Sports Divas Have Bats, Balls and Bad Attitudes

It’s no secret that Naomi Campbell is the Diva Queen of the celebrity world, famous for her tears, tantrums and torments. But the sports arena has enough diva royalty to rival even modeling and Hollywood's finest.

Athletes like Barry Bonds, Terrell Owens, Serena Williams and Sasha Cohen are known for their drama-queen antics, ridiculous requests and luxurious lifestyles.

"They revel in being known as divas," said Dick Klayman, sports editor of the New York Post. "They love the image and attention it brings."

While most sports stars don't like being put in the corner, baseball superstar Barry Bonds demands it. That is, having a personal wing in the corner of the San Francisco Giants' clubhouse.

“It is complete with a vibrating leather recliner, a big-screen TV and his own personal group of assistants who know exactly how Bonds likes his flaxseed oil rubbed in," said San Francisco-based sportswriter Andy Rizzeri.

“He lives in a 20,000-square-foot mansion opposite Denzel Washington, demands a $20 million salary, requests to sit out of Sunday games and is the only player who has two lockers," Rizzeri added.

In fairness, many veteran ballplayers rest on a Sunday afternoon after a Saturday night game. But very few others get to sit out a game in their vibrating leather recliner.

But the diva package isn't complete until there's a public scuffle with the cameras rolling. In 2002, Bonds shoved fellow Giants star Jeff Kent, and the teammates had to be separated.

Bonds' life is so drama-packed that he even hit the airwaves with his own ESPN reality show, "Bonds on Bonds," last April.

"We had the diva-esque tears," recalled 21-year-old physical education student Lex Abermann, of New York. "Bonds believes everyone is going out of their way to hurt him."

Bonds, however, failed to hit a home run this time around. ESPN axed the show in June, citing "creative control" problems with Bonds and his representatives.

In the football world, former Philadelphia Eagle and current Dallas Cowboy Terrell Owens is just as demigod-like as Bonds.

"He is constantly bragging, showing off and fighting with his coaches and teammates," said Klayman.

In 2005, "T.O." (divas can live without first and last names) parked his car in a handicapped zone at Eagles training camp because his ankle hurt. He also wanted to tear up his seven-year, $48.97 million contract after one year in demand for more money.

When the Eagles refused, he threatened to skip training camp altogether. He did turn up, but was more standoffish than usual. He was later kicked out of training for a week after arguing with head coach Andy Reid.

As for T.O.'s recent "accidental overdose" of painkillers, many speculated over whether it was a cry for help or the spotlight.

Among the other NFL divas, the Oakland Raiders' Randy Moss is up there with the best of 'em.

"In 2004 he pretended to pull down his pants and proceeded to wipe his [behind] all over the goalpost with Green Bay Packers written on it," Klayman said.

But that wasn't when the prima donna antics started. In 2001, Moss verbally abused corporate sponsors on the team bus after losing. When asked about his propensity to take plays off, Moss stirred controversy by telling a Minneapolis newspaper that he simply plays when he wants to.

Perhaps it's athletes' restrictive diets that fuel the diva within.

After all, boxer Mike Tyson was hungry enough to bite a couple of chunks out of Evander Holyfield’s ear in 1997. He indulged in another expensive meal earlier this year, agreeing to pay Don King's personal assistant Isadore Bolton $275,000 after taking a generous bite of his leg on a Florida roadway.

But tennis is where the divas "really come out to play," said Rizzeri. And nobody takes the crown more then fashion designer, cosmetics creator, and, oh yeah, World No. 2 tennis ace Serena Williams.

With an entourage including a personal makeup artist to help blot out the sweat, the younger of the Williams sisters makes sure to sparkle like a star for the U.S. Open.

"For me it's the biggest stage. I love playing in New York," Williams says on her Web site.

Williams had L.A. jewelry designer Erica Courtney create $40,000 earrings with 5 carats in yellow and white diamonds set in platinum to wear center-court.

But it’s Serena's racket rage that draws the crowds.

“I love the entertainment factor,” said Rizzeri. "I'll never forget Wimbledon last year when she broke her racket after losing a first set tiebreak against world No. 104 Angela Haynes.

"She even took a sulky swipe at the hardcourt and smashed her racket after losing to her sister Venus for the first time in three years to crash out of the NASDAQ-100 Open in Florida," Rizzeri added.

But some say soccer is the sport with the most divas kicking around.

“There’s more entertainment on a soccer field than any Hollywood premiere,” said Erin Dethick, a professional cheerleader for the Russell Crowe-owned soccer club South Sydney Rabbitohs and Manly Sea Eagles in Australia.

So why does the world love this game? Maybe it's the feigned injuries. Or the one-name only Brazilian players like Ronaldinho, Ronaldo and Cafu. Or the fact that some players even see themselves as too good to sing their national anthems.

"But England's David Beckham is the star both on and off the field," said Dethick.

The husband of former Posh Spice Victoria Beckham is almost as renowned for having a different haircut every week and posing oiled up and naked for the cover of Esquire magazine as he is for his ability to play ball.

Competitive both on and off the field, Becks always has to look his best. After being voted "The World's Most Beautiful Sports Icon" by People magazine, he issued a press release divulging his beauty tips and secrets.

"Moisturizer in the morning is a big thing and at night it's La Prairie eye cream," he said. "A manicure is probably my favorite pampering splurge."

Becks also insists on plucking his eyebrows, having spray-on tans and, of course, regular facials.

There's also something about figure skating that breeds attitude, with American Sweetheart Sasha Cohen the frostiest ice-princess.

After dumping coaches Tatiana Tarasova and Robin Wagner, Cohen moved on to John Nicks. And there were reports that she skipped vital training practices leading up to the 2006 Winter Olympics in Torino to enjoy some extra beauty sleep.

"It's a timing issue," Nicks said in her defense. "Sasha skates very late in the evening and is not able to sleep in the afternoon like other skaters can."

Cohen is also remembered for applauding her own performance in the short program and commenting that she deserved top scores.

Fellow figure-skater Johnny Weir is best known for blowing a chance to win a medal in Torino, but not because he didn’t perform well.

He didn’t make it to the arena on time. Bus schedules? As if. That’s for the manager to deal with.

But in an interview with NBC, Weir set the record straight.

"I'm no diva, I'm a princess," he said.