Let’s be honest. The only thing better than the sports themselves sometimes is the drama that comes along with them. Not only do most of us invest the majority of our spare time in consuming the in game action of professional sports, we try like hell to absorb and revel in all of the trade gossip, team squabbles, and motive speculation that is associated with the athletes in those respective sports. So when the juicy rumors and scandalous drama off the court intersect with the player performances on the court you’re left with some amazing mixture of sport and soap opera that entertains you to no end. It’s like manna from heaven. It’s like having your cake and eating it too. It’s like Kobe Bryant delivering one of the greatest death stares to a coach that everyone speculates will be fired before season’s end.
I absolutely LOVE this Kobe Death Stare story. If you haven’t heard by now, the Los Angeles Lakers are 1-4, sitting in last place in their division, and certainly not where they expected to be after signing Steve Nash AND Dwight Howard in the offseason. With all types of pressure building on this star laden team to deliver results, the Lakers put up another stinker of a performance Wednesday night, losing by 9 to a mediocre Utah Jazz team. With 10 seconds left and the game out of reach Kobe grabbed a seat on the bench and gave head coach Mike Brown the ULTIMATE death stare. Just watch the YouTube video and judge for yourself, as if Brown was not under enough pressure already. Kobe Bryant sealed his fate with just one 10 second glance of extreme disapproval. (Mike Brown was LITERALLY fired while I wrote this piece…news came down while I was writing this paragraph…haha)
Luckily for Mike Brown, in that clip, the Laker head coach is actually walking by Kobe, with his head facing in a different direction. I’m pretty sure that if Brown WOULD have been facing Kobe, and looked him in the eyes during that death stare, his face would have melted like he’d opened the ark of the covenant. When I saw the death stare for the first time and how LONG Kobe held it…I was reminded of Chuck Norris’ rare ability to stare people to death in the hit show, Walker Texas Ranger.
This got me thinking about other high profile coach/player disputes. It’s actually crazy that these types of things don’t happen more often. Both players and coaches have huge egos, and would have never made it to the pinnacle of pro sports if they did not have supreme confidence in themselves. So player and coaches butting heads, you’d think, would be a more frequent occurrence. Maybe we don’t hear about it so much because not all team disputes make the news. Well here are some that did and I am glad to rehash for a sick sadistic sports drama walk down memory lane.
Hall of Fame NFL Coach Don Shula and douchebag ex NFL star Mercury Morris did not get along. They of course were integral parts of the 1972 Dolphins team that was the last NFL squad to complete a perfect season going 14-0 in the regular season and 3-0 in the postseason. The following season however, amid a slump from Morris and an ever-emerging Hall of Fame Larry Csonka in the backfield, Shula benched Morris after a series of poor efforts and problems holding on to the football. It is said that Morris reached out local Miami Dominican immigrants in order to put a voodoo curse on Shula. He enacted this curse on Shula before the playoffs of the 73’ season…Shula doll, incense, the whole nizzy. The funny thing is Shula believes to this day that the curse Morris set in motion was REAL, and that it affected him profoundly in coaching decisions that cost the Dolphins a return trip to the Super Bowl. Shula went on to be an NFL Ambassador. Morris went on to be convicted of cocaine trafficking in the 80s and an asshole pundit on ESPN who still brags about being a part of that perfect season more than 30 years later.
Terrell Owens and Andy Reid were all fine and dandy in 2004 when T.O. helped lead the Eagles to the Super Bowl. But the following year when Owens got a little upset about his contract he began lashing out on everything and everyone. By Week 7 of that year Owens had publically taken shots at Coach Reid, his QB Donovan McNabb, and even the Eagles ownership. Reid eventually suspended Owen for the remainder of the Eagles season, which led to this goofy ass brotha doing sit-ups in his driveway while answering questions. To this day still do not understand WHY he was shirtless, and WHAT possessed him to start exercising in his driveway.
Many people recall the Shaq and Kobe feud that forced the Lakers to hand the franchise over to Bryant and trade O’Neal to Miami. But few recall that legendary head coach Phil Jackson was very much involved in this feud and more than happy to show Shaq the door. In 2006, during the hellacious build-up before game between a Kobe led Laker team and a Shaq led Heat squad, Phil responded to a question ABOUT KOBE, and threw Shaq under the bus. When asked whether or not Kobe Bryant’s work ethic had increased since taking on a bigger role with the team, Jackson responded saying in part “Shaq is the only player I’ve ever coached who didn’t really like to work.” Completely uncalled for, the comment got Shaq’s attention and he quickly retorted publically calling Phil Jackson a Benedict Arnold and then referring to him as such to the media for some time throughout the season. Former Lakers have discussed how Shaq’s playful nature and less than professional approach to practice habits and conditioning used to get under Jackson’s skin. Shaq’s ability to deliver in the playoffs flew in the face of the style of play Jackson preached. There is no question that the Kobe vs. Shaq feud was fueled, if not, instigated by the quarrel with the head coach.
No surprise here, Latrelle Sprewell and then Golden State Warrior head coach PJ Carlesimo had an ACTUAL feud. They fought. And Sprewell won decisively. During a Golden State Warriors’ practice back in 1997, Carlesimo reportedly told Sprewell to put a little more effort into his passes. Sprewell didn’t take his coach’s criticism too well and told Carlesimo to “leave him the fuck alone.” Why Carlesimo chose to get closer to this crazy individual I do not know, but he approached Sprewell for further instruction and homeboy SNAPPED. Sprewell grabbed Carlesimo’s neck a la Homer Simpson on Bart and choked him for about half a minute before his teammates separated the two. He left practice and then somehow, returned and actually landed a punch on the already battered head coach. Sprewell was suspended by commissioner David Stern for the entire season and later went broke turning down 14 million contracts because he “didn’t see how he could feed his kids” on those type of wages. Carlesimo still speaks like a man with ruptured vocal chords to this day thanks to Spree.
This was written by newest BaconSports contributor Jason Millison. Dude is flyer than Vinny Del Negro in a Camaro