NBA stars have become the biggest names in all of sports. Despite the NFL having a bigger brand in the United States, NBA stars individually have bigger name values. Basketball stars are allowed to showcase their personalities and styles in a way other sports don’t seem to embrace. This has been a strong suit of the NBA for decades. The fans connect to individual stars and it leads to more interest for the league. We get to truly get a look into who these larger than life athletes are. The advancement of technology and the inception of social media have taken this to a new level.
We have enough information about many top NBA Superstars of the current and past eras to make our own opinions about who they are. Some players are known for being respectful to fans and embrace helping their communities through charity. Others have developed reputations for treating others poorly and being selfish jerks. We'll take a look at both sides of the proverbial court when it comes to the lives of many NBA stars. These are eight NBA superstars that are terrible human beings off the court and another eight that are complete sweethearts.
18 Terrible: Allen Iverson
The peak of Allen Iverson’s NBA career made him one of the most beloved Superstars in sports. Iverson’s MVP Award in 2001 along with a trip to the NBA Finals led to the majority of fans falling in love with his style. Everyone loves an undersized underdog somehow getting the job done. However, Iverson’s loveable nature didn’t extend off the court.
17 Sweetheart: LeBron James
LeBron James may still be chasing Michael Jordan’s ghost in terms of basketball legacy but he has proved to be a better human being. Following the drama of joining the Miami Heat, fans realized the genuine nature of James as a person during his redemption tour back on the Cleveland Cavaliers. LeBron’s charitable efforts are second to none in the NBA right now.
James contributes over $40 million in paying for the tuition of students from his hometown of Akron. Along with his financial help to his communities, LeBron also isn’t afraid to use his platform for the better. James has made his voice known whenever a story strikes the African-American community and is one of the major sports voices speaking against bigotry. There comes a point where athletes must decide what they stand for and James never turned his back on his community like many other top names before him.
15 Terrible: Jason Kidd
The success of Jason Kidd on the court caused many fans and organizations to look past his horrible track record off. Kidd had a terrible track record of domestic abuse. His ex-wife Joumana called the cops stating Jason was getting physical with her in a car, with their young children in the backseat. A divorce multiple years later saw Joumana accuse Jason of hitting her on numerous occasions.
14 Sweetheart: David Robinson
David Robinson has one of the best reputations in NBA history for his character as a human being. The San Antonio Spurs center worked harder than the average NBA prospect considering he went to college in the Navy. Robinson instantly became a top tier big man in the NBA with his gifted skills being quite special. Some NBA pundits actually claimed he was too nice to thrive in the NBA, but he proved them all wrong.
13 Terrible: Rajon Rondo
The point guard play of Rajon Rondo during his early years made him a great fit for the Boston Celtics contending core. Rondo passed the ball to the right man almost every play and played impressive defense. It all went downhill for him when the Celtics lost Ray Allen and traded away Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett.
12 Sweetheart: Dirk Nowitzki
Most NBA players have a few detractors in the league based off rivalries and the heat of competition. Dirk Nowitzki is one guy that has remained a consummate professional adored by fans and respected by his peers. Many players didn’t take him seriously at first due to the negative history of European players trying to make it in the NBA.
11 Terrible: Gilbert Arenas
Gilbert Arenas’ career is the story of somehow having it all and losing it due to a few bad decisions. The Washington Wizards allowed Arenas to become the face of the franchise. Arenas’ numbers rose to Superstar levels and he had a few years of huge popularity. One of the all-time dumbest decisions in NBA history saw Arenas bring a gun into the locker room and threaten teammate Javaris Crittenton.
10 Sweetheart: Isaiah Thomas
The recent blockbuster trade that featured the Cleveland Cavaliers dealing Kyrie Irving to the Boston Celtics for Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder and other young pieces was tough for Boston fans to process. Irving joining your team is always a great thing, but the Celtics fan base fell in love with Thomas. The underdog hero not only led them to success on the court. Thomas also became a strong part of the community.
9 Terrible: Karl Malone
Karl Malone is arguably the greatest power forward for his dominant run in the 90s. Utah Jazz fans loved Malone for leading them into contention multiple years before falling just short to the Chicago Bulls in back to back NBA Finals. The work ethic of Malone was commendable but that didn’t prevent him from being a huge jerk off the court.
8 Sweetheart: John Stockton
Most NBA players have huge egos and it actually benefits them in many cases. One of the few Superstars to never lose his humility was 90s Utah Jazz point guard John Stockton. Given how much of a jerk Karl Malone was, Stockton being such a good dude endeared him to his teammates for the entirety of his career. Everyone loved playing with the unselfish Stockton and rivals respected his tenacity.
7 Terrible: Dennis Rodman
The evolution of Dennis Rodman has seen him fall from being a terrible person you’d laugh at to a terrible person you shake your head at. Rodman has always been a jerk getting into fights during his NBA career and never treating the game with respect. Multiple Chicago Bulls teammates refused to speak a word to Rodman off the court due to how much of a pain he was to deal with.
6 Sweetheart: Dikembe Mutombo
Dikembe Mutombo was one of the best defensive centers of his era. All 90s fans have the upmost respect for Mutombo due to his play, but he has continued to improve his legacy post-retirement. Unlike many NBA players to blow their money on mansions and cars, Mutombo used his wealth to help his home of Africa.
5 Terrible: Kevin Garnett
The personality of Kevin Garnett made it tough to get a feel for him. You had to respect the heart and passion Garnett had for the game of basketball. However, his antics of doing anything to get ahead left a bad taste in the mouths of his fans and peers. Garnett’s trash talk often crossed the line from competition to downright hate.
4 Sweetheart: Tim Duncan
The kindness of Tim Duncan became a very confusing part of his game during his early years in the NBA. Duncan was drafted by the San Antonio Spurs in the late 90s during a time when trash talk was prominent. Despite being more talented than the majority of his peers, Duncan never tried to own them with the trash talk. Opponents would get confused and thrown off by Duncan being kind and respectful to them on the court.
Almost all of Duncan’s teammates have nothing but kind things to say about him. Duncan was a team first guy that didn’t mind getting overlooked in the perception of Superstars as he just wanted to win. The charitable actions of Tim off the court also showed the kind of person he is. Duncan is a strong proponent in philanthropy as The Tim Duncan Foundation has raised a lot of money for various worthy causes through the years.
3 Terrible: Michael Jordan
Michael Jordan is the most popular answer when discussing the greatest basketball stars of all time. As great as a basketball star Jordan was, he was an equally big jerk in real life. The countless actions of Jordan showed his true character. Jordan often bullied and humiliated teammates in practice for his own amusement. Steve Kerr received a punch to the face by Jordan at one point.
2 Sweetheart: Stephen Curry
Stephen Curry rode a wave of momentum to ascend from another very good player into a MVP Award winning Superstar in just a couple of years. The genuine nature of Curry is one of the many factors that caused fans to lead him past LeBron James in jersey sales. Curry’s family actually became part of the reason he is so beloved.
Fans witnessed his adorable daughter Riley Curry come to the podium with him at playoff games. Curry doesn’t shy away from crediting his wife and children for giving all the motivation needed to do the incredible things he does on a basketball court. Fans often get shown the love and appreciation from Curry as he has a clean track record when it comes to stories shared about his interactions. Despite being one of the most talented athletes on the plant, Steph find a way to make fans relate to him by being a good dude.
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