Crowning The Kanye West of The NBA: The NBA's Top 10 Biggest Divas

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistAugust 23, 2010

Crowning The Kanye West of The NBA: The NBA's Top 10 Biggest Divas

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    GREENWICH, CT - JULY 08:  Kanye West and LeBron James pose backstage prior to the LeBron James announcement of his future NBA plans at the  Boys & Girls Club of America on July 8, 2010 in Greenwich, Connecticut.  (Photo by Larry Busacca/Getty Images for E
    Larry Busacca/Getty Images

    Merriam-Webster defines a diva as an "operatic prima donna."

    The same dictionary defines a prima donna as "vain or undisciplined person who finds it difficult to work under direction or as part of a team."

    But divas are phenomenal talents whose egos are fed by their greatness. 

    Take rapper Kanye West for example.

    In my opinion, his most career-defining line was from the song Last Call on his debut College Dropout album. It read: "I could have let these dream killers kill my self-esteem or use my arrogance as a steam to power my dreams."

    And power him it did.  Soon after Kanye's "instant classic" debut dropped, he vaulted into a rarefied superstardom very few artists can reach.  His music was so powerful that it resonated with the inner-city streets, the suburban white streets, and Wall Street.

    The problem is that Kanye's arrogance began seeping outside the vocal booth.  Beginning in September 2005 with his infamous "George Bush doesn't care about black people" rant and culminating with his infamous interruption of country singer and American sweetheart Taylor Swift at the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards, Kanye went on an image-destroying rampage that left some fans unwilling to ever listen to his music again.

    Similarities to Kanye's current situation and the situations that many NBA players face are countless.

    How many players' careers have been ruined by an ego problem?  And who are the biggest divas on the verge of taking that plunge?

    Well, that's why I'm here.

    Here are the 10 biggest Divas in the NBA.

10. Joe Johnson

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    ATLANTA - MAY 10:  Joe Johnson #2 of the Atlanta Hawks against the Orlando Magic during Game Four of the Eastern Conference Semifinals of the 2010 NBA Playoffs at Philips Arena on May 10, 2010 in Atlanta, Georgia.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledge
    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    Most Egregious Act of Divatry:  His interview during the Second Round of the 2010 NBA Playoffs where he said he "could care less" whether Hawks fans showed up or not.  

    If Joe Johnson has proven anything in his entire NBA career (other than an inability to lead a team out of the second round of the playoffs), it is that he goes wherever the money is. 

    After over a year of hinting that he was leaving, and less than a month after essentially telling Hawks fans to go something-that-rhymes-with-duck themselves, Johnson re-upped with Atlanta for an astounding $120 million, spurning multiple chances to be a part of a contender.

    As the leader of a locker room where team descent and giving up on coaches is the norm, leaving Johnson off this list would be irresponsible. 

9. Zach Randolph

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    NEW ORLEANS - MARCH 03:  Zach Randolph #50 of the Memphis Grizzlies makes a shot against the New Orleans Hornets at the New Orleans Arena on March 3, 2010 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloadin
    Chris Graythen/Getty Images

    Most Egregious Act of Divatry:  The entire Jailblazers era. 

    Randolph has always been one of those players who bothers me immensely.

    His entire career has been spent squandering his vast talent, destroying locker rooms, and getting in trouble with the law. An outsider who knows nothing about basketball has to wonder why teams continually give Randolph chance after chance...after chance.

    Then you see him on a basketball court and the picture becomes vividly clear.  Randolph is one of few players who are a guaranteed 20-10 every single night, has an incredible post game, and is a gifted mid-range shooter. 

    It's really too bad that his career is about to come to an abrupt, yet appropriate, end. 

8. Amar'e Stoudemire

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    PHOENIX - JUNE 22:  Amar'e Stoudemire of the Phoenix Suns attends the Major League Baseball game between the New York Yankees and the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field on June 22, 2010 in Phoenix, Arizona.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    Most Egregious Act of Divatry:  The entire first half of the 2009-2010 season. 

    We have all heard the saying, "If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck,  and quacks like a duck, then by golly it must be a duck," right?

    Well Amar'e acts like a superstar, is paid like a superstar, and is treated like a superstar...but isn't a superstar by any stretch of the imagination. 

    Like the aforementioned Zach Randolph, Stoudemire squanders about 30 percent of his immense talent with an above-it-all swagger and utter indifference to the breaks of the game.  

    It will be interesting how New York fans react to having such a lackadaisical "savior."

7. Paul Pierce

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    LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 17:  Paul Pierce #34 of the Boston Celtics reacts with taking on the Los Angeles Lakers in Game Seven of the 2010 NBA Finals at Staples Center on June 17, 2010 in Los Angeles, California.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges a
    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    Most Egregious Act of Divatry:  Being escorted off the court in a wheelchair during Game One of the 2008 NBA Finals, only to "miraculously" recover. 

    To Boston Celtics fans, Pierce is one of the best Celtics players of all time.  A tough, vocal leader who is always the one player you want with the ball in his hands at the end of the game.

    Well, quite frankly, to the rest of the country, Pierce is a (much respected) pain in the ass. 

    His constant chirping and trash talking combined with his ridiculous flailing every time he is fouled creates an ultimate contradiction when judging Pierce.

    Pierce is basically Eric Cartman.  As any South Park fan knows, Cartman (Pierce) calls Kyle (opposing teams) every inappropriate name in the book, and threatens to beat him up on a regular basis. However, when the time actually came to fight, Kyle threw one punch (a hard foul) and Cartman squealed like a hyena. 

6. Vince Carter

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    BOSTON - MAY 28:  Vince Carter #15 of the Orlando Magic looks on from the bench dejected after they lost 96-84 against the Boston Celtics in Game Six of the Eastern Conference Finals during the 2010 NBA Playoffs at TD Garden on May 28, 2010 in Boston, Mas
    Jim Rogash/Getty Images

    Most Egregious Act of Divatry:  The last year-and-a-half as a Raptor. 

    Every last thing I just criticized Pierce for regarding acting like a five-year-old girl who lost her dolly after being fouled can easily be applied to Carter.

    However, unlike Pierce, Carter cannot be confused for a leader in any way, shape, or form. 

    Carter purposely sabotaged his final two years in Toronto, faked injuries, and showed every single trait of a diva you can possibly think of. 

    Perhaps (like many players on this list) his self-aggrandizing personality is a product of the immense praise we heaped on him early in his career (hailed as "the next Jordan" during his UNC days). 

    Or perhaps Carter is just a choker who systematically destroys every team he joins. 

    I'm sure if you take a quick look at Carter's career, you will get a pretty good idea of which is the "correct" answer.

5. Gilbert Arenas

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    PHOENIX - DECEMBER 19:  Gilbert Arenas #0 of the Washington Wizards reacts during the NBA game against the Phoenix Suns at US Airways Center on December 19, 2009 in Phoenix, Arizona. The Suns defeated the Wizards 121-95. NOTE TO USER: User expressly ackno
    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    Most Egregious Act of Divatry: "Hey, Javaris.  Before you are three semi-automatic pistols.  Pick one."

    Even before Gilbert's ill-fated attempt to turn the Wizards' locker room into Carlito's Way, "Agent Zero" had a reputation as a self-aggrandizing superstar who cared more about the name on the back of his jersey than the name on the front—and rightfully so.

    Arenas' divaish attitude possibly stems from the chip on his shoulder after not being selected in the first round of the 2001 NBA Draft following a stellar stint at the University of Arizona.  Arenas has talked at length in many interviews about his snubbing being a wake-up call and motivating him to become a superstar.

    Let's hope Gilbert's last serving of humble pie vaults him off this list in a few years. 

4. Kobe Bryant

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    LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 21:  Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant (C)  acknowledges his fans with his four-year-old daughter Gianna Maria-Onore (R) at his side and the championship trophy while riding in the victory parade for the the NBA basketball champi
    David McNew/Getty Images

    Most Egregious Act of Divatry: Giving the Lakers organization the "Me or Shaq" ultimatum.

    I know Lakers fans are currently preparing my lynching for besmirching their beloved Kobe Bryant.

    But we both know deep down that I am right.  And that Kobe is one of the biggest divas in the history of the National Basketball Association.

    He is also one of the league's greatest all-time players.

    Bryant's ego is fed by his greatness and his greatness is fed by his ego.

    Much like the aforementioned Kanye West, Kobe feels as if his greatness gives him a license to belittle teammates, throw coaches under the bus, and pounds his chest triumphantly after nearly costing his team an NBA championship. 

    Granted Bryant is a much better teammate with his current Lakers dynasty than in the Shaqobe era, but it's impossible for any perfectionist to work with co-workers swimmingly and Kobe is still no different. 

3. Shaquille O'Neal

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    BOSTON - MAY 13:  Shaquille O'Neal #33 of the Cleveland Cavaliers walks to the bench after he is taken out of the game against the Boston Celtics during Game Six of the Eastern Conference Semifinals of the 2010 NBA playoffs at TD Garden on May 13, 2010 in
    Elsa/Getty Images

    Most Egregious Act of Divatry: "Kobe, how's my ass taste?"

    Well, Shaq...how does Kobe's d--- taste?

    If you would have asked any NBA fan in 2004 whether the demise of the Lakers' dynasty was Kobe's fault or Shaq's fault, the answer would have been resoundingly Kobe Bryant. 

    If you ask NBA fans in 2010, their answer might be completely different.

    After leaving Miami on bad terms and the entire Phoenix fiasco, people began realizing Shaq might not be the lovable innocent bystander we originally thought he was.

    The "Kobe, how's my ass taste" video was truly the final straw for Shaq's "good guy" reputation. 

    Perhaps after only being offered minimum contracts this offseason, Shaq will finally put his ego in check.

    But I wouldn't count on it. 

2. Allen Iverson

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    CHICAGO - FEBRUARY 20: Allen Iverson #3 of the Philadelphia 76ers moves against the Chicago Bulls at the United Center on February 20, 2010 in Chicago, Illinois. The Bulls defeated the 76ers 122-90. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees tha
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Most Egregious Act of Divatry: "We talkin' about practice, man."

    I'm not sure whether I should include Iverson on this list because, technically, he's not currently an NBA player.

    He may want to be one, but it seems as if no one wants him. 

    And the reason no team wants to sign the former MVP is the exact reason why he's on this list—his unbelievable ego. 

    Iverson clashed with every coach other than Larry Brown, was a horrible teammate every step of the way, and (reportedly) gambled away almost every penny of his NBA earnings. 

    Couple that with his selfish style of play and I think you can see why teams are shying away. 

1. LeBron James

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    MIAMI - JULY 09:  LeBron James #6 of the Miami Heat is introduced during a welcome party at American Airlines Arena on July 9, 2010 in Miami, Florida.  (Photo by Marc Serota/Getty Images)
    Marc Serota/Getty Images

    Most Egregious Act of Divatry: "The Decision"

    I don't think there is anything I could possibly say about LeBron James' summer of 2010 that has not already been said. 

    On his whirlwind tour of self-indulgence he burned bridges in a city and state which adored him, destroyed his public image, and stunted his legacy's unlimited potential.

    Beginning with the unsavory spectacle that was "The Decision," continuing with his booze-filled self-aggrandizing party weekend in Las Vegas' "Tao" nightclub, and culminating with a self-congratulating and unapologetic interview with GQ Magazine, LeBron showed his true colors. 

    Not as the mean-spirited jerk that everyone projects him to be, but simply as yet another child star whose success made him oblivious to the ramifications of his actions. 

    As I noted in this column, LeBron's legacy-sacrificing decision to go play with his friends and win championships in itself should be applauded, but his actions throughout the summer exposed him as one of the most egotistic stars in sports history and an easy No. 1 on this list. 

    Let's just hope that LeBron is using this hatred as motivation like he says and takes his game to unforeseen levels of greatness.

    If you don't believe in the power of using hate as a motivational tactic, all you have to do is listen to the remix of Kanye West's single "Power" and you'll have all the proof you need.

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