The 10 most hated athletes of all time

Let's take a look at some of the most hated athletes who have had controversial careers.


The 10 most hated athletes of all time

Not all athletes are loved all the time, here are some of the most notorious athletes in sports. (IMAGE: L-Michael Jordan, C-Tom Brady, and R- O. J. Simpson-via NBA, GETTY IMAGES, AP Photo)

Sports has been something that has always united people and brought them together. While the usual feeling is appreciation and admiration for their favorite athletes or sports teams, this list features the dark side of sports. This time, it will include the names of athletes who fans have come together to despise over the years owing to their behavior on the field or off the field. There have been multiple controversies involving athletes in recent history, but some of them will continue to be hated irrespective of whatever they do.

Let’s take a look at some of the most hated athletes of all time!

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10. Kyrie Irving

Kyrie Irving, the point guard for the Dallas Mavericks, has had quite the rollercoaster ride in his career. As a rookie in Cleveland, he won the hearts of millions of fans with his jaw-dropping dribbles and out-of-the-box layups that were nothing short of acrobatic. However, as his legend grew and so did his fame, he began to play with a chip on his shoulder. While that is usually considered to be a good thing, something that makes athletes more eager to win, in the case of Irving, it marked his downfall.

Kyrie Irving
Kyrie Irving. (IMAGE: USA TODAY)

Irving made history with LeBron James in 2016 when the Cleveland Cavaliers ended up winning the NBA championship after coming back from a 3-1 deficit to beat the Golden State Warriors. The duo had established themselves as a formidable duo and they had great on-court chemistry. However, Irving shocked the world by demanding a trade from the team in the summer of 2017. Irving wanted to establish himself as a winner, he wanted to prove that he could win without LeBron as the forward was getting more credit in contrast to the guard for the team’s historic win in 2016.

Kyrie ended up going to the Boston Celtics, where he played from 2017 to 2019. However, he ended up losing to Cleveland and Milwaukee in the 2 seasons he was there. Eventually, Kyrie decided to make the big move to Brooklyn where he joined James Harden and Kevin Durant to form one of the most talented super teams in NBA history, but due to injuries and other controversies, the team never took off.

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During his time in Brooklyn, Kyrie began to find reasons to not play. Basketball took a backseat as following the COVID-19 pandemic when the NBA resumed, he protested the vaccine mandate by sitting on the bench while his teammates went and played. He also faced flak over posting the link to an antisemitic film via his Twitter. Basketball ended up taking a backseat for Kyrie Irving and the Nets never lived up to their potential. Due to all of these reasons, Kyrie Irving has become one of the more disliked athletes, despite having some of the greatest handles that fans have ever seen.

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9. Draymond Green

Draymond has gained a notorious reputation over the years. This is primarily because of his trash talk and on-court shenanigans. He became a controversial athlete when it became evident that he was kicking players who he was guarding in the groin. Steven Adams and LeBron James have been on the receiving end of his kicks. He has had multiple altercations with LeBron and was even suspended for kicking him in the finals. He did not take it easy on James as he was trash-talking him as well.

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Draymond Green. (IMAGE: USA TODAY)
Draymond Green. (IMAGE: USA TODAY)

Over the years, Green has had multiple altercations with players across the league. He is also known for some of his screens, which fans consider illegal.

His style of play is tough but he has come close to injuring players on multiple occasions which has led to Draymond Green becoming one of the more disliked athletes.

8. Lance Armstrong

The bigger they are, the harder they fall. This could not be truer, as it was confirmed in the case of Lance Armstrong. He was considered invincible at one point, the greatest to ever do it, and rightfully so, as nobody could fathom that it was possible to win seven Tour De France titles consecutively! What made fans love him more was the fact that the cyclist was diagnosed with Testicular cancer in 1996 and despite that, he was able to win against the odds.

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Lance Armstrong
Lance Armstrong. (IMAGE: USA TODAY)

Lance’s story gave hope to millions. It was the kind of thing you’d loved to see. He inked deals with top corporations at the peak of his popularity, as everyone wanted to be associated with his name. Unfortunately, it was all a sham… one that was concocted and aimed to deceive the public. In July 2012, United States Anti-Doping Agency or USADA came out with over a 1,000 page report that accused him of doping and using performance-enhancing drugs, it had testimonies of his teammates and his blood test results from the latter part of his career.

Lance’s act of doping was described by USADA as “the most sophisticated, professionalized, and successful doping program” ever. Lance came out and confessed in a 2013 interview with Oprah Winfrey and stated that he won all of his Tour De France titles while doping. This confession broke the unfettering faith his fans had in him and quickly made him one of the most hated athletes on the face of the earth.

7. Terrell Owens

Terrell Owens is living proof that in sports, your numbers and performance are not the only things that matter. Despite having one of the greatest NFL careers for a wideout, he was repeatedly overlooked by selectors to make the NFL Hall of Fame. In 2018, he did get inducted but did not attend his induction ceremony at Canton. but instead decided to celebrate the achievement at his alma mater, UT-Chattanooga.

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Terrell Owens. (IMAGE: USA TODAY)
Terrell Owens. (IMAGE: USA TODAY)

Owens has gained notoriety for his celebrations, which have been viewed as disrespectful to his opponents. Be it his celebration on the star of the Dallas Cowboys or his time with the Philadelphia Eagles, Owens has always been misunderstood. During his time in Philly, he was viewed by many to be the reason that the team was divided. His off-the-field issues have been the biggest concerns. He even called out his quarterback Donovan McNabb following the team’s Super Bowl XXIX loss to the Patriots.

The NFL was not cut out to handle a character like Terrell Owens. He was just playing in the wrong era, and due to his “behavioral issues,” he ended up becoming one of the more disliked athletes.

6. Kevin Durant

Is this even a surprise? Kevin Durant will go down as one of the greatest shooters the NBA has ever seen. He has averaged 27.3 PPG, 7.1 rebounds, and 4.3 assists throughout his career and has made 12 All-Star games to date. Kevin’s on-court greatness is undisputed, but his career decisions are what made him one of the most hated athletes in the NBA.

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Kevin Durant. (IMAGE: USA TODAY)
Kevin Durant. (IMAGE: USA TODAY)

His infamous decision to leave longtime teammate Russell Westbrook and the Oklahoma City Thunder, the team that groomed him into a star for joining the Golden State Warriors, a championship team took fans aback. Kevin Durant and the Thunder lost to the Warriors in the NBA playoffs in 2016 despite being up 3-1. The Warriors ended up going to the finals and losing to LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers after blowing a 3-1 lead.

KD decided to join an already stacked super team that had won championships in the past. His move was criticized by fans as he was accused of taking the easy way out, it was evident that once KD joined the Warriors; it was over for the rest of the league. And unsurprisingly, Golden State went on to win the NBA championship in 2017 and 2018 with KD getting the Finals MVP award for both the years. KD has also been caught with having a burner account on Twitter, which he used to defend himself online. His move to Golden State earned him the moniker “The Snake”.

Durant then left the Warriors to assemble yet another super team in Brooklyn with Kyrie Irving and James Harden. However, that did not work out as the trio failed to click. He is on the Phoenix Suns now and has yet to show that he can be a champion without being on a super team.

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5. Michael Jordan

Yes, you are not dreaming. You read that name right. Michael Jordan is the greatest basketball player of all time, but his career has not been one without any controversies. MJ is disliked by fans of teams across the NBA as he made it impossible for other teams to win the chip in the 1990s. However, his moral character has also been put into question on numerous occasions.

Michael Jordan. (IMAGE: USA TODAY)
Michael Jordan. (IMAGE: USA TODAY)

Jordan has been hated for the way he treated his teammates. MJ taunted them and belittled them, while he did want them to play better, it was no fun ride playing alongside him. Sam Smith‘s 1992 book, the Jordan Rules, also highlighted the dark side of MJ.

Kwame Brown, who was a promising rookie who was drafted by the Washington Wizards in 2001 as the first pick, was playing under the mentorship of MJ, who was on the Wizards at this point. MJ repeatedly went at Brown and is believed to have broken his confidence, which led to the downfall of Brown’s NBA career. He never lived up to his true potential and is viewed as a bust.

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MJ has also been involved in gambling controversies where he was associated with people of questionable character. His beef with former GM Jerry Krause involved him turning an entire team against the person who assembled the Bulls championship teams. Even in his Hall of Fame induction speech, MJ was proud of the grudges he held against his opponents and how they helped him win. Despite his greatness, Michael Jordan is not loved by all.

4. Tom Brady

Tom is the undisputed GOAT of the NFL but that does not mean he is safe from the being on the list of the most disliked players. In his years playing for the New England Patriots, Tom Brady and Bill Belichick were not liked by fans across the league as they were responsible for beating every team and managed to find a way around every defense and offense. However, it was Brady’s alleged involvement in the deflategate scandal which tarnished his reputation to a large extent.

Tom Brady. (IMAGE: USA TODAY)
Tom Brady. (IMAGE: USA TODAY)

The Pats were accused of tampering with footballs by deflating them in order to make them easier to grip and catch. Brady faced a suspension which was limited to 4 games in 2015 for this. The Patriots got into more trouble when it was discovered that the team was secretly videotaping opposing coaches’ signals on the sidelines from 2000 to 2007; the scandal known as Spygate just increased the hate that fans had for Tom Brady even though he had nothing to do with this directly.

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Tom was also criticized for the purchase of his yacht in 2020. The reason this was an issue is that his company, based out of Boston, TB12 Inc, took advantage of the Paycheck Protection Program by availing a loan of nearly a million dollars right around this time. It was a big question if Brady’s company really needed that money and there was speculation around if the QB diverted those funds towards the purchase of his yacht. Due to these reasons, Tom Brady has made it to the list of the most disliked athletes.

3. Conor McGregor

Conor McGregor has quickly transitioned from being the fan favorite in UFC to being classified as nothing more than a loudmouth. It all began after the fight against Khabib Nurmagomedov. Conor was running his mouth on how he would beat the greatest lightweight fighter the UFC has ever seen. In the run-up to the fight against Khabib, McGregor spared no punches, he did everything from belittling his opponent’s family to even offending his religion at times.

Conor McGregor.  (IMAGE: USA TODAY)
Conor McGregor. (IMAGE: USA TODAY)

Khabib ended up kicking Conor’s butt later on. However, from that point forward, McGregor never was the same again. Sure, he did keep his mouth running as he fought Floyd Mayweather, and in an attempt to hype the fight up, made tall claims and bit off more than he could chew. He did not deliver against Floyd either. He fought last in UFC 264 against Dustin Poirier, which he ended up losing by TKO.

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McGregor has since been focusing more on his business avenues and while he does intend to come back to fighting, his credibility as a legitimate fighter has been put into question. Conor’s previous fights have made it appear that he is more talk than show and while there is still an opportunity for him to come back and change this narrative, it does not change the fact that for now, he is one of the more disliked athletes around.

2. Michael Vick

Michael Vick was truly a different breed. He changed the way NFL teams viewed the quarterback position. However, Vick’s greatness is shadowed by his infamous dog fighting scandal. Vick made history by being the first black QB to be drafted first overall.

Michael Vick. (IMAGE: USA TODAY)
Michael Vick. (IMAGE: USA TODAY)

In 2007, he was arrested for running a dog fighting operation. His kennels in Virginia were raided and a total of 48 dogs were seized. The property in question was being used to stage, house, and train pit bulls for fighting. There were a lot of disturbing discoveries including a “ra*e stand” which was meant for forcing dogs to mate, an electric treadmill for dogs, and carpets with blood. Further investigation revealed that nearly 30 pit bulls had been killed.

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The dogfights were being sponsored by a questionable organization named Bad Newz Kennels. Michael Vick ended up serving 18 months in prison for animal cruelty. While he has moved on from the incident and served his time, this incident has greatly tarnished his image and made him one of the most hated athletes.

1. O.J. Simpson

O.J. Simpson was one of the more talented running backs who played in the NFL for the Buffalo Bills and the San Francisco 49ers. He took the world by storm when in 1994, he was arrested and charged with murdering his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ronald Goldman. The trial was dubbed the “Trial of the century” and it was one of the first cases which was televised on a national scale.

O.J. Simpson. (IMAGE: USA TODAY)
O.J. Simpson. (IMAGE: USA TODAY)

The brutality of the killing and the gravity of the situation led to O.J. quickly becoming one of the most hated individuals on Earth. To make matters worse, O.J. gave the cops a hot pursuit when he drove off on the 91 Freeway in the infamous Bronco chase which ended at his house where he finally surrendered. Simpson was eventually acquitted of all criminal charges, which infuriated the public. However, it was not as surprising considering he had some of the best lawyers in the nation by his side.

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This one incident has led to O.J. Simpson being the most hated athlete in the world, no matter how long it has been since this has taken place, Simpson will always have this negative shadow around him which has been caused due to this incident.

These are some of the most hated athletes in the world right now, did someone else deserve to be on this list? Let us know!

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