50 Biggest NBA Locker Room Cancers of the Last 40 Years
The 50 most cancerous NBA personalities have pervaded through locker rooms over recent seasons.
Whether it's just a single player that can bring down the attitude of his teammates, or a decision maker at the helm of the controls who doesn't understand how to breed chemistry, there's no doubt that teams can be adversely impacted with negative stigma surrounding.
There's no doubt that every player on this list has left a lasting impression, but certainly not for the right reasons.
Let's take a look at the most notorious offenders.
50. Qyntel Woods
Woods was one of the members of the infamous Jail Blazers squad, and he certainly played a role in the club earning that reputation.
He went head-to-head against a marijuana charge, but more importantly, was arrested for animal abuse directly related to dogfighting.
49. Delonte West
The veteran guard has bounced around the league, and each stop has come with an interesting story from Mr. West.
In addition to the rumors surrounding his involvement with LeBron James’ mom, he was also fighting with Von Wafer in Boston, and his incident of riding down the highway with some loaded weapons is one that can’t be ignored, even if his story is very different from how it was originally reported.
48. Kevin McHale (Executive)
McHale decided that he was going to compromise Minnesota’s future in the most crippling way possible by gift-wrapping the franchise’s best player to his former team in Boston, but it was far more than just that.
He also drafted Brandon Roy, but later decided to trade his draft rights for Randy Foye, traded three first-round picks to facilitate the arrival of Joe Smith and gave ridiculous deals to both Marko Jaric and Troy Hudson.
47. Olden Polynice
Polynice was viewed as a tough guy during his playing days, but there’s a reason he played for five different teams.
He was arrested for assault with a deadly weapon in 1993, booked for impersonating a police officer and even sought to lay into the person who hit him with a stray shot on a golf course back in the day.
46. Shawn Kemp
Kemp received a ridiculous free agent contract from Cleveland, but his superstar contract prevented him from living up to even half of the dollar amount he was slotted to receive.
He was arrested after his playing days were up for possession of cocaine, marijuana and a semiautomatic pistol.
45. Rod Strickland
He engaged in a fight with a teammate in the locker room over a stripper, was arrested after being accused of hitting a female bartender and had multiple DUI arrests as well.
As soon as he got his big contract, Strickland’s personality was on full display, and he did nothing to support the notion that he was a hard worker.
44. Otis Smith (Executive)
This might only resonate with fans of the Orlando Magic, but Smith has undoubtedly put himself in a corner with how he’s structured the team over recent seasons.
After absorbing the absolutely awful contracts of Hedo Turkoglu and Gilbert Arenas while trading away Marcin Gortat last year, Smith is going to have some serious explaining to do if Howard eventually leaves the team.
43. DeMarcus Cousins
Cousins was cautioned to be a potential headache when he entered the draft, and the Kings found that out rather quickly during his rookie season.
He was fined on more than one occasion by the team, but he’s got plenty of time to turn it around and play the role of good soldier.
The big man has a ton of talent, but he’ll never get the recognition he seeks if he continues to pop up in the news for off-court shenanigans.
42. Roy Tarpley
Tarpley was never short on talent, but he was short on common sense, and that’s what got him a near three-year ban from the NBA for cocaine usage.
After his pro career ended, Tarpley was still in the news for all of the wrong reasons, including burning his girlfriend’s stomach with an iron.
41. Marvin Barnes
He got the nickname of “Bad News Barnes” before he even came into the professional ranks, as he earned it by beating up a former college teammate with a tire iron.
He also left his St. Louis club during his rookie season, stating he wanted to re-negotiate the terms of his contract while getting into trouble with drugs, firearms and alcohol.
40. Charles Barkley
Barkley decided to hurl a loogie at a fan spewing racial epithets at him in a game, but the spit landed on the wrong target.
He didn’t want to be considered a role model, and his stance sparked some serious debate in the public when he said that kids can’t be like Michael Jordan.
39. Christian Laettner
The most egregious addition to the NBA’s one and only Dream Team, Laettner never enjoyed the success he did in college during his time in the league.
After he tore his Achilles, Laettner failed three drug tests, and has largely lived off of his image as a Duke villain since emerging from the collegiate ranks.
38. Bill Laimbeer
Laimbeer was a dirty player on the court for the Pistons, and although that style worked for his club, it certainly didn’t come without some taking critical notice.
His flagrant fouls were always well illustrated during his playing days, and there’s a reason why he earned nickname like “The Prince of Darkness,” as he really knew how to antagonize everyone around him.
37. Chris Washburn
Washburn was the third overall pick of the 1986 draft, but his career never get off the ground.
He checked into a rehab clinic in 1987 admitting a cocaine problem, said he wouldn’t go to Russia to play in an exhibition game and was banned from the league for life in 1989 after three failed drug tests over three seasons.
36. DeShawn Stevenson
Remember when Stevenson invited Soulja Boy to sit courtside during a postseason game as a result of a feud with LeBron James?
Although he just won a championship with Dallas, Stevenson has always had an ego that was larger than life, and certainly one that doesn’t match his limited skill set.
35. Sebastian Telfair
Telfair once appeared on the same magazine cover in high school alongside LeBron James, but his NBA tenure hasn’t gone as some might have expected.
He was arrested with a friend for felony weapon possession, and Telfair was driving with a suspended license.
There’s a reason that he’s played for a handful of clubs throughout such a short span.
34. Michael Beasley
The former second overall draft pick has failed to make the splash that Derrick Rose has, and it’s in large part because of his inability to stay out of the headlines.
He floundered in Miami, was dealt to Minnesota and has since been caught up in another marijuana allegation as well as getting mixed up with a fan courtside who was on hand at Dyckman Park.
33. Vernon Maxwell
Maxwell was undoubtedly a solid contributor on the court, but he could’ve been so much better had he stayed out of trouble.
He pulled a Ron Artest before Artest did it, jumping into the stands to punch a fan who had been heckling him, faked a hamstring injury to gain a leave of absence and was ordered to pay a woman nearly $600,000 for infecting her with herpes.
32. Jason Williams
“White Chocolate” has taken on a variety of roles during his career, but he’s remained true to his nickname throughout.
He was suspended for failure to comply with the league’s anti-drug program, abruptly announced his retirement before un-retiring for the first time and retired once again less than two years later.
31. Rasheed Wallace
Wallace, better known by some as the king of the technical foul, was never afraid to voice exactly what was on his mind throughout his career.
He threatened former NBA referee Tim Donaghy, made his feelings about officials in the league quite clear during the 2008 postseason and never met a three-point attempt worth passing up.
30. Smush Parker
Parker surprised a lot of people when he was tabbed as starting point guard for the Los Angeles Lakers, but that certainly wasn’t as startling as his weird run-in with a valet worker.
The valet insisted that Parker’s parking ticket couldn’t be located (which was a $12 fee), and the argument spiraled so far out of control that the attendant alleged Parker left her with severe scratches and potential nerve damage.
That was the last we heard from Parker in the NBA.
29. Stephen Jackson
Who could forget Jackson’s infamous strip club incident when he was playing with the Pacers? He was punched by a patron and hit by a car, and decided to fire shots as a form of self-defense.
Jackson certainly hasn’t been afraid to air out his emotions and frustrations, and he even accused the Bobcats of not wanting to make the playoffs last season after the team shut him down with a hamstring injury.
28. Jimmy Jackson
Jackson was fun to watch on the court when he was actually contributing to his team, but Dallas fans will never forget his tenure with the Mavericks.
Jackson and teammate Jason Kidd couldn’t repair their relationship after Toni Braxton came in between them, and after Kidd demanded a trade of either Jackson or himself as a result, both were sent packing out of town.
Kidd has since returned to the Mavericks and was a part of the team’s first championship, while Jackson played for 12 clubs over a 14-year career.
27. Billy King (Executive)
King’s tenure in Philadelphia didn’t come without sharp criticism, and rightfully so, as he dealt away franchise icon Allen Iverson to Denver for Andre Miller and a couple of first-round draft picks.
He didn’t exactly set up the franchise for long-term success given his track record of moves, and has since moved on to New Jersey.
26. Elgin Baylor (Executive)
Baylor didn’t exactly have the best support system in the Los Angeles organization, but some of his draft choices were simply inexcusable.
In addition to tabbing Michael Olowokandi the first overall pick in 1998, the same class that included Paul Pierce, Dirk Nowitzki and Vince Carter, he also chose Reggie Williams (over Scottie Pippen), Danny Ferry ahead of Glen Rice, and selected Lorenzen Wright ahead of Kobe Bryant in 1996.
25. Jim Paxson
Paxson’s tenure as a general manager did not work out whatsoever, and some of the moves that he made remain head-scratchers to this day.
He traded a first-round pick to Boston for Jiri Welsch (seriously), gave basketball’s greatest mustache in Kevin Ollie a five-year deal worth $15 million and drafted Trajan Langdon, Dajuan Wagner and Luke Jackson.
24. John Kuester (Coach)
Kuester was an assistant who didn’t work out as a lead man on the bench, as his time with the Detroit Pistons was an absolute disaster.
He changed rotations constantly, the club seemed to be in a constant state of flux and he nearly isolated Rip Hamilton after a lengthy personal battle between the two resulting in Hamilton not playing.
23. Ruben Patterson
The self-proclaimed “Kobe stopper” probably wishes that he never gave himself that term considering how his career unfolded after the original comment.
During his time in Portland, he punched Zach Randolph in the face during practice when he attempted to breakup a fight between Patterson and Qyntel Woods.
He also refused to go back into a game and yelled at head coach Nate McMillan, and demanded increased playing time despite never earning it.
22. Shawn Marion
Marion’s case doesn’t get talked about all too frequently, but he was a real pain in the side for Phoenix’s front office at the end of his time with the club.
He requested a trade out of Phoenix after constant rumors were swirling and called out the management for failing to offer an extension, deeming the relationship a “bad marriage.”
21. Von Wafer
Wafer’s attitude has been a subject of discussion since his tenure at Florida State, and it caused his slip in the 2005 draft to the second round despite being a volume scorer.
He signed a contract with Olympiakos in Greece after his first stint in the NBA, only to eventually leave the club after just one month.
During his time with the Celtics last season, Wafer and Delonte West had to be separated a couple of times as a result of altercations between the two.
20. David Kahn
The wrath of Kahn has been on obvious display since he got the job in Minnesota, and most fans have really raised an eyebrow at most of his moves.
After drafting Ricky Rubio, Ty Lawson and Jonny Flynn, Kahn traded away the most productive of the bunch, and has signed some players (Darko Milicic, Nikola Pekovic) to seriously questionable contracts.
19. Antoine Walker
In 2009, Walker was charged with felony counts of writing bad checks to pay off gambling debts he had accrued throughout Las Vegas, and ultimately plead guilty to a single count of the felony charge.
His career in the NBA ended with a whimper, and after filing for bankruptcy, Walker has resumed his hoop dreams by playing in the NBDL.
18. Rafer Alston
Alston’s path to the NBA was a non-traditional one, as he turned his prowess as a streetball legend into a professional basketball career.
However, Alston’s attitude has been a subject of scrutiny since he came into the league, and his last stop in the league ended with an indefinite suspension for failing to show up for work.
17. Bonzi Wells
Obscene gestures toward members of the crowd, cursing at his coach and even complaining about his playing time, Wells was always making sure everyone knew he was in the building.
He also verbally accosted a referee, was cited for criminal trespassing and was frequently absent from the court in his later career because of “personal reasons,” which may or may not have been in direct relation to his inability to remain at a stable weight and condition himself properly.
16. Vin Baker
Baker had a terrible tenure during his time with the Celtics, but the trouble began long before he arrived in Beantown.
He was often accused of working hard only when he had to before regressing to his typical ways, and his troubles with alcohol were on full display after the Celtics acquired his services.
15. Michael Ray Richardson
The league’s first player to be banned for drug use after testing positive for cocaine (the third time), and despite admitting he had a problem, his usage didn’t stop.
He bounced around between teams during his career, missing flights, practices and games, and was never a clubhouse favorite as a result.
14. J.R. Smith
Smith has been in and out of George Karl’s doghouse since the two were paired together, and he’s another player who could be that much better if he put in the extra work.
Smith has always been somewhat of a hot dog, only seems to exert his full effort on the court when he’s going well and rather than rise up to adversity, often folds under the pressure.
13. Derrick Coleman
Coleman had the skills to make a serious impact, but his work ethic was often criticized and he was never exactly a team player.
He put on a fair amount of weight as his career progressed, rarely contributed to a winning way on the hardwood and really didn’t pan out the way anyone had envisioned.
12. Gilbert Arenas
Arenas’ contract has been a popular topic of conversation since he signed the six-year, $111 million deal coming off of knee woes, and it’s easy to see why.
In addition to his gun in the locker room fiasco, which cost him a lengthy suspension, Arenas has blamed his poor play on a variety of issues including the cold weather.
11. Isiah Thomas (Executive)
Thomas doesn’t deserve all of the blame for what happened during his time in New York, but he certainly deserves a fair share of it considering that he allowed the situation to fester to unforeseen levels.
He brought in headcases like Stephon Marbury and Steve Francis, gave bloated contracts to bench players like Jared Jeffries and wasted several seasons of cap flexibility in an effort to build his team through free agency.
Arguably his worst offense, Thomas selected Renaldo Balkman a single pick ahead of Rajon Rondo in the 2006 draft.
10. James Dolan (Owner)
Dolan had been accused of running the Knicks into the ground prior to Donnie Walsh’s arrival, and his friendship with Isiah Thomas has had fans of the team cursing his name.
Among his most criticized decisions, Dolan gave six years and $100 million to Allan Houston, stuck by Thomas through thick and thin during his worst tenure with the team and rarely speaks to the media.
9. Donald Sterling (Owner)
Sterling is one of the worst owners in all of professional sports, and some of the things that he’s done during his tenure are absolutely unthinkable.
He’s been consistently cheap, has been accused of racism and was sued by Elgin Baylor for his firing on the basis of age and race.
He’s also been sued for sexual harassment, and refused to pay for former interim head coach Kim Hughes’ prostate cancer surgery when he needed it.
8. Steve Francis
For a guy that held the nickname of “Franchise,” Francis really fell out of favor rather rapidly in the league.
After moving on from Houston, Francis didn’t enjoy his time with Orlando, and was shipped to New York.
He ultimately came full circle and returned to the Rockets, but was dealt to Memphis, and the team waived him before ever getting on the court.
7. Chris Wallace (Executive)
Wallace would rank even higher, but the gambles that he’s taken with the Memphis Grizzlies have paid off well since he took over the post.
However, it wasn’t always this good for Wallace. In fact, it used to be a lot worse.
Wallace traded Joe Johnson out of Boston, traded for Vin Baker who crippled Boston’s cap space for several years while battling issues with alcohol abuse and tabbed Kedrick Brown and Joe Forte as first-round selections.
6. Javaris Crittenton
Crittenton was the other player involved in the Gilbert Arenas-guns in the locker room fiasco, but that’s not what ranks him so highly on this list.
He currently finds himself at the epicenter of a nasty murder investigation, where the former player is accused of killing a young mother in a drive-by shooting.
5. Isaiah Rider
Rider has had several run-ins with law enforcement, and his incredible talent on the court was always capped by his off-court troubles.
From the onset of his entering into the league, Rider was a problem for Minnesota management.
Arrested for marijuana possession and gambling in public, suspended for spitting at a heckler in the crowd and ordered to attend drug counseling, Rider is still getting in trouble after he was arrested recently for probation violation.
4. Ricky Davis
Davis, the definition of a me-first player, once missed his a shot on purpose in order to grab a rebound and net himself a triple-double.
His showboat personality was on display during each stop of his career, and although he was a prolific scorer, Davis’ career could’ve been greatly extended by a change in attitude.
3. Allen Iverson
Iverson was one of the most popular players in the league during his prime, but the later stages of his career have been an absolute mess.
After being traded to Detroit from Denver, Iverson struggled with his new team, signed a one-year deal with Memphis before walking out on the team after three games and attempted to comeback with the Sixers later during the 2009-10 season.
2. Latrell Sprewell
Sprewell turned down a lucrative contract extension because $7 million per season wasn’t enough to “feed his family.”
He also got into a heated confrontation with former head coach P.J. Carleismo, which resulted in Sprewell putting him in a choke hold and earning an extraordinarily lengthy 68-game suspension.
1. Stephon Marbury
His fiasco in New York with the Knicks was well-documented, and there’s really not a comparable player in league history in terms of Starbury’s attitude.
He was banned from Knicks home games while the team was still paying him, and his enigmatic personality certainly didn’t aid his reputation.