The Most Iconic Press Conference Moments in Sports History

If athletes didn't have to talk to the media, let's face it, they wouldn't. But these are a few moments we're so glad they did. We know why you're here.

Russell Westbrook speaks at a press conference alongside Steven Adams.
USA Today Sports

Image via Getty/Layne Murdoch/Contributor

Russell Westbrook speaks at a press conference alongside Steven Adams.

Normally, press conferences are one of the more mundane aspects of sports. Athletes are routinely held against their will in a contained area with a ton of reporters asking redundant questions, and the players just want to get through it as soon as possible.

But every once in a while, a press conference becomes a stage and we get a breakout performance. From our intro to young Riley Curry, to Marshawn Lynch answering each question with, “I’m just here so I won’t get fined,” there are some gems to be mined from the trash of news conferences. These are the moments you should never forget.

View this video on YouTube

This has to be one of the shortest press conferences ever. After a 5-3 loss to the Tigers, Kansas City manager Hal McRae had a handful of reporters in his office. Immediately, he was asked a question he didn’t like and proceeded to go ape shit. “Don’t ask me all these stupid ass fucking questions,” McRae said, then proceeded to stand up and throw every item in sight, including a telephone. The room cleared out quick.

But McRae wasn't done. He chased the reporters into the hall, continuing to cuss about “all these stupid ass fucking questions every night.” You’d think that’d be the end of his career, but it wasn’t. He led the Royals to a winning record in 1993, and then again in 1994. Moral of the story: Don’t ask Hal any stupid questions.

View this video on YouTube

Mike Tyson was supposed to simply promote his April 6, 2002, fight with Lennox Lewis to recapture the WBC title. However, when Lewis took the podium, Tyson bum rushed him, and a huge brawl ensued. Once they were separated Tyson turned the vitriol on reporters, grabbing his crotch, shouting expletives, and threatening to fight everybody.

Tyson later said in an interview that he bit Lewis' leg during the melee. Nevada refused to grant Tyson a license after the press conference, so the fight got pushed back to June 8 and relocated from Vegas to Memphis, Tennessee. Lewis got his revenge on Tyson with a knockout in the eighth round.

View this video on YouTube

This is the granddaddy of all press conference moments. It has gone down in history as Iverson's practice "rant," in which he used the word "practice" 22 times and incredulously defended himself after reporters brought up Sixers coach Larry Brown's season-long critiques that A.I. didn't show up to practice.

It came across like Iverson just didn't see why practice was a big deal. But a fuller picture was told later. It seems, that in addition to the sting of losing in the first round of the playoffs to the Celtics, A.I. had been trying to cope all season with the murder of his best friend Rahsaan Langeford. In the full transcript of the press conference, Iverson says, "I'm upset because of one reason...we are in here. I lost my best friend, I lost this year [in the playoffs], I feel that everything is going downhill for me as far as my life."

Was he a lazy player with a bad work ethic? Maybe. Or was he dealing with issues in life he felt were bigger than "practice"? That could be true, too. Either way, this moment is ingrained in history.

Mike Gundy Is a Man, Is 40 —Sept. 22, 2007

View this video on YouTube

High off of Red Bull and angered by a local news story, Oklahoma State head football coach Mike Gundy infamously shouted "I'm a man, I'm 40! I'm not a child!" After a 2007 victory against Texas Tech, Gundy seized the stage to address a story that criticized quarterback Bobby Reid, who had previously lost his starting job. Newspaper in hand, Gundy calmly said, "This article had to be written by someone who doesn't have a child," before letting his testosterone fume out, "That's why I don't read the newspaper, because it's garbage, and the editor that let it come out is garbage." The story drew national headlines, not only because of Gundy's fiery delivery, but because of his words that were directed to a female sports writer, who many believed was judged unfairly. Gundy claimed that "3/4s" of her story was inaccurate and "fiction." The press conference isn't just remember for the coach's words, but because Reid told ESPN a year later that it "basically ended my life." He ended up joining the Oklahoma State staff in a non-coach role in 2013, later moving onto SMU. Gundy's still a man, now 50 years old, and has grown out a mullet, which has gained the support of Billy Ray Cyrus. But his lasting legacy at Oklahoma State -- besides squandering a chance to play in the BCS National Chamionship during the 2011 season—was him shouting his gender and age, which any good reporter could have looked up.

View this video on YouTube

We're not sure whether Ken Krayeske was a reporter so much as a political activist-troll type, but we know he thought a postgame presser was the best place to try to take UConn Coach Jim Calhoun to task for his multimillion-dollar salary despite the state's budget deficit. He quickly found out Jim wasn't in the mood.

“You’re not really that stupid are ya?” Calhoun asks.

“Yes I am,” Krayeske answers.

“My best advice to you: Shut up,” says Calhoun.

Game over.

View this video on YouTube

Lynch is all about that action, boss. He prefers to let his gameplay speak for itself, but unfortunately, this is not allowed in the NFL. During the regular season he ignored reporters and just ate the hefty fines, but he had to make himself available on Media Day for Super Bowl XLIX. His way of getting through it, in pure Beastmode fashion, was to give the same answer for five minutes: “I’m here so I won’t get fined.”

The very next day, again simply there to avoid getting fined, Lynch outdid himself. He opened the presser with, “So ain’t nothing changed from yesterday. I’m the same person that I was yesterday and I got the same thing for you that I had yesterday.” And then he gave us a moment that launched a million memes. “You know why I’m here,” he said. Over and over and over again.

View this video on YouTube

After a win over the Houston Rockets in Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals, Steph Curry brought his Mini-Me along with him to face the media. To say 2-year-old Riley made things interesting for everyone is an understatement. The antsy toddler interrupted Dad often, told him "be quiet," and even ended up crawling under the table.

Some of the reporters complained about Steph's impromptu Take Your Daughter to Work Day after the fact, to which Steph responded by bringing Riley with him again, and again. She kind of owned the postseason, actually.


View this video on YouTube

This makes the list because it cemented Cam’s rep of being "sullen" and "pouty." But what do you expect? He'd just lost the biggest game of his career, Super Bowl 50, and to make it worse he had to hear the winning team give their press conference at the same time. The Broncos drowned his presser out, and it wasn't long before Superman had enough. He shook his head—a literal smh—and walked off.

Cam has given numerous affable interviews and played an entire season since then, but his bad rap is hard to shake and people will forever point to this moment as why.

View this video on YouTube

One thing you can't expect from a Conor McGregor press conference: maturity. In fact, he's still being sued for this moment in which, ahead of his second UFC 202 bout with Nate Diaz, he allegedly hit security guard William Pegg with a can of Monster Energy. Pegg is asking Conor for damages of $95,000, which is absurd.

But the scene that took place was even more absurd. Team Diaz came out of nowhere cursing and throwing water bottles toward the stage where Conor was seated. So what did McGregor do? He stood up and threw bottles back, effectively ending the press conference, and catching the audience in the crossfire. 

McGregor was fined $25,000 and given 25 hours of community service by the Nevada commission, while Diaz was fined $15,000 and given 15 hours of community service. And ultimately, McGregor got the last laugh when he beat Diaz by majority decision. Considering the bag he secured in his short boxing career this summer, paying Pegg would only be a drop in the bucket.

View this video on YouTube

Memphis had just taken a 96-82 loss to the Spurs in a first-round playoffs game Fizz felt was poorly officiated. The first-year coach sat down at the podium and launched into the exact numbers that showed the inequity in free throws between the two teams. “Kawhi shot more free throws than our whole team. Explain it to me,” he demanded.

Then, in all his anger, Fizz took the word rookie and turned it into a verb, saying, “I know Pops got pedigree and I’m a young rookie, but they not gon’ rook us." He vowed his team would get the respect they deserve, which seems admirable from a passionate coach.

However, the NBA disagreed. His two-minute tirade cost him $30,000 for criticizing the refs. But it might have been worth it for the grand kiss-off, “Take that for data!”

View this video on YouTube

This press conference lit the internet up for the way Westbrook completely owned the reporter. The poor guy wanted to ask Steven Adams why OKC seemed to struggle in the playoffs whenever Russ went to the bench. As the Thunder were down three games to one to the Rockets in a season when Russ would become MVP, the question was valid. But Russ said he didn't wanna hear that.

All Steven could do was watch as Russell told the reporter not to try to split the team up. Russ didn't let Adams or the reporter get a word in edgewise. After he spoke his peace, he declared, "Next question." And that was all she wrote. 

View this video on YouTube

In one particularly ridiculous moment on the four-city press tour for the even more ridiculous Mayweather-McGregor bout, Floyd actually called Conor McGregor...a stripper. While 2 Chainz’s “I Luv Dem Strippers” played, Mayweather proceeded to take stacks of money out of a bookbag and throw them at McGregor.

To McGregor’s dismay, the bills were all singles. “'Cause that’s all you worth, you bitch!” Floyd says.

Latest in Sports