With the 2017-18 NBA season here, players are focused on honing their skills and making an impact in the league. Although NBA players have the fame, money, and an awesome lifestyle, they are still susceptible to dark moments like everyone else on this planet. Like every other sports organization, there can be a few bad apples or athletes that are in the wrong place at the wrong time in the NBA.
Before we continue further, this list is a blend of current and former stars and we would like to point out that not every player on here is a vile human being, things happen, disinformation is out there, and sometimes people just flat out lie. Some of the players on this list did a stupid thing and have repented while others never learned their lessons.
When we use the term "dark", we mean a nefarious way of thinking as well as the mindset they must be in after experiencing a horrifying event or charge against them. Just imagine sitting in a jail cell knowing you didn’t do anything wrong, imagine how big that dark cloud must be over your head. Imagine thinking all your hard work and legacy in the NBA might be over because you messed up that one-time. Enjoy.
15 Mike Scott
Selected in the second round by the Atlanta Hawks in 2012, not a lot of people thought he would still be in the league in 2017. The power forward’s best year came during the 2013-14 season where he put up 9.6 points-per-game and played in 80 games. Things outside the court would turn for the worse for Scott in 2015 when he was arrested for drug charges.
Apparently, the Virginia native was caught with 35.2 grams of marijuana and 10.9 grams of MDMA in an SUV driven by his brother. The story gets even crazier when people found out the brothers failed to yield to the cops for about two miles, with speeds excelling to 98 mph. Scott would face a 25-year sentence but a Georgia judge dismissed the felony drug case, citing a pattern of racial profiling by law enforcement.
14 Chris Herren
The Denver Nuggets would select Herren in the second round of the 1999 NBA draft. He would only play two seasons in the NBA before taking his talents to the international circuit. While a member of the Boston Celtics, Herren would be introduced to OxyContin, Vicodin, and Percocet. Herren would get hooked on these painkillers and it would eventually lead to heroin. After his career was over, in 2004 he would be arrested for possession and eventually overdosed on the drug.
He also admitted to purchasing crystal meth to satisfy his vice. Rehabilitation would save him from death and Herren now tells everyone who’s willing to listen to his darkest times involving drugs. He formed, The Herren Project and Project Purple in 2011 so he can bring awareness to the dangers of substance abuse as well as help those recovering from addiction.
13 P.J. Tucker
Selected by the Toronto Raptors in the second round of the 2006 NBA Draft, Tucker has become a steady hand as a depth player. He would only play one year with the Raptors before becoming a solid contributor for the Phoenix Suns. After spending five seasons with the Arizona franchise, Tucker went back to the team that drafted him last season.
Life is looking great for Tucker now but things could have gone differently for him in 2014. Right after ending his season with a career-high in points-per-game (9.4), Tucker would be arrested for “super-extreme DUI” by Scottsdale police. You read that right, not just any DUI, but a “super-extreme DUI.” Apparently, his blood-alcohol level was nearly three times the legal limit. Not only could he have killed himself but someone else on the road was also in serious danger.
12 Antoine Walker
Before the three ball was shot by every big man in the league, Antonio Walker was the originator of chucking up the long ball. We’re not saying Walker was terrible because he wasn’t, but he did launch a three-ball as often as a LeBron James dunked. Walker would be drafted by the Boston Celtics in 1996 and had a stellar career for his team.
He would take his talents to several other teams and even helped the Miami Heat win a championship. As a champion, multi-time All-Star, and at one point the best player on the Celtics, he would earn more than $108 million from NBA salaries. He accumulated a lot of wealth, however, Walker would file for bankruptcy in 2010. The guy wasted millions of dollars and definitely fell into a dark spiral. He even sold his championship ring but was debt-free by 2013.
11 Willie Reed
Undrafted players that produce in the NBA are rare these days but Reed is one of them. He would bounce around the NBA’s development league for several years until the Brooklyn Nets gave him a chance in 2015. Last season, Reed would sign with the Miami Heat and produce career highs in basically every category.
Things were looking great for Reed this summer when he signed a one year deal with the Los Angeles Clippers, however, he would be arrested for domestic violence in August. Allegedly, the victim, his wife, would have marks all over her body. Being booked in jail isn’t fun, and we know Reed was going through some dark times. Fortunately for him, his wife would claim it was blown out of proportion and she wanted all charges dropped.
10 Mookie Blaylock
Blaylock would have a stellar career as a member of the New Jersey Nets, Atlanta Hawks, and Golden State Warriors. One of the best defenders of his generation, he was close several times to winning an NBA Championship. Blaylock’s dark moment didn’t come until after he was retired. Unfortunately, he would be involved in a deadly car accident in 2013.
It was reported that Blaylock would swerve left-of-center and create a head-on collision. The victim initially survived the crash but would die from a result of the injuries. Alcohol wasn’t in play but Blaylock had his license suspended and had an outstanding warrant on charges of DUI and drug-related offenses at the time. He would plead guilty and was sentenced to 15 years for vehicular homicide.
9 Terrence Jones
The Portland native would be selected by the Houston Rockets in the first round of the 2012 NBA Draft. Coming out of Kentucky, Jones had high expectations to make an impact in the league. His stock was on the rise but since leaving the Rockets, Jones’ career has been tanking. He would play just 51 games for the New Orleans Pelicans and three games for the Milwaukee Bucks last season.
Once a promising Wildcat, Jones just left the NBA and is now a member of the Chinese franchise the Qingdao DoubleStar Eagles. What’s his dark moment in life? Jones would be arrested for allegedly beating the hell out of a homeless man. He would be charged with harassment and a slap on the wrist in 2013. Something dark and wicked was infesting Jones’ mind. Why in the world would any professional athlete want to stomp on a homeless man?
8 Dante Cunningham
As we mentioned in the intro, although these players experienced dark times in their lives, that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re guilty of a crime. The case of Cunningham should be a firm reminder that people lie, especially if they can get money out of it. After being selected by the Portland Trailblazers in the 2009 NBA Draft, Cunningham would contribute right away off the bench.
Six seasons later, his life would turn upside down when he was arrested for domestic violence. Allegedly, Cunningham would become enraged and choke his girlfriend who was living with him at the time. It turns out her accusations were fabricated but she still put Cunningham through a dark period in his life. If her lie wasn’t caught, Cunningham could be out of the league or worse, in prison.
7 Jayson Williams
Williams would be selected by the Philadelphia 76ers in the first round of the 1990 NBA Draft but wouldn’t become a rebounding machine until he became a member of the New Jersey Nets. Williams would be involved in one of the most publicized crimes to ever involve an NBA player. In 2002, limousine driver, Costas Christofi, was shot and killed on Williams' property. He was hired to drive Williams to and back from a charity event.
After the event, many of the participants went back to Williams’ home and he decided to give a tour of the house. One small problem, he was carrying a shotgun and it went off, killing Christofi. He would be convicted on four accounts of trying to cover up the shooting in 2004.
6 Zach Randolph
Randolph would spend one year at Michigan State before entering the 2001 NBA Draft. He would be selected in the first round by the Portland Trail Blazers but it would take two seasons before he exploded into a Superstar. Randolph has always been a reliable option on the court but off the court, some of his hobbies have gone past what the law allows.
After signing a deal with the Sacramento Kings, Randolph would be arrested for marijuana possession with the intent to sell due to two pounds being found. Randolph claims he was wrongfully arrested and the charge was dismissed, however, during the entire process, you know Randolph was in a dark place and nervous about his career ending because of the altercation. We would be also if a dozen cops rolled up to our place and arrested us.
5 James Johnson
Coming out of Wake Forest, Johnson would be selected by the Chicago Bulls in the first round of the 2009 NBA Draft. The forward has bounced around several teams such as the Toronto Raptors, Sacramento Kings, and Memphis Grizzlies since then but his best season was in 2016-17 when he averaged 12.8 points-per-game for the Miami Heat.
As a martial artist and former kickboxing athlete, you would think Johnson has the discipline to suppress violent actions, however, that wasn’t the case in 2014. He would be arrested for domestic assault for allegedly choking his wife and hitting her. To be fair to Johnson, his wife didn’t show up to court and case was dismissed. Although the case was dropped, the whole process had to be a dark time for Johnson, especially since sports leagues are cracking down on domestic abuse violators.
4 Tim Donaghy
We’re cheating here because Tim Donaghy was never an NBA player, however, his story needs to be told. Donaghy would be an NBA referee for the league from 1994 to 2007. He was respected, held in high-esteem, and worked countless games in the playoffs. Things would come crashing down for him in 2007 when the New York Post reported the FBI was looking into allegations of NBA officials betting on games.
The investigation revealed that Tim not only had a huge gambling problem but he also manipulated the game in favor of the point spread. Apparently, he was in debt and was approached by low-level mob associates to scheme on the games. His story can be told in a movie, and to think games still can’t be fixed is silly.
3 Lamar Odom
The tragic story of Odom became a national headline due to his relationship with the Kardashians. One of the most gifted athletes on this list, Odom would succumb to major drug and alcohol abuse towards the end of his career. Odom believes hardcore drug abuse would be a factor in his career ending after 14 seasons. He explained being a reality television star on top of an NBA player just added to the drug-fueled lifestyle.
Not only was he doing drugs but also was cheating on his wife. This dark path would climax in 2015 when he was found unconscious. In a coma and placed on life support, Odom suffered several strokes and kidney failure. Odom has been recovering ever since and thankfully has stayed out of the headlines for the wrong reasons.
2 Eddie Johnson
Known as “Fast Eddie,” he’s one of the few players to be banned from the NBA. The Atlanta Hawks would select in the 1977 NBA Draft and he would play in the NBA for ten seasons. A two-time All-Star and one of the better defenders in the league, Johnson could have been known as a great player. Sadly, he’s known for his off the court issues more than his accomplishments on the court.
Johnson would battle a cocaine addiction throughout his career and after failing to go through counseling, the NBA cut ties with him. Over 100 arrests, five stints in the slammer, Johnson became a bon-a-fide criminal after being banned. His dark mind had no limits, in 2008 he would be convicted of sexual battery of a minor under the age of 12.
1 Javaris Crittenton
Once a first round pick selected by the Los Angeles Lakers, Crittenton is now serving 23 years in prison. Where did it all go wrong? The Georgia Tech standout wouldn’t have a major impact in the league when he became a professional in 2007. Four franchises would get rid of him and he would only play two seasons in the NBA. These franchises must have seen some character flaws because, in 2011, Crittenton would be charged with the murder of a mother of four.
Allegedly, he was trying to shot someone else but hit the woman instead. The tale would get darker as information came out he joined the Crips after becoming a Laker. He would be tied to the murder of a rival gang member and also was accused of selling cocaine and marijuana. In 2015, he would plead guilty to voluntary manslaughter.