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Top 10 sports stars who pissed us off by leaving Colorado

This weekend, Ubaldo Jimenez, the greatest pitcher in Colorado Rockies history, is expected to make his first start for the Cleveland Indians. Which got us to thinking: What pro athletes who left Colorado teams either by choice or force have been most painful for local fans to watch play for someone else? Look below and page down to see our top ten -- and let us know if we missed anyone.10. Brandon Marshall

Brandon Marshall.
Brandon Marshall.

Yeah, yeah, I know: His personal life is beyond messy, and it doesn't seem to be getting any tidier in Miami, where he's currently playing when not being stabbed by his wife. But he remains a supremely talented athlete who did consistently great things on the field while a member of the Denver Broncos. Seeing him now can't help but conjure up thoughts about what might have been.

 

9. Brad Ausmus

Brad Ausmus.
Brad Ausmus.

Ausmus was chosen in the 1992 expansion draft, and even though he was a member of the Colorado Rockies for less than a year, it was immediately clear he was both gifted and solid. But he and pitcher Andy Ashby were dealt to the San Diego Padres for Doug Bochtler, Bruce Hurst and Greg Harris, none of whom became cornerstone contributors. And Ausmus? He went on to a terrific eighteen year career. If only he could have spent it all in Colorado.

 

8. Lyle Alzado

Lyle Alzado.
Lyle Alzado.

Alzado, a key part of the Seventies-era Orange Crush defense, left the Broncos in 1979, and his first stop, in Cleveland, hardly made Denver fans regret his departure. But then, in 1981, he moved to the Raiders, subsequently winning Comeback Player of the Year honors and a Super Bowl with the dreaded Men in Black. Imagining him in that uniform still sets my teeth on edge...

 

7. Chris Drury

Chris Drury.
Chris Drury.

As a member of the Avalanche, Drury showed every sign of developing into one of the best players in the NHL -- and some observers felt he already deserved that ranking when the Avs traded him to the Calgary Flames. In the decade since then, skating for the Flames, Buffalo Sabres and New York Rangers, he's seldom been less than steady, and frequently a lot better than that. A great player gone from Colorado way too soon.

 

6. Juan Pierre

Juan Pierre.
Juan Pierre.

Pierre had terrific speed and a fine ability to make contact from his earliest days with the Rockies. But after just two years, in 2002, he was traded to the Florida Marlins along with money-sponge Mike Hampton, and the next season, he helped the Fish win a World Series. He's bounced around a bit in recent years, playing for the Los Angeles Dodgers, Chicago Cubs and Chicago White Sox. But as recently as last season, he led the American League in stolen bases.

 

5. Shannon Sharpe

Shannon Sharpe.
Shannon Sharpe.

Sharpe was trending downward in terms of his skill set when he left the Broncos in favor of the Baltimore Ravens -- or so we thought. On December 31, 2000, he caught a 58-yard touchdown pass that effectively finished Denver's season and launched the Ravens to a Super Bowl victory. Ouch.

 

4. Matt Holliday

Matt Holliday.
Matt Holliday.

The Holliday trade has actually worked out pretty well for the Rockies: They received Carlos Gonzales and Huston Street in exchange for his services. But Holliday is a Todd Helton-type player -- the kind of guy who's going to be good for many, many years. Giving Rockies fans a helluva long time to watch him excel in another squad's uni.

 

3. Carmelo Anthony

Carmelo Anthony.
Carmelo Anthony.

The slow-motion way Melo forced his departure from Denver not only poisoned the lion's share of a season, but it also left a bitter taste that continues to linger. Rooting against his success in New York has become something of a hobby for Nuggets fans, but he's laughing all the way to the bank. Which he could probably buy if he put his mind to it.

 

2. Chauncey Billups

Chauncey Billups.
Chauncey Billups.

Chauncey was a virtual hostage in the Carmelo trade drama. And even though the Nuggets had traded him once before, giving him an opportunity to achieve his greatest professional success (and earn an NBA championship ring) as a member of the Detroit Pistons, the forced nature of the latest deal bums us out much more. Here's hoping that someday, he returns to the Nuggets -- perhaps as a head coach or behind-the-scenes power once his playing days are done.

 

1. Peyton Hillis

Peyton Hillis.
Peyton Hillis.

We don't know if Hillis will go on to a Hall of Fame career. But even if his great season in Cleveland last year turns out to be the highlight of his stint in cleats, the trade that sent him east will still be thought of as among the worst in Colorado sports history. How much better would the Broncos be had Josh McDaniels not shipped him away for a guy who has no chance to start as Denver's quarterback? Plenty.

More from our Sports archive: "Top 10 ways Josh McDaniels has destroyed the Denver Broncos."


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