Being on an NBA team is similar to being a part of a family. We all have the crazy uncle or unruly cousin who always tears things up during the family gatherings. Similarly, most NBA rosters have one or two of those crazy people too.
It is no secret that some players are more mature and more well behaved than others, but it falls on the general manager, the coach, and the other players to keep those loose cannons in line during the season. However, there have been several occurrences when the wild child of the team also happens to be the best player on their team. In those cases, it can become much harder to reign in that inner beast that rises to the surface of some guys.
Today we will go back over the past 20 years and count down the 15 worst teammates to play in the league. Unsurprisingly, a lot of these guys also happened to be the best players on their team, so showing how stars can get inflated egos. There are no holds barred during this countdown, so don’t throw a temper tantrum if you see your favorite player on the list, just know that they will throw a tantrum for you.
15. Allen Iverson
The man who LeBron James called “the greatest pound for pound player of all-time” will probably be remembered more for his “practice” rant than for his talents. Iverson was one of the fiercest competitors the NBA has ever seen, but he also has a very large amount of stubbornness in him.
Iverson had run-ins with ownership, coaches, players and referees during his decade-plus in the NBA. As gifted as he was on the court, he could be equally as big a pain in the butt off the court. When Iverson left the Philadelphia 76ers and headed to the Nuggets many Philly fans were happy to see him go, even though he was arguably the greatest player the franchise had ever seen. As we know, Philly fans can be some of the most hostile fans in sports, but it still speaks volumes when a player is as talented as AI was, yet the fans are still happy to see him leave town.
14. Dwight Howard
Superman burst onto the scene with the Magic in the early part of the 2000s, and it took him only three years to have Orlando fighting for an NBA Championship. During the first handful of years with the Magic, Dwight was blazing a clear path directly to the Hall of Fame, and it appeared he would capture multiple titles along the way.
Almost a decade later, Dwight is now playing for his fourth NBA team. When he left Orlando it was not on the greatest of terms but people were willing to give Dwight the benefit of the doubt. After he was exiled by Kobe Bryant in Los Angeles, the book was out on Dwight. He was immature and lacked the drive needed to be the great player many anticipated him becoming. After leaving the Lakers, D-12 lasted only three seasons with the Houston Rockets before they tired of his act as well. Howard is now playing for his hometown Atlanta Hawks, and as they trade away every decent player on their roster it seems only a matter of time before Dwight is looking for another try at a first impression.
13. Ricky Davis
Everyone knew that Ricky Davis had incredible basketball talent. You don’t become a first-round NBA draft pick if you don’t have that. What Davis lacked was the mental capacity to understand what needed to be done to maximize that incredible athletic ability.
Davis was a high volume scorer early in his career, meaning he was able to have a respectable number of points per game, but his shots per game were higher than most needed to obtain the point per game he was getting. As a youngster ,LeBron James was forced to play with Ricky and Lebron quickly learned what he did not want out of his professional teammates. I will never forget the game when Davis intentionally shot at the opponent’s basket simply to grab his own rebound which resulted in his tenth rebound, giving him a triple-double for the game.
12. Ron Artest aka Metta World Peace
One of the craziest people to ever play professional basketball, there is no way this list would be complete without Artest. I refer to him as Ron Artest in this countdown because we acknowledge once he became World Peace, Ron became a better teammate. However, during his time as Ron Artest, there was not a looser cannon in the league than him.
There are only a few things worse you could do to your teammates than what Ron did during the Malice in the Palace back in 2004. Artest was not having a very good night that night, and he decided to get into with the Pistons center Ben Wallace. During his altercation with Wallace, a fan got involved, ultimately throwing a beer onto Artest. So Ron did exactly what any psycho would do; he entered the stands to fight the fans, while a few of his teammates went into the stands with him (mostly attempting to stop him). At the end of the day, Ron Artest was suspended by the NBA for a record one full year. Not a good look for a team headed to the playoffs.
11. Carmelo Anthony
Melo has probably been the most consistent scorer in the NBA since his rookie season in 2003. He is likely going to be a Hall of Famer when his time comes, and he will have deserved it. There are many players like Melo throughout the history of the game; players like Dominque Wilkins, Tracy McGrady and Allen Iverson come to mind immediately. All those players were able to score seemingly at will and all those players also never won a championship.
The problem with Carmelo’s game is that it relies too much on his isolation with the ball. He has never been able to incorporate himself into a system, the ball always seems to get stuck when it hits his hands. There is nothing wrong with scoring, but if it comes at the expense of your team’s success, that is when it becomes a problem. As long as Melo insists on the ball stopping when it gets to him, his fingers will remain ringless.
10. Stephon Marbury
Marbury is an interesting case study. Coming out of Brooklyn, New York he was touted as the second coming of basketball Jesus. He was expected to be the flashy superstar that the NBA needed to replace Michael Jordan. However, as we all know, New Yorkers have attitudes, and that did not elude Marbury.
After stints with Minnesota, New Jersey and Phoenix, Marbury was brought home to play for the Knicks. He had two coaches during his time in New York; Larry Brown and Isiah Thomas, neither of which had a good relationship with Stephon. The culminating event happened when coach Thomas threatened to remove Marbury from the starting lineup, and in response Marbury left the team. There were even rumors that the two came to blows on the airplane. After the Knicks, Marbury had a cup of coffee with the Celtics, but ultimately he found a home in China where he is still a superstar in the Chinese Baskbetball Association.
9. DeMarcus Cousins
It appears that Cousins is on the verge of becoming officially un-coachable. The man has burned through six coaches since he joined the Kings in 2010. That is unbelievable really! Many people have jumped to defend DeMarcus, giving the excuses that he is young, as if there are not young players all throughout the NBA. Being young is not an excuse to be a bad teammate.
There have been several occasions thus far in his career when Cousins has promised to clean up his act and become more of a team-first kind of player. While his production has continued to improve over his career, his attitude is still among the league’s worst. Ultimately it falls on DeMarcus’ shoulders if he wants to become a team guy, and give himself a chance to win in the league, or if he wants to be petty.
8. Rajon Rondo
Rondo has already won an NBA Championship, and he did it with the help of some of the greatest teammates and leaders the game has ever known. Kevin Garnet, Paul Pierce, Ray Allen and Doc Rivers are among the elite when it comes to leading men to battle, and coming out victorious. Rondo had a golden chance to learn from those guys that individual statistics mean nothing if the team in not successful in the process.
After the departure of KG, Pierce and Allen from Boston, Rondo seemed like a lost puppy attempting to find his way. Since leaving Boston in 2014 he has had three rocky stops in Dallas, Sacramento and most recently Chicago. Rondo has long been known for his disobedience when it comes to taking orders from a coach. He even got into heated arguments with Doc Rivers during his time in Boston, but as always, winning hides the ugly stuff.
7. Gilbert Arenas
Arenas was so incredibly talented during his prime years with the Wizards, it is kind of hard to believe how quickly he spiraled out of control and found himself out of the NBA. There was even a time in the mid-2000s when Arenas was having back and forth battles with LeBron James in the playoffs.
Gilbert was always an abrasive individual however. He demonstrated that on the court on a nightly basis. Arenas would routinely get into verbal sparring matchups with his opponents, and even sometimes teammates, but it always seemed to help Gilbert up his energy. That was until the day he and Javaris Crittenton got into an altercation on the team plane. The altercation was over an alleged poker game in which one of the men refused to pay the other a debt from the game. The next few days saw both players bringing guns into the locker room and threatening to shoot one another. Ultimately both players were suspended for the remainder of the season, and that pretty much put a road block on Gilbert’s career.
6. Michael Jordan
Nobody ever said MJ was fun to be around, as much as we all enjoy winning, there is something to be said about having fun while winning and Jordan rarely provided fun for his teammates. MJ was a notorious trash talker, even to his own comrades. It’s no secret that Jordan was often in the face of his teammates and coaches during practice.
The ultimate example of Jordan being a horrible teammate came during the Bulls first three-peat. It was known that he bullied teammates in practice, and during an interview, former teammate Horace Grant told the story:
“No, he beat up a big white boy. Will Perdue. I mean, I hate to tell the story, but Will and I are still good friends […] Typical Phil, running this this play, and Will set an illegal pick on M.J. M.J. said, ’Will, don’t do it again.’ ‘What are you talking about?’ That’s Will. M.J. says, ‘All right.’ Phil says, ‘Run it again.’…So naturally, we ran it two more times. Illegal pick. M.J. walks up to Will — boom. Lit him up. It was over….We grabbed Will — you’re not going to hurt M.J. M.J. can take care of himself, but, you know … So, the next day on the plane, Will gets on the plane with a huge shiner.”
5. Latrell Sprewell
Spree was one hell of a ball player, let’s just establish that off the bat; the boy could play. But he had a temper, and when that temper got lit, there was no stopping him. He was suspended at least once from every professional team he ever played for. That is not an accident, that is a trend. Sprewell also had no preference on who his target would be, whether it was teammates, opponents, coaches, owners, it simply didn’t matter.
During his career he complained that his $21 million contract was not enough to feed his children. I want to know what his kids eat! He also, more famously, choked his coach during practice, and threatened to kill him. Keep in mind his coach was an innocent old man, P.J. Carlesimo, who is also famous for his work as a broadcaster with TNT as well as ESPN. Sprewell was an incredible talent, but his attitude ended up costing him dearly, and he now does commercials mocking himself and his embarrassingly immature youth.
4. Javaris Crittenton
In 2007 Crittenton was drafted in the first round. Somebody obviously thought they saw something special in him. I have no idea what they think they saw, but they saw something. Sadly for Crittenton his career pretty much ended before it began.
In only his second year in the league, Javaris was on the same team as Gilbert Arenas, another inclusion on this list. Crittenton and Arenas never saw eye to eye on things, and ultimately it got out of control. Arenas and Crittenton got to the point where they were bringing guns into the team locker room. After both players were reinstated after being suspended for the remainder of that season Crittenton’s services were no longer wanted by any NBA team. He spent a couple years playing overseas but ultimately his true colors came through. On August 26, 2011, Crittenton was charged with murder. Shortly before his trial was set to begin, Crittenton pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter with a weapon and aggravated assault with a firearm. He was sentenced to 23 years in prison.
3. Kobe Bryant
Kobe was cut from the same cloth as Michael Jordan, meaning he was a complete jerk of a teammate and accepted nothing less than perfection from his teammates. Kobe was known for getting into the faces of younger players on the team and scolding them in from of everyone, including the media. He even got into an altercation with then-coach Phil Jackson, but thankfully for Kobe that one was behind closed doors, so nobody is exactly sure what was said. Maybe believe it was regarding the feud between him and Shaquille O’Neal.
Speaking of Shaquille O’Neal, this brings us to a bigger point about Kobe. It is one thing to expect exemplary play from your teammates, but when you are getting MVP production and NBA Championship rings shouldn’t that be enough? Apparently not for Kobe. On top of the winning he needed to shine brighter than the rest while doing it, and Shaq was only getting in the way of that. Rather than enjoy a decade or more of consistent title contention, Kobe gave the Lakers the ultimatum, “him or me.” That is the textbook definition of a bad teammate.
2. D’Angelo Russell
There are things that you can do that make you a bad teammate, things like yelling at your teammate, or shooting too much, or being a lazy player. But there are things that you just can not do to a teammate, and D’Angelo did one of those things to Nick Young.
The world of technology hit the Lakers in a very negative way during Russell’s rookie season. He had a video of Nick Young bragging about his sexual escapades while being engaged to rapper Iggy Azalea. Russell let the video get leaked to the press and ultimately Iggy saw the video. In the simplest terms, D’Angelo Russell ruined Nick Young’s engagement. What Young did should not be condoned, however it is not D’Angelo Russell’s place to be playing the engagement vigilante. Somehow Young forgave Russell (probably because his career depended on it), but you can be sure that Swaggy P will never forget.
1. Delonte West
There are bad teammates and then there is Delonte West. First of all, West was a decent player who had a pretty intense attitude during his career. He also suffered from some vices, namely alcohol, but again that is beside the point of what made West the worst teammate probably ever.
This story has never been confirmed but West himself has hinted that it is true. The story goes that in 2012 West had a sexual relationship with LeBron James’ mom. I am sure everyone knows the story by now, but rumors say that LeBron went to visit his mother and West answered the door in nothing but a towel. When West was discussing the rumor he denied it, however he had a little slip of the tongue when he was detailing why he didn’t name his son Delonte West Jr. He answered, “I don’t want my son going to school and people making fun of him for something his daddy did. “
That sounds like a confession doesn’t it? We may never know the truth of this story, but as long as it’s not patently false, it has to rank Delonte number one on the list of bad teammates.