Basketball, much like any other sport, is packed full of characters. Some of these characters endear themselves to the crowd, many are well respected, and there are then of course plenty which are despised. The reason that a large percentage of these players are despised is because they are irritating, and this could be down to their actions on the court, their tendency to get under opponents skin, their incessant whining to the referee, their actions off the court or even just the way they carry themselves.
These irritating players can drive opponents, coaches, fans and even casual watchers up the wall. A lot of the time these irritating players will know what they are doing and have a specific role to annoy, and it is these players that are the most infuriating as they almost fulfil the role of a pantomime villain. There are then several irritating players who are unaware of the fact that they rub everyone the wrong way, but once a player is labelled irritating it is very difficult to shake this (even if they join your team).
Although many of these players are infuriating, there are also many on the list that have enjoyed a tremendous amount of success over the years. In some cases this comes down to their ability to get under opponents' skin, and with these players they are typically despised during their playing career but they will be respected once they’ve hung up their shoes.
Whether a player is irritating or not is entirely subjective of course, but I’m sure you’ll find yourself agreeing with some of the entries on this list.
Here are the 15 most irritating players in NBA history.
15 Nick Young
14 Sasha Vujacic
13 J.R. Smith
There is no denying J.R. Smith is a fantastic scorer, but he is also a coach’s nightmare and the type of player you would dislike playing with and despise playing against. He has a notoriously bad attitude and was caught at a night club prior to a playoff game for the Knicks, but it is also his on court actions which make him irritating. Smith plays little defense, does not pass often and takes low percentage shots. He will often hit these difficult shots, which is particularly frustrating to play against after playing a solid 23 seconds of good defense.
12 Isiah Thomas
11 Chris Bosh
Although talented, Bosh is not as good as he thinks he is. He has claimed he is a lock to make the Hall of Fame, but aside from a few good years on a poor Toronto team and being the third option and weak link in a “Big 3” with Wade and LeBron, Bosh has done very little. He may end up in the Hall of Fame, but his all-star selections are due to a weakened Eastern conference and he has never been the go to guy on a good team. He is also very soft in the post and struggles with the physicality, which will often see him do little more than shoot 18 footers from outside.
10 James Harden
The most boring part of watching an NBA game is free throws, and in today’s game there are a lot of them. No one shoots more than Houston’s James Harden, who made as many as 22 in a game back in March and has taken a staggering 816 free throws at the time of writing (nearly 200 more than Westbrook in second). When Harden attacks the hoop he sticks his arms out in front of him and coaxes players into fouling him, and often it is clear that he is playing for the foul instead of trying to score. This is infuriating to watch.
9 Christian Laettner
Laettner will go down as one of the most unpopular players of all time, and there are a few different reasons for this. He enjoyed a tremendous amount of success at Duke, winning two NCAA titles as well as becoming the first player to play in four consecutive Final Four’s, including a hugely dramatic shot in 1992, but this is often not what he is remembered for. Laettner famously stepped on the chest of UK’s Aminu Timberlake which lost him the respect of many, and he was also called up to the 1992 “Dream Team”, beating out Shaq to the final spot. Many felt that Laettner rode the coattails of this team, and despite all this hype he ended up having a very average NBA career.
8 Dwight Howard
7 Vlade Divac
6 Metta World Peace
5 Shane Battier
4 Bill Laimbeer
3 Anderson Varejao
2 Bruce Bowen
1 Reggie Miller
Whether you love him or hate him, there is no denying that Reggie Miller excelled at irritating both players and fans. Miller takes great pride in his ability to annoy and irritate, which of course only makes him even more infuriating. With a stick figure frame he looks out of place on the basketball court, but he managed to excel despite this which is only the tip of the iceberg in what makes him the most irritating player of all-time.
Miller was also a notorious flopper on both ends of the floor, he would relentlessly trash talk opponents, complain to refs, wind up the crowd (this includes a famous argument with Spike Lee), hit questionable and unlikely shots and revel in the hatred that the opposition and fans had for him. He is unquestionably one of the all-time great shooters and clutch players, but also an incredibly irritating one who knew exactly what he was doing and loved every second of it.
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