It’s a sad reality that many of the biggest superstars in the world never had a chance to win the biggest prize in their respective sports. It is often because their teams held them back. Too often franchises mishandle their biggest stars and fail to build championship contenders. However, the top sports stars still stand out, just not always as much as they should.
Today, we’re going to look at different superstars whose franchises mishandled them. Some of them wasted their potential while others had short-term success but could have built a dynasty. But the reality is that all of these teams could have been smarter with these athletes. Check out the list below via The Things and The Sportster.
25. Mike Trout
Trout is one of MLB’s greatest players but the problem is that over half of America doesn’t know who he is. In fairness, he is enjoying the benefits of a $429 million contract so it’s likely that he doesn’t care about it too much. However, it’s a shame that the future Hall of Famer may never win a World Series with the Los Angles Angels. Few superstars of his talent level go without a title. Also, the franchise mishandled the first decade of his career.
The Angels didn’t bring in the pitching personnel to bridge the gap to their rivals. Every season, Trout performed at an unbelievable level but it was all in vain because the rest of the team wasn’t good enough. Incredibly, the team didn’t win a single playoff game Trout was in his 20s. The eight-time Silver Slugger Award winner makes millions of dollars but will never have the respect he deserves.
We’re not going to talk much about James when he was in Cleveland because they are a small market. The fact that they lured him back and won a Championship with him was incredible. However, it’s insane that Miami allowed him to leave the way he did. They built a team full of superstars but it proved to be unsustainable. Meanwhile, they also mishandled their roster and ran out of money.
After their embarrassing loss to Atlanta, James looked for a way out. It was perfectly convenient that Cleveland had the highest payroll in the league at the time. But Miami wasted a massive opportunity to build a dynasty like the Bulls and the Lakers before them. Chris Bosh was a poor investment to the point they couldn’t afford Dwayne Wade. In sum, they became a shambles.
Wilson should have at least two Super Bowl rings, but Malcolm Butler got in the way. Those kinds of moments can happy to any player and team but what is more alarming is the fact that the Seahawks haven’t returned since. The quarterback is a tremendously talented player as fans saw in 2020. Wilson became just the third QB to throw for 30 touchdowns in four successive years.
But the Seahawks mishandled their signal-caller and didn’t build a dynasty. The New England Patriots showed the league how to create a cognitive unit that always has a chance to contend. Meanwhile, Wilson watches jealously as Kansas City provides Patrick Mahomes with the players he needs. Similar to Aaron Rodgers, Wilson deserved better from his franchise.
It feels like a long time since the New York Knicks have done anything to excite their fans. They did provide a moment of light when they brought Anthony to the Big Apple in 2011. After enjoying several years of success with the Denver Nuggets, Anthony felt like it was the right time to test a bigger market. The fact that New York was his hometown made it all the sweeter.
Unfortunately, it’s impossible to claim that Anthony’s time with the Knicks was a success. While he suffered from injuries at various points, he did play well for them. But the Knicks were a joke of a franchise and only won a single postseason series during his seven years with the franchises. They mishandled an elite player and also the opportunity to reestablish themselves.
“I’m from Texas,” Watt tweeted after he departed Houston in 2021. This brought a tear to the eyes of even the most hardened Texans fans. This franchise has put its supporters through a lot in their relatively short existence. But this was up there with their most painful moments. A three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year, Watt became a very popular figure in Houston.
However, all good things come to an end. Watt was unhappy with the way things were going behind the scenes and pushed for a trade. He felt that they had mishandled the DeAndre Hopkins trade and didn’t believe in their ability to compete. After setting new franchise records across the board, Watt moved to the Arizona Cardinals to rejoin his former teammate.
Few soccer players influenced a single team like Gerrard. The former Liverpool captain came through their youth ranks before emerging as their best talent of the modern era. He was a force of nature and inspired them to some of their most iconic moments over the past thirty years. These include the 2005 Champion’s League win and the F.A. Cup final victory a year later.
However, Liverpool mishandled their captain. Problems behind the scenes meant that they struggled to build a team to contend in the league. Gerrard stayed loyal until his patience ran out. Finally, after a grim final season, he moved to the U.S. to play for L.A. Galaxy. It was a sad way for his tenure in Liverpool to end because he was such an amazing player for them for so long.
The fact that Sanders spent 1o seasons with the Detroit Lions and still made the Hall of Fame is incredible. It’s probably worthy of the Presidential Medal of Freedom because we all know how terrible the Lions are. Historically, they’re one of the worst-run franchises in the league. However, Sanders still established himself as one of the league’s greatest running backs of all time during his time there.
Smart teams take advantage of an elite player. They’ll either build an exciting team around him or they’ll trade him in the hopes of building a more balanced unit. But the Lions did neither. As a result, Sanders won many individual accolades but never came near a Super Bowl. A former NFL MVP and Offensive Player of the Year, it’s impossible to overstate his effect on the game. Of course, the Lions mishandled him and he retired.
Somehow Kovalchuk managed to be a consistent scorer in the NHL despite spending eight seasons with the Atlanta Thrashers. Despite the fact that the team was garbage, Kovalchuk still established himself as one of the league’s stars. This was no mean achievement because we can’t emphasize how bad the Thrashers were. Atlanta managed a single trip to the postseason while he was on their roster.
To say that they mishandled him is an understatement. They truly stole the best years of his career. When he controversially moved to the New Jersey Devils, fans saw what he was capable of. The Russian star fired them to Game Six of the Stanley Cup but fell short of winning the top prize. Still, it was clear that he was a great goal scorer despite his rotten luck with franchises.
McCaffrey is an electric player. At times he looks like a version of ‘The Flash.’ The Carolina Panthers made him the highest-paid running back ever in 2020. Unfortunately, he spent most of the following season on the sidelines with injury. There is an argument to be made that the Panthers mishandled McCaffrey because he deserves better.
McCaffrey’s quarterback for the 2021-22 season will be Sam Darnold. Yes, the same Sam Darnold who failed miserably in New York after he ‘was seeing ghosts.’ It’s not the most inspiring appointment in the league. On his day, McCaffrey is arguably the NFL’s best running back but he’s never going to win unless they get serious about building a team.
Kane is one of the best English strikers of all time. The Tottenham Hotspurs star is a regular top scorer in the Premier League. He is also one of the first names on the teamsheet for club and country. Unfortunately, it’s too bad that Spurs have mishandled his career. The London club has one of the world’s best players on their books but a series of poor decisions in the boardroom damaged his career.
They decided to invest in a new stadium instead of building a team around Kane. This may seem like a sustainable plan for the future. But then along came a global health crisis and Spurs were unable to allow fans into the stadium anyway. Meanwhile, they set their progress back by appointing Jose Mourinho as their manager. Finally, in 2021, Kane signaled his intentions to leave.
The Houston Texans had a genuine franchise quarterback in Watson. He was the type of player any team would love to build around. However, the Texans are one of the strangest franchises in the league. Instead of using Watson to take them forward into the future, they traded away some of their best stars, including DeAndre Hopkins, one of the best receivers in the league.
Then, they mishandled contract negotiations with the signal-caller. Matters escalated beyond their control when allegations of sexual abuse against Watson emerged. By the end of this, Watson wanted to be as far away from Texas as possible. Several teams were prepared to overlook the allegations and lure him to their rosters. But this was a sorry episode from beginning to end.
Many people consider Cyborg to be the greatest female MMA fighter of all time. This was definitely true before she ran into Amanda Nunes’s fists. The UFC signed the Invicta featherweight star because they didn’t want anybody else to. However, they never built a division around her and totally mishandled her tenure with the promotion. It was a strange story and a waste of time for both parties.
Firstly, Cyborg was a genuine pay-per-view draw. She consistently pulled strong numbers but the UFC still struggled to find contenders for her. Finally, she fought out her contract and departed for Bellator. Cyborg was delighted to leave because she claimed UFC President Dana White was a bully. She wanted to feel valued and didn’t with the world’s biggest MMA promotion.
The Phoenix Suns made a rare NBA Finals appearance in 2021 but threw it all away. After they won the first two games of the series, they proceeded to suffer a major meltdown. As a result, the Milwaukee Bucks won their first title in 50 years. Meanwhile, Booker, one of the Suns’ most exciting talents had his head in his hands after an emotional defeat.
It’s fair to say that the Suns have mishandled things over the past couple of decades. However, they produced a competitive roster with the likes of Paul and Booker. But they know better than anybody that NBA Finals are difficult to reach. Booker may feel disillusioned because has the talent to play for any team in the league.
Brady’s inclusion on this list may seem bizarre because he stayed with the New England Patriots for 20 seasons. Meanwhile, he won five Super Bowls under Bill Belichick’s tutelage. Despite appearing to be a dream partnership, the reality was that the two men had a cold relationship. Finally, Brady announced his departure from Foxborough in 2020 as he moved to Tampa.
Many people thought that this was the end of Brady. But we all know that he won another Super Bowl with the Bucs in a fairytale story. Furthermore, the Patriots missed out on the playoffs after a poor season with Cam Newton as their starting QB. Arguably they mishandled the situation and should have kept Brady until a natural replacement appeared. It still feels strange to see Brady wearing Bucs colors.
Nash was a five-time All-Star and regularly led the NHL scoring charts. He was incredibly prolific and made it count for Canada in the Winter Olympics. But he never managed to achieve team success in the league. This wasn’t his fault because he did everything right. The trouble was that he spent 10 seasons with the Columbus Blue Jackets when they were terrible.
It was incredible that Nash played so well but the Blue Jackets were just so poor. They struggled to reach the playoffs every season but Nash still gave them everything. In 2003, he led the league in scoring and remained prolific throughout his career. Luckily, he won two Olympic gold medals with his country because he deserved success. Later, he played for the Bruins but he was past his best.
It’s a crying shame that Marino never won a Super Bowl. He’s probably the best quarterback never to have earned a ring and one of the biggest sports superstars of the 1980s. That wasn’t his fault because he was sublime for the Miami Dolphins. While they made it to one Super Bowl in 1984, the problem was that the Dolphins mishandled their draft picks and wasted their attacking talents. This was because their defense was always awful.
Marino won the 1984 MVP award for his efforts in throwing Miami to the final. But in the end, it was all in vain. The nine-time Pro Bowler won the Offensive Player of the Year award that same season. Unfortunately, the Miami front office must take the blame for their failures. One brilliant player can only do so much to win as football is a team game.
Harden became the face of the Houston Rockets after he arrived from Oklahoma in 2012. It quickly became clear that he was one of the league’s biggest superstars and he won the league MVP award in 2018. Meanwhile, he was a nine-time All-Star and a three-time scoring champion. He was phenomenal but the Rockets never took full advantage of his talents.
Insanely, the closest he came to winning the Larry O’ Brien Trophy was with the Thunder and not the Rockets. Arguably, Houston mishandled him by over-relying on his talents instead of making him a building block. Finally, Harden became tired of the situation and forced an exit in 2020. Then, he moved to the Brooklyn Nets as part of a new superteam with fellow superstars Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving.
Hailing from Venezuela, Zambrano had the potential to be the face of MLB. Fans of the Chicago Cubs believed that he was the man to lead back to glory. They had dreams of the playoffs and World Series but that’s not what happened. Basically, the Cubs mishandled him and wasted his talents. Zambrano had some stunning moments but a lack of depth in the roster meant that they never took the step forward he wanted.
Meanwhile, his own attitude didn’t help. Zambrano suffered several ejections and suspensions because of his behavior. In the end, he departed Chicago with a clutch of Silver Slugger and All-Star awards. But he never achieved the team success that he craved. Baseball players tend to stay loyal to their franchises longer than other pro superstars, but this can affect their legacies.
When the Houston Texans traded Hopkins to Arizona, it left the rest of the NFL in shock. First of all, Hopkins was one of the best wideouts in the league at the time. He was a crucial outlet for Texans’ QB DeShaun Watson but the Texans saw it differently. Things became even stranger when the deal became clear. This is because the Texans totally mishandled the situation.
They swapped him for David Johnson and a couple of draft picks in one of the strangest trades of the decade. They were the clear losers in this deal but not just in terms of personnel. It also had an adverse effect upon the rest of the roster who couldn’t understand what just happened. Meanwhile, Hopkins had an excellent first season for Arizona.
The New Jersey Devils had a great servant in Hall. Unfortunately, he was far too good for them because they couldn’t make the jump forward with him. He won the Hart Trophy in 2018 after he blazed their way into the playoffs. His influence upon the franchise that season was immense but ultimately they fell short despite his best efforts.
Hart was the first Devils’ star to win the coveted Hart Trophy. Since leaving New Jersey, Hart bounced from franchise to franchise. The fact remains that New Jersey mishandled one of the league’s best wingers when he was on their roster. Players like Hart can be vital building blocks as franchises look to become contenders, but they couldn’t keep him.
The Green Bay Packers have one of the best wide receivers in the league on their roster in Adams. However, they mishandled his contract negotiations and it may come back to bite them. Adams made four successive Pro Bowl appearances from 2017 to 2020 but didn’t feel like the Packers valued him. He pointed to DeAndre Hopkins’ massive contract in Arizona.
Unfortunately, they had another major problem because of Aaron Rodgers. Their star quarterback stole media headlines because of his reluctance to play in Green Bay for another season. The Packers left it late to make a deal with Adams because of the Rodgers situation. Adams was worried about his future in Wisconsin and doubted their ability to move forward.
Comedian Joey Diaz described Stipe Miocic as having an ‘immigrant mentality.’ Hailing from Ohio, Miocic has Croatian parents and works as a fireman. He is also a two-time UFC heavyweight champion with the record for the most successful title defenses in the division’s history. However, the UFC mishandled his title reign and never gave him the respect and promotion he deserved.
Some will say that Miocic didn’t help himself because of his softspoken nature. But he represented the best parts of the American dream. The fact that he continued to work as a first responder while balancing a career as an MMA fighter was something special. Unfortunately, the UFC tried to promote other fighters over him and wasted an opportunity.
Stafford stayed loyal to the Detroit Lions for 12 seasons. He deserves some kind of award for this alone because the Lions are such a mess of a franchise. The Lions made the postseason three times over the course of his time at Ford Field. But they never really had a hope of contending and mishandled everything positive to do with the franchise. Of course, this included their quarterback.
Most NFL recognized Stafford as one of the most consistent and underrated QBs in the league. He became one of just four players to throw for over 5,000 yards when he achieved the landmark in 2011. Meanwhile, he is a former Comeback Player of the Year winner and a Pro Bowler. Finally, the Lions agreed to trade him to the Los Angeles Rams in exchange for Jared Goff.
Randolph was only a two-time NBA All-Star but he was a much better player than his record suggests. He spent the biggest chunk of his career with the Memphis Grizzlies and we don’t need to say much else. They were never in a position to contend because of their weak roster. He spent 19 seasons in the league but never made it to the NBA Finals.
The big power forward also played for the Knicks and the Clippers. But success eluded him and he never achieved significant success. Arguably, his agent also mishandled his career because he could have played for a better franchise and been a contender. It just goes to show that not every player has the same ambition to win because money is a major motivation.
The long-serving Packers quarterback is a Green Bay icon. However, it all came to a head in 2021 after he seemingly demanded his way out of town. In short, Rodgers tried to force an exit because he was tired of where the team was going. The reigning NFL MVP was tired of their inability to build a winning team. He knew that he was near the end of his career and wanted to play for contender before he suffered a decline.
Many fans believed that he was a traitor because the franchise paid him massive money. But it’s fair to say that Mike McCarthy wasted some of the best years of Rodgers’ career. While he won a single Super Bowl, it was difficult for him to watch rivals like Tom Brady win more. To sum up, the Packers mishandled their roster as well as their contract negotiations with their superstar. Despite this, Rodgers returned to the Packers and will lead them into 2021 as of now.