We all want NBA superstars to get along and be super-friendly towards one another. The way the present-day league is shaped with so much power in the hands of the players, they can join any team they want and it may as well be our team. Every one of us has worked with people we didn’t like, so we know how hard it is to be friendly with someone whose appearance alone makes us go crazy with anger. If the players don’t get along, they might as well move somewhere else. But sometimes the hate is so great that it stays with the players long after they not only leave, but even retire. Holding grudges may be characterized as childish. However we’re all human. We all fall prey to our emotions and some things are simply beyond our control.
NBA superstars are no different in that manner. The involvement of money and fame doesn’t stop them from expressing disdain towards certain individuals. Be it former teammates, opponents or present-day players who they consider themselves superior to. Legacy is vital in remaining marketable once a professional career is over. Players have every right to get angry when someone questions their achievements by comparing them to inferior players or blames them for their teammates’ lack of success. That is why, even though retired, some players on this list found it hard to overcome hate. Others decided that they should lead by example and made reaching peace with their biggest enemies a statement that there are things more important than sports.
15. Hate: Steve Nash And Kobe Bryant Vs Dwight Howard
D12 is definitely paid like a superstar, but his status as one is up for debate. He’s playing at an All-Star level for a centre, but we can probably agree that the bar isn’t set especially high for big men. In 2012 the Lakers signed Nash, traded for Howard and immediately became a championship candidate again. Things didn’t work out the way they were supposed to and both Nash and Bryant criticized Howard for his softness. Bryant did it in the media, while Nash got into a shouting match with Dwight during a game. Coming out of Phoenix, where he would never argue with his teammates at centre court, Nash was used to making his teammates better. However, Howard was complaining about not getting enough touches – something he would do later in Houston and Atlanta as well. The league has changed, Dwight. Either develop a jumper or just let it go, man!
14. Peace: Kobe Bryant Vs Shaquille O’Neal
Even before Howard joined Bryant in LA, Kobe was already appreciative of the work ethic and incredible skills of Shaquille O’Neal. When they played together he often questioned Shaq’s focus and alpha-dog status. Unlike Howard, who was too concerned with being liked and having fun during actual games, once Shaq entered the basketball court he was determined to dominate his opponents. Bryant just never knew what it was like to play with other centres, as Shaq and Kobe both joined the Lakers in the summer of 1996-97. He basically drove O’Neal out of town and became the sole king of LA in the process. After playing with Kwame Brown and Andrew Bynum, Bryant became very appreciative of O’Neal. They may not be friends, but they were at both jersey retirement ceremonies and showed each other respect, both during interviews and actual meetings.
13. Hate: Shaquille O’Neal Vs Chris Bosh
No recent player was as dominant as Shaq in his prime. Yes, Kobe and LeBron can ball like few others, but seeing O’Neal enter the paint possession after possession and dunk all over the opposition was a sight to behold. Used to a different style of play, Shaq isn’t especially appreciative of today’s big men. One of the targets of his ridicule is recently retired Chris Bosh, who won two NBA championships with LeBron and D-Wade. O’Neal famously referred to the Heat of the time as “The Big Two,” purposely leaving Bosh out. One time he called Bosh the “RuPaul of Big Men,” which, you must admit, is both, funny and on point. Bosh was never a player that loved to bang under the basket and battle for rebounds.
12. Peace: Dennis Rodman Vs Scottie Pippen
Did you know that during his three years with the Bulls Rodman didn’t have one off-court conversation with MJ or Pippen? Surprisingly though he had at least some with Steve Kerr and Jud Buechler, as they famously went partying in Vegas together. When there was a chance to get Rodman, it was Pippen who needed a lot of convincing, not Jordan, who was the number one target for the Detroit Bad Boys when Rodman played there. Phil Jackson invited both players to his home in 1995 to work out their differences, because Pip was still angry at Rodman pushing him from the back in the Eastern Conference Finals in 1991. As you will see in a minute, Pippen can hold a grudge like few others, but he was able to coexist with Rodman and it served him well.
11. Hate: Isiah Thomas Vs Scottie Pippen
Pippen really hated the Bad Boys, even though they played a big part in toughening him up. His “migraine game” in the 1990 Eastern Conference Finals cost the Bulls a trip to the Finals and it was that game and its consequences that brought out the best in Pippen. He soon became a supreme defender and a really tough player, as well as a great sidekick to Michael Jordan. In the “Dream Team” documentary, Pippen admitted that he didn’t want Isiah Thomas (the leader of the Pistons team) on the roster. Thomas laughed at him for admitting that, claiming that while Jordan or Magic Johnson could get away with a statement like that, Pippen was too minor of a player to speak on the topic.
10. Peace: Ray Allen Vs Paul Pierce
For years the Celtics players hated on Ray Allen for leaving the team and joining the Miami Heat in free agency. Even this year Rajon Rondo, Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce criticized the way Allen left to join their biggest rivals without a word to anybody. Allen, a very proud man, didn’t like the fact that he was relegated to the bench by Doc Rivers. However, he embraced the role on the Heat, which shows that there were very serious chemistry issues in Boston for some time. Allen won a championship for the Celtics and he won one with the Heat. It was by the end of this year that Allen and Pierce actually made peace, during a basketball celebrity game.
9. Hate: Kevin Garnett Vs Charlie Villanueva
The Big Ticket was a crazy competitor. He had too much energy and constantly provoked his opponents in order to win. Garnett also loved to talk, which made him a natural choice to join the ESPN crew once he retired from the NBA. Not everybody remembers him fondly though, as for some he was a rather fake tough guy who backed off when confronted by others. After a game between the Celtics and the Pistons, Charlie Villanueva tweeted that Garnett called him a “cancer patient.” While KG clarified that he called his opponent a cancer to his team and the league – Villanueva was one of the players that stopped caring about basketball once they got paid – nobody believed him.
8. Peace: Vince Carter Vs Tracy McGrady
The two cousins seemed on good terms when they were teammates on the Raptors. They even participated in the best Slam Dunk Contest in history together. But once free agency came around, the younger T-Mac wanted to move out from Vince’s shadow. He did so by becoming the sole leader of the Orlando Magic who, sadly, never managed to make a buzz around the league. The same was the case with the Rockets, who also weren’t able to have much playoff success when McGrady was there. His departure to Florida caused a rift between the two, as both became eager to show each other who was better. However, as is often the case with family, they’ve since mended their differences. Since T-Mac made the Hall of Fame this summer, you can be sure he’ll be there to induct his cousin when Carter will be available for consideration.
7. Hate: Scottie Pippen Vs Charles Barkley
After MJ’s first retirement, Pippen was able to prove that he could carry the Bulls all by himself. But after the second one he was really eager to prove he could become an NBA Champion without Jordan. The closest he got was in the 2000 Western Conference Finals, where a major Game Seven meltdown didn’t allow his Blazers to reach the final phase of the playoffs. In the 1999 season Pippen joined Olajuwon and Barkley to play for the title with the Rockets. During the shortened season the two butted heads on a regular basis and after that one year Pip demanded a trade to the Blazers, after which Barkley criticized him, since he actually took a pay cut to bring the small forward in. In consequence Pippen demanded an apology from Barkley for “coming to play with his fat butt.”
6. Peace: Shaquille O’Neal Vs Penny Hardaway
What’s with these smaller guys driving Shaq out of town? Before Kobe there was Penny, although this time the Magic wanted to keep O’Neal. According to Shaq they didn’t want to keep him strongly enough. The two were just 23 years old when they reached their first NBA Finals in 1995 and were supposed to become a dominant duo for years to come. Unfortunately, when it came to free agency, the Magic were reluctant to offer Shaq as much money as he wanted. The player put the franchise on the map and was supposed to dominate the league for years to come, yet they thought that after the breakout year from Penny – he was All-NBA in 1995-96 – they could stay competitive without the big man and took him for granted. Shaq left for LA and won three NBA Championships while Penny was often injured and unable to lead his team.
5. Hate: Kevin McHale Vs Bill Laimbeer
Recently, when he was a guest on a NBA.tv show, McHale said that even now he would punch Laimbeer in the face when he saw him. A beloved figure in Michigan, but probably nowhere outside of the state, Laimbeer was a very tough, physical player who was especially concerned with stopping the opposing team’s best player, no matter the means. To put things bluntly, he was a dirty player. Since the Celtics were the Pistons’ biggest rivals, Laimbeer did everything he could to stop them. It’s actually surprising that McHale is so vocal about hating Laimbeer, since it was the Celtic’s two other superstars, Larry Bird and Robert Parrish, who got into it with Laimbeer during the 1987 Conference Finals. The two confrontations remain the most memorable from an era when the league still allowed for very physical play.
4. Peace: Stephon Marbury Vs Kevin Garnett
When Marbury joined KG and the Timberwolves it seemed a match made in heaven. However the first problem was that they joined forces in Minnesota, a city known for its cold weather, to which Marbury didn’t respond very enthusiastically. The second was that Stephon didn’t feel appreciated by the Wolves when it came to signing his first big contract. Garnett was famously signed to a then-groundbreaking, $126 million deal – this was 1997 and players weren’t making that type of money yet, just a year before Alonzo Mourning became the first $100 million man of the NBA. Marbury wanted the same type of money but was offered more than $50 million less than the Big Ticket. He demanded a trade and joined the Nets in 1999. Ten years later they settled their differences and Marbury even joined KG’s Celtics after the Knicks bought out his contract.
3. Hate: Isiah Thomas Vs Michael Jordan
These two will probably never make peace. It all started with Thomas presumably proposing a freeze out of Jordan in the 1985 All-Star game. Rumour has it that then friends – more on that in a minute – Thomas and Magic Johnson agreed to stop the confident and cocky young player, MJ, from dominating the game. While Magic later got along with MJ, Thomas was his opponent in the Eastern Conference and his Pistons played exceptionally hard against Jordan’s Bulls. When the Bulls finally won the confrontation in the 1991 Eastern Conference Finals, Thomas and other Pistons walked by their bench without shaking their hands. MJ took his revenge by keeping Thomas out of the 1992 Dream Team, which was coached by the Pistons’ head coach, Chuck Daly. In the Bad Boys documentary, Jordan admitted that he understands what Thomas and co. did, and that playing against them helped elevate his game, but no signs of peace are on the horizon.
2. Peace: Isiah Thomas Vs Magic Johnson
In the first game of the 1988 NBA Finals, the first time their teams met in the postseason, Magic welcomed Zeke and the two kissed each other on the cheek as a sign of friendship. After the first whistle though there was no friendship involved, as Magic played exceptionally tough and hit his friend with an elbow to the face. Their relationship went cold after that series and Thomas was deeply hurt by that. Magic considered being associated with Zeke a bad business decision so he cut ties with him and was among the players that wanted to keep him out of the Dream Team. They ended their feud just before Christmas this year, after Magic apologized to Thomas on television. The two cried and hugged each other.
1. Hate: Brent Barry Vs Tony Parker
This one goes well beyond the basketball court and will probably never end. Tony Parker should be banned from any NBA locker room for what he did to his teammate’s marriage. The fact that he still enjoys such respect on the Spurs shows that there’s a double standard for NBA superstars. Brent Barry was a good NBA player and a serviceable reserve once he arrived in San Antonio. Married to Erin, he often shared the backcourt with Tony, who was married to… Eva Longoria, one of the most beautiful women in the world. While great at sharing the ball on the court, Parker was egotistical and greedy off it. To the point that he had an affair with Erin Barry, which successfully ended both marriages. Apart from cheating on Eva Longoria, how can you want to do anything bad to Brent Barry? He seems like one of the nicest and classiest athletes ever.
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