Now that the Lakers have successfully built their own super team, they have without a doubt become one of the most hated teams in the NBA. But do they join the ranks of the most hated teams of all time?
Over the years, there have been a lot of hated teams for so many different reasons. There are the teams envied by others because of their success, the teams that have a jerk with a huge ego, the teams that play dirty, the teams that have an annoying fan base, and the list goes on and on.
Over the past several seasons, it's been a general trend for superstars to flock to a big market together, and that will usually anger the fans of the rest of the NBA.
One great example is the 2010-2011 Miami Heat squad. Players like LeBron James have gotten a lot of hate from NBA fans for "taking the easy way out," but are they really one of the most hated teams of all time?
There's only one way to find out.
2007-2008 Boston Celtics
The Celtics are a perfect example of superstars flocking to a big market. As if making a big three in itself wasn't enough, the players on the roster weren't exactly role models.
Kevin Garnett was known for being an obnoxious trash talker; Paul Pierce flopped enough to join a soccer team, and Rondo was cocky and also one of the more hated player in the league. And that's not mentioning the non-superstars like Eddie House.
Yes, this team was great, but they were hard to like if you weren't a Celtics fan.
2006-2007 San Antonio Spurs
All right, so this one could be a little bias coming from a Suns fan, but the Spurs were a classic example of a team playing dirty.
The Spurs won their fourth title in just eight seasons that year after sweeping the Cavs, but they got away with a little cheating. Ginobili and Parker brought their notorious flopping skills to the game, and Bowen and Horry constantly got away with blatant fouls on the court. We're talking hip checks, knees to the groin, trips and everything in between.
1995-1996 Chicago Bulls
The reason the Bulls were hated by so many fans across the league is because you hate the teams you can't beat. Their 72-10 record that season was the greatest of all time, and that only made people envy them more and ultimately hate them more as well.
And what about Dennis Rodman, one of the most hated players in NBA history? Surely that didn't make matters better.
This may be jumping the gun a little, considering the team hasn't even played yet, but they'll be hated all right.
Guys like Pau Gasol and Steve Nash may be difficult to dislike, but combine the big-market city creating a super team with obnoxious fans and then look at the players, and you'll see why they will be hated almost as much as the Heat.
You start with Dwight Howard, the superstar center who whined his way out of Orlando and then eventually gutted his team in the process. Not only was he constantly flirting with other teams like the Nets, Rockets and Lakers, but he also criticized his teammates and former Magic coach Stan Van Gundy.
After Howard, look no further than Metta World Peace, formerly known as Ron Artest, for another player you can hate on. Artest was responsible for starting the infamous "Malice at the Palace" event that took place in 2004 when he ran into the stands and started beating up a fan who he thought threw a drink at him. Of course, it turned out to be the wrong fan. He received a record-holding 73-game suspension for that. Oh yeah, and what about elbowing James Harden in the head this past spring?
But no, it doesn't end there.
How about Kobe Bryant, who just several years ago was accused of sexually assaulting a 19-year-old and immediately lost respect from people across the country? Or the fact that Shaquille O'Neal eventually requested a trade due to Kobe's selfishness, and fans still continue to taunt him about his cockiness and arrogance on the court to this day.
Wilt Chamberlain may have been one of the greatest players of all time, forever remembered for his record-breaking 100-point performance, but he let his arrogance get to him, and that caused the Lakers to eventually lose in the finals that season.
After joining the Lakers, Chamberlain's $250,000 salary was the highest of any player at the time. The Lakers were excited to introduce the 7'1" center to a team that already included Elgin Baylor and Jerry West. But Chamberlain was always more fascinated with boosting his individual statistics than actually winning the game for his team. His cocky attitude lost him the respect of teammate Elgin Baylor and eventually even head coach Butch Van Breda Kolff.
In fact, Chamberlain strained his relationship with the coach so much that he was forced to sit on the bench and watch in the second half of Game 7 against the Celtics as the Lakers lost a close 106-104 game to miss out on a title.
Chamberlain started his career as a Harlem Globetrotter, and he carried that style of play into the NBA and basically transformed himself into a circus act, treating the game without much respect and not taking it very seriously. After all, this is the same guy who in 1971 claimed he was too strong to shoot free throws from 15 feet away and took 18-foot free throws.
His success rate? Just 42 percent, which hopefully brought him back down to Earth a little bit.
After Pat Riley stepped down as Knicks head coach in 1995, there was already a lot of bad blood between the Heat and Knicks. But things only escalated in the 1997 Eastern Conference semifinals.
After the Knicks quickly gained a 3-1 lead on the Heat, Game 5 was highlighted by a brawl that started when P.J Brown flipped Charlie Ward over his head and body-slammed him after Ward attempted to get a rebound.
Now, there was a lot of speculation around the brawl. Knicks fans argued that Pat Riley told Brown to start a fight in hopes of getting Knick players suspended. And Heat fans speculated as to why Ward dived for Brown's legs in the first place when the Heat were already up by 15 points and the game was out of reach.
The point is that both sides were immature.
After Ewing, Houston, Johnson, Starks and Ward were all suspended for at least one game, the Heat came from behind and took the series. And not only was Brown not afraid to start a brawl, but neither was Alonzo Mourning, and when those two combined with homophobic player Tim Hardaway's trash talking, there's no question as to why the Heat were one of the most loathed teams of the 90s.
John Stockton and Karl Malone led the Jazz to the franchise's only two finals appearances, and the duo was considered an all-time great at running the pick-and-roll. But that pick-and-roll wasn't always legal.
Malone was believed to be dirty by tons of people around the league, but he constantly got away with calls. He was known for throwing reckless elbows, such as when he elbowed Isiah Thomas in the eye and Zeke needed 40 stitches, or for setting illegal screens, like when he literally picked up Clyde Drexler off the ground, leaving John Stockton with an open three to win the game.
Stockton himself was also known for being a dirty player around the NBA. He would often set illegal low screens on big men or throw elbow jabs at other guards. And that isn't even mentioning how much he flopped on the court. Don't get me wrong, he is one of the greatest and smartest point guards of all time, but he was also one of the dirtiest.
Stockton and Malone may have been a great duo, but an MVP winner like Malone should never have flopped or cheated.
Then again, they wouldn't have gotten as far as they did if they didn't play so dirty.
Like I said earlier, nobody likes a team that can just crush any competition in their way and cruise to a championship. It makes being a fan less fun if there's a super team that always beats your favorite squad.
And there weren't many better super teams than the 85-86 Celtics.
First of all, recognize that this is a team that had five Hall of Famers. Not just two or three, but five—Larry Bird, Kevin McHale, Robert Parrish, Dennis Johnson and Bill Walton.
Now, clearly not all five players were in their prime; Johnson was no longer an elite guard, and Walton had been reduced to playing off the bench in his second-to-last season in the league. But the team just dominated all season long.
They finished 67-15 during the regular season, which was 10 games ahead of the second-seeded Bucks in the East, and they breezed through the competition in the playoffs. They swept Michael Jordan and the Bulls; they took Game 5 against Dominique Wilkins and the Hawks by a score of 132-99 to win the series 4-1, and then they swept the Bucks and Milwaukee head coach Don Nelson on their road to the finals.
In the finals, the Celtics won their 16th NBA championship after beating Olajuwon and the Rockets 4-2. Only one of Boston's four wins was by a single-digit margin. Between the dirty plays of guys like Danny Ainge and the team's overall success, they were hated across the league.
When compared to other teams on this list, the Heat didn't exactly have an amazing super team that couldn't be stopped. They were obviously exposed as having plenty of flaws when they lost the finals to the Mavericks. But it's the way in which the players alienated fans and left their old teams to join the Heat that infuriated so many.
Prior to the 2010 offseason, LeBron James wasn't really a hated player. He was the beloved star of the Cleveland Cavaliers. But after "The Decision," LeBron became the most hated player in the league for betraying his home state's team. He may not have deserved all the hate he got and is still getting, but sometimes fans are irrational.
Now that the team is enjoying success and winning championships, people are trying to tease the players in any way they can. If they can't find a flaw in a player's game, they'll make jokes about LeBron's receding hairline, Bosh being soft or looking like a dinosaur and Wade, well, I suppose Wade is really only hated for being on the same roster as LeBron James.
Ohio residents are trying the best they can to cope with LeBron winning a ring in a city other than Cleveland.
The Lakers may have formed their own super team, but that doesn't mean the Heat aren't still the biggest villains in the NBA right now.
Though the "Jail Bllazers" were loved by their fans in Portland, their behavior disgusted the rest of the league's fans.
Standing at the center of it all was Rasheed Wallace, who was issued 41 technical fouls over the course of the season, an NBA record. That season, Wallace also threw a towel at teammate Arvydas Sabonis and tried to charge coach Mike Dunleavy in the locker room.
Perhaps the worst part of all this is that it wasn't just one season; it was a whole era.
The 2000-2001 season was just the beginning. For the next few years, practically every player who played for the team did or said something stupid. Qyntel Woods tried to substitute a basketball card with a drivers licence at a traffic stop. Damon Stoudamire was arrested for drug possession. Bonzi Wells made a comment to Sports Illustrated severe enough to earn a $50,000 suspension from the Blazers. Zach Randolph was arrested on DUI charges.
Yes, that was the Jail Blazers era—a dark time in Portland's history.
I'm sure Portland fans wouldn't be so upset if the team had won anything like so many other teams on this list have, but the 2000-2001 Blazers went from being first in the West mid-season to the seventh seed and were taken out in the first round.
Starting to see a bit of a pattern? This is the third Lakers team in just eight slides. But that's just what happens when you have a big market, a history of winning and some great talent that makes your team the team to beat. And that's just what the Lakers were in the 2001-2002 season.
Besides the obvious talent in Kobe and Shaq, other main players on the team included Derek Fisher, Rick Fox and Robert Horry among others. But Horry, although known for his many buzzer-beaters, was a dirty defender, as were Fisher and Fox from time to time.
You could find reasons to hate this team, but the biggest reason of all would have to be what came during the playoffs. According to Tim Donaghy in 2008, the 2002 Western Conference finals between the Kings and Lakers was fixed by two referees, and there was plenty of evidence that could be used to make a case supporting that statement.
After being down 3-2 in the series, the Lakers took Game 6 by four points after attempting 18 more free throws than the Kings in the fourth quarter. Divac, Pollard, Webber and Funderburke combined for 20 fouls, many of which came in the fourth quarter and were bad calls.
Shaq went an incredible 13-of-17 from the free throw line by stepping over the line without a violation being called, and Kobe elbowing Mike Bibby with 12 seconds left sealed the game. The Lakers enjoyed the help from the referees, took Game 7 and eventually won the NBA Finals.
Perhaps it wasn't all their fault, but the behavior of the Lakers and the calls they were getting away with during the series were simply disgusting.
Between ferocious and tough defenders in Anthony Mason, Greg Anthony and Charles Oakley, as well as John Starks and Patrick Ewing, the 1993-1994 Knicks were a tough, down-and-dirty team that were hated for chest pounding, elbow throwing and generally dirty play.
The team was extremely impressive defensively, and their gritty defenders and star Patrick Ewing took the team to the NBA Finals, where they would face Hakeem Olajuwon and the Houston Rockets. The Rockets eventually took it in seven in one of the lowest-rated and least-watched Finals of the decade.
In fact, in an attempt to boost ratings again by increasing scoring, the NBA created new rules against hand-checking after the finals, which ultimately made scoring a lot easier for perimeter shooters.
The "Bad Boys" of Detroit were an absolutely frightening team to watch, and the type of easily detestable team that you wish to see fail. Unfortunately, that wasn't the case.
Detroit's dirty play made them a great championship-winning team that could even compete against teams like the Lakers, Celtics or Bulls.
Why were they so dirty, you ask?
The reason the team was hated lies completely on the shoulders of three players—Bill Laimbeer, Dennis Rodman and Rick Mahorn.
Bill Laimbeer was the dirtiest and possibly the most hated player of his generation. He was practically the inventor of flopping, and between starting a brawl with Bird and the Celtics, getting in a brawl with Charles Barkley in Detroit and hacking Jordan relentlessly, it's easy to tell why Laimbeer was considered such a villain.
Meanwhile, the "Baddest Boy of Them All," Rick Mahorn, was also tough to like if you lived outside Michigan. Even when he wasn't in Detroit, he was extremely physical and would use his dirty style of play to intimidate opponents.
And then of course there was Dennis Rodman, whose dyed hair, on-court brawls and off-court personality made him an extremely hated player throughout his career.
All three of those players are probably in the top-20 most hated players of all time. Combine all three, and you've got yourself the super team of evil—the most hated and detested NBA team of all time.