Kobe Bryant, LeBron James or Carmelo Anthony: Who Was the NBA's Biggest Villain?

Andy Bailey@@AndrewDBaileyFeatured ColumnistMarch 31, 2011

Kobe Bryant, LeBron James or Carmelo Anthony: Who Was the NBA's Biggest Villain?

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    MIAMI, FL - FEBRUARY 27:  Carmelo Anthony #7 of the New York Knicks is guarded by LeBron James #6 of the Miami Heat during a game at American Airlines Arena on February 27, 2011 in Miami, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that,
    Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

    Who was a bigger villain this year? 

    LeBron James or Carmelo Anthony? 

    Is there anyone else who was a bigger villain than either of them?

    Every season there are players that fans simply love to hate. 

    The players usually invite the disdain with their own actions, but it still has to be tough to deal with.

    Whether justified or not, this league has "Bad Guys."  Here are the five biggest villains from this past season.

5: Chris Bosh

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    CLEVELAND - MARCH 29: Chris Bosh #1 of the Miami Heat attempts a shot during the game against the Cleveland Cavaliers on March 29, 2011 at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading an
    Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

    I'm sure Toronto Raptors fans wouldn't mind seeing Bosh a little higher on the list, but I almost didn't have him making the top (bottom?) five at all.

    I could have easily justified having Kevin Garnett in this slot.

    Bosh is a villain because he left Toronto high and dry, and he started talking about leaving before last season even ended.

    He managed to get under Kevin Durant's skin this year (and he almost never seems bothered by anything).

    After a January meeting between the Heat and Thunder, Durant said this about Bosh, 

    "I was talking to my teammate and he decided he wanted to put his two cents into it. I'm a quiet guy, a laid-back guy, but I'm not going to let nobody talk trash to me. He's on a good team now, so he thinks he can talk a little bit.  There's a lot of fake tough guys in this league and he's one of them."

    He also complained to the whole world about not getting the ball enough.  He may have been right from a basketball sense, but he should have kept it between him and his teammates.

    I think over time, the villain status will wear off of Bosh. 

    But this year, he fits the mold.

4: Deron Williams

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    LONDON, ENGLAND - MARCH 04:  #8 Deron Williams of the Nets in action during the NBA match between New Jersey Nets and the Toronto Raptors at the O2 Arena on March 4, 2011 in London, England. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by do
    Warren Little/Getty Images

    He's quickly repaired his image since landing in New Jersey, but many people are still blaming Deron Williams for the sudden resignation of legendary Jazz coach Jerry Sloan.

    He and Sloan weren't getting along all year and a halftime altercation between the two during an early February game against the Bulls may have been the last straw.

    The Jazz have been in a total free fall since then, and during that period of time, Williams was traded to the Nets. 

    Management figured he wouldn't re-sign when his contract came up so they made this move as a bit of a preemptive strike (might as well get something for him instead of letting him walk for nothing).

    Williams will take the blame (at least partially) from Utah fans until the team turns things around.

3: Kobe Bryant

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    LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 20:  Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers celebrates his basket in the last minute on way to an 84-80 win over the  Portland Trail Blazers at the Staples Center on March 20, 2011 in Los Angeles, California.  NOTE TO USER: User
    Harry How/Getty Images

    The Lakers have somehow been moved to the backseat of the NBA's attention ride.  They haven't received as much national press as the Miami Heat or the New York Knicks.

    That certainly hasn't tamed the rabid Kobe haters.

    I know plenty of people who detest Kobe for reasons as petty as "his lower jaw clenching."

    That just makes no sense when the same person has no problem with LeBron huffing and puffing like he's about to blow a house down.

    Others will cite cockiness or call him a ball hog.

    The real reason people hate Kobe is this: He's a winner.  The biggest winners in sports always have their fair share of haters.

    No matter how well he plays; how well he shares the load with his teammates (and he does); no matter how much time passes between now and the rape allegations—Kobe's haters will paint him as a villain.

2: Carmelo Anthony

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    NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 30:  Carmelo Anthony #7 of the New York Knicks celebrates during the game against the New Jersey Nets at Madison Square Garden on March 30, 2011 in New York City. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloadi
    Chris Trotman/Getty Images

    There are some (especially in Denver) who feel Melo was this season's biggest villain.

    He held the Nuggets hostage for 50 games this year, making it no secret he wanted to be traded and would only sign an extension with one team.

    The Nuggets looked darn-near apathetic for most of those 50 games, and the Melo-effect shows up in stats too.  The team had a winning percentage of .561 with Anthony and a .765 without him.

    He's already upset some New York fans too.  He's been big in their last two wins, but that doesn't erase the fact that the team is 9-12 with him.

    For further evidence, just watch the Nuggets now and you'll see how much happier they look.  It's a strange thing to observe from a professional sports team, but it's pretty obvious in this case.

1: LeBron James

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    WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 30: LeBron James #6 of the Miami Heat looks at an official after being called for a technical foul during the second half against the Washington Wizarads at the Verizon Center on March 30, 2011 in Washington, DC. NOTE TO USER: User
    Rob Carr/Getty Images

    Despite the Melodrama and Kobe's shameless haters, no one can take this crown from LeBron James (finally a crown he deserves).

    LeBron unintentionally invited his villain status with the "The Decision," and then intentionally embraced it via Twitter (a service that a real PR person should really help him with).

    The Heat were barely relevant last year, and now they're the most talked about NBA team I've ever seen.

    The media explores every single loss with a fine-toothed comb (while almost every fan outside Miami celebrates the losses).

    They may very well have surpassed the Lakers as the league's most divisive team.

    LeBron is responsible for all of this.

    Want more evidence?  LeBron has the best individual statistics of any player in the NBA, but he's rarely mentioned in the MVP discussion with Derrick Rose and Dwight Howard.

    Anyone who's still denying that LeBron James is the biggest villain in the NBA is in, well—denial.


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