Nearly every man has the same empathetic reaction upon seeing another man take a shot to the groin, wincing as though the pain has been distributed more or less equally amongst those bearing witness to the horrific impact wrought upon this most sensitive of regions. A hit below the belt can send the painful jolt of an electrical current straight on through to the kidneys and this unique sort of pain does not exactly dissipate quickly, often serving as an agonizing reminder for several days afterwards.
Unfortunately, the empathy felt by those witnessing such an act is not always present when athletic competition turns contentious, and as a result there have been many examples in which athletes have punched, kicked, speared, grabbed or otherwise attacked an opponent below the belt. Many of the incidents that follow were done with clear, malicious intent, though the majority of these unscrupulous sack-tappers at least earnestly attempted to make such an attack seem accidental.
It’s never easy to discern what could possibly provoke such testicularly injurious behavior, but there are certainly those who believe that a low blow is not only one of the quickest methods for leveling the playing field, but also one of the most effective as well. As the paterfamilias of the Simpson household once said to his young and literally yellow scion as he prepared for combat, “there's nothing wrong with hitting someone when his back is turned, and if you get the chance, get him right in the family jewels.”
Perhaps the following 15 athletes received similar advice at some point, or, as many claimed in the aftermath of these incidents, perhaps they did not intend to inflict such harm on another athlete and only did so by accident. Regardless, the athletes appearing on this list all landed at least one clear shot “right to the family jewels” of an opponent.
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16 Dwyane Wade
After a few increasingly chippy possessions, Dwyane Wade appeared to retaliate when he “accidentally” kicked Ramon Sessions in the groin. Wade, who somehow managed to avoid being whistled for a foul on the play, claimed that the kick was unintentional and that he “just reacted to the contact that I got from [Sessions].” The NBA disagreed, levying a one-game suspension despite Wade’s attempt to blame Sessions for getting himself kicked in the junk:
I'm far from being a dirty player + my intent was never 2 kick Ramon Sessions. I just reacted to the contact that I got from him....— DWade (@DwyaneWade) December 28, 2012
14 Marc Staal
During a 2015 matchup between the Rangers and Capitals, Marc Staal used his stick to deliver a surprisingly nonchalant low blow on Alex Ovechkin. When the Washington captain immediately doubled over in pain, it became abundantly clear that Staal had successfully channeled his inner Tim McCracken (also known as “Dr. Hook”). Few hits below the belt have any sort of positive outcome, but at least Ovechkin may be able to find some humor in the fact that his pain inspired headlines like this particular gem: “Alex Ovechkin Speared in the 'Ovies' by Marc Staal.”
13 Serge Ibaka
Not only does Ibaka have multiple shots to the junk of his opponents under his belt, but he has multiple shots to the junk of the exact same opponent. In 2013 and again in 2014, Ibaka hit Blake Griffin in the groin, and both times he insisted they were accidental. The 2014 incident did involve a shove from Kendrick Perkins that makes Ibaka’s excuse much more plausible, but it is hard to imagine two such incidents involving the same player and occurring in back-to-back seasons.
12 Floyd Mayweather
In one of the most anticipated yet entirely disappointing bouts in the history of boxing, the fact that Floyd Mayweather appeared to have deliberately targeted Manny Pacquiao’s groin with a punch below the belt represents one of the few memorable moments (and, obviously, not for a particularly good reason). Fortunately for Pacquiao, he managed to get his glove down quickly enough to deflect the punch slightly off-target. Had it not been for the deflection, Pacquiao may have suffered an even greater loss than just his WBO title.
11 Bill Romanowski
Depending on who you ask, Romanowski was either one of the NFL’s greatest competitors or one of its biggest thugs. J.J. Stokes would probably choose to go with the latter assessment, as the former 49ers wideout was on the receiving end of one of the more vile moments in the long history of Monday Night Football when Romanowski spit right into his face mask. What did Stokes do to provoke such a reaction? He had the unmitigated audacity to complain about Romanowski repeatedly punching him in the groin during a pileup.
Stokes was not the only NFLer to take a shot to the groin due to an encounter with Romanowski, as Bryan Cox also found himself on the receiving end of the linebacker's on- and off-field outbursts when Romanowski threw a football at Cox's groin.
10 Carlos Boozer
Carlos Boozer’s punch to the junk was neither intentional nor was it directed at an opponent, but it was so absolutely improbable that it is deserving of inclusion. After a made basket and an opportunity for an and-one on a play during the second quarter of a game against Dallas, Boozer’s celebration accidentally devolved into a haymaker to the groin of referee Danny Crawford, who had actually been the ref to blow the whistle in favor of the Bulls forward on the play.
9 DeMarcus Cousins
Saying after the 2012 game between the Kings and Mavs that Cousins had “some mental issues,” O.J. Mayo got an up-close and intimately personal look at the kind of behavior that has shaped the volatile reputation of the Kings’ star post player. As Cousins was boxing out, he grabbed Mayo’s wrist with one hand and delivered a hard punch to Mayo’s groin with the other. As so many others have done after hitting another man in the groin, Cousins claimed it was completely unintentional. Obviously, Mayo did not exactly agree, describing Cousins as a player that was clearly very talented but also extremely immature.
8 Ndamukong Suh
It should not be the least bit surprising that Suh has a groin-kicking incident under his belt, as the imposing defensive tackle’s lengthy resume of dirty plays and cheap shots would not be complete without a swift kick to the nuts. The recipient was Matt Schaub, who was booted by the 6-4, 300-pound Suh in an impressive and downright balletic way on Thanksgiving Day during a nationally televised game.
7 James Harden
During a late-season game between the Rockets and Cavaliers in which Houston was able to emerge victorious in overtime, James Harden, James Jones and LeBron James got tangled up as the Cleveland pair tried to force a jump ball. Harden fell to the floor during the scrum and, during a moment of clear frustration, kicked the “King” right in his crown jewels.
The referees, against all reason and logic, ruled that the play was a Flagrant-1 (a Flagrant-2 requires the contact to be unnecessary and excessive) and therefore allowed Harden to remain in the game. Houston won, clearly benefiting from the fact that Harden avoided ejection and was able to rack up 33 points and eight rebounds in the victory over Cleveland.
6 Andrew Golota
In one of the strangest incidents in the history of boxing, Andrew Golota was disqualified for repeatedly targeting Riddick Bowe’s groin in a heavyweight fight he likely would have won had he simply fought fairly. Even after being penalized three points for previous low blows, Golota was still ahead by three points heading into the seventh round. For whatever reason, Golota again hit Bowe below the belt and was disqualified, an outcome that immediately caused an actual riot to break out in Madison Square Garden.
5 Chris Paul
Paul’s most recent hit below the belt had Chris Kaman on the receiving end, infuriating Kaman to the point that he just shoved the Clippers guard out of bounds. While the crotch grab delivered by Paul could be argued as nothing more than accidental contact, the fact that CP3 has a history of this sort of behavior may prove otherwise. After all, there was no argument to be made that Paul 'accidentally' punched Julius Hodge in the groin while the two were playing collegiate basketball.
4 Brandon Prust
Prust earned a 10-minute misconduct along with a $5,000 fine from the NHL for spearing Brad Marchand in the “fun spot,” as Marchand referred to it after the game. Despite the penalty and subsequent fine, Prust was completely remorseless in the aftermath of the incident and called the fine “the best money I ever spent,” likely due to the fact that Marchand has earned quite a reputation for delivering low-bridge hits and has been a frequent irritant to opponents throughout his career with the Boston Bruins.
3 Corky Taylor
Corky Taylor delivered one of the most underhanded and deceitful attacks to the groin in the history of sport during a college basketball game between Minnesota and Ohio State in 1972. The game had featured rough play throughout, including an incident in which Luke Witte of Ohio State elbowed a Minnesota player as the teams headed off the court for halftime. When play resumed, a Minnesota player delivered a flagrant foul that sent Witte to the floor.
Taylor, appearing to rise above the chippiness, extended his hand and helped Witte up. In the process of helping Witte up from the floor, Taylor drew him close and hit him with a knee to the groin, sparking one of the biggest brawls in the history of college basketball. Even though Witte and Taylor were at the center of one of the worst incidents ever to occur in college basketball, the two eventually became friends in the years that followed the brawl.
2 Nicolas Batum
While playing for France in the 2012 Olympic Games, Batum punched Spain’s Juan Carlos Navarro right in the groin. The French squad needed to intentionally foul their opponent to stop the clock and extend the game, but Batum obviously went overboard in delivering the foul and nearly sparked an international incident by targeting Navarro in the most unsportsmanlike way possible. Reflecting on the crotch-shot, Batum offered the most plausible explanation of all, saying, "I'm human. I lost it. I just lost it."
1 Uliu Lapuaho
Anyone who has ever been at the bottom of a pile in football is quite aware of the fact that plenty of unsavory things can occur between opponents. This violence at the bottom of the pile is generally obscured by the mass of players, but in the case of BYU lineman Uliu Lapuaho, his attack was caught in full view of television cameras. While fighting for possession of the ball, Lapuaho connected on an absolutely brutal punch to the groin of a Boise State player and yet somehow managed to avoid a suspension from BYU for doing so.
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