Grantland sucks because you know it has the potential to be awesome but it is a circle jerk of progressive, SWPL status signaling. "Long form sports journalism skewed towards a younger crowd." That could be awesome. "Sports stories written for poseurs, SWPLs and people who hate sports." Not awesome. I like to criticize them and snipe at them on Twitter. It becomes comical how they respond, and the quick reaction to nut-job if you point out something obvious like "Hey, no one cares about the black secretary on Mad Men except you. Stop it SWPL." It might be a weekly contest as to who can out-SWPL who. They kicked it up a notch with "Best Sports Movie Villain of All Time".
Quickly in paragraph three, you get a snarky comment citing Hollywood's racism "tries to save the youths of black America by giving them pizza and letting them listen to rap while they play baseball because I guess black people aren’t any good at baseball unless they can listen to rap while they play it". It was probably to have rap music in the movie and on the soundtrack to appeal to black viewers since it was about a whitish guy helping black kids overcome inner-city struggles through sports (SWPL heaven). They have to signal they are on the right side of history. You already know where this is ending don't you.
Best line goes to Ivan Drago for "if he dies, he dies" or "I must break you". Amazing villain lines from an evil Commie boxer. We're doing OK. Best villain monologue somehow shoehorns a Lebowski mention. This is SWPL terrible. Best villain who could turn good is a discussion of Drago (again, how memorable!) and the guy from Mighty Ducks 2. Worst villain to possibly turn it around, I quote, "Racism in Remember the Titans. There’s no hope". They don't really mention another. Signal with claxon alarms. Was not the entire movie about overcoming racism through football? You mean there is no villain in any sports movie that they could discuss as horribly unredeemable? The bad guy in Karate Kid 3, Shelly Marcone in The Last Boy Scout, or any asshole in any sports film? Heinous Acts involves a Kickboxer film. Worst ideological beliefs mention the Nazis in Victory (easy and.... the neo-nazis in Higher Learning. Wait, sports films. That was not a sports film. It was a college film or John Singleton masturbation sequence. Really SWPLs at Grantland? They finish things with best feud and best/worst looking villain where we get some homoeroticism thrown in and anti-Asian writing. Maybe Nic Cage is onto something.
Like all modern clickbait internet media, they get to "the list". It's Grantland. It's SWPL Sports. It's a "best" list. Of course number one is a non-sports character played by Tupac Shakur. Grantland is doing a good job of trying to push the idea that Tupac was a good actor. He plays a drug dealer. These closet cases call him devastatingly handsome. Greatest villain no way associated with playing a sport in a sports movie would be "Milo" in The Last Boy Scout. This is about SWPL cred, which is the only kind of cred that matters. It's about selecting a non-athlete character as the best villain in a movie genre about athletic competition. It's about signaling how goddamn progressive you are in every, single thing you do.
For the record...
5. The Warden from the original "The Longest Yard" - He nails the corrupt, Southern prison warden obsessed enough with football to threaten jail time to win big. Doesn't nail the accent, but you hate him.
4. Apollo Creed - Nice film version of Ali. Charismatic and condescending enough to get you behind the palooka underdog Rocky. His turn as a good guy makes his death in Rocky 4 so startling, well, to little kids who saw it in the theater.
3. Johnny Lawrence - I should have typed Cobra Kai, the dojo he trained in, which was run by an ex-Vietnam Vet from the special forces. Their slogan "no mercy" was once used by a Little League All Star team I played against. His minions were hysterical. Lawrence was the perfect '80s teen villain and even cheats at the end, making you hate him more.
2. Clubber Lang - He was Mike Tyson before there was a Mike Tyson. His lines, "Prediction? Pain", or "I'm gonna crucify him... real bad", and "hey woman hey woman...". He is an asshole to everyone. He kills Mickey. He trains in an old, dank looking gym. He was so memorable that they Mr. T into the A-Team. He also was believable as a boxer.
1. Ivan Drago - Sports movies are usually team sports movies so it is hard to have a villain as we want to build drama between two people: one good and one bad. Even in team movies, focus can slide to the coaches to have the duel. Ivan Drago in 1985 was a perfect phony villain from the USSR. He kills Apollo Creed in an exhibition. He has great lines. He is a portrayed as a machine. A product of the science behind the Iron Curtain that we knew had been juicing athletes. It was the Cold War.