There's something about money that leads people to getting in trouble with the law, whether it be misdemeanor charges or something as serious as assault and battery, especially if they're professional athletes. The money, power, and popularity that comes with the position generally leads one to believe they're invincible, but that isn't the case, at least to an extent - let's be honest a pro athlete is getting away with more than the average joe reading this article right now.
Despite being a forward-thinking organization that is more committed to social progress than any of the major sports associations in North America, the National Basketball Association (NBA) has had its share of negative press from player arrests. It's not quite as bad as the National Football League (NFL), but don't forget NFL teams have much larger rosters than NBA teams; if the NBA had 50-player deep rosters, we would be hearing more about players getting in trouble with the law. The league is fortunate enough that Superstars like LeBron James and Steph Curry are squeaky clean, but there have been many who have been in trouble with the law. It's easy to forget off-court troubles if a player has had tremendous championship success, but for these players that isn't the case.
15 Sean Williams
A former first round pick of the New Jersey Nets, Sean Williams didn't have much of a career in the NBA; the former Boston College power forward had a relatively decent rookie season in 2007-08 with 5.6 points, 4.4 rebounds, and 1.5 blocks per game. However, he played just three more seasons in the league and one in the D-League and failed to be as productive as he was in his rookie season.
He had injuries that didn't help his development, but a pair of arrests within a month during his second season in the league kept him from finding consistent minutes. In February of 2009, he showed up to a BC Eagles game despite having a no-trespassing order against him for a previous incident on campus. He berated officers and wrote obscenities on arresting documents. A month later, Williams got in an argument at a cell phone store and threw a computer monitor.
14 Latrell Sprewell
Latrell Sprewell was a contentious player on the court and his aggressive demeanor transferred over to his personal life. The 13-year NBA veteran and four-time All-Star was arrested three times during his career and failed to win a championship, which isn't shocking considering he played 11 seasons for the Knicks and an abysmal Golden State team.
Sprewell was first arrested in September of 1995 for speeding and driving with a suspended license, which generally isn't enough to warrant an arrest, but it is when you threaten the officer as he did. Three years later, shortly after his coach-choking incident, Sprewell was hit with a reckless driving charge causing a bodily injury charge. He plead no contest to the allegation that he was driving at high speeds and caused another driver to crash, flip his car, and injure two people. He was again arrested for driving with a suspended license in 2003. We hope he's taking advantage of Uber these days.
13 J.R. Smith
J.R. Smith had a few emotional moments after winning his first NBA championship last season. The Cleveland Cavaliers guard made a tear-inducing speech about his parents supporting him and proceeded to go shirtless for the next week. He was clearly taking advantage of the situation, given the troubles he has found himself in prior to joining the Cavaliers.
Smith has been arrested four times during his career, three of which with the Denver Nuggets and once with the New York Knicks. He narrowly avoided vehicular manslaughter charges in 2007 when he blew through a stop sign and caused the passenger, his friend, to die after being ejected from the vehicle. He was charged with assault, destruction of property, and disturbing the peace five months later. Following that, Smith stayed out of trouble for four years until he was arrested in Miami Beach for driving a scooter without a license. He failed to show up in court, which was his fourth charge.
12 Jonas Valanciunas
Toronto Raptors big man Jonas Valanciunas has been a big part of the team's success since they drafted him with the fifth overall pick in the 2011 NBA Draft. The 7-foot center has averaged 11.5 points and 8.5 rebounds per game throughout his career and, for the most part, has avoided negative headlines while in Toronto. However, Valanciunas apparently enjoyed himself a little too much during the end of the 2014 regular season.
He was placed under arrest in April and charged with driving under the influence. Valanciunas was going through a drive-thru at 2:30 a.m. and was spotted by police, who noticed open beer bottles in his vehicle. It's one thing to drive while drunk, but to be stupid enough to have bottles clanking around in your car while doing so is just asking for an arrest.
11 Charles Oakley
This one is probably fresh in your mind. Charles Oakley was arrested in February after a bizarre altercation in the stands at Madison Square Garden in which he was accused of uttering threats at Knicks owner James Dolan. He was given a lifetime ban that was soon after rescinded, but the incident took up plenty of time on television and filled social media timelines. He was released the following day, but that wasn't the only time Oak was charged with a crime.
The 19-year NBA veteran failed to win a championship, but was arrested twice during his career. In 1991, the two-time All-Defensive team player was charged with assault and disorderly conduct and, seven years later, as a member of the Toronto Raptors, he was charged with battery.
10 Joakim Noah
If someone had a gun to your head and told you that you had to pick one NBA player you were certain has been arrested for a marijuana possession charge in order to live, you would first think, 'What an odd scenario this is,' but your second thought would be Joakim Noah, right? Well, you would be right. The original author of the man bun, Noah has a very 'chill' vibe about him.
Whether or not that's true, he was once arrested in Gainesville, Florida in 2008 for marijuana possession and drinking in public. Officers originally spotted him drinking booze and approached him, only to find weed in his pocket. At the time, it was thought he could face up to six months jail time for the possession charge, which is absurd given the growing acceptance and legality of marijuana.
9 Gilbert Arenas
Gilbert Arenas had a dominant four-year stretch in the NBA, but his career was ultimately derailed in 2010 after he was charged with carrying an unlicensed pistol. It doesn't sound like that crazy of an offense, but the circumstance surrounding it were. The three-time All-Star brought an unloaded pistol in the Washington Wizards' locker room and threatened teammate Javaris Crittenton with it over a confrontation in regard to gambling debt. Arenas was a great player for the Wizards, but he's mostly remembered for that incident, which earned him a suspension for the remainder of the 2009-10 NBA season.
He was arrested twice before the famous incident, once in 2003 for unlawful possession of a firearm (surprise) and again for disobeying police. In 2006, Arenas' teammate Awvee Storey was essentially arrested for jaywalking and refusing to get out of the street, which prompted Arenas to intervene, stating, "You can’t arrest me. I’m a basketball player. I play for the Washington Wizards and I’m not going to leave my teammate." It turns out he was wrong.
8 Andray Blatche
Andray Blatche played all of his nine NBA seasons with the Washington Wizards and Brooklyn Nets, so even one arrest would give him more in that category than NBA Championships. Blatche, however, had multiple issues with the law during his first three years in the league. Before he was putting up 13-plus points and 10 rebounds a night for the Wizards, the former second round pick struggled through his first three years with the team and was charged with driving without a license, solicitation of prostitution, and reckless driving.
The solicitation of prostitution charge is the strange one, given that he was due to make millions of dollars on his next contract and one would imagine playing in the NBA is enough to warrant the attention of females. Yet, in 2007, Blatche attempted to solicit sex from an undercover female police officer.
7 Greg Oden
Considered one of the biggest draft busts of all time, Greg Oden was limited to just 105 career games due to extensive injuries which kept him out of action for three seasons. He attempted a comeback with the LeBron James-led Miami Heat in 2013-14, but played in only 23 games and retired in the following off-season.
Just months after calling it quits, however, the former first overall pick of the Portland Trail Blazers was arrested and charged with battery after allegedly punching an ex-girlfriend in the face. Police were called to his residence at 3:30 a.m. on August 7th, 2014 and found a woman laid on the sofa with a swollen and bloodied face. He reached a plea deal the following year and was required to complete 26 weeks of alcoholics anonymous classes and domestic violence counseling, as well as 909 days of probation.
6 Rafer Alston
Eleven-year NBA veteran Rafer Alston is no stranger to law enforcement. A former second round pick of the Milwaukee Bucks, Alston had a relatively clean record during the first half of his career, which is generally when players find themselves in trouble. However, he had a rough year from August 2007-08 in which he was arrested three times.
In the first incident, the point guard was arrested for assault and public intoxication after his vehicle was towed. Sure, nobody likes being in that situation, but it's not a good idea to grab the parking attendant and spit in his face. Three weeks later, Alston was arrested for assault with a deadly weapon as he stabbed a man at a Manhattan nightclub. A year later, he was arrested for driving while intoxicated but later acquitted in a jury trial.
5 Dante Cunningham
Former second round pick Dante Cunningham is a useful bench player who has had stints in Portland, Charlotte, Memphis, Minnesota, and New Orleans. His rap sheet, however, is just as decorated as the list of teams he has played for.
Cunningham was first arrested in April of 2011 for speeding, reckless driving, and marijuana possession. Police also found a loaded BB gun, which adds up to one hell of a night. He was arrested again in 2014 when, as a member of the Minnesota Timberwolves, he assaulted his girlfriend and strangled her for 20 seconds. Three days later, after being released, he again found himself in trouble for violating a protection order and sending threatening text messages to the woman. He has stayed out of trouble in the past three years, which is strange given he's played in New Orleans.
4 Matt Barnes
Matt Barnes plays an aggressive, often dirty style of game on the court, so it isn't surprising he has gotten in trouble off the court, albeit he isn't on this list for his bizarre Derek Fisher altercation. No, Barnes wasn't arrested for allegedly driving 95 miles to "beat the s--t" out of Fisher after the player-turned-coach was allegedly romancing Barnes' estranged wife.
Barnes was actually first arrested well before that incident; in 2010, he was arrested on a domestic violence charge after police arrived at his residence following a 911 call. Two years later, he was arrested for driving on a suspended license and threatening a police officer. The charge was minor, but his resulting mugshot might be one of the all-time greatest among NBA player arrests.
3 Gary Payton
The Glove has actually won an NBA Championship during his career. The Hall of Famer is primarily known for his 13 seasons with the Seattle SuperSonics and, while he failed to win a title with the team, he chased a Championship with the Miami Heat in his final two seasons, finally winning one in 2006.
Payton, however, was arrested twice during his NBA career. In 2003, as a member of the Milwaukee Bucks, he and teammates Sam Cassell and Jason Caffey got into a brawl with men and women outside of a Toronto strip club; Payton was charged with assault causing bodily harm. The following year, prior to the 2004-05 season, Payton was arrested for driving under the influence after an officer spotted him backing out of an on-ramp on a San Diego freeway.
2 Jason Kidd
Like Payton, Jason Kidd won a title late in his career, but not before being arrested twice early in his career. The point guard was charged with assault as a 21-year-old with the Dallas Mavericks in 1995 and, six years later, with the Phoenix Suns, he was arrested for domestic abuse. His wife, Joumana, called 911 after Kidd allegedly punched her in the mouth during an argument over the feeding of their two-year-old son. She had a cut inside her mouth and a swollen lip when officers arrived.
The 10-time All-Star signed with the Knicks in the 2012 offseason and celebrated by having a few too many drinks and attempting to drive his 2010 Cadillac Escalade. It didn't go so well; Kidd crashed the car into a telephone pole and suffered minor injuries. If anything, it was a metaphor for his one season with the Knicks.
1 Allen Iverson
NBA Hall of Famer and 11-time All-Star Allen Iverson was one of the most exciting players of his era both on and off the court. He provided us with highlight-reel plays, incredible rants we still quote to this day, and newsworthy troubles outside of basketball. He grew up in poverty and often went without water, heat, and lights in his home.
Sports kept him out of trouble, for the most part. He was, however, arrested twice in a span of five years while playing with the Philadelphia 76ers. In 1997, Iverson was charged with marijuana possession and unlawful possession of a firearm after the car he was in was pulled over for speeding. In 2002, the talented point guard was charged with assault involving an incident with his wife; he threw her out of the house and, the following day, entered the apartment of some acquaintances with a gun and allegedly threatened two men.