“The opposite of love is not hate, it's indifference. The opposite of art is not ugliness, it's indifference. The opposite of faith is not heresy, it's indifference. And the opposite of life is not death, it's indifference.”
Even the kind, intellectual words of Elie Wiesel aren't enough to describe the relationships between some NBA teammates. Whether it's for on-court issues, their struggles adapting to new environments, or personal troubles (looking at you, Matt Barnes and Derek Fisher), hate is easy to spot in the NBA. For 82 games a year - and more if you make the postseason - you're surrounded by people who are either a member of your band of brothers or are only out for themselves.
There is no indifference in NBA locker rooms, nor is there the feel-good ending at the end of a Disney movie. There's hate, there's fist-fights, and in this day and age, there's social media fights. It happens in sports, but there were some players who were hated more than others for who they were or how they acted. Let's try to take a look at some recent NBA stars who may have been popular with fans, but were despised by their teammates.
An important thing to note is that this list of comprised only of players who played this decade, meaning someone like Michael Jordan or Charles Barkely is not on this list. As long as you've played in an NBA season since the 2009-10 campaign, you're eligible. Even Kwame Brown is eligible, and speaking of Kwame...
15 Kwame Brown
In the defense of Brown's teammates, it wasn't easy to not like the guy; Kwame was lazy, unfocused, and refused to ever become the player he certainly had the potential to be. Kobe Bryant best explained why Brown was so disliked among his teammates during a 2011 interview with The Washington Post when discussing a game against the Pistons in the 2007-08 season.
"So I’m surrounded by these players, Detroit players, and Kwame is under the basket, all by himself. Literally, like all by himself. So I pass him the ball, he bobbled it and it goes out of bounds. So we go back to the timeout and I’m [upset], right? He goes, ‘I was wide open.’ ‘Yeah, I know.’ This is how I’m talking to him, like, during the game. I said, ‘You’re going to be open again, Kwame, because Rasheed is just totally ignoring you.’ He said, ‘Well, if I’m open don’t throw it to me.’ I was like, ‘Huh?’ He said, ‘Don’t throw it to me.’ I said, ‘Why not?’ He said, well, ‘I’m nervous. If I catch it and he foul me, I won’t make the free throws.’ I said, ‘Hell no!’"
In the words of William Carver, "weakness, incompetence... it puts us all at risk." At least the Lakers got Pau Gasol out of trading Kwame!
14 Ron Artest/Metta World Peace
Again, Metta World Peace - or the artist formerly known as Ron Artest, depending on the day - is another guy who you can't blame for his teammates disliking between his on and off-court escapades. Some of the more notable ones that came away from the basketball court, you ask?
- Applying for a job at Circuit City (there's a throwback) so he could get an employee discount.
- Drinking Cognac in the locker room at halftime of games.
- Confrontations with coaches, including an argument with Pacers coach Rick Carlisle about Artest wanting time off to...promote a rap album.
- The Malice at the Palace.
Factor in his problems on the court - including an unnecessary elbow against the Oklahoma City Thunder's James Harden at the end of the 2011-12 season - and what are you left with? There's no denying how great of a defender he was in his prime, but the former Defensive Player of the Year has been a mixed bag when it comes to the locker room.
13 Luis Scola
Scola may seem like an odd choice for this list, but during his time with the Rockets from 2007-12, the Argentine was in several altercations and issues that left a bad taste in his teammate's mouth. When you have a player intentionally tossing the ball at other player's crotches - that whole mess between Luis Scola and Kevin Love which ended with the latter stomping on the Argentine's face (seriously, that happened) - teammates are likely to be frustrated with you, right?
It didn't help matters that the former second-round pick of the Spurs showed off his greed before even stepping on an NBA court, demanding close to 15 million dollars for him to come overseas and play in the states. If you're looking for a reason why Scola has lasted more than one season only once in three of his past four stops, his impact on the locker room is a good place to start.
12 Monta Ellis
In his prime, Monta Ellis was one of the league's dangerous scorers, especially on those rebuilding Golden State Warriors teams in the late 2000s. There's a reason why Ellis hasn't ever really had a quiet departure from somewhere, however, and that's because he'll often let his attitude take over more than his scoring capabilities. After being traded to the Milwaukee Bucks in March 2012, Ellis was described by local media as ecstatic and, when asked about finding out he was traded via TV, said, "I don't have a problem with that. It is what it is."
Ellis then had issues in Milwaukee, lasting only a season and a half before joining the Dallas Mavericks in free agency. What happened with Dallas, you ask? Rajon Rondo came to town and threw the entire team off, including a feud with Ellis that resulted in the latter leaving for Indiana in the offseason.
11 Deron Williams
That argument about never having a quiet departure can also apply to Deron Williams, though he did handle his buyout from the Dallas Mavericks with class. The face of the Utah Jazz from 2005-11, Williams came under fire in his final season for feuds with longtime head coach Jerry Sloan, which resulted in the Hall of Famer resigning and the locker room being divided.
Williams attempted to defend himself, saying "I would never force coach Sloan out of Utah. He's meant more to this town, more to this organization than I have by far. I would have asked out of Utah first..." but the damage was done and he was soon sent to the New Jersey Nets. There, Williams played better than people want to remember, but often tried to do too much on the court and contributed to inner strife that tore the Nets down during the 2014-15 season.
10 Matt Barnes
For as good as Barnes was in his prime as a three-and-d type player, his...personal issues, put nicely, came in the way of him and teammates whether it was for not leaving the court quickly enough after an ejection or for causing near-fights between the teams. Most notably, Barnes feuded with former teammate and then-New York Knicks coach Derek Fisher in the fall of 2015, attacking the one-time Lakers point guard for romancing Gloria Govan, Barnes' ex-wife and a star on VH1's Basketball Wives.
Barnes defended his actions, telling the New York Daily News and other New York reporters, "Violence is never the answer, but sometimes it is. And unfortunately, it happened. I don't regret it." For that, Barnes was fined $35,000 dollars and suspended two games by the NBA.
9 Zach Randolph
Randolph is unique because part of what made teammates dislike him was his immaturity early on (an arrest for driving under the influence in 2003 coupled with hanging around the wrong people) and the other part was him not being able to showcase his talent in his first few seasons because of his immaturity. Well before Z-Bo was a 20-10 player every night, he was inconsistent and a member of the Jail-Blazers team that was a threat not in the paint, but in the police blotter. Randolph eventually matured and became a role model in the locker room, telling Grantland's Zach Lowe the following in 2012:
“I don’t understand how these young guys can be so lazy. They come here and they don’t have no work ethic. I come from nothing. I work hard. I’ve got two max contracts. I know guys who got max contracts when they were young and they didn’t do s**t the entire time. They just chilled.”
8 Gilbert Arenas
Normally when the Teflon Don shouts you out in one of his songs after his trademark bark, you're doing well. However, Rick Ross saying, "and I got the gats, Gilbert Arenas," on the 2012 remix of Meek Mill's 'I'mma Boss' was an unfortunate reminder of what went wrong in the Wizards locker room two and a half years prior (at the time). In December 2009, Arenas and teammate Javaris Crittenton reportedly unloaded guns in the Wizards' locker room during an argument concerning gambling debts (that was a sign of things to come for Crittenton, who was later arrested in 2011 for the murder of Jullian Jones, a 22-year-old mother of four).
Some of the things on here have been minor, but this? Arenas later served a month in a halfway house for violating D.C. gun laws, but how does this happen?
7 Ray Allen
Before there was Stephen Curry, there was Ray Allen. Before Rajon Rondo was feuding with his Chicago Bulls teammates, he was fighting with Ray Allen when the two played together from 2007-12. Alas, Allen left Boston for the Miami Heat, infuriating his Celtics teammates and creating a grudge that still stands to this day - a key reason why Allen was not invited to the Celtics' 2008 championship reunion. As Rondo explained last week to Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated...
“The mindset we had. The guys on our team. You wouldn’t do anything like that. It makes you question that series in the Finals … Who were you for? You didn’t bleed green. “… I called and reached out to a couple of other vets and asked them what they wanted to do with the situation. They told me to stick with what we got (without Allen).”
6 Joakim Noah
Now suspended by the NBA for violating the anti-drug agreement, this is yet another negative in the career of Joakim Noah, who once was among the association's elite defenders. From locker room turmoil to using an anti-gay slur at a fan and only being fined $50,000 for it, teammates of Noah's have every reason to be frustrated with the former Florida big man.
In fact, part of what went wrong with the Chicago Bulls last season was turmoil between Noah and All-Star guard Jimmy Butler, both before and after Noah returned to New York for injury rehab. Butler's anger and disappointment at the lack of effort by Noah in games and practice was well-deserved, but as Butler is enjoying another All-Star season and Noah is becoming the next Eddy Curry with the Knicks, it's easy to see who won this feud.
5 Dwight Howard
With the way he's left both Orlando and Los Angeles, is it really that difficult to think that Dwight Howard's ex-teammates weren't big fans? As former Lakers teammate Steve Nash said in 2013 shortly after Howard ditched the purple and gold to sign with the Houston Rockets...
"He never quite felt supported. That's basically it. I think in some ways you can read into that what you will, but I think he never quite felt comfortable at home and I don't know if that's anybody's fault... there's no point for anyone in him being here. So, we wish him the best and move on."
If Steve Nash is saying those things, then that should be all that we need to know... Howard has bounced around several teams, so it's likely many feel the same way Nash did.
4 DeMarcus Cousins
If you don't like DeMarcus Cousins, you're not alone because he is more of an alienating player than LeBron James EVER was after The Decision - and we're not only talking about fans. On one hand, you have the players that love his competitive spirit and think, with the right organization and core around him, can become one of the greatest centers in NBA history. But on the other hand, many believe that Cousins is an immature brat, one who is to blame for the Kings' constant failures and losses when Boogie was in Sacramento.
Now, Cousins is already creating problems with the Pelicans, who have been dismal when pairing him and Anthony Davis together on the court. With the season entering its final days and the Pelicans in need of something to build around Davis, Cousins could be on his third team in less than a year - and in his third locker room to annoy more teammates.
3 Kevin Garnett
Unlike some of the other players on this list, Kevin Garnett's issues don't come from ego or wanting to be a jerk. Instead, The Big Ticket was someone who prided himself on perfection and not accepting anything less than that. For players like Paul Pierce and Karl Anthony-Towns, that mix was perfect but for those slightly...lazier, if we're being kind, it was easy for them to come at odds with Garnett.
Whether it was in Minnesota and Boston in his prime or towards the end of his career with the Brooklyn Nets, Garnett's competitive spirit was a turn-off and it alienated many teammates, though that was to be expected. Now with TNT, Garnett's allowing himself to have more fun, something those same teammates likely wish they'd gotten to see first hand in the locker room.
2 Kobe Bryant
Honestly, it was easy to hate Kobe if you were a teammate, simply because you weren't Kobe; the Black Mamba expected nothing short of perfection from everyone around him, even if it meant boosting his own ego up a bit. We all know about the feud between him and Shaquille O'Neal - and we all certainly know about how Shaq handled it on the mic - but Kobe's had his problems with the Kwame Browns and Smush Parkers of the world who weren't good enough when he needed them to be.
For someone that kids wanted to be, it was hard relating to Kobe solely because of the drive and passion he had. It's not that Kobe Bryant was a bad person or a jerk so much that it was he always wanted to win; taking the money and sitting on the bench wasn't good enough, even at the end of his career.
1 Rajon Rondo
Here, we have the player that has pissed off people at every single stop he's been at: Boston, Dallas, Sacramento, and Chicago. For reasons that still remain unknown — playing alongside the alpha males that were the Big Three, experiencing the high of winning a championship on one of the greatest teams in NBA history — Rondo allowed himself to become a bad egg who caused problems wherever he went. Nothing, though, was worse than the end of his Dallas Mavericks career two years ago.
“Players determine how the team’s playoff shares are divided. The players did not vote to exclude Rondo, the source said. They were simply presented with a list that did not include him, and there were no objections,” ESPN’s Tim McMahon reported in April 2015. “The other 14 players on the roster evenly divided $208,940, which is awarded to teams that lose in the first round of the playoffs.”
Which players do you remember being hated by their teammates? Make sure to let us know in the comment section below!