True dislike between NBA players is almost extinct today. Almost.
Fortunately for lovers of the old school and fans of genuine, heated competition, there are still tiny pockets of real hatred on the hardwood.
Considering so few of our current NBA stars spent much time on a college campus, it’s a little odd that the feeling of fraternity among the league’s players is so strong. For the most part, these guys all get along and any perceived animosity after a hard foul or an in-your-face dunk is really just posturing.
After the game (or even the play) is over, combatants who were apparently on the edge of violence moments before are slapping high fives and making dinner plans.
Ill will between NBA players seems to have decreased in direct proportion to the ever expanding network of high-profile AAU programs. By the time these guys face each other in the big show, they’ve already knocked heads (and probably played some X-Box) throughout their high school years.
Things were different back in the day. Michael Jordan and John Starks couldn’t stand each other, the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers used to regularly come to blows and everyone wanted to strangle Reggie Miller.
But now, the bro-hugs and elaborate fist-pound routines have become so prevalent that the NBA actually instituted a rule this year to trim the ritualistic pregame exchange of pleasantries to 90 seconds.
Sure, it’s probably better for the millions of young viewers of NBA basketball if the players they idolize aren’t trying to decapitate each other. But that’s not what we want to focus on here.
You can check your courtesy and politeness at the door for this list of NBA players who really, truly hate each other.
Zach Randolph is good with his hands, man. Just ask him.
Or, you could ask former teammate Ruben Patterson, whom Randolph famously punched in practice. Or, to be especially thorough, you could ask the 40 or so individuals with whom Randolph claims to have fought growing up.
The point here is this: Randolph is a tough dude.
In the NBA’s most recently revived feud, Randolph and Oklahoma City Thunder center Kendrick Perkins exchanged a few harsh words on the court during a Nov. 14 game in Oklahoma City. Both were summarily tossed from the contest.
Because of the ensuing postgame altercation, which involved Randolph seeking to continue his and Perkins’ discussion in a more physical manner, the league hit Z-Bo with a $25,000 fine.
Perkins has a reputation as an enforcer, but Randolph was a little sick of all the huffing and puffing Perkins typically does on the court. When asked about the incident, Randolph stated, “There’s a lot of bluffing going on on the court, that’s all. And I don’t bluff.”
This wasn’t an isolated case, either. The barking between these two goes back a little while.
After a 2011 game in which Randolph torched the Thunder for 34 points, he said of Perkins:
Perk’s good, but all Perk can do is foul me. That’s the only thing he can do. The best thing about his defense on me is to foul me…He’s too slow…I don’t think nobody in the league can stop me. Not only Perk. I tell Perk to his face. I already told him before.
OKC and Memphis are two of the best teams in the West. There's a great chance they will run into one another in the postseason, so it’s unlikely we’ve seen the last run-in between Randolph and Perkins.
If you can't wait that long, just circle January 31 on the calendar. That's the next regular season clash between these two rivaling bigs.
This hate-fest goes back a few years, but like a fine wine, the history of violence between Kobe Bryant and Raja Bell only gets better with age.
The rivalry’s genesis goes all the way back to 2001. But things came to a head during a 2006 postseason series between Bryant’s Los Angeles Lakers and Bell’s Phoenix Suns. The Lakers jumped out to a 3-1 lead in the series, and Kobe had plenty to do with it. Remember, this was during the prime era of the Smush Parker and Kwame Brown Lakers clubs that featured Bryant doing absolutely everything for his team.
Anyway, Bell had had enough of Kobe, and after four games of heated jostling, clotheslined Bryant on a drive to the basket. It was a dirty play, possibly designed to dull Kobe’s focus, but Kobe never really struck back physically.
Instead, Bryant dropped 50 on the Suns in Game 6 and totally eviscerated Bell in the media over the next few days. Notably, Bell’s Suns would go on to win the series in seven games.
The very best part of the decade-long rivalry between Bryant and Bell may be yet to come.
Ironically, the Lakers are currently looking into signing Bell. Bell’s interest in the Lakers probably isn’t an elaborate ploy to exact revenge on Bryant by trying to sabotage one of his final chances at a ring, but it would be pretty cool if it was, right?
We can all agree that Boston Celtics big man Kevin Garnett is an insufferable jerk on the court, can’t we? I’m sure Charlie Villanueva would love to weigh in on the topic.
Garnett is infamous for allegedly calling Villanueva, who suffers from alopecia, a “cancer patient” in 2010. Adrian Wojnarowski, in a brilliant condemnation of Garnett’s history of bullying younger players, aptly pointed out that Garnett never tests his phony tough-guy act against real tough guys or even against players his own size.
Villanueva put things more succinctly after the fact:
KG talks alot of crap, he's prob never been in a fight, I would love to get in a ring with him, I will expose him— Charlie Villanueva (@CV31) November 3, 2010
In the immediate aftermath, Garnett threw his hands up and tried to clarify his words, claiming a misunderstanding. You know, like all bullies do when actually confronted.
The hate exchange between Villanueva and Garnett is probably a little unbalanced in Villanueva’s favor; after all, Garnett’s got no reason to have beef with Villanueva.
But if the rivalry is short on hate, we can draw plenty from the hundreds of other NBA players who also can’t stand KG and his false bravado.
A lot of people focused on the Kevin Garnett angle of the feud between the Boston Celtics and their departed gunner, Ray Allen. That’s probably fair, given Garnett’s obvious snub of Allen in their season-opening meeting and generally despicable demeanor.
But the real bad blood is between Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo and Allen. Chris Mannix of SI.com wrote as much in his preseason analysis of the feud. “'It’s pretty simple,’ said a source close to the team. ‘They hated each other. And there was no way Ray was coming back as long as he [Rondo] was there.’”
And Adrian Wojnarowski, who has now appeared in two straight slides detailing the hateful relationships involving Boston Celtic players, tweeted:
Doc Rivers had tried to mend Rondo-Allen issues after season, but one team source says, "They were too far gone."— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) July 7, 2012
For his part, Rondo has refused to mention Allen by name since his exodus to Miami.
Even resident Celtics homer Bill Simmons weighed in, saying on his podcast that the reason for the feud between Allen and Rondo was Allen’s insistence on remaining a big part of the Boston offense at the expense of Rondo and his teammates’ chemistry.
Whatever the real cause, it’s clear that there is absolutely no love lost between Allen and Rondo. It’s too bad that the former teammates can’t get along anymore, but it’s great for those of us interested in the compelling theater of a potential Heat-Celtics playoff series this spring.
Hate on, fellas.
I defy anyone to find a scouting report on Minnesota Timberwolves guard J.J. Barea that doesn’t include the words “irritating,” “annoying” or “pest.”
The diminutive Puerto Rican spark plug has a nasty habit of goading offensive players into committing offensive fouls, often accentuating the contact with a variety of theatrical flops. And nobody likes a flopper.
The NBA league office itself recently gave Barea the dubious honor of an official “flop warning” for this gem.
Look, Barea is a pesky defender who tries to create contact at every opportunity. His penchant for flopping, combined with his knack for harassing opponents, can sometimes have some pretty ugly consequences. We found out just how ugly when Andrew Bynum took out his frustration on Barea during a 30-point postseason blowout a couple of years ago.
Barea hadn’t done anything specific to bother Bynum (at least nothing unusually irritating by his standards), but it seems unlikely that Bynum would have laid out any other Dallas Maverick with quite as much force as he happily delivered to the airborne body of Barea.
That wasn’t the first time Barea had caused enough aggravation to earn a hard foul. And it won’t be the last.
Maybe Barea’s teammates like him, but the rest of the league can’t stand him.