In the wake of former Oklahoma City Thunder small forward Kevin Durant’s defection to fierce Western Conference rivals, the Golden State Warriors, our UBET team has come up with some of the most controversial club or code departures in world sport over the last 20 years.
While Durant’s departure was shocking, there have been plenty more that rank higher on the scale of controversy including the events that led to star North Melbourne forward Wayne Carey defecting to the Adelaide Crows, Michael Jordan’s brief effort to play Major League Baseball and Sonny Bill Williams’s defenceless backflip on his five-year deal with the Bulldogs.
From Mundine’s lollypop farce to Wendell’s mixed bag in league’s rival code, rugby union, we have identified 10 of the most controversial, bizarre and shocking career moves.
KD’s 2015-16 season saw his Thunder come within a whisker of securing the Western Conference title before imploding alongside Russell Westbrook, Serge Ibaka and Kiwi Steven Adams. Durant’s decision to join the Golden State Warriors raised eyebrows and drawn comparisons with three-time NBA champion LeBron James’s defection to Miami Heat from his original club, the Cleveland Cavaliers. Durant's arrival in Oakland has the Warriors at almost unbackable odds for this yeasr's NBA Championship.
It is understandable and actually justified why James left the Cavs to link with the Heat to win championships because the superstar won it twice alongside Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh. The back-to-back titles that arrived in 2012 and 2013 catapulted LeBron from a great individual player to NBA royalty but the big man’s greatest achievement came in his last match when he led the Cavs to championship glory for Cleveland’s first title in their 46-year history. Back-to-back titles aren't out of the question either, with the Cavs the second most favoured team to win the comp.
Wendell Sailor’s career is littered with controversy but the career move that defined the dual international’s career was his disappointing departure from the all-conquering Broncos at the end of the 2001 season. Dell decided ‘the challenge’ of earning massive coin with the Reds and Wallabies in rugby union was too good to refuse. Sailor had a mixed time in the ‘game they play in heaven’ featuring in a number of memorable Wallabies wins and losses. Wendell's Broncos are not faring too well after 18 rounds but are still one of the most favoured to win the premiership this year.
Former Liverpool striker Luis Suarez surprisingly ditched the Reds to chase championships in La Liga with soccer giants Barcelona FC. Plagued by controversy in his time in the Barclays Premier League, Suarez’s character took a major hit when he was infamously involved in a biting incident. Suarez’s ditching of the Reds ultimately paid off as he won two La Liga titles, the UEFA Super Cup, The World Club Cup and Copa del Rey on his way to scoring 56 goals in just 62 matches. Suarez's club Barcelona remains outright favourites to win La Liga this year.
‘Duck’ is now a respected Channel 7 analyst/commentator and has even reconciled with former teammate Anthony Stevens in recent weeks. Why have they reconciled? No idea, but the former North Melbourne leaders’ feud erupted over Carey’s infidelity, when he slept with the wife of Stevens in what was one of the biggest stories in AFL/VFL history. After announcing his guilt, Carey left the Kangaroos for greener pastures in Adelaide with the Crows. While 'Duck's' Kangas had an epic start to the year, their odds have dropped significantly in the wake of supreme displays by the Cats, Swans, Crows and Bulldogs.
The wrestler turned MMA fighter turned wrestler turned MMA fighter is on the UFC 200 card against ‘Super Samoan’ Mark Hunt this weekend and Lesnar’s career journey is an interesting one. Brock’s decision to quit the WWE arena was controversial and even involved a law suit, which was filed by his former employer. Lesnar enjoyed a handy start to his UFC career, successfully defending his heavyweight title twice before defecting back to the WWE and now in his one-off match will look to end his MMA career on a high
The image of Mundine sucking on a lollypop while announcing his departure from NRL joint venture club St George Illawarra to pursue a boxing career was met with large amounts of criticism from fans and foes alike. Despite forging a highly successful career in the ring that yielded three world titles, the majority of sports fans in general cannot take to ‘The Man’ while he continuously runs his mouth about how great he THINKS he is.
Basketball’s GOAT became baseball’s joke when Jordan defected from the all-conquering Chicago Bulls in the USA’s NBA competition to the Chicago White Sox. Despite that fleeting desire to play in the MLB, Jordan came back to the Bulls to win three straight titles and become a six-time NBA championship winner. MJ later left the Bulls and finished his career with the Washington Wizards but would not win a title with them. The Wizards aren't considered a genuine title threat but the team Jordan won six championships with, the Bulls, are a decent bet after some crafty off-season recruiting.
Sonny Bill left the NRL’s Canterbury Bulldogs in the middle of the 2008 season after earlier agreeing to a massive five-year contract with the Belmore club. Inexplicably, the Bulldogs were unaware of SBW’s move to French rugby and his mate Anthony Mundine was forced to foot the termination fee. In attempting to justify his actions, Williams made an appearance on the NRL Footy Show and bizarrely compared himself to the best bus driver in Sydney! SBW's tumultuous career took another turn when he was elected to represent NZ at Rio 2016 in the Sevens, with the Kiwis among the favourites to win the gold medal.
Folau’s departure from the Storm was a shock but his move from the Broncos to take up a rich offer to compete in the AFL shocked the country. Folau signed a $1.5 million a year deal with the code’s newest franchise the GWS Giants. His move smacked of an AFL publicity stunt and in the process destroyed any semblance of respect the sporting world had of the devout Mormon. Folau’s exit from the Giants was not surprising – nor are his achievements in rugby union. Folau's Wallabies vie for the Rugby Championship but New Zealand is easily the most fancied team to win that competition over Australia, South Africa and Argentina.