Even with the dawn of analytics, there are some things that numbers cannot even quantify. Toxic personalities and cancerous attitudes can affect a team on and off the court, as much as any other variable–if not more.
In a day and age where players jump from team-to-team, it can be hard to build camaraderie and chemistry on a NBA team. A NBA team is supposed to be family. However, just like biological families, some families are far more dysfunctional than others. With all of the hotel nights, airplane rides, bus rides, meals, film sessions, practices and huddles, having a unified and cohesive group is of utmost importance if you want to build a championship caliber team.
But there is always one black sheep in the family.
This is a list of the top 10 players whose toxic personalities have divided locker rooms, teams, and had their coaches fired. They are the reason for divorces and unholy matrimonies. They are the polarizing and demonizing players that have destroyed franchises. They may be great on the court, but their off the court antics are what kills the locker room.
Perhaps, this is the reason that players such as the 38-year-old Derek Fisher are still in the NBA. Fisher is one of the good guys of the league–a model citizen. He is a professional’s professional and the cornerstone personality that every franchise longs for. But not every team has the luxury of a Derek Fisher that can keep the young fellas in check with their fluctuating emotions and volatile personalities.
This is a list of the top 10 players that Dr. Phil couldn’t have even cured.
10. DeMarcus Cousins – The Scowl
Maybe it’s the permanent scowl on DeMarcus Cousins’s face, but the big man from Sacramento never looks happy. No one likes to be around permanently grumpy people, but Cousins never seems to enjoy playing basketball. Instead, he always looks pissed and angry. It is one thing to be focused and competitive, it is another thing to be a constant Debbie Downer.
Cousins is the only player in your fantasy league that you don’t want to draft because he might miss games from a suspension or technical foul. He is a handful for coaches to coach and it is hard to believe that you can build a franchise around someone that suffers from such a low level of emotional intelligence.
9. Dwight Howard – A Team’s Kryptonite
His coach Stan Van Gundy had enough of him and his former teammates didn’t want to talk about him anymore. Dwight Howard demanded that the Orlando Magic trade him and he was going to get his way no matter what. The Magic wanted him, but Howard wanted a divorce.
On April 5, 2012, Van Gundy said that he had knowledge that Howard wanted him fired. And Howard finally got his wish. Van Gundy was fired and general manager, Otis Smith, was also let go.
The icing on the cake? Howard left the Magic as well. That’s bad enough that we don’t even need to get into the debacle with the Lakers last year.
8. Vernon Maxwell – Mad Max
On February 6th, 1995, Vernon Maxwell went into the stands and punched a fan in the face because the fan was heckling him. Mad Max was fined $20,000 and was suspended for ten games.
That same year in the playoffs, Maxwell was upset with the Rockets for acquiring Clyde Drexler because it would mean a loss of playing time. So, he faked a hamstring injury and was given a leave of absence for the rest of the playoffs.
7. Metta World Peace – Malice at the Palace
Formerly known as Ron Artest, Metta World Peace wanted a total identity change. After the “Malice at the Palace” on November 19th, 2004, Metta was tired of the reputation that he had acquired throughout his career. After the brawl, World Peace was suspended for the rest of the regular season and the playoffs in ’04, which was a total of 86 games.
However, Metta did have loyal friends. His teammates, Stephen Jackson and Jermaine O’Neal, jumped into the stands to help Metta, but according to Stephen Jackson, he never even received a thank you from Metta. Classy move.
Three years later, Artest was playing for the Sacramento Kings and was arrested for domestic violence and thereby excused by the Kings for some time.
6. Stephon Marbury – Starburied
It’s never encouraging for your teammates to hear that you are demanding a trade from the team that you all play for, but that is what Stephon Marbury did with the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Eventually Marbury ended up in his home state of New York. However, he had a precarious relationship with head coach Larry Brown and eventually got him fired.
Two years later, Marbury got into an incident with head coach Isaiah Thomas because Thomas wanted him out of the starting line-up. Some reports say that the two even got into a fistfight on the team plane.
5. Gilbert Arenas – A Locker Room Hibachi
On New Year’s Day of 2010, Gilbert Arenas and Javaris Crittenton possessed unloaded guns in the Wizards locker room and got into a heated debate over some gambling debt.
A few days later, the NBA suspended Arenas indefinitely. His pre-game antics where he pretended to shoot his teammates certainly didn’t help his cause.
Arenas signed a six-year deal worth $111 million prior to the gun incident, but he never lived up to the worth of his contract after he signed it.
4. Kobe Bryant – The Black Mamba’s Poison
You might be surprised to see Kobe on this list, but think about his history for a second. As Kobe was entering the prime of his career, he started to have a lot of conflict with Shaq. Their last year together was filled with more drama than a Hollywood script with Karl Malone and Gary Payton caught in the middle. The Detroit Pistons didn’t beat the Los Angeles Lakers, the feud between Phil Jackson, Kobe Bryant, and Shaquille O’Neal did.
But this isn’t the only time that Kobe has driven out the best big man in the league from his team. Last season, he and Dwight Howard were not exactly buddy-buddy. Instead of heading into the twilight of his career and riding on the coattails of a much younger player, Kobe couldn’t stand the thought of Dwight being the focus of the team. So, Dwight left and Kobe has left the Lakers franchise stuck between a rock and a hard place.
Additionally, Kobe has repeatedly called out the management of the Lakers since the departure of Dr. Jerry Buss and now he reportedly wants Coach Mike D’Antoni relieved of his coaching duties.
3. Dennis Rodman – Worm Under Your Locker Room
Having a guy like Dennis Rodman on your team is the definition of a love-hate relationship. On the one hand, he is one of the best rebounders the NBA has ever seen. Additionally, he is a proven winner. Rodman has won five NBA championships with two different teams. However, even the militant Gregg Poppovich could not keep Rodman under wraps. Rodman was volatile, unstable, and reinventing himself in all the wrong ways.
Steve Kerr even tells one story where Phil Jackson told he and Jud Buechler to go babysit Rodman while he went to go gamble. Even as an adult and a professional athlete, Rodman needed to be monitored at all times.
2. Latrell Sprewell – The Choke Artist
Earning $7 million a year wasn’t enough to feed his family according to Latrell Sprewell, so he turned down a 3-year deal worth $21 million in 2005. And that was pretty much the way Sprewell’s career ended, since no other team chose to sign him.
In 1997, Sprewell choked his coach P.J. Carlesimo during a Warriors practice. Carlesimo told Sprewell to make better passes, but Sprewell was in no mood to be criticized. After Carlesimo continued to critique Sprewell’s lackadaisical play, Sprewell told him that he would kill him and then proceeded to choke him for ten seconds before his teammates and assistant coaches had to pry him off.
Sprewell was suspended for 68 games that season and his contract was nullified, costing him a total of $23.7 million.
Sadly, this wasn’t the first time that Sprewell has gotten into an altercation. In 1995, Sprewell got into a fight with his teammate Jerome Kersey and tried to use a two-by-four to hit him with.
1. Delonte West – Bro-Code Breaker
He reportedly slept with the best player’s mom. Case closed.