How to Be the NBA's Worst Teammate

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How to Be the NBA's Worst Teammate
Nick Laham/Getty Images
The man. The myth. The legend.

The annual race for the not-so-prestigious—and imaginary—Stephon Marbury award (given to the worst teammate in the NBA) is a tight one this year.

There's been a whole lot of backstabbing, infighting and insults this season, but even with all that, no candidate has really broken away from the rest of the pack.

Dwight Howard and Kobe Bryant are probably locked up in a two-way tie right now, but they haven't created much separation from the rest of the League. And that's no fun.

So, in the spirit of competition and the great (Is great the right word?) Stephon Marbury, here are some tips on how to really be hated by the rest of your team. Kobe, Dwight: Take some notes.

 

Throw your teammates under the bus.

Funnily enough, the most recent examples of throwing teammates under the bus come courtesy of Dwight Howard and Kobe Bryant. Kudos, guys!

Last season, after the Los Angeles Lakers lost Game 4 of the Western Conference Semifinals to the Oklahoma City Thunder, Kobe put the loss on the shoulders of Pau Gasol, saying (per Yahoo! Sports' Johnny Ludden):

Pau's got to be more assertive. He's the guy they're leaving [open]. When he's catching the ball, he's looking to pass. He's got to be aggressive. He's got to shoot the ball or drive the ball to the basket. He will be next game.

Now, to be fair to Kobe, Pau has shown that he's needed the occasional prodding. But to do so publicly (and repeatedly) is counterproductive. Especially considering that Kobe went a whopping 2-for-10 in the fourth quarter of Game 4.

Both Dwight and Kobe have also pitched former teammates under the bus. Kobe got into a strange feud with ex-Laker Smush Parker over this offseason. He told the Los Angeles Times' Mark Medina:

Smush Parker was the worst. He shouldn't have been in the NBA, but we were too cheap to pay for a point guard. We let him walk on.

Smush soon fired back, saying (per Hard 2 Guard radio, transcribed by the Los Angeles Times' Mike Bresnahan):

Midway through the first season, I tried to at least have a conversation with Kobe Bryant. He is a teammate, he is a co-worker of mine, I see his face every day when I go into work. I tried to talk to him about football and he tells me I can't talk to him. I need more accolades under my belt before I come and talk to him. He was dead serious.

Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images
Smush and Kobe...not great friends.

Pretty bizarre. And just about a week ago, Dwight got into the spirit. He told KCAL-TV (per USA TODAY's Michael Middlehurst-Schwartz):

My team in Orlando was a team full of people who nobody wanted, and I was the leader and I led that team with a smile on my face.

That seems harsh, but since it led to this video, everything appears to have worked out for the best.

 

Have a slightly inflated opinion of yourself.

This one goes out to the Milwaukee Bucks' Monta Ellis.

After his old team, the Golden State Warriors, traded Stephen Jackson to the Charlotte Bobcats in 2009, Ellis told the Contra Costa Times' Marcus Thompson:

I’m not (going to) put no more on my back. Somebody else gonna have to step up. I’m not gonna do more, somebody else gonna have to step up and take on the role that Jack had and be that player. But I’m not putting no more extra on my back.

That’s one of our best defenders on the team. And we’re trying to get better as a defensive team. And now, who we got now that’s going to play defense? We got me. And who else??

Um...what? First off, Monta's defense has always ranged from “terrible” to “nonexistent.” No clue where he picked up the idea that he was not only some kind of perimeter stopper, but that he was the Warriors' only line of defense back then.

But the best part is the fact that he willingly admits that someone has to step up their game, but that he's not going to do it. That's leadership; that's what that is.

 

Almost get into a gunfight...with your own teammate.

Just follow Gilbert Arenas and Javaris Crittenton's shining example!

The problem with the whole gun thing is that—while it almost guarantees a Stephon Marbury award—it tends to lead to lengthy suspensions. Which, of course, eliminates players from competing for awards like the MVP or Defensive Player of the Year. You know, the trivial ones. 

Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images
Why, Gilbert? Why?

 

Really, really care about statistics.

We have to go all the way back to the late, great Wilt Chamberlain to put this into context.

Statistically, no one in history has ever dominated like Wilt did. And while most of that had to do with Wilt's athleticism and skill, a lot of it also had to do with the fact that he was absolutely obsessed with his own stats.

Don't believe it? Read what former-Boston Celtics star John Havlicek wrote about Wilt in his autobiography, Hondo (via Bill Simmons' The Book of Basketball):

Wilt's greatest idiosyncrasy was not fouling out. He had never fouled out of a high school, college or professional game and that was the one record he was determined to protect. When he got that fourth foul, his game would change. I don't know how many potential victories he may have cheated his team out of by not really playing after he got into foul trouble.

Wilt didn't try to save himself from foul trouble to help out his team. He did it to protect his own absurd record.

Another gem about his statistical obsession comes from Bill Libby's 1977 biography of Wilt, Goliath. In the 1967-68 season, Wilt was tired of being called selfish and decided that he wanted to lead the league in assists. Libby wrote (via Simmons' The Book of Basketball):

A couple of times he went to a teammate with a hot hand and told him he was going to give him the ball exclusively because the other guys were wasting his passes and he wouldn't win the assists title this way.

That's right, Wilt was even selfish in his attempt to be unselfish. The only possible comparison would be when Rajon Rondo goes into assists-only mode and refuses to take any shot—no matter how wide open.

It's also worth mentioning that the Washington Wizards' Ricky Davis once went after a triple-double in a way that would put to shame even Andray Blatche's try. Davis wanted a triple-double so badly that he actually shot at his own basket. With six seconds left. In a 25-point blowout.

Streeter Lecka/Getty Images
Ideally, Ricky Davis and Andray Blatche would help each other achieve their triple-double dreams.

 

Genuinely fail to understand how going to practice could benefit you or your teammates.

Not the game. Practice.

Everyone's heard Allen Iverson's practice rant by now, but anyone who hasn't sat through to the very end has missed this wonderful line:

How the hell can I make my teammates better by practicing?

For the life of me, I have no idea how to respond to that quote. Let's just move on. 

 

Do everything Stephon Marbury did.

Let's just say there's a reason that the fictional "worst teammate" award was named after Stephon Marbury.

There aren't enough words in the world to write about all of Marbury's misdeeds. Just know that in 2009, Marbury was actually banned from the New York Knicks facilities, essentially because the team hated him so much. In 2008, teammate Quentin Richardson told the New York Daily News' Frank Isola:

He hasn't played with us all year. Regardless of what you have going on with the organization or what you have going on with your coach or whatever. You're not going to allow your teammates to be left out there the way we were basically being left out there.

This is directed at us regardless if you're trying to stick it to whoever you're trying to stick it to. At the end of the day we're shorthanded, people are hurt. Once again, I don't pay attention to (Stephon) because I don't look at him as a teammate anyway.

And in 2006, the New York Post's Peter Vecsey reported (via RealGM):

"Stephon is the worst teammate I've ever had," Tim Thomas told Peter Vecsey an hour after the Suns had eliminated the Clippers, echoing the sentiments of Jayson Williams, Keith Van Horn, Kurt Thomas and several Suns and Knicks who wish to remain anonymous.

We grew up together, yet the whole time I was with the Knicks he never talked to me. Not once. Not until I was traded did he say anything. When I was leaving he came over and gave me an I-Pod he'd bought as a going-away present. He even installed hip hop music. They don't come any weirder!

That just slays me. So yeah, following Marbury's example is a good idea. And if all else fails...

 

Attack your coach.

All kidding aside, this is a terrible idea. But that didn't stop the Golden State Warriors' Latrell Sprewell from attacking his coach, P.J. Carlesimo, in 1997. Phil Taylor of Sports Illustrated wrote:

During a drill about midway through practice at their downtown training facility, Carlesimo told Sprewell to "put a little mustard on those passes," to which Sprewell, according to witnesses, replied, "I don't want to hear it today." Carlesimo then approached Sprewell despite the player's warnings. "Don't come up on me, don't come up on me," he said. When Carlesimo kept walking toward him, Sprewell threatened to kill him and grabbed the coach by the throat, dragging him to the ground and choking him for 10 or 15 seconds before other players tore Sprewell away.

It doesn't get much worse than that.

Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images
Latrell Sprewell was an absolute enigma.

 

Conclusion

Any player who follows those great (read: awful) strategies is sure to be the worst teammate in the NBA. They'd also be very, very suspended. Possibly banned for life. But it's all in the spirit of competition.

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