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Sports figures you've changed your tune on.


CS85

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Simple premise:  What figures in sports - be it players, coaches, GMs, etc. - have you changed your mind about over time?  I'll give a few examples.

Tom Brady - I used to like him quite a bit right when the Pats beat the Rams in '02, but then it got old seeing him win time and time again, so I cheered for him to fail.  Now I don't really hate him at all, nor do I like him all that much.  He's had an incredible career.

Eli Manning - I hated Eli when he railroaded the Chargers into trading him to the Giants, but as the years went on I got over it and now I'm sort of indifferent to him, if not a little impressed by his career.

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7 minutes ago, CS85 said:

Tom Brady - I used to like him quite a bit right when the Pats beat the Rams in '02, but then it got old seeing him win time and time again, so I cheered for him to fail.  Now I don't really hate him at all, nor do I like him all that much.  He's had an incredible career.

This is the only part I agree with.  He was the underdog out of nowhere then . . . on a team full of them.  Now, he just seems insufferable and whiny.  There's a reason the Broncos have called him a "crybaby" . . . and aren't alone in doing it.

I'll add Cam Newton.  He seemed extremely arrogant early in his career, with the whole "Superman" thing.  I wouldn't say I've turned 180 degrees since then, but giving footballs to kids after TDs is a great gesture and he seems to be very involved in the Charlotte community.

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Joakim Noah. I absolutely hated him when he was with Florida. He was one of those guys you just wanted to punch in the face. I shrugged when the Bulls drafted him - not only because I thought he was a jag-off, but because at the time everybody thought he would be a horrible pro player. Anyway, not only has he developed into one of the better centers in the league when healthy, but he's a team leader and a guy who would run through walls to win. I'm glad the Bulls got him.

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I've turned around dramatically on Carmelo Anthony. He was the hero of Syracuse basketball and was one of the very few in-their-prime superstars to go to the Knicks since....Ewing was drafted? The Knicks have signed and traded for a bazillion guys like Marcus Camby, Latrell Sprewell, Stephon Marbury, Amare, Allan Houston, Larry Johnson and more. However, not a one of those guys are a franchise cornerstone the way Melo is.

Melo is not as good as Wade or LeBron. He's a great scorer, but doesn't make players better the same way other stars do. However, he's still a top 20 talent and, unlike many, has handled the New York spotlight well. Perhaps a little too well.

This ESPN magazine article ruined Melo for me. It exposed Melo as a shallow-thinking faux mogul, asking others to define his legacy for him. He says explicitly he wants to be known for more than basketball, but he doesn't actually have any ideas on what that could mean. Instead he bought some nice suits, leased some office space, and is hoping that's enough. It's mostly just sad to me - Michael went commercial, Abdul-Jabbar went political, Magic and LeBron have straddled those lines. Melo wants to be in that mold, but isn't curious enough to actually do it. It just seems sad to me.

http://espn.go.com/espn/feature/story/_/id/11904296/new-york-knicks-forward-carmelo-anthony-wants-bulletproof-reputation

 

 

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Eli Manning. As a Chargers fan, I was rip :censored: about the stunt he and his father pulled on draft day for years. While I still think it was extremely bush-league, it turned out that Archie was right about Dean Spanos. He is a terrible owner who will never win a damn thing. 2007 and 2011 won me over, as well. Now, I respect Eli.

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21 minutes ago, DG_Now said:

This ESPN magazine article ruined Melo for me. It exposed Melo as a shallow-thinking faux mogul, asking others to define his legacy for him. He says explicitly he wants to be known for more than basketball, but he doesn't actually have any ideas on what that could mean. Instead he bought some nice suits, leased some office space, and is hoping that's enough. It's mostly just sad to me - Michael went commercial, Abdul-Jabbar went political, Magic and LeBron have straddled those lines. Melo wants to be in that mold, but isn't curious enough to actually do it. It just seems sad to me.

http://espn.go.com/espn/feature/story/_/id/11904296/new-york-knicks-forward-carmelo-anthony-wants-bulletproof-reputation

I remember you posting that before - "contrived" is the word that really comes to mind.

I can't believe someone hasn't beaten me to this one yet, but...

Pete Rose.

I used to be pro-HOF, now I'm definitely anti-HOF. But I guess it's easy to "change your opinion" when the guy just keeps giving you more and more reasons to do so. He's a man with huge problems personally, and while "Hits 4,256, Steroids 0" might be true - he still broke the cardinal rule and impacted the integrity of the game.

He has a huge place in baseball history (those 4,256 hits still mean a lot), he just doesn't have one in the Hall.

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Kobe. 

I used to absolutely HATE Kobe. There's never been a pro athlete in the history of sports who has pissed me off more than Kobe has during his career. He killed SO MANY different dreams, and did it all with a level of arrogance I've never seen from anyone. That sneer he does after hitting a big shot makes me sick every time I see it, and he made more big shots than anyone but Michael. I hoped and prayed for so long that he would lose his magic and would end up looking like a fool and was forced to retire. 

 

Then that actually happened. Kobe's play over the last few seasons has been an absolute disaster, but instead of it being funny and something to laugh at, it's actually really sad. And instead of handling it like a dick, he's actually shown a lot of grace and class. I've grown to at least appreciate just how good the guy was. He wasn't GOAT or anything, but he came pretty damn close. 

 

I really miss hating a player as much as I hated Kobe. 

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First one off the top of my head: Bryce Harper. I thought he was an enormous tool when he was coming up through high school and the minors and loved when he got plunked early on in his rookie season. Also, "that's a clown question, bro" is suuuuch a douchey thing to say to a reporter just trying to have some fun with him. I still think he's an enormous tool, but couple things about that - I think baseball needs more personalities and we shouldn't shoot down the few guys who show it. Two, now that he's proven that he can actually play, is very serious about winning, and hustles his ass off (despite what Papelbon thinks) he's won me over. 

 

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19 minutes ago, McCarthy said:

Also, "that's a clown question, bro" is suuuuch a douchey thing to say to a reporter just trying to have some fun with him.

I also disliked Harper at first, and as a Braves fan, I can't like him too much - but I do respect the way he plays the game.

As for Clown Question Bro™, it's douchey, but it was also a douchey question to ask. If Harper had been a Muslim (Jain, Sikh, etc.), would it have been acceptable to ask if he was going to have a beer? IMO, the reporter out-douched Harper.

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Tom Brady, twice. Sort of.

I went from loving the guy for being the out of nowhere underdog to hating the guy for always winning (and always punking the Chargers). I've recently come around on him a bit, mostly due to just how good he is. I can't stand the Patriots as an organization, but Brady as a player is just fun to watch. I'll repeat what I said in the NFL thread. It's cool to get to see greatness happen as it happens. Brady etching his name among the best of all time certainly qualifies.

 

As for Eli? Pfft. Screw him and the horse he road in on :P

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3 minutes ago, Kaz said:

Also, as a kid I absolutely HATED Warren Sapp and Shaq, but now I get a kick whenever I see them on TV

I've soured on Warren Sapp. Between his episodes with prostitutes and drunkenness, he deserves a Ring of Dishonor at RayJay. I still respect him for what he did on the field and getting Tampa it's first Super Bowl, but I always cringe when he's on TV, out of fear he'll do something stupid.

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Alfonso Soriano for the worse - I didn't love his exit from the Yankees, wanting to play 2nd for HOF credentials.  Soriano is still probably my 2nd fav Yankee of all time behind Mattingly, & yet since then I've not paid him any attention. 

Marshall Faulk for the worse - I loved his play on the field, able to dominate at whatever you needed him to do.  His commentary these days is a bit vain.  

Carey Price for the better - 

 

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This one still surprises me, but one of my biggest ones is Kurt Warner (for the better).

When he was on the Rams, I was just a little kid and never paid much attention to what athletes did outside of sports (like charities and such), thier life stories, or interviews, so what I perceived of athletes was basically what I saw on the field. Perhaps it was always bad timing, but every time I watched a Rams game (they seemed to be on often because of how good they were at the time), Warner always looked grumpy or ticked off. He had this real stern look sometimes on the field or the sidelines that made him - to little 10 or 11 year old me - look like a really rough guy. So I didn't take to him all that much. 

Then of course he sort of fell off the face of the earth for a little bit in New York, but then when he got to Arizona and rejuvenated his career, I paid more attention to him and learned more about his story. Turns out he's actually a really good guy, has an awesome underdog story, and that Super Bowl run in Arizona had me really cheering for him to get one more ring. Now, he's one of my favorite quarterbacks of all-time.

One more quick one is Gordon Hayward. I've never disliked him, but I bashed the heck out of the Jazz for picking him; I'd thought the front office had completely lost thier mind. I knew he was great at Butler, but he came into the league a scrawny baby-faced kid that I was afraid would get flicked off the court in a hurry and would become yet another Jazz draft bust. But now? I couldn't be happier to have him, and I am thrilled to have been so wrong. He's turned into a very great player, without question the leader of the team, and one of the best picks the Jazz have ever made. He's also very popular here and loves Salt Lake; it's just nice to see a star player actually want to be here. 

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Lebron James.

When he first broke into the league, I was all "this is cool" (I was an 11-year-old kid) To see someone come straight out of high-school and be that good, I thought he was pretty cool. Then came The Decision, and the circus that came with it. Do I fault Lebron for leaving the Cavs? Not really. However, I do fault him for the crap that came with it. The hour-long ESPN show, promising eight championships to Miami. Since then, I have maintained that when Lebron won his eighth championship with Miami, I would respect him again. Then he went back to Cleveland and his chances of that went away.

Do I respect him as a great basketball player? Yes, one of the all-time greats. I just don't respect the ego that goes with it. 

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10 minutes ago, FinsUp1214 said:

This one still surprises me, but one of my biggest ones is Kurt Warner (for the better).

When he was on the Rams, I was just a little kid and never paid much attention to what athletes did outside of sports (like charities and such), thier life stories, or interviews, so what I perceived of athletes was basically what I saw on the field. Perhaps it was always bad timing, but every time I watched a Rams game (they seemed to be on often because of how good they were at the time), Warner always looked grumpy or ticked off. He had this real stern look sometimes on the field or the sidelines that made him - to little 10 or 11 year old me - look like a really rough guy. So I didn't take to him all that much. 

Then of course he sort of fell off the face of the earth for a little bit in New York, but then when he got to Arizona and rejuvenated his career, I paid more attention to him and learned more about his story. Turns out he's actually a really good guy, has an awesome underdog story, and that Super Bowl run in Arizona had me really cheering for him to get one more ring. Now, he's one of my favorite quarterbacks of all-time.

One more quick one is Gordon Hayward. I've never disliked him, but I bashed the heck out of the Jazz for picking him; I'd thought the front office had completely lost thier mind. I knew he was great at Butler, but he came into the league a scrawny baby-faced kid that I was afraid would get flicked off the court in a hurry and would become yet another Jazz draft bust. But now? I couldn't be happier to have him, and I am thrilled to have been so wrong. He's turned into a very great player, without question the leader of the team, and one of the best picks the Jazz have ever made. He's also very popular here and loves Salt Lake; it's just nice to see a star player actually want to be here. 

Aside from the fact that my opinion never changed about him, I couldn't agree more regarding Kurt Warner. I would've loved to see him win the Super Bowl in Arizona. I'll also echo sentiments about Gordon Hayward, too (now he just needs to stay...). Something similar can be said of fellow Jazz player Trey Burke--he's been a nice guard to come off the bench. One silver lining to the injuries of Dante Exum and Alec Burks has allowed more time for him to mold into his role.

How about a couple former Jazz players that I lost at least some amount of respect for?

First, Karl Malone. Yes, that Karl Malone. He used to be my all-time favorite NBA player. While I still like him as the great player he was and still find him a good guy (to his credit he has re-established relationships with Daryl and Cheryl Ford, the other children he's fathered and left in another relationship), it leaves a bad taste in my mouth how he hasn't done the same with Demetress Bell, given that Bell was apparently fathered when his mother was underage (and would thus cause a bad PR for Malone). I don't care about anyone's personal life when they aren't hurting someone else's, but when you don't own up to your mistakes and try to make amends to your child because you're worried about your image? Your priorities aren't exactly in order.

Then you have Enes Kancer Kanter. Twice. I liked him when he started off for Utah; he's a good offensive player but a massive defensive liability with an inflated ego to boot. Either that, or he's just young and stupid. Long story short, he got fed up with how the Jazz envisioned his role, got his agent Max Ergul to tell local radio that Enes needed a more prominent role, got traded to Oklahoma City, and said all he missed about Utah were the mountains. He egged on the booing crowd in first game in Salt Lake as an opposing player, got hammered by the Jazz who exploited aid matador defense, leading to Trevor Booker making perhaps one of my favorite trash-talking lines in recent memory. Anyways, he fired Ergul earlier this season and said he may have been a bit immature. OK, maybe he isn't actually the through-and-through jerkface that welcomed the boos in Salt Lake with a narcissistic grin, but at any rate he still has a lot to learn.

And finally, Derek Fisher. I gave him the benefit of the doubt when he convinced Jazz owner Larry Miller to let him leave the team to seek treatment for his daughter (which was supposedly in New York) and ended up back on the Lakers within a month. I really did - he really did seem like a family man. Fast forward to 2015 when before his divorce he blows off his wife and kids and moves out in the middle of the night? Yea, not so much a family man anymore.

 

In other sports, there are

Greg Hardy. Self-explanitory. Liked him before his assault charges. He shouldn't be in the league.

Ben Roethisberger. Also pretty self-explanitory, though I was indifferent to him before the allegations came up.

 

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8 hours ago, DustDevil61 said:

 

First, Karl Malone. Yes, that Karl Malone. He used to be my all-time favorite NBA player. While I still like him as the great player he was and still find him a good guy (to his credit he has re-established relationships with Daryl and Cheryl Ford, the other children he's fathered and left in another relationship), it leaves a bad taste in my mouth how he hasn't done the same with Demetress Bell, given that Bell was apparently fathered when his mother was underage (and would thus cause a bad PR for Malone). I don't care about anyone's personal life when they aren't hurting someone else's, but when you don't own up to your mistakes and try to make amends to your child because you're worried about your image? Your priorities aren't exactly in order.

 

I have the same feelings.  I loved the Mail Man in the 90s but I feel like anything I've read about him in the last 15 years makes him look like a scumbag.

I also have:

  • Latrell Sprewell.  I liked him early in his career when I took a late flyer on him in fantasy basketball and he broke out.  Then he choked his coach.  Then I liked him again on the T-Wolves (probably laundry bias, but I was willing to forgive one thing).  But when he and Sam Cassell whined their way to ruining the T-Wolves after one good year, the shine was off.  Too see this nitwit have money problems is kinda sad, but it's his own stupidity.
  • Sam Cassell. He "left it all on the floor" in 2004.  Then he and Sprewell became a couple of malcontents.
  • Roger Clemens.  I was not a huge fan or anything, but I liked him in the early days.  My distaste for him started with a throw at the head of a Twin (don't even recall who) and as time went on he continued to be a jackass.  This is not about PEDs...PEDs don't contribute to my list at all.
  • Kirby Puckett: The ultimate lesson in hero-worship.  He was a great ballplayer and exuded such a great attitude on the field, with the media and even when he had to retire early.  I fell into the trap of projecting some of his great professionalism on his personal life.  When it turned out he was not such a good person, it was quite a blow.  I still respect the way he played the game and interacted as a professional, but he's probably one of the 10 worst people in MLB history...or at least one of the 10 worst All-Stars.  I will never be able to have that asterisk in my mind when thinking of Minnesota's #1 superstar (at least in my lifetime).  It is thanks to Kirby that I have resigned myself to respecting guys as athletes and not worrying about them as people.  For that, I suppose I can thank him.

I tried to find someone who I like better than I used to.  It was harder...go figure.  People fall from grace...

  • Allen Iverson: I thought he was nothing but a punk.  And his rant about practice and his off-court behavior validate that.  But I did come to respect what a tough competitor and "leave it all on the floor" guy he was.  I am sure he liked his paycheck but he clearly cared about winning.
  • Michael Irvin:  I never hated him but I did not like Dallas and he was kind of a jackass.  I actually have liked him in his TV career (given how much most people hate everyone on TV coverage, I am sure I'll get a couple of eye rolls here).  I have post-career respect for someone I never thought I'd have.
  • Michael Cuddyer: This is a bit of a stretch, as I never had any beef with him.  He was just another OK Twin.  But he gained a reputation for being one of the nicest and most charitable guys around.  The little I have heard about him has been all extraordinarily positive.  He was the main reason I wanted the Mets to win the World Series (even though he barely got on the field).  I've fallen into the trap here of not heeding my Kriby lesson.
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Growing older has a way of changing one's perspective. Back in the 80's at the height of the Lakers - Celtics rivalry, I hated the Celtics in general and Larry Bird in particular with an irrational passion. My opinion of Bird changed with the original Dream Team. In the '92 Summer Olympics, Bird was just a shell of the great player he once was. Something about seeing him come in off the bench made see him in a different light. It was like I'd suddenly realized how good he actually was and how I'd miss seeing him play. I also realized that Larry Bird was a big reason why the 80's Lakers - Celtics rivalry was as much fun as it was. Without the Magic vs. Bird element, that rivalry is about as interesting as...well, whatever the big rivalry is in the NBA these days.  In the '92 Summer Olympics, Larry Bird went from the player I hated more than any other to one of my all-time favorites. 

While I don't hate John Elway as much as I used to - he was right up there with Bird and the Celtics - I still don't much care for him. There are some things I won't forgive. B)

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Ken Griffey, Jr. Yes, as a kid, I really did dislike Junior, if for no other reason than he reportedly refused to ever sign with the Yankees because of some incidents when he was a child and his father was on the Yanks. He also was a huge thorn in the Yankees' side throughout the late 90s (never moreso than in 1995, of course). I was also partial to McGwire in the home run races in the late 1990s, so that probably contributed as well.

 

But as I've grown, any dislike I had for Junior because of his beef with the Yankees dissipated. It was tough seeing him struggle with injuries with the Reds. Also made me appreciate just how absurdly good he was at his peak, and that he's one of the best ballplayers I think I'll ever witness. On top of that, he seems like a good guy (not that I generally care too much about athletes being great role models, but there's not much basis for disliking Griffey's personality). He was one of those ballplayers who people will tell their kids and grandkids about, and he helped save baseball in Seattle to boot. I disliked him for a stupid reason, ultimately, and grew out of it.

 

Johnny Damon. Nothing can change your mind on a player quite as much as acquiring one of your archrival's best players. I couldn't stand Johnny Damon when he was on the Sox - not just because of the laundry he wore, but he seemed to typify the personality of the 2004 Red Sox clubhouse (the "cave man" beards, the "Cowboy Up" slogan from Kevin Millar... words can't describe how most Yankee fans despised that team). But after he signed with the Yanks, it became evident pretty quickly that he was a great clubhouse guy, a hardworking player, and really fun to watch play. I never thought I'd actually like Damon when he first signed with the Yankees, but I wound up actually being a fan of his.

 

Pete Rose. I'm not from Cincinnati, but I have a slew of relatives who live there, so I have plenty of Reds fans in my family. I've heard countless times how Pete Rose got screwed by baseball when he was banned, and how he "never bet against the Reds" so obviously he did nothing wrong (which couldn't be further from the truth, in retrospect). So even though I never saw Pete Rose play, growing up I always supported reinstating him. As time has passed, I think it's become pitifully obvious how Pete Rose is an opportunistic liar willing to do anything for a buck (gambling debt will do that, I suppose). He's really emerged as a rather loathsome figure, and I have absolutely no sympathy for him at this point. I actually support Rose being allowed in the HOF, because I don't think HOF induction should rely at all on a player's character. That said, I find him completely objectionable as a person, and the decision to ban him was the right one.

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2 hours ago, kroywen said:

ebt will do that, I suppose). He's really emerged as a rather loathsome figure, and I have absolutely no sympathy for him at this point. I actually support Rose being allowed in the HOF, because I don't think HOF induction should rely at all on a player's character. That said, I find him completely objectionable as a person, and the decision to ban him was the right one.

 

Sometimes when ppl talk about Rose, I wonder if he'd moved to a cabin in North Dakota & kept his mouth shut all these years, he might already be in the HOF.

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