As children, we are taught that bullies are people who act all tough just because they are really scared and insecure on the inside. In basketball, certain players are no exception to the rule. Some guys will trash talk and play dirty and love every minute of it, but then back down when someone else calls them out on their actions.
A man who has mastered the art of basketball bullying is Boston Celtics forward Kevin Garnett (pictured), who is relentless when it comes to trash talking both on and off the court. Boston fans love him, but players hate him as they view him as nothing more than a loudmouth.
Thus, in the spirit of both Christmas and the upcoming NBA season, let's take a look at seven of the NBA's biggest bullies.
Though he's probably a big teddy bear on the inside, Oklahoma City Thunder center Kendrick Perkins is a scary, bullying monster on the court with his 6'10", 280-pound frame. He may move slowly on his feet, but he is just so damn big that he often makes mincemeat out of players attempting to drive to the basket against him. They'll be all set to make a layup, and then fall flat on their backs once they run into Perkins.
The fact is that this man plays a very physical defense that borders on the aggressive/dirty. If you're a player matched up against Perkins, be sure to try and avoid him at all costs.
Much like Perkins, Glen "Big Baby" Davis is a bully in that he uses his size to literally push the opposition around. Standing at 6'9" and tipping the scales at 289 pounds, Davis will throw his weight around the inside and often knock people down on their rear ends when it comes to grabbing a rebound or making a layup.
Simply put, the man is absolutely fearless when it comes to using his size to get his team a victory and if it means being labeled a bully or a dirty player, so be it. Don't let the name "Big Baby" fool you. In reality, it should be "Big Bully."
Zach Randolph is another big body at 6'9", 260 pounds and he is an interesting bully in that he likes to mix up his attack. For example, when I was in elementary school, we all know that the playground bully had one move: he would shove you to the ground and then jump on top to hold you down until you cried for mercy.
Randolph is even more dangerous than a one-trick bully in that he likes to mix his attack up. He'll either go hard for a rebound and knock some opposing players down, or maybe he'll make someone look like a scrub by dunking on them in a move that looks effortless.
Either way, even though I'm a big fan of the guy, Randolph isn't a player I'd want to piss off on the court. Not only is he big and scary, but his ways of bullying and breaking down the other team are just borderline torture.
Though his career stats may not be indicative of someone taken with the No. 2 pick in the draft, Tyson Chandler seemed to blossom last season as he helped the Dallas Mavericks win their first NBA championship. The 7'1" center made short work of the defensively challenged Chris Bosh in the NBA Finals as he continually rebounded and blocked shots with tremendous physicality on the defensive side of the floor, throwing opposing players aside with his long, strong arms.
On offense, Chandler's bullying specialty was taking the wind out of the other team's sails with some thunderous dunks that left fans flabbergasted. He may not look like much of an athlete, but don't let the spindly frame fool you—behind it lies a bully who packs a mean punch.
Kobe Bryant's nickname for himself is "Black Mamba," after a venomous snake known for its quick and precise striking ability. It's fitting for Bryant, who has risen to the top with his physical quickness that has won him five championship rings.
Though we may know him best for his shooting, Bryant is also quite the bully on the defensive side of the court. He is fearless when it comes to fouling a man and getting close on defense. He has one mission there: to make the opposition's life miserable.
Given how his toughness has earned him being named to the All-Defensive First Team nine times, those accomplishments may as well be notches on his bully bedpost that represent beatdowns.
Kevin Garnett is the bully who just has no shame. He knows he's a bully and actually enjoys the label. The man will taunt anyone without mercy and while fans may like it, it has drawn the ire of some players.
Some months ago, ESPN Magazine featured a series of columns written by an anonymous NBA player known only as "Player X." In one particular column about trash talking, Player X called Garnett a "punk and a coward" and compared him to "a playground bully who barks and doesn't bite."
There you have it, folks. The true definition of a bully is perfectly exhibited by KG, a man who was bold enough to say Pistons forward Charlie Villanueva looked like a cancer patient with his bald head. Trash talking is one thing, but it takes a special kind of bully to make fun of how some cancer patients look following chemotherapy.
Yes, Garnett is a bully who is probably scared on the inside, but he still looks intimidating enough that I wouldn't want to get on his bad side on the court.
Forget his egotistical behavior and how he is easily the most hated player in the NBA, at least in the fans' eyes. LeBron James is the ultimate bully in that you just have no idea how he's going to beat you up and take your lunch money (for lack of better word) on any particular day.
In one game, he may kill you with some three-point shooting. In another, he'll work the inside and wear you down on defense. He just has so many different ways of defeating the opposition and his personality as a whole is just so much to take in that it's only natural that James be the NBA's top bully and villain.
Fortunately for some fans, victims of James' bullying and ego received some redemption last postseason when his team was bullied into an NBA Finals loss.
Still, James isn't a bully who gives up easily, so expect him to be back to his old tricks at the start of this season.