There have been many bad boys in the world of sports. The competitive nature of sports in general seems to bring out the worst of some competitors who feed on anger or negativity to raise their level of play. To many of these athletes, the fuel of negative thoughts can make the difference between being good or being great. Unfortunately, there can be moments when anger can spiral out of control. It is during these moments that nasty, aggressive and intimidating players become "bad boys".
To some athletes, being bad might have translated into penalty minutes or technical fouls, while others went to the extreme of throwing punches, kicks or stomping opponents who were on the ground. These acts of despicable behavior and overzealous play were often emotional outbursts gone awry, but ultimately they served a purpose to intimidate opponents and even officials during a game. Kermit Washington was labeled a bad boy for throwing one punch, while Bob Probert had to throw hundreds of punches to make this list. John McEnroe would argue, rant, and go ballistic to let umpires know he didn't appreciate their calls, while Rasheed Wallace only needed to give a few choice words and a signature glare. Alex Karras was a master at intimidation, but he was even so bad that he once took it out on his own coach.
The following 15 bad boys are the nastiest, most careless and argumentative players in their respective sports. It takes lots of cockiness and mettle to be this bad, but that's also what made many of these players so great at playing sports.
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15 Kermit Washington
Kermit Washington might have been lacking in talent, but he used grit and determination to make up for his lack of offensive skills. He was big and quite muscular, using his size and strength to be a rebounding machine. He was also known for being a physical presence on the court, and the perfect complement to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in his early years with the Lakers. Washington played in one All-Star game and averaged 9.2 points and 8.3 rebounds throughout his career.
Despite all the good things he did on the court, Washington will forever be known for "The Punch" that fractured Rudy Tomjanovich's face. As Tomjanovich (Houston Rockets) ran onto the court to break up a fight Wahsington was in, Washington turned with a punch that hit Tomjanovich square. After the incident, he could never shake his reputation of being labeled one of the baddest boys on the hardwood.
14 Lyle Alzado
Lyle Alzado was a fierce competitor who used intimidation and a nasty disposition to gain an advantage over the offensive tackles that he had to face. Alzado stepped in as a rookie in 1971 and immediately made an impact with the Denver Broncos by finishing with 60 tackles and 8 sacks. Although Alzado was well known for being nasty and mean, he was also talented enough to earn two trips to the Pro Bowl and was All-NFC four times. A
lzado channeled his anger to be quite successful throughout his playing career, but his problems as a youth and personal life so often translated to problems on the field. Partly due to Alzado, the NFL instituted a rule against throwing a helmet, especially an opponent's lid. Alzado was so bad and tough that he boxed Muhammad Ali in an exhibition match in 1979.
13 Rasheed Wallace
It is almost unfair for Rasheed Wallace to make this list, because his reputation was much worse than his bite. Wallace was a solid player, averaging 14.4 points and 6.7 rebounds per game in his 16-year NBA career. He was good enough to land on four NBA All-Star teams and did win a championship with Detroit in 2004. Despite his success on the court, Wallace was better known for his short fuse that often led to technical fouls and even ejections when he couldn't calm down. He once had 41 technical fouls over a span of 80 games, and finished his career with an NBA best 317 inglorious infractions.
Wallace was such a bad apple that he could even get technical fouls called by breathing or walking away while shaking his head. He wasn't a dirty player, but his bad attitude and reaction to calls that didn't go his way gives him a firm spot on this list.
12 Brock Lesnar
There is something about Brock Lesnar that simply makes him bad to the bone. Maybe it's his determination and the way he responds when people tell him there is something that he can't do. It could also be his huge size and strength, coupled with his inability to keep a smile planted on his face. Lesnar was an NCAA Heavyweight champion at Minnesota, using his wrestling skills to sign with the WWE. He became the WWE Champion in 2002, eventually departing to pursue a career in the NFL two years later. That never materialized, but Lesnar did take a stab at MMA and became the UFC Heavyweight Champion in 2008.
He flipped off the crowd and promoted Coors Light beer over the sponsor, Bud Light, while in the UFC. Lesnar has always been an animal, constantly marching to the beat of a different drummer. He is back in the WWE terrorizing opponents and continuing to have his bad demeanor.
11 Bob Probert
Although hockey has forever had its share of fights, Bob Probert managed to get involved in 283 of them throughout his career. The 230 pound enforcer amassed 3,300 penalty minutes playing for both the Detroit Red Wings and Chicago Blackhawks, racking up 398 minutes in the 1987-88 season alone. He was half of the "Bruise Brothers" on the Detroit Red Wings, teaming with Joey Kocur to form one of the most formidable fighting tandems in league history.
Probert ended up scoring 163 goals and 384 points in his NHL career, but his offensive output was only a minor part of his game. Probert was a nasty boy who helped keep other players clean, but what really made him trouble was the fact that he was such a good fighter who had no problem showing just how bad he could be on the ice.
10 Jack Tatum
Jack Tatum was one bad dude out on a football field with the reckless way he played. He was so bad that he was nicknamed "The Assassin" for the way he went out of his way to deliver a big hit. Tatum roamed the Oakland Raiders secondary with the intent to let every receiver and ball carrier be perfectly aware that he was there. He went to three Pro Bowls and was a Super Bowl champion too, but his game was centered around intimidation and fear.
One of his harder tackles of his career sent wide receiver Darryl Stingley helplessly sprawled out on the turf, rendering him paralyzed for the remainder of his life. The well-publicized event became a symbol of the violence in the sport, and Jack Tatum became the poster child for the bad boys from Oakland who developed a reputation for their over zealous and sometimes dirty play on the field.
9 Bill Laimbeer
In many ways, Bill Laimbeer probably was given a bad rap that overshadowed his many accomplishments and contributions to his sport. Laimbeer was a rich kid from Palos Verdes High School outside of L.A. and yet on the basketball court, he played like he was on a prison team. There was no foul or deed that Laimbeer would shy away from. He loved to set picks, thoroughly enjoyed trying to take a charge and was unparalleled at making sure a foul did not yield a three-point play.
He played hard enough to be a 4-time NBA All-Star and led the league in rebounding in 1986, but he also had a terrific outside shot. Laimbeer might have had 13,790 points and 10,400 rebounds in his career, but he will forever be remembered as being on of the "Bad Boys" of Detroit.
8 John McEnroe
It might seem a little odd to have a tennis player make this list, but John McEnroe was far from being an average tennis player. McEnroe was good enough to win seven singles Grand Slam events as well as nine doubles Grand Slam events and the French Open in mixed doubles. He also won over 80% of his matches in singles and doubles and even had a ridiculous record of 82-3 in 1984, one of the best seasons ever in the Open era.
Despite all his success, McEnroe is just as well known for his temper tantrums in a sport that has long been known for its sportsmanship and decorum. In most instances he would erupt when an umpire's call didn't go his way, creating a spectacle that was less than amusing for upmires, opponents, and even fans. In the world of tennis, McEnroe was the baddest boy to ever play on the court.
7 Mike Tyson
Mike Tyson was one bad man who was so wickedly bad that few could even stay in the ring with him past the first round. Tyson was so good that he won his first 19 fights by knockout, with 12 of them coming in the first round. He had superior quickness for a heavyweight with a signature defensive crouch and a fierce knockout punch. He was intimidating and mean, making his appearance into the ring without a robe with muscles flexing for all to see.
Tyson was nicknamed "The Baddest Man on The Planet", as his 44 wins by knockout in his 50 victories could attest. He was bad by nature, but biting off Evander Holyfield's ear during a fight only helped to solidify his position on this list. In the ring, Tyson was surly, mean, and one of the baddest of men in a sport full of tough guys.
6 Bill Romanowski
There were many tough football players who were bad enough to make this list, but Bill Romanowski was borderline psychotic as well. "Romo" once kicked a player in the head, broke the jaw of Kerry Collins in an infamous helmet to helmet hit two years later, spat in J.J. Stokes' face after being taunted, and even took a swing at the all-world tight end Tony Gonzalez during a game. He even punched a teammate, Marcus Williams, in the eye socket, leading to a lawsuit and further disgrace.
His rage and behavior were considered to be due to steroid use, but he also had a habit of refusing to back down from confrontation. "Romo" might have made it to two Pro Bowls and four Super Bowls in his career, but he will be forever remembered for his digressions on the field and not the 1,116 tackles he had. His violence and rage made him a really bad boy in an already violent sport.
5 Ndamukong Suh
There is something that happens to Ndamukong Suh when he steps out on a football field. The rather calm and composed man simply can't contain himself between the white lines. Although Suh is probably the best defensive tackle in the league today, he is also the NFL leader in fines drawn from inappropriate conduct on the field. Suh has been to four Pro Bowls and has been All-Pro four times as well, racking up 36 quarterback sacks, 15 pass deflections, and 239 tackles, in his five-year NFL career. He certainly has the ability and talent to dominate in games.
Despite his obvious talent, he also has a knack for dirty and careless play. From stomping on body parts, shots to the groin, and even an avoidable cut block or two, Suh has had to pay $255,375 in fines in addition to losing pay for being suspended for two games. He is so good that it's a crime that he has to be so dirty.
4 Dennis Rodman
Dennis Rodman was extremely talented and competitive, but his disruptive behavior on and off the court ultimately made him bad. Rodman was nicknamed "The Worm" in part due to his ability to crash the boards at both ends of the court as well as his ability to get under an opponents skin on the defensive end. He was a five time NBA champion, two time All-Star and a member of the first team NBA All-Defensive team seven times. He also led the NBA in rebounding seven times throughout his career.
Rodman was the poster child of "bad" with his tattoos, bleached blonde hair, and body piercings, but what really made him bad was his ability to get into an opponent's head. Rodman was good at being a pest, daring opponents to get upset and lose their cool, leading to mistakes and poor play. It was his combative style of play and appearance that combined to make him so bad.
3 Conrad Dobler
There have never been any offensive lineman quite like Conrad Dobler. Dobler was so dirty, he was considered filthy, and so mean that he was called nasty. Dobler was so bad that he once punched "Mean" Joe Greene. He was so cruel that he once spit on Bill Bergy when he was laying injured on the field. He even kicked the legendary Merlin Olsen in the head. Dobler was good enough to make it to three Pro Bowls, but it was his fearless physical play that made his contributions more significant and his disregard for playing by the rules that earned him his reputation. Offensive lineman are usually the recipients of hostile acts from the more aggressive members of the defensive line, but Dobler clearly liked to throw the first punch and inflict pain.
2 Dave "Tiger" Williams
Hockey is full of bad boys, and few were ever as bad as Dave "Tiger" Williams. Although Williams was rather slight for an enforcer, standing only 5-foot-11 and weighing only 190 pounds, he was always eager to throw his weight around. Williams scored 241 goals and had 513 points in his NHL career, but that paled in comparison to his minutes spent in the penalty box. Williams is the NHL's leader in that category with an astounding 3,966 penalty minutes for his career. He leads that category by a large margin, topping the next member of the list, Dale Hunter, by over 400 minutes. Williams topped 300 penalty minutes in a season six times in his career. "Tiger" Williams was certainly feisty, and it was his nasty disposition that made him one bad hombre on the ice.
1 Alex Karras
Alex Karras was easily the baddest player of his time. Due in large part to the way the game of football was played at that time, he lands at the top of this list. He was talented and yet extremely intimidating in the trenches. Ndamakong Suh's stomps to the head and groin and Bill Romanowski's rage were all child's play compared to the way Karras played. He might have been nasty and mean, but he did have enough talent to earn the Outland Trophy in college, while at Iowa, and four Pro Bowl selections as a member of the Detroit Lions. Karras was also tough, missing only one game due to injuries in his 12 NFL seasons.
Despite being so good, Karras was the epitome of bad. He once had a physical altercation with his coach in college, while also investing in a bar that was known to have gambling and ties to organized crime when he first entered the pros. He always did his best to be disruptive to the league and his own coaches, but to players he was simply bad.
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