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Turkeys of the Year

No need to fight, there's plenty to go around for everyone

Posted: Wednesday November 24, 2004 12:50PM; Updated: Thursday December 23, 2004 4:34PM
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Graphic: Randall Grant, Photos: AP

Ron Artest lost it the other night. Completely and utterly lost it. Like Shaq's free-throw touch, like the famed Ark, like the proverbial set of keys, like Paris Hilton's good name, Artest was gone, gone, gone.

Yeah, Jermaine O'Neal and Stephen Jackson lost it, too, and Ben Wallace. A few others, including some really dumb fans. And, of course, Jose Guillen, Frank Francisco and Milton Bradley a couple of months ago, and ... well, we could go on and on.

What separates Artest from the rest of these losers -- and earns the Pacers' hothead SI.com's seventh annual Turkey of the Year award -- is how badly he lost his cool. And how badly it hurt him, his team, his sport and just about everyone around him. Some really dumb fans included.

Let's not pull any punches here. Artest is not the only one at fault in Friday's Motown Meltdown. Still, if it weren't for his stupid, unnecessary hard foul on the Pistons' Wallace in the waning seconds of the game, if it weren't for his insulting how-cool-am-I pose on the scorer's table after taking a shove from Wallace, if he hadn't slipped a synapse and gone into the stands after one of those really dumb fans -- if he would have just taken a breath and pulled himself together to find his cool -- this whole mess never would have happened. It's as simple as that.

Artest might have made our Turkey of the Year list before the Friday night fight. Certainly, his checkered history suggests he's been a turkey in the making for a long time. What Friday night accomplished was to simply assure him of the top spot, allowing him to join such low-minaries as Hootie Johnson and Martha Burk, Nate Newton, John Rocker and the reigning SI.com Turkey of the Year, former Iowa State coach Larry Eustachy.

Congratulations, Ron Artest. We can't call someone who lost so much a winner. But you are 2004's top Turkey, the foulest of the fowl.

Why don't you take some time off to enjoy the award?

Now, on to the also-clucked ... And after you persue our picks, read what a sample of our readers had to say.

Frank Francisco
The Rangers reliever looks like a Wiggle compared to Artest, but his chair-throwing, nose-knocking incident in a bullpen melee in Oakland in September riled a lot of people and forced the national pastime to take a hard look at how its players and fans interact.
Ugly fans
Let's not forget the abusive, classless, loud-mouthed so-called fans in these brouhahas. Heckling's one thing, but the worst of this lot goes way beyond that. Without these idiots -- whatever happened to cheering or just plain booing? -- everyone would be better off.
Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake
Wow, what a little breast baring -- sorry, a little baring of a breast -- hath wrought. Jackson boosted a sagging career with a little show-us stunt at the Super Bowl, shocking the feds, angering right-wingers and amusing just about everyone else.
Terrell Owens
He went dopey on his former QB, smack-danced on Ray Lewis, played landing pad for Nicollette Sheridan in a TV promo and, the whole time, talked, talked, talked. Oh, and he scored a lot, too. All in all, we prefer the playing part.
This is the worst pairing of computers and humans since I, Robot. After failing to put the two best college teams in the so-called title game last year, the BCS has three undefeateds (plus Utah) this year. Good luck cramming all of them into the Orange Bowl.
Kobe Bryant
Forget the trial and what landed him in court in the first place. He couldn't make nice with the best coach and center in the NBA, so the most powerful team in the NBA is now largely impotent. Hey, at least it's Kobe's team now.
This league is on -- OK, we'll go there -- thin ice anyway. Yet owners and players remain so pigheaded during this nobody-wins work stoppage that they're putting the sport's very future in jeopardy. One simple question: How dumb can these guys be?
Olympic gymnastics judges
Let's get this straight: Three judges botch the scoring in Athens, giving American Paul Hamm the all-around gold and Hamm's the one who should suffer? In the long history of judging ineptitude in the Olympics -- skating, boxing, etc. -- these guys truly rank.
Latrell Sprewell
The Timberwolves are paying him $14.6 million this season, but when they didn't immediately come up with a contract extension, Sprewell, incredibly, asked "Why would I want to help them win a title?" And added "I've got my family to feed." Sheesh.
Ricky Williams
He's a free spirit, unwilling to be shackled by the rigid conventions of the NFL. Yeah. Sure. He's really a pothead who was about to be suspended, and he needs to give back some of those millions he took from the Dolphins. Smoked Turkey anyone?
The San Francisco-area lab provided nutritional supplements (wink, wink) to all sorts of athletes and now, with steroids madness swirling and a grand jury investigating, everyone from Barry Bonds to Marion Jones has been implicated in a scandal with no end.
Maurice Clarett and Ohio State
Since '03, things haven't gone exactly as Clarett planned. The false police report, the NFL snub, the extra weight. So Clarett's taking it out on his woulda-been alma mater, OSU. Payoffs, fraud, you name it, he alleges it. And believe it. Or not.

John Donovan is a senior writer for SI.com.