Sport's ugliest break-ups

A disappointed LeBron James looks on while playing for the Cleveland Cavaliers. Photo / Photosport
A disappointed LeBron James looks on while playing for the Cleveland Cavaliers. Photo / Photosport

Anything Hollywood can do, the sports world can do better. Or worse, depending on which way you look at it.

Forget Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie splitting up, that pain will only be temporary. Don't waste your tears on them, save the waterworks instead for these moments of sporting heartbreak that continue to haunt players and fans no matter how long ago they happened.

1. LEBRON JAMES AND THE CLEVELAND CAVALIERS

The number one pick in the 2003 NBA Draft, LeBron James was predicted to end his home city's notorious championship drought across all sports. He quickly developed into Cleveland's shiny new toy and one of the league's best players, but a championship ring eluded the men from Ohio, who suffered a 4-0 spanking at the hands of the San Antonio Spurs in the 2007 Finals.

So when The King became an unrestricted free agent in 2010, he headed to Florida to win some silverware with the Miami Heat, which he did when his new side claimed titles in 2012 and 2013.

Cleveland fans couldn't believe James' decision after all the city had done for him. There was anger and jealousy that they'd nurtured him only to then see him run off with a richer, slimmer partner with a better tan.

The fact he announced his move to Miami on a live ESPN special called The Decision also infuriated fans, and he was widely hammered for saying he was "taking my talents to South Beach".

Cavs owner Dan Gilbert wrote an open letter to fans calling LeBron "narcissistic" whose "cowardly betrayal" was a "shameful display of selfishness". World leaders whose effigies have been burned in the street probably hadn't seen such a backlash before.

But much like a Hollywood rom-com, this story has a happy ending. In the sporting equivalent to make-up sex, LeBron returned to Cleveland in 2014 to deliver the city an NBA title, and he did just that in 2016 when the Cavs beat Golden State 4-3 in the Finals.

2. ROBBIE FARAH AND THE WESTS TIGERS

For a while there Robbie Farah's relationship status with the Wests Tigers read "it's complicated", but now it's officially over.

After 14 years and 247 games with the joint venture club, the 32-year-old has officially signed on with Souths for the next two seasons.

Coach Jason Taylor was the one who initiated the "we need to talk" conversation, but much like George Costanza avoiding a girl so she couldn't dump him in Seinfeld, Farah just blatantly ignored the message the coach was trying to give him.

Taylor dropped Farah to reserve grade earlier this year, citing his lack of a fluent combination with the club's young playmakers, and was clearly trying to force the hooker out despite him still being contracted until the end of 2017.

The NSW representative fired back at Taylor after a NSW Cup game at Leichhardt, rubbishing his claims that the veteran's presence was hampering Wests' attack, and stated his intentions to see out his deal even if it meant never playing first grade again.

But the fan favourite eventually changed his mind and ended his love affair with the black and orange at the end of the 2016 season.

3. SONNY BILL WILLIAMS AND THE BULLDOGS

Footy player loves club. Club loves footy player. Footy player stops loving club. Footy player jumps on a plane and heads 15,000km away from club.

Short and sweet, just like Sonny Bill Williams' career with Canterbury.

The back-rower shocked the rugby league world when he up and left the Bulldogs without a word of warning to play rugby union in France despite having four years to run on his contract.

There was no tear-stained goodbye note, no "it's not you, it's me", no "the timing's just not right". It was a devious vanishing act David Copperfield would be proud of.

Williams was just unhappy at Belmore, and he didn't want to stay. That was pretty much his reason for pulling off the most epic of Irish exits.

Fans were outraged, teammates were filthy and administrators were left gasping for answers. Then coach Steve Folkes told Williams it was "the worst decision of his life".

Yep, this was a strange one.

4. KIM HUGHES AND THE AUSTRALIAN CAPTAINCY

The Australian cricket captaincy is said to be the second highest office in the land, after Prime Minister. That's a helluva lot of pressure, and Kim Hughes found it all too much to handle.

Hughes had the unfortunate task of leading sides against the all-conquering West Indian teams of the 1980s. The Aussies played the Windies a lot in that time, and they lost a lot.

In 1984 the golden-haired boy from Western Australia was at the helm of a side that had lost Greg Chappell, Dennis Lillee and Rod Marsh in one fell swoop to retirement. His players were struggling to compete and his own batting form was on the wane.

After losing the second Test in Brisbane to the men from the Caribbean, Hughes had had enough, and he gave one of the most emotional press conferences ever by an Australian skipper.

He broke down as he read out his letter of resignation and was unable to finish it, instead relying on then Cricket Australia chairman Bob Merriman to finish it off for him.

He wore the Baggy Green for the final time that summer before he joined a rebel tour to South Africa, for which he (and many other players) copped heavy criticism.

Despite playing 70 Tests and scoring nine centuries, Hughes will always be remembered for that fateful day in Brisbane.

5. DEREK FISHER AND MATT BARNES

What do you get when you cross an NBA star, a player-turned coach and an ex-wife? This.

Last year Matt Barnes reportedly drove 150km to "beat the s***" out of Derek Fisher when he found out the New York Knicks coach was trying to woo his ex-wife.

Barnes and Fisher were teammates for two years at the LA Lakers, but any goodwill they developed playing next to each other quickly evaporated when Fisher tried to move in on the mother of Barnes' children.

According to the New York Post, Barnes allegedly sent a text to a friend after confronting Fisher that read: "I kicked his a*** from the back yard to the front room, and spit in her face."

6. ADAM SCOTT AND HIS LONG PUTTER

We'll always have Augusta.

That must have been what Aussie golfer Adam Scott said to his long putter when he put it away for the final time.

Scott's had his troubles on the green over the course of his career, but at the 2013 Masters, it all clicked. He holed a four-metre birdie to beat Angel Cabrera in a playoff in one of Australia's greatest sporting triumphs.

Part of his success was down to the use of his long putter, but when the US Golf Association and Royal & Ancient Golf Club banned the practise of anchoring putts at the start of 2016, the 36-year-old was forced to shelve his favourite toy and revert back to a standard length club.

He's still managed some tour victories since making the move, but winning another major will be a tough ask from now.

We don't have enough time to go through every messy split, separation and divorce the sporting world has ever seen, so we know we've missed plenty, but this is just a sample to remind you there's more to this life than Brangelina.

- news.com.au

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