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Worst Acts of Unsportsmanlike Conduct

Sports, Current Events | By The Top 13 on November 11, 2009

By now, many of us have seen the shocking video of New Mexico soccer player Elizabeth Lambert violently throwing down a BYU player by her ponytail, along with her repeated apologies since the game. But Lambert's actions, while deplorable, were not unprecedented in sports. Accordingly, we count down the Top 13 Worst Acts of Unsportsmanlike Conduct. This list does not include altercations between players and fans (those are for another Top 13), but only between players or between players and officials.

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Kermit Washington Decks Rudy Tomjanovich


Kermit Washington Decks Rudy Tomjanovich

Lakers vs. Rockets, December 9, 1977

Although Washington was an all-star in the NBA, the only thing he's remembered for is the punch he landed on Tomjanovich during a brawl near center court. Seeing Tomjanovich running toward him, Washington unloaded with a roundhouse punch, catching his opponent by surprise. Tomjanovich fell in a pool of blood and nearly died, suffering severe facial fractures and other serious injuries. Washington received a 60-day suspension, which at the time was the longest in NBA history, and Tomjanovich sued the Lakers, winning a judgment of $3.2 million. Tomjanovich went on to coach both of these teams, winning two championships with the Rockets.

Albert Haynesworth Stomps Andre Gurode


Albert Haynesworth Stomps Andre Gurode

Cowboys vs. Titans, October 1, 2006

After a Cowboys touchdown, Titans defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth intentionally knocked off Cowboys center Andre Gurode's helmet off and then stomped on his head as he lay on the ground. Haynesworth opened up a severe gash on Gurode’s head that required 30 stitches. Although Haynesworth apologized after the game and announced he was going to counseling to control his emotions, the NFL suspended him for five games without pay, which was the longest in league history for an on-the-field incident. Make sure you watch the video below until the end to see exactly what Haynesworth did (and watch him argue the call).

Mike Tyson Bites Evander Holyfield's Ear


Mike Tyson Bites Evander Holyfield's Ear

June 28, 1997

One of the biggest fights of all-time, this was the rematch of the first bout between these two great champions, which ended with a Holyfield knockout win. After Holyfield won the first two rounds and bloodied Tyson with a head butt, Tyson lost it in the third. He grabbed Holyfield, spit out his mouthpiece, and gruesomely bit off a chunk of Holyfield’s right ear. Tyson was penalized two points, but the fight continued, and moments later he bit off an even larger chunk of Holyfield’s other ear. After the referee disqualified Tyson, Holyfield headed to the hospital for plastic surgery. Tyson, meanwhile, was suspended and had his purse withheld.

Elizabeth Lambert Gets Violent in Soccer Game


Elizabeth Lambert Gets Violent in Soccer Game

New Mexico vs. Brigham Young, November 5, 2009

Playing in the Mountain West Conference women's soccer tournament semifinals just last week, Lambert, a defender for New Mexico, just seemed to snap during her team's 1-0 loss to Brigham Young. Lambert can be seen in the video below throwing elbows, kicking players, and – in one the most vicious in-game attacks we've seen – yanking BYU player Kassidy Shumway to the ground by her ponytail. Lambert quickly apologized, calling her conduct "uncalled for." Nevertheless, on Friday, New Mexico suspended Lambert indefinitely.

Marty McSorley Slashes Donald Brashear


Marty McSorley Slashes Donald Brashear

Bruins vs. Canucks, February 21, 2000

McSorley, who was best known as Wayne Gretzky's bodyguard on both the Edmonton Oilers and Los Angeles Kings, was playing for the Bruins when he made the fateful decision to slash Canucks tough guy Donald Brashear in the head with just a few seconds remaining in the game. Brashear fell hard, slamming his head on the ice and sustaining a serious concussion. The NHL quickly suspended McSorley for the remainder of the season. But the real punishment came when he prosecutors charged him with assault for the slash. A jury found him guilty and he was sentenced to 18 months probation, leading the NHL to extend McSorley’s suspension to a full year, which was the longest in league history. Watch the replay of the incident at about 1:30 into the video below.

LeGarrette Blount Punches Boise State Player


LeGarrette Blount Punches Boise State Player

University of Oregon vs. Boise State, September 3, 2009

After a disappointing season opening 19-8 loss to Boise State, a Boise State defensive end taunted Blount near the Broncos sideline. Blount, a star running back for the Ducks, reacted by sucker punching him in the face, knocking him to the ground. After smacking a teammate who tried to restrain him in the helmet, Blount confronted several Boise State fans who apparently yelled at him. Blount later apologized, but was still suspended for the season. Earlier this week, Oregon reinstated Blount, who missed eight games. The incident is around 1:30 in the video below.

Todd Bertuzzi Drives Steve Moore's Head into the Ice


Todd Bertuzzi Drives Steve Moore's Head into the Ice

Avalanche vs. Canucks, March 8, 2004

Two months before this incident, Moore had injured Canucks captain Markus Naslund. This time around, Moore was the target. Late in the third period, Bertuzzi followed Moore down the ice, punched him in the back of the head, and drove him into the ice. Moore suffered three fractured vertebrae and a concussion, among other injuries, ending his career. Bertuzzi tearfully apologized two days later, and was suspended indefinitely, losing more than $500,000 in pay. He also was charged with assault and took a plea deal that landed him on probation for a year. Bertuzzi, who was reinstated for the 2005-06 season, is still defending himself against a lawsuit brought by Moore against Bertuzzi and the Canucks. Watch the replay of the hit a little before the 1:30 mark of the video below.

Roberto Alomar Spits on an Umpire


Roberto Alomar Spits on an Umpire

Orioles vs. Blue Jays, September 27, 1996

Considered one of the greatest second basemen in baseball history, Alomar is almost equally well-remembered for his meltdown after a called third strike by umpire John Hirschbeck. Alomar began screaming at the ump, who threw him out of the game, leading to Alomar spitting in his face. Making matters worse, Alomar defended his actions, in part, by claiming Hirschbeck was bitter over the death of his young son from ALD, a rare disease. Hirschbeck had to be restrained from Alomar after the game. Alomar received a five-game suspension, apologized, and made a sizable donation to ALD research. The player and ump ultimately settled their differences publicly, shaking hands at home plate before a game the following spring.

Izzy Alcantara Kicks the Catcher and Charges the Mound


Izzy Alcantara Kicks the Catcher and Charges the Mound

Pawtucket v. Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, July 3, 2001

Alcantara played a total of 51 games in the major leagues, but this career minor leaguer will always be remembered for his actions in this game. Alcantara was playing for Boston's top minor league club when, after being brushed back a second time by Red Barons hurler Blas Cedeno, he turned around and delivered a karate kick to catcher Jeremy Salazar before charging at Cedeno. Alcantara was quickly surrounded by Red Barons and tackled before he could do any further damage. Still, the International League suspended him for six games and took away his spot in the Triple-A all-star game.

Dale Hunter Blindsides a Celebrating Pierre Turgeon


Dale Hunter Blindsides a Celebrating Pierre Turgeon

Capitals vs. Islanders, April 28, 1993

Hunter, who remains second all-time in career penalty minutes, was well-known for his dirty play. The most famous such play was the one he delivered to Turgeon near the end of Game 6 of the 1993 Patrick Division Semifinals between the Capitals and the Islanders. After Turgeon stole the pick from Hunter and scored to put the game - and series - out of reach, Hunter followed Turgeon toward the boards and hammered him in the back. Turgeon sustained a separated shoulder and missed most of the next series; Hunter was suspended for the first 21 games of the following season, which, at the time, was the longest suspension in league history. The best shot of the hit comes when they show the replay at around 2:35 of the video below.

Delmon Young Throws His Bat at an Umpire


Delmon Young Throws His Bat at an Umpire

Durham Bulls vs. Pawtucket Red Sox, April 25, 2006

At the time of this incident, Young was biding his time in the minors, considered one of the best prospects in all of baseball. At the same time, Young was often portrayed as immature. Young reinforced that view when, after being called out on strikes, he refused to leave the batter’s box and stared angrily at the umpire. Young finally began to walk away, but as he did, he flipped his bat end-over-end toward the umpire, striking the ump in the arm and chest. Although the ump wasn’t hurt, the International League came down hard on Young, suspending him for 50 games. Young apologized and served his suspension without appeal. He was finally called up to the majors in August of that season.

Bill Romanowski Spits on J.J. Stokes


Bill Romanowski Spits on J.J. Stokes

Broncos vs. 49ers, December 15, 1997

Romanowski has been in the news since retiring for his admission that he used steroids during his career. Perhaps the steroids explain the many on-field altercations he was involved in, none of which were as shocking as what happened during this nationally televised Monday Night Football game. Stokes was jawing at Romo after emerging from a pile-up at the end of a play, when without warning, Romo spat directly in Stokes' face. Although some suggested that race played a role in Romo's actions, to his credit, Stokes simply walked away. Romo only apologized after the league fined him $7,500 for his conduct.

Pedro Martinez Tosses Don Zimmer to the Ground


Pedro Martinez Tosses Don Zimmer to the Ground

Red Sox vs. Yankees, October 13, 2003

As if the Yankee-Red Sox rivalry wasn't heated enough, this incident took the hostility to another level. After the Yankees took the lead in Game 3 of the ALCS, Martinez hit Karim Garcia in the back. In the bottom of the inning, Roger Clemens threw up and in to Manny Ramirez, leading to a surreal bench-clearing brawl. Zimmer, 72 at the time, charged at Martinez, screaming and lunging toward him. Martinez stepped to the side, grabbed Zimmer's head, and tossed him to the ground. Zimmer landed face-first and remained on the ground for several minutes while trainers tended to a cut on his head. Although Martinez was vilified by the New York media, Zimmer has long accepted fault for the incident.

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Comments Leave a comment


Come on. There is nothing even close to Tyson's brutality. Elisabeth Lambert is way to cute to be on the list. Tyler Brayton knee to the jewels has to be on the list. Come on, he's messing with Jeremy Steven's family prospects.

7:09 AM   Nov 11, 2009

tloveisready ★★

I was really hoping to see Nolan Ryan beating the hell out of Robin Ventura on here, and where the hell is that guy from the Last Boy Scout that shot the other player during the game. That's gotta be #2 at least.

7:48 AM   Nov 11, 2009


Tyson biting Holyfield's ear isn't as shocking to me as Miss Lambert's act on the soccer field. You kind of expect it in boxing since they are beating the crap out of each other.

7:57 AM   Nov 11, 2009


Ok, i agree on Kermit being number 1 - especially bc Tomjanovich says he got his so hard that he tasted spinal fluid in his mouth. But how does does the Zinedine Zidane headbutt not make it on here???? The guy should at least get points for having a name that sounds like a weightloss supplement. Also, he managed to ruin a stellar reputation in 1 second on the world's biggest stage.

8:26 AM   Nov 11, 2009

KungFuJay ★★

Most of these are pretty egregious and all are, obviously, uncalled for. But man there are actual LOL moments in the Izzy Alcantara, Delmon Young and Pedro Martinez vids.

9:13 AM   Nov 11, 2009


I totally forgot about Zidane. Good call.
I think the numbers 5 and 7 should've been higher. Overall, great list, though.

10:01 AM   Nov 11, 2009


i think the picture of tyson is perfect. makes me laugh. but zidane is an oversight.

10:03 AM   Nov 11, 2009


The Zidane one is huge. Good call.

10:32 AM   Nov 11, 2009


Pedro Martinez was the best one for me and I agree, where's the Zidane incident? Also we're missing the Ron Artest fight and also the Laimbeer - Barkley fight, that one was amazing

11:09 AM   Nov 11, 2009


Though I have no interest in sports, I still found this entertaining. Some of those vids are nuts!

12:13 PM   Nov 11, 2009


It's a good list but there are some better ones than the spitting ones, like the hit on Clifton Smith this year.

3:34 PM   Nov 11, 2009


I remember the Kermit Washington incident very well and honestly, even back in the day, people thought Kermit got a raw deal. The replays clearly show he was swinging wildly and Rudy's face happened to have entered the picture. He was in the wrong place at the wrong time and Kermit was not maliciously trying to injure Rudy. Kermit was a good guy and a good player who was destroyed by the incident.

3:58 PM   Nov 11, 2009


Juan Marichal hitting John Roseboro with the bat has to rank up there. RFunniest attempt at bad sportmanship is Chan Ho Park's drop kick of Tim Belcher.

6:40 PM   Nov 11, 2009


Also can't forget Rowdy Roddy Piper's infamous coconut attack on Jimmy Snuka.

6:42 PM   Nov 11, 2009


Elvis Bowling decapitating a ref.
Pistons/Pacers fight.
I wish Sprewell choking out Don Nelson was during a game, so that it could be included.

6:46 PM   Nov 11, 2009


Marichal on Roseboro is a serious omission. Great call, Bradley.

6:58 PM   Nov 11, 2009


It means nothing, but I'll feel like less of an idiot if I correct myself. Spree choked PJ, not Nellie.

11:56 PM   Nov 11, 2009

KungFuJay ★★

Also too bad coaches' conduct doesn't count. Although if it did, Bobby Knight would occupy most of the list.

9:31 AM   Nov 12, 2009


Whoa, you guys are so off on this! Kermit W was taken by surprise during a melee, him punching Rudy T had a huge repercussion but taken in context it wasn't awful. Marcus Vick stepping on Elvis Dumerville Christian Laettner stepping on a Kentucky player (bad behavior in big games has to count more), Sean Taylor spitting on a player (although, I get it, we don't want to malign the dead), Zinedene Zidane's headbutt. Does Ty Cobb rushing the stands to beat a handicapped fan count as unsportsmanlike or do we need to assault players/coaches during a game?

8:29 AM   Dec 08, 2009


Bertuzzi's hit was soooooo bad. It should not have landed right before "Spitting on an umpire" he nearly paralyzed a guy!

8:07 AM   May 07, 2010

jason ★★

Agreed, it should probably be significantly higher. Catastrophic impact greater than Kermit's punch, and 100% premeditated (even if it was arguably a freak injury).

2:05 PM   May 07, 2010

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