DeMarcus Cousins, Ron Artest and the 25 Biggest Hotheads in NBA History

Richard Langford@@noontide34Correspondent IFebruary 16, 2011

DeMarcus Cousins, Ron Artest and the 25 Biggest Hotheads in NBA History

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    For a non-contact sport, the NBA has seen its fair share of brawls, punches, scrapes and words over the years.

    Maybe it is the lack of contact allowed in an intense game that sends anger that does not have an outlet boiling over. Maybe it is the exposure of the players—they don't wear pads, helmets or hats, which leaves their emotions as raw and exposed as their bodies are.

    Whatever the cause is, the results are undeniable: The NBA has history that is littered with hotheads.

    This list goes out to the hottest of the hot—the ones with nuclear craniums.

No. 25: DeMarcus Cousins

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    Cousins is only 52 games into his NBA career, but he has already compiled an impressive hothead resume. 

    His latest involved swapping punches in the locker room with teammate Donte Green. Cousins was boiling over because he was open at the end of the game and Green didn't inbound the ball to him.

    His anger reached such a level that the team did not deem him fit for flight and left him on the ground when they took to the air.

    Cousins' actions are not a surprise. His baggage full of anger turned him into the fifth pick in the NBA Draft instead of the first pick  that his talent suggested.

    He has already almost gotten into a fight with Rajon Rondo, been kicked out of practice, fined for blowing up at his weight coach and flashed the inappropriate and above-pictured choke sign.

    Consider Cousins No. 25 with a bullet—only don't really give him a bullet.

No. 24: Kermit Washington

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    Kermit Washington once said playing with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was like a dream come true.

    Do not get between Kermit and his dreams. Kermit Washington was not always a hothead, but when opposing players were going to mess with Kareem, he flipped the switch.

    He got into a brawl early in the 1977 season when members of the Buffalo Braves laid a hard foul on Jabbar. A couple of months later, Jabbar got into it with the Houston Rockets and Washington had his back.

    He was so jacked up to protect Kareem that when he saw Rudy Tomjanovich running towards them, he decided to punch first and ask questions later. Rudy, who was going to break up the fight, was not ready for the blow and it almost killed him.

    As the doctor who tended to him later said: "I have seen many people with far less serious injuries not make it."

No. 23: Matt Barnes

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    Matt Barnes' quick temper earned him a contract with the Lakers. After he spent much of his past getting in Kobe Bryant's grill, Bryant figured that kind of toughness and tenacity would be a good addition to the Lakers.

    Barnes has earned an impressive amount of technicals and enemies. He seems to enjoy when things get a little out of hand and his adrenaline gets pumping.

    Barnes throws himself into tension like his head has been on ice and he is looking for a way to heat it up.

No. 22: Anthony Mason

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    It angered Anthony Mason when opponents would drive the lane. He took it as a personal affront anytime anyone did that...or many other things.

    Mason couldn't shoot; he had terrible hands and bad footwork, and I am not sure he ever even attempted to dribble. He did, however, have a long NBA career, because he and his temper scared the hell out of opponents.

No. 21: Andre Miller

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    Andre Miller has been a fine NBA player, but he is quickly being remembered as the guy  who shoved Blake Griffin in the back and into the third row.

    That is not at all fair to Andre. He has many other hothead acts that are worth remembering, too.

    This season, for instance, Miller got into a fight with head coach Nate McMillan that teammates could hear through closed doors. They were sure the two were going to come to blows.

    He also got angry at a basketball (or was it a fan?) and heaved said ball into the stands, which earned him a suspension. He may have just been angry with the game, or maybe they showed Blake Griffin on the video board.

    Who knows? Miller has been getting angry a lot lately.  

No. 20: Jim Loscutoff

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    If you messed with Bill Russell, chances are you were about to get clocked by the man known as "Jungle" Jim.

    Russell ruled the basketball landscape for over a decade. He did it through his greatness and because Jim Loscutoff wouldn't let anybody mess with him.

    People didn't drive to the lane against the Celtics because Russell would block their shots, and they were afraid Loscutoff would check 'em down to the Garden floor.

No. 19: Latrell Sprewell

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    Latrell Sprewell doesn't have the longest list on his hothead resume, but he does have one very impressive entry. He strangled his coach, P.J. Carlesimo, at practice.

    Carlesimo has a history of getting under players' skin. I am sure plenty of players had the vision of shutting Carlesimo's abrasive mouth dance across their brains, but Sprewell is the only one who couldn't stop himself from doing it.

    Well, that's not fair. Sprewell didn't shut Carlesimo's mouth. I am sure it was wide open as he was gasping for air.

No. 18: Danny Ainge

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    When it comes to hotheads, Danny Ainge is like Google, because he brings to the forefront the most relevant results. As a player and then as a coach, Ainge has shown a real knack for getting under people's skin.

    Ainge was able to do this with his intensity and his in-your-face style of play. Of course, he also was not one to back down when he did piss someone off.

    Ainge's fuse knows no fear. That is why when the 7'1" Tree Rollins elbowed Ainge, he tackled him to the ground.

    Ainge has definitely found a home in the front office. He has had great success and it limits the amount of time he is around people to incite fights.

No. 17: Bonzi Wells

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    Bonzi Wells has some serious anger control issues. He will probably never seek help for them either, since he seldom remembers them.

    "I don't remember nothing like that, but if I did, I was probably wrong. But, I don't remember doing nothing like that. I black out sometimes."

    That is what Wells had to say to a reporter after he was asked about flipping off hecklers in the crowd.

    In Wells' defense, it was a long game of frustration. He may have just blacked out from channeling the ghost of the not-yet-dead Bobby Knight.

    First, Wells chucked a towel onto the court. Later, he chucked a water bottle onto the court. Then finally, he chucked his middle fingers into the air.

    And that is all news to Wells.

No. 16: Gary Payton

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    Gary Payton is not allowed in frozen food sections because just the resting temperature of his head is enough to melt everything.

    Frozen foods aren't the only collateral damage from "The Glove's" boiling point. He got into it with Vernon Maxwell (more on him later) in the team's weight room one day and chucked a barbell at him.

    Apparently, Payton was more angry than accurate, as he missed and hit Horace Grant instead.

    Payton typically expressed his anger with his mouth. He is one of the all-time trash talkers. He also has a history of getting into it with his coaches and teammates. Sonics players were more afraid of Payton than the coaches if they took a bad shot or messed up a play.

No. 15: Maurice Lucas

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    It was hard to tell when Lucas got a little heated under the hair because he always played on the edge. That edge and his temper helped the Portland Trail Blazers capture the 1978 NBA Championship.

    Towards the end of Game 2, the Sixers were up big. One of Lucas' teammates got into it with Darryl Dawkins. The two appeared ready to come to blows.

    Lucas quickly approached the two, not to break up the fight, but he figured if there was going to be fighting, he was going to be the one doing it. He went up to the much bigger Dawkins and slapped him on the back of the head.

    The Sixers had a 2-0 lead at the end of that game, but Lucas managed to scare the momentum over to the Blazers and they won the series.

No. 14: Michael Ray Richardson

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    Michael "Sugar" Ray Richardson could have been king of the basketball world. Instead, he is a footnote. He was undone by his temper. Well, that and a problem with cocaine. The two may have been connected.

    Whatever the source of Richardson's quick temper, it is not significant here. There is no doubt that he was quick to blow (was that in poor taste?).

    During his brief career, Richardson accumulated technical fouls like they would help count for triple doubles. He didn't particularly like the refs, opponents, teammates or coaches.

    Richardson went on to coach in the CBA, but he was again undone by acting before thinking, and these anti-Semitic comments earned him a suspension for the championship series.

No. 13: Kenyon Marin

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    Greetings, K-Mart shoppers. I'd like to notify you that we have a blue-light special on aisle "Flipping Out". On that aisle, you will see the specially-marked items of blind referees, bad coaches, owners that insult your mother and clueless ball boys.

    In case you're not picking up on my imagery, those are all things that Martin has lost his temper over.

    Martin has certainly been kicked out of a game or 50 in his career, but it is some of the other incidents where his hothead really comes to light, like his profanity-laced tirade at Mark Cuban. In Martin's defense, it was Mark Cuban.

    Note to self: Do not play an April Fools joke on K-Mart.

    When Martin discovered his Range Rover was filled with butter popcorn, he went back to the locker room to respectively voice his dismay.

    "That ain't no [expletive] joke," Martin said. "I'm going to find out who did it...put my [expletive] hands on one of y'all. I'm going to put my hands on whoever did it. You better believe that. It's [expletive] personal. You better believe it."

    Turns out it was the ball boy. He apologized and offered to pay for the damages. Martin let him, too.

No. 12: John Starks

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    When John Starks caught fire, two things usually happened: the Knicks won and some sort of incident involving whistles and fines occurred.

    Starks was a player of extremes—both in production and temperament.

    Starks often made his battles with the opposition personal. He had an exceptionally intense rivalry with Reggie Miller. It usually resulted in the pair trading trash talk and three-pointers.

    Eventually, Starks' hot head propelled itself into Miller's face and Starks' whole body received a suspension.

No. 11: Bill Laimbeer

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    It didn't take much for Bill Laimbeer to lose his temper and start playing near brawling level on the basketball court. In fact, tip-off was usually enough.

    As part of the Detroit Pistons Bad Boys, Laimbeer and his teammates made an art out of losing their temper. It was this nastiness that led to the Jordan Rules. The complex system of rules were perfect for Laimbeer as they involved: A) mugging Jordan every time he touched the ball and B) See rule A.

    Laimbeer's temper led to some classic confrontations and brawls with some of the game's biggest names—like the pictured Larry Bird and this classic fight with Charles Barkley.

    His physical style of play earned him the title role in the classically bad video game, Bill Laimbeer's Combat Basketball.

No. 10: Charles Barkley

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    Did I hear you say Charles Barkley?

    Barkley wasn't afraid of anyone on a basketball court. He was continually going up against bigger men for rebounds and almost just as often he got in fights with them.

    Besides Laimbeer, Barkley got into fights with Shaquille O'Neal, Charles Oakley and many others.

    His quick temper was not restiricted to other NBA players, either. He once tried to spit on a fan that had been yelling racial slurs to him. He missed and hit a woman courtside instead.

    Barkley was also arrested for breaking a man's nose and another time for throwing a man through a plate-glass window after the man threw a glass of ice at the Chuckster.

    That's turrible.

No. 9: Dennis Rodman

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    No one has ever accused Dennis Rodman for exerting too much control over his emotions, and anger was no exception. 

    Rodman lost his cool time and time again over the course of his career. This led to Rodman continually being among the league leaders in ejections.

    He got in numerous fights with other players, head-butted a referee and put a cameraman's ability to father a family in serious doubt.

No. 8: Xavier McDaniel

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    Xavier McDaniel, "The X-man," could go from a cool 98.6 to 150.3 in about half a second. As you can see in the picture, he does not mess around. Notice both hands around Wes Matthews' neck.

    That was not done for intimidation purposes, but with malicious intent.

    I could go over the list of people that McDaniel at one time or another fought with or came close to fighting with, but to save space, I'll just tell you to review a list of players who played in the NBA between the mid-80s and early 90s—and yes, Michael Jordan is most certainly on the list.

No. 7: Charles Oakley

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    Charles Oakley is the face of a time period in the NBA when the game closely resembled hockey—both for fighting and scoring.

    Oakley was a fine all-around player, but his greatest asset to a team was the intensity of the heat radiating from his dome.

    Not only were opponents of Oakley's afraid to go into the lane, they were afraid to lay the smack down on teammates of his. Guys like Patrick Ewing and Michael Jordan found life a little more pleasurable when Oakley was around.

No. 6: Alonzo Mourning

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    "I heard him say earlier in the year that he'd learned how to control himself in those situations," Antonio Davis said about Alonzo Mourning in 1999. "I guess now it's back to the drawing board."

    Davis was remarking about Mourning being ejected for losing his cool with a ref after a foul call. For Mourning, it was the second ejection in as many nights after he had managed to keep himself ejection free for the first seven weeks of the season.

    Some things just aren't meant to be, and Alonzo Mourning being composed on the basketball court is certainly one of them. Jeff Van Gundy successfully breaking up fights is another.

No. 5: Vernon Maxwell

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    It is not surprising Vernon Maxwell and Payton got into it. Maxwell got into with everyone. Players, coaches, fans, the ice cream man, the paper boy and newborn babies.

    His nickname, "Mad Max", didn't just sound cool; it fit. Long before the Malice at the Palace, there was just Mad Max running into the stands to punch a fan.

    Maxwell's temper rendered him to journeyman status in the NBA, led to numerous run-ins with the law and undoubtedly played a role in his eventual bankruptcy.

No. 4: Ben Wallace

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    I'm sorry, I couldn't help but overhear someone mention the Malice at the Palace?

    For Ben Wallace, being a hothead was a defensive tool. I think his reputation earned him a block and two rebounds a game. It definitely forced a few more outside shots.

    When people dared test Wallace in the paint, his anger level rose quicker than Wallace could leap to block a shot.

    Let us all not forget that there never would have been a Malice at the Palace without Mr. Wallace. Wallace shoved Artest farther than I can shove a helium-filled balloon.

No. 3: Stephen Jackson

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    Were we just talking about the Malice at the Palace?

    Stephen Jackson has not adjusted well to the NBA's new policy of quicker technical fouls. He has already been ejected twice this season (second in the NBA), and he is just one technical away from the 14 that will earn him an automatic one-game suspension.

    Temper issues are not new for Mr. Jackson. They have plagued him throughout his career, and they led to him charging into the stands with fists flying on that fateful night in Detroit.

    He received a 30-game suspension for that. I guess one game for 14 technicals doesn't seem that bad now.

No. 2: Rasheed Wallace

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    If we're talking about the Malice at the Palace, we must be talking about...

    Rasheed Wallace led the NBA with 22 technical fouls in the 2009-10 season, which is pretty amazing, considering he was retired. Old habits just die hard—even for NBA referees.

    It is understandable given the fact that Wallace is the NBA's all-time leader in technical fouls.

    On the court, he was like a ticking time bomb. Wallace is the man who never committed a foul. Every call on him or against his team brought him one step closer to eruption.

    Once the process of Rasheed growing frustrated started, an explosion was more predictable than the game coming to an end.

No. 1: Ron Artest

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    All of this talk about the Palace and we almost forgot to mention Mr. Malice.

    Ron Artest thanked his therapist after he won his first championship last season. For his therapist, it was obviously well deserved.

    Artest has dramatically calmed down these past few years...and he is still one of the NBA's biggest hotheads.

    As we have seen, it took an explosive group of hotheads to combine for such a chaotic scene. And it was clear Artest had no equals.

    Just look at how calm Artest was as he administered a head and arm choke on this Bulls' player. It was like a relaxation technique for Ron-Ron.


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