The most outrageous athlete meltdowns with fans capture those rare moments when professional football, baseball, basketball and hockey players lose their temper and take out their frustrations on the fans. From the bench-clearing brawls to the isolated incidents of poor judgement, these player versus fan events are some of the most violent spectator incidents in all of sports.
Professional athletes are paid millions of dollars to do their jobs in front of thousands of passionate fans. They earn the big bucks to put up with the hecklers and the belligerent fans, especially as they play on the road. Most of the time, professional athletes brush off the negative comments and trash talk from fans but every once in a while an athlete snaps and the fan usually pays the price.
Athlete versus fan incidents have happened numerous times in the history of professional sports including in the NBA, NHL, NFL and MLB. Some events however stick out more than others. Take the November 2004 "Malice at the Palace" brawl for example. Members of the Detroit Pistons and Indiana Pacers, led by the basketball player formerly known as Ron Artest, fought first with each other then with the Detroit fans. Arrests, suspensions, fines and a bunch of bad press all followed.
Other times it's just one player who loses his cool and attacks a fan. Hockey players are notorious for this including Tie Domi who attacked a Philadelphia Flyers fan during the 2000-01 NHL season and the late Rick Rypien who unloaded on a Minnesota Wild fan during the 2010-11 season.
Be it athletes frustrated with their own poor level of play, players pissed off at the officials or any other reason for their misdirected anger, each of these instances mark times when judgement went out the window and fans became the untimely victims of rage. Like the best hockey coach meltdowns, sure these moments look cool on TV but try getting into the crosshairs of these finely tuned athletes and then see how scary it becomes. Stay safe sports fans.