Everybody allows their emotions to get the better of them sometimes. This includes elite sports stars who sometimes can control their fury and have temper tantrums in front of the world. While these moments are cringe-worthy, they also often induce some good-feeling because fans can relate to them on a human level.
They throw tantrums for many reasons like bad officiating decisions or because they are simply annoyed with somebody in their close proximity. Whatever their reasons, the cause is usually not that serious but the consequences are often massive. Check out the list below via RTE and Tiebreaker.
30. Odell Beckham Jr.
Beckham is no stranger to temper tantrums. They occurred frequently during his time with the New York Giants. The wide receiver was a sublime talent before injuries sapped his effectiveness. He was also fiercely competitive. When things didn’t go his way, he made sure that everybody knew about it. In 2017, he caught just four passes as the Packers soundly handed the Giants a playoff defeat. As a result, he punched a hole in a wall.
But this wasn’t the first time he unleashed his fury on an inanimate object. In 2016, in the third quarter of a game against the Redskins, events irritated OBJ. His response was to swing his helmet at the kicking net. Unfortunately, this became one of the most parodied tantrums of the year because the net fell on top of him. It was embarrassing for Beckham but hilarious for everybody else.
In 1997, Tyson met Evander Holyfield for a second time. Holyfield won their first clash and Tyson was out for revenge. However, the simple truth was that Holyfield wassimply too much for this late version of ‘Iron Mike.” He outboxed Tyson before finally, the former heavyweight champion snapped. In one of the most shocking sporting moments of all time, he bit off a chunk of Holyfield’s ear.
Incredibly, the fight didn’t end after this bite. Referee Mills Lane allowed the fight to continue after taking two points from Tyson. Then, Tyson bit Holyfield a second time on his other ear. Finally, the referee disqualified ‘Iron Mike,’ and Holyfield won the controversial fight. As tantrums go, this was definitely a special one because Holyfield lives with the scar.
Rodman doesn’t like when people take photographs of him. Or maybe it was just something about Eugene Amos’ face. In 1997, the Bulls played the Minnesota Timberwolves when Rodman fell to the ground as he tried to secure a rebound. Then Amos came too close to the Worm and Rodman lashed out with a kick to the cameraman’s groin. He crumpled like a piece of paper.
Temper tantrums are relatively common in sports but it’s unacceptable to boot random members of the media in the family jewels. Rodman discovered this to his cost because he received an 11-game suspension without pay. Because of this, he lost out on about one million dollars. Meanwhile, he also paid Amos a $200,000 settlement. Hilarious, but ill-advised.
Clemens and Mike Piazza hated each other. This added extra spice to games between the New York Yankees and the Mets. In the 2000 World Series, the pair faced off again. Clemens launched a fastball at Piazza who batted it away. But his bat snapped in half as he made the hit and bounced toward Clemens. It clipped his stomach and he angrily responded.
The Yankees pitcher picked up the broken piece and threw it back in Piazza’s direction. Almost immediately, the benches cleared and everybody was on the field. It was an extremely petty reaction from Clemens because it obviously wasn’t intentional on Piazza’s part. Some fans said that his temper tantrums were the result of ‘roid rage.’ The MLB reprimanded Clemens with a fine.
Irish MMA fighter McGregor is ‘notorious’ for his anger problems. This affected him negatively in 2019 when he encountered an annoying fan outside of a Florida nightclub. The former double champion became frustrated because the so-called fan continued to follow him and his entourage around. Finally, it came to a head outside of the Miami event space when McGregor grabbed and smashed the man’s phone.
Needless to say, the ‘victim’ was delighted with this tantrum because he sued the Irishman. Police arrested the UFC fighter and he spent the night in a precinct. In the end, he settled out of court. But this was only after it became global news and McGregor endured more commentary on his unstable mind. In sum, McGregor can’t avoid trouble even when he isn’t looking for it.
One of the best tennis players of the modern generation, Serbia’s Djokovic is also very petulant. A brilliant talent, he occasionally allows his emotions to burst forth. This results in dramatic consequences. In 2021, he mangled his tennis racket after smashing it three times off the court during the Australian Open. The frustrated star came from behind to defeat Germany’s Alex Zverev, but the story was about his antics during the game.
It’s embarrassing when grown adults have visible temper tantrums in public, but that’s literally what he did. He beat his racket off the ground until it was in bits. Then, he had the stones to tell the umpire it needed to be cleaned up. Meanwhile, the commentary wasn’t impressed and said that he should have done it himself as he caused the mess. The umpire also cited Djokovic for his unsportsmanlike conduct.
Maxwell wasn’t the first athlete to fight a fan and he probably won’t be the last. However, the former NBA star made headlines during a 1995 game against the Trail Blazers. The Houston Rockets’ star believed that he heard the fan making racist remarks and reacted violently. He left the court and entered the stands to confront the so-called supporter with his fists.
The basketball star didn’t speak to the fan. Instead, he simply punched him in the face. While tantrums are forgivable in this kind of situation, there will also be consequences. Maxwell received a 10-game ban and a hefty fine for his actions but he didn’t mind. A two-time NBA Champion, ‘Mad Max’ was an excellent player but an unforgiving presence in his heyday.
Dier is a valuable utility player for Tottenham Hotspurs. In 2020, the Spurs played Norwich in an FA Cup game. Norwich knocked Dier’s team out of the competition but the story was about him after the game. This was because he entered the stands to confront a fan who he said insulted his brother. Tantrums like these are uncommon in sports and always bring some kind of penalty.
His head coach Jose Mourinho said that while Dier was wrong to leave the field, he understood on a human level why the player made that decision. Unfortunately, there is a culture within many sports where fans think they can say what they want without consequences. In this situation, the fan received more than they bargained for because Dier didn’t let it go.
Sometimes temper tantrums cloud people’s judgment. This was definitely the situation in the case of Stoudemire because he made a very dumb decision after a New York Knicks playoff game. The Miami Heat inflicted a crushing loss on the Knicks in the second game of the series and Stoudemire wasn’t impressed. He decided that the appropriate course of action was to unleash his fury on a nearby inanimate object.
So he hit a fire extinguisher. It emerged that this wasn’t a good move because his hand immediately gushed blood and paramedics had to help him. He missed the third game of the 2012 series but avoided serious damage. However, it is never a good idea to hit walls, windows, or anything hard in the nearby vicinity. Stoudemire discovered this to his cost.
The New York Jets were never the easiest franchise to play for. Any of their fans who travel to Seattle in the winter for games deserve respect because those conditions aren’t fun. In 2012, Jets players received more than they bargained for when their own fans threw snowballs at them for fun. Unfortunately, their defensive end, Ellis, didn’t see the funny side because he was cold and miserable.
He spontaneously reacted in a moment of petulance that had consequences. He gathered up some snow off of the ground and flung it back in the direction of the crowd. It decimated one support but the problem was that he basically picked up a slab of ice and not a snowball. The NFL suspended Ellis and the fan sued him. Some tantrums just aren’t worth the results.
One of the worst draft busts in NFL history, Leaf was a disaster for the San Diego Chargers from beginning to end. They drafted him in 1998 and things went downhill very quickly for the second overall pick. After just three weeks with the franchise, he threw one of the most petulant temper tantrums on this list when he confronted a cameraman. Another journalist noticed this and wrote it down.
Later, Leaf targeted the journalist and got in his face. “Don’t talk to me, alright? Knock it off!” he screamed before teammates separated the pair. It was bizarre and immature from the volatile young quarterback. Needless to say, Leaf was the subject of scorn around the NFL after this incident while the journalist received sympathy. Things didn’t get better for him after this.
The Dallas Mavericks owner is as volatile a character as they come. He is also incredibly prone to temper tantrums when things don’t go his way. Unlike other sports franchise owners, Cuban doesn’t just sit there in a suit and tie in silence. He is unapologetically a fan of his team and makes his opinions known. This rubs some people up the wrong way but there’s no doubting its authenticity.
Meanwhile, it has provided moments of hilarity. One game against the San Antonio Spurs especially infuriated Cuban. His reaction was to take out his anger on an innocent jug of Gatorade. Meanwhile, his unfiltered comments have seen the NBA hit him with millions of dollars worth of fines. Cuban may be controversial, but never boring. Not many owners can say that.
Naomi Osaka won her first Grand Slam title in 2018 when she defeated Williams in the U.S Open. However, Williams’ behavior throughout the game tarnished the win for the Japanese-Haitian athlete. She received three violations throughout the game and ended it by calling the umpire a ‘thief.’ Meanwhile, Williams’ fans booed Osaka after she won her first major title.
It was so bad that Osaka felt obliged to apologize after the game. “I know that everyone was cheering for [Williams], and I’m sorry it had to end like this,” she said. After, Williams acknowledged that she was in the wrong and that Osaka was a worthy winner. She apologized to her opponent and instructed the crowd to give her respect. However, her antics on the court were pathetic at the time.
Disputes between players and coaches are more common than fans realize. Sometimes personalities simply rub each other up the wrong way. This usually manifests in both parties giving each other the cold shoulder. While it’s unpleasant to be around this, usually a stable working environment is still maintained. However, Sprewell wasn’t a normal person and violently targeted his coach P.J Carlesimo.
Sprewell had a bad practice session for the Golden State Warriors before one of the most infamous tantrums on this list. Carlesimo told him that he wasn’t passing sharply and Sprewell responded by trying to choke his coach unconscious. Finally, teammates and other coaches pulled the two men apart. The Warriors fired Sprewell and the NBA suspended him for his actions.
“You can get that camera out of my face or I’ll take care of it myself, do you hear me?” Bonds told a cameraman in 1991. For some reason, the presence of the press member irritated Bonds during the spring training practice. Things escalated when a team member explained to Bonds that the media worker was entitled to be there. Bonds reacted by getting in the man’s face and intimidating him.
The baseball legend was prone to tantrums throughout his glittering career. Of course, this also prompts accusations of ‘roid rage,’ but it’s more likely that it was simply his personality. He also had a poor relationship with some of his coaches as well as his Giants’ teammate, Jeff Kent. Brilliant but volatile, Bonds was a tremendous player with an asterisk next to his name.
Daley possessed one of the most lethal left hands in all of MMA. The English fighter is one of Bellator’s most recognizable fighters but broke onto the U.S scene with the UFC. ‘Semtex’ is a knockout artist and has devastating power. But he fell foul of the UFC after one unfortunate incident in 2010. He lost a decision to Josh Koscheck and wasn’t happy about it.
Daley threw a cheap shot at Koscheck after the bell and instantly attracted the ire of the UFC top brass. As tantrums go, this one proved costly because the promotion cut him. President Dana White promised that Daley would never fight for the organization again. While Daley was wrong to punch Koscheck, it was still a disappointing turn of events.
Youzhny was an immensely talented tennis player in his heyday, but also a constant underachiever. The Russian star always fell short of winning a Grand Slam but had victories over great players like Rafa Nadal and Novak Djokovic. However, consistency was always his downfall. Well, almost always. He was occasionally his own worst enemy as he had a penchant for hitting himself on the head with his racket during tantrums.
In 2008, in Miami, he actually drew blood from the stupid action. That should have taught him a lesson, but it obviously didn’t because he did the same thing again in 2015. Only this time, at the French Open, he retired after suffering headaches from banging himself on the head. During other tantrums, he destroyed his own racket too. Youzhny was quite a character.
The elder Diaz brother always carried a certain mystique about him. A former Strikeforce champion and UFC contender, Diaz was always a fan-favorite. He was also an explosive personality and unafraid to bring some Stockton justice to personal disputes. Jason Miller discovered this the hard way after he confronted Diaz’s teammate, Jake Shields. A verbal dispute broke out before Diaz simply punched Miller.
Needless to say, this kicked off a brawl. It was one of the biggest in the history of MMA and had consequences because CBS canceled its coverage of the sport. Not that Diaz cared, because he was happy to issue some street violence to Miller. Meanwhile, his brother Nate has also had back-and-forths with Conor McGregor.
Brazil striker Jesus received a red card in the 2019 Copa America final. The Manchester City forward felt overcome by emotion after the referee sent him off. To be fair it was a mortifying moment for the young man because his whole country was watching. He kicked a water bottle on his way off the field and violently pushed a VAR machine as he walked past.
“I want to apologize, I could have avoided it and I also need to grow up a lot,” Jesus acknowledged after the game. In fairness, it was mature of him to deal with the incident in such a manner. Furthermore, Brazil defeated Peru in the game so that helped to make him feel better. But there is a reason why many of his coaches don’t trust him and his volatility is one of them.
“This is not fair. It is not fair. I’m angry, and I have the right to be angry. I don’t care what people say,” Vettel fumed after a five-second penalty cost him the Canadian Grand Prix. He was furious because it meant that his rival Louis Hamilton won the race in 2019 instead. His anger was evident over the Ferrari radio and was available for the world to hear.
“This is a wrong world I tell you. This is not fair,” Vettel ranted during one of the most notable driving tantrums of the decade. The German driver told the team manager that he was not going to calm down because he felt the race was stolen. Maybe he had a point but he didn’t cover himself in glory with his lack of dignity. However, sometimes emotions just take over.
Arguably France’s greatest ever soccer player, Zidane led his country to the 2006 World Cup Final. He was in the twilight of his career but lit up the tournament and brought them to a showdown with Italy. However, Zidane made headlines in the final for a reason that nobody expected. After Marco Materazzi whispered something offensive in his ear, ‘Zizou’ immediately headbutted him.
Most players have the self-control not to have violent tantrums on the field but Zidane was too far gone. The referee issued him an immediate red card and sent him off the field. Materazzi got the last laugh as Italy went on and won the tournament. Zidane sealed his place in infamy with one of the most iconic images of the World Cup. To be fair, he was probably happy to land one on the Italian.
One of golf’s perennial underachievers, Garcia is a constant on the European and PGA Tours. He won the lucrative Player’s Championship in 2008 but waited until 2017 to win his first Major, the 2017 Open. In the meantime, he endured one near miss after another. Furthermore, Garcia had a fiery temper and made his feelings known on the golf course. The Spaniard raised eyebrows with one of the silliest tantrums ever in 2018.
After a poor shot at The Masters in San Antonio, the disgruntled golfer flung his driver into the bushes. The problem was that he then spent a few moments trying to find the club. Then, in 2019, during the Open in Portrush, Northern Ireland, he flung his club in the direction of his caddy. Many fans dislike Garcia because of his poor sportsmanship but he is talented.
Maybe it’s Mark Cuban’s influence, but Carlisle is also a fiery and passionate individual. He began coaching the Mavericks in 2008 and led them to an NBA Championship. But like the franchise owner, Carlisle is also prone to tantrums when things are not going his way. In 2012, he blew up when a referee made what he perceived to be a poor call. His reaction was both stunning and hilarious.
The referee ignored both Dirk Nowitzki and Jason Kidd’s claims for a missed foul. As a result, Carlisle exploded on the bench because it annoyed him so much. He was probably just shy of having a stroke. His coaching staff and players held him back from confronting the referee but he still received a technical foul for his behavior. Sometimes emotions take over.
Some tantrums rub salt into the athlete’s wounds. In other cases, they even cause wounds. That’s exactly what happened to Burnett in 2010 when he played for the New York Yankees. He apologized to teammates after one explosive incident put him out of action. The right-hander was angry after a poor display against Tampa Bay and flung open a pair of double doors on the way into the clubhouse.
He did so in such an aggressive manner that he actually cut his own hands on the card scanner. He suffered lacerations to both hands and wore bandages to cover them. It didn’t put him out of action but it was an embarrassing story and initially, he told his coaches that he fell. However, the truth emerged and it didn’t shine a positive light upon him.
McGregor’s second inclusion on this list was for a much darker reason than the first. The Irishman was in a bar in Dublin when he decided to buy a round of his own whiskey brand for all of the patrons. However, one older gentleman rejected the free shot. When McGregor pressed the issue, the older man told him that he could ‘keep his whiskey.’ ‘The Notorious’ didn’t appreciate this.
His immediate reaction was to punch the man in the face. In fairness, the fifty-something-year-old took the blow very well. Needless to say, the Irishman faced charges and received a fine for his assault. But it also damaged his reputation because it was such a disgraceful action. As tantrums go, this one left a very nasty taste. Later, McGregor issued a groveling response on ESPN.
It was 2019 and Chelsea played Manchester City in the Carabao Cup Final. The game was on the edge of a knife when Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri decided to make a substitution. He wanted to bring on the Argentine goalkeeper Willy Cabellero, to replace first-choice starter Kepa, because the former was a penalty shootout specialist. However, Kepa didn’t appreciate this.
The Spaniard refused to leave the field and left his manager apoplectic on the sidelines. The scene was unprecedented as the coach stormed down the tunnel toward the dressing room before reappearing. Meanwhile, Chelsea lost the eventual penalty shootout 4-3. Kepa received a lot of abuse after throwing one of the most infamous tantrums in Premier League history.
Khabib and Conor McGregor had one of the most toxic rivalries in UFC history. The pair finally fought in 2018 at UFC 229. The Russian lightweight champion successfully defended his title against “The Notorious” with a fourth-round submission. However, the fight didn’t end there. Infuriated and emotional over events that led up to the fight, Khabib jumped out of the cage and attacked McGregor’s team.
This ignited an entire brawl as members of Khabib’s team entered the cage and tried to attack McGregor. Chaos erupted within seconds after tantrums became an all-out war. In the end, the pair received fines and suspensions from the UFC. It was an infamous event that sealed its place in MMA folklore. Meanwhile, this rivalry continues to rumble.
This infamous clash of Jims occurred in 1994 when Everett went on the Jim Rome show. The Rams quarterback was a sensitive soul and Rome discovered this the hard way. However, it was the ESPN host’s fault because he took a joke too far. He continuously referred to Everett as ‘Chris.’ This was a reference to Chris Evert, a popular female tennis player of the time.
Eventually, Everett snapped and erupted in one of TV’s most entertaining tantrums. He flipped the table over and knocked Rome to the ground. While Rome definitely deserved a good slap, it was probably good for his show in hindsight because there is nothing like a quarterback assault to up the ratings. To sum up, Everett was in the right and everybody applauded him.
“You cannot be serious!” instantly became the line that defined McEnroe’s life. He even used the quote as the title of his biography after he retired. The catchphrase materialized during Wimbledon in 1981. The British tournament is notorious for its strict rules and code of conduct, while McEnroe was a fiery personality. In short, they weren’t a match made in heaven.
He played Tom Gullickson in a game where the umpire ruled that his serve was out. The US tennis star instantly erupted with one of tennis’s most famous tantrums and began with that immortal line. He continued lambasting the official for several moments and outraged the Wimbledon organizers in the process. They even broke with tradition by refusing to make him a member of the All-England Club.
The second of Williams’ tantrums on this list, this one is even worse than the previous. It occurred at the U.S Open in 2009 and was notoriously bad. After umpire Shino Tsuruchi called her for a foot fault on her second serve, Williams reacted with poisonous vitriol. “I’m going to shove this f***ing ball down your f***ing throat,” she said. Needless to say, that’s not acceptable behavior.
Two years later in the final of the U.S Open, she had another meltdown. This time she targeted Eva Asderaki after a code violation. “Really, don’t even look at me,” she said. “If you ever see me walking down the hall, walk the other way. Because you’re out of control. Totally out of control. You’re a hater, you’re unattractive inside. Who would do such a thing?” Now Williams has a reputation.