Danny Granger and the Biggest Fake Tough Guys in the NBA

Stephen Babb@@StephenBabbFeatured ColumnistMay 25, 2012

Danny Granger and the Biggest Fake Tough Guys in the NBA

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    Danny Granger proved to be more than able of getting in LeBron James' face during the testy second-round series between the Miami Heat and Indiana Pacers, but he wasn't able to do much more than that.

    His Pacers ultimately fell to the Heat in six games, with Granger having an underwhelming series by just about any measure.

    Of course, it wasn't all Granger's fault.

    But, he did shoot just 40 percent for the series, and let's face it—anytime your team loses the series after a lot of big talk, it stings that much more. Granger really doesn't have any history of being a tough guy, and that's what makes his recent foray into the genre so unsettling. 

    It just isn't his thing, and it never will be.

    Here are five more would-be tough guys who should stop pretending.

Kevin Garnett, PF/C, Boston Celtics

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    Kevin Garnett does as much jawing as anyone in the NBA, but it's never been much more than talk. There's no more apt description than that provided by Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowki pursuant to Charlie Villanueva's claim that KG called him a "cancer patient":

    For years, he’s gone after smaller, younger players. He never goes after tough guys. Never. For some reason, he reveled in going out of his way to abuse European players. So many young Euros grew up idolizing him, loved the range of his versatility at 7 feet, only to have images of him shattered with cheap shots and trash talk on the floor. A few days ago, this happened to the Knicks’ Timofey Mozgov. It happens all the time. Pau Gasol. Jose Calderon. The list is long and the act is tired.

    The worst part about Garnett's antics is that he's always been more than talented enough to simply let his play do all the talking. There's never been a more unnecessary reliance upon pure shenanigans. You would expect this kind of behavior from some scrub trying to make a name for himself, but not from a future Hall of Famer.

Metta World Peace, SF, Los Angeles Lakers

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    Some will argue that Metta World Peace is just as tough as he acts, but that would confuse immature temper tantrums with true grit.

    First, it should probably go without saying that changing one's name to "Metta World Peace" immediately disqualifies someone from consideration among the ranks of the league's baddest hombres. But more importantly, an unprovoked elbow to the back of someone's head is pretty much the opposite of tough.

    Facing off with Serge Ibaka afterwards was even more embarrassing. Metta could have just said he was sorry.

Kenyon Martin, PF, Los Angeles Clippers

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    Kenyon Martin was one of the NBA's original fake tough guys, a phenomena forward Tim Thomas explained at length in 2004 while playing for the New York Knicks (via ESPN news services):

    "Just knowing his character, he's a fugazy guy. I read a comment that Jason Richardson said nobody wants to mess with a pit bull, but I've never seen a pit bull who picks and chooses who he wants to bite," Thomas said.

    "He's fugazy as far as the whole tough guy role. You get techs and you get fines and that makes you tough? Because your game is wild and crazy, that makes you tough? When a scuffle breaks out, you have 13 guys that can protect you. When it's you and someone else, what happens then?

    In the midst of a postseason series against the New Jersey Nets, Thomas' Knicks were frustrated by series of hard fouls—including one Thomas himself suffered at the hands of Nets' center Jason Collins.

    In the previous game, Kenyon Martin had been called for a technical foul for shoving one of Thomas' teammates—thus the extended diatribe regarding Martin's tough facade.

    Martin may have settled down a bit in his old age, but if there were a "lifetime achievement award" for guys less tough than meets the eye, he'd have to receive some serious consideration.

Udonis Haslem, PF, Miami Heat

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    Retaliation isn't the mark of a real tough guy, but it's a nice move for somebody pretending to be one. The Miami Heat's Udonis Haslem left his mark on the Indiana Pacers' Tyler Hansbrough just moments after Hansbrough earned himself a flagrant foul.

    The Pacers' back-up forward clobbered Wade in the head (opening up a cut in the process), and Haslem returned the favor. The NBA, in turn, rewarded Miami's would-be enforcer with a one-game suspension.

    Perhaps Hansbrough deserved it in some karmic sense, but that's really not for Haslem to decide—especially on the court. Perhaps next time they can take things outside and leave the hardwood for basketball.

Amar'e Stoudemire, PF, New York Knicks

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    We all know by now that fire extinguisher never did anything to Amar'e Stoudemire, but it bore the brunt of his frustration anyway.

    Nevertheless, the inanimate object got the better of their confrontation, and Stoudemire missed the New York Knicks' Game 3 against the Miami Heat because of it. After his team dropped to a 2-0 deficit against the Heat in the first round of the postseason, Stoudemire's frustration was more than understandable.

    Next time, though, he just needs to hug it out.