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Top 10: Sports' biggest duds
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Kevin Hench / FOXSports.com
Posted: 21 hours ago
It's become very fashionable to distill the presidential race down to the simple question of which candidate you would rather have a beer with. What better reason for casting a vote than a ridiculous hypothetical that has absolutely no chance of happening?
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Sports biggest duds
But what if we applied the beer theorem to choosing our sports heroes?
It's not so ridiculous. Who among us wouldn't want to have a beer with Charles Barkley? Until, that is, Chuck threw us through a plate glass window.
But then there are the jocks that even the lowlife, fawning, "we're-not-worthy" fan in all of us would steer clear of in the hotel bar. They may be on-court studs, but they are real-life duds. If listening to their 90-second interviews is torture, imagine the drip-drip, tick-tock agony of wishing last call would arrive already.
Herewith are the 10 athletes with whom we'd least like to have a cold one.
No. 1 - Vijay Singh
This guy is topping lists left and right. He's the No. 1 golfer in the world and the No. 1 killjoy. Is there any buzz this guy couldn't snuff out with 30 seconds of swing analysis?
Let's face it, he makes milquetoast Tiger Woods seem like Chris Rock. Despite a scandal in the mid-'80s when Singh was suspended from the Asian Tour, the most charismatic thing he's ever done is move his ball marker closer to the hole.
The guy is death for the Fijian tourist industry. The Suva Chamber of Commerce has launched a campaign to overhaul the image created by the country's favorite son. Fiji: Less Boring Than You'd Think!
After hitting a 1,000 practice balls, Singh's idea of fun is hitting 500 practice balls. No need to worry about him sidling up to you at the 19th hole. He'll still be on the range long after the party has broken up.
Do you know how hard it is to stand out as boring among other golfers?
2. Tim Duncan
The thing that's cool about this two-time NBA most valuable player is how at peace he is with not being cool.
Like Duncan, I grew up in the U.S. Virgin Islands. No kidding. It was also home to boxing champs Emile Griffith — who killed Bennie Paret in the ring — and Livingstone Bramble.
While I lived in St. Thomas (Duncan is from the big island, St. Croix) the Rastafarians were in constant conflict with the courts on the premise that smoking and selling marijuana was part of their religion and should therefore be protected by the First Amendment. While this innovative use of the Bill of Rights would no doubt have been of the utmost interest to any number of Portland Trail Blazers, I'm guessing Tim Duncan didn't lose a lot of sleep over it. The Big Fundamental was too busy exploring the psychedelic world of the drop step.
Like most of the stars on this list, Duncan is clearly a good guy. Which is why it was so painful to watch him being tortured in the middle of that USA basketball freak show in the Athens Olympics. You could almost see his thoughts: "You're kidding, Allen, do you really think that's the best shot we can get?" "Does anybody on this team know how to defend the 3-pointer?" "Damn, it's a lot more fun playing with Manu Ginobli."
Of course Tim would never say any of these things out loud, which is why you wouldn't want to be cornered with him at the cocktail party or the barbecue.
3. Kurt Warner
The Giants' quarterback is the anti-Namath.
From guaranteeing victory in the Super Bowl to propositioning Suzy Kolber on national TV, there was never a dull moment with Broadway Joe. Not so with Kurt from Galilee.
It's not that he's deeply religious that makes him a dud — heck, look how hilariously entertaining a Reggie White sermon can be — it's just that anyone who always says the same thing is a dud.
Win the Super Bowl? Part of God's plan. Lose the Super Bowl. Also part of God's plan? Break a finger taking a snap? Yep, God's plan. Fumble 43 times in one game? You guessed it.
Would Kurt also pin responsibility for Jeremy Shockey on the big G? If only there were a "Thou Shall Not Invoke My Name Regarding a Football Game" commandment.
Warner better watch his back. Not only is rookie Eli Manning hovering nearby to take his job, from the first 100 or so interviews I've seen with the kid, Eli might replace him on this list too.
4. Pete Sampras
My good friends at Asylum Entertainment have pulled off one of the all-time achievements in sports television: They made Pete Sampras compelling in a Beyond the Glory episode on Fox Sports. They should win an Emmy on degree of difficulty alone.
Sampras is so boring he made vomiting on the court during the U.S. Open seem polite. John McEnroe has more personality in his tennis elbow — a fact Mac has somehow managed to keep secret from viewers of his talk show on CNBC.
You know how really beautiful girls never have to develop any charisma? I feel this way about guys with big serves. There's something about having to scratch and claw for points that makes players reveal their humanity. An ace down the T pretty much sums up Sampras's character profile.
5. Lennox Lewis
You're a 6-foot-5, 250-pound wrecking machine in the boxing ring, plus you have dreadlocks and you still can't cobble together any kind of persona?
No matter how hard he tried, Lewis could never fully convince us that he was actually mad at the other guy. Even when the other guy had taken a chunk out of his leg. Even when he was rearranging the craniofacial structure of the other guy. Even when his imaginary children were being eaten (which Mike Tyson boasted he'd do), he always seemed the perfect gentleman.
Even when my lunatic friend Sal dumped a cake on Lewis (and Lewis' mom) on an episode of Jimmy Kimmel Live — very live, that night — the champ was a model of restraint.
The Queen Mum might be very proud of the civility exhibited by the U.K.'s pride and joy, but the rest of us are falling asleep.
6. Shawn Green
Just so Kurt Warner fans don't think I'm singling out the Christian.
Dodgers slugger Shawn Green could have been a superstar. He was bringing his awesome combination of power and speed to the dream factory. But as it is, we're sitting shiva, mourning the death of his personality.
Green's sense of humor is as reclusive as Sandy Koufax. (His power and speed have gone into hiding for long stretches too.)
I had no problem with Green taking a day off to atone on Yom Kippur, mostly because I was pulling for the Giants. Other than missing work, though, I just can't think of anything he could possibly have to atone for.
7. Michael Johnson
Carl Lewis had the clothes, the flat-top, the voice-cracking anthem and the rumors. Maurice Greene had the flag fiasco and his generally egotistical, jerky behavior. But what of poor Michael Johnson?
He wore those nutty gold shoes! Look out.
He got that soft-drink commercial, but if memory serves they didn't let him speak in it. What does that tell you?
The dude ran 19.32 in the 200 meters. Now quick, what's the second-most interesting thing about Michael Johnson?
Plus, the linear sports don't make for great storytelling. What tales could he possibly regale you with over a beer? "That reminds me of the time I ran as fast as I could and beat everybody." Check, please.
8. Joe Sakic
OK, I admit, I'm picking on the Colorado Avalanche center more as an archetype than as an individual.
If Sakic had any personality he'd be Steve Yzerman ... only with personality. Seriously, what is it about these Canadian hockey stars? It doesn't matter how many records they break or Cups they win, they all have the humility of a fourth-line role player trying to avoid a trip down to the IHL.
I'm one of the seven guys in America who will miss hockey, but I sure won't miss those interviews. "Yeah, Hully played great." Adding a Y to the end of a teammate's name is the sum total of what serves as wit in a hockey dressing room. (Patrick Roy notwithstanding, that dude is truly funny, but goalies don't count.)
For a bunch of guys known for their prodigious beer drinking, Canadian hockey players are just about the last people you'd actually want to share a beer with.
9. Anna Kournikova
Yeah, yeah, I know, but this is about having a beer with someone, not about who you'd want traipsing through your fantasy in a tennis skirt. Trust me, once she figured out you weren't a Russian hockey player, hanging out with her would be bad times.
"Really? I would have thought it took longer to braid hair that long. Interesting."
"So, wait, Pavel gave you three dozen roses and then Sergei gave you a dozen dozen? Or was it the other way around?"
Posing for pictures and double-faulting do not a well-rounded personality make.
(Editor's note: Kevin Hench is married. To a woman. Really.)
10. Michael Phelps
The perfect Olympian.
At least Mark Spitz is prickly. When asked to sit down for an interview for Fox Sports' The Sports List he demanded $50,000. (You won't be seeing Mark Spitz on The Sports List, but enjoy John Naber.)
I feel a little bad for Michael Phelps. He's only 19 and he's spent 17 of those years submerged. It's hard to develop your class cut-up skills underwater. But he seemed so programmed for endorsement deals in Athens that I started to worry his face plate would fall off. For a second there I though Bob Costas was actually talking to Phelps' Wheaties box.
The stepping aside for Ian Crocker moment would have been a whole lot more compelling if A) it had actually cost Phelps a medal and B) didn't reek like it was cooked up in the image lab.
Let's just say in those pre-swim headphone moments, Phelps took the Eminem's message on Till I Collapse very literally:
This is your moment and every single minute you spend trying to hold onto it
cause you may never get it again.
So while you're in it try to get as much (stuff) as you can
Acute image-consciousness does not a good drinking buddy make. Plus the first rule of the beer theorem is it can't be the other guy's first.
Kevin Hench is supervising producer of The Sports List on Fox Sports Net.
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