The 10 Biggest Sports Divas of 2014

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Athletes are placed on a special pedestal in our society. We admire them for their physical attributes and their ability to entertain us.

Fans love athletes, but they also love to hate athletes. Read any message board or online discussion and there is usually a lot of vitriol spewed towards athletes who, fans think, make too much money, are too arrogant or simply play for the wrong team.

It is easy to see how athletes become arrogant. With all the admiration and hate simultaneously showered down upon them, athletes often take on personas to insulate themselves.

Other times athletes have been coddled and surrounded by yes-men from the very first time someone discovered their one in a million talent.

Whatever the impetus, the trope of the diva athlete has become amplified due to social media and the 24-hour news cycle. While there are some classic examples of diva athletes from Jack Johnson to Joe Namath to Terrell Owens, this is a list of the biggest divas in the sports world today.

10. Lebron James



Sport: Basketball
Franchise: Cleveland Cavaliers
2014 Salary: $20,644,400

Lebron James is currently one of the most popular and hated athletes in the world. He seemed to be destined for stardom from an early age, landing on the cover of Sports Illustrated while he was still a high school student, and having his high school games broadcast on ESPN when he was just 17. Lebron's new Samsung app allows users to follow the superstar's day-to-day activities. He is a two-time NBA champion, four-time MVP and has made the NBA all-star team for 10 years running. He is also a notorious flopper and extremely arrogant in post-game interviews.


9. Yasiel Puig



Sport: Baseball
Franchise: Los Angeles Dodgers
2014 Salary: $3,710,000

Yasiel Puig is the 23 year-old Cuban outfielder for the Los Angeles Dodgers. He is one of the most exciting young players in the big leagues and also one of the most wreckless. He has already had run-ins with his manager Don Mattingly and has rubbed more than a couple pitchers the wrong way for his antics after taking them deep. Along with an incident involving him reportedly dissing Arizona Diamondbacks great Luis Gonzales, the signs of diva behavior are clear in the young phenom.

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8. Russell Westbrook



Sport: Basketball
Franchise: Oklahoma City Thunder
2014 Salary: $15,719,062

Russell Westbrook's wardrobe choices are eclectic to say the least. His sense of fashion is all his own. To him, it looks good and no one can tell him otherwise. On the court, Westbrook is one of the most talented point guards in the league, but he is also one of the most selfish. His teammate and league MVP Kevin Durant is often left watching as Westbrook careens toward the basket with wreckless abandon instead of passing the ball and moving the offense like he should. Six years in the league and one would think that he would have been reigned in by now, but Westbrook is his own man and plays the game the way he sees fit. 

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7. Mario Balotelli



Sport: Soccer
Franchise: AC Milan
2014 Salary: $5,372,000

How big of a diva is Balotelli? Well in 2011 while he was still with Inter-Milan, Balotelli went on Italian television and put on a jersey of bitter crosstown rival AC Milan. He had his Maserati impounded after racking up over $13,000 in parking tickets and set his bedroom on fire after lighting fireworks indoors and shooting them through an open window. While Balotelli is one of the best footballers in the world, he is also one of the biggest divas in sports today.

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6. Dwight Howard



Sport: Basketball
Franchise: Houston Rockets
2014 Salary: $21,436,271

Dwight Howard's fall from public grace has been precipitous. He was one of the most likable players in the league during his time with the Orlando Magic. He was the best center in the league when he led a plucky Magic team to the Finals in 2009. However, rumblings of a schism between Orlando head coach Stan Van Gundy and Howard, in which Van Gundy accused Howard of going behind his back in an attempt to get him fired, exposed cracks in Howard's carefully crafted veneer. After a quick stop in LA with the Lakers, Howard is currently the center for the Houston Rockets. 

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5. Kobe Bryant



Sport: Basketball
Franchise: Los Angeles Lakers
2014 Salary: $23,500,000

Kobe Bryant is one of the most fearsome competitors in the history of the sport. He is also a huge diva. The five-time world champion has had very public tiffs with future hall of famers Phil Jackson and Shaquille O'Neal, uses a helicopter to take him to games and is notorious for being a difficult teammate to play with. Mess up a play and Kobe will be sure you know about it. Miss a call, prepare to be berated. Kobe's intensity on the court has propelled him to being one of the greatest players of all time and his diva-like behavior lands him on this list.

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4. Alex Rodriguez



Sport: Baseball
Franchise: New York Yankees (suspended)
2014 Salary: $2,900,000

Alex Rodriguez is one of the most hated baseball players ever. There is no mincing words about it. The hate started when he went from being an up-and-coming 18 year-old phenom with the Seattle Mariners, to signing a 10-year, $252 million contract, the biggest in sports history at the time, with the Texas Rangers, before being traded to the "evil empire" of the New York Yankees in 2004. Rodriguez's career has seen a steady decline over the past three seasons, culminating in a yearlong suspension for the 2014 season for violating MLB's performance enhancing drug policy.

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3. Richard Sherman



Sport: Football
Franchise: Seattle Seahawks
2014 Salary: $1,431,000 (base salary)

Richard Sherman had his national coming out party following the NFC Championship game and his "Dont you ever talk about me" interview with Erin Andrews. The 6'3' cornerback out of Stanford is certainly one of the best players at his position, and he is not shy about letting the world know it. With the $56 million contract extension he signed after winning the Superbowl this year, his Beats headphones endorsement deal and being named the Madden 15 cover boy, Sherman's ego is probably not going to be deflated anytime soon.

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2. Johnny Manziel



Sport: Football
Franchise: Cleveland Browns
2014 Salary: $2,061,813 (per year average)

Nicknamed "Johnny Football" during his days quarterbacking for Texas A&M, Johnny Manziel has been one of the most polarizing sports figures among fans for a few years now. Pictures of him partying with rapper Drake, or flashing his signature money hand gesture, have rubbed some people the wrong way. But his talent at the college level was undeniable. He was one of the most exciting football players to watch during his time at College Station. He was drafted with the 22nd pick by the NFL's Cleveland Browns earlier this summer and now its put up or shut up time for the college phenom.

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1. Floyd "Money" Mayweather



Sport: Boxing
Franchise: N/A
2014 Salary: $85,000,000 (Est. Could be higher based on PPV incentives and other bonuses)

Floyd Mayweather is the undisputed king of the boxing ring and the undisputed biggest diva in sports. His arrogance is palpable in every interview he does. The fact that he has topped Forbes list of the highest paid athletes in the world for two years running, including an astounding $105 million earned for two bouts in 2013, certainly hasn't helped alleviate his arrogance. Mayweather's 46-0 fight record has placed him on a pedestal that he is more than comfortable standing on.

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