Is it better to be feared or loved? Or hated? Putting together a team that's capable of winning an NBA title is a challenge in itself. Key role players, big men to rebounds and shooters to get buckets. Whether these players get along with one another is a completely different story. Some players may be resented for hogging the ball while others may be despised for the inability to contribute despite somehow earning substantial minutes on the floor. For example, Tristan Thompson of the Cleveland Cavaliers signed a five-year, $82 million contract in 2015 and became one of the most overpaid players in the NBA. Now imagine how his teammates felt when the 26-year-old scored 8 points and grabbed 11 rebounds over the first THREE games of the 2017 NBA Finals.
On the other side of the court you have Kevin Durant, who is largely hated by most of the league but undoubtedly loved by the Warriors. KD came up big as he averaged 35.2 points per game along with 8.2 rebounds as he took home the Finals MVP. While the Warriors would've still been favorites coming into the Finals without Durant, the addition of the 28-year-old certainly didn't hurt their odds of winning.
So let's take a look at some of the players who were hated by their teammates and those who were loved by those around them.
20 Hated: Kwame Brown
LeBron James. Kevin Garnett. Kobe Bryant. Kwame Brown. All players drafted straight from high school, but one of these is not like the others. Brown is widely regarded to be the biggest bust in recent history due to his successful high school career not translating to the NBA. He averaged 20.1 points, 13.3 rebounds along with 5.8 blocks per game while at Glynn Academy in Georgia but never tasted success in the big league.
He was drafted first overall by the Washington Wizards where he averaged an abysmal 4.5 points and 3.5 rebounds per game in his rookie season. Brown bounced around the league for a number of years and was widely criticized for being inept, having small hands and non-existent footwork. He failed to finish around the rim and averaged 1.3 turnovers per game despite his usage rate being only just above 15 percent.
19 Loved: Chris Paul
While he's yet to win a ring, Chris Paul is still one of the best point guards to play over the past two decades. His six-year stint with the New Orleans Hornets is highlighted by back-to-back seasons where he led the league in both assists and steals. Paul did almost everything for the team while still maintaining an impressive assist-to-turnover ratio.
But it wasn't until he was traded to the Los Angeles Clippers that he really thrived alongside fellow superstar Blake Griffin and dunk machine DeAndre Jordan. The trio quickly turned LA into "Lob City" and Paul's ability to put a pass on target without fail garnered the adoration of both Griffin and Jordan. Imagine being a big man and all you had to do was run, jump, dunk and rebound for the entire game. Paul made life easy for the Clippers and it looks like he's about to do the same for the Houston Rockets.
18 Hated: Dwight Howard
At the beginning of his career, Dwight Howard was loved by fans and teammates alike. He was a force inside the paint and a stalwart on the defensive end of the floor which saw him earn three consecutive Defensive Player of the Year awards. But as his career went on and injuries began to catch up with him, it became more apparent that Howard didn't have the killer instinct needed to bring home an NBA title.
It started in LA with the Lakers as he formed a superteam alongside Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash and Pau Gasol. The four of them were immediate favorites to win the title but ultimately came up short. Kobe Bryant's win-at-all-costs attitude clashed with Howard's childlike persona and the big man ended up signing with the Houston Rockets. Where he ultimately clashed with James Harden's win-at-all-costs-just-don't-play-defense attitude. Even his hometown Atlanta Hawks saw enough of him after just one year. Now almost 32-years-old, we'll see if Howard may have finally found a decent home with the Charlotte Hornets.
17 Loved: Scottie Pippen
One of the best defenders to play the game, Scottie Pippen was a Swiss Army Knife on both ends of the floor and a significant reason why Jordan took home six NBA titles. While playing alongside the greatest of all time, Pippen held his own by regularly defending the opposition's best player. He averaged two steals per game for his career, peaking in the 1994/95 season where he made a league-best 2.9 steals per game.
Pippen was also a competent scorer who could finish around the rim. He averaged more than 20 points per game in three separate seasons for the Bulls and averaged 17.7 points per game throughout his time in Chicago. Remarkably, Pippen was never a fantastic three-point shooter, only knocking down 33 percent of his shots from deep throughout his career. Pippen was loved by his teammates in Chicago, Houston and Portland for his ability to do it all while never needing to dominate possession.
16 Hated: Andrew Bynum
While he was with the Lakers, Andrew Bynum was one of the most dominant big men in the league. He was always a threat to post a triple-double and 18.7 points and 11.8 rebounds per game before unfortunately succumbing to ligament damage in his knees. Prior to this Bynum wasn't exactly hated. Sure he was immature and for some reason attempted a three-pointer with 16 seconds left on the shot clock, but he was seen as more of a bonehead than anything.
It was after the injury that Bynum really became hated, re-injuring his knee while bowling. Which is hands down the funniest/dumbest way for an NBA player to get injured. Bynum was naturally hated by 76ers, who gave up Andre Iguodala, Maurice Harkless, Nikola Vucevic and the draft pick which ended up being De'Aaron Fox for Bynum. Safe to say his new teammates weren't his biggest fans.
15 Loved: Tim Duncan
The Big Fundamental was one of the most consistent players in the NBA, leading the Spurs to five NBA championships, even at the ripe age of 37. When he was first drafted, Duncan was seen as the natural heir to David Robinson and it's fair to say that he lived up to that expectation. A surefire Hall of Famer, Duncan averaged 19 points and 10.8 rebounds throughout his career and his teammates loved his no-nonsense approach to basketball, both on and off the court.
Duncan had an old school game that aged well but he never complained about his lack of touches and put the team first as he aged. He allowed Kawhi Leonard to shine alongside LaMarcus Aldridge and probably would've been content only playing garbage time minutes anyway. There was never any controversy surrounding Duncan off the court and many see him as the ultimate professional and role model for the younger generation.
14 Hated: Kobe Bryant
While Kobe will go down as one of the best players to step onto an NBA court, he wasn't without his haters... even ones on his own team. From Smush Parker to Shaq to the aforementioned Dwight Howard, Bryant clashed with a number of players because of his uncompromising will to win. The conflict came about because Kobe couldn't quite comprehend how players can be so relaxed. While he was chasing Michael Jordan, they were chilling and having fun. Outrageous, isn't it?
Many criticized him for his dogged determination and constant need to have the ball in his hands. Accused of selfishness a number of occasions, Bryant was never one to delegate when the pressure was on, even if there was a player wide open. Derek Fisher was wide open in the corner. Whether you love him or hate him, it's hard to argue against five NBA titles and countless other accolades.
13 Loved: Russell Westbrook
Without Russell Westbrook doing his thing this year, the Thunder would've surely been a lottery bound team. The Brodie averaged 31.6 points, 10.7 rebounds and 10.4 assists per game, becoming the first player to average a triple-double for a full season since Oscar Robertson in the early 1960s. Westbrook did literally everything for the Thunder while still somehow shooting an efficient 43 percent from the field.
He willed the Thunder to a 47-35 finish, good enough for the sixth seed in a stacked Western Conference. After Kevin Durant signed with the Warriors, OKC loved Westbrook's determination to drag them as far as possible without the player known as "Cupcake" and let's hope that determination doesn't lead to Westbrook evolving into Kobe Bryant but without the rings.
12 Hated: Ray Allen
He may be at the top of LeBron James's list of players he loved, but to the Celtics, Ray Allen is the ultimate traitor. After losing to the Miami Heat in the 2012 Eastern Conference Finals, Ray Allen opted to leave Boston to sign with Miami in an effort to win another ring. And of course Allen went on to hit one of the most unforgettable shots of the decade and went on to win a second ring of his own.
The Celtics were naturally upset with Allen and a reunion on Kevin Garnett's "Area 21" this year saw a good portion of the core come back, minus Allen. KG, Paul Pierce, Glen Davis, Kendrick Perkins and Rajon Rondo all spoke about the 2008 title winning side but reflected on Allen leaving without any warning. Pierce said "I thought we formed a brotherhood here in Boston... That's what I was hurt about, when Ray didn't just at least give us a heads up about it."
11 Loved: Jamal Crawford
One of the oldest players in the NBA and still one of the hardest to guard. The 37-year-old Crawford has made a name for himself by being a sparkplug that can get buckets, whether it's coming off the bench or starting from the opening tip. His Twitter handle, @JCrossover, is more than appropriate as Crawford seems to always find a way to break down the defence.
He's won the Sixth Man of the Year award on three separate occasions and averaged double figures in scoring in all but two seasons throughout his career. Crawford's best season to date came in 2008 where he averaged 20.6 points per game along with 5 assists for the New York Knicks. While he's played for six different teams throughout his career, all teammates appreciated that Crawford could get his own shot without having to run a play. Whenever they needed points, they could always rely on Jamal.
10 Hated: Rajon Rondo
Rajon Rondo is one of the most polarizing guards in the NBA and not for his production on the court. With the ball in his hands, Rondo is an adept finisher around the rim and excellent distributor. He's averaged 8.5 assists per game over a rather impressive ten-year career that took a dramatic turn for the worse after leaving the Celtics. Not surprising considering the strong leadership that he was surrounded by.
In Dallas he gave up on his teammates with a disgraceful performance in the playoffs against the Houston Rockets. Rondo quit on his team which was an unwise decision to start with considering he would become a free agent that offseason. His one-year stint with the Kings was largely hassle-free before he joined the Chicago Bulls and called out Jimmy Butler and Dwyane Wade in an Instagram post after the pair voiced their frustrations to the media. Having just been reportedly waived by Chicago, fans must wonder what kind of General Manager would take on Rondo given his tumultuous history of relationships.
9 Loved: Steve Kerr
From one former Bull to another, Steve Kerr was an instrumental part of Michael Jordan's second three-peat in Chicago. While he was never the biggest scorer, Kerr was a fantastic three-point shooter who finished his career shooting 45 percent from deep. While on the Bulls he is perhaps most well known for his clutch shot to win Game 6 of the 1997 NBA Finals. The shot secured Jordan's fifth NBA title and is another example of his fantastic basketball IQ to find Kerr following the double-team.
Kerr was never the flashiest player even when he was with the San Antonio Spurs. He was part of the squad who won two NBA titles but was well regarded for his high IQ on the court. He always made the right pass at the right time but wasn't afraid to shoot if he found himself open. It's clear that what he learned while with the Bulls and Spurs translated well to his own coaching career with the Warriors.
8 Hated: DeAndre Jordan
While DeAndre Jordan may have had a lot of love for Chris Paul and his Clippers teammates, the feeling was hardly mutual at some points. Jordan was never a substantial player for the Clippers until the 2013-14 season, coincidentally the same season the CP3 joined the Clips. But even with one the best point guards running the show, many criticized Jordan for never doing anything more than rebounding and dunking.
The 7-foot big man can't shoot outside the paint and knocks down a rather concerning 43 percent from the free throw line. While his efficiency from the stripe has certainly improved (believe it or not), Jordan's teammates grew sick of opposing teams utilizing the hack-a-Jordan technique in order to cut down a large lead. Reports began to surface that his Clippers teammates weren't happy with his lack of improvement and their actions so far speak for themselves; CP3 to Houston and Griffin opting out of his contract.
7 Loved: Jason Terry
Jason Terry is probably at the top of the list of players that LeBron James hates and for good reason. He's proven time and time again to be one of the most irritating players in the NBA who has perfected the art of trash-talking. While the other 29 teams may despise him, whichever squad had JET on the roster greatly benefitted from his ability to back up his talk. Terry was a clutch three-point shooter, knocking down 38 percent of his shots from deep over an extensive 18-year career.
He saved his best for the Dallas Mavericks as he helped Dirk Nowitzki take home his only NBA title. In Game 6 of the 2011 NBA Finals, Terry scored 27 points off the bench and foiled the Miami Heat as they looked to capture a title in the first year of LeBron's proposed dynasty. While he now resides as a veteran leader on the youthful Milwaukee Bucks, Terry is still invaluable to a team that could go far into the playoffs next year.
6 Hated: Tyrus Thomas
While still undersized for his position, Tyrus Thomas was still highly touted coming out of college. He was drafted fourth overall by the Portland Trail Blazers then traded immediately to the Chicago Bulls for LaMarcus Aldridge. Talk about a one-sided trade. Aldridge went on to make four All-Star games with the Blazers while Thomas bounced between Chicago and Charlotte, never impressing much in either city.
He was last sighted in a Memphis Grizzlies uniform but his shortcomings in Charlotte essentially killed his career. He finished with 7.7 points and 4.8 rebounds per game to his name but it's hard to imagine Thomas making an NBA comeback anytime soon given his lack of ability on the court. Thomas' teammates must be watching LaMarcus Aldridge and wondering what could've been if that trade never happened. While LaMarcus is a staple of the San Antonio franchise, Thomas is now nowhere to be seen and probably on his way to play in Europe or China.
5 Loved: LeBron James
During his first stint with the Cavaliers, LeBron James was the saving grace on an otherwise useless team. Outside of LeBron, the team relied on Carlos Boozer and Ricky Davis for scoring, which tells you everything you need to know about how bad the squad was when he was drafted. The season before King James was drafted, the Cavs finished with an abysmal 17-65 record. It only took LeBron three seasons to haul the Cavs to the Eastern Conference Semifinals where they ultimately lost to the Detroit Pistons in seven games.
While the city of Cleveland collectively hated James for leaving, there's no denying that his teammates loved him while he was on the court. During his first seven seasons, he averaged 27.8 points, 7 rebounds and 7 assists per game. He's since brought a championship to Cleveland after a drought that lasted more than 50 years and will be loved for years to come... if he doesn't leave them again.
4 Hated: JaVale McGee
Five years ago, the words "NBA Champion JaVale McGee" weren't in the English vocabulary. Five months ago, it was barely a thought in the back of McGee's mind as he threw down lob after lob from the Warriors guards. But here we are, countless Shaqtin'-a-Fool moments later and somehow the 29-year-old has a ring on his finger. It was never always that way though as his time in Washington led to some absurd and downright boneheaded plays.
From his inability to post up Isaiah Thomas, to trying to dunk from the free throw line during a game, to throwing a lob off the backboard for a dunk despite his team being down six. If you've ever thought of doing something really, really dumb in a pick-up game, odds are McGee has done it or at least tried it during an NBA game. While it's easy to laugh at his antics now, imagine being on his team while he's pulling all these stunts.
3 Loved: Reggie Miller
He might be universally hated by New York Knicks fans but there's no doubt that Reggie Miller is a favorite amongst his peers in Indiana. Having spent his entire career with the Pacers, Miller was an explosive scorer which saw him earn five selections to the All-Star game. During his prime he averaged 21.2 points per game while still knocking down 40 percent of his shots from deep. And while he never brought home a title to Indiana, he was still instrumental in creating the history they have today.
Miller is most well known for scoring eight points in nine seconds against the New York Knicks, followed by his choking gesture to Knicks superfan Spike Lee afterwards. Naturally, Lee wasn't exactly pleased with what Miller did but it added fuel to an already raging fire. And as Miller's teammates didn't love him enough already, it was certainly the icing on the cake.
2 Hated: Mario Chalmers
Many will argue that Mario Chalmers was simply the "little brother" of the Miami Heat's Big Three but ask LeBron and he'll tell you a different story. Chalmers was the punching bag for the Heat for essentially the entire time LeBron was there, mostly due to his ineffectiveness on the court. He has always been sloppy with the ball as he averages 1.9 turnovers per game and LeBron was never a fan of his decision making.
Being the allround player that he is, LeBron essentially took on the role of point guard himself. But when he trusted Rio to do the job, he always came up short. Making the wrong pass at the wrong time or failing to find his spot on plays infuriated James as well as the rest of the Heat roster. While Bosh and Wade were looking to bring home a ring, it seemed that Chalmers' mind was elsewhere.
1 Loved: Michael Jordan
When you play alongside the greatest player to ever step onto an NBA court, it's hard not to love the man. While some foolishly question whether LeBron James has surpassed him as the GOAT, all of MJ's teammates will never doubt the transcendent status of Jordan. The six-time NBA champion made life so much easier for his teammates, and not just because of his talent. Jordan had unparalleled basketball IQ and knew when to make the right play at the right time.
Whether it's the aforementioned clutch pass to Steve Kerr to seal his fifth NBA title of somehow managing to beat a double team and then crush Patrick Ewing. Jordan made the impossible, possible and was the biggest reason that a number of players have rings despite sitting on the end of the bench. No one will remember who Scott Williams is but he's still a three-time NBA Champion thanks to Jordan.