This is going to be a column about why I love Ole Miss's Marshall Henderson, but first let me ask you this question -- what happened to villain athletes?
Remember back in the day when some athletes reveled in being hated? Bill Laimbeer, Charles Barkley, John McEnroe, Reggie Miller, Dennis Rodman, Barry Bonds, John Starks, Mike Tyson the list went on and on, pro sports was a lot more like wrestling, there was always a talented athlete there to play the heel. It made sports really, really fun. Particularly basketball, where you weren't just rooting for someone you were rooting against someone as well. Now there are no villains.
Think about this for a minute, who is the most hated athlete in pro sports?
If you said LeBron James, you're just lazy. LeBron James wants to be loved more than any great basketball player we've ever watched. Hell, LeBron actually played worse when people didn't like him. He doesn't take fuel from hate, his rocketship is propelled by fan adoration. Besides, hating LeBron was always stupid. So he announced for a new basketball team in a hamhanded and stupid way, big deal. That's really enough to make us hate him?
But 90% of y'all will still answer LeBron. (Joakim Noah has really great NBA hate potential here, but he's just not popular enough to make the cut yet. Being a villain also requires that you be both good and famous. Being a crappy villain isn't that enjoyable, you need to play in lots of games that matter).
Okay, who is the second most hated in pro sports? Alex Rodriguez. Probably a good guess too, right? Only A Rod may want to be liked even more than LeBron. A Rod's entire persona is fake, oleaginous, everything about him is designed to make you like him which, paradoxically, makes everyone like him less. If A Rod played the villain he'd be infinitely more entertaining, but he doesn't, he craves our approbation too much.