Athletes today are often overlooked for their physical capabilities, and more recognized for their personal brand. These guys (and gals) are making millions of dollars off the court in endorsements, commercials, and events. With their faces consistently in the spotlight, media outlets such as ESPN, TMZ Sports, and Deadspin, are focusing more on the rumors surrounding these players, not the players themselves.
When it comes to this Gossip, it seems like the NBA is always at the forefront. We have an eight-month season to speculate about on-the-court rumors, four-months to whisper about the offseason buzz, and everyday of the year to fixate on the latest NBA scandal. From the supposed "Frozen Envelope" incident during the 1985 lottery, to MJ's "forced" retirement, to Las Vegas' favorite ex-referee, Tim Donaghy, rumors have swirled around the NBA since the beginning of the league. I mean, Wilt Chamberlain has even been rumored to have slept with 20,000 different women! Talk about a true globetrotter.
That all being said, we will dive into the rumor mill of today's NBA, and focus on some of the more recent happenings in the league. Whether it's the future of a player's career, unexpected legends behind the scenes, or the league flexing it's muscles for financial gain, today, we will list out 15 current bizarre NBA rumors that we hope aren't true!
15 DeAndre Jordan Out in LA
After the departure of Chris Paul in the offseason, the Clippers looked to be heading towards the bottom-half of the Western Conference. But, with stars such as Deandre Jordan and Blake Griffin pledging their allegiance to LA, it seemed like they still could be contenders. After a hot start though, injuries caught up to the post-Lob City Clippers, with Blake Griffin out for two months, and Milos Teodosic out indefinitely.
With their season and future in jeopardy, it's no surprise that GM Michael Winger is looking to shop their big man. The Milwaukee Bucks have come calling, and it seems like they have all the pieces to get the deal done. If Jordan departs LA to join the "Greek Freak" in Wisconsin, there would be a huge power shift in the Eastern Conference, and they would hope to go deep into the playoffs.
14 The LeBron-Silver "Resting Players" Feud
In the 2017 offseason, NBA commissioner, Adam Silver, approved a new rule giving him authority to fine teams for up to $100,000 for resting players during high-profile, nationally televised games. While he did adjust the scheduling to avoid multiple back-to-backs, there is no doubt that this rule stemmed from a late regular season game, in which coach Tyronn Lue decided to sit superstar, LeBron James, against the Clippers. Fox Sports has even classified this new regulation, the "LeBron James Rule."
So, why now? Gregg Popovich and the Spurs have been resting healthy players for years (albeit they were fined by David Stern originally), but have learned to avoid further confrontation from the league by just adding these players to the injury report. The sad fact of the matter is that stars like James are huge money grabs. If these stars are sitting during some of the TNT games of the week, advertisers won't make as much, and the league's popularity declines. Sadly, this rumor is nothing but truth.
13 Paul George's Homecoming
We all know about the huge deal that went down over the summer with Paul George joining Russell Westbrook in OKC for the remaining year on his contract, but that doesn't change the fact that PG-13 has voiced his love for LA. At the end of the 2017, sources close to the superstar even stated that a deal was almost done with the Lakers. Some more details emerged from an unnamed teammate's interview with Sporting News.
“A SoCal native, he’s been talking about playing for his hometown team, the Lakers, for a long time. He’s never made his long-term intentions a secret within the Pacers’ locker room, according to former teammates. He wants to wear the purple and gold.”
As we know now, the Lakers were fined $500,000 for tampering, but that won't stop George, an LA native, in 2018. Who knows? With the Thunder struggling to find chemistry within their "Big Three," George may be elsewhere before the trade deadline. It may be great for the league to have a known face in LA's big market.
12 Can the State Farm Hoopers Predict The Future?
Okay, so this rumor is more of a conspiracy theory, but damn, it's a good one. You know those crazy State Farm commercials featuring Paul, Love, Lillard, Garnett, and Jordan? Well, they may predict the fate of the NBA. In an article by Sports Illustrated, they dive into this insane hypothesis. Let's look at some of the details from the 2017 offseason.
First, teenage Love and father Paul have the "Hawks and Hornets" talk. In the beginning of the offseason, Dwight Howard was traded from Atlanta to Charlotte. Second, grandpa Garnett tries to save money on chicken nuggets, while teenage Love states, "I Love Nuggets."
Rumors swirled last summer about K-Love possibly joining Denver in a blockbuster trade. Finally, after Paul, Jordan, Griffin, and Reddick, have all been traded, or rumored to be traded, baby Dame's claim of "no good Clippers" can't be ignored.
11 Serge Ibaka's True Age
African-born NBAer's have been the subject of age discrepancy for years. Americans think that these guys were born in the slums of civilization, without written documents, eating giraffes and rhinos for dinner while they talk about their days in a series of mouth-clicks. Toronto Raptors star forward, Serge Ibaka, has been at the forefront of these age rumors for years.Many people believe that the 28-year-old Congolese-born defensive specialist is actually 33.
These rumors got so intense, that Ibaka has to publicly come out and deny them, even stating that he was "not born in the jungle." Evidence of other African-born players, including Manute Bol, have been in the news recently. His former coach, Kevin Mackey, said that he had to make up Bol's birthday, and could have been playing in the NBA until he was 50 for all he knows.
10 Thon Maker's True Age
Unlike the hearsay of Ibaka's case, the internet has provided us with some legitimate when it comes to Bucks center, Thon Maker. The Sudanese-born refugee moved to Perth, Australia at a young age. Then, took his talents to the USA to pursue a career in basketball. Eventually, he declared for the NBA Draft in 2016, but several teams were concerned about Maker's true age, and took them off their board, claiming he was in his mid-20s, not the listed 19 years old. Milwaukee took a chance on Maker at 10th overall, and our story goes cold, or does it?
The internet came out in troves to debunk (or confirm) this rumor. A Reddit user found an old yearbook from Australia, showing that Maker actually graduated in 2010. After a talent scout found him and recruited him for his size, he resurfaced in Sydney as a 14-year-old basketball prodigy. The rest is history, but that's some pretty compelling evidence! Check out Maker's supposed timeline to the NBA.
9 Milwaukee Meddles In the European Championship
The NBA has always had an interesting relationship when it comes to out-of-league play. Clearly, teams want their stars to stay healthy, but on the other hand, to deny someone to play for their home country is usually frowned upon. The Bucks found a small loophole when it came to their star, Giannis Antetokounmpo. Before the Eurobasket competition in the summer of 2017, the "Greek Freak" announced on Twitter that he would unavailable for the competition due to an apparent knee injury.
The problem is that the media had no prior evidence of this injury, and the Greek Federation accused the Bucks and NBA of hatching an "organized and well-staged plan" to keep their rising star from participating in the international tournament. The NBA vehemently denies these rumors, but come on, you can't deny that an injured and tired "Greek Freak" is bad for business. We hope these allegations are false, but wouldn't be surprised in the future if the truth came out.
8 Kyrie Irving: The Harlem "Flat-Earth"trotter
There is no doubt that Kyrie has been dominating the league since he departed Cleveland in the offseason. Despite losing recent All-Star Gordon Hayward in the first game of the season, the Celtics rattled off sixteen straight wins, and are currently sitting atop the Eastern Conference. But, even if Irving is a genius on the court, he isn't the brightest of pupils off of it. The perennial All-Star came out as a "flat-earther" before last year's All-Star game, challenging common knowledge that the earth is round (or an oblate spheroid for all you nerds out there).
At one point, Kyrie Irving went back on his ludicrous claim, saying he was just trolling everyone. But in a recent interview with legendary UConn coach, Geno Auriemma, on a podcast, Irving continued his tirade against scientific evidence. Without getting into the bizarre detail, just read it for yourself. Stick to basketball Kyrie, because we hope that your theories don't taint your game.
7 Jordan Still Trying To Protect His Legacy
During his heyday, MJ couldn't be stopped. Six NBA Championships, countless accolades, and an intense drive for being the best has left Jordan as arguably the GOAT (greatest of all-time). "Air Jordan's" legacy will go down in every book written about basketball, and although to younger generations, he's just the "Crying Jordan" meme, to everyone else, he's the king.
Now that Jordan is the owner of the Hornets, rumor has it that he's still trying to protect his legacy via personnel moves. After the Lakers three-peated in the early 2000s, Jordan traded Richard Hamilton to the Pistons for Jerry Stackhouse, in a move that many experts thought was one-sided. The Pistons went on to defeat LA in the NBA Finals the following year. We all know Jordan isn't the best owner, but tanking and trading players to protect your name seems absurd, and we hope it's not true.
6 Referees Still Manipulating Games
In all sports, referees have been accused of throwing the game, whether it's for the betterment of the league, or for personal financial game. Former NBA referee, Tim Donaghy, admitted in 2007 to betting on games that he was reffing, and hoping to throw the outcome. While many experts have looked back with skepticism about Donaghy's claims, contests such as Game 6 of the 2002 Western Conference Finals and Game 5 of the 2006 NBA Finals come to mind as some of the worst officiated games ever (probably to throw the outcome).
Today, with the technology available, and everyone watching, it's hard to imagine referees rigging games, but the rumor still floats around, looming over the NBA. Whether it's a no-call foul, questionable technical, or ejection, there is no doubt that officiating affects outcomes, especially in the playoffs. More games means more dough in the NBA's pocket. We hope these rumors aren't true, but in a society driven by money, it's hard not to believe.
5 Lonzo To Lakers Was Rigged
The NBA is no stranger to crazy rumors when it comes to rigging the NBA lottery. Whispers began in 1985 with the "Frozen Envelope" controversy, in which the Knicks were able to grab Patrick Ewing, saving a big market team from failing. There was the 2008 draft, in which Rose was selected by the Bulls, since fans were disengaged in the post-Jordan era. Then, in 2012, when the NBA-owned the New Orleans franchise, they received Anthony Davis with the top pick, allegedly so they could get a better price for the team.
Now, in 2017, these rumors are still relevant when the Lakers were magically given the second overall pick, despite having a less than 30% chance to land in the top two. They took LA's own, Lonzo Ball, in an attempt to bring the Lakers back to relevancy. Maybe, this theory seems far-fetched, but we can't help to think it's too good to be true.
4 LeBron's Journey To SoCal
Rumors swirled in the offseason that King James wanted out in Cleveland, for the second time. Once the regular season started though, the skeptics stayed quiet. That was until a few weeks ago in early December, when James purchased a second mansion in the Los Angeles area. With the acquisition of true point guard, Lonzo Ball, in the draft, and Paul George stating that he wants to head back to his hometown, Los Angeles could be in for an exciting 2018 season.
Again, these are all crazy rumors, but LeBron does live in LA in the offseason, and it looks like he might head there for the long-term. The 2018 free agent market and offseason will be an exciting one, and I'm sure many Lakers fans have high hopes for the future, but damn, Cleveland sure hopes this isn't true.
3 2016 Finals Scandal
Remember when we said that referees can legitimately affect the outcome of a series? There is no better evidence than the 2016 NBA Finals, in which almost everyone, besides Cavaliers fans, believe is rigged. In a rematch of the previous year's series, in which Curry and company dominated Cleveland, the NBA was set to have some of the best ratings of all-time. Unfortunately for the league, the series was looking like it would be cut short with Golden State going up 3-1.
Late in Game 4 though, Draymond Green received a flagrant foul and was suspended for Game 5. Then, late in the fourth in a close Game 6, Curry fouled out, setting the stage for an epic Game 7. Cleveland took home the title, but everyone questioned what the hell was going on! Even Ayesha Curry weighed in on the rumor that it was fixed. For the integrity of the game, we hope this rumor isn't true, but there is plenty of damning evidence towards the contrary.
2 Phil Jackson Behind The Curtain In New York
With a short tenure of only three years, the New York Knicks fired Phil Jackson as Team President over the summer. After 11 NBA championships, New York thought that Phil could handle the behind the scenes side of the business. But, he basically ran the organization into the ground, culminating with Jackson almost trading Kristaps Porzingis to Boston. The thing is, was Jackson's firing just a publicity stunt to regain fan's trust?
NBA conspiracy theorists out there will still say that Jackson is still the man behind the curtain in New York. Several fans believe this to be true, but there is no way it's real. Of course, there will be a small hangover from the Jackson era, but that doesn't mean he's still at the helm in New York. If the Knicks continue to scrape the bottom of the Eastern Conference though, expect these rumors to keep floating around.
1 Is There Still A Jordan Playing In The NBA?
Wait, what? If you haven't heard this rumor, you're in for a ride, so buckle up. The craziest of NBA rumors started on sports/celeb rumor site, TerezOwens. The theory has it that like many other NBAers, Jordan was creeping around on the road, and fathered an illegitimate son down in Houston (which he has been accused of twice, yet paternity tests exonerated him). That love child is none other than Jimmy Butler! You can't deny the similarity between the two: their height, their build, their style of play, it's all uncanny.
To make things more complicated, Butler's supposed father left him as an infant, and Butler is his mother's name. She kicked him out of the house at age 13, in which some have theorized because MJ's hush money stopped coming in. Clearly, it's just a crazy speculation, but in a list of rumors we hope aren't true, it would be awesome if this one turned out to be authentic!