BEST VILLAIN - 2000
During football season the Viking faithful have two favorite teams: The Purple and whoever's playing the Green Bay Packers. Since NBA sensation Stephon Marbury packed up his ego and left for New Jersey last season, fans of the Timberwolves have reveled as the Nets struggle to play .500 ball. The hate can be rationalized, of course. Besides thumbing his nose at Minnesota's favorite Kevins (McHale and Garnett) and quashing any hope for a championship run in the next five years, Marbury had the gall to call Minneapolis boring (this coming from a guy who has chosen to play his home games in the Garden State). When the point guard made his return to Target Center on February 20 for a nationally televised game, he was greeted by 19,449 hecklers, some of whom held signs accusing the former favorite of being a crybaby. Not unlike Utah's Karl Malone or former Bull Dennis Rodman (storied villains in their own right), Marbury stepped up to the boos. In a 40-minute clinic (on his birthday, no less), the 23-year-old scored 39 points and led his team to a 91-89 win. "It doesn't get any better than this," the giddy guard told reporters after the heartbreaker. It hurts to admit it, but we have to agree.