In any sport, trying to maintain a good relationship with your teammates is needed. Chemistry is vital to success, especially in the NBA where teamwork is key to victory. The best championship teams are the ones who are well-oiled machines working smoothly together. Sure, you had one big star in many but even he recognizes he’s nothing without the right players around him. Michael Jordan had an ego but he recognized how it took the arrival of Scottie Pippen and others to make him a multiple champion. To get along with your teammates isn’t just important, it’s vital as any bad blood can rip a team apart majorly.
While some players are able to overcome that, others have a different problem. Bad blood can be common, even among teams who are champions. The tension can be high, especially when you throw in the egos of major stars and the clashes can be rather epic. There have been slews of such feuds over the decades but they pick up more in the later years with media attention rising and such conflicts becoming bigger deals. Some are truly epic and show how mixing such spirits with sports can lead to a mess. Here are 15 pairs of NBA stars who couldn’t stand each other in their playing time.
15. Kobe Bryant and Smush Parker
There can be no denying that Kobe Bryant had one of the most amazing modern-day NBA careers. He’s a lock for the Hall of Fame thanks to his multiple championships with the Lakers and is regarded among the best players in their history. However, that talent comes with a massive ego that makes it hard to get along with him. Smush Parker came onto the Lakers just after their early 2000s success but Bryant clashed with him from the start with the famous story of Bryan snapping in practice to “wait until you get more accolades” before Parker started talking.
It rubbed off in play with Parker admitting he would go out of his way not to pass to Bryant if he didn’t have to and their bad beef showcased the issues of the Lakers at the time. Parker left after two seasons with Bryan later dismissing him as never belonging in the NBA in the first place.
14. Larry Sanders and Gary Neal
The conflict between these two was more interesting for fans of the Bucks than anything Milwaukee did on the court. The two had supposedly clashed for some time, each considering themselves the star of the team, despite how bad the Bucks were in the standings. Each accused the other of hogging the ball and refusing to let the other shine while the rest of the team seemed to consider them both prima donnas. It finally came loose after a loss to the Suns in January 2014 with the two jawing at each other in the locker room.
It ended with the famous line by Neal of “I earn my money. You should try it sometime.” The Bucks tried to spin it with some players claiming it was just “team bonding” but the bad press combined with the poor play pushed them both against each other. Neal would later move to the Timberwolves while Sanders took a leave from basketball, showing how their argument cost the Bucks a pair of sharp players.
13. Rajon Rondo and Ray Allen
Usually, when a man retires after a long career that includes two NBA titles, players talk about him in good terms. Not so when Rajon Rondo was informed Ray Allen was retiring and replied “I thought he already was.” That shouldn’t be a surprise as their time together on the Celtics was marked by massive fighting between the two men. Despite how both men helped Boston to a championship, tension between them was high throughout their run, each wanting more playing time and feeling the other wasn’t giving them the ball enough.
There was also how Allen saw Rondo as the rookie and suddenly Rondo wanted to be the leader which Allen thought was ridiculous. Things really got worse in 2009 when the Celtics considered trading Allen and Rondo to Miami and it came out how neither guy wanted to be paired with the other. Their animosity clashed as the Celtics slumped with both men later going to other teams but their time marked how fast a championship pair can split.
12. Steve Nash and Dwight Howard
“Sports Illustrated” has long been accused of a “cover jinx” where teams or players who get a cover end up falling apart. A key example was in 2012 when they had a cover showcasing Steve Nash and Dwight Howard in Lakers jerseys and the line “This is going to be fun.” It was…much in the same way watching a train wreck is fun. From day one, things just didn’t click as Kobe Bryant was clearly the star of the team but his leadership skills were not helping in getting veterans Nash and Howard in line. The two were clashing constantly for ball control and had arguments in practice. It led to constant miscommunication on the court with both men chewing each other out on live TV.
Howard was held back by injuries but Nash accused him of “not trying” constantly and their issues came out more and more to hurt the team overall. Nash openly stated Howard never wanted to be a Laker in the first place and when the team was eliminated in the first round, Howard did indeed leave. The only thing this “super team” accomplished was fighting each other more than opponents.
11. Carmelo Anthony and Tim Hardaway Jr.
There was always friction between the two from the moment Hardaway was drafted by the Knicks in 2013. Anthony had been used to being the star of the team and was not happy about the attention being paid to this newcomer who he thought was not ready. Tensions built more as both players weren’t happy with coach Phil Jackson’s old-school offense that they felt was too predictable. However, Anthony was accused by Hardaway of taking too many shots on his own and not passing enough. Anthony fired back that Hardaway hadn’t earned his place with the team and no right to criticize him.
It came down to the two nearly coming to blows before teammates separated them and their issues clearly pulled the Knicks down. Hardaway would leave in 2015 and end a rough period as the issues between them were a key reason the Knicks couldn’t make it to the top in this time.