Top 10 NBA Players Who Are Jerks In Real Life And 10 Who Are Sweethearts

The NBA is a star-driven league. More than any other professional sports organization, it is a place where the individual player can contribute in a way that leads to a championship effort, awards, and maybe even a shoe deal. With all that attention, you can probably imagine that there are a few star players in the NBA who let it go to their heads and become jerks. You’d be right too. In fact, there’s a strong argument to be made that the NBA produces bigger jerks than other organization in the world of professional sports.

That doesn’t mean that there aren’t exceptions. The biggest jerks in the NBA may get all of the attention, but the very good news is that their exploits tend to pale in comparison to the good things being done by their sweetheart counterparts. There are great players in the NBA who manage to be even greater when they walk off the court.

They’re among the very best examples of how a player should act. Their jerk counterparts have no trouble getting attention, so maybe it’s time that these good guys got some love as well.

This list will be a mixture of former and current NBA players to display how the mixed bag of jerks and sweethearts goes for every generation.

20 Jerk – Karl Malone


It’s okay to feel a little bit bad that Karl Malone never won an NBA Championship. As one of the premiere big men of the big man era, Malone’s talent certainly justified a title run. If it makes you feel any better, it’s quite possible that karma deprived Malone of a championship because he’s a huge jerk. Much has been made of Malone’s off-the-court actions, especially as it relates to the illegitimate child Malone fathered as a result of his relationship with a 13-year-old girl. Somehow, that story seems to have slipped many minds.

19 Sweetheart – John Stockton


18 Jerk – Nick Young

Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

17 Sweetheart - Pau Gasol

Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

In an interview with The LA Times, Pau Gasol lamented how the NBA is a tough place to be a nice guy. He says that people will often take advantage of him for being a genuinely good human being. It’s hard to imagine that anyone could ever find it in their hearts to be mean to a guy who typically spends his off-season chilling with his band, visiting foreign countries to help displaced children, enjoying the wilderness, and contributing to as many charities as he can find the time and money for.

16 Jerk – Matt Barnes

Jaime Valdez-USA TODAY Sports

15 Sweetheart – Andre Iguodala

Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

14 Jerk - Matthew Dellavedova

Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

13 Sweetheart – Ricky Rubio

Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

12 Jerk – J.R. Smith

Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

11 Sweetheart – Zach Randolph

Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

10 Jerk - Paul Pierce

Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports

9 Sweetheart – Joakim Noah

Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

8 Jerk – Rajon Rondo

Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

7 Sweetheart – Dwyane Wade

Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

6 Jerk – Kobe Bryant

Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

5 Sweetheart – Stephen Curry

Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

4 Jerk – Kevin Garnett

Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Hearing that Kevin Garnett is regularly considered to be one of the league’s biggest jerks always seems to come as a surprise to fans. Garnett’s ability to contribute as either the star player or the role player seems to contradict any claim that his is a completely selfish jerk. However, there are many stories about how Garnett goes out of his way to big as big of a defensive burden on the court as he can be. Along with stellar play, this typically includes cheap shots, insults, and whining to the refs when necessary.

3 Sweetheart – Kevin Durant

Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

2 Jerk – Michael Jordan


Who else? The discussion regarding whether or not Michael Jordan is the greatest NBA player of all-time tends to hardly be a discussion at all. Based on nearly any metric, he’s the greatest athlete to ever step onto a basketball court. He’s also the biggest jerk to do the same. The legend of Michael Jordan’s cockiness is almost as infamous as the legend of his on-court play. Much like Kobe Bryant, Jordan’s bad attitude is directly related to his nearly inhuman competitiveness.

1 Sweetheart – Tim Duncan

Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

In the same way that Michael Jordan is such an overwhelming jerk that you almost can’t help but respect it a little bit, Tim Duncan is such an incredibly nice guy that you almost can’t help but doubt the stories of his kindness just a little bit. Legend has it that Tim Duncan has been able to throw defenders off their game by being so nice to them that they get confused. You throw an elbow at Tim Duncan, he throws a smile at you. He just wants to help his team win every game so that he can leave the stadium with his head held high enough to spot all the autographs that people want him to sign. There’s never going to be another Tim Duncan.

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Top 10 NBA Players Who Are Jerks In Real Life And 10 Who Are Sweethearts