Shaun White is hated by the snowboard community - and it's an elite athlete phenomenon shared by Kobe Bryant, Tom Brady, and Michael Jordan
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- Shaun White won the half-pipe competition on Wednesday and secured his third Olympic gold medal.
- Snowboarding competitors have previously said they don't like White.
- Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, and Tom Brady are also dominant professional athletes who are said to be ruthlessly competitive.
Shaun White captured his third gold medal in a dramatic final run of the half-pipe Wednesday at the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
For White, the win was one of redemption, after crashing in the 2014 Olympics and missing the podium. But it remains to be seen what his competitors in the snowboarding community think of his win, as they have previously expressed their disdain for White.
"The whole snowboarding community doesn't really like Shaun," Brandon Davis, an American snowboarder, told Time in 2014. "He's apart from everyone. He's the lone wolf."
It's not just an invented perception. White himself says he intentionally stays away from other competitors. "I didn't really enjoy riding with the other riders because it was like, they're my direct competition," White said, according to The Washington Post.
That attitude has at times put him at odds with the tight-knit snowboarding community, which often embraces a laid back culture with regard to competition. But his fierce competitiveness is pretty common among athletes that are regarded as the best in their sport.
Basketball legends Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant are not just considered two of the best to have ever played the game, they are also known as ruthlessly competitive. Even when Jordan was being lauded for his basketball genius, he made it a point to revisit past slights. He famously called out his detractors in his Hall of Fame speech.
Despite being at the top of his game, Bryant was not always beloved by those he played with. "My teammates hate me," Bryan told Los Angeles Lakers general manager Jerry West.
And Tom Brady, arguably the best quarterback in the history of professional football, reportedly caused a fracture on the New England Patriots related to the use of his personal trainer, rather than the team trainer.
While this competitiveness can cause a rift between teammates and opponents, the trait often endears fans to these athletes who are seen as "clutch." They possess the self-assuredness to take the last shot, throw the hail mary pass, and, in White's case, having a near-perfect final run to bring home the gold.
And even White's detractors say negative feelings have thawed a bit since 2014.
"I'm sure people have valid reasons for liking him and valid reasons for not liking him," skier Gus Kenworthy said, according to The Post. "But it's always easy to not like the guy who's winning. I definitely think he's less polarizing now."
Maybe it's not so lonely at the top.