The art of booing is essentially copyrighted by the Northeast corridor. Depending on the perspective – and region – there are pretty much three sports towns that immediately come to mind when the topic of booing comes up – New York, Boston, and Philadelphia.
The latter two cities are efficient at booing rivals – or anyone and anything, for that matter. But when it comes to New York, there’s a certain art form to it. New York sports fans won’t boo Santa Claus like Philadelphia, but when it comes to rival athletes, they’re as full-throttle as any fanbase.
The caveat, however, is that the New York sports fan will only boo people who are great at what they do. Scrubs need not worry about being harassed by the masses.
1. Tom Brady (New England Patriots quarterback, 2000 – present)
The “Golden Boy” draws the ire of essentially every football fan outside of New England, but likely gets the most heat in the New York area. Giants’ fans really don’t have beef with Brady, as they’ve knocked him off his perch twice in the biggest games. But for the AFC East rival Jets fanbase, one that’s been tortured by Brady and the Patriots for most of the last 15 years, Brady is persona non grata for Gang Green. More bottles were popped in New York for the Brady Deflategate four-game suspension than the 1972 Dolphins ever do whenever the final unbeaten team loses.
2. Bill Belichick (Patriots head coach, 2000 – present)
It’s essentially a tie between the coach and his quarterback, as Belichick may be the most despised opposing head coach for every team in the NFL, and definitely tops the list in New York. Not since Pat Riley spurned a New York franchise with a shady resignation, has there been such vitriol for a former New York head coach. It’s not just that Belichick’s Patriots have essentially owned the Jets since he left them at the alter during his introductory press conference to announce his hiring – an event that quickly led to his resignation via loose-leaf paper and a 30-minute diatribe as to why he didn’t want to coach the Jets. But it’s also his demeanor, the alleged cheating, and the disdain for the arrogance he shows in his press conferences. Once again, the Giants really don’t have any problems with him, since they have two of his rings – and he was also a once-beloved assistant coach on two Super Bowl-winning Big Blue squads. But for Jets fans, he makes their blood boil.
3. Tony Romo (Dallas Cowboys quarterback, 2003 – present)
He’s the quarterback for one of the most hated franchises in all of sports – annoyingly dubbed “America’s Team” -- and they just happen to be in the same division as the Giants. Those two factoids alone are boo-worthy. For whatever reason, Romo is easily the most-hated Cowboy by the masses and receives his fair share of boos and curses any time he steps foot in MetLife Stadium. He didn’t become the full-time starter until 2006, but once he was entrenched as the starter, the wrath really became evident. It doesn’t even matter that he can’t beat the Giants in the biggest games, although he does have an 11-9 career record against them. Because Romo draws such ire from the Big Blue fanbase, likely due to the star on his helmet and the way the team is viewed as a league favorite by the suits that run television stations and fall over themselves to air nationally-televised Cowboys games.
4. Sidney Crosby (Pittsburgh Penguins center, 2005 – present)
He’s been unpopular since entering the league. And like Brady, it’s hard to find a Crosby supporter outside his own team’s area. Crosby, the number one overall pick in the 2005 NHL draft, entered the league on fire and has essentially stayed that way throughout his career. But despite his marvelous talents, it’s the perception that he’s whiny and smug that has turned the masses against him – particularly in New York. It also doesn’t help that he owns a Stanley Cup title, while being the youngest captain ever to do so in 2009. But the Penguins also just embarrassingly wiped the Rangers out of the playoffs this season, undoubtedly adding to the hatred New York sports fans already had for him.
5. Dwyane Wade (Miami Heat shooting guard, 2003 – present)
He’s the most hated Miami Heat player since Alonzo Mourning, and has probably even surpassed Riley as the most-loathed person associated with the Heat. Perhaps it’s because he’s won three championships with the Heat, two of which came with another hated New York opponent, LeBron James. But also because there are a lot of New York sports fans who think the future Hall of Famer is overrated because he won those titles with guys like Shaquille O’Neal and James, adding to the theory that he was more of a sidekick – especially with the James-led Heat. Ask around the league, and the words whiny and cocky come up the most when describing the Miami legend. He tends to rub opponents the wrong way, and he revels in breaking the hearts of the Garden faithful any time Miami defeats the Knicks in New York.
6. Reggie Miller (Indiana Pacers shooting guard, 1987 – 2005; TNT commentator, 2005 – present)
Speaking of guys who reveled in breaking the hearts of New York sports fans, Miller may be the number-one heartbreaker not named Michael Jordan. Yes, he’s been retired for over a decade, but even when he’s calling Knicks games at the Garden for TNT, Miller still hears the catcalls and derisive chants. He’s regularly booed in New York, and for good reasons. He still enjoys taking jabs at the Knicks organization and their long-suffering fanbase at any chance. And his face still beams any time the words “8.9 seconds” are mentioned. He was the greatest villain Knicks fans ever had. He was respected by the faithful, but hated even more. They don’t make them like Miller anymore.
7. Bryce Harper (Washington Nationals rightfielder, 2010 – present)
He was drafted in 2010 and made his MLB debut in 2012. And since his call-up, he’s terrorized the Mets. His on-field play and persona have rubbed many the wrong way, which is why Mets fans really got into the booing-Harper business, last season, following his infamous dustup with current teammate, closer Jonathan Papelbon. He was serenaded with “Papelbon” chants throughout the game and also likely didn’t ingratiate himself with Mets fans, last season, when he told reporters that he “didn’t give a crap” about what the NL-East rival Mets were doing down the stretch. The two teams are currently jockeying atop the division, which will make booing the star outfielder even more prevalent the longer the teams are in a tight and heated race. Harper could be the Mets’ newest villain and its best since Chipper Jones.
8. Paul Pierce (Boston Celtics, Brooklyn Nets, Washington Wizards, Los Angeles Clippers small forward, 1998 – present)
His career is in the deep twilight, but he still gets the Garden faithful riled up any time he makes an appearance. He was still booed with fervor the last time he played at the Garden, a 116-88 victory on Jan. 22, when he scored 13 points off the bench and kept himself busy during breaks in action to jaw with the fans. But the disdain for him isn’t from just Knicks fans, as Nets fans give him heat for his ill-fated season with the team. Brooklyn fans like to boo him because they feel he mailed it in during his one season there and showed nearly no effort while on the squad – and even once admitted that the roster was a bunch of overpaid big names.
9. Alex Rodriguez (New York Yankees third baseman/DH, 2004 – present)
It’s been a love-hate relationship between Rodriquez and the Yankee faithful. He once famously said he’s been “booed for 15 years … It's been one long boo for 15 years.” Rodriguez isn’t the most beloved player in opposing baseball stadiums to this day, and sometimes not even in his own. He was vilified around the league during his 2014 suspension for his admitted steroid usage. He came back strong in 2015 and actually had a season worthy of cheers, knocking 33 home runs, 86 RBIs, 131 hits, and a .252 batting average. He led the Yankees in home runs, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, on-base plus slugging, and bases-on-balls. But it could all change in a New York second – as his current stats of five homers, 12 RBIs, and a .194 batting average can quickly turn the masses against him once again if he doesn’t right himself.
10. Carmelo Anthony (Denver Nuggets small forward, 2003 – 2011; Knicks 2011 – present)
Yes, he’s the Knicks’ lone superstar and the best player to don orange and blue in 20 years, but for some reason, Anthony gets more than his share of vitriol from the faithful. It’s been an odd love-hate marriage between Anthony and the fans because he’s the unquestioned best player on a lousy team. Perhaps it’s because he’s cashing very large checks for a team with no real hope in the immediate future and often criticized for taking way too many shots, breaking the offense, and sometimes lackluster effort on the defensive end. He’s the scapegoat when things are bad for the Knicks – which has been often for New York in recent years -- but rarely given his due as a top-20 NBA player. Forgotten is the fact that he’s been carrying a lot of dead weight on his shoulders nightly for the last few seasons, because the local talk-sports radio stations and basketball blog comment sections are littered with “trade Melo” banter. It’s baffling, but that’s the way it goes when you play in “Boo York.”