There are two types of people in this world. Those who can handle losing with a little class and dignity and others that cheer for the Chicago Cubs. As Jesus Christ and the bully who used to take my lunch money used to say, "no two losers are created equal." Here's a list of 10 athletes, coaches, and owners who handle defeat in their own special ways.
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10. Serena Williams (Because You Can't Spell "Dominance" Without the Words "I'm," "A," or "Man")
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Blessed with superb athleticism and the body of a Canadian Football League linebacker, Serena Williams has enjoyed a fruitful tennis career that sportswriters who would rather be covering Serbian gymnastics would call “impressive to people who care about this sort of thing.” She’s won Grand Slam Titles, boasts an endorsement deal with Tampax (seriously), and has battled allegations of sexual affairs with Shaquille O’Neal on two separate occasions.
What Williams also has, however, is a bit of a temper and a propensity for mid-match death threats. In the 2009 U.S. Open she walked off the court prematurely after getting her impossibly large rear end handed to her by Kim Clijsters, but not before lobbing a death threat at the line judge. The event was not an isolated incident, as the 28-year-old part-time fashion designer has a decorated history of blaming other people, places, and NBA stars who lie about sleeping with her for various shortcomings. It’s always somebody else’s fault, isn’t it Serena?
9. Terrell Owens (The Insecure Teenage Girl)
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In all fairness, picking a single character flaw in Terrell Owens' mentally unbalanced repertoire is sort of like giving JaMarcus Russell one thing to work on over the offseason. Owens is a poor winner, awful teammate, and a horribly sore loser as well. Whether he’s publicly berating Jessica Simpson, or repeatedly alluding to his heroic efforts for playing with a broken ankle, Owens’ dedication to finding excuses for his failure is something that the WNBA marketing department would call “inspiring.”
8. Alex Ovechkin, (Now Featuring a "Property of Sidney Crosby" Tattoo)
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If your favorite NHL team is in overtime and facing playoff elimination, there’s nobody better to have in the locker room than Alex Ovechkin. (You know, if Joe Sakic or the top six forwards of the Detroit Red Wings are busy polishing their Stanley Cup rings.) Ovechkin is a gifted player who enjoys long walks on the beach, refusing to bathe, and routinely losing to Sidney Crosby in every major competition the two have ever played.
The only thing number eight doesn’t like is being reminded about his hockey-related shortcomings (especially if the person pointing them out is a teenage girl). Following the 2010 Olympic Games, after a masterful choke job, Ovechkin not only refused to pose for a picture with an excited female fan, but actually tried to knock the camera away from her. The former number one overall pick didn't exactly earn sportsmanship points with the media as he scurried back to his den of shame – which features a surprising amount of full-length mirrors and hand lubricant. A video of the altercation became a viral sensation and global reminder that Ovechkin may not be a “winner” or “decent human being,” but he isn’t afraid to take on any opponent – no matter how tiny, female or Canadian they may be.
7. Evgeni Plushenko (Second Place is the Biggest Loser)
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Figure skating may not be a gentleman’s game (or even a distinctly male one), but that doesn’t mean that its biggest stars should behave like they’re at a casting session for Flava of Love.
After winning silver at the 2010 Olympics, Plushenko decided that the best way to handle his second place disappointment would be with a small temper tantrum and virtual refusal to come down from the gold medal podium before the anthems began.
As volunteer workers readied their Tasers, Plushenko got off his high horse, momentarily accepted the silver and then promptly fired up his computer, in order to award himself the “platinum medal” on his website.
6. George Steinbrenner (The Monopoly Man)
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Remember that family in your neighborhood with the fancy house, poor parenting skills, and quiet shame circling the perfectly manicured yard? When their kids used to misbehave, instead of disciplining them or instilling values, they’d simply buy more expensive children and discard the ones that weren’t working out.
Well, this is essentially what George Steinbrenner does with his teams. Whenever things go wrong he throws a financial hissy fit and tosses a few hundred million dollars to make the problem go away. Oddly enough, much like the Orange County PTA "child upgrade program," this strategy has a pretty high rate of success.
It just goes to show you that the only difference between a sore loser and a consistent one is a few million dollars and a safe place to store Alex Rodriguez’s dirty syringes.
5. The Entire Sport of Soccer (Diving Boards are Optional)
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Whether it’s homicidal fans, whimpering players, or David Beckham talking about the virtues of sportsmanship on Entertainment Tonight, it’s hard to take a sport that openly rewards diving and Cristiano Ronaldo seriously.
In the history of the game, there’s never been a single meaningful match that hasn’t ended in a fan riot or locker room controversy. Losing gracefully is essentially frowned upon and sincere handshakes are less common than spitting or headbutts. It’s almost like nobody taught these guys the value of mutual respect or provided the proper amount of orange slices during halftime.
4. French Cyclists and The Tour de France (They Hate Your Freedom)
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The only thing more entertaining than watching Lance Armstrong dominate a sport centered around an adolescent form of transportation was the decade-long parade of denial that a nation famous for poor hygiene and oddly titled McDonald's menu items launched shortly afterwards.
Convinced that the only way an American cyclist could defeat the mighty French was by cheating, pretty much everybody associated with the famed race begun a comically unsuccessful witch hunt to prove that Armstrong was using performance enhancing drugs. Sure, another American was caught cheating 12 months after Armstrong's last title, but for the seven years the Texas native reigned atop the cycling community the French were unable to prove his guilt, or sincerely congratulate him on a job well done.
3. Angel Matos (Who Doesn't Want to Kick the Referee in the Face?)
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There are two logical ways to handle losing a Taekwondo match. The first, and least logical, is to gracefully accept defeat and hope for another chance to compete. The second, and most appropriate means of coping, is to kick the referee in the head, and then accuse the Kazakhstani government of fixing the fight.
In 2008, at the Beijing Olympic Games, Cuban fighter Angel Matos chose the latter after being disqualified from his bronze medal match. In all fairness, though, Fidel Castro (a compassionate dictator who’s regarded as the “Bear Bryant” of his fantasy baseball league) supported Matos, claiming that “Our fighters had hopes of winning, despite the judges, but it was useless. They were condemned beforehand.”
I’m not sure how high Fidel Castro ranks on the “guys you want supporting your innocence” power rankings, but despite his sterling reputation and international fear mongering the Olympic Committee was not swayed by his bearded charm. Matos ended up receiving a lifetime ban from competition and the shame of having to flee Cuba without a silver medal or Major League Baseball tryout.
2. LeBron James (The Whiny Boy Who Would Be King)
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Even though the teammates he refers to as “complimentary players” will fearfully defend his character to any media member brazen enough to question the depths of LeBron’s greatness, it’s tough to ignore his Kanye West approach to postseason disappointment.
Upon losing to the Orlando Magic in the 2009 NBA Playoffs (and giving his series of puppet-based commercials a retro “Dan vs. Dan” tragic ending), LeBron decided the best way to deal with the pain was to storm off the court, refuse to talk to reporters, and leave his teammates behind to pick up the pieces of their failed season. The only thing missing from this brilliant piece of sportsmanship was Terrell Owens and Don King in the crowd giving King James a standing ovation for throwing his teammates under the bus.
1. Bill Belichick (Cheating is in the Eye of the Beholder)
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Sure, it’s easy to dislike a guy who steals game day hoodies from unsuspecting homeless people and has presumably nicknamed his penis “Lil Brady,” but before you judge him for being a horrible human being it’s important to remember one thing.
Bill Belichick hates to lose. Seriously, he really doesn’t like it.
At least that’s what Patriots fans say while defending their head coach for his cheating, poor sportsmanship, and general refusal to show a modicum of humility. Hell, not only does Belichick hate losing, he refuses to even be a part of the process.
In Super Bowl XLII, he didn’t wait for the game to end before storming off the field like a French soccer player. (The game isn’t finished when the final whistle blows. It ends when Belichick decides he wants to go home and start stealing candy from small children.)