Sport involves many things from a viewer's or fan's perspective. There's the anticipation and sense of occasion of going to a game and there's what you expect to see on the field or court – sportsmanship, athleticism, fair play and hopefully a victory for your team. There's one more thing you can see, or more likely hear, at a sporting event that may bring a smile to your face and will mark out a true character of the sport – trash talk.
What Is Trash Talk?
Trash talk, simply put, is talking someone down or using talk to try and put them off their game. It can be done in a humorous way, often involving puns and is rarely done out of pure malice. That's not to say that some people don't use it to be spiteful or malicious.
Trash talking is common in certain sports. Many popular teams you find in the NBA predictions will have trash talkers in their ranks, as well as in the NFL, MMA, UFC, boxing and even soccer to a certain degree.
Trash talk isn't limit to just these sports and it can pop up anywhere, but cleverly crafted trash talk can see a player remembered forever as much as their sporting achievements.
The Greatest Trash Talkers
Perhaps the pioneer of trash talking in sport was legendary boxer Mohammed Ali. In the 60s and 70s he made many a scathing remark about and to opponents – never in an ill-meant way, but always enough to unnerve or unsettle them. It usually worked too. His battle cry of "I am the greatest" would also lend itself to an album of trash talk poetry Ali released in 1963.
Staying with boxing, Floyd Mayweather had this to say about British boxer Ricky Hatton: "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."
This kind of talk is difficult to avoid, and it shows how thick-skinned you truly need to be in order to survive.Fans of opposing teams often taunt and trash talk each other. In North America this is jovial, but when soccer fans in Europe do this it can result in nasty skirmishes outside a stadium.
Michael Jordan's Greatest Hits
The man in baseball most known for his trash talking prowess is none other than the legendary Michael Jordan. His skills could certainly do the talking, but he liked to see where his mouth could take him too.
Calling opposition players "losers" or "a dwarf" if a player was shorter than him or "a giant" if they were taller wasn't all Jordan had in his arsenal.
A Philadelphia Sixers player who said he was better than Jordan sat on the bench and watched Jordan score 48 points against his team. Jordan winked at him after every point to "teach him a lesson".
Jim Jackson tried trash talking Jordan during a game and in his best retort ever Jordan shut him up by pointing out that he was wearing Air Jordan sneakers.