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

Athletes are larger-than-life characters, so it’s easy to forget that athletes are real human beings with the same flaws as us normal folks. The personalities involved, from players to coaches to front-office managers, don’t always all like each other. Due to that, many simmering feuds take place behind the scenes. Sometimes those messy dramas spill out into public. These could be problems with other players, coaches, or even executives.

Today we’ll look at some of the most notorious sports dramas ever. The personalities involved didn’t hide their disdain for each other and even took things too far. Check out these wild sports here because many are outright crazy.

Sports Illustrated

DeAndre Hopkins and DeAngelo Hall

Hopkins is one of the NFL’s best wide receivers but not everyone likes him. He was playing for the Houston Texans when they participated in the iconic Hard Knocks documentary series. The Texans played Washington in a training camp scrimmage when Hall dropped the ball (via Sportscasting).

CBS Sports

But the pair almost came to blows when Hopkins trash-talked them. Their teammates separated them, but their bad blood spilled into the public realm. They went after each other on Twitter, showing that the rivalry wasn’t over yet. Hall mocked Hopkins because he acted like this was the best moment of his career.

Las Vegas Review-Journal

The Dana T-Shirt

UFC President Dana White is no stranger to major feuds. He’s not afraid to bring them into the public realm either but one stands out above all the others. His relationship with former UFC light heavyweight champion Tito Ortiz was toxic. The pair loathed each other and it became so bad that they almost had a boxing match.

Bleacher Report

Ortiz once famously mocked White by wearing a t-shirt with ‘Dana is my b****’ on it. This was shocking at the time because nobody went head to head with the boss like this. The pair continue to jaw occasionally in one of the most notorious sports rivalries ever (via The Mirror).

Golf Channel

Tiger Woods and Sergio Garcia

It’s impossible to have a good relationship with everyone in the workplace but it rarely goes beyond cold indifference. However, Woods and Garcia hate each other and make no secret of it. Their toxic connection ignited in 2003 when Garcia overcelebrated a win over his American rival.

Bleacher Report

Woods didn’t like this and things deteriorated over the next couple of decades. They regularly complained about each other in the public realm and shared their disdain for each other. Woods has no respect for Garcia’s career while the Spaniard thinks Woods is a spoiled jerk (via Bleacher Report).

CBS Sports

The Decision

It’s not easy to handle the best athlete in the sport. That’s what Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert discovered when James chose his career path in 2010. The King opted to join the Miami Heat because he wanted to win championship rings. He didn’t think that the Cavaliers were in a place to contend and had no faith in Gilbert.

Gilbert released a sensational letter as he showed his disdain and disappointment for the decision. His scorching words attracted plenty of heat and some critics even said his words had a racial bias. He labeled ‘The Decision’ as a ‘cowardly betrayal’ as he took his fury into the public realm (via CBS News).

CBS Sports

Tom Brady and Terrell Suggs

This is one of the most one-sided rivalries that entered the public realm. Suggs hates Brady so much that it’s become a running joke. The linebacker has an unreasonable loathing for the quarterback who has done nothing but be successful for two decades. It’s so petty but that’s why we love it.


Suggs infamously refused to say Brady’s name multiple times and has thrown shade at him many times. This dynamic appears to amuse Brady who has nothing bad to say about Suggs and even said he respects him. This surprised Suggs who begrudgingly admitted he appreciated Brady’s longevity (via NESN).


Deion Sanders and Jay Norvell

Players trash talk each other but usually, coaches maintain a level of professional civility. However, Sanders arrived in NCAA Division I football like an earthquake. His brash manner rubbed some of his rivals up the wrong way. Colorado State’s Norvell was one coach who mocked Sanders’ trademark sunglasses.

The Coloradan

But he arguably took things too far when he hinted that Sanders’ mother Connie didn’t raise him right. This ignited the rivalry between the Buffaloes and the Rams because it added an edge. Sanders openly made it clear that he didn’t appreciate those comments and that he thought Norvell was out of order (via Essentially Sports).

Team Talk

Erik Ten Hag and Jadon Sancho

Ten Hag has experienced plenty of turmoil throughout his Manchester United career. The head coach had a difficult relationship with Cristiano Ronaldo before he forced the superstar into an exit. But things became even worse between Ten Hag and young England star Sancho.

90 Min

Sancho tweeted and deleted that Ten Hag was a liar after the latter questioned his work ethic. It was too late to take the comment away because it was in the public realm. Ten Hag instantly dropped him from his roster and isolated the forward. It was clear that things weren’t good between them (via The Athletic).

CBS Sports

Simmons and the Sixers

Ben Simmons should absolutely avoid walking alone at night in Philadelphia because it might not end well for him. The Australian NBA star played for the Sixers and became one of their biggest names. But then his form deteriorated and he pushed for an exit after he effectively went on strike.

CBS Sports

This devolved into a messy drama that spilled into the public realm. Amazingly, it rumbled on, even after he left the franchise. Simmons still trolls his former teammate Joel Embiid on social media and has nothing positive to say about the organization. It’s unfortunate but these things happen in sports (via Sporting News).

Sky Sports

Peyton Manning and Mike Vanderjagt

Manning was one of the best quarterbacks ever and became a two-time Super Bowl winner. The Colts legend was brilliant and became an NFL icon. He also earned a reputation for being a nice man with a good sense of humor. However, there was one teammate who annoyed him more than anyone else.


He once infamously labeled Vanderjagt as ‘an idiot kicker’ in one interview. This was the only time that Manning heavily criticized one of his players. The media instantly seized on his words because it was out of character for him to bring them into the public realm. But Vanderjagt was a special case (via Sportskeeda).


Wayne Bridge and John Terry

Terry and Bridge played together for Chelsea and England before the latter went to Manchester City. However, their relationship broke down after a cheating scandal emerged. Terry had a secret relationship with Bridge’s former partner, Vanessa Perroncel.

The U.S. Sun

The UK media loved this story and focused on the soccer stars during their next clash. Bridge refused to shake hands with Terry before the game’s kick-off. It was a wild sequence of events but most people agreed that Bridge had the moral high ground. Perroncel became an infamous figure too (via The Guardian).

CBS Sports

Jerry Krause and Scottie Pippen

Everybody knows that Krause was one of the greediest, conniving general managers in basketball history. He infamously manipulated Pippen into one of the most one-sided contracts in NBA history. Remember, Pippen was one of the league’s best players and a key cog in their ’90s dynasty.

NBC Sports

Pippen’s team advised him not to take the deal that saw him receive almost 17 million dollars across six years. This affected his relationship with the GM and owner Jerry Reinsdorf before he finally joined the Rockets. But ironically it also gave the Bulls more financial freedom to build a roster around him and Jordan (via CBS Sports).

L.A. Times

Ryan Garcia and Golden Boy

Garcia is one of boxing’s hottest commodities because of his fun style and his social media following. However, he had a dramatic fallout with his promoter, Golden Boy, that spilled into the public realm. This was a messy affair that saw Garcia going back and forth with Oscar De La Hoya and Bernard Hopkins at press conferences.

World Boxing News

Meanwhile, Garcia and Golden Boy both sued each other for breach of contract. De La Hoya even questioned the state of Garcia’s mind in a tweet that he later deleted. This enraged Garcia ahead of his fight with Oscar Duarte. It was like a civil war but it was very entertaining for neutrals (via Sports Illustrated).

Irish Independent

The Saipan Incident

Sometimes things should stay behind closed doors but this went to the next level. Roy Keane was one of the best players in global soccer when Ireland qualified for the World Cup in 2002. However, his frustrations mounted when his national team coaches didn’t show the same ambitions or even decent preparations.


Keane went head-to-head with his head coach Mick McCarthy at their training camp in Saipan. He roared at McCarthy in an expletive-ridden rant before walking out on the team. It became one of the most notorious incidents in soccer history and their relationship never recovered (via The Guardian).


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.”