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With Leather’s Top Ten Angriest Sports Heroes

By / 06.29.10

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In memoriam of Rasheed Wallace‘s illustriously insane stint as one of the most interesting professional athletes in recent memory, I’ll be profiling the top ten angriest sports figures. I will invariably miss a few, so you can berate me in the comments. These are the athletes that give children the quivers as they attempt to approach for autographs. The type of athlete that thinks about which referees they’d like to knock off first when they drive past gun stores. These are the guys that attempt to break into the officials’ locker room after an NBA Finals game seven because he ‘just wanted to talk, nothing bad’ before getting ushered to his team bus in his full uniform and a pair of sunglasses at 11 PM at night. It’s safe to say, if you roomed with these guys in summer camp you better have brought some weapons.

1. RASHEED WALLACE: This is a guy who once decided that it would be fun to assault a rookie teammate who was working on his jump shot alone by pegging him with a basketball from 100 feet, baseball style. He’s the NBA’s all-time leader in technical fouls for a career, and his 2002 season with the Portland Trailblazers featured an NBA-record 41 technical fouls which will most likely never be broken unless they someday allow velociraptors into the league. With his new-found free time he could start a brand new career as an assistant loan collector because nobody would dare hold out money on Rasheed Wallace. “Oh, you don’t want to pay us the money you’ve been owing us for six months, aye? Well you can deal with me or…RASHEED!” *Gasp* He’d have to be an assistant because there’s no way people would understand what he’s trying to say if he worked alone.

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2. RON ARTEST: Four words: Malace at the Palace. That alone puts him in the top five of this list. But there’s so much more! Earlier in his career he allegedly spent half-time chugging the Hennessy he hid in his locker. He’s mellowed out a bit, but back in his Pacers/Bulls days you couldn’t go one news cycle without some story about Artest pulling out the hair of Ben Wallace or mistreating his dogs or breaking some cameras on his way to halftime because his jump shot wasn’t feeling right. Before his epic showdown with the fans of Detroit he even attempted to take a season off WITH PAY so he could promote his horrendous Tru Warier rap album. And who can forget his epic playoff series against the Lakers last year when he got Kobe to “I’d rip your face off if there weren’t cameras watching us” type levels. Artest would probably be number one on this list if it wasn’t Rasheed Wallace career tribute day. QUEENSBRIDGE!

3. MIKE TYSON: Iron Mike bit a man’s ear off, is that angry enough for you? How about the time he threatened to eat Lennox Lewis’ babies? Mike Tyson had an extremely troubled upbringing that included THIRTY EIGHT ARRESTS by the age of 13. When I was 13 I was afraid of picking up pencils lying in the hallway for chrissakes. As a youth he was mocked for his high pitched voice and crippling lisp, and his response to the bullies was to treat them like they brought a shoe-bomb onto an aircraft. Legend has it that his trainers wouldn’t allow him to take the anger medication he was prescribed on fight days so his opponents could be subjected to the unfiltered rage of a man on the brink of insanity. I wouldn’t dare step into a ring with in-his-prime Tyson if I were given the Iron Man suit and a flamethrower. Actually, make that Tyson of ANY age. They probably needed a titanium cradle to house baby Mike. Never look a man with a face tattoo in the eye. A nervous tic could spell the death of you.

4.JOHN MCENROE: Before Johnny Mac, the idea of a ‘tennis bad boy’ was a guy who dared to step onto a court with crooked socks. Afterwards? You’d have to sacrifice an endangered species at centre court to gain that title. The amount of tennis rackets he smashed could have funded a small third world nation. Teething babies even think he throws too many tantrums. Search ‘McEnroe angry’ on youtube and you can be entertained by hours.

He also threw eggs at cars with Adam Sandler in Mr. Deeds, so that has to count for something, right? I probably shouldn’t have admitted that I watched that movie.

5. RANDY JOHNSON: The Big Unit’s ugly mug and surly demeanor may have made it seem like he was a pretty mean person, but in reality he was so much meaner. He barely talked to teammates. If he saw a batter he didn’t like he plunked him with 100 MPH heaters. He killed birds with baseballs. Okay, that last one may have been an accident, but the fact of the matter is he still did it and IT WAS MEAN. Here’s an example of how he dealt with cameramen:

“Get out of my face, that’s all I ask,” Johnson said, according to a video of what occurred, which was posted on the station’s Web site.

“No cameras,” Laveroni said.

“Don’t get in my face,” Johnson then said. “I don’t care who you are. Don’t get in my face.”

“I’m just taking a picture,” said the cameraman, identified by the station as Vinny Everett.

Responded Johnson: “Don’t get in my face, and don’t talk back to me, all right.”

And then he smashed the camera.

I’ll let Jeff Pearlman say some words for me:

I have nothing but negative thoughts for Randy Johnson, a brilliant pitcher but a pathetic human being. I covered baseball for a good chunk of time. I had direct access to such unpleasant men as Will Clark, John Rocker, Barry Bonds, Arthur Rhodes. But nobody and I mean absolutely nobody possessed the pure dismissive cruelty of Randy Johnson.

Johnson was a punk. He bullied reporters, he snarled at reporters, he occasionally threatened reporters. He is one of the far-too-many professional athletes who believes the ability to throw a round piece of animal skin 100 mph grants you the right to treat other human beings as dog excrement. He was a first-class pitcher and a first-class creep.

Yeah, that’ll do.

6. CARLOS ZAMBRANO: He wildly gesticulated on the mound after strikeouts and home runs. One time he spent so much time on AIM talking with his family back home in Venezuela that he had to rest his arm due to soreness, which means he’s definitely an angry typer.  When a water cooler looks like it’s due for a major league whuppin’, he happily obliges. If Luke Skywalker had a temper like that, there would be no R2-D2. Watch him mercilessly slay a helpless gatorade machine below.

A lot of players go after rehydration devices, but never with that much passion. He deserves AT LEAST an ESPY award for that performance.

UPDATE: This is what he did over the weekend. I should probably move him up a few slots for this.

7. MILTON BRADLEY: If you tear your ACL while trying to argue with an umpire, you definitely have issues. Milton Bradley has basically alienated himself from every team he’s ever been on. The guy has been on EIGHT TEAMS in ELEVEN major league seasons. He must have a ton of facebook friends. Take last year for example; after signing a three year thirty million dollar contract with the Cubs he was suspended for ‘conduct detrimental to his team’ after he acted like a jerk to Lou Pineilla and the media. In 2008, while he was a member of the Texas Rangers, he responded to negative comments by a Royals television announcer by attempting to run up to the broadcast booth IN THE MIDDLE OF A GAME to confront him as his manager Ron Washington and other coaches gave chase. Suffice it to say, he crazy. I think he has so much welled up anger because everywhere he goes people need to make make a scrabble joke.

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8. LOU PINIELLA: With old age does not come the mellowness everybody talks about when it comes to Lou Piniella. If you image search him on google you’re going to find that nearly every one of his photos consists of his face in various states of contortion as he verbally (and sometimes physically in the form of spit) assaults umpires all over the United States. His signature move of kicking dirt on the shoes of umpires during arguments is a great way to piss off a lot of people at the beach. One of these days he’s going to suffer a massive coronary while arguing with an umpire and everybody’s going to assume its part of his act until they realize he has no pulse. It’s going to be a really awesome way to die.

9. BOBBY KNIGHT: You all know how great he is at throwing chairs. In fact, why don’t we go ahead and watch a video of it.

If Bobby Knight was still a NCAA basketball coach he’d probably be in the top three of this list, but now that he’s an ESPN analyst he never really gets to get explosive anymore, though his legacy lives on. There’s the time he choked his sports information director at the University of Indiana over a small disagreement. He’s still wanted by Puerto Rican police after he punched a police officer while coaching the United States national basketball team during the 1979 Pan Am games. Basically, you know you’re an angry man when your Wikipedia page has over 2,000 words on ‘controversies’ alone.

10. BARRY BONDS: When he inevitably makes the Hall-of-Fame, his bust better look like it’s sitting on a hot plate because that signature glare and scowl is the generic Barry Bonds face for the past 20-or-so years. Whether he’s snidely looking down his nose at the gaggle of reporters who are begging for just one useable quote that he most definitely will not provide because he is a egregiously horrible human being or snidely looking down his nose as his teammates timidly attempt to congratulate him after his many home runs, he is most definitely an angry jackass in all situations. I’m genuinely surprised that nobody has hit him in the face with a frying pan yet.

HONORABLE MENTIONS: TODD BERTUZZI, JOSE MESA, ARMANDO BENITEZ, RYAN LEAF, ALBERT BELLE

Why don’t you go ahead and tell me who I forgot in the comments.


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