The 10 Most Irritating Players in the NBA

Stephen Babb@@StephenBabbFeatured ColumnistSeptember 27, 2012

The 10 Most Irritating Players in the NBA

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    Yeah, you know the ones.

    The players who constantly get under your skin for on-court and off-court transgressions alike, the guys who give you a case of involuntary head-shaking whenever the cameras pan their way.

    Sometimes it's not even the player's fault so much as his obnoxious fans, hero-worshipers who go to any length of rationalization for the sake of their idols.

    Sometimes there isn't even a good reason to dislike them—there's just something about them that rubs you the wrong way.

    It's hard enough to watch your team lose, but it's even worse when it loses to one of these irritants.

    Here's a look at the 10 players who drive me up a wall. Who's on your list? 

10. James Harden: SG, Oklahoma City Thunder

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    Alright, enough with the beard already. We get it—James Harden is bucking convention, doing his own thing, whatever. He's just building his brand with a cheeky, quasi-hipster trademark if you ask me.

    But fine. To each his own.

    The really irritating thing about Harden is that he gets some ridiculous calls. He makes a living out of the most painfully annoying aspects of Manu Ginobili's game, traveling on a regular basis, driving to the rim with only the intent to get fouled, and flailing like a ballet dancer.

    And he gets the calls!

    We're not even talking about convincing flailing. The guy throws his arms into defenders somewhere between his 11th and 12th un-dribbled step to the basket, and then acts like a grenade went off.

    Sure, he's not the only one to pull this kind of thing, but it's especially frustrating to see him get to the line for such nonsense when he's still just a pup in NBA years. 

9. Carlos Boozer: PF, Chicago Bulls

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    You can take issue with Carlos Boozer's spray-on hair, and you can raise an eyebrow to those pantyhose things he wears.

    But for most Chicago Bulls fans, the most irritating thing is his postseason disappearing act.

    He averaged just 12.6 points on 43 percent shooting in 2011 and then—when his Rose-less team needed him more than ever—put up 13.5 points on 42 percent shooting in 2012.

    That kind of production is a far cry from what this guy did in four trips to the playoffs with the Utah Jazz.

    You can almost forgive Chicago for giving the guy a massive five-year deal. He almost seemed worth it.

    So much for that.

8. Marc Gasol: C, Memphis Grizzlies

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    Okay, never mind the fact that both Gasol brothers look to be in perpetual need of a bath.

    And never mind that brother Pau made me hate all that is musical after listening to this little number.

    The most irritating thing about Marc Gasol really isn't his fault—it's the fault of NBA onlookers who make him out to be some kind of underrated savant. Ever since the guy made John Hollinger's 2009 "All-Underrated Team," the label stuck.

    Gasol made his first All-Star team in 2012 despite suffering through the most inefficient season of his career. He averaged 14.6 points on 58 percent shooting in 2009-10 but averaged the very same number of points on 48 percent shooting in 2011-12.

    That's not bad by any means, and you have to like the fact that he's a good passer and plays the game in a fundamentally sound way.

    But last season his player efficiency rating trailed Al Jefferson and Marcin Gortat (among others), two Western Conference centers who were not invited to the All-Star game.

    Nevertheless, someone somewhere will still claim this guy doesn't get enough credit.

7. Lamar Odom: PF, Los Angeles Clippers

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    In all fairness, Lamar Odom is for the most part irritating by association.

    But it's not as if he was coerced into his pact with the Kardashian clan. He knew what he was getting into, and now rooting for Lamar Odom or anything associated with Lamar Odom means you're indirectly supporting one of the most toxic phenomena in American history: Keeping Up With the Kardashians.

    If you haven't seen it, count yourself among the lucky few.

    It's not entertaining. It's not even a guilty pleasure, because it produces nothing even remotely resembling pleasure.

    But alas, now we have a woeful distortion of reality that's branded reality TV, and Lamar's along for the ride. He and Blake Griffin will form quite possibly the most irritating one-two punch at the power forward position in the history of irritating one-two punches.

    Making matters worse, though, who asks for a trade and then mopes around and quits trying after he gets traded? I don't usually feel sorry for Mark Cuban, but that had to be disappointing.

6. Kevin Love: PF, Minnesota Timberwolves

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    I never had a problem with Kevin Love until he said this (via Yahoo! Sports' Marc J. Spears):

    "My patience is not high," Love said. "Would yours be, especially when I'm a big proponent of greatness surrounding itself with greatness? All these [Team USA] guys seem to have great players around them."

    The most obvious grievance is with the "patience" bit. It sounds like the Minnesota Timberwolves are getting scolded by Mom. Plus, Love just turned 24, so he has some time.

    And the last thing he wants to do is spur short-sighted moves that plunge the franchise into mediocrity, a lesson he should have learned from Dwight Howard's impatience in Orlando.

    But here's the even more irritating part: "...especially when I'm a big proponent of greatness surrounding itself with greatness."

    Who isn't a proponent of mountains of greatness snow-capped with ever more greatness?

    Love makes it sound like there are those in the Timberwolves' front office who are weary of this so-called greatness, as if they're sitting around their conference tables and concluding, "You know guys, I'm a little worried we have too much greatness on the roster. Maybe we should scale back."

    Everyone is a proponent of greatness. Love acts like that's his calling card or something: "You know me! I'm the guy who stands up for greatness."

    Bizarre.

5.Dwyane Wade: SG, Miami Heat

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    Once upon a time, I thought Dwyane Wade was the best thing the NBA had going. And as recently as 2010-11, I thought LeBron James was easily the most irritating thing about the Miami Heat.

    Not anymore.

    It all started when Wade made fun of Dirk Nowitzki during the 2011 NBA Finals, insinuating that he wasn't in fact sick. For a group of guys who've spent so much of the last two seasons crying about being vilified and assailing all their "haters," you've got to be kidding me.

    People don't hate this team because it's so good. They hate it because of unsportsmanlike nonsense like this. Who does that?

    For me, though, the tipping point was Wade's tantrum during Game 3 against the Indiana Pacers this year. I know there was other stuff going on in his life, but show your coach some respect—especially with everyone watching.

4. Danny Granger: SF, Indiana Pacers

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    Danny Granger isn't fooling anyone with this "I'm going to get in your face" routine.

    It was strange to see at first, because Granger just isn't that kind of guy. He spends most of his time quietly hitting three-pointers.

    But all of the sudden, he was going KG on Dwyane Wade and LeBron James, encroaching on their space like the "close-talker" from Seinfeld.

    After a while, though, it just became comically commonplace—oh, there's Danny Granger acting like someone insulted his manhood again. What else is new?

    The Pacers' attitude was forced and contrived in that series. That's not who this team is.

3. Kevin Garnett: F/C, Boston Celtics

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    Kevin Garnett is nothing if not polarizing.

    You either love him or hate him, and in my case, it's a little bit of both really. The intensity is great. The results are great.

    But by most accounts, KG is really kind of a jerk. He gets away with all manner of illegal contact because... well, he's KG.

    And enough with the trash-talking. You don't have to be overly concerned about the "messages we send our youth" to see this as pretty unnecessary.

    There's no reason you can't be a perfectly hard-nosed competitor without jawing all game long. That's what most great players do. 

2. Anderson Varejao: C, Cleveland Cavaliers

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    It's hard to say which is more irritating: flopping to get calls or the floppiest hair in all of basketball.

    The Cleveland Cavaliers' Anderson Varejao has them both covered.

    He's a great rebounder and a highly-mobile defender, but he's also highly-annoying to watch. Maybe the hair would bounce less if he weren't so weirdly energetic and hyperactive.

    But something has to give—the guy looks like he's bouncing around on a pogo stick.

    Of course, the constant flopping is equally if not more obnoxious as in this instance in which Varejao reacts to negligible contact like a zombie who just met up with a shotgun he didn't like.

    Painful to watch.

1. Dwight Howard: C, Los Angeles Lakers

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    Where to start.

    Maybe with the most hilariously awkward interview of all time. Just moments after Stan Van Gundy confirmed to reporters that Dwight Howard had lobbied for him to get canned, Howard reacts incredulously to those same reporters. He acts like they're just making these questions up, at one point sarcastically saying, "Yah, the stories from Dave Ping are true."

    The best part comes immediately thereafter when a reporter responds, "Stan just said they're true."

    Howard's reply?

    "Yeah... what's true?" 

    It's hard to say whether he was just stalling or trying to make some deeper epistemological point about what it means for something to really be true. But he goes on to just confuse everyone by answering questions with more questions like an obstinate Socrates.

    Then there's this interview with Lakers Nation's Serena Winters, which is irritating on so many different levels. Instead of answering a question about what he brings to the Lakers, he just starts talking to the camera about how he likes to "dominate" only to flash his "aw shucks, I crack myself up" smile shortly thereafter.

    And let's face it: Howard re-defined irritating last season.

    But it took him until his introductory press conference with the Lakers to really stick it to Orlando. In case you weren't sure, he's really happy to be in Los Angeles, and apparently it already feels like home.

    And if that wasn't enough gloating for you, he'll have you know that, "everything happened the way that it was meant to happen."

    Just when you thought the Dwightmare was over, he just keeps talking.