Silver Chips Online

Top ten terrible teammates

The ten professional athletes you least want on your team

By Josh Zipin, Online Managing Sports Editor and Phillip Allen, Online Managing Sports Editor
February 16, 2006
In light of the recent turmoil stirred up by Ron Artest about his trade to the Sacramento Kings along with athletes like Bode Miller and his Olympic antics, Silver Chips Online takes this opportunity to explore the professional athletes no one wants in their locker room.

Sadly enough, the most disruptive players are also often the most talented. It is difficult to determine when a player's negative influence off the field outweighs their talent and contribution on it. What makes a teammate bad? The transgressions are familiar: finger-pointing, ball-hogging, blame-dodging, headline-grabbing, cold-shouldering, back-stabbing, duty-shirking; the list goes on and on. Here are some of the players you don't want wearing your team's jersey.


Nationals outfielder Jose Guillen. <i>Courtesy of the Washington Nationals.</i>
Nationals outfielder Jose Guillen. Courtesy of the Washington Nationals.
10. Jose Guillen Outfielder, Washington Nationals

Jose Guillen always seems close to some controversy. Through the years, Guillen has ripped Oakland manager Ken Macha for sitting him, criticized Tampa Bay management for giving up on him too early, hurled bats against a clubhouse wall after seeing a lineup card without his name on it and raged after being lifted for a pinch-runner during an important game.

"There's a reason why he's been with so many teams and why it's gone bad for him each time," Angels reliever Brendan Donnelly observed. With his new home in Washington he has yet to make any major headlines, but his scarred past reserves him a place on our list.

9. Rafael Palmeiro First Baseman, Free Agent

A couple of years ago, to see the name "Rafael Palmeiro" on a list like this would have been unheard of, but Raffy comes in at number nine for a single incident. During his first stint in Baltimore and his tenure in Texas he was a great player and a stand up teammate. But after Jose Canseco called Palmeiro out as a steroid user in his book "Juiced," his career did a complete 180. His downfall started with a congressional hearing on steroids in which he stated: "I have never used steroids, period."

Palmeiro was left in quite a pickle after he tested positive for steroids less than six months later. Caught in his own lie about steroid use, Raffy tried to bring slugger teammate Miguel Tejada down with him. Palmeiro suggested his positive steroid test could have been the result of a B-12 vitamin boost he got from Tejada. The Orioles sent Palmeiro home for the rest of the season. Instead of finishing his career as a model citizen and an example of what consistency will do (Palmeiro joined an elite club of hitters who have 3,000 hits and 500 homeruns for their career), he will forever be remembered as a liar and cheat.

8. Kobe Bryant Shooting Guard, Los Angeles Lakers

As we whittle down the field, we find athletes who possess more than one trait of a poor teammate. You have to have a certain amount of greed to score 81 points in a single game, but for Kobe, greed is just the tip of the iceberg. After winning three championships with fellow all-star Shaquille O'Neal, his head seemed to grow too big. He ran both the dominant O'Neal and living legend coach Phil Jackson out of town mostly because he thought he didn't need them to win a championship (O'Neal will remind anyone who asks that he won the NBA Finals MVP all three times).

Last season, teammate Chucky Atkins ripped Kobe for trying to run the franchise from his spot on the floor, a criticism echoed repeatedly by former teammates O'Neal and Rick Fox. Bryant single-handedly destroyed the NBA's most prolific dynasty since Michael Jordan's Bulls.

7. Jeff Kent Second Baseman, Los Angeles Dodgers

Jeff Kent is one troubled individual. Although Milton Bradley unfairly accused him of being racist, he does seem irritating to teammates of all demographics. Though an MVP while with the San Francisco Giants Kent's talents for swinging a bat do not translate into social skills. He has lied more than once about injuries to both his teammates and management, he fought Barry Bonds multiple times, he has spit at umps and fellow teammates and isolates himself from his team. Kent himself admits his clubhouse persona isn't exactly warm and fuzzy. "I don't see why you need to say hello to someone 365 days a year," Kent told the Los Angeles Times. "Shouldn't once a week be enough?"

One of the best examples of Kent's poor people skills occurred after a victory while playing for his current team, the Los Angeles Dodgers. The entire team went to a local bar to celebrate, and upon arrival, noticed Kent was already there sitting in a corner. The team promptly left. He is the best teammate in baseball when you're standing on second trying to get home, but off the field he is the equivalent of an isolated animal: skittish and a little fiery, but together all alone.

6. Randy Moss Wide Receiver, Oakland Raiders

Before we examine his past, it must be said that Randy Moss helped improve his image in this, his first season with the "Big Bad Silver and Black." This is completely uncharacteristic of the Moss football fans have come to know-and…hate. A closer look at his past reveals a very different character.

As a Minnesota Viking, Moss was fined more than $100,000 for his behavior on and off the field. He was quoted infamously as saying that he "plays when he wants to." Superstars are supposed be a team's model for hard work. Maybe the Vikings followed Moss' lead and that's why they have had so much trouble getting to and winning in the playoffs.

Moss was notorious for refusing to embrace his downfield blocking duties, failing to recognize this as a prerequisite for the wide receiver position. Off the field he has been in and out of trouble with the police in relation to marijuana since his high school years. In one of his final acts as a Viking, he walked off the field with two seconds left in a 21-18 loss at Washington, symbolically abandoning his teammates.

In a game against the Green Bay Packers, after scoring his second touchdown, Moss showed his lack of maturity by pretending to moon the Lambeau field crowd. The mooning led FOX announcer Joe Buck to say, "That is a disgusting act by Randy Moss and it is unfortunate that we have that on our air live. That is just a disgusting act by Randy Moss."

5. Ricky Williams Running Back, Miami Dolphins

One of the NFL's best running backs, Ricky Williams took the term "quitter" to a new level.

There have always been star athletes who don't go hard on every play (see above), but to ditch your teammates two days before the start of NFL training camp so that you can, according to Williams, "be free"? A comment like that implies that playing football was constricting and against his will and that is a horrible message to send to a teammate. Like the phrase says, "winners never quit and quitters never win": Ricky Williams will have some trouble winning if he keeps quitting.

4. Mike Danton Right Wing, Fort Dix, New Jersey Prison

Who? A man in prison makes the list?

Mike Danton is a former St. Louis Blues right-winger who was convicted of conspiring to murder his agent and an acquaintance. There have been rumors of substance abuse and child neglect. Heck, how many people knew who Mike Danton was before he was arrested for conspiring to murder his agent?

But think about it, how many NHL players would want a guy on their team who has been accused of conspiring to murder someone as close to him as his agent and someone he barely knew? Get too close to him and you're in danger; get on his bad side and you're in danger.

Sounds like a distraught individual. Hypothetically, if one of his teammates happened to go out to a bar with Danton and have an argument, the teammate would probably have trouble sleeping for a while.

What is strikingly odd about the Danton saga is that during his trial, David Frost -- yes, the same David Frost whom Danton pleaded guilty to conspiring to murder - maintained that Danton was innocent. No one would want a guy with this much baggage on his or her team.

3. Barry Bonds Outfielder, San Francisco Giants

Barry, Barry, Barry. It's his world and we are just living in it. Putting the ball over the plate against Bonds, one of the best hitters of all time, is simply not an option.

Moving along from potential murderers we find Bonds, a superstar closing in on one of the greatest sports records ever: the all-time home run record. It hasn't been an easy road for Bonds, or for that matter, the unlucky teammates he has played with along the way.

Teammates have claimed that Bonds operates in his own little world, using his own personal trainer, working out when he wants to and skipping team activities.

Said former San Francisco Giants pitcher Jason Christianson to the San Francisco Chronicle, "It's good to get out of [San Francisco]. You pitch a good game and [reporters] come over and they ask, 'Hey, did you guys miss Barry today?' I mean, life goes on without that guy coming out to the ballpark. Over the last five months of the season, we probably saw him for a total of maybe 20 days, so it was tough to answer questions about somebody you don't know anything about -- unless you go onto his Web site."

Sadly enough, Bonds is yet another example of a primadonna superstar who doesn't seem to care much about his teammates yet maintains staggering individual statistics.

Terrell Owens yelling on the sidelines. <i>Courtesy of CNN.com.</i>
Terrell Owens yelling on the sidelines. Courtesy of CNN.com.
2. Terrell Owens Wide Receiver, Philadelphia Eagles

Wow. Where to start. Most people couldn't be as big a disruption as Terrell Eldorado Owens if they tried. But then again his case is a unique one. Not often do such talents for disruption and turmoil mix with such outrageous football ability.

Let's start from the beginning, with the San Francisco 49ers. After four straight 1,000-yard plus seasons with quarterback Jeff Garcia, Owens burned his (Golden Gate) bridges. Normally, a teammate would have, in a smooth and discreet way, told his quarterback that he was dissatisfied with his toughness and production. Then again, Owens is no normal teammate. Owens, in his typical style instead went to the media and said that Garcia was a softie and a homosexual.

After a brief stop with the Baltimore Ravens, Owens bolted for Philadelphia where he was supposed to be the last remaining piece needed in getting the Eagles to the Super Bowl. The deal turned out to be a mixed bag for the Eagles. Sure, they made it to the Super Bowl (before losing), but they had to deal with the off-field circus that seems to follow Owens.

Owens completed his entire first season in Philadelphia without disruption…until the Super Bowl ended. He caught 77 balls for 1200 yards during the regular season, and set the Eagles franchise record for touchdowns with 14. After injuring his ankle and declaring "God as his doctor," Owens played in Super Bowl XXXIX against the earthly doctor's orders and caught 9 passes for 122 yards.

After his dominating display of grit and athleticism, Owens took a shot at Donovan McNabb, the face of the Eagles' franchise, after the game, saying, "I wasn't the guy who got tired in the Super Bowl." His comment about McNabb stirred controversy within the Eagle organization and divided the locker room. He and McNabb didn't speak to one another until week two in the 2005-2006 NFL season. Other than wining about his number of receptions (he was tied for the league lead), he stated that the Eagles would be undefeated if Brett Favre was their quarterback.

Following all these and other incidents, Head Coach Andy Reid suspended Owens after seven games for "conduct detrimental to the team." His teammates, soon to be former teammates, probably view Owens closer to what one ESPN analyst called him on national television: "a selfish jerk."

Ron Artest and Wally Szczerbiak greet each other in Boston donning their new colors.
Ron Artest and Wally Szczerbiak greet each other in Boston donning their new colors.
1. Ron Artest Small Forward, Sacramento Kings

Oh, Ronnie. We should have known something was wrong with the man when he applied for a job at Circuit City in Chicago the summer before his rookie season -- to take advantage of employee discount rates. Apparently, the $2 million plus rookie salary just wasn't enough. Also in his first season as a Chicago Bull, he was fined twice, once for fighting with Glenn Robinson and again for skipping the mandatory rookie orientation. As if that weren't enough action for one season, that summer he broke Michael Jordan's ribs in a pick-up game.

It takes a viciously competitive person to break the ribs of the greatest basketball player of all time in a pick-up game. He seemed to be finding his way in his second season, until he was traded to the Pacers and, soon thereafter, was involved in two domestic disputes.

Artest's true demise began in the 2002-2003 season during which he was slapped with six fines totaling more than $150,000 and was suspended six times for a total of 12 games, because of his infatuation with flagrant fouls.

In the next season, Artest said he needed to take time off (see number five) so he could promote his record label. Crossing the line between athletes wanting to be rappers and rappers wanting to be athletes, Artest was benched.

Whatever Artest's previous track record suggests, nothing compares with what took place on the night of November 19, 2004. It was just another regular season game between the Pacers and Pistons, two Eastern Conference rivals when, after being hit by a beer cup, Artest charged into the stands to fight the Pistons fans. This horrific incident became known simply as "the brawl" and resulted in a 73-game (rest of the season) suspension for Artest and the squashing of any title hopes for Indiana.

This year, after publicly demanding a trade, Artest was benched for a month until finally a deal was made that sent him to Sacramento for Peja Stojakovic. Even as the deal was being signed, Artest tried to stop it claiming he had a change of heart. Can you change your mind if you have already lost it? We can only speculate as to what goes on between Artest's ears, but what is clear is that Artest is a disruptive sideshow and ultimately a terrible teammate.


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