Work environments across the globe are often soured by colleagues that don’t get along. Unsurprisingly, the NBA isn’t an exception and plenty of its co-workers have endured unhealthy relationships over the years. For example, the Cleveland Cavaliers concluded the 2009-10 season with a record of 61-21 that secured the top seed in the Eastern Conference. Regrettably for Cleveland fans, a listless LeBron James and the Cavaliers were ousted by the underdog Boston Celtics in the second round of that year’s playoffs. Rumors quickly emerged that "The Chosen One’s” subpar efforts stemmed from whispers that his teammate, Delonte West, had been fornicating with his mother, Gloria Marie James. Approximately two months later, James abandoned Cleveland and decided to “take (his) talents to South Beach” to become a member of the Heat.
While James’ plight may be comical to outsiders, a negative work atmosphere nearly turned tragic in December 2009 when Washington Wizards teammates Gilbert Arenas and Javaris Crittenton had a gun showdown in the locker room. Thankfully, bullets didn’t fly and nobody was injured during the frightening confrontation. Minus the violence, Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant had a longstanding, bitter feud that prematurely ended another Los Angeles Lakers dynasty. Provided then Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak continued surrounding his duo of megastars with topflight role players like Rick Fox, Robert Horry and Brian Shaw, it’s tough to predict how many consecutive crowns O’Neal and Bryant would have brought to Tinseltown.
This list will name 15 occasions when an NBA player drove one of his teammates out of town.
15 CARMELO ANTHONY (Jeremy Lin)
Former New York Knicks point guard Jeremy Lin exploded onto the NBA scene and became a global icon for his stunning performances in the winter of 2012. The 6-foot-3, 200-pound Lin, who went undrafted in 2010 out of Harvard, led the Knicks to seven straight victories. Gotham embraced the Asian-American hoopster and a craze known as “Linsanity” was born. Regrettably for coach Mike D’Antoni, established Knicks star Carmelo Anthony refused to adapt to Lin’s playing style.
“It was there, it’s real,” said D’Antoni, who coached the Knicks from 2008-2012. “The problem that we had was that for Jeremy to be really good, which he was, he had to play a certain way. It was hard for (Carmelo) to adapt. They could have co-existed if Melo went to the 4, which he really didn’t want to.”
Lin signed a three-year deal worth $25 million to become a Houston Rocket in July 2012.
14 JAMES HARDEN (DWIGHT HOWARD)
Notorious malcontent Dwight Howard inked a four-year contract worth $88 million to become a Houston Rocket as a free agent in July 2013. Rockets GM Daryl Morey figured the 6-foot-11, 265-pound Howard would ideally complement All-Star shooting guard James Howard. Howard and Harden never gelled personally or professionally and the team struggled to find an identity. Howard, who previously vacated the Orlando Magic and Los Angeles Lakers on bad terms, discussed his relationship with Harden during an interview with ESPN’s Mike & Mike.
“It wasn’t as good as it needed to be for us to succeed,” said Howard. “But, you know, looking back on it, there’s really nothing that we can do about it now.”
Howard bolted from Houston and agreed to become an Atlanta Hawk in July 2016. The mammoth sourpuss is now unhappy with his role in Hotlanta.
13 KOBE BRYANT (SMUSH PARKER)
Kobe Bryant and Smush Parker were disgruntled partners as members of the Los Angeles Lakers from 2005 through 2007. While Bryant is one of the preeminent stars in NBA history, Parker went undrafted in 2002 out of Fordham University. Following a stint with the Florida Flame, Parker became a Laker in July 2005 and Phil Jackson named him the team’s starting point guard for that season. Parker recounted a particularly unpleasant exchange he had with Bryant in a June 2014 interview with the Los Angeles Times.
"He told me one day at practice -- I tried to talk to him outside of basketball, about football -- and he looked at me in practice and was dead serious and said, ‘You can’t talk to me. You need more accolades under your belt before you come talk to me,'" Parker said.
Parker relocated approximately 2,700 miles away from Bryant after signing with Miami in July 2007.
12 DAVID ROBINSON (Dennis Rodman)
David Robinson is a devout Christian who is widely considered one of the elite centers in NBA history. In stark contrast to Robinson, Dennis Rodman is a heavy drinker who has dressed in drag and befriended North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un. Quite comically, the two were teammates on the San Antonio Spurs from 1993 through 1995. Unable to maintain a stable partnership, San Antonio traded Rodman to the Chicago Bulls for Will Purdue and cash prior to the 1995-96 season. In December 1995, Rodman’s Bulls blasted a Robinson-less Spurs squad 97-88 in San Antonio.
"I have hard feelings toward that jerk (general manager Gregg) Popovich,” Rodman told the Chicago Tribune. “He thinks he's God. And David Robinson. What's his problem? Is it a hurt back or hurt feelings or hurt whatever? He's getting paid $12 million, $13 million and is just sitting on the bench. That's sad.”
11 PHIL JACKSON (Carmelo Anthony)
This hasn't happened yet, but Phil Jackson is doing his darnedest to make it happen, and it probably will this summer. Carmelo Anthony is the New York Knicks’ scoring machine and Phil Jackson serves as the team’s president. The 32-year-old Anthony, a 10-time All-Star and two-time All-NBA Second Team selection, agreed to re-sign with Jackson and the Knicks for five years in July 2014. Jackson believed that he and Anthony could create a pact that would bring the Knicks its first championship since 1973. Roughly three years later, Jackson is determined to harass Anthony out of Gotham. The public bickering between Anthony and Jackson has gotten uglier and the NBPA executive director, Michele Roberts, recently accused the Zen Master of trying to “shame” the small forward away.
"We've not been able to win with [Anthony] on the court at this time," Jackson said. "I think the direction with our team is that he's a player that would be better off somewhere else and using his talent somewhere where he can win or chase that championship."
10 TONY PARKER (BRENT BARRY)
Tony Parker and Brent Barry were close friends while teammates on the San Antonio Spurs from 2004 through 2008. In fact, Parker and his ex-wife, Eva Longoria, frequently socialized with Barry and his former spouse, Erin. Parker and Barry became rivals when the French lothario was caught exchanging hundreds of sext messages with Erin in 2008.
"They knew each other, sent each other messages," a source told People magazine. "It was flirtatious, but he never did anything with her."
The 34-year-old Parker, who remains the Spurs’ point guard, married French journalist Axelle Francine in August 2014. Citing irreconcilable differences, Barry divorced Erin in January 2011. Understandably, the 45-year-old Barry opted out of his contract in July 2008 to become a member of the Houston Rockets.
9 KEVIN GARNETT (WALLY SZCZERBIAK)
Kevin Garnett and Wally Szczerbiak had an uneasy association as colleagues on the Minnesota Timberwolves from 1999 through 2006. However, their precarious alliance exploded in November 2000 when the 7-foot, 240-pound Garnett punched the 6-foot-7, 245-pound Szczerbiak in the face during a post-practice melee. Garnett only stopped assaulting Szczerbiak once he was restrained by teammates.
"It's like when you get in a fight with your brother," Szczerbiak said. "These things happen. I just hope that both parties agree to put this behind them. I know I'm willing to."
Almost six years following their dustup, Szczerbiak was sent to the Boston Celtics in January 2006. Szczerbiak clearly dislikes Garnett and he bashed the legendary power forward on Twitter in May 2012.
“KG is another one who lacks the #clutchgene. Always has!,” Szczerbiak tweeted. “KG never takes big shot for #Celtics now he’s fourth in line behind Pierce, Allen and Rondo to take clutch shot.”
8 KEVIN GARNETT (STEPHON MARBURY)
The Minnesota Timberwolves selected Kevin Garnett out of Farragut Academy in Chicago with the fifth overall pick in the 1995 draft. The following spring, Minnesota acquired standout point guard Stephon Marbury in a draft-day trade with the Milwaukee Bucks. Initially, KG and Marbury were friendly and, for the first time in its putrid history, Minnesota was a squad on the upswing. Somewhat maddeningly, egos interfered and the potentially dynamic duo imploded. To quell the mess, Marbury was traded to the New Jersey Nets in a nine-player deal in March 1999. Former Timberwolves forward Tom Gugliotta explained the rift between Garnett and Marbury.
"There's nothing Kevin could have done to change it," Gugliotta said. "If you ask Steph, I'm sure he's the one kicking himself a bit. No matter what Steph did -- he could score 25, 30 points -- he still wasn't going to be the best player on our team. That was KG."
7 GILBERT ARENAS VS JAVARIS CRITTENTON
Gilbert Arenas and Javaris Crittenton were arguing in the Wizards’ locker room in December 2009 over an $1,100 card game debt. Hostilities escalated and Arenas and Crittenton tried to intimidate each other by flashing their respective arsenals.
Caron Butler, a two-time NBA All-Star who was employed by the Wizards from 2005 through 2010, witnessed the clash and described it to USA Today Sports.
“Hey, MF, come pick one,” Gilbert told Javaris while pointing to his four firearms. “I’m going to shoot your [expletive] with one of these.”
According to Butler, Javaris was completely unfazed and he aimed his gun at Arenas.
“Oh no, you don’t need to shoot me with one of those,” said Javaris, turning around slowly like a gunslinger in the Old West. “I’ve got one right here.”
Thankfully, the horrifying scene ended without bloodshed and the two never played together again.
6 RAJON RONDO (RAY ALLEN)
The Boston Celtics took Kentucky point guard Rajon Rondo with the 21st pick in the 2006 draft. The following year, Rondo and longtime Celtics star Paul Pierce were teamed with Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen. The 2007-2008 Celtics dominated and went 66-16 before capturing its 17th championship that June. Despite the tremendous campaign, everything wasn’t cheery in Beantown. Pierce said Allen had a “weird” relationship with his Celtics teammates and that the sharpshooter detested Rondo.
“I know Ray probably didn’t like Rondo that much, but it wasn’t a fact of not liking somebody. You don’t have to like everybody you play with — it’s a matter of showing support,” said Pierce, of Allen refusing to attend Rondo’s birthday celebration. “Rondo probably didn’t like Ray either, but he came to Ray’s functions to show, ‘Hey, we’re together in this.’”
Largely to get away from Rondo, Allen went to Miami in 2012.
5 JASON KIDD & JIMMY JACKSON
Following nearly two decades of futility, the Dallas Mavericks finally appeared to be a rising franchise in the early 1990s. The Mavericks’ young trio of Jason Kidd, Jimmy Jackson and Jamal Mashburn excited fans and offered hope. Regrettably, Toni Braxton destroyed Dallas’ potential. According to multiple reports, Kidd was prepared to dine with Braxton in 1996. However, rather than hanging with Kidd, Braxton chose to spend the evening with Jackson.
"(Braxton) definitely cost me relationships with Jimmy Jackson and Jason Kidd," Mashburn said on KRLD-FM.
“She went on the Dallas airwaves and said she doesn’t kiss and tell. She’s a beautiful women, but I think it did cost us because of egos, being so young, not having a lot of direction and leadership on the Dallas Mavericks at that particular time.”
Kidd, Jackson and Mashburn were all with different organizations by 1997.
4 CHARLES BARKLEY (SCOTTIE PIPPEN)
Chicago Bulls icon Scottie Pippen was traded to the Houston Rockets when the lockout ended in January 1999. Alongside Charles Barkley and Hakeem Olajuwon, Pippen and the Rockets were a solid bet to capture its first crown since the 1994-95 campaign. Rather than working in cohesion, Pippen, Barkley and Olajuwon were a clumsy trio that lacked any chemistry. Pippen, who was traded to the Portland Trail Blazers in October 1999, despised Barkley and called him a “selfish, sorry fat butt."
Barkley heard what Pippen said and criticized his relocation to the Rose City.
"For him to want to leave after one year, it disappointed me greatly,” said Barkley. “The Rockets went out of their way to get Scottie and the fans have treated him well, so I was just disappointed in him."
3 MICHAEL JORDAN (KWAME BROWN)
Serving as the Washington Wizards’ president of basketball operations, Michael Jordan took high schooler Kwame Brown with the first pick in the 2001 draft. Approximately three months after selecting the 18-year-old Brown, a 37-year-old Jordan announced that he would make his third comeback as a member of the Wizards. Competing alongside his personal pick, the 6-foot-6, 215-pound Jordan bullied, tormented and, on at least one occasion, brought the 6-foot-11, 290-pound Brown to tears.
"Michael was breaking him down," one observer recounted, "probably to build him up. But there was a lot of breaking down."
Jordan retired for the final time in April 2003. Meanwhile, despite lasting 13 years in the association, Brown is viewed as a bust. Although unprovable, many insiders believe that Jordan forever destroyed Brown’s confidence and that’s the reason he failed to flourish as a professional.
2 LARRY JOHNSON (ALONZO MOURNING)
The Charlotte Hornets chose power forward Larry Johnson with the first overall selection in the 1992 NBA Draft. Johnson thrived from the outset and averaged 19.2 points, 11.0 rebounds and 3.6 assists over 82 games. For his tremendous inaugural campaign, the former Rebel was named the 1992 NBA Rookie of the Year. Almost exactly a year later, Charlotte took center Alonzo Mourning with the second pick in 1992. Johnson constantly taunted Mourning and bragged about the leather coat he received for winning the rookie of the year award.
"Hey, young fellow, if you play real hard you might get one of these jackets,” said Johnson, who became a New York Knick in July 1996.
The 6-foot-6, 250-pound Johnson and the 6-foot-10, 240-pound Mourning remained enemies and the two got into an infamous fistfight during a 1998 playoff game between the Knicks and Heat.
1 KOBE BRYANT (Shaquille O'Neal)
As members of the Los Angeles Lakers, Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant were arguably the premier duo in NBA history. Conversely, O’Neal and Bryant were possibly the most dysfunctional pair in the annals of the association. O’Neal and Bryant led the Lakers to three consecutive titles from 2000-2002. Regrettably, La-la-land wasn’t large enough for the basketball behemoths and Bryant forced O’Neal’s trade to the Miami Heat in July 2004. “Shaq Diesel” played a vital role in Miami’s 2006 championship. Two years later, Shaq was absolutely thrilled when Bryant’s Lakers lost to the Boston Celtics in the 2008 NBA Finals. In fact, shortly after Los Angeles’ loss, O’Neal rapped the beautiful lyrics "Kobe, tell me how my ass tastes!"
Bryant won two crowns with the Lakers in 2009 and 2010 and he and O’Neal publicly ended their feud in March.
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