The Most Problematic Athletes In The NBA According To Other Players

The National Basketball Association (NBA) is such that brashness isn't exactly a new thing within the community and sometimes, even outside of it. In the spirit of the game and cutting edge competition, there's no rule against trash-talking among the players. The stars do it to themselves, much to the amusement of millions around the world. But they also do it to non-players and fans, often to the amusement of no one.

So while a lot of players bring their best to the court, they often bring their trash talking skills with them. For instance, the late Kobe Bryant might be one of the greatest NBA players of all time, but he also was notoriously one of the meanest you could come across. Infamously, Bryant was once locked in a long-term feud with his Lakers teammate Shaquille O'Neal. Given his fierce competitive spirit, the shooting guard also struggled to get along with many other players during his 20-year career in the league. It therefore should barely be a surprise that a 2010 poll by Sports Illustrated voted Bryant one of the biggest trash talkers in the NBA. Four years later, CBS also voted him one of the worst trash talkers in sports.

Amar'e Stoudemire

A brilliant and domineering player on the court, former Knicks superstar Amar'e Stoudemire, has made a name for himself as one of NBA's most problematic and rudest players. So much so that in 2010, he was voted one of NBA's biggest trash talkers in a poll conducted by Sports Illustrated. Only a few months after that, Stoudemire was yet again living up to his reputation. In 2011 Stoudemire seemingly took a jab at Glen "Big Baby" David's weight, having skillfully delivered a dunk over him during a previous game between the Knicks and the Boston Celtics. "I know 'Baby' wanted to try to draw contact and draw fouls. His core is not really as tight as it should be, so I knew I can catch him off-balance from that. I kind of backed up, but I thought he traveled on the play, but he turned the ball over," Stoudemire said in a conversation with The New York Post.

Stoudemire has also previously raised eyebrows over his stance and comments about the LGBTQ community. When asked in 2017, what he would do if he had a gay teammate, the American-Israeli player replied with an homophobic comment. "I'm going to shower across the street, make sure my change of clothes are around the corner," he said, according to The Washington Post."And I'm going to drive [and] take a different route to the gym."

Kevin Garnett

Kevin Garnett, the fifth overall pick of the 1995 draft who went on to become a Hall of Famer had a remarkable run in the NBA. It therefore came as no suprise when in 2021, per The Athletic, NBA named Garnett as one of the greatest players in the league's history. Still, with his highly successful career, the endless accolades and the respect he ammassed through the years, Garnett, somehow made a name for himself as a problematic player on the court. During his long-term professional career which spanned through two decades, Garnett did not have the best relationship with other NBA players, earning him the No. 1 trash talker title in a 2010 poll carried out by Sports Illustrated.

Of his numerous fights in the league, there are of course a few we simply could never forget. Like in 2015, when, according to the Washington Post, Garnett infamously head-butted Dwight Howard of the Houston Rockets, eventually leading to his disqualification from the game. Clearly not one to spare anyone's feelings, Garnett reportedly also once yelled "F*** you, Noah" to Joakim Noah after the rookie admitted he had always looked up to the Celtic forward. "I was like, 'Whoa.' This kid fresh out of college, looks up to KG, just said he had his poster on the wall, and he tells him that! It crushed him. It crushed Noah," former Celtic player Paul Pierce recalled, per ESPN.

Rajon Rando

As a two-time NBA champion and a four-time All-Star title, point guard Ranjo Rando has enjoyed a successful career in the league. The 21st overall pick in the 2006 draft, Rando has spent his 17-year-long career playing for a number of teams including the Boston Celtics, Los Angeles Lakers and Cleveland Cavaliers. And if you ask some of his former teammates and coaches, there is one constant thing you'd probably hear — Ranjo Rando can be difficult to work with.

Back in 2013, Rando got into a row with then Celtics coach Doc Rivers, as reported by Sports Illustrated at the time. Though the alleged argument was never confirmed, the following year, Boston Celtics owner Wyc Grousbeck touched on Rando's prickly personality. "He's super stubborn," Grousbeck said of Rando, per "I don't know how coachable he really is. I know if you ask Doc, 'Was he the most coachable guy, or in the top half, 50 percent,' he'd say, 'No, he's in the bottom 50 percent of being coachable.' It's hard with him."

And when Rando is not proving himself to be "uncoachable," he gets into fights on the court. In 2018, Rando, alongside his teammate Brandon Ingram were infamously disqualified from a game following an altercation with Houston Rockets' Chris Paul. Throughout his career, the point guard has been caught up in one too many fights, only further cementing him as one of the league's most problematic players.

Dwight Howard

When Dwight Howard was named the first overall pick by the Orlando Magic in the 2004 NBA Draft, little did he know he was on his way to becoming one of the league's least liked players. During his first one-year stint with the Los Angeles Lakers between 2012 and 2013, Howard reportedly did not get along with his teammates, most particularly Kobe Bryant, who had a problem with the the 6-foot-10-inch center's approach to play. "I tried teaching Dwight. I tried showing him," Bryant once said of Howard during a 2015 interview with USA Today. "But when he saw the reality of it, it made him uncomfortable. And it's very tough to be able to fight through that, to deal with that challenge. And I don't think he was willing to deal with that uncomfortable and combative nature."

With the Houston Rockets, Howard apparently had a similar problem, as he struggled to get along with shooting guard James Harden. Despite an initial attempt at friendship, the two were rather unable to remain cordial over time. "It's cordially bad," a source told ESPN of Howard and Harden's relationship. His time with Charlotte Hornets were no different. "When I talk to people behind the scenes, the locker room hated Dwight Howard," former NBA champion Brendan Haywood revealed in 2018. "I'm not sure Charlotte is rebuilding or if they're just trying to get Dwight Howard out of there, but it was clear the locker room did not like Dwight Howard."

Michael Jordan

If there is one thing Michael Jordan has proved to us, it is that you could be the greatest player in basketball history — and very conveniently still earn a spot as one of the meanest in the league. A ferociously competitive player, Jordan went to any lengths to get what he wanted, even if it meant putting others down — literally. "This guy is a killer. He's the most viciously competitive player I've ever seen," one source told Sports Illustration of Jordan. 

Of the many times he showed his ruthless side, one unforgettable period was during the 1992-1993 season when Jordan got into a fight former Houston Rockets Rodney McCray. "Jordan is in Rodney's face, screaming. You're a loser! You've always been a loser," the source recounted of the scrimmage, implying that with that singular act, Jordan ruined McCray's confidence. The one time NBA champion retired in 1993, after a 10-year career in the league.

In addition to his foul mouth, Jordan also proved himself to be a problematic player, often resorting to dubious antics to get back or stir up trouble with his teammates and opponents alike. Like in the 'late 80s when he made it his mission to bully Bill Cartwright, the recruit who was replaced Jordan's friend Charles Oakley on the Chicago Bulls team. According to Daily Mail, Jordan often took jabs at Cartwrights playing skills, going as far as giving him the nickname, "Medical Bill."

Draymond Green

Draymond Green might only be a little over a decade old in the league, but in that time he has established himself as one of the NBA's top trash talkers of modern time. During a 2016 game between the Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers, Green got into a fight with Lebron James during which some words were exchanged. While multiple reports suggested that Green called Lebron a b****, sports analyst Bill Simmons speculated it was a more offensive comment. "I heard he didn't say the B-word. I heard it began with an F and ended with boy," Simmons explained in an episode of his podcast (via NBC Sports). "That was what I heard ... That's why I think LeBron took it so personally. I'm sure LeBron has been called the B-word before. He really got upset. I don't know if you saw. His feelings got hurt."

Despite his notoriety however, Green is not just all talk. A four-time NBA champion, a four-time All-Star, and a two-time Olympic gold medalist, Green has garnered an impressive slew of achievement through the years. So, when NBA fans began to compare him to former Phoenix Suns player Charles Barkley, Green was not having it. And when he gets the chance, the Warriors star takes a good jab at Barkley. "You know, Barkley talk a lot. A whole lot for a guy who has not won a championship," he once said, per Complex. "When it comes to speaking about someone who has a championship, Barkley should be muted."

Kevin Durant

Over time, Phoenix Suns forward Kevin Durant has come to be recognized for his foul mouth, so much so that in 2021 Draymond Green regards him one of the biggest trash talkers in the league. "I've always told people KD is one of the biggest trash talkers to me since I came into the league," Green said during a 2021 episode of his podcast "The Draymond Green Show." Green further explained that Durant does not mind turning players around on the court to see their names and talk trash at them during games. "K would say stuff to people and you're like, yo, you're Kevin Durant. There's not much I can say back," he added.

NBA players are not the only ones who have fallen victim to Durant's foul mouth through the years, fans have also faced their fair share of his trash talk — something sports journalist Stephen Smith openly criticized in 2017. "He's aged. And along the process of aging, he's gotten more arrogant, he's gotten more disrespectful, he's gotten more dismissive—particularly of the fans," Smith said during an episode of "First Take," a television show on ESPN. "To be quite honest with you, he hasn't gotten smarter. And the reason why he hasn't gotten smarter is because the younger Durant never would have said something so flagrantly disrespectful towards fans."

Bill Laimbeer

One of NBA's most prominent players of the '80s, Bill Laimbeer was, in every sense of the word notorious. When he was not throwing an elbow on the court, Laimbeer was instigating fights with opponents. At the time, Laimbeer stood tall at 6-foot-11, making him one of the league's biggest players. For this, Laimbeer was famously nicknamed "prince of darkness" –  a name he willfully lived up to. "I don't fight. I agitate, then walk away," he bragged in a 1990 interview with Sports Illustrated.

Expectedly, Laimbeer's notoriety put him in the black books of many other players and coaches in the league. "I don't even want to talk about him. Laimbeer's a crybaby and a faker," an asssistant coach once said of the Pistons center. "I was always taught if you can't say something nice about someone, then don't say anything at all. So I'm saying nothing at all."Larry Bird: "We don't like him that good." "If I didn't know Bill, I wouldn't like him, either."