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The most charismatic people in sports

21

January

rex.Jets coach Rex Ryan has a big mouth. He talks a lot, brags a lot, jokes a lot. Some say he's full of hot air. What do we say? We love Rex!Where's the fun in the same, old boring quotes and tired cliches? At least Ryan has personality, a little charisma. Think of Muhammad Ali. He floated like a butterfly, stung like a bee and talked faster than an auctioneer. He was the greatest. He told us so. This post is dedicated to those who have followed in Ali's footsteps and made sports what they are -- fun. Here's a look at our favorite, most charismatic, most entertaining personalities in the sports world right now.

Rex Ryan
Many want to criticize the Jets coach for his swagger and tough talk. But, be honest, who would you rather listen to -- Ryan or Bill Belichick? Besides, Ryan's trash talk is playful stuff and he takes as many shots at himself as he does the other guy. When the game is over, he flashes a smile and essentially says he was just clowning around. He showed an impressive display of his profanity skills during the HBO series Hard Knocks, but before you criticize, know this: His players love him. Look at this way, NFL games are played once a week. We need something to keep us interested the other six days. Ryan keeps us interested.

shaq.Shaquille O’Neal
Shaq is one of the best basketball players of all time, but what we love about him is that he doesn't take himself too seriously. He is extremely fan friendly, often giving away free tickets and gear through Twitter. He'll tell fans to show up at a certain spot at a certain time and he will appear, handing out T-shirts. Once, he tweeted that in one hour, he was going to be in Harvard Square to pose for photos with anyone who wanted to show up. Sure enough, an hour later, O'Neal arrived and stood like a statue while fans climbed on him and had their pictures taken. How cool is that? And we like how he has a new nickname -- Shaq Fu, Big Diesel, The Big Aristotle, The Big Daddy, The Big Shamrock -- every week.

leonsis.Ted Leonsis
When you have a few free moments, do yourself a favor and check out the blog of this Washington Capitals and Wizards owner. Ted's Take (found at TedsTake.com) is constantly updated (sometimes as often as four or five times a day) with Leonsis' quick thoughts of the moment. It can be movies, the Internet, politics or music, but it's mostly his way of talking to the fans about his teams. One recent post about the Capitals said, "I hear it when you boo. I read your e-mails. I empathize. I understand. But still we have 57 points to date and we are 5th in the East and tied for first in the division. It could be worse. It should be better. But enjoy a win. Thank you.'' Another was brutally honest when he wrote: "To be frank, our youngest and first-year players are our best players right now. It is odd to see our core players being so unproductive.'' What other owner communicates to the fans like that?

wilson.Brian Wilson
Can we admit something? The San Francisco Giants closer frightens us a little bit. He is baseball's version of Christopher Walken. We're not sure if he is being funny or the men in the white coats are about to haul him off to the mental hospital. Those who have seen his sidekick, the Machine -- the leather-hooded-and-chain-wearing man who resembles "The Gimp'' from Pulp Fiction -- know what we're talking about. That might be the most bizarre thing we've ever seen from an athlete. It's either really funny or really scary. Throw in the Mohawk haircut, long dyed beard and the fact that he was the lights-out closer for the world champions and you have one of the most mesmerizing figures in sports. Just don't let him or the Machine get too close to us.

barkley.Charles Barkley
The former NBA star has turned into a superstar broadcaster because of how unaffected he is on the air. You get the feeling he doesn't even realize the cameras are turned on or that he's even on television. He doesn't have a shtick. There's nothing fake or premeditated about his style. He just talks. Along the way, he really doesn't always care about grammar or the censors or who he offends. That's why we love him so much. He has no agenda other than the tell people what he honestly thinks. Plus, for as carefree as he is, he actually makes sensible points and does it in a funny manner. Heck, he's one of our favorites just because when he says "terrible'' it comes out as "tuuurible.''

mayweather.Floyd Mayweather Jr.
If you're going to talk trash, you have to do two things: back it up and be funny. No one backs it up better than Mayweather, who has never lost in 41 professional fights. And this is funny: before fighting Ricky Hatton in 2007, Pretty Boy Floyd said, "When I retire, I'll get Ricky Hatton to wash my clothes and cut my lawn and buckle my shoes. Ricky Hatton ain't nothing but a fat man. I'm going to punch him in his beer belly. He ain't good enough to be my sparring partner.'' Not only is that hilarious, Mayweather knocked out Hatton in the 10th round. But then he showed class after the fight by calling Hatton one of the toughest fighters he ever faced. We'd like Mayweather even more if he would get into the ring with Manny Pacquiao, but he's still our favorite trash talker.

cherry.Don Cherry
The legendary analyst of Hockey Night in Canada might be the most politically incorrect sports broadcaster of all time. It's a small miracle he has managed to keep his job for 30 years at Hockey Night. Cherry, 75, has lobbed verbal bombs at French Canadians, Europeans, Americans and anyone he doesn't deem a manly man. In Cherry's mind, the media is made up of a bunch of "liberal pinkos'' and anyone who disagrees with him, especially about fighting in hockey, is just plain wrong. He believes in three things: God, Canada and Bobby Orr and, sooner or later, every person watching him will be offended by something he says. But if you get beyond the blustery personality and wild suits, you will find two things. One, he is highly entertaining. And, two, he is an old softie. Each week on his must-see "Coaches' Corner'' segment, Cherry chokes up talking about a Canadian solider killed overseas or a young child battling some life-threatening disease. At those moments, you realize what a treasure he is.

Cochocinco.had Ochocinco
The dude changed his name to a number ... in Spanish ... and it's not even the proper Spanish number for 85. The Bengals receiver has taken trash talk to another, more imaginative level. He once posted on the wall outside the visitors locker room a new NFL policy that made it illegal for him to be covered one on one. The policy was put in place "for the safety of embarrassment to all defensive backs.'' Another time, he sent a case of Maalox to a defensive back because he knew the opponent had an upset stomach worrying about covering Ochocinco. Another time, he sent a deodorant to another team's secondary because they stunk. You have to admit, that's better than, "Your mother wears army boots!''

[Last modified: Friday, January 21, 2011 6:49pm]

    

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