Even the least religious of your crew will probably be happy to let you know that Karma can be a witch with a capital B. And they wouldn’t be wrong! A lot of time the truth is served up cold and hard for those who deserve it the most. Whether they like it or not, when karma hits pro athletes, most of the world of fans are loving every second of it... especially when it comes to loud mouths, bone heads and instigators. Where else in the world can more famous athletes be found to meet that criteria? Look no further than the National Basketball Association!
NBA players have the big stage and cushy wallets to match, with more guaranteed cash flow then their NFL counterparts. But the truth is, with a young and ultra-liberal Adam Silver at the helm as commissioner, there is no telling how much more players will be able to get away with in the coming decade. From misbehaviour off the court, to blatantly disrespecting their teams, the league, or even the millions of fans all over the world, these players definitely are going to get slapped by karma one of these days. Let’s take a look at the eight players who got slapped by Karma the hardest, and seven who are next up!
15 Slapped Hard: Lance Stephenson
Born Ready was one of the most exciting surprises of the early 2010s with his gritty and versatile play for the back to back Central Division Indiana Pacers. He was a key part of their success, and an x factor for sure. For that reason, it was even a nastier move that he bolted town for marginally more money to play for the Charlotte Hornets. Most think the karma part would be his lack of success thereafter, but the real sting came when he finally got resigned in Indiana last season, only to take a back seat to younger more talented starting caliber talents. Lance got slapped hard!
14 Next: Jabari Parker
Jabari Parker was and probably still is considered to be one of the leagues top young scorers. Although season ending injuries can be deterring, it wasn’t until his second season-ending knee injury last season that the writing on the wall was clear: Parker may be parking his butt on the bench. After the rise of Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton, the realization of rookie phenom Malcolm Brogdon, and the trade for Eric Bledsoe, it’s clear that Parker, who still has yet to return, just may be the odd man out! While Jabari hasn’t necessarily done much to deserve it, it’s clear that he is next up to being out of luck!
13 Slapped Hard: Carmelo Anthony
Carmelo Anthony was once regarded as a top 5 league talent, a generational presence for any team lucky enough to have him. Despite no imminent injuries however, Melo found himself on the ugly side of the trading block. The Knicks sure had a hard time trading him this offseason, eventually striking a lucky deal with the OKC Thunder. But when it comes down to it, Melo deserved it. He kept the Knicks hostage for over a season, as his selfish play continually diminished his trade stock around the league... a value which eventually became a laughing stock. Tsk tsk.
12 Next: Nicolas Batum
Once a perennial wing star in this league, poor Nic Batum has certainly seen a steep decline in his stock. The worst part? His elbow injury appears to be a lingering issue that significantly hurts his once lethal shooting skills. That’s a tough pill to swallow for the now Charlotte Hornet. Charlotte seems to be the team that has a magnet for players with terrible karma. Perhaps the Frenchman put too many miles on his body as he almost never skipped an offseason performance with his home country’s Euroleague team. He shouldn't be putting his body on the line for another league when he's being paid big NBA money to stay healthy for the American league. Karma hurts.
11 Slapped Hard: Russell Westbrook
At first glance, most might say that a guy like Russell Westbrook has it all: a star studded line-up, and the unchecked position of big dog in the locker room. One thing people don’t realize however, is that this is the same guy who due to chemistry issues and a dash of luck, lost out on possibly the greatest line up ever seen on paper. Last year alone, he and his ex-teammates accounted for the Finals MVP, the regular season MVP, and the regular season runner up MVP... not bad. Too bad ego got the best of him. In the end, Westbrook just couldn’t find a way to co-exist with Kevin Durant and James Harden.
10 Next: Joakim Noah
Although it’s hard to blame a guy like Joakim Noah for taking the ridiculous contract the Knicks offered him, it is still a gross overpayment and for his crime he is looking at a very premature tail end of his career. For a guy who made his bread and butter grinding hard and disproving all the doubters (and if you have seen his ugly shooting form, understandably there are a lot!), it is a hard pill to swallow that after this contract dries up, he will be lucky to even play in a Euro league. Although karma has already been pretty mean to him, as he is often made fun of for his unique appearance. That's not so bad because he's making crazy money, but it's still sure to sting. Tough break!
9 Slapped Hard: Tyson Chandler
Despite providing one of the most exciting buzzer beaters for the Suns recently, Chandler is indeed at the very tail end of his career... but he didn’t intend for things to pan out that way. When Chandler signed with the Suns in 2015, it was a pipe dream to a larger role that he wasn’t ready to take on. With a piece-meal roster, signing with the Suns was a short-sighted move that left him with a decent size contract and zero hope of playing in the playoffs ever again. While you can't really blame a guy for chasing the money, it just goes to show that if you want any kind of legacy in the NBA, you need to make decisions about winning. He shouldn't have to worry about that for a long time though.
8 Next: Jae Crowder
This one comes with a big “if” -- that is if LeBron leaves Cleveland for the Lakers or any other organization next season. As we have seen in the past, LeBron is a bit of a contrarian when it comes to predicting his free agency moves. Why would this matter to Jae Crowder? Well, same reason it would matter to the rest of the big-name players on the Cavaliers roster -- being left in a small Eastern Conference market with no LeBron James to keep you in Finals contention. For Crowder, his oft unlikable disposition in Boston left many feeling that he didn’t appreciate the success he was finding under Celtic coach Brad Stevens. Now a way less effective player as a Cavalier, if LeBron bolts town he will both ringless and carry a significantly less appealing market value.
7 Slapped Hard: Jeremy Lin
Jeremy Lin has been noted for his rise from obscurity to stardom in his famous “Linsanity” run with the New York Knicks. But what many forget is his “poison pill” contract that allowed him to leverage the Knicks rights to him for a few extra million dollars on a 30+ million dollar three year contract with the Houston Rockets. This was an unethical move and he hasn’t stop paying for it with untimely injuries ever since. Ironic as it may be, the most recent one came in the beginning of this season when he sustained a ruptured patella tendon of the right knee playing with the Brooklyn Nets.
6 Next: Markelle Fultz
Markelle Fultz was once thought of as a shoo-in rookie of the year, no brainer #1 draft lottery pick. However, since the Philadelphia 76ers traded up with the Boston Celtics to get him, they have paid hard for their star-chasing ways, as Fultz has been nothing but injured since the season began, complete with a broken jump shot. Even worse, this year’s draft class is clearly loaded with talent, leaving Fultz not only out of the Rookie of the Year conversation, but out of the top 10 or even 20 rookies of this season. That’s what happens when teams focus too hard on the tank-and-draft mentality!
5 Slapped Hard: Blake Griffin
Blake Griffin is widely known around the league for being a bit of a punk with a big mouth. Recently he even took his big mouth to the stage, where he dabbled with stand up comedy. Well, that attitude has been catching up with him of recent times, as he has not only faced a lot of conflicts in his frustration of now being a part of a losing team, but even worse his large contract (and lengthy injury history) will prove much less appealing to move via trade than his fellow star DeAndre Jordan. In short, he will soon find himself the lone star on the Clippers roster, and will possibly be forced into spending the end of his prime in losing environment. Ouch.
4 Next: Lonzo Ball
There is something about being billed as the marquee player of the night 82 times per season as a completely unproven rookie with a loud-mouthed father that screams, “Hate me!” And NBA fans around the nation took the hint. But what Lonzo and his camp probably haven’t realized about his campaign for greatness, is that if he falls anything short of just that in the unrealistic time-span of his rookie season, he will be pegged as underwhelming for the rest of his career. Unfortunately for him, that appears to be exactly what is happening as he isn’t even the best rookie on his team as of now.
3 Slapped Hard: Brandon Knight
Is there any player you can think of who has been on the wrong side of more posterizing dunks than Brandon Knight? Unfortunately for the very talented guard, he had a series of really bad breaks, including being traded multiple times and eventually ending up buried in the depth chart of the Phoenix Suns. Although he had once been at the strong end of bargaining for a new contract, he now is finding himself locked into a position that can only hurt his basketball stock.
2 Next: LeBron James
Everyone remembers when LeBron James ditched his hometown Cleveland Cavaliers on national television for sunny South Beach and the Miami Heat. While his loyalty and overcommitment to winning was a huge character flaw then, LeBron is in a strange position now as the Cavalier squad as currently constituted will have trouble getting past the Boston Celtics, let alone the powerhouse Golden State Warriors. There lies the problem, if he leaves for the Los Angeles Lakers he will be hard pressed to get out of the West and make it to the Finals again. If he leaves for any other contending team, it will be a strange and possibly detrimental move for both his chances of winning and his legacy. He has too much pride to not be in the conversation for winning it all, and yet too much pride to jump on a bandwagon again, knowing how eerily similar it would be to leaving for Miami in 2010. Basically, his own greatness and hubris leaves him in a tough lose-lose situation.
1 Slapped Hard: DeAndre Jordan
Yes, DeAndre Jordan might be slapped the hardest of any of these guys. Mainly because of his incredibly public disloyalty to both the Dallas Mavericks, a team he had a handshake deal with a few years ago, and the Los Angeles Clippers, a team he rejected publicly, only to come back and ask to be embraced again. Perhaps the saddest part of the deal is that after the loss of point guard Chris Paul last offseason, he will now be forced to either get traded or play the rest of this contract out on a Clipper team just mediocre enough to have no future prospects or playoff series in the immediate future. Bummer.
When players are in the limelight, it’s only logical that their moves get picked apart and at times overanalyzed by the public. But, despite the prudence they must exercise pretty much all the time, they should never be surprised when good old Karma comes back around to give them a taste of what they once doled out so freely.