In the tradition of last yearÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s post for Trumbull IslandÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Decade-Ending List bonanza, where I threw together a list of the coolest/un-coolest athletes of the 2000Ã¢â‚¬â„¢s, hereÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s my take on 2010. Some of the same names made it to this yearÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s list, since theyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re still cool/uncool a year later. I have to admit that the research for this was non-exhaustive, and IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m not sure IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m actually qualified to be an arbiter of cool anyway, so feel free to point out anyone IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve missed.
Top 10 Coolest Athletes
10. Joakim Noah — A Ricky Williams-esque free spirit whom people wanted to hate — remember his dancing at the Final Four? — but heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s actually a terrific hustle player who busts his tail to get better. I love his game, but more than that, I love his hilarious take on Cleveland. Want to know why LeBron left? This is why.
9. Tim Lincecum — Gets credit from me for looking like a stoner — and actually being one — and yet being a totally awesome pitcher. The Giants were a relatively fun team, but letÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s face it, Brian WilsonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s beard and Aubrey HuffÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s thong were boring. Meanwhile, pretty much under the radar, my man Tim Lince had the best sports anthem of all time.
8. Tom Brady — Repeated from last yearÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s list. HeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s still married to this. For a guy whoÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s supposedly balding, he sure has a great head of hair. (Pause) They traded his best receiver, and it apparently made him better. His kneeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s better now, so heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s probably going to win the Super Bowl. IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m not a Pats fan, but respect.
7. Chris Webber — Another return from last year, solely for his takedown of idiot Timberwolves GM David Kahn, which is literally one of the funniest things IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve ever seen.
6. Andre Johnson — Pummeled that annoying guy on the Titans who was baiting him all game. Who doesnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t want to do this at their own job once in a while? Also helped me win a $1,300 fantasy league, despite not playing in the championship in a cruel twist. CanÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t really blame him though, they had nothing to play for.
4. Kevin Durant — Met and liked Durant at House of Hoops in February, where he played video games with a bunch of kids. Insists in his contract that Nike sells his kicks under $100 to keep them relatively affordable since he couldnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t afford high-end sneakers as a kid. Singlehandedly won a gold medal. Announced a five-year extension quietly on Twitter. Cool viral marketing campaign. Scored 25 or more in 29 straight games.
3. AmarÃ¢â‚¬â„¢e Stoudemire Ã¢â‚¬â€œ Came to New York to save the Knicks (probably in large part because of the $100 mil, but still). Miraculously turned Jewish or something out of nowhere, then went to Israel to embrace his roots. Scoring 30 almost every night. Posterized LeBron.
2. Michael Vick Ã¢â‚¬â€œ You may still hate him. You may not know if heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s truly rehabilitated, or if this is just damage control for his career and his money. I suspect the latter, despite reaping the benefits of his renewed career. (Vick joined Andre on my $1,300-winning fantasy team.) But we all loved him once; heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s exuded cool for his entire career. HeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s forced us to look at ourselves and assess our own abilities to forgive, question our notions of human nature, and examine how we separate athletic brilliance from our own beliefs of character and morality. And I think thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s pretty damn cool.
Plus, heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s more awesome than ever.
1. LeBron James Ã¢â‚¬â€œ The defending champ of this list. Resembling a wrestling angle, he willfully turned heel overnight, embraced his new persona and became possibly the biggest villain in sports. Every day that passes, he becomes infinitely more intriguing than he ever was as a superhero cultivated by the NBA to fill the Jordan void. Not to mention: Does winning fix everything? I actually think weÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re all going to find out this year.
Expect more thoughts on the King of Pain after the New Year begins.
Top 10 Un-Coolest Athletes
10. Chris Johnson — I actually like CJ2K, and he was incredible last year. HeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s still really, really good. But he predicted heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢d break 2,500 yards, and he might not even break 1,500. Setting goals high is one thing, but he chumped himself here.
9. Francisco Rodriguez — Not only did the overpaid Mets closer pathetically decide to beat up his girlfriendÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s father, he suffered a season-ending injury while hitting him. IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢d say that constitutes losing a fight to a 53-year-old man.
8. Tiger Woods — After screwing up his marriage — to this — last year, Tiger didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t win a single tournament. Not one. So not only does he still play a totally uncool sport, heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s apparently not actually good at it anymore. He did make $74 million this year, but even thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s $48 million less than last year. From the perspective of a really rich dude, thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a hit.
7. Tony Parker Ã¢â‚¬â€ I donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t particularly like Eva Longoria, but that was the one even remotely interesting thing about Tony Parker, and he screwed it up. Might have messed with the marriage of Brent Barry, whoÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s infinitely cooler than Parker. Instead of waiting for a potential chance to play with AmarÃ¢â‚¬â„¢e on the cool Knicks, he re-upped with the horribly boring Spurs.
6. Charles Barkley Ã¢â‚¬â€œ A tired act at this point. Ripped LeBron James every chance he got, then got clowned terribly with LeBronÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Nike ad. This time next year, LeBron might have a championship, something Barkley will never be able to say. Charles Oakley — who specializes in real talk — also astutely pointed out that Barkley sucks.
5. Manny Pacquiao Ã¢â‚¬â€œ IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve loved him for years — IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m actually wearing a Pacquiao sweatshirt right now. ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s still great to watch him in the ring. And I canÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t blame him for the superfight with Floyd Mayweather falling apart, thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s pretty much all on Floyd. But Antonio Margarito? Shane Mosley? I canÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t tell Manny not to fight inferior competition for big paydays; itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s his career and he can do what he wants. HeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s the one getting in the ring, not me. But heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s still an active boxer. And it doesnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t make him any cooler to take horrible fights that real boxing fans couldnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t care less about.
4. Chris Bosh Ã¢â‚¬â€œ Which one of the Ã¢â‚¬Å“Big ThreeÃ¢â‚¬Â looked out of place at their gala introduction? ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s so rare to say this, but he was far cooler when he was in Canada.
3. Brett Favre Ã¢â‚¬â€œ I really donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t have to tell you why. He wasnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t cool before, but we can no longer say, Ã¢â‚¬Å“Hey, at least heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a family man.Ã¢â‚¬Â Plus, he just looks so damn old.
2. Floyd Mayweather Ã¢â‚¬â€œ He made racist statements about Pacquiao, and yet was the sole reason they didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t fight, between his trumped-up drug test demands and disappearing act. He now gets arrested every day. And honestly, heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s an amazing boxer, and I do love watching him, but his ring walks and interviews are far more interesting than his fighting style.
1. The Yankees Ã¢â‚¬â€œ Jeter aged 15 years overnight, asked for the moon in free agency and came off looking totally pathetic. And he was the cool one. Other than that, itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a corporate win-or-bust team with a totally unlikable A-Rod. They looked terrible against the Rangers. They transparently tried to fix all the holes on a $200-million payroll team by throwing money at Cliff Lee, only to see him take less from Philly. This team isnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t getting cheaper, just older. And they werenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t all that cool even when they won it all.
Make no mistake: TheyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re still the straw that stirs the drink in baseball. You have to respect them for that. But it donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t make Ã¢â‚¬Ëœem cool.