Professional basketball players are unique, in that they’re the most exposed athletes of any of the major four sports. Unlike football players and hockey players, they’re not wearing pads all over their body, or masks covering their face. They’re not even wearing helmets or hats like baseball players do. No, all you see is these athletes in their jerseys, basketball shorts, and expensive basketball sneakers. But the one thing that you still can’t see, when it comes to these guys, is that many of them had world-class attitudes. To prove that point, here’s a list of 15 NBA players that needed some serious attitude adjustments. Click the Next button below to get started!
D‘Angelo Russell became a loser in the eyes of his teammates, when he violated one of the NBA’s most sacred codes: publicly airing a player’s infidelity. Russell took (and posted) a video of Nick Young describing his philandering with other women, when he was engaged to Iggy Azalea. It got to the point where Russell was completely ostracized by his own teammates for a while. Unfortunately, Nick and Iggy broke up just months after the video surfaced. Good job D’Angelo!
Latrell Sprewell was a talented NBA star, but a lot of his legacy in the league is tarnished by the things he said and did. The most famous, of course, is the choking incident with then Golden State Warriors head coach P. J. Carlesimo, who was simply trying to do his job by telling Sprewell to put a little more effort into his passes. But that was just the culmination of other fights he got himself into while at Golden State, like when he fought with teammate Jerome Kersey and returned to practice carrying a two-by-four (and also reportedly threatened to return with a gun), or when he fought with Byron Houston (who was 50 pounds heavier than Sprewell). To make matters worse, when Sprewell was serving his suspension for the choking incident, he was charged with reckless driving, going 90 miles per hour and getting in an accident that injured two people.
Allen Iverson was as supremely gifted a basketball player, and an athlete, as we might see in our lifetime. But he also happened to be a world-class alcoholic off the court. In the recently released Iverson biography titled Not a Game, Iverson’s issues with alcohol abuse, and how his rampant alcoholism led to domestic disputes with his childhood sweetheart (and eventual wife) Tawanna Turner, and basically neglecting any parental duties for his children.
It’s sad to think that people will almost exclusively think of Dennis Rodman’s outlandish tendencies, instead of what a true defensive force he was in the NBA. But then again, when you develop a reputation from head-butting referees, kicking cameramen, and generally antagonizing most opponents, that’ll happen. After his playing days were over, Rodman’s battles with alcoholism were increasingly in the spotlight, only exacerbating the bad reputation that he left the NBA with.
Gilbert Arenas is one of the most dangerous types of person: the type of person who owns a gun, with zero discretion around when to carry it around. When he revealed that he used to store his gun in his locker at the Verizon Center (home of the Washington Wizards), he violated NBA rules and D.C. gun laws. Yet, to make matters worse, in an incident involving gambling debts with teammate Javaris Crittendon, Arenas basically told Crittendon to choose from an assortment of guns that Arenas had in his locker, so that the two of them could settle said deth. Arenas eventually pleaded guilty to felony charges of carrying an unlicensed gun outside of a home or business.
If DeMarcus Cousins didn’t have such a lousy attitude, he might’ve contended with fellow University of Kentucky teammate John Wall for the first overall pick in the 2010 NBA Draft. But still, to this date, Cousins has been known to rack up technical fouls, ejections, and suspensions, all due to his behavior on the court. And in those games where he does stay in the court, don’t expect him to exert a lot of energy on defense if he isn’t happy with the way things are going at any given point (and he tends to be unhappy quite a bit).
Rajon Rondo was always known to be a moody, enigmatic, and inconsistent member of the Boston Celtics. That reputation followed him to Dallas, where he got into a public spat with head coach Rick Carlisle, and ended up serving a one game suspension for it. The team basically dumped him off the roster after he was ruled out indefinitely due to a back injury. After signing with the Sacramento Kings, he infamously referred to NBA referee Bill Kennedy as a “f*g”. A few days after Rondo’s slur, Kennedy came out, becoming the first publicly homosexual referee in pro sports.
Blake Griffin was already one of the most disliked players (among his peers) in the NBA. He didn’t exactly endear himself to people off the court either, after he punched Matias Testi, an assistant equipment manager for the Los Angeles Clippers, after getting his feelings hurt over some teasing gone wrong. Griffin reportedly punched Testi “multiple times,” leaving Testi with a severely swollen face and Griffin with a broken right hand. The broken right hand forced Griffin to miss the majority of the Clippers season.
There’s so much more to Metta World Peace being a jerk than the infamous “Malice at the Palace” incident, where he ran into the stands at the Palace of Auburn Hills arena to confront a Detroit Pistons fan. Early in his career, when he was still Ron Artest, he admitted to drinking Hennessy in the locker room, during halftime of games. Later on in his career, he was arrested for domestic violence, which he spent 10 days in jail for.
Dwight Howard is the guy who’s blessed with the god-given gifts that most people could only dream of, yet everyone can’t stand him because of how he wastes those talents. In Orlando, he got head coach Stan Van Gundy fired, informing ownership that Van Gundy had allegedly lost the team. That’s how Howard repaid a coach that helped turn him into one of the 10 best players in the NBA, and get him to his only NBA Finals appearance. After Howard forced his way out of Orlando, via a trade to the Los Angeles Lakers, his lackadaisical approach to basketball infuriated Kobe Bryant, who couldn’t wait to get rid of Howard fast enough. At Howard’s next stop, in Houston, his teammates grew so tired of his me-first attitude that they were thrilled when he finally left town. Let’s see how long he lasts in Atlanta…
Shawn Kemp went from one of the most exciting young players in the NBA, to a jealous and self-entitled diva after the Seattle SuperSonics signed free agent Jim McIlvaine. He felt he should be paid more money, probably so he could support the seven children he had with six different women. After that signing, Kemp refused to play for Seattle, and forced the team to trade him. After getting his wish (when the team traded him to Cleveland), he responded by seemingly piling on just as many pounds on his frame as he did points in games. On top of that, just three years after he left Seattle, Kemp found himself in rehab, to get help with his substance abuse issues.
Shaq isn’t necessarily a jerk in the classic sense of the word. He’s actually one of the more beloved athletes of our time: someone who’s donated thousands of dollars to underprivileged children, and helped so many teammates in times of need. But the thing with O’Neal is that he never truly applied the maximum effort towards becoming the best basketball player he could be. If he simply kept himself in good condition, he might’ve gone down alongside Kareem, Russell, and Jordan as the best basketball players to ever step foot on an NBA court.
Rick Barry might’ve been the most hated player in NBA history. You have to look far and wide to find an NBA player who had anything nice to say about him. Rather, people who played with him have publicly commented about his bad attitude, lack of people skills, ball-hogging tendencies, and arrogant attitude overall. This is the same guy who admitted to once punching a nun, and whose mother publicly called him “greedy.” This is also the same guy who sat next to NBA legend Bill Russell, and made a racially-charged comment on live TV about a picture of Russell, stating Russell had “a watermelon grin.”
When writing his Kobe Bryant biography titled “Showboat,” venerated NBA author Roland Lazenby once referred to Bryant as “an amazing a-hole.” That’s how much of a jerk Kobe Bryant was as a person. His singular focus on becoming the next Michael Jordan distanced himself from ever getting close to teammates (he despised Shaq’s lack of commitment to basketball, which ultimately led to the rift between those two). Things really came to a crest, as far as Bryant’s poor image, with the sexual assault charges levied against him in 2003.
Yes, even the greatest basketball player of all time also happened to be a person that needed an attitude adjustment. His legendary competitive streak made him a ruthless competitor, to the point where he simply didn’t care how he impacted or affected opponents and/or teammates alike, as long as he won the game. He relentlessly attacked soon-to-be teammate Toni Kukoc in the 1992 Olympics, basically demoralizing him before he even joined the team. He got into it with Steve Kerr in a scrimmage once, leading to Kerr actually throwing a punch at Jordan. He once blatantly called Muggsy Bogues a “midget” in the middle of the game, a taunt that Bogues has claimed affected him to the point that he was never the same basketball player since.