Bizarrely, it seems to come as a surprise to some that athletes don't always support the team the play for. In fact, more often than not, athletes are traded/drafted/transferred to teams they previously had no affinity for or connection with. Of course, this is no real problem. Professional athletes are carrying out a job like anyone else, and provided they are professional and committed, even supporting a rival team is very rarely an issue.
Most athletes, like most people, support the team closest to them during their formative years, often where they were born or where they attended high school. Others may support a team due to a family connection, having a sort of inherited support for a team. Both are common and understandable. Other reasons can seem a little more tenuous and questionable, while others appear to be downright bandwagon jumpers.
Given that the vast majority of athletes support teams other than the one's they play for, whilst individual athletes don't necessarily represent any specific team, there are literally thousands of athletes who support teams they don't play for. This list then is a selection of 15 athletes whose support is either particularly fervent, unusual, or caused some kind of uproar when revealed. Here are 15 athletes who are huge fans of other teams:
15 15. Dale Earnhardt Jr. - Washington Redskins
14 14. Thierry Henry - San Antonio Spurs
13 13. Justin Tuck - New York Rangers
12 12. Rafael Nadal - Real Madrid
11 11. Jamie Carragher - Everton
10 10. Larry Fitzgerald - Minnesota Vikings
9 9. Matt Kemp - San Francisco 49ers
8 8. Steve Nash - Tottenham Hotspur
7 7. LeBron James - Dallas Cowboys & New York Yankees
6 6. Usain Bolt - Manchester United
5 5. David Beckham - L.A. Lakers
4 4. Kobe Bryant - Philadelphia Eagles & 76ers
3 3. John Terry - Manchester United
'Captain, Leader, Legend' is how John Terry is described by a banner that can always be found proudly presented at Stamford Bridge. Some would have less complimentary words to say for the man who has captained Chelsea for four years but also been involved in a number of controversial incidents including sleeping with a teammates former girlfriend and racism.
2 2. Cam Newton - Atlanta Falcons
"I've always been a Falcons fan, and I'm still a Falcons fan except for those two times a year," those were the words of Cam Newton back in 2013 when asked whether he was still a Falcons fan. Born in Atlanta, Newton attended Westlake High School in Atlanta, making his affinity with the Falcons understandable.
1 1. Manny Pacquiao - Boston Celtics
Filipino national hero and one of the finest boxers of his generation, Manny Pacquiao has enjoyed a magnificent boxing career and won a remarkable 10 world titles since making his pro debut in 1995. With a record of 57 wins, 6 losses and 2 draws, Pacquiao is the first eight division world champion in history. The second highest paid athlete in the world in 2015, 'Pac Man', as he is often known, is the longest reigning boxer on the Ring's top 10 pound-for-pound list.
A keen basketball fan and player, Pacquiao has long supported the Boston Celtics, and became an honorary member of the Celtics in 2010, which he repaid by giving a signed boxing glove to each of the teams players. Pacquiao has since become heavily involved in basketball in the Philippines, even stating that it would become more of a focus than boxing following his defeat to Floyd Mayweather. His support of the Celtics has not diminished though, and Pacquaio famously delayed a fight in 2012 until the Celtics had finished their game.
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