In the 70-year existence, the NBA has given the world some of the biggest personalities. Unlike other sports, the league has always actively allowed the players to express themselves and let the big personalities drive the league as part of the brand. This has been amplified in the modern social media age, where players utilitze Twitter to show fans what they get up to on a daily basis.
This can often mean players leave themselves open for criticism. A lot of people these days criticize Lebron for being arrogant, and say he should be more like Jordan, when they have no idea MJ was a much bigger jack-ass than Lebron will ever be! But on this list are many stories that maybe didn't make the headlines because social media and 24-hours sports coverage wasn't around.
Many NBA players come from tough, unstable beginnings, so when you throw these guys nationwide attention and millions of dollars, you can expect some stories to happen.
16 Charles Barkley Throws A Man Through A Window
Charles Barkley is one of the NBA’s best players never to win a championship and is one of the game’s biggest personalities on and off the court. Always wearing his heart on his sleeve it doesn’t take much to get the outspoken Sir Charles riled up, and often throughout his career it has landed him in trouble.
In an Orlando bar in 1997 Barkley found himself in an altercation where someone threw a drink over him. Charles promptly picked up the man, who was nearly a foot shorter, and threw him through a pain glass window. Barkley showed little remorse. At the trial the judge asked if Barkley had any regrets, where he replied, “Yeah I regret we were on the first floor.” Classic Charles.
15 James Worthy Gets Stung By Two Undercover Cops
It can get boring on the road. Before a game in Houston in 1990, legendary Lakers forward James Worthy decided to solicit a couple prostitutes to combat his boredom (that's alway a good way to pass the time, right?). Unfortunately for Worthy the ladies in question turned out to be undercover police officers.
Worthy was thrown in jail that afternoon, before eventually being released on bail for $500 pretty much as the Rockets and Lakers were tipping off. Worthy arrived in the stadium during the second quarter to big cheers from the crowd (sports fans are easily willing to overlook these things). Worthy still managed to contribute 24 points in an overtime Lakers win. A strange day for Worthy indeed who must have found news ways to deal with his boredom.
13 Jason Terry Gets A Tattoo Of NBA Championship The Year BEFORE He Wins A Ring
Basketball players aren’t typically short on confidence. But few players match Jason Terry, when in October 2010 at a preseason get-together with his teammates he rolled back his sleeve to unveil his latest tattoo. It was of the Larry O’Brien trophy on his right bicep.
Most of his teammates thought he was crazy. The Mavs were a good team but there were more fancied teams to win the championship that year. LeBron James had just signed for Miami and people were waiting to see the "Big 3" dominate the league. And it would be the Heat who Terry and the Mavs faced in the Finals. Terry did all he could to make sure that his impulsive preseason decision was the right one, dropping 19 first half points in Game 6 to help the Mavs win the Championship 4-2. Dallas got their championship and Terry was saved a lot of embarrassment.
12 Allen Iverson Parties For 72 Hours Straight At The 2001 All-Star Game And Wins MVP
Lets be honest no one really takes the All-Star weekend seriously, particularly the players. But in 2001 in DC, Allen Iverson took it to another level. Iverson partied for 72 hours not even stopping to sleep. He then turned up on the Sunday for the All-Star game where he dropped 25 points, 15 in the final nine minutes and was named the game’s MVP.
All Star games are so often an anti-climax, but the 2001 match-up was actually a great one, the East rallying in the fourth quarter to win 111-110. A.I. put on one of the most memorable All Star performances in history, but he probably doesn't have much memory of it himself. At least Iverson has given fans a great story to tell about his strung out performance that weekend.
11 Bison Dele Is Mysteriously Murdered At Sea
One of the most enigmatic and eccentric personalities the NBA had ever known was Bison Dele. But nothing was more mysterious than the tragic way in which he lost his life. After eight years as an NBA center, Bison Dele walked away from the $36.45 million left on his contract with the Pistons. Dele claimed he had earned enough to walk away from the game citing a desire to “find himself.”
Dele, who changed his name from Brian Williams in 1998, wandered the world on his yacht he named “Hakuna Matata,” with his girlfriend, and eventually his brother Miles Dabord (previously Kevin Williams). The Williams brothers had reportedly had a difficult relationship growing up, and old tensions were enflamed at sea. No one is quite sure what happened but it is believed that Dabord shot and killed Dele, his girlfriend, and the ship’s captain. When Dabord was finally tracked down in Tijuana he intentionally overdosed on insulin, slipping into a coma and eventually dying in 2002, so no one will ever know quite what happened.
10 Stephon Marbury Stars In a Chinese Musical Based On His Life
Stephon Marbury had unquestionable talent but he never found a team in the NBA where he could settle. He fell out with Kevin Garnett at the Wolves, was lacklustre at the Suns before being replaced by future MVP Steve Nash, and he fell out with literally everyone at the Knicks, leading to Isiah Thomas brand him “the most reviled man in New York.”
Marbury eventually found a home in the unlikeliest of places. China.
Marbury is a legend in China where he led the Beijing Ducks to two CBA (Chinese Basketball Association) championships, and there is already a statue of him in Beijing. Marbury is loved so much he starred in a musical loosely based on his life entitled “Marbury: Evolution of the Lone Wolf” and not surprisingly it is super weird. It could be cultural differences that prevents me from appreciating it, but from various clips I’ve seen, Marbury doesn’t seem to do much in the play except walk menacingly around the stage high-fiving and fist-bumping his cast-mates, before breaking into an upbeat ball-dribbling dance routine. It’s still much more impressive than the five years he spent at the Knicks combined.
9 Tim Duncan Is The Nicest Man In The NBA Ever
Tim Duncan’s nickname was the “The Big Fundamental.” He got this nickname because every night you knew what you were going to get, whether it was an early season game or a playoff Game 7. And no matter how the league’s trash-talkers tried to get to him, it was impossible to rile him.
And you would almost certainly never hear trash talk from Duncan himself. In fact you were more likely to hear the complete opposite. Former Wizard’s big man Etan Thomas told the story of one time he faced Duncan. When Duncan blocked Thomas’s shot, as the two jogged back down the court Duncan says to Thomas, “That was a good move but you have to get more into my body.” Thomas was dumbfounded. But in a later play Thomas took Duncan’s advice and sunk a shot. Duncan smiled and said, “Much better.” Tim Duncan is fundamentally a nice guy.
8 Texas Businessman Buys The Dallas Mavericks As A Gift To His Basketball-Loving Wife
Some men just know how to treat a woman. But only a Texas businessman would buy their wife an NBA Franchise as a gift. That’s exactly what entrepreneur Don Carter did when he bought Dallas their first professional basketball team. According to Carter, his wife Linda Jo was a “basketball guru.” Despite admitting he knew nothing about basketball, Carter said he was “stupid enough to promise her a basketball team and had to keep that promise.”
As an expansion team in 1978, the Mavericks cost Carter $12 million dollars and the rest is history. When the Mavs won their first and only NBA Championship in 2011, Mark Cuban graciously let Don Carter accept the trophy, with his basketball-loving wife Linda Jo standing by his side.
7 Larry Bird Plays A Game With His Left-Hand (Kind Of)
Before the 95-96 Bulls and the recent 2015-16 Golden State Warriors, arguably the most dominant single regular season was by the 1985-86 Celtics. The Celtics dominated the season with 67 wins. It got to the point where on Valentine’s Day game against the Blazers Larry Bird decided he was going to play part of the game left-handed.
Larry scored 22 of his 47 points with his left-hand and hit the game winning shot in OT (although this was with his right hand). Why did he do this? Larry wasn’t known for arrogance exhibitionist displays. When asked by reports why Bird had decided to score so much with his left-hand Bird said, “I’m saving my right hand for the Lakers.” The Celtics were due to play in LA two days later. Bird put up 22 points and 18 rebounds in a win for the Celtics, so I suppose his right hand was well rested.
6 Jayson Williams Accidentally Shoots His Chauffeur
Jayson Williams had been a popular player for the New Jersey Nets, making the All Star team in 1997-98, before his career being ended through injury. His life went down a dark path, and eventually spiralled into tragedy, where he never recovered.
In 2002 when driving around his estate Williams was playing with a gun which accidentally went off killing his limo driver Costa Christofi. It took eight years for Williams to be finally sentenced to five years, of which he served eighteen months. Williams has reportedly been haunted by events of that night in 2002, and has found himself battling substance abuse and suicidal tendencies, a fight Williams is battling to this day. But the main moral of this story is don’t play with guns.
5 Madonna Turns Down Jordan For "Bigger" Pippen
One of the main reasons Michael Jordan was able to achieve so much was because he was ultra competitive. Whether he was playing in Game 7 of the NBA Finals, or playing a game of cards or Ping-Pong at home, MJ wanted to win, and he usually did. But according to his assistant coach Johnny Bach there was one time when Jordan’s own teammate was able to get the better of him.
Jordan and Scottie Pippen were the most devastating duo in NBA history, but MJ was undoubtedly number one. There was one department in which Pippen had one over his teammate. According to Bach, Pippen was “very blessed down below.” Pippen also reportedly had a very casual relationship with Madonna, as the two would hook up whenever the Bulls were in LA. Jordan couldn’t accept this and apparently told Madonna he could satisfy her way better than Pippen, to which Madonna replied, “Not a chance.” You can’t win them all Michael.
4 Lamar Odom Ends Up In A Come After A 3-Day Vegas Binge
If you want to stay away from controversy it’s best just to avoid the Kardashians. Through his relationship with Khloe Kardashian NBA Champion Lamar Odom became a national celebrity. What “Keeping Up With The KArdashians” didn’t portray was quite how troubled Lamar Odom was.
In 2013 Lamar and Khloe were going through a messy divorce (which was only finalized October this year) when Odom was found unconscious by a prostitute at the Love Ranch brothel in Vegas after a three-day drug binge of cocaine and herbal sex-boosting drugs. Odom was in a coma for days and given a 50-50 chance of living. Odom eventually got out of hospital in January, and is taking strides to work on his personal issues. He is unlikely to get Khole back however who has moved on to the Cavs Tristan Thompson.
3 Dennis Rodman Becomes BFF's With Kim Jong-Un
The North Korean dictator is not a big fan of human rights, but he is apparently a big fan of the Chicago Bulls. Bulls legend Dennis Rodman made global news when he visited Kim Jong-un and later returning with a bunch of average ex-NBA players to play an exhibition game.
There will never be another basketball player, in fact there will never be another human being like Dennis Rodman. As such it almost wasn’t even that shocking when Rodman became ambassador for sports diplomacy when he visited North Korea to meet Dear Leader. Rodman was heavily criticized by politicians and many in the new media, but the visit gave the world a glimpse into the otherwise inaccessible nation. So, we should thank Dennis Rodman for helping us gain some insight on this foreign country?
2 Gilbert Arenas And Javaris Crittenton Locker Room Showdown
We can all get a bit frustrated with our work colleagues. But most of the time we can avoid finding ourselves in an armed showdown, pointing pistols at each other like a John Wayne movie. Bit this is what happened in the Washington Wizards locker room in 2009.
Gilbert Arenas and Javaris Crittendon argued over a card game on a flight on Dec 19th. Arenas reportedly told Crittendon, “I play with guns,” who which Crittendon replied, “Well I play with guns too.”
Like a scene out of the musical Hamilton, Arenas arrived in the changing room two days later with four guns asking Crittendon to choose his weapon. “I’ve got one right here,” Crittendon replied, before cocking and pointing his gun at Arenas. Thankfully no shots were fired, but the story would make national news. Arenas, who at the time was one of the league’s biggest star saw his career decline rapidly, and Crittendon was sentenced to 23 years in prison for murder last year. Again, if there are any NBA players reading this, please don’t play with guns.
1 Paul Pierce Is Stabbed 11 Times Mid-Season And Still Plays Every Game
Approaching the final years of his career, Paul Pierce can look back at a Hall of Fame career plus an NBA ring. But he so easily could not have experienced any of it. In September 2000, in only his third year with the Celtics, at the age of 22 at a private club in Boston, Pierce was smashed over the head with a bottle and stabbed 11 times. His life was saved by his teammates Tony Battie who rushed Pierce to hospital, where he underwent lung surgery.
It is a miracle that Pierce survived such a brutal attack. Those who witnessed the event, which was instigated by failed Boston rap group the Made Men, would never have believed Pierce would one day lift the NBA Trophy for the Celtics. Even more amazing, the stabbing didn’t cause Pierce to miss a single game, in fact Pierce was the only Celtic player who played all 82 games of the 2000-01 season.
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