Professional athletes are the ultimate competitors, doing everything they can to win. When hyper-competitive people are going up against each other night after night, they can get under each others skin. Usually, players are able to move past whatever issues they have, but sometimes these disagreements can turn into long-running feuds that boil over into downright hatred.
To determine the biggest feuds in sports history, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed sports media reports from outlets like ESPN and Bleacher Report about infamous interpersonal feuds between players throughout the histories of the NFL, NBA, MLB, and NHL. We selected feuds based on their intensity, length, media coverage, and importance to the sport as a whole.
Many of the players on this list had quite a few antagonists. For some, this was because they were great players who drew the ire and attention of opponents — many NBA teams tried to rough up Michael Jordan as a way to slow down his scoring or to get him off his game. Others were despised because of their physical play that sometimes bordered on dirty. Sean Avery, for example, made many enemies as the prototypical NHL “pest” during his career.
Many of these feuds began because the two players were swept up in a huge rivalry between teams. When teams face off over and over again, minor issues can snowball into huge issues. Personal issues between star players are often forged in hotly contested rivalry games between teams like the Yankees and Red Sox or Rangers and Devils. These are the biggest rivals in sports.
Some of these feuds began with the players badmouthing one another in the press, adding fuel to the fire of the rivalry. Others either resulted in a fight or some other violent conduct, or started because of an especially dangerous or violent incident. These are the pro sports teams that play the dirtiest.