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.
Many stories of Iverson interacting with others have portrayed him as a jerk. Iverson has reportedly cursed out fans trying to meet him; treated service staffs poorly and just exhibited jerk tendencies to those that once respected him. Fame got to his head and clearly caused him to lose any humility. Iverson recently no-showed a Big3 game leading to a suspension to keep his name in the negative side of the news.
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.
Kidd got into trouble with the law again for a DUI when crashing his car after getting drunk during his time as a coach for the Brooklyn Nets. The action of Kidd showed he was as selfish in real life as he was unselfish passing the basketball on the court. Kidd’s time in Brooklyn ended when he tried to get control of the franchise’s decisions by trying to steal Billy King’s job. No one is safe if J-Kidd is around.
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.
Robinson won two NBA Championship rings during his playing career along with countless individual accolades. The off-court life of Robinson saw him become one of the most charitable athletes ever. It would take forever to list all of the things he has done. Robinson’s actions ranged from giving huge money to places hit with natural disasters to providing food and baby items for kids living in poverty. The legacy of Robinson may be basketball to the sports world but his greatness as a human being is way more important.
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.
Rondo witnessed numerous point guards pass him while he regressed. The last major chance at success for Rondo came when the Dallas Mavericks traded for him in hopes of contending. Rondo butted heads with the coaching stuff and numerous players. At one point, Rondo appeared to quit on the team during a playoff game. The Dallas teammates of Rondo voted that he shouldn’t receive his share of the playoff bonus as the ultimate proof he was a huge jerk to deal with.
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.
Nowitzki proved everyone wrong by becoming an all-time great power forward. The love of the community in Dallas has added another reason for them to appreciate him aside from the great play. Nowitzki actually dresses as Santa Claus and takes toys to children’s hospitals in the area on Christmas Day every year as his tradition. The fact that he spends the biggest holiday of the year with sick kids every year is a testament to who he is.
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.
The NBA suspended Arenas for such a ridiculous act and his career fell apart. Arenas continues to be a jerk following his NBA career with foolish posts on social media quite often. The most recent offense of Arenas saw him make sexist comments insulting the athletes in the WNBA. At one point, Arenas showed up at Nick Young’s house with a camera to damage his property and curse off Young’s son for the social media content.
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.
Many NBA players contribute to charitable actions, but Thomas went above and beyond. The NBA has named Thomas the winner of multiple Community Assist Awards for good reason. Thomas and his wife hosted a holiday event for the families who lost their homes in a massive Cambridge fire earlier this year. There’s also the fact that Thomas has served as a mentor for many kids. Cleveland is not only getting a great scorer but a great human with Thomas joining the organization.
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.
One of the most high profile instances of Malone showing his true colors was when he tried to hit on Kobe Bryant’s wife Vanessa during his final season in the league. You’d assume an old age Malone would have known better but he couldn’t resist. There have even been instances of Malone turning his back on his community by accusing young minorities of looking for a handout these days. It is especially a bad take given he refused to pay child support during his playing career despite being wealthy and famous.
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.
Following retirement, Stockton became an assistant coach for eight different youth teams at the same time. The legend just wanted to help pass along his knowledge to as many children as usual. No one out there has a bad word to say about Stockton as a human being. Old footage of the 1992 Olympics showed Stockton being the one basketball star from the Dream Team to walk around without being detected. Stockton benefited from being a man of the people in more ways than one.
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.
Rodman just got worse through the years and is close friends with North Korea dictator Kim Jong-un. At one point, Rodman convinced fellow retired NBA stars struggling for money to come to North Korea with him to perform a friendly game for the evil dictator’s birthday. Many players have publicly expressed regret over getting talked into it by Rodman. There are also the multiple arrests of Rodman throughout his adult life ranging from hit and runs to domestic abuse.
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.
Mutombo used $15 million of his own money to open a hospital in Africa named after his late mother Biamba Marie. It would become the first modern medical facility to open in Masina in nearly 40 years. Mutombo continues to work with the NBA and numerous other brands to contribute to humanitarian efforts. Nelson Mandela even commended Mutombo for all the work he has done for the world as one of the best human beings in the sports world.
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.
Tim Duncan was one of the main rivals of Garnett and the trash talk went too far regarding a sensitive subject. Duncan’s mother died shortly before Mother’s Day making it a tough annual event for the San Antonio Spurs star. Garnett mocked him with a cruel comment on Mother’s Day during a playoff game. There have been instances of Garnett using homophobic slurs, insulting players’ wives and even comparing players to cancer patients. Hopefully Garnett is changing his ways now that his playing career is over.
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.
The most recent action of Duncan has been coming out of retirement to fundraise in help of U.S. Virgin Islands following Hurricane Irma. Duncan’s campaign has raised $2 million and collected more than 400,000 pounds of food and supplies.
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.
During his time running the Washington Wizards, Jordan insulted a teenage Kwame Brown daily in practice until it completely broke his confidence. Jordan is arguably the biggest sports brand name of all time yet he is extremely cheap with his money. Many stories have revealed Jordan hates tipping and believes the homeless should never be given any money. All of the stories about Jordan as a human being make him seem like the G.O.A.T. when it comes to sports jerks.
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.