assaulting a cop in Puerto Rico at the Pan Am Games, then bragging about mooning the country from his window seat on the flight home.

The knee-slapping bull-whip sketch with Calbert Cheaney.

Belittling that poor guy at the post-game press conference with a nice f-bomb.

Forcibly moving Neil Reed into position at practice by the throat.

Separating his son's shoulder on a hunting trip.

Shooting a hunting partner on a different hunting trip.

Trying to humiliate Jeremy Schaap, son of his supposed friend.

Shoving his assistant coach into a bookshelf before firing him.

Waving soiled toilet paper in front of his team to motivate them.

Asked by Connie Chung how he handled stress, answering, "I think that if rape is inevitable, relax and enjoy it."

Putting a tampon in a player's locker to mock him.
All this from a guy who grabbed a student by the arm to lecture him about manners. (That is pretty funny actually when you think about it.) Just the kind of person you want at your institute of higher learning.

3. George Steinbrenner
At least the Boss is consistent. Whether it's his own felonious campaign contributions to Richard Nixon or hiring gambler Howard Spira to spy on Dave Winfield, Steinbrenner is not above circumventing the rules to maintain his power.

He rules with an iron fist, like a Godfather, and when he says, "Have a seat, you want something to drink?" something bad is probably about to happen to you. In the '80s a vote of confidence from the Boss was the kiss of death for managers Billy Martin, Bob Lemon, Yogi Berra and Gene Michael. It's testament to his villainy that he is equally reviled by opponents and employees.

Though he has somehow managed to restrain from firing Joe Torre it's been five years without a title former coaches Mel Stottlemyre and Don Zimmer had some choice words for Steinbrenner on their way out the door.

4. Mike Tyson
Once he was a hugely sympathetic figure, an orphan who had lifted himself up the only way he knew how: with his fists. Tyson had been saved by boxing and he repaid the sport by becoming something of a historian and ambassador for the sweet science. The furious first-round knockouts were in stark contrast to the gentle personality of the lisping, soft-spoken, deferential kid.

And then everything changed. Whether it was the death of Cus D'Amato or too much success too fast or living with Robin Givens, Tyson became a mean, ugly person, a villain in every sense of the word. He served time in prison on a rape conviction and came out even more of a monster, constantly making a spectacle of himself at potty-mouthed press conferences and in the ring.

By the time Lennox Lewis gave him the beating of his life after Tyson had threatened to eat the champ's non-existent children Iron Mike had been reduced to a sideshow freak.

5. Ron Artest
Dirty player, bad teammate, horrible rapper. What a guy.

Artest took his villainy to a whole new level this season when he betrayed the people who had not only had his back during the Malice in the Palace but had also stood by him during his 73-game suspension. Artest honored the sacrifice of those teammates who were forced to play NBA games with as few as six and seven guys in uniform by sticking a shiv in their backs this year. Apparently unhappy over the number of shots he might get in Rick Carlisle's system, Artest tossed Jermaine O'Neal, Stephen Jackson and Co. under the buss, demanding a trade.

He used to just be a guy that would low-bridge a helpless opponent or elbow someone in the groin, now he is a certifiable clubhouse cancer who will no doubt metastasize again once things get bumpy in Sacramento.

6. Terrell Owens
Opposing fans always hate villains, but sometimes a guy is such a bad dude his own fans turn on him.

Such has been the case for Terrell Owens, who has had fans in San Francisco and Philadelphia bidding him good riddance after he wore out his welcome in those cities. (Presumably Ravens fans weren't too enamored with his weak act when he demanded to be dealt to Philly after a brief layover in Baltimore.)

Now Dallas fans will have the opportunity to hate T.O. from a whole new perspective. They already despise him for desecrating their star at midfield with his TD celebrations as a Niner. Now they can learn to loathe him when he starts bashing his teammates and showing up quarterback Drew Bledsoe with his sideline tantrums.

7. John Rocker
A guy so obnoxious he pulled off perhaps the most incredible feat in sports history: making Mets fans seem classy by comparison.

Had we known how much we'd miss seeing him fail, we might not have taken such glee in seeing his big league career crash and burn.

While mooning might have been inappropriate for Bobby Knight as he left an international basketball tournament, it pretty much summed up a lot of people's feelings when a fan ran onto the field at Dodger Stadium, dropped trou in front of Rocker and slapped his own butt for emphasis.

8. Wilt Chamberlain
It's unclear who disliked Chamberlain more, the opponents he dominated or the teammates he disregarded. Most who tried found him uncoachable.

Chamberlain apologists argue that the reason he didn't win more titles (one with the Sixers, one with the Lakers) is because his supporting cast wasn't as good as Bill Russell's. That may have been true although Wilt did play with Hal Greer, Chet Walker, Billy Cunningham, Gail Goodrich and Jerry West but part of that undoubtedly had to do with Chamberlain himself. How good would Sam Jones have been had he had to play with Wilt? Whereas Russell did all the things that made his teammates better setting screens, playing help defense, starting the break with outlet passes Chamberain did all the things that make teammates worse: sulking, scowling and constantly demanding the ball.

Chamberlain seemed to relish the villain role as it relieved him of any obligation to court approval. Wilt understood that nobody roots for Goliath, and if it was a villain they wanted, he'd give it to them.

Wilt added to his villainous resume with a turn as a bad guy in Conan the Destroyer.

9. Phil Helmuth
One of the ways you know a guy is a villain is by how much joy it gives you watching him lose. I absolutely hate myself when I waste time watching poker on TV, but it's always worth it if Helmuth loses.

I would like to have Helmuth losing poker hands playing on a loop in my house, office and car so any time I need a little pick-me-up I can just glance up at the screen and see the brat throwing a tantrum.

How is that no one punches him in the face? After his flameout in the 2005 World Series of Poker, Helmuth unleashed his usual class-free, profanity-laced "analysis" of what had just happened. Some of his more memorable lines were: "These are the worst players in the world." "This guy can't spell poker." And "If it wasn't for luck, I'd win a hell of a lot more of these tournaments."

Well, then, thank God for luck because nobody, I mean nobody, wants to watch this guy win.

10. Marty McSorley
Hockey is the only sport that actually has a position that might as well be called "villain." But not all goons are created equal. McSorley set himself apart from Dave Schultz, Tiger Williams, Rob Ray, et al. with one regrettable act of malice.

With his Boston Bruins trailing Vancouver, 5-2, with 2.7 seconds left, McSorley, who had been beaten in an earlier fight by Donald Brashear, wanted to exact some revenge. McSorley would later claim he was merely trying to goad Brashear into another fight by rapping him on the shoulder with his stick, but the blade struck Brashear on the side of the head. The Vancouver goon hit his head on the ice and suffered a severe concussion.

McSorley was found guilty of assault with a weapon in a Vancouver court and given 18 months probation.

Dishonorable mention
Ben Christensen

It's still hard to imagine. Anthony Molina, Evansville's leadoff hitter, stands 24 feet from home plate, preparing to dig in against Christensen, Wichita State's hard-throwing ace. After five warmup pitches to his catcher, Christensen whistles one at the unsuspecting Molina, shattering five facial bones around his eye and leaving him with a detached retina and a permanent blind spot in his left eye.

Incredibly, Molina made it back onto the field for his senior season, and despite depth perception problems, managed to hit .266.

Christensen, meanwhile, was drafted by the Cubs in the first round in 1999 and signed for just over a million bucks, some of which went to Molina in a settlement. Christensen spent six years rattling around the low minors in the Cubs organization, went 12-19 in 74 appearances made before and after shoulder surgery and never made it to the show.

It's called karma.

05-07-2006, 01:33 PM
How did Raiders and Donks players not make this list?

05-07-2006, 01:57 PM
I don't know how anybody can limit a list to the top 10 pricks in sports. I'd need an entire ream of paper to compile a list.

05-07-2006, 02:00 PM
Helmuth rules.

05-07-2006, 02:46 PM
Puerto Rico isn't a country.

05-07-2006, 02:47 PM
Puerto Rico isn't a country.Yeah it's an island. Everyone knows that.

Skip Towne
05-07-2006, 02:59 PM
Ben Davidson was 3X the prick Wilt was.

Spicy McHaggis
05-07-2006, 03:47 PM

Rain Man
05-08-2006, 08:21 AM
O.J. is only a villain if you don't like murder. Stop trying to push off your own cultural values on the rest of us.