20 Top Sports Meltdowns

When baseball players act like wrestlers, someone has "lost it."

June 20, 2012, 12:55 PM

June 21, 2012— -- intro: Usually admired for their muscle control, athletes occasionally lose control of their mouths and fists. "20/20" has compiled a list of the most magnificent meltdowns and melees: basketball players becoming boxers, baseball players becoming wrestlers, and more.

Angry athletes have turned tennis rackets into battle axes and ears into jerky. Here are 20 moments when winning was overshadowed by players "losing it."

quicklist: 1title: Malice in the Palacetext: NBA players more closely resembled WWE wrestlers when the Pacers and Pistons brawled in the last minute of a 2004 game. After a fan threw a drink at the Pistons' Ron Artest, Artest leapt into the stands and started punching a fan. A brawl involving players and fans ensued.

Nine players were suspended without pay -- estimated to be $11 million -- for a total of 146 games. Several players and fans were charged with assault. The NBA changed its alcohol policy at arenas around the country.

Watch a clip here.

quicklist: 2title: Mike Tyson Chomps Evander Holyfield's Earstext: On June 28, 1997, Mike Tyson bit both of Evander Holyfield's ears and was disqualified from their WBA Heavyweight Championship boxing match. One bite removed a chunk of Holyfield's right ear.

Watch a clip here.

quicklist: 3 title: Mikhail Youzhny Hits Himself in the Facetext: In 2008, after losing a point to Nicolas Almagro at the Sony Ericsson Open in Miami, tennis player Mikhail Youzhny smashed himself in the face with his racquet three times. Blood ran down his face, and Youzhny had to receive care from a trainer.

He won the next seven points, the ensuing tiebreaker and the match.

Watch a clip here.

quicklist: 4title: Ow, Man, That Really Hurttext: After the San Francisco 49ers beat the Detroit Lions in 2011, Jim Harbaugh, the 49ers head coach, bounded across the field and shook Lions coach Jim Schwartz's hand and slapped him on the back. Schwartz apparently didn't like Harbaugh's exuberance, because he began running after Harbaugh and shouting. Several players from both teams squared off before the incident subsided.

Watch a clip here.

quicklist: 5 title: Headbutt Felt 'Round the Worldtext: In the 2008 World Cup Final, French soccer star Zinedine Zidane, reacting to trash talk by Italy defender Marco Materazzi, headbutted Materazzi in the sternum.

Zidane, France's best player, received a red card and his team went on to lose the match in a penalty-kick shoot-out.

Watch a clip here.

quicklist: 6title: "You Cannot Be Serious!" text: John McEnroe's meltdowns were numerous and incandescent, becoming as big a part of his legacy as his superb skill and handful of Grand Slam championships.

Here is a "greatest hits" collection.

quicklist: 7title: Costly Kicktext: In 1997, Dennis Rodman tripped over a courtside photographer. He then kicked the photographer in the groin. The NBA suspended Rodman 11 games without pay, which totaled approximately $800,000.

Watch a clip here.

quicklist: 8title: Serena Williams' U.S. Open Outbursttext: During a match against Kim Clijsters at the 2009 U.S. Open, Serena Williams "lost it" in a threatening outburst at a lineswoman.

Watch a clip here.

quicklist: 9title: Ladies and Gentlemen, "Sweet" Lou Piniellatext: Major League Baseball manager Lou Piniella has frequently "lost it" in wild tantrums at umpires. Unlike other managers, he has also fought with his own players, including the equally hot-tempered Cincinnati Reds former pitcher Rob Dibble.

Here is Piniella's most famous tantrum, from June 2007, at Wrigley Field. In it, Piniella repeatedly kicks dirt on the umpire.

quicklist: 10title: Larry Holmes' Flying Kicktext: Boxers Larry Holmes and Trevor Berbick had feuded publicly since they fought, in 1981. In 1991, Berbick disrupted a Holmes press conference, and a brawl erupted in the parking lot outside.

Video of the incident shows that after Berbick complained Holmes had punched and kicked him, Holmes jumped off a police cruiser and kicked Berwick.

quicklist: 11title: Ryan Leaf's Outbursttext: In the 1998 NFL draft, Peyton Manning and Ryan Leaf were the first two picks, with many scouts and journalists rating Leaf equal to or better than Manning.

Leaf played four seasons, never living up to the high expectations and alienating players, coaches and reporters. During his rookie season, Leaf shouted angrily at a San Diego Union Tribune reporter.

Watch a clip here.

quicklist: 12title: Jeff Van Gundy Nips at Alonzo Mourning's Heel text: During the 1998 NBA playoff series between the New York Knicks and the Miami Heat, two teams that were bitter rivals, a brawl broke out between the Knicks' Larry Johnson and the Heat's Alonzo Mourning.

In the chaotic melee, a dark object could be seen. Commentators and viewers were stunned to realize it was Knicks coach Jeff Van Gundy, who, trying to break up the fight (and/or protect Johnson), had run onto the court and grabbed hold of Mourning's ankle.

Watch a clip here.

quicklist: 13title: Roberto Alomar Spits in Umpire's Face text: In 1996, Baltimore Orioles second-baseman Roberto Alomar "lost it" after umpire John Hirschbeck called a third strike, ending Alomar's at-bat. As he railed at Hirschbeck, Alomar spat in the umpire's face. They later publicly reconciled, and Alomar was elected to the Hall of Fame in 2011.

The incident occurs at the 1'27'' point of this video.

quicklist: 14title: Swing, Battertext: In 2007, former major leaguer Jose Offerman charged the mound with his bat in a minor league game.

See images from the incident here.

quicklist: 15title: Delmon Young Throws Bat at Umpiretext: In 2006, Delmon Young, now with the Detroit Tigers, played for the minor league Durham Bulls. In one game, after striking out on a called third strike, Young stood in disbelief, then spoke his mind to the umpire. The umpire ejected him, and Young threw his bat at the umpire.

Watch a clip here.

quicklist: 16title: Don Zimmer vs. Pedro Martineztext: In the 2003 American League Championship Series, which contained arch-rivals New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox, a melee broke out between the two teams. Yankees coach Don Zimmer confronted Red Sox ace Pedro Martinez, who easily rolled him to the ground.

Watch a clip here.

quicklist: 17title: David Nalbandian Kicks Tennis Umpire text: Nalbandian was one set up but down in the second set in his match against Marin Cilic at the AEGON Championships at London's Queen's Court on Sunday.

In front of a posh crowd at one of Europe's oldest tennis clubs, the Argentine ace snapped and kicked in an advertisement, which flew into a line judge Andrew McDougall's shin, causing him to bleed in front of the shocked fans.

related: 16593761

quicklist: 18 title: George Brett's Pine Tar Ragetext: Major League Baseball has pulled all video of this incident from Youtube, which is a shame, because seldom has a professional athlete -- or anyone else, for that matter -- sprinted in such rage to contest a perceived wrong.

quicklist: 19title: Lloyd McClendon Steals First Base text: On June 26, 2001, former major leaguer Lloyd McClendon left the dugout to argue a call made by the first-base umpire. The umpire ejected him, then McClendon took first base off the field with him.

It is visible at the one-minute mark of this video.

quicklist: 20title: Kevin Borseth: The Press Conference text: In 2008, after his team lost a game, University of Michigan Women's Basketball Coach Kevin Borseth exploded in a press conference.

Watch a clip here.

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