It's that time of year again, when the Page 2 brain trust gathers to pluck the most deserving sports turkeys of 2004.
10. Ricky Williams
For bailing on the Fish at the last minute and then trying to get back in.
9. Latrell Sprewell
For pouting and making silly statements suggesting he wouldn't go all out to help Minnesota win a championship because he felt insulted by the T-Wolves offer of a three-year, $21 million contract extension (he's makng $14.6 million this season).
"I have a lot of risk here," he said. "I got my family to feed. Anything could happen."
8. The U.S. men's Olympic basketball team
For living large on the Queen Mary 2 while playing small.
7. Gary Barnett
For talking about Katie Hnida's placekicking ability in the context of her rape allegations, and for not taking his share of responsibility for the corruption and scandal that took place at Colorado. A shout-out also goes to CU athletic director Dick Tharp, who should have been fired, and to CU's top brass, for not firing Tharp.
6. International Gymnastics Federation president Bruno Grandi
For asking men's all-around champ Paul Hamm turn over his gold medal voluntarily, informing Hamm directly that "The true winner of the all-around competition is Yang Tae-young."
6A. The USOC
For not swiftly and strongly supporting Hamm in a clear-cut case.
5. The NCAA
For banning Mike Williams and Maurice Clarett after each player had entered the NFL draft (after a court ruled they could). A higher court reversal kept Williams and Clarett out of the draft, and the ban has kept each off the college turf.
4. New York Yankees
Biggest. Choke. Ever.
3. Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O'Neal
For putting the Me in Ego. Kobe's gotten the worst of it in the public eye, but it goes back to Shaq shouting at Jerry Buss in preseason last year, while on the court, "Pay me my money!"
2. Pete Rose
For selling the truth that he bet on baseball after all those years of lying.
1. Ron Artest
For setting back NBA player-fan relations thanks to his actions last Friday night in Detroit. What could have been an ugly, uncalled-for act by a fan was turned into a disgraceful melee when Artest chose to react the way he did. Artest was provoked, but provocation isn't an invitation that allows for anything goes.
Also: for asking for time off from the Pacers, saying he was too tired and needed time to promote an R&B album. Here's the deal: you want to promote an album? You're the man? Release the album during the offseason.
For demanding respect -- that's the keyword, right? -- but disrespecting his teammates, coaches, and the entire Pacers organization by asking for time off.
1A. Artest had plenty of company in this thing, so there are plenty of trimmings to go around: Jackson, O'Neal, the fans of Detroit, etc.
Also receiving votes:
Executives at Columbia Pictures: For thinking there was any value to putting Spider-man 2 logos on bases, and for thinking that it would actually happen.
Gerrard Warren: For explicitly stating, prior to the Browns-Steelers matchup on November 14, that he'd be aiming to smash in Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger's head. Warren, who was fined $35,000 for a cheap shot on Jags QB Mark Brunell in 2001, told reporters he didn't care about another fine. It "would be well worth it," he said.
Alex Rodriguez: For his slap on Bronson Arroyo, for being a front-runner, for being the second-highest paid player in the game ($22 million) and finishing 33rd in the major leagues in OPS (on-base percentage + slugging percentage).