Unless you were extremely lucky in your life, you probably know by now that life isn't fair. The good guys don't always win, being respectful and polite isn't as appreciated as it should be, etc. That's why more often than not bullies succeed in life as much as they do on the basketball courts or football fields. And to be honest some fans love bullies, especially if they're on their team. Bullies are mean, ruthless, powerful, and most importantly feared. Instilling fear in the hearts of the other athletes will definitely impact their performance in a negative way, make them commit errors or just lose their focus on the sporting event itself.
The way the bullies achieve that effect is a completely different story though, as they rarely play by the rules. They use foul language and talk trash to get into their opponents' heads. Sometimes they completely ignore the rules and commit acts so brutal and violent that they cost the other player his career. It's perfectly fine to expect the villain to be punished and although the size of the punishment itself is something to be discussed extensively in a different place, it's always nice to know that at least from time to time, the bad guy gets what he deserves.
15 Richie Incognito
Offensive linemen have the hardest and least appreciated jobs in pro football. They have to protect the quarterbacks/running backs, who get all the glory. It takes a particular player to really want to do that job. Enter Richie Incognito, one of the dirtiest players in the NFL. Displeased with his fellow offensive lineman Jonathan Martin, Incognito used racist and homophobic slurs to "toughen him up". Things got so out of hand that Martin considered retirement from football.
Apart from Incognito, two other players participated in the harassment, and Martin was only one of their victims. Out of the three, only Mike Pouncey stayed with the team. The Miami Dolphins released John Jerry and Incognito, who voluntarily decided to undergo treatment in Arizona. He sat out the 2014 season and was signed by the Buffalo Bills, the team he left to join the Dolphins.
14 John "Bradshaw" Layfield
John "Bradshaw" Layfield is a prominent WWE heel and former champion, whose image of a self-made millionaire and buffoon was rumoured to be very similar to the man himself. His backstage bullying was well known in wrestling circles for years, but it all came to light after the publication of Justin Roberts' autobiography which said that JBL harassed him for years.
This coincided with JBL's co-commentator, Mauro Ranallo, taking a leave of absence from WWE. And while Ranallo admitted that this had nothing to do with Layfield, the accusations remained. Fans wanted JBL fired, but Vince McMahon, the head of WWE, refused to submit. JBL himself stepped down as the SmackDown Live television commentator and decided to focus on charity work in Bermuda.
13 Chad Johnson
The retired wide receiver was one of the fastest and best receivers during his NFL career. When a member of the Bengals, Ochocinco was so good that the fans voted him to the 40th anniversary team as the top receiver. Nobody celebrated as flamboyantly and no one was as abusive towards his opponents as Johnson was. Johnson had a list of players guarding him, or rather, players that he would force to "kiss the baby" on game day. He was loved by the Bengals fans, but hated by any other fanbase, which is all a good bully can ask for.
In 2012 Johnson head-butted his wife and was charged with domestic battery. After being arrested for the incident, Johnson was released by the Miami Dolphins the next day, as the team clearly didn't want to have any more to do with him. He has been out of the NFL since, trying his hand at broadcasting and coaching.
12 Terrell Owens
Johnson's one-time fellow receiver from the Bengals, Owens was also a world class athlete and a world class bully/diva. The fact that he clashed with teammates numerous times somehow overshadows his achievements on the football field. Owens is second among NFL receivers in total receiving yards, which is really all you need to know about his incredible talent. Unfortunately, the talent to stir the pot whenever he played was just as strong.
He criticized his quarterbacks in San Francisco and Philadelphia, clashed with coach Andy Reid and even spit in his opponent's face. No wonder in the later stages of his career he changed teams so often. That's why it feels somehow right that T.O. was snubbed by the Hall of Fame. To be fair, the snub was punishment enough. The man deserves to be there.
11 Marty McSorley
Before he became a rather unremarkable NHL journeyman who scored 50 points in his professional career just once, McSorley was best known as Wayne Gretzky's "bodyguard" on the ice as an enforcer who actually knew how to play hockey. When he was traded from the Kings he switched teams almost every season but still continued to collect impressive amounts of penalty minutes.
On February 21, 2000, as his Bruins played the Canucks, McSorley hit another enforcer, Donald Brasheer, in the head with his stick with seconds remaining to end the game. Brasheer suffered a concussion and a full-on brawl erupted on ice, but the real punishment came afterwards. McSorley was charged with an assault with a weapon and banned from the NHL forever.
10 Bill Laimbeer
The Detroit Pistons centre was notorious for illegally hitting his rivals whenever they drove into the lane. He remained the brains and brawn of the "Bad Boys," who excelled in dirty plays, fouls and defence. On a team with Dennis Rodman and Rick Mahorn, it was the presumably clean-cut Laimbeer who was considered the most ferocious player. He's considered by many the dirtiest NBA player ever.
The player retired at the beginning of the 1994-95 season, but his punishment came a year earlier as Laimbeer got into a fight with team leader Isiah Thomas. Relentless even in training, Laimbeer hit Thomas in the rib as the point guard was driving to the basket. Thomas responded with a punch and broke his hand in the process. The event earned Thomas a lot of praise around the league, which shows how all the other players hated Laimbeer.
9 Jon Jones
One of the best MMA fighters today, Jon Jones is a dichotomous character, whose behaviour depends on the cameras being turned on or off. A self-aspiring role model, Jones has amassed quite a history of controversial incidents in the past, which include driving under the influence (leading to a whole UFC card being canceled for the first time in the organization's history) or using homophobic slurs on Instagram (although he claimed that his phone was stolen).
It seemed that more and more people were on to Jones' holier than though persona being just a PR-stunt, and they were proven right after the fighter failed a drug test after his UFC 214 fight with Daniel Cormier. This occurred a year after Jones tested positive for banned substances after his previous fight at UFC 197. Now Jones may be facing up to four years of suspension which is bad for the sport of MMA, as he's an awesome fighter, but good for all of those who hate cheaters.
8 Isiah Thomas
Seeing Isiah Thomas in the NBA TV studio, it's hard to believe that this pleasant man with a magnetic smile is capable of bullying anyone, yet when working as an executive for the Knicks he was too stubborn and confident to listen to anyone but himself. The Pistons Legend made a lot of bad trades when managing the Knicks, but it was his work away from basketball which makes him a true bully. His inability to land a job in the league since is a suitable penalty for his offences.
In 2007 Thomas overdosed on sleeping pills and called 911 to come and take his daughter to the hospital, as it was the girl who was presumably the one overdosing. He was the one being hospitalized, yet constantly claimed that his daughter was the one with the problem. The worst came a year earlier, as his former employee filed a harassment lawsuit against Madison Square Garden. It was Thomas who harassed her, but the team had to pay her $11.6 million in punitive damages.
7 Gennaro Gattuso
The Italian defensive midfielder was a ticking time bomb on and off the pitch. When things went well, he was the perfect player to have on your side. If soccer would have enforcers, Gattuso would be the prototypical one. The problems occurred once Gattuso considered he was the one wronged by an action or an outcome. When David Beckham tried to dive in Italy's penalty area, Gattuso slapped him on the head (in his first game for Italy!). He also choked Tottenham's assistant coach during the game, after the man was shouting at him.
The payback came when Gattuso embarked on a managerial career. His first club, Swiss Sion, sacked him after just twelve games. A month later "The Rhino" joined Palermo, a Serie B club notorious for sacking its managers after short spells. The experience was no different for Gattuso, who was canned after eight games. His third club, Greek OFI Crete, sacked him after 17 games. He's now coaching Pisa, whom he got promoted to Serie B.
6 Nicklas Bendtner
"Lord" Bendtner is a once talented soccer player, who turned into a punchline. He is now known more for his drinking escapades or exposing his sponsored underwear after goals, than the goals themselves, of which he scored a decent amount for Arsenal and the Danish National Team. Instead of being a strong locker room presence, Bendtner turned into a distraction. He arrogantly guaranteed one day to become the best striker in the world, yet preferred partying to practice.
After leaving Arsenal, Bendtner was on a downhill slide ever since. He landed in less and less respected clubs until becoming a member of Rosenborg Trondheim, the most prominent Norwegian side in history. Bendtner still earns call-ups from the Danish National Team and still scores goals, but did not become a player he so arrogantly claimed to be one day.
5 Diego Maradona
Maradona was obnoxious and arrogant on his own, but with skills like that it was acceptable for him to conduct himself the way he did. It's his coaching career that punished Maradona for his past sins, although it must be said that he committed many new ones as a coach as well. As the manager of Argentina's national team he oversaw the team tie the biggest defeat in history (1:6) and barely make the World Cup, only to get eliminated 0:4 by Germany in the quarter final.
As a manager of Al-Wasl, he reportedly fought fans of opposing teams and complained that opposing coaches were celebrating scoring goals against his team. He was fired after the team finished the season in eight place. It seems that only chairmen from United Emirates see in him something that others don't, as he's now the coach of another UE club, Al-Fujairah SC.
4 Hope Solo
Hope Solo has a history of bullying almost as long as her history of on-field achievements. She's the most decorated goalkeeper in United States National Team (both men and women) history and a true face of the discipline. That's why U.S. Soccer couldn't let another incident overshadow the team. They suspended Solo and terminated her contract. This came as a consequence of her criticism of the Swedish National Team, who eliminated her and her teammates in the Olympic Games in Rio. Solo described them as "cowards" because they played defensively.
The penalty can seem a bit harsh, but it's a consequence of Solo's long list of bullying incidents. Already in high school she had a restraining order put on her by a fellow student, whom she fat-shamed. During the 2007 World Cup she got mad at the head coach for replacing her. Also during the Olympics in Rio, the crowd teased her with "Zika" chants, as she claimed that she won't leave her room without proper protection against the virus. The six-month suspension was in part a consequence of her past actions.
3 Michael Jordan
He's undoubtedly the best basketball player in history, but there's no denying that Jordan was a huge bully. The world learned about his mean attitude in Sam Smith's book "The Jordan Rules" but the power of his brand was so powerful that nobody cared. Jordan did what he pleased: he forced coaches to cancel workouts whenever he didn't feel like practicing, he made fun of Bill Cartwright for being tall and clumsy, he punched Steve Kerr in the face and he drafted Kwame Brown and then tore him down for failing to play up to his potential. In the end, his talent allowed him to become a bully - he was so good that everybody had to accept him.
The punishment came after Jordan returned for the second time and was no longer as dominant, yet demanded the same privileges. During his two years in Washington he was basically running the team, and the Wizards didn't even make the playoffs. Even though he could end his career with that winning shot in the 1998 Finals, Jordan refused to do so and because of that his legacy is tarnished.
2 Ray Rice
Being a talented player and bullying your teammates/opponents is one thing, but bullying your loved ones to the point of actually exhibiting physical violence against them is just wrong. Ray Rice, the Baltimore Ravens running back, won the Super Bowl and went to the Pro Bowl three times. Winning doesn't equal class though.
During a drunken night in a casino in Atlantic City, in 2014, Rice knocked out his fiance and dragged her out of the elevator. The cameras recorded the incident and once the whole issue was made public, the NFL suspended the player for two - yes, two - games. The Ravens handled the issue much better and released the player. Rice has been out of the league since. While his fiance has forgiven him and he has apologized, his actions are inexcusable.
1 Jon Koppenhaver (War Machine)
Koppenhaver may not be as high-profile athlete as others on this list, but there's no denying the magnitude of his actions and the high price that he had to pay for them. Once a talented MMA fighter, Koppenhaver stole the hearts of "UFC Ultimate Fighter: Team Hughes Vs. Team Serra" viewers when describing how he unsuccessfully tried to give his father CPR. The emotional trauma that the fighter suffered during his life resulted in anger issues, the consequence of which were two years in jail.
When he came out, Koppenhaver continued to fight for Bellator, but also started to act in adult films, where he met his girlfriend Christy Mack. After they broke up, the man who used to bully other fighters in the ring assaulted the woman. He broke her ribs, ruptured her liver and knocked her teeth out. He also presumably attempted to assault her. For that he was sentenced to a life in prison.