In the sports world today, there is a lot of chatter about loyalty within teams. The thing that fans and sometimes athletes seem to forget is as fun as their sport is, at the end of the day professional sports are businesses. Players can get traded away or released at any given time for any particular reason really. Sometimes it just gets to be the end of a long contract for specific athletes. Sometimes father time catches up with certain athletes, who then go into retirement. Also, sometimes there are stories of athletes that stay their whole careers with one team. Some of these cases involve Tim Duncan who played for the Spurs throughout his NBA career, Derek Jeter who played his entire MLB career with the New York Yankees, and Tom Brady who continues to play his entire career with the New England Patriots. However, lately it seems like there is a lot of betrayal; especially in the NBA.
It is no secret that feuds are bound to come up between players about playing time, sharing the ball, etc. But some teammates take it to a point of no return. It gets so bad that some of the athletes leave to pursue other championship opportunities, while others get out for having affairs with teammates wives and girlfriends. Whatever the reason is, these athletes betrayed their teammates in the worst ways possible. Here is a look at 15 NBA players who betrayed their teammates in the worst way for a variety of reasons.
15. Matthew Dellavedova
To start out the list, we take a look at an underrated player in the 2015 NBA Finals for the Cleveland Cavaliers. Matthew Dellavedova came onto the scene when he started seven postseason games for the Cavaliers. He was known for his tough, rigid defense in guarding some of the league’s best guards in Steph Curry and Klay Thompson. He also made some key contributions off the bench on both sides of the basketball during the 2016 NBA title run Cleveland had. With the success he was having in Cleveland, people thought he was going to stay. Instead, he betrayed everything he accomplished in Cleveland and signed with the Milwaukee Bucks for four years and $38 million.
They say that money talks and this was no different in Dellavedova’s case. He essentially cashed in on being a good bench player and left Cleveland to find another defensive minded presence off the bench.
14. Ray Allen
Before there was the forming of “super-teams”, there was the Boston Celtics that formed their “Big 3”. One of the members of this group comes in at number 14. Ray Allen was known for many things throughout his NBA career. He was known for his flawless shooting motion. He was also known for his ability to hit clutch three-pointers late in games. Unfortunately, he was also known for betraying his teammates to chase another championship. In the 2012 offseason, people truly thought Allen would re-sign with Boston to go for one more run at a championship with Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce.
Sadly, Allen chose to sign with the Miami Heat who had their own big three of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh. The move worked out well for Allen as he won a 2nd ring with the Heat during the 2012-13 season. This never sat well with Pierce, Garnett, and other members of the Celtics as they are rumored to not speak with Allen to this day. Some have even thrown the word betrayal out of their mouths to describe how they felt when Allen left Boston. He may have played his heart out for the Celtics, but he will always be known as a traitor and having betrayed what could have been a 2nd Celtics championship in the “Big 3” era.
13. Tony Parker
During the time of when LeBron James played for the Heat, it seemed the San Antonio Spurs were always standing in the way of a Miami NBA title. This man led the way at point guard and is also number 13 on this list. Tony Parker made a name for himself as the point guard behind a Spurs team led by him, Manu Ginobili, Tim Duncan, and legendary coach Gregg Popovich.
The problem wasn’t his play on the court, but rather what he was doing off of the court. He was married to model Eva Longoria for about four years. During their marriage, he was reported to have cheated on her multiple times; one of them being the wife of teammate Brent Barry! Barry was later gone from the Spurs as a result of an on-going feud that went on between him and Parker. It just goes to show that sometimes no matter what women these athletes may have, sometimes they don’t have the best intentions in mind which can lead to betrayal.
12. Ben Wallace
During the Pistons’ three championship seasons in the franchise’s history, they had big, powerful centers that made going to the basket a nightmare for other teams. This player coming in at number 12 did what he had to do in Detroit and then betrayed the whole city to chase the money elsewhere. Ben Wallace arguably had his best years in Detroit with the Pistons. He was a four time all-star and won an NBA title in 2004. He was becoming one of the best young centers in the entire NBA.
After six seasons playing for the Pistons, Wallace chased after the money. He signed a four year, $60 million contract with the Chicago Bulls in the 2006 offseason. His teammates reportedly felt betrayed and hurt that Wallace went to a Pistons rival and gave up everything they had accomplished during his tenure there. It just goes to show what money can do to people and forget about their loyalty toward teammates, friends, and a city.
11. Jimmy Jackson
The number 11 member of this list decided it was okay to go and steal somebody else’s date for the night. Jimmy Jackson was a 6’6 shooting guard that spent more time going from team to team than anybody else in the history of the NBA. His numbers weren’t necessarily eye-popping after he left the NBA. But there is one story that definitely is eye-popping and shows he would betray his teammates in a hurry. The story goes that former teammate Jason Kidd was getting ready to leave the Maverick team hotel to go on a date with a woman. Instead, Jackson swoops in and takes the woman away from Kidd. Now you are probably thinking how could this be worse than sleeping with somebody’s wife? In this sense, it is because Jackson denied Kidd the opportunity to go out on the date and it could have been Kidd’s future wife for all we know. He betrayed his teammate for a good time; talk about stabbing your friend in the back.
10. Leandro Barbosa
As the top 10 begins to unwind, this name surely won’t sound like someone who would be caught having an affair. This guy has bounced around and might have finally found his home in a rebuilding situation with the Phoenix Suns. Leandro Barbosa has moved around quite a bit in the NBA. He has played for several teams that involve the Boston Celtics, Golden State Warriors, and several stints with the Phoenix Suns. During his first stint with the Suns, it was reported that Barbosa was supposedly sleeping with the wife of then teammate Steve Nash. Although it wasn’t proven, fans can see why this might have caused some tension in the locker-room. This time around, Barbosa doesn’t have Nash’s wife to think about. But current Phoenix Suns players might want to watch how quick they trust Barbosa, because he could potentially betray them like he supposedly did to Nash at any particular moment.
9. Jason Richardson
When a woman cheats once, the guy would be smart enough to leave her for good. The fact that Steve Nash’s wife supposedly slept with the number nine culprit on this list makes it even stranger. Jason Richardson was a player who could jump to the sky and dazzled NBA crowds with thunderous dunks. When he wasn’t making moves on the court, he was supposedly making moves off of the court. He supposedly betrayed Nash just like Barbosa did and slept with Nash’s wife. You have to feel sorry for Nash here. To hear the possibility of a spouse cheating once is heart-breaking enough. But to hear it potentially happened twice? That would make any man have a hard time loving again. Richardson just proves that sometimes, women in the NBA don’t mind playing the court with several players.
8. Carlos Boozer
NBA fans know that LeBron James supposedly betrayed the Cavaliers back in 2010 when he decided to sign with the Miami Heat. What people probably don’t remember is that LeBron was betrayed by a teammate long before “the decision”. He left for the Jazz in 2004 and his name is Carlos Boozer. Boozer was known for being a center that could block shots and rebound. He started his career with the Cavaliers and played there for two seasons.
In 2004, he had the opportunity to sign a six year deal with Cleveland. Cleveland thought they had a deal with Boozer then realized quickly they didn’t when he signed with the Jazz for a six year, $70 million contract.
Clearly, somebody miscommunicated throughout the process. LeBron James has even claimed if Boozer was with him in his early days in Cleveland, they could have won a title. We will never know if that would have been true, but we do know now that Boozer betrayed the Cavs when they could have used a big man to complement LeBron.
7. DeAndre Jordan
Imagine verbally agreeing to a contract and then taking away your word because your old team basically forces you back into a new contract? That is the crazy dilemma that the number seven candidate on this list had to go through. DeAndre Jordan has made a reputation for himself as a dominant force inside the paint. He can block shots, pull down rebounds, and clog the lane for an opposing player to come in. He can’t shoot free throws well but he can get a pass for that. The bizarre scenario happened during the 2015 offseason when Jordan verbally committed to a four year, $80 million deal with the Dallas Mavericks.
The Clippers sent several team members and coach Doc Rivers to Jordan’s home and stayed with him until he agreed to re-sign with the Clippers. Eventually, Jordan gave in and signed a new deal with the Clippers for four years and $88 million. Jordan betrayed the Mavericks for his original team and looking back on it now, he probably didn’t even want to play for Dallas. Sorry, Mark Cuban!
6. Derek Fisher
Coming in at number six is a gentleman that had quite the successful career as a player, but hasn’t had the best luck as a coach. This man also hasn’t had the best luck of keeping his affairs out of the public spotlight. Derek Fisher was the point guard behind the Lakers championship title runs in the early 2000s. Everyone thought he would go on to be a successful coach. What people didn’t realize is how quickly he can betray a teammate behind everybody’s backs. Fisher was caught having an affair with Matt Barnes’s wife at Barnes’s home. The even stranger part is that Barnes’s then wife ended up leaving Barnes for Fisher!
Barnes was reported to be so angry with Fisher that he ended up driving about 100 miles to Fisher and got into a altercation both physically and verbally with Fisher. It just goes to show that players have to keep their friends close but their enemies closer. Or in Barnes’s case, don’t trust anyone around his next girlfriend or wife!
5. Karl Malone
The number five player on this list betrayed his teammates in more than one way. The 6’9 power forward was a vital part of the Jazz teams along with John Stockton that made consecutive Finals appearance in the late 1990s. His first act of betrayal came when he signed with Lakers in 2003 to pursue a championship late in his Hall of Fame worthy career. Now most people wouldn’t have a problem with this logic as all athletes want to win a title. But considering he was with the Jazz for almost 20 seasons, he probably should have just ended his career in Utah.
As if that wasn’t bad enough, he then was reported to have been flirting with Kobe Bryant’s wife! Karl Malone may have had that southern hospitality, but apparently that didn’t stop him from betraying multiple teammates during various points of his career.
4. Shaquille O’Neal
The number four big man on this coveted list dominated in both conferences wherever he went. But he made a mistake that he even has regretted to this day. Shaquille O’Neal was one of the most athletic centers that played in the NBA during the beginning of his career. Along with All-Star guard Penny Hardaway, they turned the Orlando Magic into a Finals contender immediately. After the 1995-96 season, Shaq was a free agent. Originally, he wanted to stay in Orlando. However, he saw the opportunity to jump to Los Angeles and be the main player on an up and coming Lakers team. He ended up signing a seven year, $121 million contract and left a huge void in the middle for Orlando.
Shaq betrayed Penny and won multiple championships without him. One of the questions that will never be answered will be if Penny and Shaq could have brought a championship to the city of Orlando had Shaq stayed. Shaq’s number is retired in Orlando, but he will always be remembered for betraying a championship caliber team for the big lights of L.A.
3. LeBron James
I think we all remember where we were when this athlete betrayed multiple teammates and an entire city on national television. LeBron James played the first portion of his career for his hometown Cleveland Cavaliers. He was the one people believed would bring Cleveland their first championship in all sports since 1964. In 2010, in front of a worldwide audience; LeBron James shocked everyone when he announced he would take his talents to join the Miami Heat. The funny part is after four years, he returned to to the Cavaliers in 2015 and delivered the championship Cleveland wanted in 2016. However, LeBron is a free agent again after this upcoming season and there are already rumors that he could go to various destinations. Whether he will leave Cleveland again or not is in his hands. But for now, people can remember when he went ring chasing in Miami and left a deflated city of Cleveland in utter disbelief and shock.
2. Kevin Durant
This player coming in at number two still has people discussing if he took the easy way out to win a championship or if he was simply intelligent enough to join the best team possible. For now, we’ll say he betrayed his All-Star teammate. Kevin Durant is one of the top five players in the NBA to date. Alongside recently named MVP Russell Westbrook, the Thunder were always a consistent threat to win the West. In the 2016 playoffs, it looked like Durant and Westbrook would get back to the Finals when they went up on the Warriors three games to one. However, they blew a Game 5 lead at home and eventually lost the series.
In the offseason, Kevin Durant shocked the world and signed with the Warriors. Durant left Westbrook on his own to lead the Thunder and left a significant void within the organization. Durant’s decision paid off as he won his title this past season and was also named NBA Finals MVP. For all of the love he is receiving in Oakland, he is despised in Oklahoma City for leaving the team that beat him the year before. He will forever be known for betraying Westbrook and the organization that he had been a part of his entire NBA career. Durant’s move of betrayal defines the phrase, “If you can’t beat them, join them!”
1. Delonte West
NBA players have had their fun betraying their teammates and cities. Some have left where they called home for so long and some have even slept with teammate’s wives and girlfriends. But the number one NBA player that betrayed his teammate in the absolute worst way. Delonte West played with the Cavaliers alongside LeBron James from 2008-2010. During his time there, it was reported that West slept with not James’s wife, but his mother of all people! Imagine coming home one night to a co-worker or teammate in bed with your own mother? That can be one of the worst and uncomfortable experiences in a lifetime. There are just some lines people don’t cross and West crossed the mother of all lines. Delonte West may have come into the NBA as a sharp shooting left-handed guard. But he left the NBA as the worst teammate in the history of the NBA.
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