When Sports Get Messy: Intense Dramas That Spilled Out Into The Public

Darren - December 6, 2023

When Sports Get Messy: Intense Dramas That Spilled Out Into The Public

Darren - December 6, 2023


Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant

Technically, O’Neal and Bryant’s feud never really entered the public realm but everybody knew they hated each other. The pair played together for the Lakers as Bryant emerged as one of basketball’s top players. This threatened Shaq’s status as the game’s top player and ignited a fierce rivalry (via The Mirror).

Sporting News

They had spats in public where they blamed each other in front of the reporters. It threatened to blow up into something incredible but it never did. These two men were fierce competitors with massive egos and that’s why this was so big. Later their rivalry cooled and O’Neal cried after Bryant’s tragic passing.

The New York Times

Michel Platini and Franck Ribery

Soccer players have the option of playing for their international teams. It’s not mandatory but most of them see it as a massive honor. However, Ribery had a different attitude and only wanted to play for his club team, Bayern Munich. This was a huge blow to France because he was one of their most talented athletes.


It reached the stage where UEFA president Michel Platini even threatened the player with a suspension. European soccer’s head honcho had a tantrum when Ribery refused to play. Platini said it wasn’t his decision but the coach’s as he tried to bully the superstar. In the end, Ribery defied Platini and maintained his stance (via World Soccer).

NBC Sports

Terrell Owens and Jeff Garcia

Owens was an all-time great wide receiver but he was a volatile personality. He made life difficult for his teammates and had garbage relationships with most of his quarterbacks. Donovan McNabb hated him but arguably his most toxic connection was with Niners’ QB Garcia.


Things reached the brink when Owens appeared to publically question Garcia’s sexuality. It never recovered after that because Garcia took this as a mortal insult. Owens infamously said (via Out Sports): “Like my boy tells me: If it looks like a rat and smells like a rat, by golly, it is a rat.”

NBC Sports

A Spoiled Brat

Sometimes relationships break down in sports but things usually remain civil in the public realm. However, this isn’t always the case as fans saw when Yannick Ngakoue attempted to force an exit from the Jaguars. The defensive end became embroiled in a Twitter beef with the franchise’s senior vice president of football and technology.

Wrestling News

Tony Khan is also the son of Jags’ owner Shahid Khan. He went back and forth with Ngakoue after the latter labeled him a clown. Fans took out their popcorn and watched the chaos unfold online. Meanwhile, the NFL star also called Khan a ‘spoiled brat’ as he referenced his relationship with the owner (via Jacksonville).

CBS Sports

Strangled The Coach

Latrell Sprewell was a volatile but talented NBA star. However, he had a tumultuous relationship with his former Warriors’ head coach, P.J. Carlesimo. Things were tense behind the scenes but then they spilled into the public realm. The pair worked together for a season before things escalated out of control.

Bleacher Report

Sprewell hated Carlesimo who was hyper-critical of his playing style. In one practice he responded to his coach by attempting to strangle him. This cost him a one-year suspension but it didn’t faze Sprewell. Later, after going outside to cool down he came back and attempted to punch the coach (via Clutchpoints).


Dana White and Jake Paul

We’ve already spoken about White’s ability to feud with a cheese grater. However, arguably his biggest rivalry in recent years was with YouTube sensation Paul. Most people agree that he didn’t come off well in this one either. The younger, social media-savvy Paul knew the best ways to push White’s buttons.

Sky Sports

White referred to Paul as a ‘pay-per-view turd’ and slated him online. But Paul came roaring back because he’s a master of the public realm. He destroyed White’s fighter-pay model as he emphasized that White is like a movie villain. It’s difficult to make people root for Paul but that’s what White has accidentally achieved (via The Sun).

beIN Sports

The Spanish Women’s Team

Things were already bad in the Spanish Women’s soccer camp ahead of the 2023 World Cup. There was a locker room schism because one faction hated their head coach while another stayed loyal. Incredibly and against the odds, they united to win the tournament. But then things went from bad to worse.


Spanish FA President Luis Rubiales kissed one of the players on her lips without consent during the celebrations. He insisted that he didn’t do anything wrong and refused to resign. Then the team refused to play until he walked away. He quit like a martyr after a government intervention (via ABC).


Ian Garry and Neil Magny

Garry is one of the most talented young UFC fighters right now. The Irishman has a brash personality and isn’t afraid to say what he thinks. He trash-talked hard and went.  after his opponent, Magny before their fight. Magny made an unfortunate comment about giving Garry a ‘father-style a**-whooping.’


‘The Future’ bit on this and immediately spread the narrative that Magny abuses his children. This enraged Magny who later said that social services had grounds to investigate him after. He said that it was an old-school joke in poor taste but Garry took it way too far (via USA Today Sports).

Bleacher Report

Michael Jordan and Jerry Krause

When Jerry Krause said that ‘organizations win championships’ there were instant alarm bells. Jordan didn’t take this well and had no qualms about responding in public. Krause was also one of the reasons why Jordan took a year-long hiatus from basketball to pursue his baseball dream.


Then Jordan made explosive comments during his Netflix documentary, The Last Dance. He cast Krause as the villain of the piece as he showed no qualms about bringing it into the public realm. Some people thought that this was distasteful because Krause wasn’t alive to defend himself (via Basketball Network).

Fox Sports

McGregor and Khabib

Conor McGregor and Khabib Nurmagamedov had one of the worst feuds in sports history and arguably the most heated in mixed martial arts. Their rivalry went overboard as it spilled into the public realm. We saw multiple shocking incidents including the time McGregor stormed Brooklyn’s Barclay Center and flung a dolly at a bus.


Then their teams had a ludicrous brawl after they finally fought. Things boiled over because McGregor made things personal. He insulted Khabib’s religion and his family as he crossed the line. They also sparred on Twitter many times as they took things into the public realm (via The Body Lock).

The Sports Rush

James Harden and Daryl Morey

Harden is one of the most temperamental players in the NBA today. He quit the 76ers for the Clippers in 2023 and began a massive feud with Morey that spilled into the public realm. Harden accused Morey of allegedly reneging on his promised max contract. However, the Sixers denied this and refused to back down (via Yardbreaker).


Meanwhile, there’s little hope of them overcoming this rift. Harden said that it was broken beyond the point of repair. The player said: “There’s too much money, too much respect, and too much loyalty on my end to even double back. There’s nothing to talk about, there’s nothing to talk about. This is real money.”