Some will say that the golden age of the NBA was from the 1980s to the 90s, while I might not necessarily agree, I know that there was great physical basketball being played that has had a heavy influence on the NBA to this day. At the turn of the decade, (1979) the NBA added the three-point line and future superstars Larry Bird and Magic Johnson were drafted. The combination of new talent and rules elevated the league to a new level. The NBA’s popularity was at an all-time high. Add Michael Jordan in 1984 and the NBA had never been in better hands. The 80s and 90s surely weren’t short on star power, but with the fame inherently comes the hate.
One of these players may be your favorite player and you’re wondering why I put them on this list. Although they may be your favorite player, they annoy anyone who roots against them because of their greatness, attitude, grit, or simply because they win. Sports fans don’t need a reason to hate a player, they just do. Playing for a rival team could automatically make an athlete hated by an entire fanbase.
Here are the 15 most hated NBA players from the 80’s and 90’s and what they’re up to now.
15. Karl Malone
Karl Malone, second on the all time scoring list is widely considered one of if not the best power forward of all time. The only player that compares to him is Tim Duncan who might have the edge due to his five rings. Regardless, Malone was an unstoppable force on the block and always got the ball where he wanted it thanks to the distributing point guard, John Stockton. Malone was a two time league MVP and was selected as an All-Star 14 times. “The Mailman” was loved by Jazz fans but fans of opposing teams can’t get him dunking on their favorite player out of their heads.
Malone had his number retired in 2006, just a year after he retired. Now in Utah there is a road called Stockton and one called Malone and they intersect for a Stockton Malone intersection. In 2013, Malone became the big man coach for the Jazz. Most recently, he invested in a few businesses in Arkansas. That’s the latest that we’ve heard from the Mailman. I’m sure he’ll continue to deliver good news to Jazz fans and bad news to everyone else.
14. Vernon Maxwell
Vernon Maxwell was a crazy guy. He was a great player but he was constantly getting in trouble and he was immature as can be. One of his most infamous incidents came in 1995. A fan was heckling Maxwell during a game and got him so frustrated that Maxwell ran into the stands and punched the heckler in the face. His nickname, “Mad Max” seems pretty accurate. Maxwell also faked a hamstring injury so he didn’t have to play. He was angry that he wasn’t getting playing time but faking an injury will make sure you get no playing time so his plan was counter-intuitive.
After his career, he was a ghost and no one had heard from him in a very long time. That all changed in 2015. He finally agreed to go to the Rockets championship reunion and he finally did an interview and spoke to the media about his playing days. But once again, he has gone silent. There isn’t much of a record on him since 2015. He is very good at flying under the radar for a person of his caliber.
13. Dennis Rodman
Rodman was an all time great but played way different than any other all time great you can think of. He wasn’t a scorer at all but laid everything on the line on defense. He could out rebound players way taller than him just with his hustle and will. Rodman wasn’t the brightest bulb in the box but he sure knew how to play basketball. Rodman was a crazy man on and off of the court. As if you couldn’t are tell that by glancing at his hair.
Rodman has been highly criticized recently for getting into dealings with North Korea’s dictator, Kim Jong-Un. In case you’ve been living under a rock, North Korea is a huge enemy of the US but Rodman doesn’t think Kim is a bad guy. He has been going to North Korea for a while and considers Kim a friend. Rodman could be hurting our country if he makes a mistake because Kim is a very unstable man with weapons of mass destruction. Rodman better watch out.
12. Larry Bird
Larry Bird angered just about every Lakers fan to ever walk the Earth. The Celtics and Lakers have one of, if not the greatest rivalry in basketball and it was only heightened by Larry Bird vs. Magic Johnson. The two drafted in the same year and while Larry won Rookie of the Year, Magic won an NBA championship and Finals MVP in his rookie year. Not only was Larry hated by Laker fans, but also Sixer fans. A memory that lives on in the mind of Larry haters is Dr. J getting three punches in on Bird while Barkley keeps in in a headlock.
After his career, Bird was a coach for the Celtics for about 5 years. He then took a head coaching job with the Pacers where he won the Coach of the Year award. After his third year, he resigned but became the president of basketball operations for the Pacers. He no longer holds that position, as he resigned this year, but he still has an advisory role with the team.
11. Magic Johnson
Magic Johnson was often ostracized during his playing days for being so close with the team’s owner, Jerry Buss. He would often hang out with him as a friend, go to the club with him etc. The other players on the Lakers didn’t like this because they treated him better than everyone else and never had a player had such preferential treatment like this before. Add on to this that they gave him a 25-year, $25 million contract and it surely made the other players jealous.
Now, Magic Johnson is the President of Basketball Operations for the Lakers and with his most recent draft pick, he took Lonzo Ball, the infamous point guard from UCLA. What comes along with Lonzo Ball is his father Lavar Ball. Lavar is a loudmouth who is probably more famous than his son at this point and it will be interesting to see how Magic handles that situation once the Lakers start losing and Lavar gets angry.
10. Shaquille O’Neal
Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant butted heads during their time they spent together on the Lakers and many people didn’t like his pounding style of play, but everyone can agree that Shaq is one of the greatest to ever lace ’em up. He was mostly hated for just being Shaq. No one like when their favorite teams gets dunked on repeatedly.
Currently, Shaq is all over TV. He started with acting in commercials and movies, I’m sure you’ve seen him somewhere on TV, but now he is working as an NBA analyst for TNT alongside Kenny Smith, Ernie Johnson, and Charles Barkley. In my opinion, they make one of the most entertaining basketball shows on TV. Shaq also has a son, Shareef who could possibly play in the NBA one day.
9. Michael Jordan
There is a lot to love about Michael Jordan and everything he has done for the game but there is also a lot to hate about him. There is no doubt that he is cocky, and he was a huge jerk to many people and players as well. While this may have been one of the reasons he had such a killer mentality and was so competitive, it also warrants some hate. I personally like Jordan, but I can’t blame you for hating him.
Now, Jordan is the owner of the Charlotte Hornets, he is residing in Charlotte, and can be seen on the sidelines of every home game. Despite his gambling issues, he is clearly doing well on the financial side of things because an NBA team is very expensive, but one of the best investments you can make.
8. Charles Barkley
Sir Charles played with such effort and grit that everyone hated to play against him. He was a villain not only because of his play on the court but because of his demeanor and antics as well. He would frequently get into fights and also spit on a young girl when he was trying to spit on a heckler. He apologized and actually became friends with the girl but the NBA fans had already written him off as a bad guy. He also said that sports players shouldn’t be role models. Barkley was a guy you either loved or hated and if he wasn’t on your team, you probably hated him.
To this day Barkley is extremely outspoken. He is on the TNT crew that covers NBA games with Shaq, Ernie Johnson, and Kenny Smith. Barkley has been very involved in politics as well. He said he wanted to run for governor of Alabama and run as a Republican. He then changed his mind because he said the, “Republicans are full of it.” He supported Obama and then when he was going to run for governor he changed his mind again and became independent. Barkley is always in the news so I’m sure this won’t be the last time we hear from him.
7. Reggie Miller
Reggie Miller, one of the greatest shooters of all time, played from age 22 to 39 all for one team, the Pacers. However, Miller was more than just a shooter. He was an all around baller. He could flat our score and his career average of 18.2 points per game just proves that. Miller was a huge trash talker and that definitely led to a lot of the hate he received. I’m not sure all of the hate was warranted, but the hate just comes with the territory of being an NBA star.
In 2005, as soon as he retired, he joined TNT as an analyst. In 2007, the revamped Celtics tried to lure Miller out of retirement but to no avail. In 2016, his wife had a baby girl and he became a dad. Miller is still on TV and he is an analyst for NBA games. He is married and has been since 1992. Miller’s net worth is 90 million dollars currently.
6. Rasheed Wallace
Rasheed Wallace was always getting into confrontations. The native Philadelphian didn’t back down from anyone including the refs. Wallace had 317 career technical fouls, the most of any player in NBA history. He had an extremely short temper as you can tell. Wallace wasn’t very fond of his opponents or refs and as you might expect, got into many altercations. He played for the Bullets, Blazers, Hawks, Pistons where he won a championship, the Celtics, and Knicks. Wallace even popularized the saying “ball don’t lie” when shooting free throws.
Wallace still isn’t shy to this day. He hadn’t been in the news for a while, but out of nowhere, he said that the Pistons of his time would run through today’s NBA. He recently got a divorce but other than that he’s been staying out of the news. He is enjoying retirement and roots for the Philadelphia Phillies, the Flyers, but he isn’t an Eagles fan. He instead roots for the Chiefs for some unknown reason.
5. Danny Ainge
Danny Ainge was a gritty, rough and tough player that would let you know how he felt. He would constantly argue calls with the refs and that’s enough alone for me to dislike a player. He once got into a fight with the humongous Tree Rollins. They punched each other, wrestled each other to the ground, and Rollins then bit Ainge’s finger which he needed stitches to repair. He was the pest of all pests. He got into many other altercations throughout his career, but there are too many to name.
After Ainge’s basketball career, he became the head coach for the Phoenix Suns. He unexpectedly resigned and because he wanted to spend more time with his family. Ainge then became the Executive Director of Basketball Operations for the Celtics. Essentially, he was and is their General Manager. He made a huge move that acquired Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen to turn the franchise around and complement Paul Pierce.
4. Charles Oakley
Charles Oakley is one of the toughest players to ever wear an NBA jersey. He was a great rebounder as well. He played for many teams and was an enforcer on all of them. He only played Division II college basketball which isn’t common among NBA players. He was the 9th overall pick in the NBA draft despite not playing Division I. He averaged nearly 10 rebounds and 10 points per game throughout his career. He was an impact player that effected the game in more ways than the stat sheet shows.
In more recent news, Oakley was kicked out of a Knicks game, where he spent spent most of his career for getting into an altercation. The Knicks said he yelled at the team’s owner, James Dolan. Oakley said that he merely sat down in his seat and Dolan told him to leave and he didn’t become combatant until they told him to leave for no reason at all. Both sides apologized for the distraction.
3. Allen Iverson
Allen Iverson is the godfather of the modern NBA culture. He popularized baggy clothes, tattoos and all kinds of other swag among NBA players. Not only was he a game changer off the court, but on the court he patented the signature crossover that so many current players emulate. What Iverson was able to do at his size inspired short players around the world and even bigger player like LeBron James said that Iverson was their favorite player growing up. Without Iverson who knows what the landscape of the NBA would look like today.
After his career, Iverson infamously went broke. After being out of the NBA for a while, Ice Cube chose him to be the face of the BIG 3 Basketball league. He said not to expect much out of him and somehow he still managed to let us down. Even when the BIG 3 came to Philly he didn’t play. He didn’t even come because he said he was sick. Philly fans who know him all to well suspect that he was out too late the night before partying. He hasn’t left a good taste in fans mouths.
2. Bill Laimbeer
Bill Laimbeer was one of the dirtiest, but toughest NBA players of all times. There wasn’t an opponent he couldn’t get under the skin of and it helped the Pistons out a ton. He also wasn’t afraid of making enemies. Laimbeer was hated mostly because of his tenacious and dirty style of play but that is also what endeared him the most to his teammates and fans. But if you tell Laimbeer that many fans hated him he probably couldn’t care any less.
After his playing career, Laimbeer and his father co-founded Laimbeer Packaging Corp. a company that made cardboard boxes but it didn’t do well and closed only a few years after opening. In 2002, Laimbeer became the head coach of the Detroit Shock. In his first full season, he brought them to a championship. He led them to another championship two years later.
1. Isiah Thomas
Isiah Thomas was hated not only by many fans, but also his opponents, most notably, Michael Jordan. Jordan was never fond of Thomas ever since he lost to him in the playoffs multiple times, but then once Michael beat the Pistons, they didn’t even have the class to stay in the arena for the entirety of the game. They left early and didn’t shake hands with the Bulls at the end of the series, a customary thing to do, and this left a bad taste in Jordans mouth. When it came time to put together team USA a.k.a. the “Dream Team” Jordan voiced his opinion against having Thomas on the team and he had his way.
After his playing career, Thomas was an NBA coach for some time. He was once the president of the Knicks and coached the Pacers and after that was over he coached in the WNBA. He also has an investing business called Isiah International LLC. He was inducted to the Hall of Fame in 2000 on his first ballot and he has also been in broadcasting. Most recently, however, he announced he was the sole importer of a champagne called Cheurlin Champagne.
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