The NBA's 12 Biggest Headaches
Every sport has its headaches, and the NBA is no exception. There are players that annoy NBA fans to no end, and those will be highlighted in this slideshow.
However, the classification as an “NBA headache” is not just reserved for players. There are situations and groups of players themselves that induce migraines as units. There are also off-the-court figures that do things that just make the fans’ skin crawl.
It might be unorthodox, but I must warn you: this slideshow will not be easy to read for die-hard NBA fans. You will be confronted with the most bothersome, trying NBA players, figures and situations. It is not for the faint of heart.
(Bleacher Report is not responsible for any actual headaches caused by the content in this list.)
12. The Portland Trail Blazers (Other Than LaMarcus Aldridge)
Jerome Miron-US PRESSWIRE
If any team really fell by the wayside last season, it was the Portland Trail Blazers. While LaMarcus Aldridge continued to prove just how big of a stud he really was (21.7 points, eight rebounds per game), the rest of the team completely dissolved, resulting in a season that ended outside of the playoff picture.
Jamal Crawford and Raymond Felton were not good fits, and head coach Nate McMillan was fired. Now, the team has a new direction that is built around Aldridge with youth and talent.
This team certainly has a solid chance of turning things around with Damian Lillard, Meyers Leonard and Nicolas Batum surrounding Aldridge, and it must capitalize on that chance to avoid being a headache again this season.
11. Andrew Bynum
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If any NBA player is an enigma, it is Andrew Bynum. How any player can look so dominating at certain times and so completely immature and unfocused at others is beyond even the most observant fan’s comprehension. He has been an amalgamation of supreme talent and disappointing immaturity for most of his career.
It is annoying and migraine-inducing to say the least. Bynum gave us a taste of how good he could be last season, averaging 18.7 points and 11.8 rebounds per game, despite having to share the court and ball with Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol.
Now that he is the star in Philadelphia, Bynum will have a chance to show us what he can do on his own, unfettered by Bryant. Let us hope that such an opportunity inspires more maturity and focus in him.
10. The Jeremy Lin Hype
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It is completely understandable why the story of Jeremy Lin has gotten so much attention. The young point guard ascended the depth chart of one of the most visible basketball teams in the world as an unknown. He played well when he got a chance and immediately became a household name. That is all well and good, and no one can blame the guy for capitalizing on it.
However, it is time we are a bit realistic about his playing abilities. I think pure basketball aficionados are tired of hearing about how Lin could be an All-Star next season or one of the best point guards in the game.
The potential is there to be very good, but we went overboard a long time ago in terms how we discuss this player. It is not his fault, which is why he is not the headache, but the runaway hype around him is.
9. Hasheem Thabeet
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Few players have been as disappointing compared to what was expected of them as Hasheem Thabeet. Since he was drafted in 2009, Thabeet has never done better than he did in his rookie season, in which he played 13 minutes per game and averaged 3.1 points and 3.6 rebounds per game.
Needless to say, we all hoped for much more from a player picked No. 2 overall and ahead of the likes of James Harden, Tyreke Evans, Ricky Rubio, Jrue Holiday, Ty Lawson and Jeff Teague.
Thabeet has bounced around since then, playing for three teams during his three-year career. He will begin his fourth season with a fourth team in the Oklahoma City Thunder. Who knows, maybe the Thunder staff, with its track record with young players, can do something with Thabeet.
What is more likely though, is that they merely hope Thabeet can fill their need at the third-string center position. That may be all Thabeet can ever be in this league, despite his extreme yet raw athleticism and length.
8. Dan Gilbert
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Some see Dan Gilbert as a champion of the small-market NBA team. Others see him as a fickle hypocrite. Just about everyone thinks he is annoying.
Of course, he really began inducing head-related illnesses when he spewed a bit of the old vitriol at departing superstar LeBron James during the 2010 offseason via an open letter to Cavaliers’ fans on the team’s web site.
At the time, we all understood Gilbert’s frustration. James had done the city wrong in some ways, but looking back on it now, I think we realize that Gilbert went too far.
Despite being fined by the NBA for $100,000, Gilbert did not learn his lesson. According to Yahoo Sports, Gilbert urged the rest of the NBA to block the Chris Paul to the Lakers trade in early December 2011.
He won that battle, which really annoyed all of us as it deprived us of seeing just how awesome Paul could be with Kobe Bryant. This man has caused plenty of headaches, and I see no reason not to expect more from him.
7. Dwight Howard
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I think we all know why Dwight Howard occupies a spot on this list. The constant barrage of information and misinformation regarding his future has given every loyal NBA fan headaches, even to the point where Howard’s public image has taken a larger hit than that of LeBron James did after The Decision.
Howard appeared to be unable to make up his mind, holding the Orlando Magic and keeping the team from moving on. Then, when he could be free to make up his mind in free agency, he re-ups with the Magic and then says shortly later that he does not want to be there.
The worst part of all this is that, while Howard finally has a new team in the Lakers, he has not signed a long-term deal, meaning that he will be a free agent during the 2013 offseason. The entire annoying story will happen all over again in 2013 (pops a few aspirin).
6. J.R. Smith
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J.R. Smith can split the opinions in an NBA room very quickly. There are those who consider him to be a misunderstood talent, a player who can score in bunches and really help a team off the bench.
Then there are smart NBA fans, who know what Smith truly is: a streaky shooter that costs a team more defensively and attitude-wise than he adds with his scoring.
Smith has had a fair amount of problems during his NBA career, which have included not getting along with coaches and lacking a focus on both ends of the floor.
He has the talent to be a very good player, but he has never shown the right attitude or motivation to actually realize that potential. You should not expect him to find those things any time soon.
5. Amar’e Stoudemire
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If you rewind to the 2010-2011 season, Amar’e Stoudemire would be nowhere near this list. However, his performance during the 2011-12 season warrants his inclusion.
His stats from that season do not look all that bad on their own (17.5 points and 7.8 rebounds per game). However, watching him on the court tells a different story, one about a player who has struggled to find his place in the offense in New York.
The main cause of that is probably the arrival of Carmelo Anthony as the alpha male on that team. It is obvious that the two players’ styles do not mesh well together, and, since Anthony is the better player, Stoudemire becomes the headache.
He must prove that he was not merely a product of Mike D’Antoni and Steve Nash during his early days in New York and his time in Phoenix. Anthony is not going anywhere, so Stoudemire must be the one to adjust.
4. Andray Blatche
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There was a time when Andray Blatche was considered an up-and-comer in the NBA. During the 2010-11 season, he averaged 16.8 points and 8.2 rebounds and looked he would be an integral part of the future building of the Washington Wizards. The next season, he averaged just 8.5 points and 5.8 rebounds while playing in just 26 games.
The lockout, injuries and conditioning all shortened his season, but the primary blame for his downturn goes to Blatche. He has had work-ethic problems in the past, and those are a big part of why he was released by the Washington Wizards during the 2012 offseason. He will have to prove that he is ready to work and not be a pain if he wants to find a new team.
3. Sacramento Kings
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The Sacramento Kings are a pure unit of headache-inducing underachievement. This is a team that has been loaded with young talent for a few years now, yet has absolutely no idea how to turn that talent into a winning basketball team.
With as many lottery picks as they have had, the Kings are proof that having them each year does not mean you will ever become a playoff team.
Tyreke Evans, Jimmer Fredette, DeMarcus Cousins and Marcus Thornton are just a sampling of the talent that has come into this franchise over the last few years. The fact that it has been unable to win is proof of poor management and coaching.
Perhaps newest lottery pick Thomas Robinson will be the leader this team needs. Otherwise, the headaches will keep coming for the Kings’ fans.
2. Hedo Turkoglu
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Hedo Turkoglu is like many of the players who have preceded him on this list. He appears to be washed up, averaging just 10.9 points and 3.8 rebounds during the 2011-12 season. That performance was just four years removed from a year in which he averaged 19.5 points, 5.7 rebounds and five assists per game on 45.6 percent field-goal shooting.
Needless to say, Turkoglu was a stud back then, and he was a huge part of why they made it to the Finals the year after that. Now, he is a washed up player who gets paid way too much.
During the 2011-12 season, the Turkish forward was paid $11 million. He is set to make $11.8 million during the 2012-13 season and an unguaranteed $12 million the season after that. It gives me a headache to just think about how much this guy makes for how little he does on the court.
1. Will He, Won’t He Season-Long Free Agency Sagas
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This goes along with the Dwight Howard slide, but it deserves a place all of its own.
This trend starting during the 2010 offseason when LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, Amar’e Stoudemire, Carlos Boozer and still others were all free agents at once. Leading up to that time, there was speculation on all of them about where they would end up and if they would sign with their current team long term.
Only one of those players stayed with his current team (Wade), while the rest moved on. That only fueled the fire for more seasons of similar patterns.
Had the New Orleans Hornets not dealt Chris Paul before the 2011-12, such a storyline would have followed him throughout that season. We all know about the Howard example, and we will go through that (along with that of Andrew Bynum) against at the end of the 2012-13 season.
James Harden will be a restricted free agent at that time unless he signs with the Thunder, and Paul will become an unrestricted one at the same time if he does not re-up with the Clippers.
It appears that this trend will continue every year, and that we will have to endure such headaches almost continuously. When one story ends, another (or the same one) starts again.
I suppose it is just another painful part of the process of being a die-hard NBA fan, tortured by the comings and goings of star players that we learn to admire and adore. But as you can see from what you have just read, headaches are a part of the NBA fan business.