5 Washed-Up NBA Stars Driving Their Fans Absolutely Crazy

Grant HughesNational NBA Featured ColumnistDecember 14, 2012

5 Washed-Up NBA Stars Driving Their Fans Absolutely Crazy

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    For diehard NBA fans, there’s nothing more frustrating than washed-up stars like Andris Biedrins, Carlos Boozer or Tyreke Evans dragging down their teams.

    When players who once earned the universal praise of their local fans begin to disappoint, it hurts a little extra. Maybe that’s because at some point, those guys earned the trust of the fanbase with their performances. When that trust is broken by a sudden dip in talent or a lack of motivation, there’s a special sting to it.

    It feels like a betrayal.

    Whether fans are justified in that feeling is debatable, but there’s no argument that it’s a real phenomenon. Just try to find a Chicago Bulls fan who can discuss Boozer without mentioning the word “amnesty” in disgust.

    Better yet, ask any Golden State Warrior loyalist for their feelings on Andris Biedrins and just see if you can find one who doesn’t sadly shake his head or groan in frustration.

    Before we get to the list of our washed-up, insanity-inducing stars, it’s worthwhile to define our parameters.

    Players earn a spot on this ignominious list by performing extremely well—often at an All-Star level—at some point in their careers before subsequently slipping, giving up or getting injured in a way that negatively affects their teams.

    In most cases, if the initial optimism surrounding the player was particularly high, then the pain and frustration of the downfall hurt even more.

    At some point, all of the following washed-up stars provided real promise to their fans. Now, they’re just driving them crazy.

    Note: All stats accurate through games played Dec. 13.

Honorable Mention: Andrew Bynum, Philadelphia 76ers

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    Bowling? Really!?

    The Philadelphia 76ers gave up their best player to acquire Andrew Bynum over the summer, and optimism rained down in Philly like the Sixer fans’ trademark chorus of boos that drenches opposing players.

    Bynum was supposed to be a true star—a dominant center in a conference suddenly lacking size.

    Instead, he’s been a massive, enigmatic disappointment with a bad haircut.

    Big Andrew hasn’t played a game this season because of knee problems and his return is anything but certain. Considering what the Sixers gave up to get him, not to mention the fact that Bynum could walk (or limp, I guess) away at the end of this season scot-free, it’s easy to understand just how crazy the whole situation is making Philly fans.

    Bynum earns honorable mention here because his washed-up status isn’t quite confirmed yet. If he ever gets healthy, he could rediscover his once-promising talents.

    Try telling that to any fuming Sixer fan, though, and you’re likely to walk away from the exchange with a black eye.

Honorable Mention: Eric Gordon, New Orleans Hornets

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    Like Andrew Bynum, the New Orleans Hornets’ Eric Gordon gets an honorable mention nod here because he, too, is making his fans crazy while sitting out with an injury.

    The Hornets maxed out Gordon after a brief audition and they’re not exactly getting a solid return on their investment.

    He hasn’t played this season, and his explanation for his absence has been, at best, somewhat curious. Coach Monty Williams all but vocalized the suspicions many New Orleans fans are feeling about Gordon’s motivation to return to a team that he specifically told not to bring him back.

    Gordon was supposed to be New Orleans’ cornerstone, a dynamic scoring guard they could pair with Anthony Davis for years to come. If his injury is legitimate and he someday recovers, that could still be the case.

    For now, all he’s doing is making it hard to be a Hornets fan in the Big Easy.

No. 5: Andrea Bargnani, Toronto Raptors

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    Toronto Raptors fans have plenty to be upset about in addition to Andrea Bargnani.

    Their team serially overpays role players who aren’t worth it, can’t attract marquee free agents and seems to be completely lacking a discernible big-picture plan. Oh, and on top of all that, the Raps have lost more games (19) than any other team in the league.

    Given all of that heartache, in addition to the brutal winters in Canada, you’ll forgive Toronto fans for allowing Bargnani to drive them completely insane.

    The former No. 1 overall pick had been having a dreadful early year, shooting under 40 percent and abandoning even the appearance of effort on the boards. Never known as a defensive ace, Bargnani’s sudden lack of production in those areas was of particular concern.

    And now he’s out indefinitely with a torn elbow ligament and sprained wrist.

    For a player once thought to be “the man,” Bargnani’s rapid decline and subsequent injury have epitomized Toronto’s lost season.

    For the sake of their sanity, it’s a good thing Raptor fans have hockey to turn to. Oh, wait...

No. 4: Lamar Odom, Los Angeles Clippers

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    It all started for Lamar Odom and the Clippers in 1999 when Donald Sterling’s club drafted the Rhode Island star with the No. 4 pick. That makes it a little poetic that L.A. is where his basketball story is reaching a tragic end.

    Coming off of a truly atrocious season as a Dallas Maverick in which Odom registered career lows in every single statistical category, the Clippers brought L.O. back in hopes he’d rediscover some of his previous brilliance. Instead, Odom is putting up numbers that are somehow worse than the awful ones he generated in Dallas.

    A player with career averages of 13.9 points, 8.5 rebounds and 3.8 assists is now scoring just 2.7 points per game on 32 percent shooting.

    Odom’s sad swan song is bad enough, but the fact that coach Vinny Del Negro still somehow sees fit to play the chubby forward nearly 16 minutes per game is the real source of frustration in Los Angeles.

    We’re at the end of the line for Lamar Odom, and Clipper fans are at the end of their rope.

No. 3: Andris Biedrins, Golden State Warriors

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    In 2006-07, when Andris Biedrins was just 20 years old, the Golden State Warriors’ Latvian center started a three-season run that saw him average at least nine points and nine rebounds per year. The trend peaked in 2008-09 when “Beans” put up 11.9 points and 11.2 rebounds per game while shooting 58 percent from the floor.

    But it was all downhill from there.

    A combination of injuries, destruction of confidence by then-coach Don Nelson and free-throw woes transformed Biedrins from a springy, active stud into a frightened shell of a player.

    Now, A.B. is afraid to touch the ball on offense for fear of having to put his league-worst foul shooting on display. Since 2009-10, Biedrins has registered the following embarrassing annual free-throw percentages: 16 percent, 32 percent, 11 percent and 37 percent. As a result, he’s become a completely useless player whom the Warriors are still paying $11 million per year.

    Because Andris was once such a can’t-miss prospect, his precipitous decline is uniquely maddening for Dubs fans.

    Fortunately, the Warriors are one of the league’s most surprising teams this year, so Biedrins’ ineptitude hasn’t sunk the team’s overall performance. But it drives the Golden State fans nuts when they imagine how good this team could be if Biedrins were putting up double-doubles in place of the injured Andrew Bogut.

No. 2: Carlos Boozer, Chicago Bulls

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    Carlos Boozer is from Alaska, but if you type his name into a Google search bar, followed by the letter “a,” the first thing you’ll see is another word that leaves Bulls fans feeling cold inside.

    Amnesty.

    Boozer is on the hook for about $47 million over the next three seasons, and his inability to provide consistent scoring for a team desperately in need of points is driving everyone crazy.

    Once, the Bulls’ power forward was a consistent 20-10 threat, but this year has seen him dip into some disturbing statistical troughs that make it feel like 2012-13 is the beginning of the end.

    With the lowest field-goal percentage of his career and the worst points-per-game output since his rookie season, Boozer isn’t giving the Bulls what they need. His underperformance has driven Chicago fans nuts and left just about everyone calling for owner Jerry Reinsdorf to cut him loose.

    It sounds a little crazy to pay Boozer to go away, but it might just save the sanity of the Chi-Town faithful.

No. 1: Tyreke Evans, Sacramento Kings

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    This is a category that feels like it was made for Tyreke Evans.

    Once upon a time, Evans wowed Sacramento Kings fans with a brilliant all-around game that earned him Rookie of the Year honors in 2009-10. The ox-strong combo guard did it all.

    But the 20.1 points, 5.8 assists and 5.3 rebounds Evans averaged in his first season would all mark career highs for the Memphis product who appeared certain to make plenty of visits to the All-Star Game.

    Over the next three seasons, Evans’ questionable shot selection and lack of a perimeter game (once thought to be fixable flaws) torpedoed his career. Now in the midst of a four-year statistical free fall, Evans is best known for being the clearest symbol of a Kings organization that has no idea what it’s doing.

    Because of Evans’ off-the-charts promise as a young pro and his subsequent regression, he may be the player driving his fans the craziest. The only silver lining in all of this is that Kings loyalists may soon be without a team to root for. Sad as that is, at least they’ll be free of the maddening decline of Tyreke Evans.