The NBA is a league full of characters. By that, what we mean is that you can find any kind of person playing in the league. We have the nice guys, people who spend most of their off the court time doing things like raising money for philanthropies and doing charity work. And on the other hand, we have the jerks, guys who are constantly badmouthing other players, causing a ruckus wherever they go, and sometimes even getting into altercations with fans. There are all brands of players in the NBA. And one thing every fan has in common is that we all have our own opinions on literally every single high profile guy who plays in the league.
With those fan opinions in mind, we have decided to make up a list of players some folks desperately want to see fail, and some we just really hope would succeed in their careers. Of course, we will talk about statistics and their play, but what we would like to focus most is what kind of people these players seem to be. And we say “seem to be,” because, like it happens in boxing or MMA, some guys in the NBA do appear to be putting up personas when they talk to the media. Nevertheless, their actions off the court are an excellent way to gauge if a player is actually a nice guy in real life, or if he is as much of a jerk off the court as he is while playing for his team.
15 Fail: Carmelo Anthony
Our first pick for NBA players you would love to see fail was an easy one. Carmelo Anthony is not a tough guy to hate. While many of the guys we love in the NBA have a team-first mentality, very early on in his career Melo made sure everyone knew that he was all about Melo. This guy is as me-first as you could possibly get.
This is not an assumption either. All you need to do to verify that is look at his stats. Anthony is a guy who averages 3.1 assists throughout his whole career. For a swingman who draws double teams all the time, this is a ridiculously low average. If we were to draw a movie comparison to Melo, it would be Transformers. You either love it with a burning passion, or you can’t wait to watch the critics destroy it.
14 Succeed: Damian Lillard
The thing that separates Damian Lillard from the rest of the bunch is loyalty. This is a trait that NBA players have been losing as the years have gone by. We can start talking about LeBron James and go all the way to Kevin Durant to speak of players who decided to go for money and glory instead of staying loyal to those who gave them a chance, which is their right as human beings. But instead of focusing on guys like that, we would like to share a little story about Lillard’s past.
As a young kid growing up in Oakland, Lillard was not the biggest dude and ended up only being able to play for one of the smaller AAU teams in the area. And after proving that he would become a big time player, he refused to join the teams with sponsorships and all of that, and stayed loyal to the ones who gave him a chance in the first place.
13 Fail: J.R. Smith
Seriously, it is tough to find a guy more entertaining than JR Smith. This is a guy who could go the whole year without making a solid contribution and all of a sudden explode for 30 points in the seventh game of a playoff series. But while he might be entertaining on the court, outside of it J.R. is one of the biggest jerks in the NBA.
This dude has done a little bit of everything. From his shirtless antics while celebrating his last championship with the Cleveland Cavaliers, to blocking a little kid in a charity game, J.R. really does not give a f***about what anyone thinks or says about him. And maybe that is for the better because if he really cared about it, he would lose a lot of the entertainment factor.
12 Succeed: Zach Randolph
While the Memphis Grizzlies might be that one team that is always in the playoffs but never manages to get too far, they make up for it in terms of having nice guys on the roster. While they are known for being a tenacious squad on the court, a good part of the Grizzlies organization has a soft spot on the left side of their chest.
An excellent example of that is big man Zach Randolph. Z-Bo might be playing for Sacramento this upcoming season, but he became known in the Memphis area for being a genuinely nice guy. This is a man who regularly contributed to local charities, and he has even been known to help some local families pay the bills that they couldn’t afford. How could you root against a guy like this?
11 Fail: Dwight Howard
Dwight Howard quickly went from being the future of big men in the NBA to becoming a player no one wants on their team. Howard’s career in Orlando was something out of this world, as in eight seasons with the Magic, the 6’11” center averaged 18.4 points and 13 rebounds per game. Most people liked him in Orlando, and he seemed to be one of the good guys in basketball. But then he decided to move to Los Angeles and joined the Lakers. That was where the downfall started.
Despite averaging 17 points and 12 boards with the Lakers, Howard was deemed a huge disappointment by both fans and the franchise. From there, he started picking up haters faster than LeBron James ever could. Next season he will start playing for the Charlotte Hornets, and still, we cannot see him becoming a beloved character anytime soon.
10 Succeed: Jeremy Lin
Who did not love Linsanity? That small period of time in 2011 when we were led to believe that anything was possible. That time when an undrafted 6’3” Asian-American point guard out of Harvard became the toast of the league and the only thing people could talk about for the rest of the season. Jeremy Lin’s story is so amazing that he got fans from other teams cheering for him, which is not something easy to do in the NBA.
Ever since then, the hype slowed down and the period known as Linsanity became a thing of history. Still, Lin has been trying to do his best to keep playing well and stay in the league. Last season playing for Brooklyn, Lin showed hints of what made Linsanity possible, as he averaged 14.5 points and 5.1 assists per game.
9 Fail: Rajon Rondo
The only way someone would say they love Rajon Rondo is if they were Celtics fans still thankful for the vital role Rondo played in their last few NBA titles. Because other than that, Rondo has done nothing in the league other than antagonize people everywhere he went.
He trash talks on the court like the best of them even though he can’t shoot, but what many people don’t see is that Rondo has more than once had bad relationships with his teammates because of his personality. Take something he did in January for example. In an interview, Rondo tried to explain why he wasn’t yet clicking with the Bulls by taking a swing at his former teammates.
“I mean, last year – I hate to keep talking about last year – but you couldn’t name three people on my team, the Sacramento Kings, and I led the league in assists. You know? I don’t know.”
8 Succeed: Dwyane Wade
The worst thing in terms of basketball people can blame Dwyane Wade for doing is being part of LeBron James’s big three. But out of everyone in that situation, Wade was the one who was least to blame. He did not betray his fan base, as he had always been a Miami Heat player. No, he actually played a big part in making his team better by calling his friends over.
Now that we have scratched from the list the only reason you would have for hating Wade, let’s just name a few that will make you want to cheer for him. Wade only decided to go home to Chicago after he gave Miami fans three titles to celebrate. Plus, he is a guy who is always out trying to help the community with service and money.
7 Fail: Kris Humphries
It’s hard to pinpoint why exactly people hate Kris Humphries, and why everyone seems to want him to fail at every level. But if we were to take a wild guess, we would have to say it was because he was one of the first NBA players who became notorious for their involvement with reality TV.
It is tough to hate on the guy just because he married Kim Kardashian. Be honest with yourself, who wouldn’t do it if they had the chance? But the fact that he appeared so much on her reality TV show and also that his personal life became more of a headline around the world than his play in the NBA, did not go too well with other players as well as NBA fans.
6 Succeed: Luol Deng
Luol Deng is a solid player. Averaging 15 points and six boards throughout his career, Deng is one of those guys whom every team needs either as a consistent starter or a top-notch sixth man. But more than being a good NBA player, Luol Deng is an amazing human being. We talked about Lillard being loyal to his a team, but Deng takes it to a whole new level.
This guy was born in one of the poorest regions of the world and has made it his life work to help his compatriots. A native of the Republic of South Sudan, Deng never shies away and always tries to give support to his homeland both financially and by bringing awareness to other people so they can see what happens in Sudan and perhaps try to help.
5 Fail: Kevin Durant
Kevin Durant is a similar case to Dwight Howard. It is tough to blame Durant for what he did when he left Oklahoma City to become an NBA Champion with the Golden State Warriors. But it is even harder to argue with Oklahoma City fans who say that Durant made one of the shittiest moves in the history of basketball.
If he had decided to leave Oklahoma City to make a super team with LeBron James in Cleveland, he might have not even caught as much heat as he did. However, Durant decided to join forces with a team that had just beaten him in the playoffs after he was up 3-1 on them. We are sorry Kevin, you are one of the nicest people in basketball, but after jumping ship like you did, it is not surprising that most NBA fans now want to see you fail.
4 Succeed: Mike Conley
We said there would be a few Grizzlies on this list, and here we are keeping our promise. Mike Conley Jr. is a star NBA point guard. The only reason this guy has yet to appear in an All-Star game is that the West has guards of the caliber of Chris Paul, Russell Westbrook, and James Harden. Because in any other year where a point guard averaged 20.5 points and 6.3 assists per game, he would at least have a spot on the bench of his conference’s All-Star team.
More than his play, Conley has been recognized for his sportsmanship a few times as he won the Joe Dumars Trophy twice. Conley is also an avid supporter who raises money and awareness for organizations that promote healthcare and medical research.
3 Fail: LeBron James
Have you ever heard the expression that there is always a price for greatness? More often than not, that price is having people rooting for you to fail all the time. This is something that LeBron James has had to have gotten used to experiencing since the beginning of his career. This is a man who was always touted to become one of the greatest basketball players who ever lived, and he has lived up to that expectation.
But while LeBron is a great role model for hard work and sportsmanship, he has made a few moves that have thrown the crowd against him more than once. Most notoriously, was the time of “The Decision,” when he decided to leave his native Cleveland to join forces with two other superstars in Miami. If there is one thing that we have no doubt about is that LeBron James is one of the athletes with most people in the world rooting against him.
2 Succeed: Kawhi Leonard
If you had a kid tomorrow and had to decide on a basketball player to tell him he should strive to become, who would you choose? The choice of nine out of 10 dads would undoubtedly be Kawhi Leonard.
Leonard has done throughout his career the one thing that every single other NBA players seems to be unable to do. Just play basketball. Some guys are addicted to media attention and try their hardest always to be making headlines and stuff like that. Meanwhile, Leonard is in the gym working out and trying to become the best basketball player he could be. This is a guy who has no controversies in his career and subsequently does not have a lot of haters. How many people do you know hate Kawhi Leonard?
This, ladies and gentlemen, is the ultimate example of an NBA player we really want to see succeed.
1 Fail: Draymond Green
Think about Kawhi Leonard. Now try to imagine the exact opposite of the Spurs’ superstar. The odds are pretty high that the image that came into your head was the face of Draymond Green. Or perhaps it wasn’t exactly his face, but that picture of him kicking Steven Adams in the genitals, or maybe the many pictures of him taunting opposing crowds when he and the Warriors are playing on the road.
Draymond Green is the ultimate trash talker in basketball these days, and as long as he has Steph Curry and Kevin Durant to make shots around him, he will keep talking smack. Not even LeBron James has managed to antagonize as many people over these past few years as Green. No one other than a Warriors’s fans could possibly like this guy.
With that, we might be guilty of chuckling a bit when he heard about Conor McGregor putting Draymond in his place: