Skills, athleticism, and even basketball smarts eventually diminish. The one thing that always stays with professional basketball players is their reputation. A reputation inspires tales of individual heroism and greatness, which in turn inspire other players to equal their idols. Lonzo Ball was obviously stressed when playing against LeBron James some time ago, but it had more to do with facing a mythical hero than playing against an exceptionally skilled and talented player. The same was the case with James meeting Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in front of the Cavaliers locker room during the 2016 playoffs. LeBron would destroy the 70-year-old basketball legend had they faced off on the basketball court now, but because of reputation LeBron was mesmerized by the all-time scoring leader.
Kareem is an example of a player whose reputation went well beyond the basketball court and was able to live on despite him starring in one of the Ernest movies or unsuccessfully coaching Michael Olowokandi. But not all former basketball players were that lucky. Some participated in events or scandals that overshadow their impressive basketball achievements. It was long after their playing days were over that they decided to embark on something foolish, or at least questionable. It was their decisions and their own actions that caused this. In consequence they’re no longer respected by their peers, as well as men who cheered them on during their playing days. As for present-day fans, they only know them because of their mistakes and not once-great on-court performances.
These are 15 Former NBA Stars Embarrassing Themselves After Leaving The League.
15. Darius Miles
Darius Miles is just 36 years old, yet he’s been out of the league for almost ten years. He enjoyed a rather good start to his professional career. He was not only the third overall pick in the 2000 NBA Draft, but the first player taken out of high school to make the All-Rookie First Team. Then however he spent his time either injured or not living up to his potential. He made $62 million during his short seven year professional career, which should have set him up for life. Instead, Miles filed for bankruptcy last year and was forced to sell some of his prized items, including five VHS players. Don’t know what’s more surprising, the fact that he still had those or that someone actually bought them.
14. Latrell Sprewell
How desperate must a guy be to use Spree to fix his media image? Yes, Spree was great on the court, a true warrior and competitor who was capable of explosive plays. But he was even more explosive off the court. He was well compensated for his play, as he made almost $100 million during his basketball career. However, due to reckless spending, he was left broke almost immediately after his career was over. In order to make some money, Sprewell appeared next to James Dolan during an NBA game. This was after Dolan threw out Charles Oakley from the Knicks arena. This was the man who once choked his head coach and Dolan used him to convince fans that other Knicks greats loved him.
13. Ben Gordon
The English-American player was so good during his first year in the NBA that even though he didn’t earn Rookie of the Year honours, he was the first rookie to be named the Sixth Man of the Year. Known as a reliable shooter, Gordon enjoyed a good NBA career. Although in his later years he was a bit of a disappointment, since he never could overcome his problems with conditioning. Just recently Gordon got into a couple of incidents which call for a psychiatric evaluation. Among others, he pulled a box cutter on a woman at a holistic wellness centre, and later a knife on a manager of an apartment building after punching him. His big shots against the Boston Celtics are rather forgotten due to these incidents.
12. Mookie Blaylock
Daron Oshay Blaylock, known as Mookie, was a good three point shooter and an excellent defender. He lead the league in steals for two years in a row during a time when Gary Payton and Michael Jordan were still active, and playing great lockdown defence. He was also picked to All-Defensive Teams six times. Unfortunately, Blaylock got addicted to pain medication, and later on, alcohol. Since 2007 he was arrested for DUI six times. The last one was after he killed another driver in a car accident. The once-great player had to serve three years in jail. He was also prohibited for driving a car for 15 years, plus given eight years probation.
11. Lamar Odom
Call it the Kardashian curse or simply bad luck, Lamar Odom experienced one of the most sudden declines in recent professional basketball history. The two time NBA champion and 2011 Sixth Man of the Year was so offended by his team’s, the Los Angeles Lakers, attempt at trading him that he lost interest in basketball. Although he wasn’t officially retired, Odom’s career (and marriage to Khloe Kardashian) was basically over when he was found passed out in a brothel in Nevada. He’s been battling addiction since. This is definitely not the end Odom and his fans envisioned for him. The fact that Ben Simmons is earning comparisons to him shows just how good the former Clipper and Laker once was.
10. Oliver Miller
Mostly known for not looking like a professional basketball player due to his weight issues, yet actually playing like one from time to time, Miller was a beloved figure in Phoenix. Suns fans loved him and his clashes with Gorilla, the team’s legendary mascot. In 1995-96 Miller was picked up by the expansion team from Toronto and had his best career season there. In 2004 Miller retired from playing professional basketball after stints in other countries. In 2011 he pleaded guilty to first-degree assault and unlawful possession of a weapon, for which he was sentenced to five years of jail time. He assaulted his girlfriend’s brother during a family barbecue. You can’t make this stuff up.
9. Jason Caffey
Was Jason Caffey a NBA superstar? For a brief moment he seemed he could become one. He was drafted in the first round by the Chicago Bulls and was a role player during their two last championship runs. Then he was traded to the Warriors and had a breakout season in the Bay Area, averaging 12 points and 7 rebounds in 1999-2000. However, because of personal problems, Caffey never could quite put two and two together on the basketball court. Off it he had quite a temper as well, which is proven by his fathering of ten children by eight different women. In 2007 he was arrested for failure to pay child support, hence in 2008 he attempted to file for bankruptcy, but the court rejected him. In consequence Caffey has held different jobs through the years in order to support his children.
8. Robert Swift
The high school giant was selected with the 12th pick in the 2004 draft, just two picks before Al Jefferson and 18 before Anderson Varejao – guys who did much better in the NBA. Instead, Swift was a constant work in progress, whose career was marred by injuries. After he was out of the league he tried playing professionally in the D-League and Japan, but wasn’t good enough to make a comeback. Depressed, Swift got into substance abuse and eventually went bankrupt. In 2013 he refused to vacate his foreclosed house, in 2014 he was arrested for unlawful possession of a weapon. In 2015 he was arrested for an attempted home invasion. He was intoxicated at the time of the robbery.
7. Dennis Rodman
The Hall of Famer messed up his post-career life on so many levels that it’s painful to type all the stupid stuff he got himself into. Despite earning around $27 million during his professional career, Rodman filed for bankruptcy. He also had a lot of trouble with alcohol and infidelity. The most problematic thing though is his relationship with Kim Jong-Un. The great rebounder went to North Korea, accepting the invitation of the country’s leader, who’s actually a big NBA fan. Rodman now considers Kim his personal friend and tries to convince the American people that he’s not that bad. Come on Worm, you’re way better than that!
6. Michael Jordan
Where do we start with MJ? After his first retirement he embarked on a career in baseball and did really bad. After his second retirement he drafted Kwame Brown with the first overall pick for the Wizards and then decided to come back to playing professional basketball, ruining Brown’s career in the process. Jordan famously destroyed Brown during team workouts and criticized him so much, that he contributed to his player of choice turning into one of the biggest busts in league history. After his third retirement, Jordan took over the Charlotte Bobcats/Hornets and turned them into one of the worst teams in NBA’s recent history. Then there’s his Hall of Fame speech, in which he showed that despite being the best basketball player in history, he still remembers everybody that wronged him. Literally everybody.
5. Isiah Thomas
Thomas was a player who put the Detroit Pistons on the map, a fearless competitor and leader, who battled the Boston Celtics and later on Chicago Bulls for the supremacy in the Eastern Conference in the eighties. In 2000 Thomas was inducted into basketball Hall of Fame. He was well respected as a GM and a mentor, who helped establish the Toronto Raptors as a true NBA franchise, and was OK as a coach for the Pacers, even though his team never got out of the first round. It was after he took over the Knicks that things went really downhill for Zeke. His tenure as a coach and GM on the team ruined the NY franchise for years. He signed bad players to ridiculous deals, but more notably the team had to settle a harassment suit filed against Thomas in 2006. The Knicks became a laughing stock and so did Thomas. Luckily he recently bounced back as a TV expert.
4. Rick Barry
Rick Barry is now known mostly for his unconventional free-throw technique. What’s most surprising about it is how efficient it was – after his retirement Barry was ranked first in free throw percentage. Apart from that he was a great, albeit very egotistical, player. He led the Golden State Warriors to a NBA championship in 1975, way before they turned into relative obscurity, which ended with the arrival of Steph Curry and Klay Thompson. After his career was over Barry became a commentator for CBS. Working alongside Gary Bender and Bill Russell during the 1981 Finals, the former brought up old photos of Russell, to which Barry reacted with a comment about Russell wearing a “watermelon grin.” Russell reacted by turning his back to Barry and the whole game continued in a very awkward atmosphere. Barry’s contract with CBS was not renewed. As a man who battled racism throughout his playing career, Russell had every right to be offended.
3. Paul Silas
Paul Silas was a three time NBA champion, two time All-Star and five times All-Defensive Team member. During his playing days Silas was pure class, a hard worker who his teammates could always count on. With his hard-nosed play he allowed other Celtics and Sonics superstars to shine. He retired with averages of 9 points and 9 rebounds. And then he got into coaching. During his 12 years as a head coach Silas got to the playoffs four times. With a talented roster, like in the case of Hornets, he did fine, but when it came to young Cavs and Bobcats, he bombed heavily. During his last season in Charlotte, Silas went 7-59. Ouch.
2. Kurt Rambis
He might not be considered a superstar by some fans, but Rambis was a very decent role player, a serviceable hard-worker, who enjoyed universal respect. He won four NBA championships as a member of the Showtime Lakers and even though he looked dorky, he got along with cooler, flamboyant players like Magic Johnson or James Worthy. He retired with averages of 5 points and 5 rebounds. Just like Silas, he then got into coaching. He started off great, as an interim coach for the Lakers led by Shaq and Bryant. During half of the season he was with the team he got half of his professional wins. The rest of the total of 56 (to 145 losses) he collected in two full seasons in Minnesota and 28 games with the Knicks. The fact that he’s still able to find work with the team, albeit as an assistant coach, is really surprising.
1. Jayson Williams
The power forward/centre was a very solid role player for the Sixers and the Nets. He made the All-Star team in 1998 and there was hope of greater things to come from him, but a leg injury in 1999 cut his career short. He was just 31 years old and entering his prime. Williams was also a ticking time bomb, as he loved to talk trash and get into fights. In 2002 Williams accidentally shot and killed his limousine driver as he was playing with a gun while giving the tour of his house. Williams is now free and another tough guy, Charles Oakley, is trying to get him on the right path, as Williams has also struggled with substance abuse.
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