NBA Players I Hate Most--The Top Ten
Best of the Worst--or Worst of the Best???
The NBA, an organization represented by a vast and diverse collection of individuals, boasts many likeable players that have historically endeared themselves to the public. Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan, Shaquille O’Neal and LeBron James have massive fan followings, and numerous charismatic players carry themselves in a way that just forces people to like them. There will always be players that are disliked, however. Wilt Chamberlain, for example, lamented during his playing days that “nobody roots for Goliath”. Such players may do nothing to earn the ire of fans, but will always be booed on the road—and sometimes at home, also. Like most NBA fans, there are players I like and some I despise. This is my list of players that I never liked—and why.
NBA's Villains, Or Just Misunderstood?
My List of NBA Players I Can't Stand
1. Isiah Thomas: Thomas was one of the Pistons’ “Bad Boys”, and lived up to the name. In 1987 he asserted Larry Bird would be “just another good player” if he were black instead of hyped as the best player in the NBA; he later claimed he was kidding. In the playoffs that year he hot-dogged with the ball, fired up the Celtics and blew a lead for his team. In another game his inbounds pass was stolen by Larry Bird, and his blunder cost Detroit the series. In the finals a year later, he scored 25 fourth-quarter points against the Lakers, despite a sprained ankle. I wondered if he was faking the injury, as he hobbled on defense but looked fine when he had the ball. Thomas was accused of freezing out Michael Jordan in the 1985 All-Star Game, and when Jordan’s Bulls defeated the Pistons in the playoffs, Thomas and the Bad Boys left the bench and game before its conclusion without congratulating the victors.
2. Vince Carter: Carter has been labeled “Half-Man, Half-Amazing” but will never be called a winner. He has the talent to rival great players like Paul Pierce or Carmelo Anthony and compete with the upper echelon of wing players. Rather than give a complete effort and help his team win games, he contents himself with gambling at steals for breakaway dunks or jump shots and plays for statistics. Famous for attending his college graduation ceremony on the day of a game 7 playoff matchup with the Philadelphia 76ers, Carter shot 6-18 that afternoon and missed a game-winning shot with 2 seconds remaining. After being traded to New Jersey, he admitted to not always playing hard—and while the admission was claimed to be a “misrepresentation” of what he meant, the statement seems accurate.
3. Tracy McGrady: McGrady represents everything I dislike about players going pro out of high school. He originally played for Toronto, coming off the bench for two years before maturing enough to team with 3rd cousin Vince Carter in the starting lineup. This potent scoring duo led the team to the playoffs but was swept in the first round. Toronto got little return for their investment in McGrady because he bolted to Orlando after his rookie contract expired. In Orlando he complained of needing more help, but balked at the Magic drafting high school players, not wanting to wait for them to develop. Like his cousin Vince Carter, he admitted to giving less than 100% effort before his trade to Houston. Injuries plagued McGrady as a Rocket, and at one point he announced on his web site he would have surgery on his knee and miss the remainder of the 2009 season. Coach Rick Adelman found out about it by reading the newspapers.
4. Rasheed Wallace: I won’t claim the Detroit Pistons won an NBA title in spite of Wallace, but the record-setting emotional outbursts and subsequent technical fouls didn’t help, either—nor did they help the Portland Trailblazers before he was shipped off to Detroit via Atlanta. His constant whining after every call isn’t the only reason I dislike him, however; a finesse game featuring an outrageous number of three point attempts for a big man doesn’t endear him to me, either. One almost gets the feeling Rasheed would like to see the NBA completely devoid of contact, since he complains about nearly every call made. It might make for a more beautiful game, but it’s not what you want out of a big man.
5. Ron Artest: Someone so volatile, always on the verge of losing his cool, shouldn’t be playing professional basketball. His participation in a 2004 brawl in Detroit with players and fans is enough reason to dislike Artest. After the fight, he asked the Indiana Pacers to trade him. When Sacramento made an offer, it was reported he didn’t want to go—that his trade request was only made in anger. He helped the Kings but was suspended during the 2006 playoffs for an elbow to the head of Spurs guard Manu Ginobli. He was eventually traded to the Houston Rockets. There he was quoted as saying his violent past actions were a reflection of his “ghetto culture”, but no one should accept that as a rationale for his antics.
2012 UPDATE: Artest might have changed his name to "Meta World Peace", but he remains a dangerous person who should not be allowed on a basketball court. His vicious blow to the head of James Harden in April 2012 earned him a 7-game suspension. Artest/Peace got off too easy. He has moved to the top of my "most hated" list, and has proven he cannot be trusted to control himself. David Stern should ban him from the NBA for life.
6. Latrell Sprewell: Sprewell is famous for an incident on December 1, 1997 when he choked and later punched Golden State Head Coach P.J. Carlesimo for criticizing his passes in a practice. It wasn’t his first violent act in practice—two years earlier he fought with teammate Jerome Kersey and threatened him with a two-by-four. He was suspended by the league for the rest of the season, and he should have been expelled from the NBA. (Only in pro sports can you choke the boss and eventually resume your career.) While playing for the Minnesota Timberwolves, he rejected a $21 million contract extension, declaring “I have a family to feed.” His concern for his family doesn’t extend to their safety, however; at one point his child was attacked by one of his pit bull dogs, an incident he shrugged off as just “one of those things”.
7. Chris Andersen: “Birdman” has been given some credit for the Denver Nuggets’ success last season with his energetic approach to the game. He is known for his many tattoos, his hairdo, and celebrating a dunk or blocked shot by flapping his arms like a bird, but his resume also includes serving a two-year suspension for violating the NBA’s anti-drug policy. My dislike for this player stems from his receiving notoriety for all the wrong reasons: drug use and self-promotion through his stupid hairdo, equally ridiculous tattoos, and the adoption of the “Birdman” persona which borders on moronic. It is incomprehensible that Andersen’s 6 points and 6 rebounds a game earns a contract worth $26 million.
8. Allen Iverson: Selfish gunner rumored to be considering retirement after leaving the Memphis Grizzlies on “personal” business. One wonders if he joined them hoping a poor team would allow him to hoist up bad shots in a manner Denver and Detroit wouldn’t tolerate. Iverson enjoyed success under Coach Larry Brown, but when Brown criticized him for missing team practices he responded, "We're sitting here, I'm supposed to be the franchise player, and we're talking about practice," and went on a rant that included the word "practice" fourteen times. He has been criticized and/or fined for missing or arriving late for games, skipping public appearances, speaking out against the NBA’s dress code, and publicly criticizing coaches.
9. Stephon Marbury: The epitome of selfishness, every NBA team Marbury played for improved after he left it. His list of accomplishments includes feuding with Coach Larry Brown about needing more freedom (that meant shots), getting into a fistfight on an airplane with Isiah Thomas and threatening to blackmail him, leaving the team after Thomas intended to remove Marbury from the starting lineup and publicly defending Michael Vick and his dog fights—all while proclaiming himself the best point guard in the NBA. “Starbury” is a gifted athlete who understands nothing about the game of basketball, and his actions alienate players, coaches, and fans.
10. Bill Laimbeer: Another member of Detroit’s “Bad Boys” team, Laimbeer mastered both the cheap shot and the flop during the course of his NBA career. His specialty was shoving or elbowing a player during a dead ball, usually after a referee called a foul on someone else. He also mastered the art of throwing himself to the floor when another player drove to the basket—his way of playing defense without speed or quickness. Laimbeer coaxed both Larry Bird and Robert Parrish into attacking him with his antics during Celtics/Pistons games. A good rebounder and passer, Laimbeer was intelligent and could have chosen to play the game the way it was intended, but elected to take cheap shots at opponents instead. He joined Isiah Thomas and the other Pistons in leaving the bench before the end of a game in which the Chicago Bulls eliminated Detroit from the playoffs.
Well, folks, this is my list—the best of the worst. Is there a villain I’ve left out, or a reason the players listed here should be viewed with sympathy? Let me know.
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