Sport Villains of the Year 2017 Power Rankings:
1. The Ball Family
The Ball Family, globally known as the Kardashians of the sport world, have been making headlines all year. Everything from robbery charges to twitter wars with the President of the United States, the Ball family is turning heads and dropping jaws with every move they make. Lavar Ball has continuously exploited his children to further push The Big Baller Brand, while at the same time convincing the world he is father of the year. In Lavar’s latest move, he decided he is going to take the NCAA to war by starting his own amateur basketball league called the Junior Basketball Association. Essentially, this is an attempt to lure the top recruits coming out of high school to play in the JBA for $3000 to $10 000 a month. This announcement came after he pulled his sons Gelo and Melo out of school to play professional basketball for Vytautas Prienai–Birštonas of the Lithuanian Basketball League, aka ruining any real shot they had at the NBA. However, LaMelo is currently ranked 7th in the 2019 class of ESPN and is arguably the most popular 16 year old basketball player in history. With 3.1 m insta followers, his own shoe for a modest price of $395, and the fact he showed up to his sweet 16 in a Lamborghini, Melo shares a similar reputation Lil Bow Wow had in high school. Lonzo may be struggling to score in his rookie season but he has still been subtly impressive. Plus, how can you expect him to work on his jumper when off the court he is burning up the booth with bangers like his first single “Melo Ball1.” Which is a song promoting his youngest brother’s shoe, unorthodox for your first single and seems more like a second album type of song but the Ball family does things differently. Zo is so deep in the rap game that he even has a beef with hip hop icon Nas. People don’t give enough credit to LiAngelo who made the biggest power move out of all of them. He realized he’s nothing more than the middle child, 3 star recruit and about to start his freshman season at UCLA on the bench. So, before even playing a game with the Bruins, he steals some Louis Vuitton glasses on a team trip in Hangzhou and gets thrown in a Chinese slammer, only to have Donald Trump come to his rescue. Just like that, Gelo is on the map. You can expect the Ball family to take a serious run at Villain of the Year in 2018.
2. Baker Mayfield
Baker Reagan Mayfield, the arrogant, charismatic, trash-talking, crotch-grabbing, Heisman- winning, quarterback from Texas. Prior to starting his senior year campaign, Baker Mayfield was arrested in the winter of 2017 for public intoxication, disorderly conduct, and fleeing and resisting arrest. Video footage shows a stumbling Baker make a run for it while police ask him to go to the front of the car. He managed to get an unimpressive 5 feet away from the police before getting speared into a concrete slab Bill Goldberg style by a police officer who now holds the bragging rights of sacking a Heisman-winning quarterback. Fast forward to the completion of his AA program and 35 community service hours, Baker defeats Ohio State and celebrates in Neil Armstrong fashion, sticking the Sooner flag right in the middle of Ohio’s field and generating a mass hysteria among the OSU fan base. Two games later against Baylor, during a mouthy warmup, Mayfield asks the Baylor players if they know who daddy is and that he can easily remind them with a spanking. He managed to keep his nose clean for October but he certainly made up for it in November against a struggling Kansas Jayhawks. The Jayhawk’s captains decided to snub Baker at the coin toss and the Heisman trophy winner laughed it off, sarcastically applauding them. ESPN later caught Mayfield grabbing his package aimed towards the Kansas sideline, shouting “F**K YOU” and telling the Kansas crowd to go cheer for basketball. This created a national uproar. Baker was stripped of his captaincy and forced to come off the bench the next game against West Virginia, which he dominated. With his talent to spark controversy and a few question marks about his game, it will be interesting to see what happens with him in the future.
3. Grayson Allen
College Basketball fans love to hate on Duke. Now add a player in the mix who is a spitting image of Ted Cruz, and has built a pesky reputation of tripping opponents and performing Oscar worthy flops, all while getting buckets. Grayson Allen is next in line to join the long list of Duke Villains. In the 2015/2016 season we got to witness Grayson Allen rapidly climb the villain rankings. Mainly due to his foot being in the wrong place at the right times or the right place at the wrong times. However you want to spin it, this seems to be a rite of passage at Duke (reference to Christian Laettner stomping Timberlake.) But Grayson Allen promised Coach K that this behaviour is a problem of the past and the only trip he will be committing in the 2016/ 2017 season is to the Final Four. Unfortunately, Allen couldn’t even make it to the New Year, and on December 21st against Elon Phoenix, he deliberately tripped a player causing Coach K to suspend Grayson and strip him of captaincy. Duke is the most hated and talented team going into the 2017/18 season and Grayson Allen is the primary reason. On November 14th, the State Farm Champions classic took place in a packed united center, featuring the number one Blue Devils against the number two Michigan State Spartans. This matchup included a potential 5 first round NBA draft picks, including Marvin Bagley, the number one recruit in the class of 2017. Luckily for the Spartans, Bagley got poked in the eye going for a rebound and left the game after 10 minutes. Grayson used this opportunity to be the difference maker and got a career and game high 37 points, which included going 7-11 beyond the arc. The Blue Devils went on to win this game 88-81 and Grayson solidified himself as this year’s college basketball antagonist. Starting your college basketball career with several deliberate tripping incidents, followed by temper tantrums and meltdowns on national TV. Only to end your college career in your senior year, with a NCAA championship and possibly the Jerry West trophy (which he is currently a candidate for) would even have Ghandi hating him.
4. Floyd Mayweather
For the majority of Floyd Money Mayweather’s now billion dollar career he has been the villain and everyone’s favourite athlete to hate on. In 2017, he brought his name back to relevance by coming out of his 2nd retirement to boost his undefeated record to 50-0. Because that has a much better ring to it than 49-0. However, Mayweather’s flawless record almost came to a halt after “The Fight of the Century” against Manny Pacquiao. To jog your memory, this fight was filled with racist, controversial incidents that all ended in the Money Man’s favour as he earned the win by unanimous decision. Now, sitting at 48-0, Mayweather felt it was time to retire. But 4 months later he caught the boxing bug once again and confirmed he would defend his title to a very undeserving Andre Berto, who at this time, held a record of 3-3 in his last 6 fights. Evidently, Floyd would go on to dominate this lackluster matchup, which was a record low in PPV buys and a significantly decreased figure in attendance within the last decade of his fights. Mayweather felt this was a good time to retire once again, of course until it was convenient for him. Conveniently enough, Floyd decided to come out of retirement to fight a super decorated UFC mixed martial artist and the biggest mouth piece in sports, Connor McGregor. In Money Man fashion, this fight was all on Mayweather’s terms. With a guaranteed $100 million purse for himself and a $30 million guaranteed for Connor. Oh, and they would be fighting in the boxing ring under boxing rules, which is kind of foreign territory for a mixed martial artist and kind of a major advantage for an accomplished boxer. Now, despite Connor’s impressive performance in the ring where he received a lot of praise from decorated boxers such as Iron Mike, Floyd undoubtedly won the fight. Earning himself a large pay out of over $300M and entering the Billion Dollar Athlete Club with non-other than MJ and Tiger Woods (who may not be a ranked villain this year but definitely deserves an honourable mention, after being caught with a potent cocktail found in his system in the summer, followed by a notable finish with his much anticipated return at the Hero World Challenge finishing in the top 10.) With this kind of money you can almost say and do whatever you want without any kind of repercussions and that’s what Floyd does. According to an interview with Hollywood Unlocked, the now 50-0 boxer who openly supports Trump, came to the President’s defense when audio came out of Trump saying “grab them by the p*ssy.” Mayweather told reporters that’s how a real man talks and people just don’t want to accept that. That statement triggered a stir among a lot of athletes and celebrities who then publicly condemned Floyd. But Mayweather wasn’t really concerned about a couple petty, multi-million dollar celebs and what they think of him. After earning over a billion dollars in your career, you’d think Mayweather would want to lay low and legitimately retire. Not the Money Man, who has now started rumours about potentially getting in the Octagon this time. Appropriately enough, he won’t risk ruining his legacy and challenge McGregor for that rematch Connor’s been looking for. Now I will not put anything past Mayweather but my guess is he is just making more noise and not willing to ruin his reputation and ego for a few measly million dollars.
5. Matthew Tkachuk
In hockey, similar to the enforcer, the rat is the last of a dying breed. Or at least we thought. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the rat, let me explain. The rat is one of the most underrated players on the ice. They have the ability to always remain relevant in the game even if their name is not on the stat sheet. They possess the ability to get under opposing player’s skin and completely throw them off their game. Whether it’s with shady actions behind the scenes, or their choice of words, at some point the rat is always talked about after the game. In today’s NHL, much like other pro leagues, the game is going faster, smaller and more skilled. Therefore modern day NHL rats still need to produce points while causing more irritation than a bad rash. This makes them more infuriating than ever before. Matthew Tkachuk, son of former Olympian and NHL power forward with over 1000 games and over 2000 PIMs, Keith Tkachuk, is exactly what the NHL needs. The guy reeks of character and controversy and is the guy everyone wants on their team and the guy everyone hates to play against. Matt opened his NHL career and rookie season with an absolute bang, finishing with just under 50 points and over 100 PIMs. Something that should really excite Calgary fans. Of course, that’s not enough to crack this list in what was an overwhelming year in sport. Tkachuk relatively flew under the radar until March 20th in a game versus LA Kings. The rookie garnered national attention for a head shot to a veteran, Norris-winning, Stanley cup champion, Drew Doughty. Matthew caught a two game suspension and more importantly a price on his head. Doughty responded after the game telling media he thinks Tkachuk is a bit of a dirty player and surprised such a young player would play like that.
Tkachuk gave the Calgary Sun a priceless, fearless, bold, response saying “I expected more from him, honestly, than to go right to the media and start complaining after a loss.”
The following week, it was an LA versus Calgary rematch, a game any hockey hardo would have penciled in their agenda. Any other rookie would be skating around with his head down and ultimately stay in their lane, just not Tkachuk. It kicked off with a mouthy warmup, featuring Matthew and multiple Kings at center ice. This had the notorious agitator antsy and eager to receive his punishment, probably a bit too eager. His opening shift he rushes an unsuspecting Jake Muzzin to drop the gloves, only to learn real quick that you don’t get to pick your opponent when it comes to settling up. After serving his penalty, which probably felt longer than being put on hold with your internet provider, it was time to pay reparations through Brayden McNabb. The fight may have not matched the animosity behind it, but the smile on Tkachuk’s face in the penalty box after was straight out of the antagonist’s textbook. If you think Tkachuk was going to stay off the grid after getting his sentence out the way you couldn’t be any more wrong. Matthew was practically salivating for another shot at Doughty, which he came real close to at center ice, throwing all his weight at the defencemen only to have Doughty duck right under it in time. I understand dirty hits and head shots have no place in hockey, however, you can’t deny the ability pests like Tkachuk have to make a tedious game, an intriguing, notable contest. Rookies need to earn their stripes and pay their dues before players turn a blind eye to your bad habits, but that doesn’t really concern the 19 year old. After a controversial rookie campaign, he enters his sophomore season this year in the hot seat which doesn’t faze him the slightest. Already with two suspensions before the New Year, one in a line brawl against Detroit, followed by a spear to Maple Leaf’s enforcer Matt Martin, and third on his team in points, we will leave it to Matthew to define his own limits.