Such is the paradox of a sports fan - we look up to our athletic heroes for their seemingly impossible physical feats, yet are constantly reminded of their very human flaws. It seems that not a day goes by without supposed sports coverage veering into the world of steroid suspicion, crime or just general player misbehavior. A recent visit to SI.com produced a series of featured links celebrating a dominant Golden State Warriors' performance in the NBA Finals and reveling in a clip of Steph Curry schooling LeBron James one-on-one, but also including news of Derek Fisher's DUI arrest and the Ryan brothers' involvement in an altercation at a Nashville bar.
The unlawful antics of professional athletes constantly serve to undermine their public persona and their reputation within the locker room, but perhaps less so than their immoral ones. For as much as we are bound by what is legal, we also adhere to something of an unspoken code as to what is right. Each sport has their own unspoken rules (you dribble out the clock rather than shooting in the waning seconds of a blowout win in the NBA, etc), but the moral rules that govern society are more broad and far-reaching and, yes, also apply to athletes. Chief among them is adultery, which also happens to be governed by law in 21 states but is primarily prohibited through our own ethical code - just not everyone's.
Just as cheating on your spouse exists in every day life, so too does it afflict locker rooms on occasion. The difference between the sports world and the real world, however, is that incidents of unfaithfulness involving athletes - even speculative ones - tend to become the widespread source of juicy, scandalous gossip. They can also serve to throw off the ever-important team dynamic, especially when the infidelity directly affects two members of the same locker room. Cheating with a teammate's wife happens across all sports, as highlighted by the famous wife-swapping exploits of Fritz Peterson and Mike Kekich of the 1970s Yankees and Brendan Shanahan eventually marrying the one-time wife of Craig Janney. But in recent years, the trend has allegedly been surprisingly common in NBA and NFL circles. Here are 18 stunning examples of philandering with a teammate's significant other that caused major rifts in locker rooms at the highest levels of basketball and football.
17 Andrew Bynum
Most players who are fortunate enough to reach the NBA would still find themselves envious at the nine-year career that Andrew Bynum carved out for himself. The talented big man was an All-Star and two-time NBA champion on Kobe Bryant's Lakers teams, but his career remains widely considered a disappointment in light of weight issues, knee issues and dedication questions that left him out of the league before his 27th birthday. Whether laughing upon getting benched for attempting a three-pointer, smiling in the immediate aftermath of a tight playoff loss or rehabbing his knee at the Playboy Mansion, Bynum's maturity and attitude were regularly called into question.
But getting involved with the wife of one of your coaches? That's an indiscretion on a whole different level, although it happens to be one that Bynum is believed to be guilty of. The incident, which involved then-Cavaliers and current Mavericks assistant coach Jamahl Mosley, is believed to have transpired while both player and coach were in Cleveland. So the report goes, Bynum was found to have become sexually involved with Mosley's wife, which then resulted in an immediate suspension for conduct detrimental to the team. To no one's surprise, he would not play another game in Cleveland and would go on to a meager two uninspiring appearances with the Indiana Pacers before exiting the league.
16 Jason Kidd and Jim Jackson
The 1995-96 Dallas Mavericks were selling the idea of hope for the future through a young core of talent that included Jason Kidd, Jim Jackson and Jamal Mashburn, all of whom entered the season aged 25 and younger. By the end of the following season, however, each of the three men had been shipped elsewhere without allowing them the opportunity to grow together as a unit. Those trades returned future difference makers for the Mavs like Michael Finley and Shawn Bradley, but it still failed to explain why the club was ready to move on from the young trio so quickly.
While the trade of Mashburn remains a mystery, rumors of Kidd and Jackson's off-court exploits at the time may have been some light shone on the expedited exits of the two guards. In a fitting representation of the era in question, both men had made the acquaintance of R&B superstar Toni Braxton and were understood to be dating him - at the same time. According to popular lore, the "Unbreak My Heart" singer showed up at the Mavericks' hotel on one of their road trips to pick up Kidd, but ultimately left with Jackson. Both men have refuted the rumors in the years since, but where there is smoke, there tends to be fire and there's certainly a story behind why the team felt the need to part ways with their top picks in 1992 (Jackson, fourth overall) and 1994 (Kidd, second overall) in such short order.
15 Unnamed Orlando Magic Players
Adult film star Lisa Ann has been known to navigate her way around a sports locker room or two. While she isn't one to kiss - or anything else, for that matter - and tell, she has publicly acknowledged a brief period of dating NHL defenseman Michael Del Zotto before things blew up spectacularly when he apparently asked her to put him in touch with her friends. Other than Del Zotto, though, she plays coy when it comes to naming names, even as she openly admits to having been with countless pro athletes. But even when names aren't involved, there can still be juicy stories to tell.
In a 2015 interview with GQ, the star of such movies as "Who's Nailin' Paylin?" relayed a story about meeting a Raptors player in Toronto on a night where an Orlando Magic team was visiting that just happened to feature three players she had previously dated. She recounted that she had put the Magic players on the back burner because they had been brought together thanks to team trades, thereby creating a recipe for potential awkwardness that she wished to avoid. Awkwardness, however, was inevitable on this one particular night in Toronto, as the three Magic players looked on curiously while Lisa Ann engaged with the Raptors player before realizing their shared interest in the interaction.
14 Russell Wilson
This marks the first of two appearances for Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson on a list where you probably don't want to appear even once. In direct violation of his squeaky clean, wholesome image, the Super Bowl champion was accused by then-Detroit Lions TE Joseph Fauria of stealing his girlfriend, one-time NXT Diva Erika Hammond. In the midst of the 2014 season, a campaign in which Wilson's Seahawks would fall agonizingly short of defending their Super Bowl crown in a narrow defeat at the hands of the New England Patriots, Fauria went on Twitter to angrily accuse the Wisconsin alum of messing around with his girlfriend.
The sarcastic, passive aggressive tweet in question, in which Fauria told Wilson to "enjoy" Hammond, whom he had previously believed to be faithful, was understandably surprising to most NFL fans. After all, Wilson's public persona had never hinted at being likely to commit such indiscretions. But what might have served as eye-opening insight into the real Russell Wilson soon fell by the wayside, disappearing amidst an 8-0 Seahawks' run heading into the Super Bowl and an almost immediate expression of regret by Fauria for the tweet, stating that he "didn't have all the facts." So was Wilson completely blameless in this whole strange sequence of events? Probably not.
14. Jeff McInnis
If the NCAA scandals and controversies of recent years have taught us anything, it's that no academic institution is so venerated or esteemed so as to remain immune to finding themselves in sticky situations. And that is especially true when it comes to varsity athletics. In reality, this is nothing new at the collegiate level. Just trace things back to 1996 at the University of North Carolina, where Tar Heels star point guard Jeff McInnis is suspected to have gotten down and dirty with the with... the wife of an assistant coach??
At just 21 years of age, McInnis reportedly carried out an affair with the wife of coach Phil Ford, who was 18 years his senior. Ford was hardly a bad player in his own right, having won a Wooden Award and been named the NBA Rookie of the Year. Despite denials on the part of the young point guard, the rumors continued to linger, based largely on hecklers from the rival Duke Blue Devils looking to get under the skin of their opposition by bringing up the affair. McInnis would later acknowledge that he may have gotten caught up in a big hug from Ford's wife, but that was it. Interestingly, both McInnis and Ford ultimately made their way to the NBA in the years following the rumored incident. McInnis became a second round draftee and went on to play 10 NBA seasons, while Ford followed Larry Brown to coaching stints with the Detroit Pistons and Charlotte Hornets. Both seem to have put the incident - whatever it actually was - behind them.
13 Karl Malone
By the standards of this list, things mercifully didn't get very far between Karl Malone and Vanessa Bryant during The Mailman's lone season with the Los Angeles Lakers in 2003-04. In fact, there is little evidence to suggest that things between Malone and the wife of Kobe Bryant extended beyond some flirty banter. But when you've got one all-time NBA great eyeing the wife of another, it'll certainly get basketball people talking.
So the story goes, Vanessa happened upon Malone clad in a cowboy get-up one day and asked, "Hey cowboy, what are you hunting?" Malone was supposedly quick to respond, "I'm hunting little Mexican girls." To be fair, Malone's comments hardly seem overtly sexual and Vanessa isn't entirely innocent in the interaction, but the veteran power forward should've known better than to mess with the wife of his team's central star. Kobe, for his part, wasn't shy about openly expressing his displeasure over the comments made from a teammate who had also been a close friend. The Lakers didn't suffer much from the rift, still reaching the NBA Finals, but the relationship between the two men was never the same.
12 Colin Kaepernick
By taking to kneeling during the national anthem, Colin Kaepernick has become a cultural lightning rod in the NFL, drawing many vocal critics along with numerous supporters who view him as something of a trailblazer. But regardless of how you feel about the currently unemployed quarterback for his anthem stance (or lack thereof), Kaepernick's silent protest has served to define him. For better or for worse, it has also helped put some past actions of his that can hardly be considered admirable firmly in the rear view mirror.
For one thing, the kneeling for the anthem controversy has effectively blurred a summer of 2015 incident in which Kaepernick and then-teammate Aldon Smith got into a training camp fistfight based on the quarterback allegedly stealing Smith's girlfriend. The girl in question, MTV star Nessa, had been dating Smith and was later being spotted around down with Kaepernick in rather short order. The love triangle was yet another headache for a troubled San Francisco 49ers team that was struggling in the midst of a coaching change and a porous defense at the time. It is unknown how much, if any, time transpired between the breakup of Smith and Nessa and her union with Kaepernick, but the fact that they didn't publicly acknowledge their relationship until a year after rumors of their tryst started, it doesn't look good on the 29-year-old.
11 Shaquille O'Neal
When two of the NBA's biggest personalities of their era find themselves mixed up with the same woman, matters aren't likely to be handled quietly or privately. Details remain murky over just what went down between Gilbert Arenas, Shaquille O'Neal and Arenas' fiancee Laura Govan back some time around 2010, but social media posts by Arenas at the time certainly point to some hanky panky taking place. If anything did happen between Govan and O'Neal, it isn't as though The Big Aristotle would have been interfering in a blissful union. Arenas and Govan underwent a tumultuous partnership plagued by subpoenas and disputes over child support payments, but you still don't mess with a fellow NBAer's girl.
The messy allegations once again came to light recently as Arenas engaged in a custody battle with his now ex-wife. An explicit and outspoken Instagram post from Agent Zero used the hashtag "#ItchyOneal," implying not only that Shaq slept with Govan but that he also gave her an STD. Arenas certainly has reason to be suspicious of the affair, given that a text exchange allegedly between the two that had come to light , including being posted on numerous blogs, was wildly sexual in nature and featured references to O'Neal "tasting" Govan.
10 Brett Favre
One fascinating wrinkle that you will notice in most of the entries on this list is how little the improprieties committed seem to have impacted the reputations of the players involved. You'd think that getting involved with any man's wife, let alone the wife of a teammate, would be enough of a sin in the court of public opinion to leave that player subject to boo-birds in any opposing arena or stadium. However, most of these athletes have emerged from the public airing of allegations against them in relatively unscathed fashion. Brett Favre, however, is not one of those athletes.
The reputation of the one-time Green Bay Packers great took a few hits over the latter stages of his Hall of Fame career. There was his messy split from the Packers amidst his clumsy attempts to retire and then un-retire. The trouble continued upon his Green Bay exit once he joined the New York Jets. The married Favre was busted for texting pictures of his member to Jets Gameday host Jenn Sterger. No, this wasn't the significant other of a teammate, but you could argue that messing around with someone in the organization might be worse. Regardless, it certainly did taint Favre's All-American, family-oriented reputation.
9 Marcus Allen
For years, the friendship of Marcus Allen and OJ Simpson made for an appealingly simple narrative. Both were elite NFL running backs, standouts at USC and Heisman Trophy winners, with Allen even admitting that he had idolized the 12-years-older Simpson growing up. That friendship evidently didn't last, however. As outlined in Ezra Edelman's documentary "O.J.: Made in America," Allen and Simpson had undergone a falling out when Simpson learned that Allen had slept with his wife.
Of course, we all know the fate of Nicole Simpson and the aftermath of her murder, which included a surprising 'not guilty' verdict in the trial of her husband. Her relationship with Allen had long been rumored but was only something that came to light in recent years. Although Allen denied the affair under oath while giving a deposition during Simpson's 1996 civil trial, Nicole's recently uncovered diaries detailed their time together and even expressed regret that she hadn't considered the feelings of Allen's then-wife, Kathryn Edwards. According to Mike Gilbert, the one-time agent to both NFL legends, Simpson went as far as to warn his wife, "You ever see Marcus again and I will kill you."
8 Shannon Brown
The 2011 Western Conference Semifinals saw the Dallas Mavericks steamroll the Los Angeles Lakers in a series sweep so one-sided that it prompted questions about what had gone wrong with the defending NBA champions. Particularly underwhelming for the listless Lakers was Pau Gasol, who averaged just 13.1 points per game in the series and looked so uninterested that coach Phil Jackson felt compelled to yell at the Spaniard on the sideline. Gasol's disappointing performance, coupled with the team's general lack of cohesion, sparked speculation over whether teammate Shannon Brown had shacked up with Gasol's fiancee, Silvia Lopez Castro.
Brown, who was married to R&B singer Monica, was said to have slept with Castro mid-way through the season, with Gasol learning of the affair right before the postseason began. Apparently Castro had gotten into something of a cat fight with none other than Vanessa Bryant, suggesting that Kobe's wife had slept around, an allegation that prompted Vanessa to turn the tide and out Castro's cheating ways. This was said to have led to a full blown locker room brawl between Gasol and Brown, not to mention fracturing the engagement of Gasol and Castro and sending team morale into a downward spiral.
7 Golden Tate
It is a dubious honor to be the only athlete included on this list twice, but at least Russell Wilson wasn't the perpetrator on both occasions. In the case of an alleged 2013 love triangle involving Wilson, then-wife Ashton Meem and teammate Golden Tate, the Seattle Seahawks quarterback was rumored to be the duped party. So goes the story, a promising season in Seattle tied to an elite defense and the blossoming on-field relationship between Wilson and favored pass target Tate unraveled amid speculation that Tate had slept with Meem, thereby leading to her divorce from Wilson. Despite winning the Super Bowl that year, the club was dogged by rumors of internal strife.
We still don't have complete clarity on what did or didn't happen back in 2013. What we do know is that Tate bolted in free agency, leaving a team poised to be a perennial championship contender to join the also-ran Detroit Lions, while Wilson abruptly filed for divorce from Meem after two years of marriage. Tate has been adamant in his denial of the suspicions about his role in breaking up their marriage, even going so far as to blame Wilson for not publicly clearing his name. Although Wilson has stayed mum on the subject, he certainly landed on his feet. He is now married to R&B star Ciara, with whom he recently had a daughter.
6 Derek Fisher
There was a break in the monotony of the usually drab NBA training camp media coverage back in 2015 when reports emerged about an enraged Matt Barnes driving 95 miles from Memphis Grizzlies camp to - according to sources - "beat the s--t" out of Derek Fisher at Barnes' own house. The beef between the two NBA vets has been long-standing and has been forged on and off the court. Off the court, the feud is a deeply personal one, centering on reality TV star Gloria Govan, the girlfriend of Fisher and the ex-wife of Barnes.
It was the relationship between Fisher and Govan that sparked Barnes' rage-filled cross-state trek in October 2015, as the hard-nosed forward reportedly grew livid when his twin six-year-old sons told him that Fisher was at the house. In an incident that was investigated by the NBA, Barnes and Fisher apparently exchanged punches at the house in a fight that was significant enough to attract the attention of local police. Fast forward two years, Fisher and Govan remain together and Barnes still doesn't seem terribly fond of his one-time Los Angeles Lakers teammate. Strangely, when Fisher was involved in a DUI incident earlier in June, the car totaled in the crash was registered in Barnes' name.
5 Paul George
The downward trajectory of the careening career of Roy Hibbert has confounded many on account of just how sudden it was. From getting All-Star nods in two out of three seasons thanks to elite rim protection and rebounding to bouncing between three teams while playing sparingly this past season at age 30, Hibbert seems to be on the precipice of being out of the NBA altogether in short order. Theories that have abounded about the poor play of the 7'2" center range from a changing NBA landscape to rapidly declining mobility, but maybe there is more to the former Georgetown Hoya standout's spiral.
It was back in Indiana, where Hibbert enjoyed his best years, that suspicion began to percolate regarding the relationship his wife, Valerie Cooke, had with the team's star, Paul George. Now, PG-13 isn't entirely new to sex scandals, having reportedly impregnated a Miami stripper while dating the daughter of Los Angeles Clippers coach Doc Rivers and getting caught up in a catfishing scandal. Though neither Hibbert nor George have paid lip service to it, the rumored affair is said to have even set off a fight between fellow Pacers Lance Stephenson and Evan Turner. Turner apparently took exception to Stephenson speaking openly about the situation at practice, prompting fists to fly. If the rumors are true, it hardly seems fair that George continues to star for Indy (for now, anyway) and Hibbert may not get another NBA contract.
4 Joe Horn
As is the case with other entries on this list, signs of a meltdown on the field prompted suspicions of what was going on behind the scenes with the 2001 New Orleans Saints. Coming off of a promising 10-6 campaign that saw head coach Jim Haslett recognized as NFL Coach of the Year, the Saints took a late season nosedive one year later, falling from 7-5 to 7-9 to finish out the year with more losses than wins. While there is no single reason for the implosion, that didn't prevent whispers about just what was going on between star receiver Joe Horn and the wife of Hall of Fame tackle Willie Roaf.
What made the rumors of the affair especially nasty was the associated belief that Horn had, in fact, impregnated Roaf's wife and was the biological father of Roaf's daughter. Needless to say, this rather heavy accusation was denied by all involved parties, with Roaf even offering to take a blood test to prove his paternity. Denials aside, the Saints organization certainly raised eyebrows that there, in fact, was more to the story when they quickly jettisoned the then nine-year veteran off to Kansas City soon after the 2001 season was complete.
3 Tony Parker
Oh, to be Tony Parker. The All-Star point guard has four championship rings and a Finals MVP award to his name and has had just as much, if not more, success off the court. Apparently the Frenchman has also been equally relentless off the court as on it. Despite already being married to beautiful actress Eva Longoria, Parker is believed to have further occupied himself by sending personal and explicit text messages to Erin Barry, who just happened to be the wife of his one-time Spurs teammate Brent Barry. Rumors about the flirtatious back-and-forth emerged shortly after the marriages of both couples ended around the same time.
Although there are no indications that the relationship between Parker and Barry developed beyond texting, it was evidently enough to prompt Longoria to file for divorce after three years of marriage. The marriage of the Barrys, with whom Parker and Longoria had grown to be close friends, was already crumbling when Longoria found what she claimed to be hundreds of messages between her husband and the female Barry. Amazingly, little has changed since the phone-based dalliance took place. Parker remains a beloved and respected part of the Spurs organization, while Barry has now transitioned into sports broadcasting, where one has to wonder how awkward doing analysis for San Antonio games might be.
2 DeMarco Murray
A topic like cheating teammates tends to bring about ambiguity, misinformation and no shortage of mystery. After all, it's not like the parties involved will necessarily be eager to come forward on the matter in an open, honest manner. Sometimes, though, when certain information comes to light but not the whole story, it can make the whole sordid saga even more confusing. Such is the case in the bizarre situation that unfolded between one-time close friends and Oklahoma Sooner teammates DeMarco Murray and Brennan Clay in the midst of Murray's breakout 2014 season.
As Murray was on his way to rushing for 1845 yards and being named the NFL's Offensive Player of the Year, Clay was filing for divorce from wife and college sweetheart Gina D'Agostini after learning of her infidelity through a series of texts with someone identified in her phone as "Spray Tan." "Spray Tan" was revealed to be Murray, prompting a Twitter rant from Clay outing his former friend as the culprit. Strangely, Clay later deleted the tweets and went back on his earlier comments, suggesting that he "didn't have all the facts." Murray has hardly been absolved of any wrong-doing, but there remains plenty of gray area over just what did - and didn't - happen between the three.
1 Jason Richardson
The run-and-gun Phoenix Suns of the 2000s were known for their open court cohesion, largely owing to having Steve Nash at the helm. But what if that was anything but the case off the court? Plenty of eyebrows were raised when Nash filed for divorce from Alejandra Amarilla mere days after she had given birth to their third child. The rumor mill quickly began churning, with the nastiest among them suggesting that the recent arrival was mixed race, thereby representing physical proof of Amarilla's unfaithfulness. Making the whole affair even stranger and more uncomfortable, the speculation around the baby's father centered around not one but two teammates of Nash.
When the scandalous rumors first emerged, fingers pointed to fellow point guard Leandro Barbosa as the culprit. For whatever reason, the focus soon shifted over to Jason Richardson, only to be further emboldened when Richardson was traded later that same season. Photos of Matteo, the young son of Nash and Amarilla, don't offer any proof of the mixed race theory and no one involved in this supposed lurid affair has spoken out on the matter publicly. But where there is smoke, there is often fire. Whatever might have transpired between Nash, Amarilla and, well, whoever else was involved, there is one heck of a story that has been kept under wraps.