One of the major keys to winning an NBA title is having every player on the roster know their role. Shooters are going to shoot, big men are going to rebound and superstars will do their thing. While they received a lot of hate for building one of the best teams of the past decade, the Golden State Warriors are still the epitome of great NBA basketball. While there were initial questions about chemistry issues when Kevin Durant signed with the team, it’s clear that they had no problem meshing on the court. But this isn’t always the case with most NBA teams as they continue to juggle various personalities. Some issues off the court can certainly have a negative impact a team’s performance on the court.
A clash inside the locker room could be detrimental to the team and be the catalyst for a derailed season. And more often than not, a disagreement between two significant players means that one of them has to leave for the benefit of the franchise as a whole. But is it possible for two teammates to co-exist despite their hate for one another? History has traditionally said no. Whether it may be financial jealousy, a clash of egos or just basic ineptitude on the court, there have been very few teams who succeed in the NBA while dealing with such problem.
So let’s take a look back at the most recent teammates who downright hated each other and how each scenario eventually played out and how some are still unfolding.
15 James Harden and Dwight Howard
With Dwight Howard on board, the Rockets were meant to be the next big thing to come out of the West. With two legitimate stars on the team surrounded by a bevvy of three-point shooters, Houston had all the tools they needed to succeed. In his first year with the Rockets he helped the team win 50 games for the first time since 2009. But despite the success of the Rockets, the divide between Howard and Harden began to widen.
The Beard dominated the ball with a usage rate over 30 percent and Howard became frustrated by his lack of touches and his own inefficiency. Having to deal with his own ailments, Howard was a shell of his former self despite but was still able up 16 points and 11.7 rebounds per night. The pair grew apart as Howard’s childlike personality continued to irritate Harden and the two reportedly asked for the other to be traded away. Howard eventually signed a lucrative deal which would take him back home to play in Atlanta.
14 LeBron James and Mario Chalmers
One of the more complex relationships that LeBron James has had over the past few years, Mario Chalmers often copped the brunt of King James’ frustrations. Chalmers was often described as the “little brother” of the Miami Heat dynasty but he was more of a punching bag for LeBron. Chalmers made his fair share of mistakes as the as the starting point guard for a championship calibre team, but when you’ve got LeBron demanding perfection, there isn’t much room for failure.
Chalmers was just 24 when LeBron came to Miami but was particularly careless with the ball throughout the playoffs with the Heat. He averaged 1.6 turnovers per game to go along with 2.7 fouls. LeBron ended up trading Chalmers for Kyrie Irving and hasn’t looked back since while “Rio” was just waived by the Memphis Grizzlies. Chalmers is still a competent guard who could very easily come off the bench for a number of playoff teams, so don't be surprised if he ends up back in the league before the start of the 2017-18 season.
13 Goran Dragic, Eric Bledsoe and Isaiah Thomas
The Phoenix Suns experienced great success running one of the most dynamic two-guard systems in the NBA. Goran Dragic and Eric Bledsoe meant trouble for opposing teams as both could score and distribute the ball equally well. While they fell just short of the playoffs, things were looking bright in Phoenix. Until Isaiah Thomas arrived. The diminutive guard was yet another ball-dominant player which ultimately disrupted the chemistry that the Suns had built up over the years.
Thomas came off the bench but still forced Dragic into being a spot-up shooter, a role he was certainly not fond of to say the least. The Suns broke up the trio soon enough, trading Thomas to the Celtics where he blossomed into an All-Star. Meanwhile, Dragic forced his way to the Miami Heat in the post-LeBron era. The only man left standing is Eric Bledsoe who has formed quite the youthful partnership with Devin Booker, which means it’s only a matter of time until the Suns ruin that as well.
12 DeMarcus Cousins and the Kings
Perhaps one of the most volatile players in the NBA, DeMarcus Cousins’ time with the Sacramento Kings was anything but beneficial for both parties. The Kings as a franchise have been beyond disappointing and failed to put good players around the five-time All-Star. Since he arrived in 2010, the Kings have drafted Jimmer Fredette (waived), Thomas Robinson (traded away), Ben McLemore (averaged 8.1 points per game this season), Willie Cauley-Stein (because the Kings really needed another center) and finally George Papagiannis (might actually have a decent future). The point is the Kings failed to bring in good players outside of Rudy Gay.
Who could really blame Cousins for earning so many technical when the Kings’ second-leading scorer, excluding the injured Rudy Gay, was Darren Collison with 13.2 points per game. The ineptitude of the players around him would’ve led to unprecedented levels of frustration and give credit to Cousins for not actively blowing up at his team on a regular basis. Now that he’s with the Pelicans, here’s hoping the technical fouls won’t be as frequent for Boogie.
11 Dwight Howard and Omer Asik
Howard’s second appearance on this list isn’t surprising but this time it wasn’t his boyish personality that got him into another feud. After signing with the Rockets in July 2013, former Houston coach Kevin McHale insisted that Howard play alongside incumbent center Omer Asik. The Turkish big man was a fantastic rebounder and above-average shot blocker, two things which Howards also prides himself on. Additionally, Asik struggled mightily to score outside the paint, something which Howard, again, struggled with also.
It was clear that the two really shouldn’t be playing alongside one another given their similarities. And while the Rockets dominated the boards, it became immediately obvious that Asik needed to go. The two constantly got in each other’s way in the paint and it caused a logjam in the middle of the key, blocking James Harden’s route to the basket. Asik was later traded away in a deal that saw Ariza join Houston.
10 Brandon Jennings and Derrick Rose
A feud that surprisingly went under the radar, Brandon Jennings arrived in New York on a one-year deal that would see him play back-up point guard to Derrick Rose. With Jennings being the hot head that he is, he made it clear that he wanted the starting spot ahead of Rose, who joined the Knicks via trade prior to the season. The former Bulls guard has a well-documented history of injuries but that didn’t stop him from schooling Jennings in a team practice.
The 27-year-old was meant to be an insurance policy for Rose’s knees but surprisingly it was the former Bucks guard that left the team first. He was waived in December and picked up by the Wizards on a deal worth just over $1 million. Rose suffered yet another season-ending injury and Jennings quickly bowed out of the playoffs with the Wizards, meaning that the Knicks are essentially back to where they started in the first place.
9 D’Angelo Russell and Nick Young
Perhaps the most relevant thing to happen to the Lakers outside of Kobe Bryant's retirement, D'Angelo Russell's little prank on Nick Young backfired immensely. For those who missed this incident, Russell filmed Young inside the Lakers locker room admitting to having an affair with a woman while on the road despite being engaged to Iggy Azalea. Somehow the video got out and Russell was immediately shunned by the Lakers with reports suggesting the team made him eat breakfast alone.
Naturally Azalea and Young broke up following the incident but the level of trust in the Lakers locker room would've hit an all-time low. While not condoning infidelity, the locker room is normally meant to be a sacred space for players to be free from the media and just talk about anything. Russell certainly has a bright future ahead of him and could be a cornerstone piece for the Lakers franchise moving forward, but a bonehead move like this kills off whatever friendship he had with Nick Young.
8 John Wall and Bradley Beal
For two players who complement each other so well on the court, it's strange to find out that John Wall and Bradley Beal aren't exactly on the best of terms. The pair are certainly up there as one of the best backcourt partnerships in the NBA but have a "tendency to dislike each other on the court." That's according to Wall, a four-time All-Star who averaged 23.1 points and 10.7 assists per game this year. With Beal's ability to knock down shots and be an effective spot-up shooter, the two really should get along fine.
But it still comes down to who is the Alpha between the two, as Beal explained that "it’s always tough when you have two guys who firmly believe in themselves." And after Beal signed a five-year, $127 million contract last year, it's time for both players to put their differences aside and start going deeper in the playoffs. While they took the Celtics to seven games this postseason, it's hard to imagine them even competing with the Cavaliers, let alone the Warriors.
7 Rajon Rondo, Dwyane Wade and Jimmy Butler
It seems that no matter where Rajon Rondo goes, trouble just seems to follow him. He didn't get along with Ray Allen in Boston, clashed with Rick Carlisle in Dallas, for some reason signed with Sacramento and recently called out Bulls teammates Dwyane Wade and Jimmy Butler. After a hard loss at home, where a number of players came up short on the offensive end, both Wade and Butler were quick to call out the lack of contributors on the team and the Bulls' inability to close out an important game.
Rondo then called Wade and Butler out on Instagram saying that "my veterans would never go to the media." Which is ironic considering he posted it on Instagram, but anyway. "My vets played for the team. When we lost, they wouldn’t blame us. They took responsibility and got in the gym.” Once again Rondo's personality has attracted the heat of his teammates and it wouldn't be surprising if they replaced him sooner rather than later.
6 Reggie Jackson and Russell Westbrook
For the longest time, Reggie Jackson was nothing but a back-up point guard averaging less than 15 minutes of action per night. But after an injury to Westbrook sidelined him, Jackson took full advantage as he started 36 games in 2014 in place of The Brodie. The following season, Jackson was pushing for more minutes and believed he could lead a team by himself. The Thunder agreed with Jackson, so they traded him to the Pistons in a deal which saw them receive Enes Kanter in return from the Jazz.
While Jackson let his ego get the best of him, Westbrook continued to produce on the court and grew increasingly tired of the unnecessary pressure from his understudy. Following the trade, Jackson tweeted "Crying tears of joy
#godisgreat" then later had another run-in with Westbrook after the Pistons topped the Thunder to all but secure their own playoff berth. Jackson pandered to the fans (pictured above) which prompted Westbrook to say that “he wasn't changing nothing for us ... He's not doing too much of a difference if you ask me."
5 Kobe Bryant and Dwight Howard
Howard's third and final appearance on this list is probably his most famous "Dwightmare." After being discontent with the lack of success in Orlando, Howard forced his way to Los Angeles and teamed with Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash, and Pau Gasol. The four were immediately tipped to bring the title back to LA but injuries made that path significantly more difficult. Howard battled back pain but it was his childlike persona which clashed with Kobe Bryant's "I will murder your children to win this game" intensity.
With Kobe entering the twilight of his career, Howard was meant to be the next big thing in L.A.; the superstar that Steve Nash needed to finally win a ring before retiring. But alas it wasn't meant to be as Howard and Bryant butt heads on a number of occasions. In 2015, Bryant described winning an NBA title as an immense challenge but said he didn't think Dwight was "willing to deal with that uncomfortable and combative nature."
4 Dion Waiters and Kyrie Irving
Before LeBron came back to Cleveland and lifted them out of obscurity and into sporting relevance again, the Cavaliers' future largely hinged on Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters. While that future will fortunately never come to fruition for the Cavs, there was a period where the two starting guards weren't on the best of terms. Waiters reportedly felt that there was a double standard on the team and the Irving got away with many of the things he got benched for. He reportedly accused Tristan Thompson and Irving of playing "buddy ball" and ex
He reportedly accused Tristan Thompson and Irving of playing "buddy ball" and excluding him from plays while also clashing with head coach David Blatt. Before Waiters was eventually traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder, reports surfaced suggesting that the Syracuse product thought he was better than Kyrie Irving. Throughout the season he lost his starting spot to Matthew Dellavedova and it's hard to believe that this all happened just over five years ago.
3 Tim Hardaway Jr. and Carmelo Anthony
When the Knicks drafted Hardaway Jr. very few thought that he would be the one to get underneath Carmelo Anthony's skin. Picked 24th in the 2013 NBA Draft, he was meant to be a young player that can develop into a decent role player. Give how bad the Knicks were at this time (to be fair, they still suck), Hardaway Jnr. quickly established himself as a decent outside scorer and became a fan favorite with his three-point shooting.
But his second year with the Knicks started poorly, not only did the Knicks start an abysmal 4-19, but Carmelo Anthony reportedly threatened to beat him up after a tough loss against the Brooklyn Nets. Sources say that Hardaway screamed at Melo to "grab the rebound" which the superstar took offence to, ran over to the second year guard and berated him with expletives. The Knicks have been a disaster for quite some time and Hardaway was lucky enough to be later traded to Atlanta.
2 DeAndre Jordan and the Clippers
Imagine if your significant other decided to leave you for another person, then at the very last second decided to come back because she/he got cold feet and you told them all the things they needed to hear for them to love you again. That was basically the Clippers situation when DeAndre Jordan looked likely to leave for the Dallas Mavericks in 2015. Jordan agreed to a four-year deal worth around $80 million but was soon locked into his own house by Blake Griffin and Doc Rivers.
The Clippers contingent convinced Jordan to stay and probably offered him a bigger role in the offense. While Mark Cuban and Chandler Parsons had done everything to court Jordan, it just wasn't to be in the end. But for the Clippers to go to such extreme lengths after Jordan essentially already agreed to leave, it must've put strains on the relationship. Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan are yet to make a significant playoff run and their time together is beginning to look more like frustration than the old Lob City days. The only good thing to come out of this was a hilarious emoji war on Twitter between NBA players.
1 Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook
The Oklahoma City Thunder should've been in the NBA Finals last year. After leading 3-1 in the Western Conference Finals, they should've beaten the Warriors and gone on to face the Cleveland Cavaliers and heck, maybe even won it all. Instead, they squandered the lead and Kevin Durant packed up his bags to find greener pastures. Many saw him returning home to Washington but Durant had other ideas, telling Westbrook that he was leaving via text message. That's just cold.
Critics panned Westbrook for taking the ball out of Durant's hands but both continued to put up incredible numbers alongside each other. The Thunder should've been the next big franchise to come out of the West and very well could still be. With Durant leaving in the fashion that he did, Westbrook has been on a quest for vengeance and isn't taking any hostages on his path of destruction.