We all know that the NBA is full of jerks. Not a week goes by that one of them isn’t making some kind of news headline away from the court. If you can think of a crime or a dastardly act, it more than likely has been committed by an NBA player.
Today we will focus on those jerks in the NBA to finish off my four part series about jerks in professional sports. You have already read about the hockey, baseball and football jerks, but today we saved the best for last. Football certainly has a lot of them associated with the sport, but the NBA by far has the biggest collection of them.
Today you will learn who beat up their coach and threatened to kill him, who drove 90 miles to beat up his EX-wife for having a new boyfriend, who cheated in a card game with an old lady, which hall of famer cheated on his wife with over 100 women, and who made a joke about cancer patients. Yes, it is a certainty that the NBA is and has been filled with plenty of low lifes. Turns out you don't have to be a good person to be good at basketball.
15 DeMarcus Cousins
DeMarcus Cousins is a funny type of guy. He treats people like crap and then when he gets called out on it, instead of taking the criticism and making himself a better person, he just keeps it up. Which only goes to further the point when people call him out on his behavior.
With the Sacramento Kings Cousins once went after Head Coach George Karl after a loss. It’s been reported that Karl isn’t the friendliest of guys but he was still the man in charge and you don’t go after him. At least not in front of others. If you have something to say do it in his office instead of in the middle of a locker room where there are players, reporters and cameras around.
Charles Barkley once said that Cousins was immature and hadn’t yet grown up. Cousins responded to him by saying “I have no respect for you and I never will. We have nothing to talk about. So yes, every time we see each other, there will be no words.” Well, nothing verifies what Barkley said any clearer than that statement.
In 2012 he was actually sent home from a game by Head Coach Paul Westphal because he was "unwilling/unable to embrace traveling in the same direction as his team; it cannot be ignored indefinitely.” That incident was just a sign of the times to come for Cousins.
14 Chris Paul
Chris Paul has long been known to be a jerk on the basketball court. He has also had many incidents during games and he isn’t liked by a good number of players and coaches in the league. He has had a few incidents away from the court as well, but they really can’t be confirmed. So we really don’t know if they are true or not but based on his actions on the court, for purposes of this article, we will just assume that they are true.
One time during a game he punched Julius Hodge below the belt. And it was obvious that he did it intentionally and he did nothing to try to hide it. Rudy Gay was once friends with Paul but he has told people that he isn’t friends with him any longer. One can only wonder why that is.
Gregg Popovich once said this about Paul: “He’s a mean, nasty man, and he’s a pain in the ass. I don’t know if there’s anyone more competitive in the league than that little dude. They must’ve stole all his toys and everything when he was a kid. He’s getting back at the world, because he’s mad at everybody once he steps on the court.” Based on that statement alone we can only guess that the rumors of his actions away from the court are true as well.
13 Blake Griffin
Oh how times change. Blake Griffin was once one of the most beloved players in the NBA. When he was crowned the Slam Dunk champion fans across the league rejoiced as at the time he was a huge fan favorite. Griffin is like a pro wrestler that turns from a fan favorite to a heel and now most people around the league can’t stand him.
He came across as such a nice guy that people were shocked when he started acting like a dick to people. In 2014 he was arrested and charged with a misdemeanor in Las Vegas and one time he punched an equipment staff member in the face. This guy was actually a friend of Griffin’s and the incident took place in a restaurant in Toronto. To make things even worse, he broke his own hand while doing so. He was suspended and the combination of that and the broken hand lead him to miss 45 games.
It’s really not surprising news that the Clippers are thinking about dumping him this summer. There are a lot of rumors right now that Griffin could be traded to the Denver Nuggets. But of course these rumors have happened before and nothing came out of it. There is no question that the Clippers would like to get rid of him. The only question is can they find someone that will want him and his poor attitude?
12 Paul Pierce
Paul Pierce is the type of guy that you don’t want to run into outside of an arena. He has been linked to gang activity for a long time now and even though there are reports that those off the court issues have been taken care of now, it’s better not to take the chance. Even on the court there are plenty of his peers that don’t think too highly of him. They say that he is arrogant and only players that are on his team have any respect for him. Well, some of them anyway.
In 2008 he was fined by the NBA $25,000 for flashing gang symbols during a game. The symbols were used by the notorious gang The Bloods, but Pierce denied that’s what he did on the court. In 2000 he was involved in a gang-related fight and he was stabbed and came very close to dying.
He has also been known to turn fans away that would like an autograph from him. He only gives them on a rare occasion and overall people just don’t really try that much anymore because of his reputation. Maybe they would have better luck if they flashed a gang sign at him before requesting the autograph?
11 Matthew Dellavedova
Matthew Dellavedova is to the NBA what Sean Avery is to the NHL. Everyone hates him and there aren’t many that hide their feelings about him. In an anonymous vote he was once voted as the NBA’s dirtiest player by coaches and players. It was a unanimous decision and one player added that Matthew is as “dirty as they come”.
If you get a chance to see him in action it won’t take long to see why his peers have such a dislike for him. His style of play is very aggressive which there is nothing wrong with at all. But there is a line that shouldn’t be crossed among professionals and Dellavedova crosses it constantly.
But he isn’t just a jerk on the court. He doesn’t have a problem with cussing people out if things don’t go the way that he wants them to.
Now that Dellavedova no longer plays for the Cavs, it will be interesting to see what his career becomes. Let's hope his new team, The Bucks, will realize that just because someone is part of a championship team, that doesn’t make them a championship caliber person, on or off the court. Maybe they figure that if he plays for them they can save their players from the abuse they get when facing him on the opposing side of the court.
10 Jeff Taylor
When you get a shot at the big time you should always be on your best behavior. It doesn’t matter what sport it is. Those opportunities are not given out to just anyone. Jeff Taylor had very high expectations for a long and successful career but he wasn’t on his best behavior and for that reason he didn’t last in the NBA.
While playing for the Charlotte Hornets he was arrested for domestic assault and destruction of property. Shortly after his bail of $5,000 was set the NBA suspended him for twenty-five games and Taylor pled guilty to all of the charges. Once his suspension was served and he got back into game shape he returned to the Hornets briefly but they let his contract expire and he now plays overseas.
Such a promising projected career was reduced to three seasons in the NBA, two of which didn’t see him play in more than 29 games. It all went away because he was a jerk away from the court. But not just a little jerk. Many NBA teams seem to have forgiveness for those that are jerks once in a while, but Taylor was an unrestricted free agent and nobody wanted him. That tells you what kind of jerk that he is.
9 J.R. Smith
When you talk about people that seem to have trouble following them at every corner, J.R. Smith comes to mind. The only problem with Smith is that most of his trouble is self-induced. This guy is always doing something stupid and he doesn’t care if he’s on the court or away from it.
On the court, he was suspended in 2013 during the playoffs for throwing an elbow to the chin of Jason Terry. Later on that year he was suspended for five games because he violated the league’s anti-drug policy and in 2014 he was fined by the NBA $50,000 for trying to untie the shoelaces of opponents. Yes, you read that correctly. He attempted this multiple times before the league finally fined him for it. What kind of idiot does something like that not only once, but several times?
Away from the court, his behavior doesn’t seem to improve any. When he was traded from the New York Knicks to the Cleveland Cavaliers he attacked a 19-year-old who was trash talking him about being kicked out of New York. It happened in front of a New York pizza place and while the fan should have shown a little more intelligence on his part, Smith certainly didn’t have to choke him out. After all what does Smith care who he plays for? As long as he is in the NBA and collecting the huge paychecks he should just laugh at any fan that trash talks him.
Some of Smith’s other actions include punching other players during games, he did some jail time in 2009 for his part in a fatal accident and in 2012 he was arrested for driving without a license. More recently even President Obama got on Smith. He told him to put a shirt on after Smith went several days without wearing one after he won the championship with the Cavaliers. Everything combined makes Smith a verifiable jerk.
8 Michael Jordan
Many people say that Michael Jordan was the greatest player of all time. The debate will continue forever as Kobe Bryant and LeBron James each have a certain claim to that title. What there is no debate about however is that Jordan is one of the biggest jerks in the history of the NBA.
There have been countless instances of him being a jerk both on and off the court. One year in the playoffs he purchased a $20,000 diamond earring for Charles Barkley. He said that he bought it for him so Barkley wouldn’t guard him as closely during the NBA Finals. Jordan told assistant coach Johnny Bach that “He won’t get in my way the rest of the series, what’s $20,000 to me? Charles thinks we’re great friends. I hate that fat fu**.”
While in Washington with the Wizards Jordan relentlessly verbally attacked Kwame Brown on numerous occasions. Oh, by the way, Brown was his teammate. Many of the verbal attacks included gay slurs from Jordan and one person said of the abuse, “As a leader Jordan proved more tormentor than mentor. Many Washington players got the business end of a Jordan harangue, but he designated second-year forward Kwame Brown as the whipping boy.”
Jordan once told Muggsy Bogues, who was only 5 foot 3 inches tall but carved out a nice NBA career, to “shoot it, you f**king midget.”
Away from the court Jordan once cheated during a card game with Buzz Peterson’s mother. When his mom took a bathroom break Buzz caught Jordan cheating when he thought nobody was looking.
There have also been numerous accounts that say Jordan is just not a friendly person to be around. Too many to be written off as being untrue or rumors. So Mr. Jordan it appears that you are a major jerk.
7 Rajon Rondo
Rajon Rondo is a professional basketball player. He takes the game very seriously and that’s a good thing. But overall he takes himself a little too seriously. He has a long history of treating other people like crap. The reports of his actions towards others away from the court are numerous although he hasn’t really gotten into any serious trouble. Most of the reports seem to be of the minor variety but there are so many that it’s very obvious that he has issues with other people.
Once during a game he called referee Bill Kennedy a “motherf*cker fa**ot”. You can read through the stars to figure out what the term was. After it became public knowledge Rondo offered an empty apology through twitter. He said “My actions during the game were out of frustration and emotion, period. They absolutely do not reflect my feelings toward the LGBT community. I did not mean to offend or disrespect anyone.” It wasn’t an apology that anyone took as sincere though. Vlade Divac had to weigh in on the matter to let everyone know that the team did not stand behind Rondo and his comments. He said “Rajon’s comment was disrespectful and offensive, and we wholeheartedly disapprove of any language that discriminates or disparages others based on sexual orientation or anything else.”
When your team has to make a statement saying that they don’t back you in your comments you know that you are a jerk.
6 Kobe Bryant
Kobe Bryant is in the conversation of the best players in the history of basketball. There is no denying what he has accomplished during his career. On the court there are few that can match what he has done. But sometimes the accomplishments on the field of play can lead a player to think that they can do whatever they want away from it. Kobe Bryant is one of those athletes. There are many people that say he is a jerk on the court and in the locker room but a lot of those instances aren’t public knowledge. However what he has done in public is well known by the world. You just can’t be a player of his caliber and get away with doing stupid things in public. The press will always know about it and report it.
Bryant cheated on his wife countless times. In a divorce filing that she submitted once it stated that he had cheated on her with 105 different women. That’s only those that she knows about. You can bet there are many others that she had no idea about.
Then you have the sexual assault case that took place in a Colorado hotel back in 2003. The case was dropped in court and Kobe bought his wife one of the biggest diamond rings that many people have ever been seen. You can be assured that the same amount of money, if not more, was dropped in Colorado to get the case dismissed.
There are so many instances of Bryant being a jerk away from the court, and on it too for that matter, that a book could be written about it. When those are the facts and they are undisputable, you know that you have one of the biggest jerks around.
5 Nick Young
Do you remember the old saying of “I went to a boxing match and a hockey game broke out”? Nick Young makes that saying change over to a basketball game instead of a hockey game. This guy has been in so many fights that it’s hard to get an actual accurate number.
Some of his on the court highlights are an on-court battle with Drew Gordon in 2014 and later on in the season he was tossed out of a game because he connected with an elbow to Steven Adams’ throat. Was it done on purpose? It sure looked like it. But to this point nothing on the court can compare to his visit to Dave N Busters in Los Angeles last year.
TMZ reported that Young had “a complete meltdown” when he and some of his friends went to the amusement place for some fun. Anyone that has ever been there before knows that it’s a great family atmosphere that’s a lot of fun to visit. Well, if Nick Young and company aren’t there I suppose it is. Young’s group got into an argument with some people there and Young threw a water bottle at a man and punched him several times. The scene got so out of hand that an LAPD helicopter was called to the scene. I don’t think that I have to go on record and say that you must be some kind of special jerk to have a police helicopter called out to Dave N Busters. That’s just ridiculous.
4 Matt Barnes
When you talk about some of the biggest jerks in basketball Matt Barnes has to come to mind. On the court he plays a very aggressive style of ball that annoys almost every opponent that plays against him. He plays mind games on the court and that’s alright to do, but his physical nature takes it to another level. But when you talk about how he acts away from the court, well that’s a completely different story.
Barnes was once told by his son that his ex-wife was dating Derek Fisher. This was his ex-wife as in no longer married. Barnes decided that it was a good idea to drive an hour and a half away to confront them. He attacked Fisher and spit in his ex-wife’s face. Once again, ex-wife as in no longer married. What is wrong with this guy? When he was asked about his actions he wasn’t sorry one bit. He said “I don’t regret it. Like, man to man knows who’s wrong and who’s right. The NBA decided to step in and did what they did. But it is what it is.” Deadspin writer Albert Burneko summed it up this way: “It is the behavior of a dangerous misogynist lunatic. It is an act of violent aggression. It is a man forcefully asserting personal property rights over a woman’s home, body, and life.”
Talk about not being able to get over your past relationship. At least it makes it clear why he is on this list.
3 Ron Artest
People in life sometimes change their name legally in court. In most cases things go off without a hitch. But in some cases the judge should just say no and deny it. Ron Artest is one of those guys that should have been denied. He changed his name legally to Metta World Peace, but anyone that has spent any time around him knows that the name doesn’t reflect the man.
Artest has been involved in several incidents both on and away from the court over his career, but he is most known for his part in the famous brawl between the Detroit Pistons and the Indiana Pacers. On November 4th, 2004 while Artest was playing for the Pacers he was in the middle of a wild brawl that featured several Pistons players and also several Pistons fans. It was without a doubt one of the ugliest moments in NBA history.
A pair of players were suspended indefinitely and Artest was suspended for a total of 86 games. This is the longest suspension ever handed out by the league for an on-court altercation.
A couple of years later Artest demanded a trade from Indiana and they sent him to the Sacramento Kings. But initially, he refused to go and said that he only made the demand because he was mad about ongoing trade rumors. He didn’t want to play with Sacramento and the trade was delayed while all parties worked things out. Eventually, the deal went through and Indiana was rid of their biggest problem.
World Peace? Yeah right. He can’t even pull off City Peace.
2 Kevin Garnett
Kevin Garnett is mentioned anytime one talks about jerks in the NBA, making him a no-brainer inclusion in the conversation. And he never seems to stop coming up with more ways to add to his legendary resume. A person doesn’t have enough time in a day to write out every single instance that he has proven to be a jerk, so what we will do is just highlight a few of his greatest hits.
He once tied up Tyshawn Taylor with rope and threw him into the shower. Having fun with rookies is one thing but this is a little extreme. You want to welcome them to the team and to the league but putting them at risk for injury is above and beyond.
One time during a game he yelled at Glen Davis so badly that he actually brought him to tears. Garnett then nicknamed him “Big Baby” and the name sticks with Davis today.
When Patrick O’Bryant played with the Celtics, Garnett beat him up and berated him on a constant basis. To the point that O’Bryant demanded a trade from Boston just to get away from Garnett.
And then of course there was the cancer joke that Garnett made to Charlie Villanueva. That didn’t go over too well across the globe. Garnett never apologized for the comment. He only said that he is a passionate player. What does that have to do with anything? That gives you the right to make fun of cancer patients? This guy is a Class A jerk!
1 Latrell Sprewell
We all know that there are a lot of jerks in the NBA. But nobody deserves to be on top of every one of those lists more than Latrell Sprewell. But then again, beating up your coach will do that. But that’s not all he did. He is just a jerk in every sense of the word.
In 1995 while playing with Golden State he got into a fight with teammate Jerome Kersey during practice. Sprewell returned later on with a 2x4 and made threats to return even later with a gun. This was not his first fight with a teammate during practice. It had happened before so the writing was on the wall that a meltdown was coming.
It finally came on December 1st, 1997, again during practice. Warriors Head Coach P.J. Carlesimo told Sprewell to make better passes during the practice. Sprewell told his coach that he wasn’t in the mood that day and warned the coach to stay away from him. When Carlesimo approached him Sprewell choked him for about ten seconds and threatened to kill him. He later returned to the court and punched his coach in the face. Nice guy huh? During the time that he was serving a lengthy suspension for those actions, he also served three months of house arrest for his part in a car accident that injured two people. He was charged with reckless driving as he was going around 90 miles per hour when the incident took place.
Karma came back to bite Sprewell in 2005. He rejected a three-year contract with the Timberwolves that would have paid him more than $21 million. He said that it wasn’t enough money to feed his kids. He was never offered another contract by Minnesota, or from any other team for that matter, and his career was over. Since then he has had two homes foreclosed on and he can no longer be around his kids. Believe me, they are much better off.