Dwight Howard and the 10 Most Notorious Me-First NBA Players

Rich Kurtzman@@RichKurtzman Senior Analyst IJune 8, 2012

Dwight Howard and the 10 Most Notorious Me-First NBA Players

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    In the ever-evolving NBA, stars continue to try to seize the power from owners, and in many instances, they have done just that.

    The perception of the NBA from lay fans is basically “the inmates are running the asylum.”

    Players are described as “thugs,” prima donnas and are accused of being selfish.

    Undoubtedly, some of the faces of the league perpetuate those perceptions with their me-first attitude; this list breaks down the biggest offenders.

11. Manu Ginobili

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    While he didn't create flopping per se, Ginobili is infamous for the flopping epidemic that has infected American professional basketball as of late.

    Sure, some might argue flopping over to draw a foul is ingenious—refs can't tell for sure when players do—but it's also disingenuous and has hurt the game overall.

    Ginobili literally says, “look at me” when he flops and flails to draw fouls.

10. Stephen Jackson

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    Jackson's had a rocky career when it comes to team and GM relations.

    He's perennially demanding a trade, and has done so many times as of late.

    Jackson went from the Bobcats to the Bucks in 2011 and less than a year later. he reportedly fell out of favor with Scott Skiles and was traded to the Spurs in March.

9. Dirk Nowitzki

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    Dirk Nowitzki should be commended for sticking it out with Dallas, even though the team was a travesty for much of his early career.

    Nowitzki blew up and became a superstar, a legend even, while leading his Mavericks to their first title.

    But what he did last summer was somewhat selfish.

    Nowitzki admitted to SI.com his “motivation was gone for a little bit.”

    He continued, “The Euros came too quick, right after the [NBA] championship. I only had, like, a month off. I needed more time to get away and enjoy the championship. If I would have had a couple months off to enjoy it, party, get everything out of the way, then start slowly back up...that would have been the way to go.”

    Instead of staying on top of the game, he lost interest and in turn, let his team down.

8. Amar'e Stoudemire

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    Stoudemire earns a spot on this list after his famous fighting incident with the fire extinguisher in Miami.

    After going down 0-2 to the Heat, Stoudemire let his emotions get the best of him and showed all his teammates how upset he was by stupidly smashing the glass door housing the extinguisher and lacerating his hand so badly he missed Game 3.

7. J.R. Smith

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    Smith has so many “me-first” moments, where to begin?

    He infamously butted heads with Byron Scott in New Orleans, which landed him a trade to Chicago and eventually to Denver, where Smith and George Karl constantly got on one another's nerves.

    Smith is instant offense, able to come off the bench and light up the scoreboard.

    But he also takes tons of ill-advised shots, some that should be worth four points, and can shoot his team out of games as quickly as he can bring them back.

    Off the court, Smith ran a stop sign and got into an accident that claimed the life of a friend, and he's one of the wildest pro athlete twitter follows around.

6. Andrew Bynum

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    Bynum is physically blessed with everything he needs to be a big-time center.

    What stops him is the mental aspect of his game.

    Bynum's got a big head, not just literally, his ego is out of control lately and it's killing LA.

    He knows he's the next big thing for the Lakers when Kobe retires, and it's hurting his mentality now.

    Bynum is a big baby, pouting when Kobe or other teammates get on him for poor play.

    Notably, in Game 6 of LA's first-round series against Denver, Bynum sat all alone on the bench, staring blankly while his entire team came together in the huddle to game plan.

5. Dwight Howard

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    Howard changes his stance on where he wants to play so much, his endorsed shoes should be flip-flops.

    He wanted to leave Orlando, then he wanted to stay—it seemingly changed every day for months on end.

    He finally decided to stay with Orlando, at least for one more season, when he agreed to the player option for 2012-13.

    That was around the same time word broke that Howard wanted Stan Van Gundy fired, which the veteran center tried to deny, until both Van Gundy and GM Otis Smith were canned.

    What makes it better is Smith chased down numerous free agents in an attempt to appease him.

    And rumors continue to fly that Howard may still demand a trade.

4. Metta World Peace

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    This one's almost too easy.

    Ron Artest craves the spotlight and he soaks it up, even if it usually stems from negativity.

    Back in the day, Artest decided to flip his wig and, after laying down on the scorer's table in protest of a technical foul, was hit with a beer from a fan in Detroit and charged into the crowd like a man possessed to beat the lowly alleged drink-chucker.

    The “Malice in the Palace” incident will live on in infamy for the NBA, and it forever sullied Artest's sanity.

    Beyond that incredibly insane incident, Artest has always been known as not only one of the most physical players in the league but one of the dirtiest in the game.

    He regularly commits dangerous and reckless fouls, ones that may result in injury to opponents, and he seems to enjoy the negativity that comes with it all.

    Maybe that's why he mysteriously changed his name to Metta World Peace, which is too ironic to be true.

    He proved once again he's about anything but World Peace when, after scoring a thunderous dunk against the Thunder, threw an elbow to the head of James Harden with enough force to fracture bones.

    He immediately “bucked up” and invited other Oklahoma City players to come at him, though afterwards he lied and tried to pretend he didn't know Harden was behind him.

    Oh, and who could forget Artest thanking his therapist following a playoff win?

3. LeBron James

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    Two words sum up “me-first” for LeBron James: The Decision.

    The dude decided to broadcast his decision of where he would play next on television, unprecedented on the professional level, though many high school and college players announce where they will be attending school or when they will enter the draft via TV.

    To go on national TV and have an hour-long broadcast about “taking my talents to South Beach” was a classic me-first move, especially from the game's biggest name.

    What he did once he got to South Beach was just idiotic, though, guaranteeing “Not one, not two, not three...” championships to the fresh-on-the-bandwagoners.

    LeBron better come through with at least a few of those titles or he'll forever be the butt of basketball jokes.

2. Kobe Bryant

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    Wait, you're Kobe's teammate and you expect him to pass you the ball?

    Oh, young grasshopper, you must learn the Black Mamba is in control.

    Kobe is the epitome of a ball hog, choosing to keep the rock in his hands and take the most difficult of shots instead of making the easy play and simply pass to one of his teammates.

    Yes, Andrew Bynum made this list too, but he likely wouldn't be mentioned with these other selfish ballers if it weren't for Kobe's abhorrent attitude and extremely bad example he's set forth for the younger star.

    And we can't forget that, like some of the others on this list, he demanded a trade from LA at one time, too, though he eventually backed down from that stance.

1. Carmelo Anthony

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    For now, Carmelo Anthony is known for three things at the NBA level: The Melo-drama, being an annual first-round playoff exit and for being the biggest ball-stopper the game has ever known.

    Melo is the most me-first player on this for those reasons.

    First, Anthony held the Nuggets hostage. He tried to play the team and tell them he was going to stay in Denver and re-sign with the only professional franchise he had ever suited up for, at least publicly.

    Through two-thirds of the 2010-11 season, Carmelo held true to his position, that “all his options were open” when he knew the true answer was that he would play in only one place: New York.

    Melo eventually made it known that he would only play for the Knicks, forcing the Nuggets' new front office's hand; Masai Ujiri had to trade him to ensure the future success of his team and receive assets in return for the disgruntled superstar.

    Ujiri came away looking like a genius, getting a huge haul of youthful players he hopes will someday develop into a winner, while Melo was left looking supremely selfish.

    A kicker to the trade that makes Melo even more me-first was that Chauncey Billups was required to be included for Denver to receive their maximum value. It was due to Anthony that Billups, the Denver native and hometown hero, had to be traded away when he only wished to remain at home.

    But he's not just selfish because of the Melo-drama, Anthony is straight-up selfish on the court.

    Melo is a “ball-stopper,” when he gets the ball, everyone else on the court might as well be thinking about what they're going to eat for dinner because he's not going to pass.

    His offense is all about isolation, getting the ball on the wing, jab-stepping a few times and either pulling up for a contested 18-23-footer or driving to the hoop for a contested lay-up when the defense rotates over.

    His offense, and lack of leadership, have proven to be the antithesis of winning in the playoffs, as Anthony's teams have only advanced past the first round of the playoffs once in his nine years as a professional.

    That one year was with Billups as the unquestioned on-court leader that would run the offense and deny Melo the ball at times to make sure the rest of the team was happy.

    Rich Kurtzman is a freelance journalist. You can follow him on facebook and/or twitter for links to articles, interesting retweets, breaking news and need-to-know sports info.