Please don’t laugh, but New York Knicks’ center Kristaps Porzingis believes his team is bound for the playoffs.
Excuse us while we exit the room and pee our pants laughing.
The Knicks, who haven’t made the playoffs since 2013, are 8-6 in this young NBA season. Now, the Eastern Conference is the weak sister, but the aptly named “Unicorn” certainly comes off sounding way too presumptuous — even slightly stupid — for believing the Knicks are a contender.
Given Porzingis outlandish proclamation, it’s hardly the dumbest thing ever uttered by a sports personality.
It is based a bit on fact — they are fifth place, after all — and has some good arguments behind it.
There are many utterances over the years though, that qualify as downright ill-timed, foolish, idiotic or just plain wrong-headed.
Here are 20 things that athletes, commentators and coaches alike have said that don’t qualify them for Mensa (in bold print).
20. Pete Incaviglia – MLB
Former big league outfielder Pete Incaviglia spoke much like he took his cuts at the plate — all or nothing. Before he even took a major league swing, NCAA star Incaviglia stated he would never play a day in the minors, prompting a trade from the Montreal Expos, who drafted him, to the Texas Rangers, who honored his request. That made him just the 15th player in MLB history to debut without playing A, AA or AAA ball. A noted power hitter, Incaviglia would go on to slug 206 career homers in 1,284 games. On the flip side, he twice led the American League in strikeouts and whiffed 1,277 times total. As for the dumbest thing he ever said, Incaviglia stated this as a reason baseball players aren’t overpaid (uh, yeah): “People think we make $3 million and $4 million a year. They don’t realize that most of us only make $500,000.”
19. Dick Vitale – NCAA Basketball
There is no one commentator in basketball who is as enthusiastic or insightful as Dick Vitale. The former college and NBA coach has been made famous for catchphrases like “this is awesome baby” and “diaper dandy” (used to denote a great freshman player). He’s covered thousands of NCAA DI basketball games in his illustrious career, with the big Duke-UNC games his turf (ESPN recently removed Vitale from coverage of those games, every one of which he’d covered since 1979). One particular former Blue Devil that he fawned over was current Philadelphia 76er J.J. Redick. He remarked once about the abuse Redick took from the fans of rival ACC team Maryland, and on another occasion really shot from the lip about Redick’s ability from three-point territory, with unintended innuendo: “I’m tellin’ ya man, to be able to stroke it like that must be some kind of feeling.”
18. Cardale Jones – NCAA Football
Current Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Cardale Jones was a some-time force on the NCAA gridiron for the Ohio State Buckeyes. He won a national championship with the Big 10 powerhouse in 2015 and was a Big 10 championship game MVP. However, Jones was also a student-athlete who did little to dispel the notion that the scholarly part of an athlete’s scholarship isn’t worth a hill of beans. He actually Tweeted this nugget out: “Why should we have to go to class if we came here to play FOOTBALL, we ain’t come to play SCHOOL, classes are POINTLESS.” Currently third on the QB depth chart with the Chargers, we’re sure the team isn’t including Jones in any PSA’s telling kids in Southern California to stay in school.
17. Jeff Innis – MLB
Before we chime in on yet another inane utterance, we need to provide background on former major league submarine-style reliever Jeff Innis. He pitched seven seasons with the New York Mets, starting in 1987 and ending in 1993. A workhorse out of the bullpen, Innis had the distinction of being the only pitcher in major league history to appear in at least 60 games without recording a win or a save, doing so in 1991. He finished his career with a 10-20 record and 3.05 ERA in 288 games. Off the mound, Innis would never be confused with a graduate of nearby Columbia University. He clearly got his metaphors mixed up, when he said this about a photo he believed made him look goofy: “That picture was taken out of context.” It clearly wasn’t the picture that made him look goofy.
16. Mario Balotelli – Soccer
It really is no surprise that controversial Italian striker Mario Balotelli has made this list with one of his own “Balotelli-isms.” Ever the lightning rod for criticism for his on and off-field antics Balotelli is also known to be just a bit off-kilter, so to speak. Some of the weird things he is said to have done off the pitch have been unfounded, however, it was confirmed that he drove into a women’s prison to “have a look around” and that that during a training ground ‘prank’ he threw darts at a youth team player. This kind of behavior would hardly classify him as a learned man beyond reproach, even though he clearly thinks he is: “I believe I am more intelligent than the average person. There are few people with such talent, so there are few able to judge what I am doing.”
15. Jonathan Bernier – NHL
Hockey goaltenders have a reputation of being just a little loony, given the fact they face down 100 mph slapshots and 200 lb. men bent on running them over. Pop culture has also done nothing for the image of the goalie as buffoon, what with the opening monologue of the movie “Slapshot”, where goalie Yvon Barrette gives a rather colorful explanation of hockey rules. Jonathan Bernier, who is currently in his 10th season as a NHL goaltender, has made an everlasting contribution to the verbal Hall of Shame for a speech he gave at an event honoring the late Nelson Mandela. To wit, he said this about the Nobel Peace Prize Winner (and has since apologized for): “He is one of the most known athletes in the world and a lot of impact in any kind of sport that he did. Even playing hockey, everyone knows him. From being the type of person he was off the ice and on the ice. It’s unfortunate that he passed away a year ago, but you know he changed a lot while he was with us. He’s a tremendous guy.”
14. Shaquille O’Neal – NBA
Whether he is talking basketball, extolling the virtues of police work, or making a backhanded attack on LaVar Ball in a rap song, Shaquille O’Neal has always had something to say — for better or worse. The Big Aristotle has never been afraid to let people know what exactly is on his mind. On the other hand, he’s also been on the other end of someone else’s criticism. When his illustrious career was on the down-slope in Miami, Chicago Tribune writer Sam Smith wrote an article suggesting that the Heat get rid of Shaq Fu. In response, Shaq was succinct, if just a little off the mark in his spelling: “Sam is an idiot — I-D-O-U-T — idiot.” True story.
13. Terrell Owens – NFL
In the annals of sport, there were few singular — read: “me first” — athletes like former NFL superstar Terrell Owens. T.O. was the author of some of the NFL’s wildest touchdown celebrations, which were pretty frequent considering he scored 156 of them in his 219 game career. Owens was good and he let everyone know about it, usually to his detriment. Once, when he was seeking to yet again re-negotiate a contract via the media, he said, backhandedly at teammate and Philadelphia QB Donovan McNabb, “I wasn’t the guy who got tired in the Super Bowl.” His contentious relationships with opponents were legendary — witness his tasteless celebrations on the Dallas Stars logo early in his career — but those with his teammates were even more heated. However, when pressed about how he got along with those in the same jersey, he got a little, let’s say, obtuse: “Don’t say I don’t get along with my teammates. I just don’t get along with some of the guys on my team.” Thanks for clarifying, T.O.
12. John Kruk – MLB
In the early 1990s, the Philadelphia Phillies resembled more a hockey team than a baseball club, what with all the macho swagger and mullets aplenty. Riding herd on a group that included similarly hairstyled members Darren Daulton, Lenny Dykstra and Mitch Williams was “Macho Row” president John Kruk. He was a fun-loving sort who had a body that hinted at a love of beer and hot dogs, but he could play the game. In a 10-year career that included a tirp to the World Series against Toronto in 1993, Kruk was a three-time All-Star who hit .300, with 100 home runs and 592 RBI. Once, when labeled as an athlete, he gave a very honest, if stupidly tongue-in-cheek answer: “I’m not an athlete. I’m a professional baseball player.”
11. Tim McCarver – MLB Sportscaster
Not many have made as long a life in baseball as player-turned-commentator Tim McCarver. He played 21 seasons in the big leagues, won two World Series, then made a smooth transition into the broadcast booth. It was in that booth that he gained a reputation for being equal part hokey good old boy and insightful, if not very controversial and verbose baseball analyst. It those times that he did get overly wordy that made McCarver look like a dingbat, so he gets two special anecdotes here. This first one is a gem: “Yankees pitchers have had great success against Cabrera when they get him out.” And the second, when Giants fans were chanting “Barry, Barry” in reference to Barry Zito during game 1 of the 2012 World Series, gave him solid gold status as a little out of touch: “They used to say [Barry] for somebody else around here,” said co-analyst Joe Buck. “When Barry Manilow was playing in a concert,” replied McCarver. “Or Barry Bonds,” said Buck, incredulous.
10. Tracy McGrady – NBA
Former NBA superstar and two-time scoring champion Tracy McGrady is, as of this year, a Hall of Famer. So he can be forgiven for some of the stupid stuff he might have said into a microphone post game. A cousin of Vince Carter, McGrady was drafted by Toronto and played 15 seasons in the NBA. He started out slowly but build momentum when he got to Orlando, where he was back-to-back scoring leader in 2002-03 and 2003-04. He was also a seven-time All-Star and seven-time All-NBA nominee. But, back to that apparent slow start to his basketball career, McGrady had a very tough time describing just how he turned things around when he became a member of the Magic, saying: “My career was sputtering until I did a 360 and got headed in the right direction.”
9. Latrell Sprewell – NBA
Spree was so controversial during his sometimes outstanding NBA career that he once was suspended 68 games for choking his coach at Golden State, P.J. Carlesimo, at practice. An outstanding defender and four-time All-Star, Sprewell played 13 seasons in the league with the Dubs, New York Knicks (who he went to the finals with in 1999) and the Minnesota Timberwolves. In 2004, the veteran Sprewell helped lead the T-Wolves to their only appearance in the Western Conference finals in club history, scoring 19.8 points per game and recording 4.4 rebounds and 1.6 steals. The next season, Timberwolves management offered Sprewell a three-year, $21 million contract extension, which was less than his then-current pact paid him. Being insulted by it was his right, but how he went about explaining his outrage sure made him sound way, way out of touch with how the rest of the world really works: “I have a family to feed … If (team owner Glen) Taylor wants to see my family fed, he better cough up some money. Otherwise, you’re going to see these kids in one of those Sally Struthers commercials soon.”
8. Tug McGraw – MLB
Frank Edwin “Tug” McGraw was more than just the father of country superstar/actor Tim McGraw. Tug was a great left-handed reliever who won a World Series title with Philadelphia in 1980 and retired have seen action in 824 games, logging 180 saves and a 3.14 ERA. He was earlier credited with the catch-phrase “Ya Gotta Believe”, which he yelled out at a team meeting during the New York Mets 1973 season. Later, after he had pitched his heart out against Kansas City to help the Phillies win the 1980 World Series title, McGraw said, unabashedly “All through baseball history, Philadelphia has had to take a back seat to New York City. Well, New York City can take this world championship and stick it! ‘CAUSE WE’RE NUMBER ONE!” His leadership style was rarely questioned, but we believe McGraw may have been a bit of a free spirit, considering this reply to whether he preferred natural grass or Astroturf: “I dunno. I never smoked any Astroturf.” Woo-hoo!
7. Shelby Metcalf – NCAA Basketball
For 27 years at Texas A&M, former coach Shelby Metcalf was a loyal servant of the team and a veritable quote machine. The late Metcalf started with the program in 1963 and stayed with the Aggies until being fired in 1990 after a dispute with the school’s athletic director. He was so loyal, even after being canned, that he lived in College Station and supported his basketball coaching successors. At a school known more for football, Metcalf was able to garner headlines as much for his plethora of victories as for his colorful and goofy witticisms, two of which we include here. Once, he told one Aggies player, who had four F’s and a D on his report card, “Son, looks to me like you’re spending too much time on one subject.” And on another occasion, he minced his words on a rival team’s defensive prowess: “Rice defends against the free throw as well as anybody I’ve seen.”
6. Terry Bradshaw – NFL
He may have been a brilliant future Hall of Fame quarterback on the football field, but Terry Bradshaw has certainly not been a rocket surgeon off of it. But, it might all be a ruse, as his good old boy routine has been outed by other sportscasters like former coach Jimmy Johnson as nothing but schtick to set Bradshaw apart from others (a job security ploy, we think). Even still, some of the sound that has escaped Bradshaw’s mouth over the years could only be construed as anything but dim-witted. A comic foil to his co-hosts on Fox NFL Sunday, Bradshaw has never been shy about criticizing teams and players, or himself, for that matter. This one quotable sums up Bradshaw, in few words: “I may be dumb, but I’m not stupid.”
5. George Rogers – NCAA Football
Again, just because a “student-athlete” attends a NCAA school doesn’t mean they actually learned anything there. Before we get to how former South Carolina running back George Rogers probably shouldn’t have been admitted to SC, we’ll detail his considerable football exploits. The stout rusher rumbled for 5,091 yards and 31 touchdowns in 56 games for the Gamecocks in the late 1970s. He was drafted by the New Orleans Saints and led the NFL in rushing his rookie year with 1,674 yards. He would later also lead the NFL in rushing TDs with 18 in 1986 and won a Super Bowl with Washington a year later. A member of the College Football and New Orleans Saints Halls of Fame, Rogers would not, however, be a member of the Academic Hall of Fame. He was once pressed for his goals as a running back, and responded: “I want to rush for 1,000 or 1,500 yards — whichever comes first.”
4. Bobby Robson – Soccer
The late Bobby Robson was an icon in England, having played 20 years, with stints at Fulham and West Brom, while also making 20 appearances for the national side. After his fairly illustrious playing career was over, Robson turned to coaching and did so for 36 years. He managed teams like Fulham, the English national team, PSV Eindhoven, Barcelona and Newcastle United. As the national side manager, Robson sported a record of 47-30-18 (W-D-L). In the 1986 World Cup quarter-finals, the Lions were infamously beaten by Argentina and Diego Maradona’s “Hand of God” and “Goal of the Century” markers. A beloved figure in English football circles, Robson was also a colorful quote. After his English side narrowly beat Cameroon in the 1990 World Cup quarter-finals by a count of 3-2, he offered up this foolish synopsis: “We didn’t underestimate them. They were a lot better than we thought.”
3. Ron Meyer – NFL
Ron Meyer was once most famously linked to the SMU as head coach, when he led the Mustangs to a Southwest Conference championship with running back Eric Dickerson in 1981. He was also at the helm of the formerly glorious SMU program when they lost to Jim McMahon and the BYU Cougars 46-45 in the 1980 Holiday Bowl, after they led 45-25 with four minutes to play. Meyer, who would also coach in the XFL and CFL, had middling success in the NFL, sporting a 18-15 record in parts of three seasons with New England and then a 36-35 mark with the Indianapolis Colts from 1986 to 1991. His lasting legacy to football, though, might be his controversial decision to have a hand in drafting all-time bust Jeff George in 1990, which would ultimately lead to his demise a year later as head coach. Asked during the 1990 campaign whether he made the right decision in starting the green-horn George, Meyer responded hilariously, “It isn’t like I came down from Mount Sinai with the tabloids.”
2. Andre Dawson – MLB
For 21 seasons of a Hall of Fame career spent mostly with Montreal and the Chicago Cubs, Andre “The Hawk” Dawson was a classy competitor. He started out briefly in 1976, won the Rookie of the Year with the Expos in 1977 and 10 years later was National League MVP with the Cubs. Lifetime, he amassed 2,774 hits, 438 home runs and 1,591 RBI in 2,627 total games. He was an All-Star eight times, a Silver Slugger award winner three times and a Gold Glove outfielder eight times. Other than an ugly alleged collusion scandal that shrouded his departure from Montreal, there was nothing controversial about Dawson’s career. He didn’t take steroids or beat up his manager or give the finger to the fans. But, he did provide one of the all-time misspoken quotes, when he uttered the following about being a role model for kids: “I want all the kids to copulate me.” Yikes.
1. Bill Cowher – NFL
Bill Cowher was the typical hard-nosed NFL coach ideally suited to the blue collar Pittsburgh Steelers. Passed over as coach for the Cincinnati Bengals in 1991, he caught on as Steelers bench boss in 1992 and immediately set out to improve a team that went 7-9 in 1991. he did, turning that record around to 9-7 and taking them to the divisional playoffs. He was coach of the year that season and in 15 years would hold an overall mark of 149-90-1 (including 22-9 against Cincinnati, who didn’t hire him). In the playoffs, Cowher’s teams went 21-12, winning Super Bowl XL in his second last season (2005) before he retired. Now a studio analyst on the NFL Today for CBS, Cowher must have had to improve his vocabulary somewhat, considering this hilariously dumb quote from his coaching days: “We’re not attempting to circumcise the rules.” Yeeow!