Ego makes the sports world go round. We could either become bitter about that, or mock it. So with mocking in mind, we give you the somewhat annual All-Ego Sports Team, based on a careful study of the boneheads and blunderkinds who have graced us with their over-the-top behavior. As you can see, it's been a very good (or bad) year.
LeBron James, pro athlete: The captain of this year's All-Ego Team. In an era of tatted-up, trash-talking ballplayers, he sets new standards in icky self-importance. Even so, doesn't the NBA get better by the minute? Where would All-Ego teams be without it?
Ben Roethlisberger, pro athlete: If ego were rum, he'd be Mel Gibson. Nobody plays football with more heart. Nobody parties with less brains. This kind of abusive behavior used to be tolerated. But even in Pittsburgh, his act has grown old.
The NFL, sports league: If this control-freaky league were an emperor, it'd be Kaiser Wilhelm. Oversees a magnificent product with a heavy hand and too much Madison Avenue panache. Let it breathe, baby. Let it breathe.
Lance Armstrong, cyclist: If he sticks around much longer, we'll have to get him rust-proofed. Get off the bike already and serve as a spokesman for some worthy cause. Otherwise, you're going to wind up as the Brett Favre of cycling.
Mark Cuban, team owner: Will he eventually purchase the Dodgers? Will he add mascots and midgets? Somehow, the dude seems destined to wind up in Los Angeles appearing in his own comedy show — which the Dodgers have managed to become.
Jerry Jones, team owner: Colossal stadium, colossal id. How come you Texans always make the most bombastic team owners? His star turn on this season of "Entourage" gives hope to wax museum figures across the land.
Free agency: OK, not a person. But what a beast. What has been good for pro athletes has been a disaster for fans, particularly in baseball, where the long season should make for a more familial atmosphere. Who are these guys?
Mike Garrett, former AD: Not since Richard Nixon have we seen anyone mishandle an important national crisis this horribly. Terrible instincts helped lead to his impeachment. The new poster child for win-at-all-costs programs.
Rex Ryan, football coach: Buddy Ryan's little boy is rattling cages around the NFL. Is he a breath of fresh air or hot air? Time will tell. With a little effort, he could top the All-Ego list. In the plus category: Bill Belichick must lie awake nights worrying about this guy.
Any fan who got a foul ball and didn't flip it to the closest kid: You expect athletes to do the right thing? Why not you? New rule: If you get a foul ball, go ahead and wave it proudly in the air. Then hand it to the nearest youngster.
Alex Rodriguez, showboat: Headed to the All-Ego Hall of Fame — on the very first ballot.
The McCourts, Dodger dawgs: You might've heard about the breakup? Pretty good owners till then.
Tiger Woods, duffer: Soon, his only endorsement will be for eHarmony.com.
Scott Boras, greed counselor: See free agency (above).
Carlos Zambrano, meltdown artist: If only the rest of the Cubs swung the bat half as well as he swings at water coolers.
Chris Berman, broadcasting blowhard: Thanks, pal. You almost single-handedly ruined the Home Run Derby.
Serena Williams, anger management specialist: Yes, female athletes can be as boorish as men. Congrats.
The Philly Phanatic, baseball fuzz-kill: A Muppet on meth.
Manny Ramirez, human bobblehead: Good riddance, Rapunzel. Go let down your locks somewhere else.
Kobe Bryant, recovering egomaniac: Because he'd probably be insulted if we didn't include him.
Pete Carroll, fugitive: Real men clean up the messes they leave.
Barry Bonds, chemist: And you thought we forgot?
Dishonorable mention: Chad Ochocinco, Shaquille O'Neal, Tony La Russa, Bill Belichick, Tom Cable, Nike, Carmelo Anthony, Isiah Thomas, David Beckham, Ozzie Guillen, Jim Rome, Terrell Owens, Bob Costas, Alberto Contador, Yankees fans, the French World Cup team.