What happens when you take hyper competitive super-athletes and give them a monetary incentive to beat each other on the most public of stages? The answer is simple: NBA competitive spirit. Fights have become the least of player beefs, especially with the rise of social media and perhaps over-covered topics by the media. But it takes a special type of player to not only get hated by one or another player in the league, but to become widely disliked amongst all of the players in the association.
But of course, nothing these days is as simple as it seems. The truth is, ego isn't the sole reason why players are often widely hated amongst their peers. Surprisingly, a lot of the reasons that players are hated around the league is because of the less competitive things they do these days. Either way, one thing is for sure, when players buy into the hatred they receive from other players, it can become a pretty dangerous situation. Get ready for some of the most vitriolic players in today's NBA!
15 Draymond Green
Whether it be listing all the players drafted before him by memory or swinging his leg at the crotch of a long list of other players in the league, Draymond Green has always found a way to piss people off, and be impressive on the court while he's doing it. Although he is beloved in the Bay Area for his defensive prowess and for being a part of multiple championship banners, the truth is that around the league his big mouth and particularly unapologetic crotch-kicking has made him a guy most players can't stand to play against, and that's not just because of the difficult match-up the Warriors usually present. Imagine having to face Steph's shooting and Green's crotch-kicking? It's terrifying.
14 Zaza Pachulia
If there is one line that player's don't cross, it's dirty plays that lead to unfortunate injuries. Especially in the playoffs, where many players are first experiencing the most significant exposure they may ever get. However, Zaza will be forever remembered as the guy who took the Spurs out with one dirty play in the 2017 NBA playoffs. While running at Kawhi Leonard to defend a corner three, he over-committed and took out the space under Leonard where he has to be allowed to land. Instead? Kawhi ended up missing the rest of the series, as the Golden State Warriors took care of business. Most players at this point are at home watching the playoffs closely, and a move like this puts Pachulia firmly on each players' radar as least liked.
13 Dwight Howard
Even though Dwight Howard was all smiles this week, putting Nikola Vucevic on skates with a rare fancy drive to the rack, most know that when it comes to basketball and business, D12 has no "handles." Whether it be his unceremonious exit from Orlando, his rifts with Kobe in his time with the Lakers, or any of his other numerous unsuccessful stops around the league (remember Houston and how disappointing that was?), Howard has proven to be a drama queen that can not take a team deep into the playoffs like he did as a youngster in Orlando... and he has frustrated many teammates along the way.
12 J.R. Smith
J.R. Smith is just one of those players. He has somehow found himself a huge amount of success as a player, yet his antics on and off the court show that his success has been as fortuitous and unfounded as it can be for a clearly talented baller. Smith is hated by players around the league mainly for the lack of respect for the esteem and position of being an NBA player. He pulled strings in New York to get his un-rosterable brother on the team, pulled strings again as he untied opposing players' shoe laces during free throws, and he flaunted his Cavs Championship like he was LeBron or Kyrie, when all he really was, was lucky!
11 Kris Humphries
Rule #1 to stay in good graces of fellow NBA players: Don’t date a Kardashian. Honestly, don't even do it for the others NBAers, do it for yourself and your own NBA career. Despite Humphries being a solid double/double forward in his prime, he has been one of the most hated NBA players by peers mostly because of the distraction he has brought to games, practices and media questions for years. Especially when guys are working hard to get or stay noticed in the NBA, stealing the spotlight because of who you are dating is a foul no baller wants to commit. No one likes an average guy who gets blasted to the moon just because of who he's dating, right?
10 Lonzo Ball
Speaking of undeserving of the spotlight, meet Lonzo Ball. Going from Rookie of the Year candidate, to top 10 rookie of his draft class, to not even the best rookie on his own squad (just ask Kyle Kuzma!), Lonzo has a great reason to be hated by almost any NBA player: unfounded hype. Unfortunately for him, all roads lead back to his father, Loud Mouth LaVar, who has single handedly ruined his son's image and possibly his chances of thriving in the NBA. Can you remember a time where a player's father put a bigger bullseye on the back of their son? He used to play in the league, he should know better.
Also, his Big Baller Brand shoes just aren't great and they're terrible overpriced. Come on man...
9 Lance Stephenson
Born Ready has played a LOT of basketball in the past few years in a feeble attempt to win back his status as a leading wing in the NBA. Unfortunately for Lance Stephenson, his biggest problem wasn’t just his swiss cheese volatile production, but his attention seeking behavior: most famously, his blowing in the ear of LeBron James during the Eastern Conference Finals. While it made for a noteworthy meme that people loved, it definitely didn't help his standing within the league. Since then, he's kind of bounced around the league and hasn't really found his was to stardom. His attempt to be perceived as a top defender was futile and left the NBA brotherhood shaking its head at him.
8 Nick Young
Look: Nick Young has certainly found his way around the league as scorer for more than a decade now, but if there’s one thing that’s clear, NBA players don’t take too kindly to players who will be distractions, especially serious and mature ballers. Young fell in love with the hype and bright lights of Lala Land early on, and never looked back. While his relationship with Iggy Azalea has hurt his image, and made Swaggy P a character that fans love/hate, he looks good to win his first NBA Championship this season as a bench player for the Warriors. Honestly, we just can't wait to see what shenanigans he'll come up with at the Championship parade.
7 Tony Allen
Tony Allen, the grind father, is a generational defensive stopper. Perhaps that alone has caused enough of his peers to dislike him. It's something happens to all the top defenders in the game, just ask former players what they thought of Bruce Bowen! After all, it makes sense for guys to hate Allen, as he has made their lives pretty difficult on a nightly basis. What makes Allen a truly menacing player to embrace is that he also has a big mouth to match his defense, showing he isn’t even scared to call out his own teammates like he did when he ripped Rudy Gay for being soft in his time with the Grizzlies.
6 Stephen Curry
Stephen Curry will always be beloved by those who have decided they are fans of his, but outside of the Chef Steph fan club, the story plays quite differently. For a guy who has won and done it all multiple times, it’s no shock that with a positive and seemingly untarnished attitude, players around the league naturally hate him. After all, he is the NBA’s Golden Boy. Also, his handles have made a variety of top defenders look like jokes, which naturally bruises egos. It only gets worse when they look up to see his big grin and babyface after he nails a triple from long distance. As great as that is, it leaves the rest of the league looking on with jealously, and players and coaches will continually game plan around taking down Steph.
5 Serge Ibaka
Serge Ibaka may have lost out on perhaps the greatest thwarted opportunity in the history of the game, that which is the super team of Ibaka, James Harden, Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant in Oklahoma City before they mistakenly moved James Harden for a rack of basketballs and some used sneakers.. Maybe missing out on that left a bad taste in his mouth, as his attitude has diminished along with his skill set in the past few years. He's part of a lesser big three in Toronto now, along with DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry, but their ceiling doesn't seem as high. While he is blocking the ball much less and taking ill advised threes, he is also getting into a lot of fights! Enough reason for the rest of the league to have no patience left for Ibaka.
4 D'Angelo Russell
D'Lo was supposed to be another Rajon Rondo of sorts (who also wasn't a very well-liked player back in his prime), and although he clearly isn’t going to be anything like that, he is going to be known around the league as a top lottery pick who didn’t play to his potential. He was drafted by the Lakers with hopes that he could bring them back to where Kobe had them at his peak: Championship contention. Instead, he snitched on one of his teammates, Swaggy P who we already spoke about, and dealt with a lot of injury troubles. LA got fed up and send him over to Brooklyn, where things haven't got much better for the young man. His main issue around the league though? You can't snitch on your teammates!
3 Kevin Durant
In case Kevin Durant’s famous flat leaving of the Oklahoma City Thunder for the championship caliber Golden State Warriors wasn’t enough, an interesting wrinkle in the Durant saga occurred this season: he can’t stop arguing with refs and opponents. Yeah, believe it! He has actually already been ejected three times this season, which seems absurd for a player like KD who's generally pretty calm on the court, and even his coach Steve Kerr has agreed that his Dubs need to stop arguing with refs about calls and start playing basketball! When KD is on, he's unstoppable, and his fans will hope he focuses on his game. His opponents are likely happy to see him unravelling a little this year, though.
2 Robin Lopez
Don't let the smiles and jokes fool you. Robin Lopez may be the happy-go-lucky, mascot-trolling twin of Laker center Brook Lopez, but he has been in his share of scuffles in the past few years, creating enemies around the league. If you haven't seen it, Lopez feuding with Magic's mascot was kind of funny, but it's his other little scraps around the league that have other players upset with the big man. Just this year, he had a fight with another guy on this list, Serge Ibaka. In case that wasn’t enough, his cringeworthy attempts at self-branding have brought head shakes and eye rolls to his peers frequently.
1 LeBron James
Unfortunately for the King, he has made quite a few enemies around the league over the years. Granted, it is never easy to be the best player in the league. Each night you are getting the opposing team's best effort, usually on national television. What LeBron did however, that hurt his case was being the most stereotypical millennial possible: whether it was the Decision, or the return to Cleveland (hence ditching Miami), the complaining or the flopping, or the esoteric tweets and media comments. LeBron is too aware of himself and his image, and it creates a distinct divide in the NBA between LeBron James and mere mortals.
Look: the distinctive beefs around the league are usually contagious: that is, players are just as immersed in the trash talk on social media as the fans are, and that causes guys to form attitudes, often unfair, about their peers. The good news, is the interest in the game is higher than ever, and like with anything else in the nation, the conflict only fuels the fire!