Never Live It Down / Sports

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     General 
  • It doesn't matter if you're a superstar or a benchwarmer; if you're an athlete and you hook up with a Kardashian (those ladies REALLY love the jocks), that is what you will be most known for. Let's start with the mother and Caitlyn (nee Bruce) Jenner, who was once an icon in the Olympic decathlon. Then there's Kim with Reggie Bush AND Kris Humphries. And then there's Khloe and Lamar Odom, who was flat out called "Lamar Kardashian" by members of the Dallas media in 2012 (though in fairness, Dallas probably would have let it slide had he actually played well with the Mavericks). In fact, Jenner and Humphries are barely even known for being athletes anymore.
    • In even sadder irony with the Mavericks and Odom, the Mavs had appeared on The Late Show with David Letterman the previous year (before Odom joined the team) to give the "Top Ten Best Things about Winning the Championship", and Dirk Nowitzki gave Number One as "It might land me a Kardashian!"
    • Caitlyn Jenner is now known more for being an out transwoman than for being an Olympic gold medalist.
  • Screwing up a country's national anthem is a great way to gain infamy.

     Association Football/Soccer 
  • Zinedine Zidane was perhaps the very best player of the late '90s/early '00s: those not very familiar with the sport won't remember him for anything else than headbutting Marco Materazzi during the 2006 FIFA World Cup final. Admittedly he didn't do much else after it (as a player anyway)note , as it was his last match before he retired. Several things made this truly bizarre. First, he has a long history of this type of behavior; it's not even the first time he headbutted someone. Second, Materazzi reportedly provoked the attack. It says something that he's known more for this than stomping a downed opponent in the groin. Of course, that didn't make nearly as good of a gif.
  • The Disgrace of Gijon, where West Germany and Austria committed one of the most blatant acts of collusion in sports history. After being upset by Algeria earlier in the World Cup tournament, West Germany needed to win to advance, while Austria, having gone undefeated in their play, had only not to lose by three or more goals, as Algeria held the tiebreaker on goals scored. After West Germany scored ten minutes into the match, both squads were content with just letting the clock run out while simply kicking the ball to each other for the rest of the match. Even both teams' supporters were disgusted with this behavior, with one West German fan taking it Up to Eleven by burning his own country's flag. Consequently, this resulted in FIFA making the final pair of group matches in international tournaments always start at the same time.
  • Italy forward Alberto Gilardino did not really grow up to be the superstriker he was seemingly progressing to be after his impressive younger days. He flopped his big-time move to AC Milan and was involved in a very unsportsmanlike conduct by diving in what's probably his most famous video on YouTube. He has since rebuilt his career in Florence-based Fiorentina and is now actually a quite respectable striker. Most pundits and fans outside Italy, however, declared the said incident to be his Moral Event Horizon and he is still remembered mostly for being a flop.
  • In an inverse case of never living down something good, Gilardino's fellow teammate at the 2006 World Cup Fabio Grosso. He was an average player who performed astoundingly at the said World Cup — scoring the killer goal against Germany in the semi, complete with a goal celebration reminiscent to Marco Tardelli's celebration in 1982, probably the most iconic goal celebration of all time as well as burying the winning penalty which crowned Italy world champions. After the said fantastic display, he went back to being distinctly average, horrible even. Fans, however, always cherished him by fondly remembering his short-lived brilliance.
  • Even soccer fans can apply to this trope. Liverpool supporters may never live down their involvement in the Heysel Stadium tragedy in 1985, which led to the entire English league being banned from international competition for five years. Some people still believe that the Liverpool fans who were crushed to death in the Hillsborough disaster four years later "got what they deserved." Similarly, for Liverpudlians, The Sun will never live down its coverage of the Hillsborough event, which led to said (seriously ignorant) belief, and later to their banning from reporting at Anfield.
  • Speaking of Liverpool, legendary captain Steven Gerrard a.k.a. Stevie G, a.k.a. Captain Fantastic a.k.a. Captain Marvel (No, not that one, despite the red. And not that one or that one, either), the club's top scorer in Europe, in the top 5 scorers over all despite being a midfielder, won every trophy possible at Liverpool save for the Club World Cup and the Premier League. He also played for England, racking up 114 appearances, one of only nine England players ever to pass 100 caps, captaining both club and country. In his prime, he was acclaimed by the likes of the aforementioned Zinedine Zidane as possibly the best player on the planet, being renowned for his attacking abilities, defensive abilities, vast range of passing, speed, physical power and leadership. What is he remembered for? One moment, during Liverpool's 2013-14 title challenge, during the run-in. Liverpool were nailed on favourites for the title, having blown all their rivals away with a storm of attacking football. After beating Manchester City, one of said rivals, Gerrard gathered the team together and said, "We do not let this slip." A couple of weeks later, they're playing Chelsea, one of their other rivals. Gerrard gets the ball. Gerrard slips. Otherwise forgettable Chelsea striker Dembe Ba pounces and gallops through to score. Liverpool ultimately lose 2-0. Their confidence shot, their title challenge collapses, meaning their first title in quarter of a century goes begging. And Gerrard is dubbed 'Slippy G.'
  • Nigel de Jong's that's-gotta-hurt-style kung-fu-kick-to-the-chest he delivered to Xabi Alonso. In The World Cup final at that.
    • Pretty much everyone involved in the 2010 final will likely have this trope on them.
  • Barcelona's Sergio Busquets was a relatively obscure player when he arrived in FC Barcelona's first team in July 2008, but eventually made a name for himself in a relatively short period of time, reaching the Spanish national team in less than one year after making his professional club debut. Nowadays he's only remembered for his often-mocked peekaboo against Inter. To put it in perspective, even Barcelona fans haven't let this go and he's become somewhat of The Scrappy among the squad.
  • Ronaldo was known for many things, including being one of the greatest footballers of his generation, marrying to a few supermodels, and being a little overweight. But then an incident with transsexuals ended up in the media. He claims he thought they were women, but still became the "transvestite-loving-player". Thankfully he resurrected his football career with Corinthians, and now this incident is kind of forgotten. Except by rival teams, of course (the supporters of Palmeiras, Corinthians' archrival, once sung to Ronaldo "Hey, you there! Left Cicarelli to get a transvestite!").
  • Because the United States still has a reputation for being inferior to the rest of the world in soccer (at least on the men's side), any time someone makes a key gaffe that costs his team against the Yanks is going to suffer from this, especially if it happens in the World Cup:
    • One of the most tragic examples: In 1994, Colombian defender Andrés Escobar committed an own goal that led to a 2-1 win for the USA leading to the Americans advancing to the knockout stage and Columbia being eliminated. He was shot and killed in Colombia ten days later.
    • England goalie Robert Green in the 2010 World Cup. The English were heavy favourites in their group, having come through qualifying with the highest scoring tally in the world, reaching 3rd place in the world rankings, and still had 'the Golden Generation' of genuinely world class players to call on. This meant being expected to beat the Americans, seen as a second tier team at best, handily in their opening match. Indeed, they took the lead. But Green's inability to handle a Clint Dempsey shot that allowed the ball to roll into his goal led to the match ending in a 1-1 draw. The USA eventually advanced out of group play, while England never really seemed to recover from that blunder, going down 4-1 to Germany in the next round, and, to add insult to injury having what would have been an equalising goal at 2-1 down ruled out.
  • Turin's Juventus FC are Italy's most successful club, with 33 home titles, two Champions League wins, and three UEFA Cup/Europa League wins under their belt. However, they've also become known for playing a major role in the great match-fixing scandal of 2006, aka "Calciopoli", which saw them stripped of their 2004-05 and 2005-06 titles and get relegated to Serie B for the 2006-07 season. While they've gone back to their winning ways as of late, reaching the Champions League final in 2015 and 2017, Juventus has forever been stigmatized as a team of cheaters by nearly everyone in Italy who isn't a fan of them, not helped by the rather controversial 2012 Supercoppa victory against arch-rivals Napoli.
  • Eric Cantona was one of the most outrageously talented footballers of all time and won a clutch of top-level trophies with various clubs, most notably Manchester United, but he is most remembered for a flying kick at an abusive fan during an English Premier League match in 1995.
  • Martín Palermo is one of Argentina's most notorious strikers during the last 25 years. Scoring over 300 goals during his career, he holds the goalscoring record at Boca Juniors (a record that stood for almost 80 years) and was well-known for the several unorthodox goals he scorednote  as well as as The Determinator - getting over things like multiple cruciate ligament injuriesnote , one of his children dying right after being bornnote ... or the event that put him out of the Argentina national team for 10 years: missing three penalties against Colombia in the 1999 Copa América. Even after that, he recovered by scoring a goal against Perú that nearly secured qualification for Argentina to the 2010 World Cup after struggling in the qualifying stage and becoming the oldest goalscorer ever at a World Cup by scoring a goal against Greece in the only shot at goal he got in the entire tournament, beating then Argentina manager Diego Maradona.
  • Roberto Baggio was one of the best Italian strikers of all time, winning two Serie A and a UEFA Cup, and being chosen as best player in the world in 1993. Yet the most memorable fact about him is missing a penalty in the 1994 World Cup final.
    • Likewise, Zico, a brilliant Brazilian player, is always remembered for missing a penalty in the game Brazil was eliminated in the 1986 World Cup.
    • Although Baggio is also remembered for his distinctive hairdo — not for nothing was he known as "The Divine Ponytail".
  • While it may be too early to conclude this, Thierry Henry will always be remembered as the French soccer player who hand-balled (twice!!) against the Republic of Ireland to send his country to the 2010 World Cup instead of the Irish, despite a stellar career previously.
    • And France's subsequent, possibly karmic implosion at the finals may well see an entire 'golden generation' of French footballing talent remembered for going out limply (eliminated in the first round without winning a match) amid a blaze of infighting, insults and inadequate performances, despite all their achievements over the previous dozen years.
      • While Henry hasn't received the enormous backlash (at least thanks to the fact that he acknowledged his error and tried to correct it by acknowledging the win for England), it has since become another part of the FIFA corruption scandal as it has emerged that FIFA silenced Ireland's time to allow France forward into the tournament.
    • Uruguay's Luis Suárez may experience a similar fate to Henry, after his excellent World Cup was overshadowed by his cynical goal-line handball in the last seconds of extra time against Ghana that ultimately stopped the latter becoming the first African side ever to advance to a World Cup semi-final. If he won't be remembered for that, then he'll be remembered for biting Italian player Giorgio Chiellini during the 2014 World Cup, which led to him being suspended for nine international matches and banned from all of association football for four months.note  If he isn't remembered for that, he'll be remembered for racially abusing Patrice Evra. There's a reason that a lot of the time on this wiki he's described as the Token Evil Team Mate and a Karma Houdini.
    • Speaking of famous World Cup handballs, Diego Maradona is notorious for the infamous "Hand of God" (his own term, at that) goal in the 1986 World Cup quarter-final against England. The English are still holding a grudge. Of course, people also recall the next goal he scored in that match… clearly enough to get it voted the Goal of the Century on the FIFA website in 2002, with even English fans admitting that it was just that good. Still, for the casual fan outside of Argentina, Maradona is more the "Hand of God guy" than he is 'one of the greatest players of all time'.
  • Goalkeeper Gordon Banks said that while he won the World Cup in 1966, he's most remembered for an unbelievable save from Pelé four years later.
  • Peter Bonetti is widely regarded as one of the greatest goalkeepers of his time, who would have been an England regular had his career not overlapped with that of the legendary Gordon Banks. Except for one match. Pressed into service in the quarterfinal of the 1970 World Cup against West Germany when Banks went down with food poisoning, he let in three of the four goals he conceded during his seven-game international career and England lost 3–2 (although opinion differs on how many of the three goals were actually his fault). As a result, he went down in history as the man who cost England the World Cup.
  • Referee Graham Poll is known mainly for his blunder in the 2006 World Cup, during a game between Croatia and Australia. Although the officiating throughout the World Cup was criticized, Poll stood out for committing the cardinal sin of issuing 3 yellow cards to one player, Josip Šimunić (for those who don't know the rules of soccer, a player's 2nd yellow card in a game is supposed to be immediately followed by a red card that bans the player from the match, making 3 yellow cards impossible). Needless to say, he was not chosen to officiate in later rounds of the Cup, and he voluntarily decided not to officiate in tournament soccer games again.
  • Carlos Caszely, one of the most important players in Chilean soccer history, is still remembered mainly because of the penalty kick he lost while playing for the national team against Austria during the 1982 World Cup. Twenty-five years later, he had a symbolic revenge against Austrian goalkeeper Friedl Koncilia (who barely remembered the penalty), and also participated in a number of ads referencing that event.
  • The president of the Brazilian Football Federation, José Maria Marin, will never get past the fact that, when he was still vice-president, he put one of the medals of a Junior tournament on his pocket. Some even said he'll try to put Muttley as the mascot for the 2014 World Cup.
  • Norwegian referee Christina Pedersen's reputation may forever be tarnished due to several questionable calls against the Canadian women's soccer team in their semifinal game versus their U.S. counterparts at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.
    • Meanwhile, Team Canada has developed a reputation as a bunch of whiners, for the way they acted after the game.note  It got so bad that FIFA actually threatened sanctions against them.
  • Gabriel Agbonlahor has played nine seasons with Aston Villa, and is the team's top goal scorer during the time they spent in the Premier League. However, all of that has been overshadowed by one incident. During a charity match organized by Stiliyan Petrov, he tackled and injured an up-and-coming rookie named Louis Tomlinson. Yes, that Louis Tomlinson. Because of that incident, fans of One Direction have bombarded Agbonlahor with death threats, but he has become a hero for many One Direction haters as well. Still, it's already overshadowed his entire career.
  • Clarence Seedorf was a relatively successful Dutch footballer with a decent career. And by decent, we mean that he won the Champions League four times with three separate teams: Ajax, Real Madrid, and twice with AC Milan. It would have been five times, but Milan lost the 2005 final to Liverpool in the so-called 'Miracle of Istanbul', despite having been 3-0 up at half time. For perspective, Manchester United, one of the most historically successful clubs in the world, have only won it three times in their entire history, and until 2009, any club that won it 5 times got to keep the trophy, with a new one being made for the next tournament. He misses one shot at an open goal, it gets put into a One-Hit Wonder about there being "Life after death" and now nobody will ever forget.
  • Brandi Chastain is better known for taking off her shirt in celebration after making a penalty kick than the fact that the penalty kick won the 1999 Women's World Cup for the United States. This was probably helped along by the fact that it was on the cover of several magazines around America after the team won. Then again, it could have been much worse; Chastain was already under fire for making an own goal in the previous leg of the tournament. Making the winning penalty one match later means everyone all but forgot about the own goal.
  • Brazilian supporters of a team will never forget seasons where the rival was relegated (Fluminense in particular has a twofer: they were relegated down to the third level; and on the year they would get from the third division to the second, unrelated legal mess-ups lead the subsequent tournament to have Flu in the top flight, so a "Serie B" is still due for them) or decisive games where the rival was hit by a Dark Horse Victory (standouts are Internacional and Atlético-MG losing to African teams in the FIFA Clubs World Cup; Inter's adversary featuring this guy made it even more painful) and/or a home embarrassment (Cruzeiro and, again, Fluminense losing Copa Libertadores finals at home).
  • Gonzalo Higuaín has been Argentina's mainstay striker since Hernán Crespo's retirement from the national team, and has had a successful career overall, as the fourth highest goalscorer in that country and even being able to break the Serie A goalscoring record in the 2015/16 season, but his image in Argentina has drastically plumetted since 2014. First, he competely misses a fairly simple one-on-one chance in the 2014 World Cup final match against Germany. Then, he misses an open goal and a penalty during the penalty shootout in the 2015 Copa América final match against Chile. And yet again, he creates an advantageous one-on-one chance in the 2016 Coma América final match against Chile... and misses again (though he does score his penalty during the penalty shootout this time). In Argentina, his achievements at club level will very likely be ignored on behalf of those three key missed goal chances (As well as the penalty).
    • Nowadays, Higuaín has also become known for turning up to Juventus' first exhibition match overweight. The comparisons to Snorlax skyrocketed since that match.
    • While not to the same extent, the Argentina national team generation of The New '10s has been hit by this really hard thanks to those three final matches lost in a row (and not scoring goals in finals since the 2005 Confederations Cup). Some examples include Ángel Di María, who gets a lot of flak due to missing the first two final matches and underperforming in the third one due to injuries; Javier Mascherano, who has the strange case of being a Memetic Badass and a Memetic Loser at the same time (losing five final matches in a row), and Lionel Messi... who will seemingly not leave his Base Breaker status no matter how (more so after missing his penalty in the shootout against Chile in 2016).
  • Gary Lineker is widely considered to be one of the best English strikers of all time, regularly banging in goals for England, Leicester City, FC Barcelona, and Tottenham Hotspur (whilst never being booked throughout his career). Younger generations, though, know him better for his frequent appearances in advertisements for Walker's Crisps. note  Lineker himself admits that he will mainly be known as "The Crisp Bloke" by younger fans.
    • If it's not the crisps, Lineker will be known for his pledge to present Match of the Day in his underwear if underdogs Leicester City win the Premier League. Cue Leicester winning the Prem in 2016.
  • John Terry is well known as one of the best defenders to play for England and Chelsea. However, several incidents have continued to dog him for the rest of his career:
    • In 2010, he was involved in an adultery scandal with the girlfriend of his former teammate Wayne Bridge. Since then, he has earned a reputation as a "cheat" and a "WAG note  chaser".
    • Terry's reputation was damaged further in 2011, when he was accused of hurling racial abuse towards Queens Park Rangers player Anton Ferdinand (who he allegedly called a "fucking black cunt"). While he was eventually found not guilty of the aforementioned charge (though he was stripped of his captaincy of the England national team), Terry has since been labeled a "racist" by rival fans, as demonstrated by this Manchester United chant.
    • On a lighter note, Terry gained internet notoriety for celebrating Chelsea's 2012 Champions League triumph in a full kit... despite being suspended from the CL final due to a red card in the semis. note  Cue several jokes and memes about John Terry celebrating random unrelated events in full Chelsea gear (e.g. Eurovision, Wimbledon, Test Cricket), particularly after Terry repeated the feat for Chelsea's 2013 Europa League win.
  • Stoke City have been playing beautiful, possession-based football ever since Mark Hughes' "Stokelona" revolution (which brought in the likes of Xherdan Shaqiri, Marc Muniesa, and Bojan Krkic), but they are still known as physical and primitive long-ball merchants no thanks to Tony Pulis' direct style of play during Stoke's entry to the Premier league.
    • Speaking of long balls, former Bolton and West Ham manager Sam Allardyce is commonly known and reputed as a long-ball manager. Pulis himself also has this reputation.
    • Not to mention Louis van Gaal during his ill-fated Man United stint. During a game between van Gaal's United and Allardyce's West Ham, Allardyce bemoaned van Gaal's tendency to hoof the ball towards Marouane Fellaini; van Gaal then responded by showing a dossier of Man United's passing stats in order to disprove Allardyce's accusations. Ever since then, van Gaal was roundly criticized for transforming Manchester United (known for beautiful, skillful football throughout most of their history) into a dreary, long-ball side.
  • Simone Zaza may have been a relatively obscure striker if it weren't for his hilarious penalty run-up and the subsequent miss in the Euro 2016 Quarterfinal Penalty Shootout between Italy and Germany.
  • Chris Wondolowski is one of the best forwards in both San Jose Earthquakes and MLS history, having scored at least 10 goals for 8 straight seasons and having a career goal tally of 134, tied for second in MLS history. That, and his Golden Boot-winning performance in the 2013 Gold Cup, led to him being called up for the 2014 World Cup in place of Landon Donovan. He went on to make himself a household name... by butchering an easy chance in stoppage time against Belgium. His treatment after the miss is still a sore spot for many Earthquakes fans.
  • The USMNT's disastrous performance towards the end of the 2018 World Cup Qualifiers in CONCACAF has already gone down as one of the most disgraceful endings for an otherwise decent team in a weak confederation. This includes a 2-0 knockout punch by Costa Rica on home soil, barely squeaking by with a tie in Honduras, and despite a 4-0 thrashing of Panama in Orlando ending up pulling a 2-1 choke job against an already eliminated Trinidad & Tobago playing for pride to get knocked out of the World Cup completely, including two late-game rallies by Honduras and Panama kicking them out for good. For American fans of the beautiful game, this ugly ending was incredibly hard to watch and one that will sting for a long time.
    • Although the end of that qualifying disaster was presided over by Bruce Arena, most fans lie most of the blame squarely on former manager Jurgen Klinsmann, whose attempts to "bring more Europe" to the USMNT severely clashed with the types of players that were actually on the team (mostly big MLS stars, with most Americans playing abroad being inferior to the talent they played with, with the possible exceptions of Tim Howard and Christian Pulisic, who was just getting into international play when Klinsmann was fired).
  • Timo Werner is a talented striker, having not only helped Red Bull-backed RB Leipzig reach the Champions League in their very first season in the Bundesliga, but also - at the time of this writing - being touted as Germany's next great forward, who is poised for a career at top clubs like Bayern Munich, Real Madrid or Manchester United. But football fans in Germany will also remember him for the dive he took in Leipzig's match against Schalke 04 in the 2016-17 season. Not helping matters were: a) Werner not only diving, not only scoring the resulting penalty but also celebrating widely in front of Leipzig's fans; b) Leipzig's sporting director Ralf Rangnick expressing absolutely no regrets for his side winning because of such unsportsmanlike conduct and c) a German musician composing a shockingly catchy smear song called Timo Werner ist ein Hurensohn note  to the melody of "Heaven Is a Place on Earth". This not only became popular at German discotheques but at stadia all over Germany. Therefore, opposing fans were chanting this at Werner for the rest of the season. Werner did however apologize for his dive and the smears against him have died down, mostly because fans realize that he may very well be useful for the national team in the future.
  • Mexican team Cruz Azul is seen as the butt of many jokes due to losing every final match they played since their last league win in 1997, but what cemented their infamous reputation was the Clausura 2013 final match, in which they lost in penalty shootout against rivals América after receiving a goal in injury time, despite dominating for most of the match. Due to this, the term "cruzazulear" (to do a "Cruz Azul") was coined as a way of failing spectacularly even with the odds on one's favor.

     Auto Racing 
  • Above all, a driver who died in action will likely most be remembered for the accident that took their life above all else, such as Dale Earnhardt, Ayrton Senna, and Dan Wheldon.
    • Even if they don't die, if the injury was rather serious they'll be remembered more for their crash than their achievements. See: Niki Lauda (severely burned), James Hinchcliffe (nearly bled out), and Dario Franchitti (serious concussion that resulted in him retiring). Alex Zanardi is an exception, as while he's remembered a lot for the massive crash that resulted in the loss of his legs, he used that to springboard his way into a memorable Paralympic career, so he's now remembered for that more.
  • Nelson Piquet, three-time Formula One World Champion in The '80s and one of the most successful race drivers of all time, is mostly remembered for two things:
    • This: When he was leading the German Grand Prix, Piquet ended up locked with the Chilean pilot Eliseo Salazar, which ended with them colliding and taking both of them out of the race. After leaving his car, Piquet went on to attack Salazar, in a show of bad sportmanship.
    • Nelson Sr. is also remembered for his cheeky sense of humour, but also with the unhappy caveat that he once insinuated in a Playboy interview that Ayrton Senna was gay and said that Nigel Mansell had a "stupid and ugly wife". Yeah…
  • That's slightly better than his son, Nelson Piquet Jr., despite winning the 2014-15 debut season of Formula E:
    • It seems that Piquet Jr. will only be remembered for how during his stint in F1, he deliberately crashed his car so his teammate could win a race, which effectively ended his F1 career.
    • Then, history repeats. At least this time Nelson Jr. actually hit his target. His NASCAR career stalled shortly after, and he's back in open wheel, this time running the all-electric Formula E series that debuted in 2014. However, since he won the inaugural championship of that series, it might be his best opportunity to put Crashgate behind him.
  • Romain "First-Lap Nutcase" Grosjean was known to have records of collisions on the curcuits. He was infamous for his Spa-Francorchamps start in 2012, where he horrifyingly crashed out a series of potential world championships in the very first corner, and therefore got a race ban. The thing is, though Grosjean has vastly improved over the following seasons, he is still remembered as a crash maniac, along with an arguably more aggressive driver like Pastor Maldonaldo.
  • Inversion of Piquet Jr.? Juan Pablo Montoya … sure, he's won the Indy 500 twice and Monaco Grand Prix, but many will remember him for crashing into a jet dryer in the 2012 Daytona 500, which eventually set the track on fire and nearly cutting the race a hundred miles short as a result.note  And many will forget that it was caused by a mechanical failure due to a faulty part installed in his rear suspension, something which was proven when teammate Jamie McMurray had the same failure twenty laps later and triggered a multi-car wreck in the tri-oval.
  • Brazilian F1 fans have two painfully similar moments for their most successful drivers after Ayrton Senna died: Ferrari ordering Rubens Barrichello to let Michael Schumacher finish ahead of him in the 2002 Austrian GP, and Felipe Massa to give in to Fernando Alonso in the 2010 German GP.
  • Micheal Waltrip Racing as a whole never escaped the stench of Spingate, where Clint Bowyer deliberately spun himself out in order to get then-teammate Martin Truex Jr. into the Chase for the Sprint Cup over Ryan Newman and Jeff Gordon.note  Just about everyone connected was hurt by it in some way: Every race incident since between Bowyer and another driver is chalked up to "Bowyer's cheating again". Bowyer at least got to keep his job while Truex was forced to leave MWR after losing his sponsor.note  Ultimately, the scandal combined with lack of performance overall led to more sponsors leaving MWR (most notably Napa Auto Parts, which had backed Waltrip since before he even founded his own race team), and the organization announced it would close up shop following the 2015 season.
  • Mercedes is unlikely to ever return to the 24 Hours of Le Mans because they'll never be able to live down having two cars fly off the track in two separate years. The first occurred in 1955 and killed eighty-three spectators and the driver when the Mercedes collided with a slower car.note  The disaster caused Mercedes to withdraw from all forms of racing until the late 1980s. Then, in 1999, their ill-fated CLR did two separate back flips on its own during practice and the race morning warm-up session. Remembering the 1955 incident Mercedes considered withdrawing before the race but instead decided to continue with modifications to the car's aerodynamic setup. Shortly into the race one of the CLR's again somersaulted in spectacular fashion - this time in full view of the world's TV audience. Fortunately the crash resulted in no injuries, and there have been other incidents of prototypes flying through the air, such as a Toyota in 2012 (though that one didn't leave the track).
  • J. R. Hildebrand is unlikely to lose the stigma of being the first driver to ever crash while leading in the last corner of the Indianapolis 500, although there were a few extenuating circumstances that make his mistake look less like a massive choke job and more like a case of an inexperienced rookie caught out by bad luck: Hildebrand was baulked by a lapped car travelling far more slowly right on the racing line — many fans felt the lapped driver (Charlie Kimball) should have chosen to drive on the track apron as he was coasting to the finish conserving fuel; Hildebrand had inherited the lead as drivers ahead pitted for fuel and was trying to stretch his own fuel to the finish; he was being caught very rapidly by Dan Wheldon and slowing down and following the lapped car could have cost him the race anyway had his fuel-starved engine not responded to the throttle; many drivers had run the same line earlier in the race with no problem but the track had become more slippery and the racing line had narrowed; and lastly Hildebrand very nearly won the race with a wrecked car anyway and was perhaps unlucky to be passed by one car so close to the finish (Wheldon passed him coming to the checkered flag in what ended up as his final career victory before he died in a massive wreck in the season finale at Las Vegas).
  • On that note, Scott Goodyear will likely never live down being on the wrong side of the closest finish in Indy 500 history. In the 1992 event, he started dead last, got up to second in the closing moments of the race, had a run on Al Unser Jr. coming to the checkers … but Unser held him off by a nose, literally. The record-setting margin of victory was a mere 0.043 seconds.
  • Brad Keselowski seems to be remembered less for winning the 2012 Sprint Cup than for showing up drunk on SportsCenter just after accepting the series trophy. Now, every time he wins, people joke about him giving drunken post-race interviews, even when obviously sober. His 2014 Kentucky win, where he cut his hand on the jagged end of a broken champagne bottle in Victory Lane, will probably not help.
    • Bad Brad's also gained a reputation for aggressive driving and Foot-In-Mouth Syndrome, even causing a Beware the Nice Ones/Not So Stoic moment in no less than Matt Kenseth, who came flying out of nowhere to put Keselowski in a headlock and begin punching at Charlotte in October 2014.note 
  • Kenseth himself has his own moment in 2015 in Martinsville after intentionally taking out Joey Logano for past wrecks, endangering Logano's chance to win the Chase for the Cup (which Kenseth had been eliminated from with said past wrecks).note 
    • Logano gets for the same incident because so many people (including other drivers) agreed that Logano got what was coming to him. When Kenseth drove Logano into the wall the fans were on their feet cheering.
  • It's too early to tell, but MotoGP's Jorge Lorenzo and Marc Márquez are likely going to be remembered less for their successes and probably will never live down their allegedly screwing Valentino Rossi from winning the 2015 championship, especially after a very controversial Malaysian Grand Prix. That particular race got heated up so much, even their respective Prime Ministers had to react to the situation that engulfed, with fairly expected results. It didn't help them that:
    • They are Spanish, making them conationals of MotoGP's promoters, Dorna.
    • The majority of MotoGP fans are fans of Valentino Rossi. Mind you, Rossi is hugely popular almost anywhere. If Rossi walks out of MotoGP, it is expected that the number of viewers are going to plummet down hard.
    • The race direction seems to failed to see that Marc's head actually hit Rossi's leg on the crash that resulted in Rossi's penalty;note  the fact they didn't investigate the possibilities of Lorenzo overtaking Rossi on a yellow-flag zone, and how Márquez gets away with no penalties at all despite seemingly deliberately going wide to let Lorenzo pass.
      • As a proof on just how popular Rossi is and how controversial the race direction's decision is, there's a petition on Change.org stating that they want the race direction to re-investigate the incident. It got more than 450,000 signings in around three days, and the numbers are still climbing. Oh, do we mention that the petition wasn't started by an Italian, but rather by a Brit?
      • By 2016 however, Márquez did enough to get himself Rescued from the Scrappy Heap, mainly by making peace with Rossi in the 2016 Catalunya Grand Prix and still performing in the top despite his 2016 Honda being the inferior bike compared to his 2015 Honda. Lorenzo, on the other hand, kept his status as a scrappy, and had another Never Live It Down moment with his wet races performances in 2016. Lorenzo, supposedly the defending world champion, was so slow in the wet conditions, he was literally getting overtaken by virtually everyone whenever the race went wet.
  • Tony Stewart, three-time NASCAR champ, seems doomed to be remembered as the guy who fatally hit Kevin Ward Jr. During a dirt track race, Ward Jr. exited his car under caution and began gesturing at Stewart. Stewart's back wheel hit Ward as he drove by, sending him over 20 feet across the track and killing him on the spot. The subsequent lawsuit has sullied his reputation for many beyond repair.
  • Jerry Eckman became the poster child of the dark side of nitrous oxide after he got caught up in a nitrous oxide scandal that kept him off the racetrack for 15 years and outright destroyed the team operated by his crew chief, Bill Orndorff.
  • Taki Inoue could've been just another forgettable Formula One driver. Then he got hit by a medical car. Not his car. Him. In fairness, Inoue has taken his notoriety in stride and has a bit of a cult following on Twitter now (where the medical car is even memorialized on his banner!).
  • When he's not mostly being remembered for the accident that forced him to retire (see above), Dario Franchitti was mostly remembered (particularly in the non-motorsport press) not as a four time champion or three time Indy 500 winner, but as Ashley Judd's now ex-husband.

     Basketball 
  • There is a long list of Hall of Fame players — Charles Barkley, Patrick Ewing, and Karl Malone being perhaps the best — who must live down being players with great stats but were never part of a championship team. This can be applied to other team sports as well, but it seems more prevalent in basketball because, unlike other team sports where there are so many more components, this sport seems to carry the belief that one player can carry a team (despite the fact that even Michael Jordan never won a championship without fellow Hall of Famer Scottie Pippen right there with him) and thus star players in this game must shoulder that burden more.
  • Any player who's known to flop a lot gets hit with this thanks to the aforementioned term. Spurs guard Manu Ginobili is one of the primary examples. While he is talented, he also has a habit of flopping in an attempt to draw contact. This happened less as he got older, but fans still continue to bring it up, and worst of all, they even use that to stereotype his nationality.
  • Michael Jordan is widely thought of as one of the greatest players to ever play the game, if not the greatest. A six-time NBA Champion (also winning Finals MVP all six times), five-time NBA MVP, and two-time Olympic gold medalist, along with the extremely successful "Air Jordan" brand. Yet most people these days think of him for the "Crying Jordan" meme, where a losing team gets a picture of Jordan's face with tears streaming down plastered on top of whichever team loses. It's gotten to the point that "Crying Jordan" memes after a finals in any sport, not just basketball, is more or less a given.
    • If not the "Crying Jordan" meme, it will be for his year of trying to play baseball because Jordan thought his dead father was telling him to do it. The key word being "trying," because his baseball career saw him produce utterly awful stats, to the point that he was still being mocked for it years after he returned to the NBA.
    • Jordan has also faced accusations of being rather spiteful, such as when he invited people to his NBA Hall of Fame ceremony just so he could rub it in their faces.
  • Kermit Washington was an All-Star NBA forward for the Los Angeles Lakers and Portland Trail Blazers. After his playing days, he was a popular radio host and was heavily involved in charity work. But mention his name, and ninety-nine percent of people who recognize it will go straight to that one night in 1977 when he nearly killed Rudy Tomjanovich of the Houston Rockets with a freak haymaker (often inaccurately described as a "sucker punch").note  And before winning championships and Olympic gold as a coach, Rudy T was most remembered as being the recipient of that punch (despite being an All-NBA level player prior to that night).
    • Tomjanovich, likewise, has noted that for much of his life people would come up to him and say, "I know you — you're the guy who got nailed."
  • Bill Robinzine was an excellent rebounder and one of the league's better defenders during his seven-year career in the NBA. Today he's only known for being the player who ducked out of the way of Darryl Dawkins' backboard shattering dunk against the Kansas City Kings on November 13, 1979. Robinzine's unique method of ducking (running away with his face in his hands) was noted by Dawkins when the press asked him to name said dunk ("The Chocolate-Thunder-Flying, Robinzine-Crying, Teeth-Shaking, Glass-Breaking, Rump-Roasting, Bun-Toasting, Wham-Bam, Glass-Breaker-I-Am-Jam").
    • Sadly, Robinzine committed suicide by carbon monoxide poisoning in 1982, apparently due to depression over being unable to sign with an NBA team. He was only 29 years old.
  • The Portland Trail Blazers have never lived down passing over Michael Jordan and taking Sam Bowie in the 1984 NBA Draft. The Blazers thinking was that they already drafted Clyde Drexler 1 year earlier - a promising young player at the same position as Jordan - and although they had the capable Mychal Thompson at center, he wasn't a superstar either and the prevailing logic at the time was that centers were more valuable than guards. The Houston Rockets used this same logic to pick Hakeem Olajuwon (which they have avoided flak for since they got two championships out of him) over Jordan. Also at the time, some people in Chicago were shaking their fists because Portland picked Bowie before they could; the Bulls' coach and GM at the time said they couldn't build a team around Jordan because "he's not seven feet tall". On the other hand, picking Bowie was certainly a calculated risk since he had missed two seasons of college with fractures in his legs. Sure enough, Bowie was an effective player in the pros, but ended up missing multiple seasons with similar injuries and never became a star. Nowadays he is almost solely remembered as "that guy who got drafted ahead of Michael Jordan" and most fans don't even realize he was no scrub as a player.
    • Subverted in that even Bowie himself, after becoming a racehorse owner, doesn't mind his draft status.
    • This seems to be a recurring theme with the Blazers: drafting big men who dominated in college only to suffer in the pros because of injuries. These include Bill Walton, Sam Bowie, and most recently, Greg Oden. Walton was a legit superstar, Bowie at least a solid starter when healthy, but Oden never really got his career going.note  There's also "players who do become stars but retire early because of injuries", such as Bill Walton and Brandon Roy; Portland fans just can't catch a break).
    • In fact, drafting a collegiate/European blue chip center has never gone according to plan for the Blazers. 1972 first-overall pick LaRue Martin? Bust, gone from the NBA in four seasons. 1974 first-overall pick Bill Walton? A stud when healthy, but the thing is, he hardly ever was healthy. 1984 second-overall pick Sam Bowie? As mentioned above, a solid pro, but always remembered as the guy picked in between Hakeem and MJ. 1986 first-rounder Arvydas Sabonis? He was a star when he made his NBA debut in 1995, but he was already thirty-one years old, with his best days past him due to injuries. 2007 first-overall pick Greg Oden? Flamed out after a short, injury-riddled NBA career, flamed out after an injury-riddled attempt to restart his career in China; now back at Ohio State as a student.
  • To Indiana Hoosiers fans, Kent Benson is probably their best player ever in program history (or at worst second to Isiah Thomas), leading them to an undefeated season in the 1975–76 season, a 63–1 record from 1974–76, and is still their second leading all time rebounder. To most everyone else who follows basketball, he's known for being such a jerk that he was part of the reason Larry Bird left IU for Indiana State, being named the worst draft pick of the 1970s in NBA history according to Sports Illustrated, and getting his jaw broken by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in his very first pro game.
  • Latrell Sprewell will forever be remembered as the guy who choked his coach.
    • Maybe supplanted by the fact that he put spinning rims on his sneakers.
    • Don't forget the time he rejected a multi-million-dollar contract because "he has a family to feed" … he's good at outdoing himself.
      • Not long after rejecting that deal, Sprewell filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy due to his spending ways.
  • In the 1993 NCAA Men's Basketball Final, near the end of the game, Michigan "Fab Five" star Chris Webber called a timeout, unaware that Michigan had none left. His call gave Michigan a technical foul and turned the ball over to North Carolina, who went on to defeat Michigan and win the championship. Twenty years later, this kid, who wasn't even born when the game happened, had no problem giving Michigan's basketball team a reminder.
  • Bob Knight retired as the winningest NCAA Division I men's basketball coach ever,note  won three national championships, and led the USA men's Olympic basketball team to gold in 1984 as just a few of his career highlights. He's known by people who follow college basketball as a tough, but highly controversial coach with a vicious mean streak — but he will forever be known as "that basketball guy who threw the chair" despite that incident occurring in 1985 — a full twenty-three years before his 2008 retirement.
    • That itself is weird, since he's racked up a veritable laundry list of these indiscretions over his distinguished career, including choking a player and suggesting that rape victims should "lie back and enjoy it".
  • Try being Timofey Mozgov after this dunk. Sure, it was a moment of awesome for Blake Griffin, but it's most likely all Mozgov will ever be remembered for.
    • In fact, other players who've been on the receiving end of Blake Griffin dunks (Kendrick Perkins comes to mind) are said by some commentators to have been "Mozgoved". In double-fact, currently, if you type "Mozgov" into Google, the word "Mozgoved" is the second or third suggested search option, depending on when you do the search.
  • Speaking of Isiah Thomas, he should be remembered as one of the top five NBA point guards of all time. But his post-playing career has been one major embarrassment topped by another:
    1. The guy who got left out of the Dream Team. Despite proving himself as a talented player and having already won two championships with the "Bad Boy" Detroit Pistons, he did not make the legendary 1992 USA national basketball team that won a gold medal at the Olympics, mostly due to Michael Jordan telling USA Basketball "it's him or me" (this led to a rift between good friends Thomas and Magic Johnson, as Thomas felt hurt that Johnson didn't stand up for him). The reasons MJ didn't want Isiah on the Dream Team? Either the walk-out (after beating Jordan's Bulls in the playoffs 3 straight seasons, Isiah's Pistons were swept by the Bulls and the Piston starters walked away into the locker room before the game was over) or the freeze-out (in Jordan's first all-star game, several of the veteran players on his team, upset at how much attention he got, refused to pass him the ball), or both. And both were orchestrated by Isiah Thomas. In Jordan's defense, several other players including Scottie Pippen, Larry Bird, and Karl Malone made it clear they didn't want to play with him either.
    2. The guy who put Barney on a jersey. His first non-playing job was president of the expansion Toronto Raptors — named for the dinosaur simply because Jurassic Park had just come out. The team uniforms he designed included a cartoon-like dinosaur in a basketball uniform on the front of the jersey. Thomas admitted he did it to appeal to kids; just about everyone over the age of twelve was less than impressed, and the image was removed soon after his departure.
    3. The guy Larry Bird fired: His three-year stint as head coach of the Indiana Pacers, where Thomas showed a legit knack for judging young talent and an inverse knack for actually coaching them. Larry Bird's first act as Pacers' general manager was to summarily fire Thomas (Thomas and Bird were infamously "unfriendly" during their playing days).note 
    4. The guy who killed the CBA: In 1999, Thomas headed a group that bought up the entire Continental Basketball Association, the NBA's de facto minor league. It went bankrupt within three years of Thomas' leadership.
    5. And now (and probably forever) the guy who ruined the Knicks: In 2003 Thomas was hired as President of Basketball Operations for the New York Knicks, a move that raised eyebrows in light of the above-mentioned CBA debacle. He immediately crippled the Knicks for years with a series of bad trades and worse free agent signings (and even worse contracts for those signings). By 2006, the Knicks had the NBA's highest payroll and second-worst record. He was finally fired in 2008 and was thought of as one of the worst executives in the history of modern American sports.
      • The Anucha Browne Sanders sexual harassment suit during his Knicks tenure just added to the craziness and public contempt.
      • So naturally, Knicks owner James Dolan rehires Thomas… to run New York's WNBA franchise. That's right: A man with a sexual harassment suit loss on his record is being tapped to run a women's sports team. This is serving to cement Dolan's reputation as the worst current owner in American sports (and climbing the ladder of worst ever).
  • Ron Artest is one of the NBA's top defenders, and helped lead the Lakers to a championship in 2010. But most people will probably forever associate him with "The Malice at the Palace". While playing for the Indiana Pacers against the Detroit Pistons in 2004, Artest went into the stands to punch a Pistons fan after being hit by a cup, which led to a full-scale brawl between the teams and the fans. The game was called immediately, and Artest was suspended for the remainder of the entire 2004-05 season, missing a total of 86 games and losing almost $5 million in salary. The hilarious thing about it is that he went after the wrong guy. In other words, some fan threw a plastic cup at Artest, and Artest responded by charging into the stands and punching out a completely different person.
    • In the months before the 2011–12 season began, Artest both changed his name to "Metta World Peace" and tweeted about his nipples being hard from excitement at a Cιline Dion concert. It's almost as if he's trying to get people to forget the "basketbrawl."
    • A somewhat forgotten — though still infamous — one came during his first season in the NBA with the Bulls. He applied to a Circuit City so he could get the employee discount.
    • Though in the end, he may be cementing a more respectable legacy as one of basketball's most vigorous advocates for mental health awareness.
  • Remember the tallest NBA player in the league: Shawn Bradley? Good luck with finding anyone who doesn't bring up the many times he got dunked on by many other players. Let's not even go into that one dunk that completely ended his career. Just take a look at it yourself.
  • Nick Anderson is the only man ever to score 50 points off the bench in the NBA and was a major part of the infamous "Flying Illini" University of Illinois basketball team. He's best remembered, however, for missing four consecutive free throws in the 1995 NBA Finals. Had he made even one of those shots, the game would have been in the bag, but after a three-pointer tied things up, Anderson's Orlando Magic lost in overtime. Cue lifelong derision as "Brick Anderson" and "Nick the Brick".
    • Following the 1995 Finals debacle, Anderson's free throw shooting, once only slightly below-average, would often reach epic levels of fail. He shot just 40% from the line in 1996–97 and 49% in 1999–2000, which is what you'd expect from awkward shooters of the era like Chris Dudley, but not a 6'6" shooting guard with an above-average shot from long range.
    • Earlier that same year, during Orlando's second-round series with the Bulls, Nick made the mistake of suggesting that Michael Jordan wasn't as good as he used to be since coming out of retirement, saying that no. 45 (Jordan's number when he got back initially) was never as good as no. 23. The very next game, Jordan brought back the 23 and shows Anderson that Jordan is still Jordan. Though Orlando won that series, Michael made the rest of the league pay big time over the next three years, taking the Bulls to three more championships.
  • Allen Iverson was a fantastic Hall of Fame guard, though he just could never seem to win it all. Some of that might be because for all his strengths and natural talent, we're still sitting here, he's supposed to be a franchise player, and we're in here talking about practice. Not a game. Not a game. Practice. After allegedly skipping practices, he had a press conference repeating the word "practice" twenty times, and almost as frequently the phrase "not a game", suggesting he did not understand how practicing could help a team. Several years, and two contracts later, the Pistons held a press conference after they acquired him in a trade. A Detroit reporter ribbed him about his practice habits. It's even been in the Stupid Statement Dance Mix for Never Live It Down interview moments, as the chorus and focus interview. Even above Mike Gundy's "COME AFTER ME! I'M A MAN! I'M FORTY!"
    • It should be noted that Iverson's rant was mainly in response to the reporters on hand repeatedly asking him about his practice habits instead of that night's game.
    • To make a very funny point, Larry Brown, coach of the 76ers at the same time that Iverson was there, replied to a reporter, "He doesn't come to practice as many times as he can say it."
    • And when Iverson was inducted to the Hall of Fame, Yao Ming just had to sneak in a "practice" joke during his induction speech.
  • John Stockton completely rewrote the basketball record books for steals and assists; the latter record may never be broken. What's the first thing people remember him for? His shorts — he was the last player never to wear the baggy shorts look that Michael Jordan made popular. Even his autobiography mentions them.
  • Charles Barkley has a couple of infamous incidents: first, his infamous commercial in which he claimed "I am not a role model"; second, that time he sped while driving drunk because he was in a hurry to get oral sex.
    • Or that time he threw a guy out a plate glass window.
    • Barkley's lowest professional moment was unquestionably his attempt to spit on a heckler that hit a little girl instead. He was hit with a fine and a suspension, and would later say it was the only thing he truly regretted from his playing days (despite befriending the girl and her family and sending them tickets to the Nets, their home team).
  • No matter how big Louisville Cardinals player Kevin Ware makes it in the pros, he will forever be remembered for the gruesome broken leg he suffered in the Cardinals' NCAA regional final against Duke in March 2013.note 
  • Jason Collins will likewise be remembered as the first active male athlete in a major North American sports league to come out as gay. Not that that's a bad thing.
    • Emphasis on "come out". A few past athletes — notably Glenn Burke (mentioned above under Baseball) — made an Open Secret of their sexuality, but never officially or overtly came out.
  • Charles Smith was a fairly serviceable, though not exactly great, forward for several years during the 1990s who is best known for an embarrassing moment during the 5th game of the 1993 Eastern Conference Finals between his New York Knicks and the two-time defending NBA champion Chicago Bulls. With time running out and the Knicks trailing 95–94, Smith took a pass from star center Patrick Ewing, had his shot blocked, four times. Bulls point guard B.J. Armstrong scored a lay-up as time expired to clinch the win and a 3–2 series lead for the Bulls; who clinched their third straight NBA Finals appearance in Game 6.
  • Cleveland Cavaliers guard Craig Ehlo was always a solid shooter and defender, but is always remembered as the guy guarding Michael Jordan when he made "The Shot", a last-second shot that won that first-round playoff series for the Chicago Bulls in the 1988–89 season. This was considered an upset as the Bulls were the sixth-seeded team and the Cavs the third seed. Ehlo played very good defense on the play, too, Jordan just made a very difficult shot.
  • Stan Kroenke, owner of the Denver Nuggets, will never live down a conflict when his home area, the Pepsi Center, scheduled a WWE Monday Night Raw broadcast during playoff week when, should the team make the playoffs, there was an even chance they'd be playing a home game. Instead of alerting WWE to the possible conflict months in advance and allowing them the possibility that they may need to find another venue for that date, he waited until the Nuggets made the playoffs and the playoff schedule was officially announced (which deemed the Monday night game a home game). This gave WWE all of six days to move their event somewhere else and Kroenke offered them a much, much smaller venue to run their broadcast. He did all this to Vince McMahon, widely acknowledged as the world's richest carny, and the whole thing spun into a vicious firestorm of negative publicity for himself, the Nuggets, and the NBA. Vince was only too happy to stoke this, making the rounds of various sports shows to talk about how little confidence Kroenke had in his team. The Nuggets' playoff rivals, the Los Angeles Lakers, got in on the Nugget-bashing by giving WWE their arena, the Staples Center, to do the broadcast. All in all, the whole fiasco meant tons of lost revenue for Denver and a whole lot of egg on Kroenke's face. In addition, the Nuggets would eventually lose the Western Conference finals to the Lakers four games to two.
    • In the Monday Night Raw episode in question, WWE would repeatedly poke fun at Kroenke and the Denver Nuggets, with McMahon himself revealing to a Kroenke impersonator what the "E" in "E. Stanley Kroenke" stands for: Enos. (Probably not that embarrassing in hindsight, as Kroenke was apparently named after St. Louis Cardinals legends Enos Slaughter and Stan Musial.) A tag team match later that evening would feature the faces in Lakers jerseys and the heels in Nuggets jerseys. Naturally, the heels lost.
    • Although Kroenke may now be more well known as the guy who, after buying the St. Louis Rams, moved them back to Los Angeles (after the previous owner moved them to St. Louis).
  • LeBron James has three NBA titles, four NBA MVP awards, two Olympic Gold Medals, three NBA Finals MVP awards, and is regarded as one of the best basketball players of his generation. But everyone still derides him for The Decision, a seventy-five-minute special broadcast (but not produced or directed) by ESPN where he announced he was "taking his talents to South Beach" and signing with the Miami Heat.
    • Even after winning two championships in Miami, LeBron's been haunted by a comment he made during "The Decision", where he pronounced that he, Chris Bosh, and Dwyane Wade would lead the Heat to eight championships. ("Not one, not two, not three…" etc.) This was especially true after the Big Three took the Heat to the finals in their first year together but lost to the Dallas Mavericks, and when LeBron went back to Cleveland during the 2014 offseason.
    • Dan Gilbert, the owner of the Cleveland Cavaliers (the team LeBron originally left to play for the Miami Heat, only to return for the 2014–15 season), is unlikely to live down his response to James' departure — an open letter to Cavaliers fans attacking James for deserting the team, and guaranteeing that the Cavs would still be able to win an NBA championship without his help. The letter was posted on the Cavaliers' website all throughout LeBron's tenure with the Heat, and was mocked mercilessly for its childish tone and for being written entirely in Comic Sans, the most hated of all typefaces. In the years after LeBron's departure, the mockery gradually died down, but he really felt the heat from this tirade after LeBron returned to Cleveland.
    • This was such a huge story that the entire basketball-watching populace of Cleveland, Ohio (and by extension all of Ohio) is still struggling to live down the actions of a few disgruntled fans in the wake of LeBron's departure, especially stunts like burning LeBron jerseys. This really got embarrassing after the Cavaliers won the NBA Championship in 2016 with LeBron back on the squad, defeating the 73-9 Golden State Warriors to do it, making it Hilarious in Hindsight.
    • Now LeBron is suffering from a whole new "never live it down" as of his recent loss to the Golden State Warriors in the 2017 and 2018 NBA Finals, being 3-6 in the Finals.
  • Scottie Pippen refusing to re-enter a game when a game-winning shot was called for Toni Kukoč instead of him in the 1994 playoffs has dogged him ever since, to the point that it's cited for other players in similar situations. (And the fact that Kukoč hit the shot even without Pippen in the game doesn't lessen the sting.)
  • Whether it was intentional or not, Kelly Olynyk is now best known for dislocating Kevin Love's shoulder in game four of the first round of the 2015 playoffs.
  • French center Frédéric Weis will forever be remembered for being the guy that received the butt end of le dunk de la mort,note  where Vince Carter jumped over his head and scored a dunk on the 2000 Olympics. Mind you, Weis is 7'2", while Carter is just 6'6"; and that's the same year Carter absolutely annihilated the Slam Dunk contest.
  • Danny Ainge may have won three championships in his career with the Boston Celtics (with two as a player and one as the executive) but he will be known for his ill-advised confrontation with the 7'1" Tree Rollins of the Atlanta Hawks during Game 3 of the 1983 playoffs in response to receiving a blatant elbow to the face by Rollins and the latter bit him on his middle finger so hard Ainge had to get a few stitches to repair it, and, to literally add insult to injury, Ainge was ejected from the game while Rollins got off scot free; this lead to the meme stating that "Man Doesn't Bite Tree, Tree Bites Man".
  • Renato William Jones of Great Britain: co-founder and long-time secretary general of FIBA (basketball's international ruling authority) and the man largely responsible for basketball's inclusion in the Olympics. Most widely known for his actions during the 1972 Gold Medal game between the USA and the Soviets.note  After some controversy involving Doug Collins' last-second free throws and disputed timing of Soviet time-out call, time ran out with the US leading 50-49. Jones ordered three seconds put back on the clock and the game restarted. When the Soviets failed to capitalize on the second chance, Jones ordered the clock AGAIN reset to three seconds, this time with the Soviets hitting a final shot to win. It was later found that Jones had no actual authority to make rulings about a game in progress, but he intimidated the game officials into compliance. An American protest and appeal was voted down note  Conversely, the American team has refused, to this day, to accept their silver medals.
    • Because of this outside interference, the Soviet team is somewhat unfairly thought of as a bunch of cheaters.
  • Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green is well renowned as one of the league's most talented and versatile power forwards (despite being only 6'7": relatively short for a forward). However, he has also gained a reputation as a dirty player due to the fact that he struck Steven Adams and LeBron James in the nuts during the 2016 NBA Playoffs. A few months later, he gained further notoriety for accidentally uploading a picture of his...erm...manhood to his public Snapchat story. To rub salt into the wounds, Green's teammates in the USA National team made fun of Draymond's Snapchat gaffe in the team's official Twitter account.
  • Kevin Durant could have a case for not being able to pull the Oklahoma City Thunder to a title (worst moments: losing the 2012 Finals to the Heat, and almost eliminating the 73-9 Golden State Warriors only to have the 3-1 lead be erased)... before he decided to move to the Golden State Warriors in a move that clearly screams "seeking a title".note  OKC quickly called him a Turn Coat and started burning his jersey and such. In essence, his detractors compared Durant's decision to leave OKC for GS to that of LeBron James' decision to leave Cleveland for Miami so eerily well that it became known as "pulling a LeBron".
  • Finally the 2015-16 Golden State Warriors themselves, which has this trope going both ways for them.
    • On the positive side, they are the team that broke the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls' season win-loss record (72-10), having a 73-9 win-loss record, ignited by a win streak of over 20 games during the start of the season. This also gave Steph Curry his 2nd season MVP award, after a unanimous decision. It is worth noting that Steve Kerr, current coach of the Warriors, was a part of the 72-10 Bulls, playing alongside Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, and Dennis Rodman.
    • On the negative side dashed with a bit of irony, they lost the NBA championship to the Cleveland Cavaliers, led by LeBron James, Kyrie Irving, and Kevin Love. This was despite having a 3-1 playoff advantage against them and the crucial Game 7 being played at their home court. And the Cavs being the team they defeated the year before! However, the jokes have officially all but died out as of the 2017 NBA Finals which saw Golden State get revenge on the Cavs and finally beat them...... 4-1!!!
      • More irony came later in 2016 when the Cleveland Indians built up a 3-1 series lead in the World Series, only for the Chicago Cubs to storm back and win the final three games to take the championship.
    • Stephen Curry himself has a small one. He is the captain of the Golden State Warriors. Unquestionably the greatest pure shooter of his generation, and he helped his team achieve a dynasty run, winning 3 NBA titles in 4 years. He is also one of the few, if not the first franchise players in NBA history who has never won a Finals MVP during his dynasty run. Andre Inguodala winning it for 2014-15 season and Kevin Durant winning it for the 2016-17, 2017-18 seasons. While sports experts are making this a big deal, Curry, himself, has said he doesn't care a long as his team wins.
  • Raptors GM Masai Ujiri has been credited for turning the Raptors from a Butt-Monkey to an NBA contender. However, many still remember him shouting "FUCK BROOKLYN" to a crowd of cheering Raptors fans during the Raptors-Nets playoff series in 2014. This is not helped by the fact that he shouted another expletive note  when the Raptors faced the Wizards during the following year.
  • Rising star D'Angelo Russell of the LA Lakers became infamous for snitching to Iggy Azalea, the girlfriend of his teammate Nick Young, about Young's infidelity. Comparisons to Randall Weems soon followed.
  • There's much that can be said about NBA player J.R. Smith. His Sixth Man of the Year award in 2013 for the New York Knicks. His lethal (but streaky) 3 point shooting that was a critical factor for the Cavaliers winning their first NBA Championship. His social media. Unfortunately, another thing that people will remember him for is his mental mistake in Game 1 of the 2018 NBA Finals. After getting the rebound off of a missed free throw in a tied game, while wide open...Smith attempted to dribble out the clock, apparently confused and thinking that the Cavaliers were ahead. The game went to overtime, where the Cavaliers lost 124-114. His blunder quickly became the topic of endless discussion (and parody) on social media.
  • Renaldo Balkman is known by NBA fans as a colossal bust for the New York Knicks. To Filipinos, though, he has gained notoriety for CHOKING HIS TEAMMATE while playing for the Philippine Basketball Association.
  • Another college example: Tyler Summitt. The son of Tennessee women's coaching legend Pat Summitt, he was hired in 2014 for the top job at Louisiana Tech, a one-time women's powerhouse that had fallen on hard times in the years after bigger and wealthier schools started taking the women's game more seriously. He lasted two years before he abruptly resigned, admitting to having been in an "inappropriate relationship". The media almost immediately reported that it was an extramarital affair with one of his players. As if that wasn't bad enough, Tyler's resignation happened while Pat was in the final weeks of her very public battle with Alzheimer's.
  • Mark Madsen was a solid reserve center/power forward during a 9-year NBA career that included two championships with the Los Angeles Lakers. However, mention his name and this moment from the Lakers' 2001 NBA Championship celebration usually comes to mind, drawing unfortunate and inevitable comparisons to Elaine Benes.
  • The University of Louisville men's basketball program has a couple of examples in this century:
    • In 2009, longtime head coach Rick Pitino, married with five childrennote , admitted to having had a one-night stand with a woman who would later marry the basketball program's strength coach... and paying for her to have an abortion. The woman would eventually be convicted of extortion in relation to the fling.
    • Then in the fall of 2015, a self-described former madam alleged that she had been paid thousands of dollars by a program staffer from 2010–2014 for strip shows and sex parties for Cardinals players and prospective recruits. In June 2017, the NCAA found those allegations credible enough to drop the hammer on the U of L program, with the Cards ultimately becoming the first Division I basketball team of either sex forced to vacate a national title (2013, while the parties were going on).
  • The 1986 NBA Draft is known as "The Drug Draft". The first round went swiftly downhill fast after first pick (Cleveland taking North Carolina center Brad Daugherty). The next pick was world champion Boston taking Maryland forward Len Bias, who died three days later of a cocaine overdose. The draft also included third pick Chris Washburn and seventh pick Roy Tarpley, who were both banned from the NBA for life for drug offenses, infamous flameouts Dwayne "Pearl" Washington and Walter Berry (the 14th and 15th picks, who lasted a combined five seasons in the NBA), and sixth pick Memphis St. center William Bedford, who split the difference and washed out because of drugs. While the first round contained some solid pros (including "The Rifleman" Chuck Person, Ron Harper, John Salley, Dell Currynote  and Scott Skiles), the multiple high-profile flops (and the tragedy of Bias) tends to be the overall impression of the '86 draft. This sadly overshadows the fact that the second round of that year's draft was unusually rich, with Hall of Famer Dennis Rodman and All-Stars Mark Price, Kevin Duckworth and Jeff Hornacek among the selections. The draft also sits in stark contrast with the 1985 draft (the first draft of the Lottery Era, containing hall-of-famers Patrick Ewing, Chris Mullin, Karl Malone and Joe Dumars) and the 1987 draft (with HOFers David Robinson, Scottie Pippen and Reggie Miller).
  • The New York Knicks are better remembered for: poor free agency signings, front office clashes with their own players and having one of the longest championship droughts in the league than being one of the original teams in the NBA.

     Hockey 
  • Collectively, the Vancouver Canucks hate "Chelsea Dagger" by The Fratellis, which happens to be the Chicago Blackhawks' goal/win song. Even the Bruins organist got in on it. The Canucks have faced the Blackhawks in the playoffs three of the last four years; the Blackhawks eliminated them two years in a row while Vancouver barely took the 2011 series after going up 3-0 and then letting the Blackhawks win three straight to force a game seven, which Vancouver won in overtime.
  • To add on with the Canucks, they developed a huge reputation for diving, especially after the 2011 Stanley Cup Finals. To many people, this did not help matters for them.
    • For that matter, Canucks fans have solidified a reputation for … not taking losing well. Some may have forgotten the riots in Vancouver after losing the Cup Finals to the Rangers in 1994 — and then they did it AGAIN after losing the 2011 Finals to Boston.
    • And the salt in the wound, after the 1994 defeat, the entire team was dismantled and replaced with corporate suits who cared more about seasons tickets than winning the Cup. The effect is so profound that no team in Canada has won the Cup since. It had that much of a negative effect and it may be called the Richter Cup now, after the New York Rangers goalie.
  • Continuing with '94, Stéphane Matteau scored a total of 144 goals in his sixteen-year NHL career with six different teams, but there's only one most hockey fans will know of: his Game 7 double-overtime goal in that year's Eastern Conference finals with the Rangers against the Devils.
    Rangers radio announcer Howie Rose: (Viacheslav) Fetisov for the Devils plays it cross-ice, into the far corner. Matteau swoops in to intercept. Matteau behind the net, swings it in front, HE SCORES! MATTEAU!! MATTEAU!! MATTEAU!! STEPHANE MATTEAU!! AND THE RANGERS HAVE ONE MORE HILL TO CLIMB, BABY! BUT IT'S MOUNT VANCOUVER! THE RANGERS ARE HEADED TO THE FINALS!!!
  • Ty Conklin was a brilliant regular-season goalie for Buffalo, Pittsburgh, and Detroit. Nobody would let him play in the playoffs, however, because of one mistake in the 2006 Stanley Cup Finals, playing for Edmonton, which allowed an easy goal for the opponent (Carolina).
  • Patrik Štefan, while considered to be a hockey player who never lived up to his potential, will probably never be able to live down a gaffe where he missed a shot and slipped and fell while on a breakaway on an empty net. The Edmonton Oilers skated down to the other end, and Aleš Hemský scored to take the game to overtime.
    • His career continued to tailspin out of control, quickly leaving the NHL for European Elite Leagues … then retired before the age of thirty.
  • The Edmonton Oilers' Steve Smith was a mainstay for their Cup runs, winning three Stanley Cups with that team, the last in 1990. However, he's best known for a critical own goal in the 1986 playoffs against their arch-rivals, the Calgary Flames in the seventh game of the Conference Semifinals. The score was tied at two with 14:46 remaining in the third period, and he passed it behind his own goal zone. It deflected off his own goaltender, Grant Fuhr, entered the net somehow, possibly giving the Flames an advantage (they eventually won, and moved on to play against St. Louis in the Conference Finalsnote ). Perry Berezan was credited with the goal.
  • The Toronto Maple Leafs made a deal with division rival, Boston Bruins, to trade a draft pick for one of their top players, Phil Kessel, in 2010. The Bruins got Tyler Seguin with the erstwhile Maple Leafs draft pick, and the Bruins went on to win the Stanley Cup the following season with big help from Seguin in the Eastern Conference Finals while the Maple Leafs remain the longest playoff appearance drought in the NHL.
  • Ulf Samuelsson will be forever known as a thug who took out Cam Neely in the 1991 playoffs and contributed to ending Neely's career. Laser-Guided Karma would come back to bite him four years later when he got knocked out and laid unconscious by a sucker punch thrown by Tie Domi.
    • Similar situation with Claude Lemieux when he single-handedly sparked off one of the biggest rivalries of the late 1990s to early 2000s for knocking Kris Draper's face in the boards in Game 6 of the 1996 Western Conference Finals. Draper's teammate Dino Ciccarelli vocalized his disgust at that, saying after the obligatory postgame handshake between teams, "I can't believe I shook this guy's fucking hand."
  • Todd Bertuzzi, despite having been a tough, extremely skilled, and largely unstoppable player, will be forever known for ending Steve Moore's career with a sucker punch to the back of the head.
  • Atlanta hockey fans will never live down losing not one, but two NHL teams in the league's modern era, having their teams relocated to Canada in both instances. The first team, the Flames, moved to Calgary in 1980, and the second, the Thrashers, left for Winnipeg in 2011, becoming the second-generation Jets.
  • Ilya Bryzgalov is quickly becoming less known for his goaltending (his playoff performances haven't helped, either) and more for his interviews on 24/7.
  • Hockey bad boy Doug Gilmour will always be remembered as a hothead on the ice, in Canada. While playing for the St. Louis Blues in the late '80s Gilmour got in trouble by being falsely accused of raping a 14-year-old who was also his children's babysitter. Despite having no proof that this happened the press caught word of it and never let it go; the bad press forced the Blues to trade Gilmour to the Flames in a deal that favored the Flames.
  • Scott Mellanby admits that the definitive moment of his career to most people was when he killed a rat in the locker room before a game, leading Panthers fans to embrace a rat theme.
  • Clint Malarchuk was a goalie for fifteen seasons, playing for Quebec, Washington and Buffalo. But what most people know the name for is nearly dying on the ice: During a game on March 22, 1989, while with Buffalo, Malarchuk's neck was accidentally slashed by the skate of St. Louis Blues player Steve Tuttle. Malarchuk nearly bled out on the ice; had the wound been an eighth of an inch (three millimetres) higher up or had he been on the other end of the ice (the locker room doors were on the end of the ice where Malarchuk was in goal) he would've died before the paramedics could get to him. So gruesome was the sight, that players began vomiting, fans began fainting, and two people even had a heart attack after seeing the injury.
  • Tommy Salo had a decent NHL career as a goalie, particularly during his years with the Edmonton Oilers, but he experienced the most success with the Swedish national team, where he was a big contributor to the Olympic Gold in 1994 and the World Championship victory in 1998, capturing a total of eight medals (two gold, two silver, four bronze). Following the 2002 Winter Olympics, however, many came to associate him with the poor goal he surrendered against Belarus in the quarterfinals, a goal which turned out to be the game-winning goal as the underdog Belarus upset the star-studded, priorly undefeated, and massively favored Swedish team. While it could be said that the entire Swedish team had a poor performance, Salo's gaffe became the defining moment of the game, and it has followed him ever since.
  • No matter what he does in the rest of his hockey career, Matt O'Connor will be remembered for his gaffe in the 2015 NCAA Division I championship game. With Boston University holding a 3–2 lead midway through the third period, a Providence player dumped the puck into the BU zone to prepare for a line change. A BU player deflected the puck into the air, and O'Connor caught it … but lost track of it, let it slip out of his mitt, and then kicked it back into the net. A couple of minutes later, Providence scored the goal that gave them a 4–3 win and their first national title.
  • Averted by Maurice "Rocket" Richard. Not even his short fuse, let alone an incident that got him suspended for the rest of the 1954–55 season and contributed to his Montreal Canadiens losing the regular-season title and, by extension, the Stanley Cup Finals, was able to diminish his status as a national hero in Canada, and in fact it may have even added to it. It helps that he owned up to it and ultimately quelled a riot that his suspension had caused, even leading the Canadiens to five consecutive Stanley Cups beginning the next year. Needless to say, it did produce a couple of tarnished reputations:
    • His teammate, Bernie "Boom Boom" Geoffrion, was never quite able to live down the fact that his becoming the default season points leader as a result of Richard's suspension was a contributing cause of the riot in the first place.
    • NHL president Clarence Campbell would take the full blast of this effect, being derided for ethnic bias (Campbell was Anglo, and Richard was Québécois) and intensifying the riot with his very presence (something the mayor of Montreal reamed him for).
  • Subverted by Mud Bruneteau who played for fifteen seasons with the Detroit Red Wings. He is best known for scoring the winning goal of the longest game in NHL history, ending a playoff game against the Montreal Maroons that lasted six overtime periods.
  • Wayne Gretzky is rightly known to hockey fans as "The Great One", due to his being the greatest player who ever put on a pair of skates. He led the Edmonton Oilers during their Glory Days in the 1980s. Hence it was all the more heartbreaking for Edmontonians when Oilers owner Peter Pocklington traded Gretzky to the Los Angeles Kings for a pair of also-rans, draft picks and $15 million in cash. Edmontonians, and likely many Canadians in general, will never forgive Pocklington for this. Some of the more vengeful types consider Pocklington's legal and financial troubles since then to have been Laser-Guided Karma.
    • Surprisingly, when the Oilers reunited for the 30th anniversary of their first Cup win, Pocklington was invited and despite some harsh words from him regarding what people thought of him, when he was introduced the Oilers fans gave him a standing ovation, something nobody was expecting, least of all Pocklington himself.
  • Eric Lindros was widely hailed as "The Next One" in the late 1980s, as a reference to Wayne Gretzky's nickname above. Lindros was a Lightning Bruiser power forward with a gifted scoring touch, and fulfilled the predictions of him being picked first overall at the 1991 NHL draft. He was chosen by the Quebec Nordiques... and immediately went from famous to infamous when he refused to report to the team, saying Quebec City was too isolated, too French and too limited in its endorsement opportunities. Lindros quickly developed a reputation as an egotistical prima donna, a perception that followed him to the Philadelphia Flyers after the Nordiques shipped him there in exchange for a large collection of players and draft picks. To make matters worse, the players and draft picks that Quebec received in exchange for Lindros became some of the key pieces in the franchise winning the Stanley Cup in 1996 after it became the Colorado Avalanche. As if that wasn't enough, the Flyers never won a Stanley Cup with Lindros in their lineup, as Lindros was frequently on the injured list. Lindros and his parents also continually feuded with Flyers General Manager Bobby Clarke, to the extent where Lindros sat out the entire 2000-01 season to force the Flyers to trade him to Toronto, where he wanted to play.
  • Referenced by Herb Brooks during the 1980 Lake Placid Winter Olympics. In the semifinals, the ragtag US team defeated the thought-to-be-unstoppable Soviet team, which was composed of some of the best hockey players in the world, in the "Miracle on Ice". At the end of the second period in the finals, the US was losing to Finland 2-1. During the intermission, all coach Brooks said to his players was "If you lose this game, you'll take it to your graves. Your fucking graves." Team USA rallied and defeated Finland 4-2, securing the US's first gold medal in hockey since 1960.
  • Defender Andrew Ference is mostly known for flipping off Montreal Canadiens fans as a Bruins player during the 2011 playoffs.
  • Rob Blake will be remembered as one of the best defensemen for the LA Kings (THE best defenseman, actually, if the title hasn't already been taken by Drew Doughty). Some Kings fans, though, will deem him a traitor for two reasons:
    • Demanding a trade to the Colorado Avalanche, where he eventually won a Stanley Cup, in 2001. He would eventually be forgiven for returning to the Kings five years later.
    • Leaving the Kings again in 2008 to sign for the SAN JOSE SHARKS. To make things worse, he would become the Sharks' captain for a year, and he would later retire as a Shark in 2010. It's safe to say that many Kings fans never forgave him for this, even after his jersey number was retired in 2014.
  • Evgeni Nabokov is widely considered to be one of the best goalies to ever play for the Sharks (then again, his only competitors are Arturs Irbe, Antti Niemi, and (probably) Martin Jones). However, he will also be mocked for ENDLESSLY choking in the Playoffs as a Shark.
  • Speaking of Sharks goalies (or former Sharks goalies, for that matter), Vesa Toskala will be forever remembered for giving up a goal from 197 feet as a member of the Toronto Maple Leafs.
    • Sharks fans, on the other hand, will mock the Leafs for gifting the Sharks a first rounder in exchange for Toskala. Said first rounder ended up being used to select Logan Couture, who has developed into a solid center for San Jose.
  • Dale Hunter has a sparkling reputation as a coach in the Ontario Hockey League, but he's better known for the cheap shot he gave Pierre Turgeon after a goal in the Stanley Cup Playoffs in 1993.
  • Marty McSorley. He's actually in the NHL rulebook for a rule that prevents teams from starting fights to take advantage of a 4-on-4 situation, but he's far more (in)famously remembered for slashing Donald Brashear with his stick from behind. The hit was so vicious the local authorities convicted him of assault and sentenced him to probation.
  • Dennis Wideman will forever live in notoriety for intentionally cross-checking linesman Don Henderson during a January 27, 2016 NHL game. The former claimed he hit him unintentionally and he did not see Henderson until the last moment but video replays proved otherwise. Henderson suffered a concussion after the hit and has never officiated an NHL game ever since. A year later, he would sue Wideman and the Calgary Flames for damages inflicted on him after the incident.

    Fighting Sports 
  • Controversial MMA heavyweight slugger Kimbo Slice was scheduled to fight Ken Shamrock in the main event for Elite XC: Heat until Shamrock dropped out. Seth Petruzelli, a virtually unknown light heavyweight with a mediocre record, was pulled from his scheduled fight literally minutes before the event to face Kimbo. Petruzelli dropped Kimbo with a jab in 14 seconds. This loss was so bad that Elite XC folded almost immediately after the fight. note 
  • In MMA, UFC light heavyweight Rashad Evans had only one title defense of the light heavyweight championship, which he lost to Lyoto Machida by knockout by a left punch … but for quite some time, people mainly knew Evans only for the face and pose he (involuntarily) made as he fell.
  • Mike Tyson bit off Evander Holyfield's ear. You never hear about how he set records for being the youngest boxer to win many world championships. It's always the ear and if not, it's these inglorious moments instead:
    • He was on the losing end of what many believe to be the biggest upset in boxing history, losing the world title to Buster Douglas.
    • He then served two years in prison for rape. Years later, he still claimed his innocence in that case, but publicly declared that he now wished he had done it. And somehow, the ear incident still overshadows all of that.
    • Trope Codifier for The Tyson Zone.
  • Oliver McCall was a former heavyweight boxing champ. In 1997, in the third round of the rematch with the man he beat for the title, Lennox Lewis, McCall inexplicably dropped his hands and refused to fight or defend himself, then started openly weeping in the middle of the ring (and in his corner between rounds). The fight was stopped shortly into the fifth round, after it was clear McCall wasn't going to fight.note  In the words of the fight's referee, Mills Lane:
    Lane: In the third round, he got in close, and then seemed frustrated, and then he just backed off and put his arms down … I thought he was playing possum but then I saw his lips started to quiver and I thought, "My God, is he crying?"
  • Ángel Matos, a Cuban taekwondo fighter, gained infamy (and a lifetime ban from the sport) in the bronze medal round of the 2008 Olympics. After getting disqualified from the match for an injury, Matos voiced his displeasure with the decision by kicking the judge that DQ'ed him in the face, shoving another to the ground, and spitting on the mat on the way out.
  • Roberto Durán, "The Hands of Stone" — considered by many to be one of the greatest boxers of all time. Over one hundred career wins, champion in four different weight classes, one of two fighters to have his career span five decades (1968–2002). But what is he remembered for first and foremost? The "No Más" fight.
  • Before an MMA bout with former WWE star Bobby Lashley, Mike Cook made his ring entrance wearing a Rey Mysterio mask. A visibly annoyed Lashley proceeded to choke Cook out less than 30 seconds into the fight.
  • Tomasz Adamek, Polish pro heavyweight boxer. The guy had a solid careernote , with a number of high-profile boxing fights (even going as far as facing Vitali Klitschko in a championship fight), a Muhammad Ali Giant Boxing Award and a solid international fanbase. All that changed when he tried a political career and gave a number of interviews and public appearances, during which he revealed his strongly homophobic views (even going as far as appearing in an infamous, very short-lived "Say No to Homo" TV campaign). It certainly didn't help that, at the same time, he displayed remarkable ignorance about the international politics and the duties of the European Parliament he was trying to get into. Not only did his political career crash and burn before it even started its takeoff roll, nowadays he's widely recognized as that homophobe highlander boxer.
  • Despite the sport's growth and popularity, Mixed Martial Arts in general, and UFC in particular, haven't lived down UFC's early reputation as "human cockfighting." As UFC's original intent was as a showcase of My Kung-Fu Is Stronger Than Yours — competitors of different disciplines and styles fighting it out, the fewer hard and fast rules there were, the freer the competitors were to use all their techniques and fight at full strength. As more and more UFC fighers adopted the grappling/striking-mix style of Gracie Jujitsu (the fighting style of the Gracie brothers, who dominated early UFC), it became easier for UFC to adopt more rules. Today the in-ring action is as tightly controlled as boxing or amateur wrestling (some say more than the former). But many lay people only know UFC by its earlier reputation.
  • Ernie Terrell was once the WBA World Heavyweight champion in the early 1960s. Oscar Bonavena was one of the best boxers to ever come out of Argentina from that same period. Both men are remembered most for the same thing: Refusing to call Muhammad Ali by his new name (referring to him by his former name of Cassius Clay) and having Ali beat them both savagely in the ring, both times yelling "What's my name" at them. Terrell claimed that he knew Ali as Clay from the amateur circuit, so that's the name he was used to and used. Bonavena had no such excuse: He called Ali a "black kangaroo" and mocked him as a draft dodger. He did this after the Terrell beating.
  • Ronda Rousey was the heavy favorite going into her title defense bout against the lesser known Holly Holm, and was a general media darling at the time (though fans were souring on her for her terrible sportsmanship and outrageous claims that she could beat a man in a fight), complete with a cameo in a The Fast and the Furious movie. Many expected an easy defense. What they got was Holm making Rousey look totally lost and outmatched, culminating in Holm knocking her out cold with a kick to the head. What makes it really infamous was Rousey was on The Tonight Show a few days before the fight and claimed that Holm had no chance and wasn't going to kick her in the head.

     Olympic Sports 
  • Unless you know the man personally, there is only one way and one way only you'll recognize the name "Vinko Bogataj" (an otherwise obscure Yugoslavian ski jumper from the late '60s): The spectacular 1970 ramp wipeout that forever gained him pop culture icon status as Wide World of Sports' "Agony Of Defeat" Guy. In fairness, that was one of the few sports moments in history that qualified as a Dethroning Moment of Suck and a Moment of Awesome; it'd be an eternal defining moment for anybody.
  • Stéphane Lambiel is a well known and beloved Swiss figure skater, but he will never live this down. (To the point that a skating fansite warns for "Red Cat" fanart.) Likewise, Russian figure skater Evgeni Plushenko will never live down his complaints about Evan Lysacek winning gold despite never doing a quadruple jump, or the 'Platinum Medal' found on his website (though that might not even have been his doing).
  • Béla Károlyi is the Vince Lombardi of the gymnastics world, coach of some of the greatest female champions the sport has ever seen. Is he remembered for any of his champions under his wing, including Nadia Comaneci and Mary Lou Retton, or the fact that virtually all American Olympic female gymnasts of the last two decades have been trained by Károlyi, his wife Márta, or one of his proteges? Nope, try his words of encouragement to an injured Kerri Strug during the 1996 Atlanta Games: "Yoo kin doo eet, Kary!" Not only is this a Beam Me Up, Scotty! (since he actually said "Kerri listen to me. You can do it."),note  but the version everyone remembers is actually from Rob Schneider's imitation of Károlyi from Saturday Night Live.
  • Olympic gymnast McKayla Maroney was an exceptional vaulter, but due to being somewhat specialized, was stuck in Gabby Douglas' shadow for most of the 2012 Olympics … before a picture of her scowling after placing second in the vault was turned into a Tumblr blog that quickly went viral (it's even our page image on Second Place Is for Losers). The only difference here is that Maroney is actually very proud of her status as an internet meme, even making her famous expression with Barack Obama. Still, she'll always be forever remembered as an internet meme rather than for her accomplishments as a gymnast like Douglas will be.
    • Not any longer... because...
  • In September 2016, allegations of sexual abuse against former USA Gymnastics physician Larry Nassar became public, with evidence indicating that he had been first accused of such behavior in 1997. More than 300 women have since accused Nassar of abusing them, among them US Olympians Maroney, Douglas, Simone Biles, Aly Raisman, and Jordyn Wieber. He pleaded guilty to federal child porn charges in July 2017 and was sentenced to effective life imprisonment that December; at the state level in Michigan, he pleaded guilty to sexual abuse charges in two different counties in early 2018, also receiving effective life imprisonment from both. Aside from Nassar himself, this also goes for:
    • The Károlyis, heavily criticized as enablers of Nassar. Several former gymnastics team members accused Béla and Márta of emotional abuse that gave Nassar a chance to take advantage of them. USA Gymnastics cut ties with the Károlyi training center, which permanently closed the day after Nassar's initial state sentencing.
    • Michigan State University: Faced lawsuits from over 300 local and MSU athletes alleging Nassar, a former MSU faculty member, had abused them, which the school settled in May 2018 for $500 million. Still facing an NCAA investigation into its handling of the Nassar case. Both MSU's president and athletic director resigned at about the time Nassar was first sentenced in Michigan state court.
  • Nancy Kerrigan and Tonya Harding will never live down the controversy around the 1994 U.S. Figure Skating Championships and the media circus it generated at the Olympics a month later. Harding's husband, worried that Kerrigan was going to beat her in the U.S. Figure Skating Championships, hired a hitman to injure Kerrigan by breaking her ankle. While both the attacker and Harding's husband were arrested, Harding herself has never been charged with any crime.note  Yet, it's the only thing anyone remembers her for, and she's been convicted by the court of public opinion to the point where she's been banned from international skating competitions for life.
  • Otylia Jędrzejczak, Polish butterfly-style swimmer. One Olympic gold medal (and two silver ones), world champion (twice), European champion (five times on the standard fifty-metre swimming pool, plus additional three times on a twenty-five-metre one), three times broke the world record, and with a big heart for charity (she donated her gold medal from Athens for auction with benefits going to children suffering from leukemianote ). Then, on 1 October 2005, the car she was driving swerved off the road and hit a tree while she was trying to pass a long-haul truck in heavy rain; she escaped with minor injuries, but her brother, driving as a passenger, was killed — one day before his nineteenth birthday, no less. While the incident resulted in a wave of compassion for an inexperienced driver losing control over her car in bad weather, during the legal action that followed, Jędrzejczak strongly pressed for an acquittal, stating that "her brother's death was a punishment enough"; however, the main kick occurred when she openly stated that "An Olympic champion should not be treated as a criminal"note . It was the "Screw the Rules, I'm a Champion" behavior that alienated many of her fans and caused a wave of serious criticism, especially as it starkly contrasted with her earlier public image (she was offered a deal — two years' imprisonment in suspension for five years plus some public work to do — but she turned it down, pressing for a complete acquittal). While she avoided imprisonment,note  the incident derailed her sporting career: she returned to competitive swimming in 2006. But for the sole exception of a new world record in 200-metre butterfly in 2007, it was a long strain of misfortunes and disasters (she finished seventeenth in 100-metre butterfly in Beijing in 2008), and now most people remember her nowadays for the tragic accident and its aftermath, the sporting successes slowly drowning in obscurity (she tried a political career, but it failed miserably).
  • Oscar Pistorius was an Inspirationally Disadvantaged track star, competing in the Paralympics and the 2008 Summer Olympics. Then, in 2012, he shot his girlfriend to death, and after years in the judicial system, he was convicted of culpable homicide... and then saw the conviction upgraded to murder after the government appealed.note 
    • Reeva Steenkamp was a very well-known model in her native South Africa, but to most foreigners she's unfortunately primarily remembered as Pistorius' victim.
  • Brazilian pole vaulter Fabiana Murer had a respectable career. Yet in her home country she will be reduced by dissers to three straight underwhelming Olympics, with what they consider to be Lame Excuses: in 2008, the organization misplaced one of her poles (which was only found the next day) in the final, making her lose concentration and perform badly; and the next two had Murer fall right in qualifying, in 2012 giving up on the last attempt feeling the wind was unsavory, and in 2016 because she suffered a slipped disc the month before the competition (that even made her retire following the Games).
  • Russian pole vaulter Ivan Ukhov. Gold medalist at the 2012 London games and a respected champion before and after. With the exception of the 2008 Athletissima competition. There, Ukhov, after failing to qualify for the 2008 Beijing games and having a bad fight with his girlfriend, turned up to the meet drunk on vodka and Red Bull. And despite his obvious impairment and the attempted intervention of several officials and competitors, he took his turn and drunkenly flopped onto the landing mat from ''under' the bar. He got away with a strong reprimand from IAAF, partially because he made a sincere apology for his behavior and reimbursed the competition for their trouble. Despite his successes afterward, Athletissima still came up every time he competed. (He's since retired to coaching.)
  • Suzy Favor Hamilton had one of these in her post-athletic life. A former track star at the University of Wisconsin who went on to compete in three Olympics for the US, she had such an illustrious career that the Big Ten Conference named its award for female athlete of the year after her. Her name was stripped from the award in 2013 after The Smoking Gun website revealed that she had been working as an escort (read: high-end prostitute) in Las Vegas.

     Broadcasters 
  • Legendary (now-deceased) ABC Sports announcer Keith Jackson wasn't sure how the Catch-Phrase "Whoa Nelly!" got so closely associated with him. Sports fans seem to think he used it at least once every broadcast, but by his own recollection he said it maybe six times in his forty-plus-year career. (Though he did bust it out for a Dr Pepper commercial.)
  • Howard Cosell was another mainstay of ABC Sports, perhaps best remembered for his role as one of the original color commentators for Monday Night Football. But he could never shake the stigma of racism attached to him after an infamous 1983 MNF game, during which he reacted to a catch-and-run by Washington receiver Alvin Garrett, who was black, with "Look at that little monkey run". He resigned his MNF post at the end of the 1983 season, and never regained his status among sportscasters. (His open disdain for the people running boxing, his other bread-and-butter sport, probably didn't help any.)
    • Cosell had another one two years later that led to his ouster from ABC altogether. In addition to the Monday Night Football and boxing gigs, he also covered baseball for the network, but just before the 1985 World Series, Cosell released a book called I Never Played the Game, which was essentially a lengthy rant about what annoyed him in sports, most infamously coining the term "jockocracy" to describe former athletes getting broadcasting jobs that Cosell felt they weren't qualified for. ABC pulled Cosell from World Series coverage in favor of one of sportscasting's all-time Scrappies: Tim McCarver.
  • Similarly, Jimmy "The Greek" Snyder was a mainstay on CBS' NFL pregame show for twelve years. He became an instant pariah after a 1988 newspaper interview where he stated his belief that black athletes were inherently superior to whites because blacks were bred for size and strength during slavery.
  • Marv Albert was (and remains) one of the most popular sportscasters ever, but in 1997, he was known for biting a woman's back, as well as dressing in lingerie — an incident immortalized on Denis Leary's Lock 'n Load album and also parodied in an episode of Celebrity Deathmatch.
  • Despite a long and varied career doing various high-profile sports and events, Brent Musburger will probably always be known for making strange comments about Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron's mother and his then-girlfriend, now wife, Katherine Webb during the 2013 BCS National Championship Game. However, Webb soon defused the controversy, noting that Musburger didn't use any terms she considered offensive.
    Webb: I think that if he would have said … that we were hot or sexy or made any derogatory statements like that, I think that would have been a little bit different. But the fact that he said we were beautiful and gorgeous, I don't see why any woman wouldn't be flattered by that.
    • This situation may also apply to McCarron, in that he is known more for being Webb's boyfriend/husband than for being a football player.note 
  • The late Beano Cook of ESPN. His prediction of multiple Heisman Trophy wins for Notre Dame QB Ron Powlus — before he'd played a single down for the Fighting Irish — is still mocked to this day.note 
  • Gus Johnson is perhaps best known for this call during final seconds of the 2006 NCAA tournament. With UCLA leading by two points, J.P. Batista of Gonzaga caught a down court pass and Johnson, expecting a huge play, screamed "Batista with the CAAAAAAAATCH!" Unfortunately, Batista missed the ensuing shot badly as the buzzer sounded, meaning Johnson got excited over nothing.
  • In Brazil, Fernando Vanucci will never be forgotten of the day he went on air inebriated (courtesy of mixing medicine with wine).
  • Joe Buck has been Fox's lead NFL and MLB announcer for the better part of two decades, calling numerous Super Bowls, World Series, etc. But for a lot of fans, he'll always be the guy who…
    • Responded to the Vikings' Randy Moss playfully pretending to moon Green Bay fans after a catching a touchdown pass with an on-air tirade about it being a "disgusting act".
    • Was openly and hilariously berated by Artie Lange when the latter was a guest on Buck's mercifully short-lived HBO talk show.
    • Described David Tyree's stunning helmet catch in the final two minutes of Super Bowl XLII with what can only be called the verbal equivalent of Dull Surprise.
    • Admitted that his rather weird vocal affliction in 2011 was due to an adverse reaction to the anesthesia he was given during hair transplant procedures. That's right, he almost lost his moneymaking voice due to a hair plug addiction.
    • On Fark, he's known as "Shoe P***er" due to a Farker anecdote about how he was the victim of bullying by Buck in middle school, capped off by Buck urinating in the future Farker's shoes.
  • The poor sanitary conditions at the 2014 Sochi Olympics resulted in Bob Costas, NBC's prime time host, coming down with a nasty case of pinkeye... which he didn't do a very good job of hiding when he had to go on camera and recap the day's events every single night for two weeks. Years later, jokes are still being made about it.

     Other 
  • No matter what else professional skateboarder Jake Brown accomplishes in his career, he's only ever really remembered for a death-defying fall he took at the X Games in 2007. Going up the big air ramp, he accidentally pushed his board off at the last moment while going full speed, causing Jake to fall over 40 feet to the floor. That said, it also made him a Memetic Badass in the extreme sports world, because just a few minutes after he'd fallen, Jake got to his feet and walked away.
  • Australian cricketer Shane Warne, for sending lewd text messages while drunk. If he'd sent as many as it's generally believed he has, his thumb would have fallen off by now. At least he did not have to cheat to win like Greg Chappell did: calling for his brother Trevor to deliver the last ball underarm when the match was under threat. Notorious psychopath Chris Flannerly suggested that Chappell should be shot.
  • Needless to say, more than thirty years after the fact, the Chappell brothers are still remembered as the bowler of the infamous underarm ball (Trevor) and the captain who came up with that tactic (Greg).
  • English cricketer Tony Greig. During the run-up to England's 1976 Test series against the West Indies, he had this to say:
    "You must remember that the West Indians, these guys, if they get on top are magnificent cricketers. But if they're down, they grovel, and I intend, with the help of Closey [England teammate Brian Close] and a few others, to make them grovel."
    • Unfortunate Implications … where do we begin? For starters, the word "grovel" has very sinister connotations for West Indians, many of whom are descendants of slaves (especially true in the English-speaking Caribbean, which the Windies team represents). On top of that, Greig was a white South Africannote  who made his remarks at a time when apartheid was a major political issue throughout the world.
    • The Windies swept the series 3–0. Greig kept a sense of humour; during the last Test, he pretended to crawl in to the batting crease on hands and knees. Nonetheless, he never lived the comment down until his death in 2012.
  • Another English cricketer, Douglas Jardine, is best known for two things: his aggressive abuse of the bodyline tactic in an effort to get the English back to the top in the realm of cricket, and accusing the Australian team, led by Bill Woodfull, of calling him a bastard, leading to Woodfull asking his teammates, "Which one of you bastards called this bastard a bastard?"
  • In the early '80s, Australian footballer John Burke pushed over an umpire and attacked a spectator. He was given a ten year suspension, effectively ending his career, but the footage has been circulating ever since. Commentator "Slug" Jordan's "He's done well, the boy" in response to the incident hasn't helped. Other Aussie Rules examples include Jeff Potter (the guy who had his hand pass intercepted by Barry Breen in the 1966 Grand Final) and Graeme Jenkin (the guy who Alex Jesaulenko took his famous mark over in the 1970 Grand Final).
    • Indigenous player Adam Goodes was the victim of a racial slur from a teenage girl, resulting in a push against racism that may not have been seen since the days of Martin Luthor King. This earned him Australian of the Year honors and the ire of fans who booed him relentlessly. Goodes reacted by calling how discriminated and persecuted he is, then fanning the flames by doing aboriginal war dances and it quickly reached the point it got too much for him and he retired.
  • Tiger Woods is probably better known these days for his now-infamous rampant infidelity than he is for playing golf. This may have something to do with the fact that since news broke on the scandal his game took a serious nosedive which he wouldn't recover from until 2018.
  • Bill Shoemaker was one of the greatest jockeys ever. He won four Kentucky Derbys, and his winning ride on Ferdinand in 1986 is, arguably, the best ride in Derby history. But he had two Never Live It Down moments: the 1957 Derby he lost when he misjudged the finish line aboard Gallant Man, and the 1991 drunk driving crash in which he was paralyzed from the neck down.
  • Australians have Ben Cousins. Despite being one of the greatest players in the history of Australian rules football, in 2007 he was kicked off his team, West Coast, and banned from playing for one year for drug possession, repeated traffic violations, and association with organized crime. After all this, fans still seemed to emphasize his stellar play. After he signed with Richmond, their membership sales soared.
  • John McEnroe won seventeen Grand Slam titles, owns a record streak of forty-two matches unbeaten and is regarded as the best player in front of the baseline in the Open Era. He now mostly exists in the public consciousness in the form of four words he uttered in a first round match at Wimbledon in 1981. Say it with me; "YOU CANNOT BE SERIOUS."note 
  • Fuzzy Zoeller was a popular and successful player on the PGA Tour for three decades, becoming one of three players to ever win The Masters in his first appearance. People don't remember that, nor his other Major victory (1984 US Open), nor his eighteen other tour victories. People DO remember his racially insensitive comments at the 1997 Masters, regarding winner Tiger Woods (which was Woods' first Major win) and the following Champion's Banquet (which the previous year's winner sets the menu for):
    "He's doing quite well, pretty impressive. That little boy is driving well and he's putting well. He's doing everything it takes to win. So, you know what you guys do when he gets in here? You pat him on the back and say congratulations and enjoy it and tell him not to serve fried chicken next year. Got it … Or collard greens or whatever the hell they serve."
    • Time will tell if Sergio García is remembered for the exact same thing.
  • The entire Tour de France will never live down the various doping violations it's had, including all-time leader Lance Armstrong get away with it for his entire tenure. Same thing goes for Armstrong himself.
  • Former Tour de France winner, Laurent Fignon, had been asked several times "Aren't you the guy who lost Le Tour by eight seconds?" He was, as he lost by that margin in 1989. His reply would be "No, I'm the guy who won it twice," having done so in 1983 and 1984.
  • In Tennis, John Isner and Nicolas Mahut have never lived down their famous record breaking 3 day, eleven-hour Wimbledon match that ended with Isner winning 6–4, 3–6, 6–7, 7–6, 70–68. The match went so long that the scoreboard broke and people were told just to add fifty to the displayed score. Any time either Isner or Mahut plays any other person, this will inevitably be brought up by the commentators. It isn't helped by the fact that neither was particularly well-known before then; most of their records (they hold the records for the top two most aces hit in a single match) are from that match.
    • Humorously, the following Wimbledon, the pair got matched up against causing everyone in the room to laugh. The match was nowhere near as interesting as Isner won much quicker.
  • Bobby Riggs won the 1939 Wimbledon Championship, two US Opens, three US Pro Championships and was the World No. 1 tennis player for three years, once as an amateur. However, all that was pushed aside when he lost "The Battle of the Sexes" match to Billie Jean King. (And then that was pushed aside when he claimed he'd actually thrown the match.)
  • In Rugby Union, All Blacks fans have yet to forgive Aussie flyhalf Quade Cooper for some cheap shots directed at All Blacks captain Richie McCaw in 2011.
  • Don Fox had a glittering career in the 1950s–60s as one of Rugby League's true greats. Towards the end of his career he played for Wakefield Trinity against Leeds at Wembley in the 1968 Challenge Cup final. In the last minute of the match, with Trinity trailing 10–11, he had the simplest of spot kicks, right in front of the posts, to snatch the game. He lost his footing on the wet pitch and sliced the kick wide of the posts. That is what Don Fox is remembered for today. It hasn't helped that his miskick prompted the widely-quoted "He's a poor lad!" commentary from legendary broadcaster Eddie Waring.
  • No matter how well he does, golfer Kevin Na will always be remembered for hitting sixteen on a hole in a tournament. He got some very bad luck including multiple penalties, but his last three shots were actually pretty decent.
  • Three words for Professional Poker. Juanda had trips. John Juanda mentioning at the very end that he had 3-of-a-kind felt like such a why bother when the hand he was going up against was a royal flush. However, what made it incredibly famous was Juanda's accent making the way he said trips sound incredibly off.
  • French stallion Baloubet du Rouet has many accomplishments ridden by Brazilian horse rider Rodrigo Pessoa, including the gold medal in show jumping in 2004. Yet in Brazil he's mostly associated with the previous Olympics, where he pulled out in the finals and cost Pessoa a possible medal.
  • Professional Bowler Pete Weber will mostly be remembered for being the one that most embraced the PBA Tour's emphasis on more emotion with several outbursts, including borrowing crotch chops and catch phrases from Professional Wrestling, along with a bizarre, profanity-laden celebration after a win ("WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE? I AM!") Before this, other than his successes as a bowler and being the son of bowling legend Dick Weber, he was most known for dropping the US Open trophy after he won that tournament in 1991.


http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/NeverLiveItDown/Sports