With the NBA season looming a few months away, there are many storylines to be told. One of which the blockbuster trade between the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Boston Celtics. After discovering the point guards season ending hip injury during his physical this past week, the Cavaliers have somewhat reneged on their trade offer with the Celtics. Similarly, another story is the future of LeBron James in Cleveland. Will he stay after next season? Or will he continue his pursuit of playing with Dwayne Wade and Carmelo Anthony? Finally, there is a lot on the line for rising NBA players like Blake Griffin, Chris Paul and several other players. Will they show up to play next season? Or will it ultimately be a bust for those players and the coaches.
It is no secret that the NBA is filled with these storylines, but ultimately players have the chance to build chemistry on and off the court. And in the NBA chemistry is everything for a teams success. Chemistry helps teammates win titles together, and they help keep dynasties together. From the 1995 Chicago Bulls, to what it seems the current Golden State Warriors, it begins with ownership and trickles down to the coaches and the players.
However, not all teams and players are as fortunate or have the same luxury as others. Some teammates build chemistry on and off the court, thus allowing them to perform in the game, while others struggle with this aspect making it difficult for their team to play better as a unit. This list takes a look at NBA Pairs who absolutely hated each other and some current teammates who probably do.
15. Former: Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neil
Although these two won multiple championships together in their careers with the Lakers, it is no secret that their chemistry remained a question mark. Shaq being one of the most dominant big men to ever play the game, demanded a lot of touches simply because he was always the biggest player on the court. And he was always finished at the basket like no other, sometimes breaking multiple backboards in the process.
In light of Shaq’s undeniable strength and finishing ability, I’m sure at times Bryant felt disrespected to some extent. And Broderick Turner breaks this down a little more for us in his piece entitled Kobe and Shaq: This team wasn’t big enough for the both of them” on the LA Times. “They were 1A and 1A. That’s what created all the anxiety,” said former Lakers forward Rick Fox who won three titles with Bryant and O’Neal. “It’s hard to have two alphas, you know? I just think they were in different eras. Shaq was older, Kobe was younger. Shaq was already established and Kobe was trying to establish himself. I think when I look back on it, that was the difference in each of their careers where they were at a different point and different stages where both were really striving to be the best in the game.” In response to Turners philosophy, perhaps thats why Kobe and Shaq had this feud developing. Shaq was aging in his career and the Mamba was in his prime age looking to prove himself, something had to give.
14. Former: Ray Allen and Rajon Rondo
Ray Allen leaving the Celtics for Miami was indeed a devastating move for Celtics fans. Not only did the “Big 3” win multiple championships in their time together, but they also made a dynasty in Boston, making them one of the greatest trios to ever play. In light of that dynasty during the 2008 season and so on, I certainly feel Rajon Rondo felt disrespected and perhaps overshadowed to some extent.
He was also just really unhappy that he left, as was Paul Pierce and the rest of the group. Ray Allen had a record setting 236 3s in one season. And the Celtics probably would have won more championships had the group stayed together. One classic example where this feud hits home can be seen on the Nesn.com site when Ray Allen announced his retirement on the Players Tribune. “Allen may have hinted at that odd dynamic in his Players’ Tribune retirement letter, which mentions Pierce and Kevin Garnett but not Rondo. “When you get to the NBA, you won’t always play cards with the boys,” Allen writes. “Some people will assume you’re not being a good teammate.” When you consider how long Ray Allen and Rondo’s feud dates back to 2009, theres no getting back together for these two.
13. Might: John Wall & Bradley Beal
These two have both been playing on the Wizards for so far the duration of their careers. While the Wizards have indeed made it to the playoffs the past few years and have been making strides, that doesn’t mean everyone is always happy. With an ego driven, ball dominating point guard like Wall, I can’t help but include start off with this one. While Wall is a gifted player of scoring the basketball while facilitating for his teammates, it is no denying that his ego might get in the way of his backcourt mate at times.
The greatest example of Walls ego was displayed when they nearly beat the Celtics in last year’s playoffs, specifically in their heroic Game 4 victory. Although Celtics PF Al Horford made a shot with just about 4 seconds remaining, Wall ultimately hit the game winning shot to seal the deal for Washington. A piece on the MidAtlantic backs this relationship up a bit with Beal quoting “”It’s tough because we’re both alphas. It’s always tough when you have two guys who firmly believe in themselves, who will bet on themselves against anybody else, who want to be that guy. We both can be that guy,”. Although setting differences aside can be difficult for these two, it seems like theres still a bit of healing that needs to take place if Washington hopes to make a deeper playoff push in the playoffs this season.
12. Former: Dion Waiters & Kyrie Irving
Every team Dion Waters has played on he has always tried to be the best on the court. And this type of mindset although beneficial for himself I’m sure, could have rubbed his teammates the wrong way at times. Just ask Irving, Durant and almost every other player he’s played with in his career. Coming from of course an elite program in Syracuse, wanting to dominate the ball every time, it is certainly not an exaggeration to assume this for Waiters.
One example I can think of could be drawn from Kurt Helin’s piece on NBCsports.com. In his piece ESPN analyst Chris Broussard reported saying “Irving called the meeting after the game, and every player spoke. When Waiters was given the floor, he criticized Thompson and Irving, accusing them of playing “buddy ball” and often refusing to pass to him. Thompson took umbrage with Waiters’ words and went back at him verbally. The two confronted each other, but teammates intervened before it could escalate into a fight.” Although these two players are indeed very talented, it seems as though there were favorites on the Cavaliers when they were still together. And playing with favorites never wins basketball games.
11. Former: LeBron James and Kyrie Irving
The recent developments regarding the Cavaliers Celtics trade has certainly raised some eyebrows around the league. Many have wondered or questioned why Irving would want to leave, or more so why LeBron would let him leave. And that is why these two make the list. Although LeBron is universally recognized as the greatest SF to ever play the game, like I’ve said on multiple occasions I certainly feel Kyrie feels disrespected to some extent here. Kyrie is in his prime age at 25 and has many good years ahead of him. And I can see why he wants a chance to lead a team himself.
Plus, one of the things about LeBron is that as great of a player as he is, and he is indeed great, there is a level of standards that he expects his teammates to meet. And Ricky O’Donnell hits this spot in his article on SBNation.com. “There was a game against the Jazz early in the 2015-16 season when Irving finished with 34 points but zero assists in a Cleveland loss. After the game, James gave Irving a lecture and let him know that those numbers were unacceptable.”
“After the game, James wasn’t thinking about the loss or about that last defensive breakdown. He was miffed that Irving scored all those points without registering a single assist.
“He came up to me and was like, ‘One, you can never have another game with no assists,’ ” Irving said, describing James’ words. ” ‘You can damn near have just one, two, three, but you can’t have zero.’ And I was like, ‘All right, cool, it won’t happen again.’ And it hasn’t happened since that game.”
When you consider this, you consider how much they actually could have disliked each other during their time in Cleveland. And it definitely will show and be reflective of their performances this upcoming season.
10. Might: Kevin Durant and Draymond Green
While these two won a title together, and will probably win many more together before the end of their careers, I still believe there is a bit of dislike between these two. Draymond being the loud mouth, devious player that he can be at times, I certainly feel Durant doesn’t like his tactics to some extent. Not only is Draymond known for literally drop kicking players like Steven Adams, but he also has a very uncharted filter saying whatever he wants to whoever he wants.
However, the instance that arose between these two that leads skeptics to believe the feud between these two was a simple phone call after the Warriors collapse to the Cleveland Cavaliers in the 2016 NBA Finals. And Tim Daniels breaks this down a little more for us on Bleacherreport.com saying “Green told Zach Lowe of ESPN.com he called Durant from the parking lot after the defeat completed a stunning collapse from a 3-1 series lead. The former Oklahoma City Thunder star, who signed with Golden State a couple of weeks later, denied that conversation took place”. In light of Durant denying the phone call, it leaves more unanswered questions about these two.
9. Former: James Harden and Russell Westbrook
Imagine if James Harden, Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant stayed in OKC. Wow. Who knows where we would be now. Unfortunately, they all went their separate ways with their current respected teams. And it probably wouldn’t have worked anyway considering both of these players have giant egos and demand the basketball. However, I feel the beef between these two really brewed after the Thunder lost to the Miami Heat in the 2011 NBA Finals. Shortly after the series, Harden would request a trade. And I feel that was definitely a reflection of Harden wanting his own team and to build his legacy. He was unhappy with the current situation with the GM and coaching staff in OKC, and he was tired of playing second fiddle to Russell Westbrook.
However, one of the things about Russell Westbrook that rubs his teammates the wrong way sometimes is he completely dominates basketball games, particularly when it comes to shooting the basketball, just ask Kevin Durant. In light of Westbrook’s tendency to dominant games, like Harden, one could see the dislike between these two.
8. Former: Dwight Howard and Kobe Bryant
Similar to the beef between Kobe and Shaq, we see Kobe make the list once again, however, with a different player in Dwight Howard. Yes. Superman made the list. One of the reasons which leads me to believe the hatred between these two was simply Howard’s inability to make free throws. There are only a handful of players who shoot it worse at the charity stripe than Dwight and I can understand Kobe’s frustration when you leave easy points out on the floor.
However, these two simply didn’t get along because Dwight didn’t understand the work that goes into winning, according to Jesus Gomez of SB Nation. In his article he quotes Bryant’s frustration saying, “I tried teaching Dwight. I tried showing him. But the reality is that when you have a perception of what it is to win a championship – and most perceptions of what it’s like to win are a very outgoing, very gregarious locker room where you pick each other up and you’re friends all the time. That’s the perception… But when he saw the reality of it, it made him uncomfortable. And it’s very tough to be able to fight through that, to deal with that challenge. And I don’t think he was willing to deal with that uncomfortable and combative nature.”
7. Might: Joel Embiid and Jahlil Okafor
Trust the process! Yes, the two rising big men for the 76ers made the list. Although the team has made strides in reaching the playoffs for the foreseeable future, there are still some question marks surrounding their big men, and thats where these two come into play. Both coming from elite colleges in Duke and Kansas, both in great condition and both in arguably the prime of their careers, both wanting to demand a lot of attention for the ball club moving forward. And there is only so much room to do so when you are rebuilding a team year after year like Philadelphia.
Not to mention that both of them can’t stay healthy for the duration of a season. Both of these players have failed to stay on the court, thus making playoff appearances that much more difficult to achieve. They also seemed to struggle playing down on the blocks at times during the games. Jessica Camerato on the CSN Philly said ” “I’m not a three-point shooter and I don’t want to take a lot of threes,” Embiid said. “I want to be dominant on the block. But last night was kind of frustrating because I wasn’t as much on the block. But I’ve just got to find my spots and get into the flow of the offense.” Through this account Camerato explains why they might be frustrated playing with each other because you can only trust the process for so long.
6. Former: Rudy Gay and the Kings
Although Gay is one of the most consistent SF in the NBA strictly in numbers, it was overshadowed on an atrocious team like the Kings. However, Gay and the Kings make the list simply because of his inability to stay on the court, thus inflicting and fueling this dislike between himself and the organization. For as long as Rudy Gay has been in the league, he has been unable to play a full season really. When you combine that with the fact that the Kings haven’t made the playoffs in years, it shows how dysfunctional the Kings are and how far they have to go.
Ananth Pandian described the Kings organization as “basketball hell” in his article written on cbssports.com. “The Kings have been a dysfunctional franchise for the last several years. Their team owner Vivek Ranadive, also has a bad habit for blaming others for the club’s problems. Ranadive, of course after the fact, has realized the errors of his ways. However, with such poor behavior from team ownership and constant turmoil in the front office and coaching ranks, you can understand why Gay refers to the Kings as “basketball hell.” Thus, one can see why Gay feels this way.
5. Former: LeBron James and Mario Chalmers
When LeBron James is on a team, he commands control. He’s been the best player in the world for the better part of the last decade and he’s garnered a reputation as basically being the coach of his team. When you’re a figure like that, it’s impossible for everyone to like you. Mario Chalmers earned the affectionate nickname “The Most Yelled-At Player In The NBA” during the duo’s time together in Miami. When LeBron decided to return to Cleveland, Chalmers referred to him as “that guy,” claiming “it’s going to be the same even though we don’t have [him].”
That could have been Chalmers trying to put on a brave face for the Heat, but it also highlights some tension between them, as Chalmers was likely relieved not to take any more lip from the King anymore.
4. Might: Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson
Some of you might be asking yourselves, “why would these two make the list?”, well its simply their egos combined with the fact that they’re on a great team in the Warriors. Stephen Curry won the 2015 3 point contest, and Klay won the shootout in 2016. And now that Curry has an all star SF in Kevin Durant, and a different team, I think they both have a bit of bad blood because of their incredible ability to shoot the ball, so the competition will always be there.
Also, being what it seems the 3rd option now on a great team just adds more pressure to continue to be the dual threat that Klay Thompson is night in and night out. And John Janssen fleshes this out a little more in his theory written on HowTheyPlay. He says, “Steph gets all the love all the shine and all the endorsements. Klay gets to guard the best player on the other team. If you watch them play together, it is like night and day. Steph runs around smiling, laughing, dancing, celebrating, having the kind of fun kids in toy stores do, and then pan over to where Klay is just standing there.
Stephen Curry is the back to back league MVP. Steph has the ball in his hands for most of the possessions and he decides who shoots the ball. And many times he spends the entire shot clock dribbling trying to get himself an open shot. And there is Klay, relying almost completely on someone, usually Steph, to get him the ball when he’s open for a shot.” When one considers this, one considers how they may dislike each other to some extent.
3. Might: Kevin Love and Kyle Korver
Okay, I don’t have to mention much about this one except for the fact that Kevin Love absolutely roasted Korver over something I find quite comical. When Korver was traded to the Cavaliers and got to meet the team he asked where the coach was. And Kevin Love simply responded with a point to LeBron James. Korver then said “Oh he’s the coach?”, and Kevin Love responded with yes he is, you should have known that.
It doesn’t surprise me that many would consider LeBron the coach of the Cavaliers because he essentially is. However, it also doesn’t surprise me that Love would say that considering he says things about other players like LeBron. In Joe Vardon’s article written on Cleveland.com, he says the following about something Kevin Love said in an interview once. “”You know, we’re not best friends, we’re not hanging out every day, but we see each other every day, whether we’re at the practice facility, whether we’re on the road or going to a game,” Love said. “I think our relationship is also evolving. I could say the same with each and every coach, coach Blatt, and each and every player on the team. But, that’s part of the NBA.” It seems like although subtle, there is some dislike between these two players which is why you see them here.
2. Former Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook
These two ultimately didn’t work out in OKC simply because of Westbrook’s attitude. We have been able to see what Westbrook has been capable of this past season posting career numbers in assists and points, averaging a triple double nearly every game. Likewise, we have seen what Durant can do on his new team being the stud that he is. I believe there is beef between these two because of the way Durant left and that he now won a title. Durant and Westbrook could have beaten the Warriors in the 2016 season. And instead of trying to beat them the next go around he decides to join the enemy instead.
It will always be a confusing situation to look back on for many NBA fans because first and foremost the Warriors were a pretty good team without Durant. They had won a championship the previous year and had set a record setting 73 win season the following season. The Warriors were a team that shined long before Durant had arrived. Another thing is Durant felt overshadowed by Westbrook’s accomplishments. He wanted to lead his own team and fortunately he was able to do so. So it’s no surprise these players made the list here.
1. Might: Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan
“Lob City” will look a lot different next season now that Chris Paul has departed for Houston. And it was largely thanks to these two towering bigs down low. These two didn’t get along one because Deandre cannot hit free throws, but also neither of them are particularly good at defense, giving up a lot of easy points down low. Another thing is now that Blake demanded the max contract, now he has a lot of pressure to show up despite not being able to play with Chris Paul.
On the LATimes was written “I think that there was forced tension because of everything we all heard that we said about each other, which was not true at all,” Jordan said at Clippers’ media day on Friday. “It was just the outside, and we never asked each other about it.”
Although there was no public statements made, it remains to be seen from these two players this upcoming season, whether or not they will perform as a unit and a group or whether they will not live up to the hype. We will have to see what happens with these two players next but they make the list here to close out this list.
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