Most Hated Player in the History of Every NBA Franchise
We love to love NBA players, but we love to hate them even more.
Fans and fellow athletes alike commonly have stronger felt feelings toward players they show disdain for rather than the most beloved of athletes.
Not sold on this theory? What will LeBron James be remembered most for, his abundance of charity work or last summer's "The Decision?"
Over the course of history the NBA has boasted a surplus of commonly hated players. Whether they were hated by fellow athletes, opposing fan-bases or even resented by their own organization's fan-bases, there has been no shortage of despised players.
With this in mind, let's take a look at the most hated player in the history of every NBA franchise. Fair warning though, this is liable to instill a level of intense reaction that only feelings of distaste can perpetuate.
Atlanta Hawks: Josh Smith
Josh Smith has caught the attention of many because of his consistently tough play, but has turned even more heads because of his attitude.
Smith is not likely to back away from a confrontation, whether it be with the opposition or one of his teammates, opening him up to criticism from both supposed friends and foes.
Additionally, Smith's cocky attitude has landed him on the Atlanta Hawks trade block, making it clear that the organization isn't inclined to put up with his shenanigans any longer.
Smith's defensive and offensive presence on the court is undeniable, but despite his effectiveness, he has a larger base of those who abhor him compared to avid supporters.
Boston Celtics: Paul Pierce
Beloved by Boston Celtics fans, but despised by opposing fan-bases and players, Paul Pierce, even ahead of the notoriously taunting-prone Larry Bird, is the most hated player in his team's history.
Half resentful admiration, half sheer disrespect, Paul earns this title through his ability to always come through in the clutch and then ensuring you never forget it. He loves to trash talk and isn't afraid to show his disgust for certain whistles, players and general in-game happenings on his face.
Just like non-Celtics fans across the nation aren't shy about hating the obnoxiously prolific small forward.
Charlotte Bobcats: Stephen Jackson
Stephen Jackson is one of those players that even his own team and its fans have a tough time defending, and while his tenure with the Charlotte Bobcats was relatively short, the organization has not been around long enough to experience any worse.
Jackson is best known for his role in the brawl at the Palace as a member of the Indiana Pacers, but also has made headlines over the years for his run-ins with law. In fact, just this summer, it was believed he was at it again, but such reports were ultimately proved false.
Jackson has shown no regard for the law over the years, just as he hasn't shown any regard for censoring himself on the court. He is the ultimate instigator.
Luckily he usually provides the offense to counter his brutal demeanor because otherwise, fans of the teams he has played for would have no mode of defense for this volatile athlete.
Chicago Bulls: Dennis Rodman
Dennis Rodman not only made enemies because of his fashion preferences, but also due to his physical and flamboyant behavior on the court.
Rodman was extremely aggressive on the defensive end. He threw elbows when going up for rebounds and taunted after a rare blocked shot.
Additionally, Rodman is notorious for his on-the-court scuffles, which happened about as frequently as he changed his hair color. His scuffles did not stop on the court though, as he was no friend to the media either.
Rodman was extremely talented defensively, and one of the best rebounders the game has ever seen, but he was not only the most hated member ever of the Chicago Bulls, but of all-time.
Cleveland Cavaliers: LeBron James
During his time with the Cleveland Cavaliers, LeBron James made enemies on the court thanks to his prolific excursions as well as his extremely vocal nature.
Up until he was approaching free-agency last summer, one would have been hard-pressed to find an opposing organization that didn't jeer whenever he touched the ball.
A lot of the animosity toward James stemmed from his Michael Jordan like abilities, but his attitude also played a large role. Much of this aspect of his personality remained well-hidden for quite some time though, thanks to the relentless support the Cleveland fan base showed for its star.
That bridge was one he not only burnt, but torched last summer, as if he wanted to ensure he would make an appearance on a list like this one.
Dallas Mavericks: Antoine Walker
Antoine Walker's lazy style of play didn't earn him too many admirers outside the cities he was playing for.
Walker was no stranger to confrontation, especially when it comes to being the instigator. That's a role that allows one to easily make enemies.
A majority of his time on the court was spent plodding up and down the floor before then hovering beyond the three-point line on offense. His career, literally, lived and died by the three. He was also never in peak physical condition, which brought his work ethic under question.
It also doesn't hurt, or rather it does, that that he earned more $110 million as only an average player, and then turns up a few years later not only broke, but in debt.
As far as the Dallas Mavericks go, they are not an organization that has boasted many hated players, but Antoine Walker is a definite exception.
Denver Nuggets: J.R. Smith
Why is J.R. Smith hated so much exactly?
Perhaps it's because fellow athletes are envious of his incredible athleticism. Or maybe it's his bad attitude. Actually, it could also be because he plays overly aggressive defense, especially for a shooting guard.
Come to think of it, it's probably all the the above, with a little bit of the fact that he is a highly confrontational in-game player to boot.
Luckily for the rest of the league, sans the team he may have signed with, Smith is China's to worry about now.
Detroit Pistons: Bill Laimbeer
Bill Laimbeer was a member of the "Bad Boy" Detroit Pistons, and just edges out Isiah Thomas for this spot in the slide show.
Laimbeer made enemies because of his notorious tendency to "flop," but also because of the tough, sometimes dirty defense he played. He was valued by his team and immediate fan-base, but everyone outside of Detroit just couldn't stand him.
If the NBA is looking for examples of how this kind of play doesn't pay, Laimbeer would not be the best case to select. He elbowed and pushed his way toward two NBA championships.
And a few million enemies.
Golden State Warriors: Latrell Sprewell
Latrell Sprewell was one of the more volatile players on the court during his time, often letting his emotions get the best of him.
Opposing teams were never a fan of him, and back in 1997, his own coach, P.J. Carlesimo, was forced to jump on the "We Hate Sprewell" bandwagon. In Carlesimo's defense, he was not just trying to follow the hottest trend. In all likelihood it had something to do with Sprewell attempting to strangle him.
As if this isn't enough ammunition, seven years removed from his days with the Golden State Warriors, Sprewell infamously stated that a three-year contract worth $21 million was not enough to feed his family.
I guess some people are just incapable of change.
Houston Rockets: Vernon Maxwell
Vernon Maxwell had an incredibly controversial career, which fit in with his lifestyle.
We watched as Maxwell made headlines off the court for refusing to pay child support and infecting a woman with herpes. On the court, Maxwell was considered volatile at best. His disgusting accolades included faking an injury and punching a fan in stands.
Maxwell's behavior during his NBA career, and his life in general, has been deemed despicable, making him easily the most hated player to ever wear a Houston Rockets jersey.
Indiana Pacers: Reggie Miller
Why was Reggie Miller so hated by opposing teams and fans? A large part of it was his knack for coming through in the clutch, but another part of it was his attempted innocent demeanor.
Almost every time that Miller committed a foul or turnover, his hands rose into the air to form his infamous "What did I do?" pose. Additionally, Miller loved to push off a defender coming around a pick to create room to shoot. Such moves are bound to make you enemies.
Miller rarely exhibited intense anger, but he was one of the more sneaky players to defend, which is sometimes worse. This coupled with his inability to fail when the game was on the line makes him the most hated player in Indiana Pacers history.
Los Angeles Clippers: Baron Davis
The Los Angeles Clippers usually manage to stay under the radar in a city that already boasts the Lakers, but Baron Davis, during his brief stint with the team, proved incapable of doing just that.
Davis has his share of supporters, but has an even larger base haters. His effort on the court has come under fire numerous times, which has hurt his image with fans, and his at times flamboyant demeanor has done little to help his case.
He is a talented point guard, but his attitude, perhaps due to the emptiness he feels from never winning an NBA title, has earned him his share of critics as well as the usually understated Clippers' most hated player in franchise history.
Los Angeles Lakers: Kobe Bryant
Kobe Bryant is probably still lucky that he has his share of supporters at this point, as he is not just the most hated player in Los Angeles Lakers' franchise history, but one of the most despised of all-time.
Over the course of his career, Bryant has called out teammates and front office personnel, demanded a trade more than once and been accused of rape. Such a track record is not exactly bound to make you many friends.
Bryant's abilities have often overshadowed his shortcomings as a teammate and overall human being, but opposing teams and their fans are not as apt to overlook them. Obviously, much of it is do to sheer jealousy since Bryant possesses abilities that most can only dream about, but a lot of it is also his overall demeanor.
Over the past couple of seasons, the negative aspects of Bryant's persona have taken a backseat to the best interests of the entire Lakers team. Could he finally be maturing in that regard? Perhaps, but he has stepped on too many toes over the years to completely rejuvenate his image.
Unless the Lakers acquire Monta Ellis and Bryant tutors him on how to become even more egotistical, it is doubtful any future Laker rips this title out of Bryant's hands.
Memphis Grizzlies: Jason Williams
The fast-paced, ball-dominating Jason Williams was highly disliked by most opposing players and fan-bases.
His ball-handling skills were undeniable, but he constantly held onto the rock too much and jacked up ill-advised shots more than anyone else to recently play the game. He also tended to believe that he was much tougher and talented than he actually was.
All of the aforementioned ingredients make for quite the bitter cocktail, and though his flamboyancy has toned down a bit over the years, his knack for making enemies will never be forgotten.
Miami Heat: LeBron James
LeBron James will be the only player to appear twice on this list, an achievement he has certainly earned.
While past Miami Heat players P.J. Brown, Tim Hardaway, Jamal Mashburn and even Alonzo Mourning were prospects, we are talking about the most hated player in the history of each franchise, and no one on the Heat has ever been hated as much as James.
James always had his share of haters thanks to his prolificness, but he reached a whole new level of disposition when he spurned the Cleveland Cavaliers for the sunny streets of South Beach.
Additionally, it has arguably gotten worse since the playoffs, when he once again struggled to come through when it mattered.
The debate between Michael Jordan and James will ensue for years to come, and whether or not James comes out on top, he perhaps may take solace in knowing that no one, not even His Airness, could generate as much hatred as he could.
Milwaukee Bucks: Glenn Robinson
Glenn Robinson, or the "Big Dog," turned heads with his scoring abilities, but his tenacity in the paint made him enemies.
Robinson was a stellar rebounder, but not the best, yet he crashed the boards harder than most. However, his reckless abandon end game seemed to be only to prevent opponents from getting the rebound rather than grabbing it himself.
The small forward had a tendency to push and pull opposing players out of a rebound's way, a virtue appreciated by the Milwaukee Bucks and its fans, but despised by opposing teams.
Minnesota Timberwolves: Kevin Garnett
Kevin Garnett is the type of player you would love to have as a teammate, but hate to play against, and not just because of his impressive skills.
Garnett is one of the biggest trash talkers the game has ever seen, and he takes pride in sneaking elbow jabs and shoves into a game. Additionally, Garnett is one of the worst drama queens we have ever seen, arguing every call and always putting his two-cents in regardless of the circumstances. In fact, to this day, he hasn't actually committed a foul, in his eyes anyway.
Yes,Garnett is one of the dirtiest players the league has ever seen, but he has always walked the walk in addition to talking the talk. Just because he is prolific though, doesn't mean he is immune from being hated.
And oh boy, do we love to hate him.
New Jersey Nets: Stephon Mabury
Stephon Marbury, or as he referred to himself, "Starbury," is easily the most hated player to ever suit up in a New Jersey Nets uniform.
Marbury burnt bridges everywhere he went.
He is famous for calling out teammates and coaches, lashing out at the media and being downright full of himself. In his prime he was one of the most elusive and prolific point guards out there, but the problem was he knew it, and felt a sense of entitlement as a result.
Marbury was like a cancer to any team he played for. Once a respective team shipped him off, they instantly got better.
We loved to watch Marbury play, but we loved to hate him even more. After all, he made it abundantly easy for us to.
New Orleans Hornets: Anthony Mason
Like Kevin Garnett, Anthony Mason loved to trash talk in the low-post.
Mason is one of the best defenders the game has seen, reason enough for opposing players and fans to hate him, but enjoyed adding fuel to the fire by being equally as vocal as he was effective.
As one of the tougher players in the game, he loved to push around, literally, athletes who were smaller than himself. Additionally, when he fouled, he fouled hard. Imagine the 265 pound Mason intentionally abusing your body and how you would feel.
See my point?
He was a hero in the eyes of his team, but a villain everywhere else.
New York Knicks: John Starks
For those possibly expecting to see Charles Oakley in this slot, he played during an era where he truly was the only one who could put Dennis Rodman, who played dirtier, in his place, leading him to be more heralded than hated. So here we have John Starks.
After going undrafted, Starks most certainly had a chip on his shoulder, one that he carried with him his entire career. He was not afraid to get in a player's face and the culmination of his hot-headedness came when he head butted Indiana Pacers shooting guard Reggie Miller.
Starks loved to get into scuffles, instigating most of the ones he was involved in. He obviously felt he had something to prove, but unless you were a fan of his current team, it was something that you just could not come to appreciate it.
Whether it was because players and fans resented the fact that Starks talked so big for someone so small or because he was an annoying hindrance on the court, he is easily the most hated player in New York Knicks history.
Oklahoma City Thunder: Gary Payton (Seattle Supersonics)
To find the most hated player in the Oklahoma City Thunder's franchise history, we must journey back to when they were still the Seattle Supersonics.
Gary Payton was one of the best all around point guards of all-time, but he was also easily one of the most hated.
His swarming defense and prolific offense made him a problem for the opposition, and his don't-give-a-damn attitude made opposing fans sick. Very rarely do we encounter a point guard with a degree of toughness that Payton boasted; he was one of a kind.
Payton showed little regard over his 17-year career for players who were not his teammates. He may have had a career as a halfback in the NFL—provided he beefed up a bit—the way he stiff-armed opposing point guards from time to time.
Some considered Payton's play style to be innovative, while others deemed it dirty.
Controversy inspires hatred, something that Payton wasn't short on at all.
Orlando Magic: Shaquille O'Neal
Shaquille O'Neal is one of the most hated players of all-time, and the public's distaste for this monstrosity of a center all began while he was with the Orlando Magic.
Over his 19-year career, O'Neal put a beating on every opposing center he faced off against. Countless times every game he would hold the ball above his head and twist his elbows back and forth, sometimes connecting with a chin or a side of a head.
On the defensive end, O'Neal took pride in blocking shots and ensuring you wouldn't forget it, and on the boards, he would push anyone in his way, out of his way.
O'Neal's sheer dominance opened him up to a lot hatred from opposing players and teams, and sometimes even teammates—see Kobe Bryant—yet he was undeniably effective. He was one of the players you would love to have on your team, but hate to see suiting up for an adversary.
The Magic and their fans quickly shared in some of the hatred surrounding O'Neal once he bolted for Los Angeles, a decision the fans probably still haven't forgiven him for, especially since they might relive it this summer a la Dwight Howard.
Look no further for the most hated player in the history of the Magic than O'Neal.
Philadelphia 76ers: Allen Iverson
The 6'0'' Allen Iverson was hated by all opposing players and fans, and even his own at times.
Iverson played flamboyant basketball that involved him breaking the ankles, hearts and sanity of any who stood in his way. Perhaps the notion of getting burned by someone as tiny as Iverson pinched the nerves of opposing players because he seemed to frustrate defenses like no other athlete before him.
Additionally, Iverson's irresponsible nature led to teammates and personnel jumping on the aforementioned bandwagon. He lived on his own schedule, which he would change for no one.
Furthermore, he had a license to shoot 50 shots per game if he preferred, another reason to hate on the elusive serial shooter.
Iverson's antics settled down toward the end of his career, but we will never forget the amount of animosity he generated over the 14-seasons he spent in the league.
Phoenix Suns: Charles Barkley
Charles Barkley is one of those players who never stopped generating hatred in his direction, even after his career as a player concluded and his one as an analyst began.
Barkely is notorious for getting technicals called against him and speaking his mind, regardless of what it entails saying. He trash talked on the court and tried to intimidate opposing players every night, which he succeeded in consistently.
Overall, he was one of the most physical, vocally stunning players to ever take the court. His demeanor on the court even led many to consider his play tactics dirty and unjust.
Barkley's skills are appreciated by many. But he is hated by more.
Portland Trail Blazers: Rasheed Wallace
The Portland Trail Blazers are another team that boasted a plethora of hated players at one time or another, most notably the likes of Ruben Patterson, Damon Stoudemire and Isiah Rider, among others.
One of those "others" is Rasheed Wallace, who remains to this day the most hated player in Blazers' history.
Wallace was even more infamous for drawing technicals against himself than Charles Barkley. He barked at referees and opposing players more than he uttered coherent and complete—profanity aside— thoughts to them.
He was a tenacious defender and a prolific scorer. Few big men had the range he did, further contributing to the animosity that came his way. In his 15-year career, it was rare that a game went by without him verbally attacking an opposing player.
Wallace's antics and excellence made for good television, but was bad for his league-wide persona. He was a valued teammate, but a despised adversary.
Sacramento Kings: Ron Artest (Metta World Peace)
Ron Artest—no, I'm not referring to him solely as Metta World Peace—has had quite the career in both terms of accomplishments and controversy.
Artest played a huge role in the brawl at the Palace, once drank at halftime, flipped off fans—which seems pretty tame after the brawl—and is generally known for giving the media something to write about.
And if that's not enough, Artest was once a defensive stalwart, and his aggressive tactics visibly frustrated opponents as he backed them into a corner.
Artest has calmed down quite a bit over the past couple years, seemingly preferring the path of eccentricity nowadays instead.
However, he will never live down his violent, anger-induced days in the NBA, and although he only spent three seasons with the Sacramento Kings, his past activities allow him to be considered the most hated player in franchise history.
San Antonio Spurs: Bruce Bowen
Though his results were undeniable, Bruce Bowen's tactics were questionable at best, especially on the defensive end.
Opposing players get frustrated enough if they are locked down in general, but Bowen pushed the bill by targeting injured players and taking infamous shots at the groin.
What's more is he knew it, and didn't seem to care. It was a part of the game to him, and he took pride in knowing how to exploit every single weakness, including injuries, of his opponent's.
Over the course of his career, Bowen played his way into the hearts of San Antonio Spurs fans while literally kneeing and clawing his way atop the list of defenders that opposing teams and players despised going up against.
Toronto Raptors: Vince Carter
Vince Carter started out as beloved athlete, amongst the Toronto Raptors fans at least.
Opposing teams naturally despised Carter for his prolific hops and overwhelming offensive abilities, but once his work ethic starting being questioned and he forced his way out of Toronto, his image took a major hit.
In fact, some people revel in the fact that his career went on to be marred by a series of injuries, diminishing his abilities and forcing him to become a shell of his former self.
If that doesn't make him the hated athlete to don a Raptors uniform, I don't know what will.
Utah Jazz: Karl Malone
Aside from opting to don a cowboy hat the day he announced his retirement, Karl Malone was hated for a number of other reasons.
The mailman was one of the best big men to ever play the game, but he was brutal to play against. Utah Jazz fans idealized his toughness, but seemed to turn a blind eye to the cheap shots he would throw in every now and again on both ends of the floor.
Additionally, even Utah fans had a bitter taste in their mouth when he left to join the Los Angeles Lakersto try and fulfill his championship aspirations.
If you stay within the state limits of Utah, Malone was one of the most beloved athletes of all-time, but one you step outside of them, he achieved a level of hate that few before him ever reached.
Washington Wizards: Gilbert Arenas
Gilbert Arenas started out being hated by opposing teams and their fans because of his hounding defense and mind-boggling offensive abilities, but by the end of his stay with the Washington Wizards, his welcome was more than worn out there too.
Not only did Arenas waste a boatload of Washington's money, but he brought a firearm into the team locker room and drew it on teammate Javaris Crittenton, an incident that arguably led to the quick downfall of Crittenton.
Arenas' fall from the top coupled with his complete disregard for the rules and any more code of ethics in general makes him the most hated player to ever play for the Wizards.
Why the Orlando Magic traded for him is beyond me.
You can follow Dan Favale on Twitter here @Dan_Favale.