Retaining the services of a quality criminal defense attorney is often a costly expenditure. Fortunately, the 449 players who appeared on one of the NBA’s 30 opening-day rosters this season earned an average salary of $6.4 million, which is more than any other sports league across the globe. Unfortunately for some of the association’s prosperous hoopsters, there is no amount of money that permits people to act unlawfully with immunity. Scrubs, career journeymen, former first overall draft selections, All-Stars and even current and future Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famers have been arrested, charged and found guilty for engaging in various illegal activities.
While most incidents occur off the hardwood, some vicious acts have happened on the court. Most notoriously, members of the Detroit Pistons and Indiana Pacers brawled with each other, and fans, at The Palace of Auburn Hills in Auburn Hills, Michigan, in November 2004. Known as the Malice at the Palace, the Pacers' Ron Artest, Jermaine O'Neal, Stephen Jackson, Anthony Johnson and David Harrison pleaded no contest to misdemeanor assault and battery charges roughly a month after the melee. Although a genuinely frightening incident, the five Pacers’ charges were essentially frivolous.
Conversely, this list will unmask 15 NBA athletes who committed serious crimes. Considering how many of the association’s performers have run afoul of the law, this list has been narrowed down and will focus on the misdeeds of renowned ballplayers or athletes whose crimes were particularly heinous. Without further delay, let’s review this compilation of NBA lawbreakers.
15 RUBEN PATTERSON
Ruben Patterson was one of the Portland “Jail Blazers.” A 6-foot-3, 225-pound shooting guard, the 41-year-old Patterson was a star at the University of Cincinnati. The Los Angeles Lakers chose Patterson with the 31st pick in the 1998 draft. Patterson, who also played in the association for the Seattle SuperSonics, Denver Nuggets, Milwaukee Bucks and Los Angeles Clippers, forced his children’s babysitter to perform fellatio on him in September 2000 while his wife was recovering from surgery.
"When you get into the documents and the transcript, you find out it's a brutal crime," lawyer and journalist Jeff Benedict told ABC News. "He basically palms a girl's head like a basketball and has her perform a sex act on him that anybody who knew about that would say, 'This is outrageous.'”
Patterson paid the then 23-year-old victim $400,000 in a settlement and he is now a registered sex offender.
14 GLENN ROBINSON, JR
Two-time NBA All-Star forward Glenn Robinson drunkenly visited the home of his ex-fiancée, Jonta French, in Chicago Heights, Illinois, on July 20, 2002. The 44-year-old Robinson furiously demanded to see their daughter. Although initially apprehensive, French let Robinson inside and the 6-foot-7, 240-pound menace proceeded to beat the woman. The top choice in the 1994 draft then retrieved a firearm from a nearby bedroom and chased French around outside with the weapon before she gained refuge in a neighbor’s home and phoned the police.
Judge Christopher Donnelly inexplicably gave Robinson a lax punishment. However, Donnelly did harshly scold the former Boilermaker.
"It's shocking what you did," Donnelly said. "You might have had some grievances, but you had no right to take it out on the mother of your daughter. You are a role model. And as such, you brought shame on yourself and your family, and you let your fans down."
13 MICHAEL OLOWOKANDI
The Los Angeles Clippers chose University of the Pacific center Michael Olowokandi with the first selection in the 1998 draft. The 42-year-old Olowokandi was soft on the hardwood and he was removed from the association altogether following the 2006-07 campaign. Disturbingly, while still a struggling Clipper, the 7-foot, 270-pound bust was charged with three felonies (cohabitant abuse, false imprisonment and robbery) for attacking his former girlfriend, Suzanne Ketcham, in December 2001.
According to reports, the “Candy Man” returned to his home in Manhattan Beach, California, with an unnamed woman. Upon seeing this woman, Ketcham became irate and angrily approached Olowokandi. Olowokandi subsequently struck Ketcham, confiscated all surveillance videos, and pocketed his ex-lovebird’s watch and earrings before forcing her to leave his residence. Olowokandi’s charges were reduced and he essentially received a wrist slap for the incident.
12 DESHAWN STEVENSON
The Utah Jazz drafted Washington Union High School shooting guard DeShawn Stevenson with the 23rd pick in 2000. An immature multimillionaire, the then 20-year-old Stevenson was charged with statutory rape for fornicating with a 14-year-old girl. The 6-foot-5, 220-pound Stevenson admitted in a court of law that he got the teenager drunk on brandy and Coca-Cola and then the two had sex at a Howard Johnson's motel in Fresno, California.
"(The 14-year-old) said it was voluntary,” Fresno police officer David Unruh said during the hearing. “The second thing she said was if she had not been so drunk, she probably would not have had sex with him.”
An upstanding role model, Stevenson pleaded no contest to the charge and was sentenced to 100 hours of community service, two years probation and a $1,100 fine.
11 OLIVER MILLER
Oliver Miller was a portly center who played basketball for seemingly every professional organization on Earth. The 47-year-old Miller, who last earned paychecks competing for the glamorous Lawton-Fort Sill Cavalry of the Premier Basketball League, repeatedly pistol-whipped his girlfriend’s brother at an April 2011 backyard cookout in Edgewater, Maryland. The 6-foot-8, 280-pound Miller was arrested by Anne Arundel County authorities and charged with assault, reckless endangerment and multiple other offenses.
“The Big O,” who was named the 1991 Southwest Conference Men's Basketball Player of the Year as a University of Arkansas Razorback, pleaded guilty to first-degree assault and carrying a handgun and he received a five-year sentence behind bars. Meanwhile, the sibling of Miller’s sweetheart required 11 staples to close deep lacerations on his head.
10 JEFFERY TAYLOR
The Charlotte Bobcats chose Vanderbilt University forward Jeffery Taylor with the 31st pick in 2012. Approximately two years after becoming a Bobcat, the 27-year-old Taylor was arrested at a Marriott Hotel in East Lansing, Michigan, and charged with one count of domestic assault, assault, and malicious destruction of property. The 6-foot-7, 225-pound Taylor, a native of Sweden who attended Hobbs High School in Hobbs, New Mexico, admitted to shoving his girlfriend and he pleaded guilty to a domestic violence charge in October 2014.
Shortly after acknowledging his evildoing, Taylor was suspended for 24 games by NBA Commissioner Adam Silver. Team owner Michael Jordan decided against re-signing Taylor at the end of the 2014-15 season. Real Madrid Baloncesto of the EuroLeague currently employs the convicted domestic abuser.
9 GREG ODEN
Infamous center Greg Oden, who the Portland Trail Blazers chose first overall in 2007 out of the Ohio State University, was expected to mature into the most dominant big man since Shaquille O'Neal. Instead, the 29-year-old Oden battled insurmountable knee and leg injuries that robbed him of his skills on the court. The mammoth, 7-foot, 275-pound Buckeye unwisely sought alcohol to dull his physical, personal and professional pain. Now fighting alcoholism, Oden repeatedly struck his ex-girlfriend in the face at his mother’s house in Lawrence, Indiana, on August 7, 2014. Oden was charged with two felony battery counts and two misdemeanor battery counts. More than a year following the brutal attack, Oden pleaded guilty to battery with moderate bodily injury and prosecutors dropped the additional three charges.
8 QYNTEL WOODS
Qyntel Woods was another member of the notorious Portland “Jail Blazers.” Taken by the Blazers 21st overall in 2002 out of Northeast Mississippi Community College, the 36-year-old Woods was charged with animal cruelty in October 2004 for operating a dog fighting ring at his residence in the Rose City.
Woods pleaded guilty to misdemeanor animal abuse in January 2005 and had his attorney read a statement in court.
"I've tried to be a responsible pet owner all of my life," Woods said.
"Because of that I am very sorry and saddened that my dog, Hollywood, was injured. I also deeply regret the concern this has caused other pet owners and citizens in our community. I fully support the goals of the Humane Society and the fine work it does. For that reason, I have decided to make a financial contribution to the Humane Society in the amount of $10,000.”
7 LANCE STEPHENSON
Indiana Pacers shooting guard Lance Stephenson allegedly threw his pregnant girlfriend down a flight of stairs in a New York City apartment complex on August 16, 2010. The 26-year-old Stephenson, an unrepentant troublemaker who has been employed by six organizations since entering the association in 2010, then reportedly walked down the stairwell toward his sweetheart and slammed her head against the bottom step. Stephenson was arrested and slapped with assault, menacing and harassment charges. The 6-foot-5, 230-pound Stephenson, who was also charged with sexually assaulting a 17-year-old girl while attending Brooklyn’s Abraham Lincoln High School in 2008, was arrested for third-degree assault. The prosecution’s case versus Stephenson collapsed and it was eventually dismissed altogether.
While Stephenson is technically innocent in this matter, something ugly transpired that summer night and the details are absolutely chilling.
6 DARREN COLLISON
Like many scofflaws, former UCLA star Darren Collison has struggled to find a permanent home in the association and he’s played for five franchises since leaving Westwood in 2009. Collison assaulted his wife in May 2016 and was arrested and arraigned with one misdemeanor count of domestic violence causing injury and one of domestic battery.
"Words cannot describe the feelings and regret that I have been experiencing the last few months," Collison said. "This is far from who I am as a person and not something I am proud of.... I have apologized to my beautiful wife that I have known and loved since high school."
Collison pleaded guilty to misdemeanor domestic battery a few months later and was sentenced to 20 days in jail and 20 hours of community service. Furthermore, the current King must attend a domestic abuse program as part of his three-year informal probation period.
5 DEANDRE LIGGINS
Dallas Mavericks shooting guard DeAndre Liggins has been employed by nine professional basketball organizations since leaving the University of Kentucky after his junior season in 2011. The 29-year-old Liggins is yet another NBA player who enjoys beating women. The 6-foot-6, 210-pound Chicago native attacked his girlfriend in front of their 2-year-old son in August 2013. The fuzz arrived, restrained Liggins and charged the Maverick with two counts of kidnapping, two counts of domestic assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, three counts of domestic abuse in the presence of a minor, and one count of violating a protective order.
Liggins’ legal team delivered and managed to get the felony domestic violence charges dropped. The dangerous Wildcat ultimately pleaded guilty to a single misdemeanor count of domestic abuse.
4 ALVIN ROBERTSON
Alvin Robertson was a defensive specialist who participated in three NBA All-Star exhibitions. The 54-year old Robertson, who recorded a quadruple-double and averaged a record 2.71 steals per game over his 10-year career, has an extensive rap sheet. Roughly five years before retiring as a San Antonio Bomber in 2000, the 6-foot-3, 185-pound Robertson broke into a woman’s abode in San Antonio, strangled her and bit her face. Thankfully, Robertson got pinched by the fuzz and was eventually sentenced to six months in jail for resisting arrest, four months for criminal trespass, nine months for one assault charge and one-year for another assault count.
An exemplary citizen, the Razorback from yesteryear was arrested in February 2010 for kidnapping a 14-year-old girl for child sex trafficking purposes and forcing her to perform fellatio on him. Robertson was exonerated of all wickedness in November 2015.
3 JASON RICHARDSON
The Golden State Warriors selected Michigan State University shooting guard Jason Richardson with the fifth overall pick in the 2001 draft. Approximately two years after relocating to The Town, the 36-year-old Richardson attacked the mother of his 3-year-old daughter, Roshonda Jacqmain. According to Jacqmain’s testimony, Richardson launched her with such force that her head struck a wall in her apartment and put a hole in it. While the 6-foot-6, 225-pound Richardson ludicrously claimed self-defense, a jury quickly convicted the pathetic Spartan of misdemeanor domestic violence. Richardson, a two-time NBA Slam Dunk Contest winner, also played for the Charlotte Bobcats, Phoenix Suns, Orlando Magic and Philadelphia 76ers before retiring in August 2015 due to chronic pain in his right knee. Richardson has not been missed on the hardwood.
2 JASON KIDD
Like many of his NBA colleagues, Jason Kidd is also a convicted domestic abuser. However, for variety purposes, the 44-year-old Kidd’s propensity for violence won’t be focused on here. Instead, Kidd’s extremely serious drunken car accident in July 2012 will be examined. According to multiple witnesses, Kidd slammed countless vodka drinks at the SL East club in East Hampton, New York. Utterly blitzed, Kidd then stumbled to his white Cadillac Escalade and began operating the luxury SUV. Mere minutes later, the future hall of fame point guard slammed into a utility pole. Kidd refused to take a Breathalyzer and chemical tests. Unsurprisingly, because the tarnished Golden Bear was relaxed via booze, Kidd wasn’t hurt in the accident. Nevertheless, considering horrific photos of the crash, it’s miraculous that Kidd didn’t kill or maim an innocent person.
1 JAYSON WILLIAMS
Former New Jersey Nets star power forward Jayson Williams unintentionally shot and killed limousine driver Gus Christofi in February 2002 a his mansion in Alexandria Township, New Jersey. The 49-year-old Williams subsequently tampered with evidence and attempted to cover up the homicide. While Williams’ lawyers got the aggravated manslaughter charge dropped, the native New Yorker was convicted on four counts of concealing the shooting and aggravated assault.
“[There is] nothing I can do or say to bring Mr. Christofi back. If there was I would do it,” Williams said. “Terrible accident and the way I acted after the accident was being a coward. That bothers me…The cover-up was selfishness…me trying to protect myself.”
A 1998 NBA All-Star, Williams served 18 months behind bars before his release in April 2012.
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