It is a truth about human nature: like it or not, verbal sparring is part of just about anything remotely resembling a sports contest. The typical trash talk usually includes jabs about athletic skills being not much better than one’s mother’s – it would be perfect if mom actually appeared from the crowd and make the play. Speak badly about another; be boastful; be arrogant; speak with disdain and disparagingly about an opponent – these are the elements of trash talk, and it is rampant in professional sport. What was once a part of the headgame in sports and competitions – getting in your opponent’s head and breaking his focus or confidence – has gone from witty to just plain insulting. This list gives some examples of professionals in their field getting down with their trash-talking selves.
10. Poker – Tony G.
9. Mike Tyson
He may throw a mean left hook, but this guy is no Ali. Tyson was famous for trash talking lines such as, “I’m going to eat your children” – a whole new category of cannibal-themed trash talk – and “I’m going to make you my girlfriend”. Maybe this refers to his time in jail when he had lots of girlfriends. Or maybe he means his opponent will have to go out after the fight for dinner. Not quite sure what Mike meant with most things he said, but certainly the wit and intellectual finesse of good trash talk were completely lost on the man who quite likely took too many punches.
8. Maurice Green
In the world of sport, and in particular in Track and Field, sprinters evolved into some of the biggest trash-talkers. They strut like peacocks along the starting line, puff up their chests and try to “get into the heads” of their opponents. Fine for sports strategy but the problem is that these dudes actually started to believe their own words, and the trash talk moved into a whole new level of bragging. And American sprinter Maurice Green was the poster boy for what was wrong in the showboat world of short distance track running. What wsa once loved for its show of calm cool strength and power became just another street-talking gangsta wanna-be.
7. Marion Jones
The trash talking American track and field athlete. Loads of medals and championships, this Olympic athlete used to talk against her peers and accuse them of all sorts of terrible things, from being stupid and ugly to using performance enhancing drugs. Careful there Marion — funny thing is that after all of her hyperbole and accusations of fellow athletes and competitors, turns out that she and her coach were the ones taking the steroids and enhancing their performances after all. Looks like the trash came basck to haunt her and tarnished an entire career, making the axiom of “careful what you wish for” completely true. Oops.
6. Women Trash Talk Too
Of all professionl sports, figure skating would be one that most people expect to be outside of the trash talk arena. With its grace and style, its strong feminine side and the emphasis on flowers and costumes, the concept of verbal aggression and graceful skaters is like oil and water. But underneath the piles of long-stemmed red roses and teddy bears that skating fans traditionally throw onto the ice after a high-scoring favorite finishes her routine, there were murmurs that the sport had taken a turn as more competitors use trash talking, the verbal jousting common to pro basketball and football, in order to “psych out” their opponents.
5. Michael Johnson vs. Donovan Bailey
This race – the battle of the champion sprinters – had 1996 Olympic champions Donovan Bailey (100 meters) and Michael Johnson (200 meters) split the difference and square off at the unheard of distance of 150 meters. This was a grudge match to see who, as both had been billed after the Olympics, was indeed the fastest man alive. It turns out that it was also a race of the mouth-off, as Johnson showed what a “class act” he was through trash talking Bailey to no end and then ultimately losing the race by faking a hamstring pull. Turns out the trash talking sprinter was just as good as making excuses as he was at denegrating his opponent, while Bailey justz stayed quiet and cool, ran his race – and won.
4. American Basketball Has No Shortage of Trash Talkers
But to the credit of all those pros in the b-ball courts who do take their trash talk way past the point of psyching out their opponents, Rasheed Wallace actually seems to keep it in line. This video clip shows an interview with Wallace where he is quite civilized in his approach to trash talk and how he keeps his comments on the court in line and doesnt cross the line of trash talk to pure smack talk. He stays about the game and doesnt get personal, showing that it is possible to remain professional, keep the game above board and use this tactic to upset the balance of the opposing team without being a boor.
3. Tito Ortiz
Tito Ortiz- with Jenna Jameson at this side – trash talks Dana White and the UFC. Seems that what brought Tito to fame, which was the visibility and exposure that he got through the UFC, is not on his list of things to remember. And so, true to trash protocols, Mr Ortiz speak badly of Dana White, the UFC head honcho, and of being “disrespected” by the league.
2. Basketball Bad Boys
When you played against Michael Jordan, you not only have to withstand his physical game, but also the mental. It seems that Kobe Bryant now leads the pack in professional basketball as the poster child for trash talk, and given his record for arrests for assault and beating up women, this angry talk does not seem to be confined to the court or the sport.
1. Muhammad Ali – The King With Flair
Ali was simply the best. He shifted the “trash talk” to an artform; Ali gave the credentials of eloguent and intelligent to the act of beating down one’s opponent with words. And in this rare clip, he even manages to befriend the Beatles while trash talking his opponent, the famed and feared Sonny Liston.
Before the 2008 final of the men’s 100 meters at the United States Olympic track and field trials, something extraordinary had already happened at the starting line. Tyson Gay, the reigning world champion, walked among his seven competitors and slapped hands with each. In high-level sprinting, this qualified as outlandish behavior. Sportsmanship has broken out among a group of athletes who historically act like porcupines or peacocks before races, and most of the time in general. Once the biggest trash-talkers in all of sports, sprinters have become, of all things, nice.
Sprinters now compliment one another, wish one another the best. Gone is the prerace trash-talking, the once-incessant preening. Ato Boldon, a former Olympic sprinter for Trinidad and Tobago, said he believes that as long as sprinters are running fast times, fans will be happy. Maybe sports can actually survive on its own merit of performance and athletics without having to resort to the debasing low of trash talking “sports-entertainment”.
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