Top 3 Fantastic Athletes Everyone Likes to Hate

Published: November 24, 2013

No matter the sport, there are always athletes that will rub the majority of America the wrong way. Sometimes they never live down an ESPN special where they announce their next destination as free agent. Other times their opponents will misinterpret their boundless enthusiasm as bad etiquette. Regardless of the reason they're on this list, here's 3 athletes everyone likes to hate- that are fantastic players in their own right, and usually quite nice as well.

  1. Yasiel Puig - Los Angeles Dodgers

    When he first broke into the big league, Yasiel Puig sparked a sputtering Dodgers offense with a high batting average and a enthusiasm for the game. As the national spotlight shone on this talented rookie, Puig quickly came under fire for what many believed to be childish antics and hot temper.

    Puig definitely has some work to do this offseason. His all or nothing defense in the outfield is more memorable for being costly than highlight reel worthy. His discipline at the plate dipped sharply at the first sign of trouble, and he had a sluggish end to the season. Puig cannot stand at the plate and gaze at his majestic fly balls- he'll only get a teammate hurt.

    Overall however, people who are not Dodgers fans need to understand that the biggest impact Puig's antics have are on the Dodgers themselves. They won't let Puig back out on that field in 2014 with the same attitude that he had in 2013. The Dodgers love his fire, sure, but they also want to address his overall approach and emphasize the fundamentals. Puig is a phenomenal player with a high ceiling. The Dodgers won't let this talent go to waste.

  2. Albert Pujols - Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

    Many baseball fans view Pujols as an arrogant, selfish player that skipped a town that adored him for a bigger contract with more money and more years. The fact that the Angels offered the biggest and longest contract might be true, but Albert Pujols has been nothing but a class act during all his time in the Major Leagues.

    Pujols has often been the target of negative media reports throughout his career. When the steroid scandal first struck Major League Baseball, there were whispers that his name was on the Mitchell Report. When recently took legal action against a radio broadcaster for slander, the steroid talks resumed again. He often is very taciturn during the regular season and generally refuses to give long interviews. His dipping offensive numbers haven't exactly endeared him to the Anaheim faithful either.

    However, Pujols is an all around fantastic player that puts the game and his team before himself. No one can fault Pujols or the next player on this list for choosing the best option available. The Angels can put together a World Series squad built to endure. The probability of Pujols actually have taken steroids is almost nonexistent- and no one should fault him for defending his reputation. Pujols doesn't get caught up in the media storm because when baseball is in season, that's his main priority.

    Pujols will always have detractors, but look for him to put together solid numbers in his return from injury.

  3. LeBron James - Miami Heat

    Of course LeBron James was going to find himself on this list. James took out an ESPN special just to announce that he would be skipping Cleveland for the Miami Heat. He's also one of the best basketball players in this era whose last name isn't Bryant.

    LeBron burned many bridges by turning down the Cleveland Cavaliers for the Miami Heat. However, many fans don't appreciate that, instead of getting caught up in the media firestorm, James put down his head and played his heart out for the Miami Heat. In three seasons, the Heat have won two championships, and James has keyed the offense for most of the important games. He is surrounded by a strong supporting cast as well. LeBron probably will never find true love from most fans outside of Miami, but fans should appreciate the fact that he is a classy player that loves the game of basketball.

Each of these three players are largely viewed with rancor outside of their team's fan base. However, the fire, energy, and quality that each of these players bring to their respective team is undeniable. My favorite player on this list is basketball villain LeBron James. The term villain is largely a misnomer- James quietly engages in charitable work in the offseason and consistently puts together quality numbers for his team. I highly enjoy watching each of these players play, and ignore each player's bad reputation.