NBA's Most Misunderstood Players

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NBA's Most Misunderstood Players
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

A half-century ago, Nina Simone first sang a song whose chorus would come to perfectly describe so many who'd set foot in the NBA:

"But I'm just a soul whose intentions are good.

Oh Lord! Please don't let me be misunderstood."

In some ways, our understanding of who NBA players are and what their intentions are is worse than it's ever been. Even with social media as ubiquitous as it is within the Association, and despite (or due to?) the league's best efforts to market its stars, the best ballers on planet Earth are still prone to doing things, both on and off the court, that paint them into unflattering corners.

If a guy lashes out on the court, he's considered a "hot head." If he complains to the officials, he's a "whiner." If he takes a lot of tough, contested shots, he's "selfish." If his incessant physicality riles up his opponents, he's called a "dirty" player.

Of course, these labels aren't applied by the players themselves. It's us, those who watch and follow the sport, who brand them as such. In doing so, we conveniently gloss over just how insanely competitive these guys are and how that flammable drive, when thrown into the heat of battle, can yield explosive results.

Not to deflect blame for "bad behavior" or anything, but these guys have all seen their public images complicated by actions and attitudes that, fairly or unfairly (but mostly unfairly), tarnish their reputations and obscure just how great they are as basketball players.

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