You’ve heard it before and the saying is true: The NBA is a star-driven league. Unlike baseball, football or hockey, basketball players don’t wear helmets so fans can see what their favorite athletes look like. If it wasn’t for social media, many fans would have trouble picking out their favorite NFL players in a lineup. That’s not the case with NBA players as you see every smile, every grimace and every emotion that comes across them during a game.
In the NBA, a great player or a great duo can put the team on their backs and lead them to a championship. It’s been like that for the first 70 years of the NBA and it’ll be like that for the next 70 years. Jordan and Pippen, LeBron and D-Wade, Russell and Cousy: those are just some of the pairs of teammates who experienced great success on the court while also being friends, or at the very least getting along, off the court.
However, there are other sets of teammates who didn’t get along off the court. They either simply tolerated their teammate for the greater good of the team or they outrighted hated their teammate just because of a difference in personalities. Some of these teammates even became ex-teammates simply because they couldn’t co-exist with the other anymore and one of the players wanted out. We will revisit these connections which looked great on paper, but just didn’t simply work out for one reason or another. Here are 15 former NBA teammates who still hate each other today.
15 Ray Allen And Rajon Rondo
In 2012 Ray Allen saw the Celtics as a sinking ship and decided to join the rival Miami Heat. The move paid off for Allen as he would win his second NBA championship. However, the move also burned bridges with the Celtics stars Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Rajon Rondo. While all three had beef with Allen, Rondo took it to another level with a peculiar social media post in which he called his former teammates Pierce and KG the Celtics’ leaders while leaving out Allen.
My vets would never go to the media. They would come to the team. My vets didn't pick and choose when they wanted to bring it. They brought it every time they stepped in the gym whether it was practice or a game. They didn't take days off. My vets didn't care about their numbers. My vets played for the team. When we lost, they wouldn't blame us. They took responsibility and got in the gym. They showed the young guys what it meant to work. Even in Boston when we had the best record in the league, if we lost a game, you could hear a pin drop on the bus. They showed us the seriousness of the game. My vets didn't have an influence on the coaching staff. They couldn't change the plan because it didn't work for them. I played under one of the greatest coaches, and he held everyone accountable. It takes 1-15 to win. When you isolate everyone, you can't win consistently. I may be a lot of things, but I'm not a bad teammate. My goal is to pass what I learned along. The young guys work. They show up. They don't deserve blame. If anything is questionable, it's the leadership.
Allen responded with a social media posting of his own where he literally and figuratively pushed aside Rondo:
Last night the stars of the '08 Celtics title team went on TNT but specifically left out Ray Allen. This morning, he responded (on Facebook) pic.twitter.com/zTi6G3wH5g— Rachel Nichols (@Rachel__Nichols) May 9, 2017
Rondo also said that Allen won’t be invited to the team’s 10-year 2008 championship reunion but if Allen does end up showing, it would make for great TV.
14 Michael Jordan And Kwame Brown
Brown became the first ever high school player to be drafted first overall in 2001 when he told Wizards coach Doug Collins and president Michael Jordan, “If you draft me, you’ll never regret it.” Oops. Jordan would then come out of retirement to become Brown’s teammate but the GOAT did not like the way Brown played timidly at times. He reportedly lashed out at Brown at practice one day and said, “Stop playing like a p----!” When Jordan retired in 2003, Brown would actually have the best season of his 12-year career and he would later join the Lakers. With LA, Brown was coached by Jordan’s former coach, Phil Jackson, and Jackson would tease Brown at times by saying, “Here kitty kitty” in reference to Jordan’s quote.
Brown would eventually play for Charlotte after Jordan became a team owner but I’m sure Brown wonders how his NBA career would have played out if he hadn’t been hand-picked by the greatest basketball player of all-time. Brown could have made twice as much money in his career and could still be in the NBA instead of the Big3.
13 Jimmy Butler And Joakim Noah
Many think the Thibodeau-era Bulls split up because of friction between Butler and Derrick Rose, but it was actually Butler and Noah who were butting heads. Butler worked his way up from being a little-used reserve to the best player on the Bulls and felt like he earned the right to be a team leader. But Noah always viewed Butler as “the little brother” and laughed and mocked Butler whenever he tried to lead. That didn’t sit well with Butler especially since he was busting his tail in games and practices while Noah frequently sat out of practices due to fear of getting hurt. Noah essentially dismissed Butler as being a leader and he also got Rose to come to his side. As a result, there was no way that Butler, Noah and Rose could co-exist on the same team. Thus, Rose and Noah left the Bulls for the Knicks before the 2016-17 season and Butler got his opportunity to be the Bulls’ unquestioned leader…until Dwyane Wade and Rajon Rondo showed up.
12 Manu Ginobili And Stephen Jackson
If you remember, Jackson had two stints with the Spurs and was a starter on a title team during the first stint. After leaving the Spurs in 2003, Jackson then came back to the Spurs in 2012 as a backup. However, Cap’n Jack wasn’t too happy that Ginobili, one of the best Sixth Men in NBA history, was the first option off the bench for Gregg Popovich. Jackson thought he was deserving of more minutes and thought that he was better than Ginobili. A week before the 2013 playoffs, the Spurs waived Jackson which meant he was ineligible to play in the postseason for any team and Popovich described the move as “best for our group.” Jackson had become a locker room cancer and afterwards called out Ginobili by saying he was “playing like trash at the time.” Even today Jackson still says he was better back then than Ginobili was and isn’t afraid to bring the topic up on the ESPN show he is a part of.
11 LeBron James And Kyrie Irving
This is the most recent feud and played out during the summer of 2017. No one, including LeBron, saw this coming when Kyrie Irving shocked the world and demanded a trade. Kyrie was tired of playing second-fiddle to LeBron and seemingly would rather be the superstar and go-to guy on a team than competing for championships on a yearly basis. Kyrie finally got his wish and was traded to the Celtics which was then followed by a bizarre appearance on ESPN’s First Take.
Kyrie offered lots of one-word answers and non-answers as to why he has beef with LeBron and came across as smug and selfish. But this beef is exactly what the NBA wants to see especially if/when LeBron ends up with the Lakers next season. The Celtics-Lakers rivalry will be renewed with former feuding teammates on each side.
10 Michael Jordan And Clyde Drexler
These two were teammates for the shortest amount of time as they were cohorts on the Dream Team at the 1992 Summer Olympics. But the problem for Drexler was that the Bulls had just beaten his Blazers in the 1992 NBA Finals and Jordan reminded The Glide of that every…single…day. It got so bad at Dream Team practices that Magic Johnson had to pull Jordan aside and tell him not to destroy Drexler’s confidence right before the Olympics. Charles Barkley, another member of that team who would later team with Drexler in Houston, said that Drexler was always jealous of Jordan because of MJ never existed, then Drexler would have been the best two-guard of his era.
Drexler has continued his dislike of Jordan 25 years after they were teammates as he refuses to say Jordan is the greatest player of all-time and says that honor goes to Wilt Chamberlain.
9 Kobe Bryant And Smush Parker
Kobe has beefed with many teammates but none may be more trivial than with Smush Parker who was the Lakers’ starting point guard from 2005-2007. Parker said that one day, he tried to have a casual conversation with Kobe about football and Kobe responded: “You can’t talk to me. You need more accolades under your belt before you can talk to me.” Kobe would continue to drag Parker thru the mud even after he left the team as he blamed Parker for not allowing him to win more MVPs.
"I tell Steve [Nash], you won MVP but I was playing with Smush Parker," Bryant said. "He's playing with [Leandro] Barbosa. I'm playing with Smush and Kwame [Brown]. My goodness."
Parker finally responded to Kobe verbally bullying him with an interview after he retired.
“You can't knock the man's legacy, you can't knock what he's done in basketball…What I don't like about him is the man that he is. His personality. How he treats people. I don't like that side of Kobe Bryant…For my name to still come out of that man's mouth? It makes me blush."
8 Alonzo Mourning And Kenyon Martin
Mourning missed the entire 2002-03 season due to a kidney disease and joined the Nets for the 2003-04 season. After one practice, Mourning and some other Nets were running suicides for being on the losing end of a scrimmage. Martin then yelled at Mourning that he wouldn’t be running if he improved his rebounding. Mourning responded:
''At least I'm out there on the court, not in the training room. I'm trying to make the best of my time. You can't be a leader in the trainer's room crying, 'My ankle, my ankle.’”
Martin then responded: “My kidney, my kidney!”
That set Mourning off and he tried to go after K-Mart only to be restrained by his teammates. Mourning said: “What did you say about my kidney? Don't talk about my kidney. I'll put you on your back.''
The two never came to blows but the verbal damage had been done. Mourning would play just one more game that season before “retiring” due to his kidney ailment. However, he would come back the next season only to then demand a trade out of New Jersey and back to the Miami Heat.
7 Isiah Thomas And Adrian Dantley
In 1989 the Pistons needed a shakeup in order to get over the hump and win an NBA championship and that shakeup involved trading away Adrian Dantley midseason. Dantley was a six-time All-Star, a two-time scoring champ and is a Hall of Famer; yet, he didn’t get along with the team’s leader Isiah Thomas. Dantley believes that Thomas is the one who orchestrated the trade and called him a “con man.”
"I'll be you one thing, if I was kissing Isiah's ass, I would have never got traded," Dantley said.
Dantley contends he was traded for a lesser player in Mark Aguirre because Aguirre was a childhood friend of Thomas from their days growing up in Chicago. It worked out for Aguirre and the Pistons as they would win the NBA championship in both 1989 and 1990. It did NOT work out for Dantley as he was traded to the Mavericks who didn’t make the 1989 playoffs and Dantley would appear in just three more playoff games in his career.
6 Rudy Gay And Tony Allen
In 2013 Rudy Gay was traded from the Grizzlies but it wasn’t until 2017 that this feud started. That is when Tony Allen said that the Grizzlies’ “Grit and Grind” era started when Gay complained about an injury and sat out a game. Allen then mocked him by saying,
"Rudy Gay said 'I'm not playing this game, my toe hurts,'" Allen said. "'I said, your toe hurt? Your toe hurt? You just did a windmill dunk last night, your toe wasn't ...' I said 'Alright, your toe hurt.’…To make a long story short, we win…I was so upset with Rudy for not playing...When they gave me my interview, the first thing I said was, 'It's just all heart. Grit and grind.' That's how that phrase blossomed in Memphis. I was still upset. That was really a jab at Rudy Gay.”
Gay would bounce from Memphis to Toronto to Sacramento to, now, San Antonio. With Allen now with New Orleans, the two of them can renew acquaintances in the Southwest Division.
5 Allen Iverson And Jerry Stackhouse
Iverson grew up in one of the roughest parts of Virginia while Stackhouse has a reputation as one of the toughest guys in NBA history. Yet, these two were at odds after Iverson was drafted first overall in 1996 and the Sixers said he was their franchise player despite the team telling the same thing to Stackhouse when he was drafted the year prior. Iverson wanted to play shooting guard but Stackhouse didn’t want to give up his position and the tension turned physical when they got into a fight at a shootaround in 1997. Stackhouse would describe the altercation as “a fight between one guy who doesn’t know how to fight (Iverson) and another guy who didn’t want to (Stackhouse).” There’s no word on who won the fight but the 76ers picked a side as they would trade Stack just months later while AI would became a Philadelphia legend.
4 Gilbert Arenas And Caron Butler
While Gilbert Arenas and Javaris Crittenton is another obvious Wizards beef, Agent Zero and Tuff Juice are still at odds today. Their feud is actually a result of the Arenas-Crittenton Wild, Wild West showdown in the locker room. Arenas says that Butler is the one who hid Crittenton’s gun from police when they were searching the locker room which led to Arenas being arrested and charged with a felony. Here is Arenas from a now-deleted social media post:
"i took a#FELONY becuz You told them #crit didnt have anything and i pointed the gun at him..thats why the world thinks im the one who pulled the Gun on my teammate and thats the story the team thought was correct…becuz u convinced the team he didnt have it
HOW THE [expletive] DID i get a felony charge and 30 days in a halfway house and all he got was a slap on the wrist and a misdemeanor charge and i didnt touch one gun or was near any guns..it took the DA 1 month to find his gun becuz u had it."
3 Kevin Garnett And Stephon Marbury
This rivalry is based on the jealousy that Marbury had for Garnett in Minnesota. KG signed a $126 million contract in 1997 and when Marbury’s deal came up the next year, he also thought he was going to cash in. However, Marbury was offered “just” $71 million by the Wolves as it was clear the team viewed KG as the franchise player while Marbury was just a featured player. Just months later, Marbury pouted his way to New Jersey in a trade and he would later join Phoenix. While with the Suns, Marbury said that a rookie Amare Stoudemire was better than Garnett ever was and KG responded by saying, “This is Steph being jealous.”
The two would reunite a decade later with the Celtics but seeing how KG holds grudges *cough* Ray Allen; chances are he still held resentment for Marbury leaving him on an island in Minnesota.
2 Kobe Bryant And Shaquille O’Neal
Arguably the most famous feud in NBA history, the Kobe-Shaq beef has its own Wikipedia page! This feud is based on differing personalities between the two as Shaq loves to have fun, even while playing basketball, while Kobe is all business all the time. While most think this was just a verbal sparring that didn’t actually turn physical, that’s not the case. During a two-on-two feud during the 1998-99 lockout, Shaq and Kobe were on opposite teams and Shaq ended up slapping Kobe when the play turned physical. These two went back-and-forth for a decade but seemed to make up in recent years. Shaq appeared at Kobe’s last game in 2016 and Kobe appeared at the unveiling of Shaq’s Staples Center statue in 2017. Still, when one tells you, “Kobe, tell me how my a** tastes,” it’s hard to get that out your mind and I’m positive there is still simmering beef between the two.
1 Tony Parker And Brent Barry
Some feuds were based on jealousy, some were based on pettiness; this one was based on adultery. Tony Parker and Eva Longoria were a power couple for three years but that came to an end in 2010 when Longoria found out that Parker was sexting with another woman. That other woman turned out to be the wife of his teammate, Brent Barry. A source says that the relationship between Erin Barry and Parker never turned physical but that was still enough to not only end Longoria and Parker’s marriage but also end the Barrys marriage. Both couples would divorce in 2010 and by then, Barry was retired. Barry had left the Spurs in 2008 but just imagine the locker room turmoil that would have erupted if they were teammates when this happened. Barry is now an analyst for Turner Sports but seems to never get the assignment to call Spurs games…I wonder why?