The NBA is a lot more personal between teams than most of the other major sports in America. Everybody knows each other and they play each other three or four times a year, making each meeting special, but not too usual.
Instead of being an emotion-fueled single meeting a year like in football, or a passive competition between clubs over a marathon of a season like in baseball, there's more of a hockey mentality. Players are right up next to each other for the duration of games, and they end up pushing and shoving for 48 minutes a game.
Obviously, when you get personalities like this on the court so often, something's going to snap eventually. There aren't guys beating each other up on a nightly basis, but they do tend to throw down every once in a while, and it's usually surrounding the same core group of guys.
Some guys just have an intensity about them combined with an attitude that is not only captivating, but full of anger to a point that they just end up being rougher than other players. These are the hotheads who keep the league interesting past the basketball aspect.
There's a lot of intensity about the way Kobe Bryant plays basketball, and for the most part, that's a good thing.
Nobody else in the league has the drive to win that Kobe has, but when things start to get tight and situations are dire, Kobe can turn into a grade-A hothead.
He tends to argue with referees at times, but not so much that it's notable. Where he's really the biggest hothead is with his coaches and teammates. There are countless examples of him staring down a teammate after a missed shot or a coach after a failed play. Hell, the last coach he glared at was fired soon after.
Kobe has racked up double-digit technical fouls every season since 2002, save last season's nine techs, including a league-leading 15 in 2008.
There are few people in the league with so much talent and such a heightened level of incredulity every time the referees decline to call a foul when they drive to the lane.
Wade is one of the league-leading guards seemingly every year when it comes to technical fouls, most of them coming from arguing with referees.
At some point, somebody is going to have to get on him to change his attitude. There's a situation in nearly every game where he doesn't get a call on offense, hangs back to argue with a referee and ends up leaving his team to play four on five on the other end.
Plus, Wade has always been a physical defender, sometimes taking it over the edge and getting into a bit of a scuffle with his man.
Wade's complaining problem is a recent development, grabbing at least six technical fouls in each of the past four seasons, but his biggest problem has been the complaining over the past four or five years.
There's a fine line between having a hot head and being stubborn, and Josh Smith tends to dance all over that line on a normal day, and sprint past it on others.
Smith is going to constantly take jumpers that madden his coach, but that's just stubbornness. What really makes him a hothead is when he forcibly creates unnecessary contact with defenders, stares them down, argues with referees and inevitably garners a technical foul.
He's perennially near the top of the league in technical fouls, and he's probably the leading forward when it comes to arguing with his head coach at times and flat out ignoring him at other times.
Since 2008, the fewest number of technical fouls Smith has earned was seven back in 2011, but he's usually closer to double-digits.
It's no secret that Rajon Rondo has been an all-around weird dude in his time in the NBA, but in recent years, that weirdness has shown itself in the form of hotheaded behavior and animosity toward defenders and referees.
He's always been an intense defender, and at times he can go over the top and drive that intensity right down the throat of the guy he's guarding. This can manifest itself in the form of hands holding defenders too roughly, a body pushing back on a backing down defender and just roughness in general.
When he's defending somebody as stubborn as he is, it can often lead to shoving matches, somebody hitting the ground and just roughness back and forth for the entirety of the game, usually resulting in technical and flagrant fouls.
Last season was the first time that Rajon ended up near the top of the league in technical fouls with eight, but something tells me he's going to be up there for years to come.
There's something about Kevin Garnett this season that just isn't the same about him. Having him outside of the top five in the league's most confrontational players seems against all logic.
However, whether it's the limited minutes or just old age, Garnett seems to have a lot less anger and intensity flowing through his veins.
That being said, even in a lesser role and with less tenacity in his game, Garnett is still intense and angry enough to crack the league's top 10. There's no question that he's still one of the best in the league at staring down a defender, going hard into the lane against a smaller guy or just being mean in general.
Kevin Garnett has been in the league's top 50 technical foulers since 2001 save one season in 2005. He's spent his career alternating between modest numbers to the tune of five or six techs, with huge numbers, somewhere between 11 and 16 technicals.
The only man currently sidelined on this list has such a reputation that it's hard to leave him off of a collection of the league's hotheads.
Andrew Bynum was a borderline inclusion a few years back, as he was always just a bit rough at times, rather than a legitimate bad guy on the court. However, after he body-slammed J.J. Barea in the playoffs a few seasons ago, it was a no-doubter.
Bynum doesn't go out looking for guys to throw around, but he's very keen on arguing with referees, giving out hard fouls when things aren't going his way and ignoring his coach. He's playfully unpredictable.
He's been great at picking up technicals in his time on the court, but he's been injured so often that he's been in the top 25 just once, that being last season with seven techs. Of course, he was also ejected twice last season.
It's hard to look at a guy who once charged into the stands to start a fight with a fan and leave him off a list like this. For that, Metta World Peace will always have a spot near the top of the league's biggest hotheads, regardless of his current demeanor.
World Peace hasn't been his usual self in terms of going around looking for somebody to get into trouble with, he's more of a dormant geyser these days, rather than the Old Faithful that he has been in the past.
He's capable of being calm for long periods of time, not getting into it with anybody, avoiding even arguing with the referees, and then something will happen and he'll go off and elbow James Harden in the neck.
It's really one of the most interesting developments in the league. He's not a threat to do something crazy every game, but he's a threat to do something crazy at any time.
It seems to me that Metta's track record speaks for itself, especially considering he's one of the few people ever to play in the NBA to have punched a fan.
It doesn't seem like a dude named Boogie would be such a hothead, but it seems like most of the boogieing that Cousins has been doing is a bit more aggressive than necessary.
In only his third year in the league, Cousins has become a perennial name atop the list of technical fouls. Granted, he's not putting up numbers that Rasheed Wallace was capable of back in his heyday, but he's never finished worse than fifth in techs, and he's currently tied for first at five Ts with Carmelo Anthony.
Aside from the techs, Cousins is known for getting angry quickly with his teammates, throwing mean looks at his defenders and just barreling over guys if they're in his way.
Cousins racked up 14 technical fouls in his rookie season, good enough for fifth place, followed by a second-place, 12-technical finish last season.
If there's ever anybody who needs to be scowled at or given a bit of a rough foul, Kendrick Perkins is probably the best guy in the NBA to do it.
He's spent his entire career as a glorified enforcer. His defense has been effective for periods of time, but a lot of the effectiveness is predicated on his rough-and-tumble behavior. Guys don't want to drive in as often on a guy if they know it means they're getting one of his pointy elbows to their dome.
Perkins has a mean streak about him that's been around ever since he was the enforcer behind Kevin Garnett, and it's given him an effective career for the better part of a decade.
He has one of the most impressive technical foul-earning season of all-time, getting whistled 11 times in just 29 games back in 2011. That's a technical foul once ever 2.63 game. Of course, Rasheed Wallace obliterates that with his remarkable technical foul every 1.87 games back in 2001.
It seems as if Rasheed Wallace is deserving of a lifetime achievement award of some sort. He's not shown off too much hotheadedness so far this season, but history tells us that it's just a matter of time before he goes off.
For goodness sake, we are talking about the guy who racked up a ridiculous 41 technical fouls in 80 games in 2001. That is otherwise known as sports' most unbreakable record.
Sure, we've seen his famous "Ball don't lie!" come out of its holster a few times already, but he hasn't done too much to get in anybody else's face, and he's only had one technical foul called on him in the young season.
Not only has Rasheed's hot head reputation followed him throughout his entire career, he's almost created a cult of personality from it. Never before has a guy gone throughout his NBA life with such a negative attitude and ended up becoming so popular.
Because he's crazy and because he's entertaining we'll always love 'Sheed, even if he is one of the meanest guys on the court.