Sports superstars - and celebrities in general - are often treated like they're living behind a glass wall - we can see them, but can't touch them, nor get too close. Their special status is underlined by the borders set either by the professional league they participate in or by the security they surround themselves with. This creates the impression that being in direct contact with your idol is a privilege and makes the interaction between both sides equally troublesome. As they are used to special treatment, athletes may sometimes not respond in a way expected of a regular human being, which in turn makes the fans critical of their actions. But the fans are the ones contributing to their special status in the first place... the whole thing is just a vicious circle, really.
However, sometimes the glass wall shatters and for a brief moment the two sides meet in person like, well, regular people. We're talking about real physical contact that ensues, one that may be more than the fans asked for. And to be honest, sometimes meeting your idols can be really unpleasant. Or maybe, rather, it can be pleasant for you, but society as a whole may find the contact inappropriate. Whether this involves intimacy or physical violence, there's no denying that the 15 NBA stars mentioned here went over the line when it comes to what is considered proper athlete - fan relations. Some just had got with NBA groupies, others even punched them or did other unfriendly things to them. Acting out of frustration, anger or entitlement, there's just something clearly wrong with the way these athletes conducted themselves at that specific time and place.
15 Amar'e Stoudemire
Amar'e's career may have went downhill after he left the Suns due to numerous injuries, but his woman-chasing lifestyle didn't slow down. This happened especially while he was on the Knicks, as he was a handsome, rich and single man playing in one of the biggest market teams in the NBA. The affairs didn't stop after Stoudemire got married and moved to play for the Heat. As a member of the team he had an affair with Quynn Lovett, a woman whose daughter he also fathered. He might've made the veterans minimum there, but he was all about making the most of his stay in South Beach in other ways than just financially.
14 James Harden
Apart from having his jersey retired by a Houston exotic dance club, James Harden is also notorious for getting close with NBA fans, especially the female ones. He was heavily criticized when one of them posted an online picture with her sharing the bed with the Rockets shooting guard. It was probably after they got very familiar with each other, as Harden was visibly tired, sleeping next to the female. The criticism was because of the way the woman looked - rather regular. I mean... really? First off, The Beard isn't the most handsome athlete in the world, and second... can we just stop objectifying women? Give the lady a break!
13 Wilt Chamberlain
Talk about the biggest playboys ever... Wilt The Stilt claimed that he slept with 20,000 women during his life. In comparison, Casanova had sex with over a hundred. Talking about shaming a legend, right? What's worse, Chamberlain made the claim in his 1991 autobiography. The fact that the premiere of the book coincided with the AIDS scare made Chamberlain universally loathed and caused quite a scandal. Plus, it's not like much was needed to scandalize the legendary centre. If a man has been with 20,000 women, some of them must've been his fans, right? Let's get into the number itself for a moment. According to the Atlantic in order to arrive at 20,000, Chamberlain should have been with 1.4 women a day ever since the age of 15. Even if the number is true, it's clearly not right.
12 Vernon Maxwell
The man known as Mad Max showed why he got that nickname when during a game between the Houston Rockets and Portland Trail Blazers he jumped into the stands and punched a fan in the face. The Rockets point guard claimed it was because the man made fun of his wife's recent miscarriage, while the fan said he was mocking Maxwell for scoring just five points in a game. To be honest said fan wouldn't be able to score that much after trading places with Maxwell, and the miscarriage may have left Maxwell, a bit jumpy, as it must've been a real tragedy. But there's no explaining jumping into the stands and punching a fan. Maxwell was the first NBA player to actually do that and served a 10-game suspension for wanting to be a pioneer.
11 Patrick Beverley
$25,000 is the NBA's go-to sum for penalizing players for improper contact with fans. This was the amount Kyrie Irving was penalized with for using abusive language towards a heckler and this also applied to Patrick Beverley's verbal confrontation with a Thunder fan after last year's playoff game between OKC and Houston. Beverley's defence was on point and the Rockets made easy work of Russell Westbrook-led Thunder. Nothing physical actually occurred as the Rockets point guard feuded with Jay Scaramucci, son of the Thunder minority owner, who was shouting "f... you Patrick Beverley" throughout the whole game. Things could've gotten out of hand though, as a security member needed to step in between the two men.
10 Charles Barkley
Another incident that occurred during an NBA game, only instead of punches it involved saliva. Charles Barkley spit on an eight-year-old Nets fan when he was playing for the Sixers. His time there was frustrating, and to his defence, he isn't a despicable person, he clearly wasn't aiming at the girl, but these things happen when you're getting too close to the fans. If he kept his head down and focused on his breathing, no such thing would occur. Instead, Barkley's unsportsmanlike behaviour is remembered to this day and remains a cautionary tale. Barkley apologized after the incident and hooked up the girl and her family with free tickets whenever he was playing in New Jersey.
9 Larry Johnson
Grandmama was one of the best power forwards in the NBA in the 90s, but his potential was cut short by injuries. Combining strength and athleticism, Larry Johnson could beat bigger and stronger opponents. During the time he was in his prime, LJ married Celeste Wingfield. The pair had two children. This however wasn't enough for the former Hornet, who got three other women pregnant and eventually give birth to his children, during his marriage. That's how you trade in fan support for child support. He also urged another woman to get an abortion and the two got into a bitter media battle over alimony.
8 Joakim Noah
$25,000 for pushing away a fan is a very hefty fine the then-Bulls centre had to pay, when taking into account what he went through. As he was leaving the court after a playoff game against the Cavs, one home fan spit on Noah. The Cavaliers and the Bulls were bitter rivals back then, as LeBron James and Derrick Rose led both teams to greatness. If anything, Noah reacted rather calmly. It wasn't just regular spit we're talking about - the fan spit dip directly at the Bulls centre. You don't do that to a person, even if he time and time again verbally attacks the best player on your favourite franchise and mocks its signature handshakes. Noah was punished, but the fan deserved similar punishment as well.
7 Austin Rivers
Clippers guard Austin Rivers wasn't having the best game of his life when his team was playing against the Kings. Having scored just 3 points in 16 minutes of game time, when taken out of the game Rivers broke a chair he was supposed to sit on. Then he grabbed the seat cushion and threw it into the stands out of frustration. This may sound harmless, but the cushion actually hit a female fan and knocked out one of her contact lenses. Rivers had to pay $25,000 for the offence. It probably wasn't worth it. To be honest, his tenure at the Clippers has been frustrating to watch, so in a way he did the fan a favour.
6 Stephen Curry
The Golden State Warriors were up 3-1 in the 2016 NBA Finals, yet they ended up losing the series in a shocking turn of events. Nobody was more frustrated by the sudden momentum switch more than the former champs. Steph Curry, the MVP, got so angry, that he threw out his mouthpiece - something he did last week as well - and hit a fan on the sidelines. That was the first ejection in the NBA Finals in 20 years and also the first earned by Curry during his professional career. Luckily for him, he wasn't suspended, but earned the obligatory $25,000 fine. The fan wasn't particularly happy with the action, but at least Curry hit his man, unlike the referee in the game against the Grizzlies.
5 LeBron James
LeBron James is actually very nice to fans and he really doesn't try to push any boundaries in his relations with them. If not just himself, his inner circle also prevents him from crossing any lines. This one happened in a game and was a complete accident. During a regular season game against the Thunder LeBron jumped into the courtside seats after a loose ball and fell into a female fan. The woman, wife of golfer Jason Day, who also gave birth just a month earlier, was hospitalized after the incident. James was moved by the incident and talked to the woman as she was taken away. She bravely calmed him and the game continued as planned. The Cavs won.
4 Marcus Smart
He's the starter on the Celtics now, rather known for his controversial flopping. Earlier in his career, as a member of the Oklahoma State NCAA team, Smart shoved an opposing fan for calling him the "n-word." The fan claimed he called the player "a piece of c***." The incident was televised and largely commented on. Smart apologized to the Texas Tech fan and the NCAA. The man he pushed, Jeff Orr, is a known hardcore Texas Tech supporter who had to apologize for his actions in the past. This time he was also forced to issue an open apology, however, he denied using any racial slurs against opposing players.
3 David Robinson
The Admiral is so high on this list because you wouldn't suspect him of getting too close to female fans. Polite and charitable, Robinson actually looked like a basketball player should. Here was a man that did everything by the book and was universally appreciated for it. In the past however, Robinson was pretty heavily involved in the groupie scene. According to an article by E. Jean Carroll, groupies actually followed Robinson from city to city and checked whether he would leave his hotel. A lot of hearts were broken when Robinson got married. At least he managed to keep his reputation as a good guy intact despite some past shenanigans.
2 Ron Artest
The Malice at the Palace remains one of the most shameful events in NBA history. At the end of the regular season game between the Indiana Pacers and the Detroit Pistons in 2004, Ron Artest fouled Ben Wallace especially hard, to which the Piston responded by shoving the Pacers small forward. Other players started surrounding the group and some ejections were given out by referees. A fan threw a cup at Artest and the player ran into the stands to attack him. He hit the wrong guy, which is somewhat ridiculous, but the whole event was just purely insane. A lot of suspensions were given out, the most hurtful to Artest, who was suspended for the rest of the season.
1 Kobe Bryant
This part of the story both parties agree on: in 2003 in Eagle, Colorado, 25-year-old Kobe Bryant checked into a hotel room. He was escorted there by a 19-year-old clerk, who prolonged her shift just to meet the Lakers superstar. In an hour the pair had gotten intimate. Whether the intercourse was consensual or not will never be known, but there's no denying that the woman had marks on her neck, reportedly because of how passionate the lovemaking was. There was a trial and Bryant's wife wanted to divorce him. His reputation as a wholesome athlete suffered, but the sides settled and his wife stayed by his side to this day.