Free agent forward Kenyon Martin claims that he hasn't been picked up by a team yet because of his brash personality. While that probably isn't the only reason, Martin's history is sure to give a few teams pause.
Players with uncontrollable egos can be found by the dozens in today's NBA. In most cases, an individual's performance on the court outweighs whatever headaches he causes the front office, so most coaches choose to ignore the negatives as much as possible. Quite simply, dealing with superstar athletes with outsized egos is simply one the costs of doing business.
Besides...teams who lack players with big egos typically don't fare all that well in the grand scheme of things. So maybe there is something to having a few talents who believe that the world revolves around their every move.
A single play in a 12-year career solidified Ricky Davis' place as one of the league's most egotistical players over the past decade.
On March 16, 2003, at the end of a blowout win over the Utah Jazz, Davis—who was one rebound shy of a triple-double—intentionally missed a shot at his own basket in order to be credited with his 10th rebound. It was one of the more bizarre moments in recent history, and it was clear that Davis was clearly out for self.
Davis has since expressed remorse for the move, but the damage had already been done. It doesn't get much more selfish than what Davis did nearly 10 years ago, and he will always be remembered for that act despite being a prolific scorer during his prime.
Even with his diminished skill set, if Allen Iverson was willing to sit on the end of a team's bench for the minimum salary, he'd probably be in the NBA right now.
Instead, he's flirting with teams in China while he waits for his phone to ring. As we learned during his three-game stint with the Memphis Grizzlies, "The Answer" doesn't do well when the attention isn't focused squarely on him.
Then again, we actually learned that five years earlier when he clashed with then-Sixers coach Chris Ford about taking on a reserve role with the team.
The infamous "practice" rant is the perfect window into Iverson's ego, but more telling is Iverson's love-hate relationship with his former head coach Larry Brown. It didn't take long for Brown to realize that he needed to treat his superstar guard with kid gloves.
Jonathan Givony of Draft Express relayed a quote from Brown where the former Sixer coach said that Iverson cursed him out every time that Brown removed him from the game. It was nearly impossible to win with Iverson (literally and figuratively), and his stubbornness makes him a fascinating enigma to this day.
"The Big Aristotle," "Shaq Fu," "Wilt Chamberneezy," the original "Superman"... Whatever the nickname Shaquille O'Neal chooses to go by, he is the polar opposite of a wallflower.
O'Neal is a larger-than-life character, but he's self-deprecating enough where he actually comes across as rather likable (to most).
Unfortunately, his ego led to the end of his partnership with Kobe Bryant in the summer of 2004. If the two of them could have worked out their differences, they may have been the most prolific duo in NBA history.
Both players are still Hall of Famers in their own right, and O'Neal is one of the greatest centers the league has ever seen. His accomplishments have given him the right to have an ego, and he's exercised that right to the fullest.
Dallas Mavericks' owner Mark Cuban has been fairly quiet ever since his team won the 2011 NBA title, but the outspoken businessman is still one of the league's most uncontrollable personalities.
Very few entrepreneurs get to Cuban's level without being a bit egotistical, but it's clear that the 54-year-old mogul overstepped his boundaries more than a few times over the past decade.
Numerous run-ins with opposing players, fans and even Commissioner David Stern himself have earned Cuban more than $1.6 million in fines over the years.
Cuban's antics often overshadowed the success of the team that he owned, and until he toned down his act in recent years, many around the league viewed him as a character of sorts.
The biggest obstacle preventing Kevin Durant from winning an NBA championship? Teammate Russell Westbrook.
Kevin Durant is the second-best player in the NBA and the best player on the Oklahoma City Thunder. Everyone knows and respects those facts except for Westbrook, who plays as if he believes he's the greatest basketball player in the world.
Westbrook is a fantastic talent, but far too often he fails to defer to Durant in crunch time, choosing instead to force ill-advised shots against suffocating defenses. Zach Harper eloquently wrote about the phenomenon 19 months ago for Hardwood Paroxysm, and little has changed since then.
If Westbrook doesn't turn down both his game and his ego a notch or three, Durant may end his career as one of the greatest players who never took home an NBA title.
At the heart of it all, LeBron James is a good guy.
He plans to marry his high-school sweetheart, he actively supports the Boys & Girls Club, and he continues to give back to his hometown of Akron, Ohio even after leaving the Cleveland Cavaliers to join the Miami Heat.
But it was that decision (or "The Decision", to be more precise), that gave us insight into James' ego, one so big that it even spawned its own (parody) Twitter account.
Evidence of LeBron's vanity isn't hard to find. Take this birthday cake, for instance. Or the first-hand account of legendary photographer Walter Iooss Jr. who said that he wasn't even able to talk directly to James when the two were in a car together. Or the simple fact that he refers to himself as "King James."
To be fair, a lot of James' persona is due to the fact that he was a star before he ever reached high school. So to expect someone in that position to not be the least bit arrogant is, on some level, unrealistic. That doesn't excuse the behavior, however, but it does help to explain it.
Give him credit: Kobe Bryant says exactly what's on his mind.
He called David Stern's proposal to put an age limit on the Olympic basketball competition "a stupid idea," he called a vocal minority of Lakers' fans "stupid" after the team's 0-2 start this year, and he referred to former teammate Smush Parker as "the worst."
And all of that happened in the past four months.
The sheer number of egotistical Kobe Bryant quotes and actions is impressive, and it's clear that the "Black Mamba" cares little about his perception among casual fans. His ego is what has made him great, however, and without it, we would have missed out on one of the greatest talents of this generation.
Dwight Howard calls himself "Superman," so there's that. And there was also the seemingly never-ending saga that finally, mercifully concluded this past summer when Howard was traded to the Los Angeles Lakers. A few weeks later, in an interview with ESPN's Ric Bucher, we found out exactly why Howard took us all on that roller-coaster ride.
"I never wanted anybody to hate me, you know. I wanted everybody to love me, you know, like me, for sticking around and doing what they wanted me to do. And making everybody else happy."
Howard wound up doing the exactly opposite, and is one of the most despised athletes in the NBA today. It's ironic that the man who wanted everyone to love him evokes the exact opposite emotion from many basketball fans, thanks to his huge ego.