The NBA is one of the most intriguing leagues in the world because there is the media ends up picking up far more greasy details about what happens off the court. The NBA is fueled by intense rivalries between teams, but the more interesting occurrences is when players openly discuss their displeasure in other ones. Ever since the beginning of the NBA’s existence, there has been player rivalries that have extended far past the court itself. Sometimes, players simply cannot stand one another as not only opponents, but even teammates. These situations normally end up being the most intriguing and are always talked about more in depth.
With all that stated, in this article we will be looking at eight NBA feuds that have ended and eight more that will never be resolved. It is important to note that a lot of the NBA’s top players of all-time have had feuds with other players because of their quests for championships. In fact, many of these players even have faced their number one enemy numerous times in the playoffs and even the NBA Finals. Whatever the case may be, there is no argument that can go against the fact that the NBA has the best drama stories amongst its players than any other league. That ends up leading to a lot of success for the league.
Nonetheless, let’s look at eight iconic NBA feuds that have been resolved in time and eight more that will never come to an end!
16 Won’t Make Up: Paul Pierce And Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen
During the late 2000s, the Boston Celtics made themselves extremely talented when they traded for superstars Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett, which in turn, created the NBA’s first Big Three. The concept that was truly created by the Celtics has resulted in a complete culture change in the NBA where teams continuously attempt to adopt their own renditions. As a result of this big moves, the Celtics managed to be NBA Champions in 2008 and had many more chances to continue the feat. Although this would end up being their only championship season together, there was immense love that was formed between them all.
However, after the Boston Celtics lost to the Miami Heat in the 2012 NBA playoffs, Ray Allen ended up jumping ship and joining the Heat.
Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and the rest of the roster were extremely hurt by this free agency because not only did Allen join their biggest rival at the time, but also did not even warn them of the signing. The feud between the two parties is so monumental that these players have openly talked about their frustrations on live television. It is fair to assume that these guys will never make up, as they have made their private issues out to the public. They will be enemies until the end.
15 Made Up: Tony Allen, O.J. Mayo
Back in 2011, the Memphis Grizzlies were in a much different position that they are now: near the top of the Western Conference in the standings. The Grizzlies had just finished up a rebuilding period at this time and had an abundance of former college stars on their roster. The Grizzlies ended the season with a very solid record of 46-36 and made the postseason for the first time since the 2006 NBA season. In fact, the highlight of this season was when the Grizzlies shocked the NBA world and knocked out the San Antonio Spurs in the first round in six games. This ended up being the first time an 8th seed beat a 1st seed.
However, although the Memphis Grizzlies had a fantastic season that year, there was a bit of drama during the middle of it. To provide a bit of a backstory, members of the Grizzlies used to participate in games of poker on the plane rides. O.J. Mayo was a player who owned veteran Tony Allen a decent amount of cash. Mayo then started to trash talk Allen and criticized the way he plays the game and mocked him. This led to Allen to hit Mayo multiple times in the face and in return, shut the young baller up. After reports came out about this, it was noted that this was just a scuffle and the two remained friends shortly after.
14 Won’t Make Up: Gilbert Arenas, Javaris Crittenton
During his prime years in the NBA, Gilbert Arenas was one of the most underrated players in the league and a legitimate star. The Wizards deemed him as their star player and wanted to build the franchise around him and rightfully so. Arenas had grown into one of the best players in the NBA and had completely rejuvenated his career after a tough start with the Golden State Warriors. Meanwhile, Crittenton was once viewed as a potential star in the NBA because of his fantastic college career at Georgia Tech. However, once he arrived with the Washington Wizards, it became clear that he was a depth player at best.
During the 2009-2010 season as teammates of the Washington Wizards, tempers quickly rose up between Gilbert Arenas and Javaris Crittenton.
After approaching one another about money owed, the two players both pointed arms at one another in the Wizards’ locker room. This confrontation would ruin both the careers of these players, as a year long suspension was implemented on each of them. Arenas would become a depth player at best following the incident, while Crittenton would never play another NBA game. In fact he is now serving time for an unrelated incident.
13 Made Up: Jason Kidd, Jimmy Jackson
Everyone knows how fantastic of a player Jason Kidd was during his tenure in the NBA. Kidd was easily one of the greatest point guards of his generation and will always be remembered for leading the formerly known New Jersey Nets to their NBA Championship. Kidd also was a ten-time NBA All-Star during his career and won many more accolades. On the other hand, former shooting guard and teammate Jimmy Jackson had a long NBA career, but was more of a role player than anything else. However, these two names will forever be linked because of their former feud with one another.
Although this has been deemed a rumour, there have been reports that singer Toni Braxton was the cause of it. After initially setting a date up with Jason Kidd, Braxton reportedly blew off their encounter and instead went out with Jimmy Jackson. This allegedly led to a feud between the two teammates and created a negative chemistry amongst the locker room. Although both of these players have denied these claims, it is challenging to actually deny them. This would be a strange rumour to make up. However, it is extremely likely that these two have put this behind them because nothing serious ever happened afterwards.
12 Won’t Make Up: Brent Barry, Tony Parker
The San Antonio Spurs were one of the most consistent teams over the past two decades and the majority of the credit needs to be given to Gregg Popovich. Popovich has continuously made this team at the top the NBA for so many seasons and one has to imagine that he will be able to keep this going when a new crop of players join the roster. With Popovich leading this club, the Spurs have won five NBA championships, with the last one being back in 2014. However, although the Spurs have had immense success over his tenure, there has been some drama amongst the players.
Back in 2010, point guard Tony Parker made headlines when rumours of an affair with teammate Brent Barry’s wife can about. Of course. Parker was married to the beautiful Eva Longoria at the time and one would assume that was just speculation. Yet, when the news ended up being true, both of these former teammates end up going through divorces. There is no question that this beef will never go away because Parker completely ruined Barry’s marriage. In fact, Parker does not deserve any feeling of forgiveness because what he did was truly disgusting and showed his lack of character.
11 Made Up: Larry Bird, Magic Johnson
Larry Bird will forever be remembered for his time with the Boston Celtics because he made them true winners. As a member of the Celtics, he led the team to three NBA championships, was a three-time NBA Most Valuable Player, and of course, won two NBA Finals MVP awards. Without Bird, the Celtics would not have had as much success during the 1980s as they had. Magic Johnson, on the other hand, was the franchise player of the Los Angeles Lakers and was an absolute star. Johnson ended up being one of the greatest in the league during his prime, but his career was derailed due to his HIV diagnosis.
Due to the fact that these two were absolute superstars and played for contenders, these two became rivals on the court.
Bird and Johnson were the leaders of their teams, so they battled against one another in the Finals on numerous occasions. Although Johnson ended up winning two more championships than Bird, it is apparent that these two were stars against one another and made the NBA much better. It is important to note that off the court, these two have actually become great friends and even are known to be on speaking terms. It just goes to show the immense respect they have for each other.
10 Won’t Make Up: Kobe Bryant, Smush Parker
Every NBA fans knows how amazing of a basketball player Kobe Bryant was and he will forever be known as one of the greatest players to ever wear Purple and Yellow. Bryant led the Lakers to five NBA championships, was an 18-time All-Star, and won an abundance of more honours during his tenure in the league. Bryant is arguably the greatest natural scorer in the NBA as well, especially when looking at his 81-point performance. However, the same cannot be said about Kobe Bryant’s former teammate, Smush Parker. Parker was a role player at best and spent his career bouncing from team to team.
It is important to note that Kobe Bryant and Smush Parker had some serious issues with another one during their time as teammates and it has yet to resolve. Parker started the feud when he openly stated that Bryant never respected him as a player and even refused to talk to him in the locker room. Parker also has stated that Bryant was a selfish player and even overrated. In response to this, Bryant openly discussed how Parker was a terrible player and that the Lakers did not offer him much help by adding him to the 2006 roster. These two will not be catching up any time soon and rightfully so.
9 Made Up: Allen Iverson, Stephon Marbury
Allen Iverson will forever be remembered because he was arguably the best shooting point guard in the modern era. Although Iverson was never able to lead the Philadelphia 76ers to a championship, he was their best player by far and will always be beloved in the city for his contributions on and off the court. However, people often forget that for a short time, former New York Knicks’ point guard Stephon Marbury was also an elite talent. Like Iverson, Marbury was a point guard, but also played with a score-first type of mentality. Point guards like these are simply not common anymore.
When these two players were at the top of their games, they actually created quite the rivalry with one another.
Because Iverson was in Philadelphia and Marbury was in New York, these players faced off against each other numerous of times and continuously forced the other to play at the top of their games. Sadly for this rivalry, Marbury’s career quickly became derailed when he experienced a plethora of injuries. However, today these two have continuously praised one another to the media about their abilities. It is fair to assume the animosity has lowered immensely because of this.
8 Won’t Make Up: Larry Johnson, Alonzo Mourning
During the beginning of his NBA career, Larry Johnson was one of the top power forwards in the entire league. After being chosen with the first overall selection in the 1991 by the Charlotte Hornets, this was to be expected from the big man. However, after a serious back injury, Johnson would never be the same and it resulted in a nasty breakup with the Hornets. Alonzo Mourning was drafted second overall by the Hornets the following year and aimed to leave a similar impact. Mourning, of course, ended up being a legitimate star in the NBA and one the best defensive players.
However, when Larry Johnson and Alonzo Mourning were teammates, they quickly began to despise each other. Johnson and Mourning believed the other had a large ego and this resulted in a lot of chaos in the locker room. From here, Johnson started the feud by sarcastically putting his Rookie of the Year jacket in Mourning’s face. This eventually would lead to the breakup. As soon as these players were on different teams, a fist fight started at the end of a Heat-Knicks game. It is easy to believe that these two will never make up with one another, as they still were battling years after this incidents.
7 Made Up: Michael Jordan, Kwame Brown
Michael Jordan is actually the individual that created the connection between him and Kwame Brown. Brown had just come off a spectacular season while playing high school ball and convinced Jordan to draft him with his first overall pick as coach of the Wizards. Jordan found immense promise in Brown because he thought he was incredibly confident and took him. Brown ended up becoming the first ever first overall pick out of high school, so there was a ton of expectations for him. Drafting Brown also made Jordan so optimistic that he even came out of retirement to mentor him on the court.
Kwame Brown would actually end up becoming a decent NBA player, but Michael Jordan quickly began to dislike his playing style. Jordan continuously pestered him to play the game with more of an edge and to work harder. At a practice, Jordan reportedly even said to Brown to stop being a coward, but used a far more inappropriate word. This created a rift between the two and Brown no longer had the desire to play for him. Brown would continue his career with the Los Angeles Lakers and never became a true star. However, this rift has passed as both parties have moved on.
6 Won’t Make Up: Paul Pierce, Quentin Richardson
As previously stated, Paul Pierce will forever be remembered for his immense contributions with the Boston Celtics. Although he only had the Celtics win one championship during his tenure, he was incredibly loyal to the team when they were in their lowest of moments. The future NBA Hall of Famer showed a huge amount of class by doing this and is respected around many fanbases. When looking at former shooting guard Quentin Richardson, he may not have had as much success as Pierce, but he did produce a lot offensively. In fact, he led the league in three-point shots during the 2004 season.
The Paul Pierce-Quentin Richardson feud is one that does not specify a legitimate reason, but it has carried since the two met each other. There have been reports that while Pierce was a student at the University of Kansas, he helped Richardson tour the school. Richardson apparently did not mesh well with Pierce from the start and a rivalry formed between the two of them. This anger amongst one another carried on to the professional court as well, so one has to wonder what happened during their college visit. Regardless, the clear animosity from the start makes it clear these do will never make up.
5 Made Up: Tim Duncan, Kevin Garnett
Everyone knows how spectacular of a talent Kevin Garnett was with the Celtics, but he was an absolute mega star with the Minnesota Timberwolves during his prime years. Garnett was the sole superstar on that roster during his opening seasons and made that team truly form a legitimate market. Because he was in the Western Conference, this is where he formed his rivalry with San Antonio Spurs’ great, Tim Duncan. Duncan spent the entirety of his illustrious NBA career with the Spurs and helped lead this team to five championships, while Garnett failed to win in Minnesota.
These two players were the two of the top big men in the NBA and due to their prime years being in the same time, they were bitter enemies.
Both players have had some of the greatest battles in the history of the NBA and sometimes this fact is overshadowed by other immense talent during that time period. However, with all that has happened, it is clear that today these two former superstars have a lot of respect toward one another. Sometimes players simply feud with one another because of the fact that they all want to win. This was the case with Duncan and Garnett.
4 Won’t Make Up: Michael Jordan, Isiah Thomas
Michael Jordan is the goat of the NBA. The LeBron James and Jordan debates will never fade away, but at the end of the day, Michael is clearly the better. Jordan went 6-0 in NBA Finals, while also taking a lot of time off from his NBA career due to multiple retirements. Jordan also won the Most Valuable Player Award five times in his career, as well as numerous other awards and records. The other half of this memorable feud, Isiah Thomas, may not have come close to Jordan’s resume, but he had a solid career. Thomas won two NBA championships with the Detroit Pistons, as well as being a 12-time All-Star.
The Michael Jordan- Isiah Thomas feud occurred in one of the least competitive games of the year, the All-Star game. Jordan was working incredibly hard in this game because it was his rookie season and he wanted to show the league that he was going to be top dog. Thomas reportedly did not appreciate the attitude that Jordan was possessing and apparently called for a “freeze-out” amongst the star. Thomas and Jordan’s rivalry would continue on throughout the entirety of their times facing each other. Due to this being their first impressions of one another, it is clear that there is no way back.
3 Made Up: Karl Malone, Dennis Rodman
The feud between Karl Malone and Dennis Rodman is a huge one because it involves two absolutely incredible basketball players. Karl Malone will forever be remembered and respected for his immense impact left on the Utah Jazz. Although he never could lead the Jazz past the Chicago Bulls and give Utah their championship, he was still a Hall of Famer and accomplished an abundance of accolades. Rodman was a star as well, but was often overshadowed because of playing with Michael Jordan. Yet, Rodman left a significant impact on the NBA because of his tenacity and he ended up winning five championships.
Because both Karl Malone and Dennis Rodman were extremely passionate NBA players, they ended up forming a pretty intense rivalry. Both were not afraid to be chippy in the paint and this resulted in a pretty memorable fight between the two of them during the 1998 NBA Finals. It is important to note that these teams ended up playing each other two years straight in the Finals too, so there was a lot of built up anger and aggression between them. However, even with this, it is clear that these two have made amends and even have spoken highly of the other in live interviews.
2 Won’t Make Up: Derek Fisher, Matt Barnes
Derek Fisher will always be remembered for his contributions with the Los Angeles Lakers. Fisher spent the majority of his NBA with the Lakers as their starting point guard and continued to progress his game immensely. Luckily for him, he had the chance to play on many great Lakers’ teams, which resulted in him winning five championships in his career. Matt Barnes is a less memorable name, but he has left an impact on the game because of his tenacious play. Barnes was a very intimidating player and it resulted him lasting in the league for a pretty long time. He ended his career in 2017 with a NBA Championship.
The Derek Fisher-Matt Barnes feud is easily one of the most dangerous ones that could have resulted in a very dangerous incident.
After finding out that Fisher had been dating Barnes’ estranged wife, Barnes drove up to his former wife’s house in hopes to beat up Fisher. Thankfully Fisher left before the incident had gotten worse because it is apparent that Barnes would have won. There is no way that these two will ever make amends because Fisher did something truly vile and disrespectful. It would be best that these two never speak to one another ever again.
1 Made Up: Shaquille O’Neal, Kobe Bryant
Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant made the Los Angeles Lakers one of the most frightening teams in the NBA because both players were mega superstars. When the two were on their games and working together, the Lakers were absolutely unbeatable. The two of them resulted in immense success for the Lakers and of course, numerous championships. The Lakers ended up winning three straight championships with these two and everything appeared to be perfect in Los Angeles. However, as the years passed, the star duo ended up growing further and further apart.
The two superstars mainly stopped working well together because there was an apparent battle of who was the number one star. Instead of working together and trying to win, these two ended up stopping the dynasty that was present. The feud was mainly because Shaq felt that Kobe was far too selfish and was not a team player. Due to the fact that the Lakers were more loyal to Kobe, Shaq found himself moved to the Miami Heat. The feud continued even afterwards when Shaq trash talked Kobe about winning without him first. Today, the two have squashed their beef and are actually pretty good friends.