Top 15 Trash Talkers in NBA History

Love it or hate it, trash talking is a part of sports. Some view it as bad sportsmanship. Others view it as gaining a competitive edge. And others view it as an inevitable part of the game. Regardless of how it is viewed, from the streets of every local playground, to the local YMCA, to the professional NBA court, basketball players are some of the best trash talkers around. Trash talking brings a colorful swagger to the game without undignifying or it, at least some of the time. At the very least, it makes the game even more enjoyable than it is because it shows that the players are actually playing hard, something that doesn’t always happen.

Baseball has some trash talking, but because it is a non-contact sport, there is very little player-to-player interaction. Football has trash talking, but its full scope is disguised on television because the players wear helmets. Hockey is the closest to basketball, but they also wear helmets and a heavy pane of glass separates fans from the actions (and the dialogue). It is only in basketball where there is a ton of player-to-player interaction. It is only in basketball where you can actually read the player’s lips, and in some cases, even hear what they are saying.

Throughout the history of basketball, the NBA has seen some of the best trash talkers ever. However, it is only in recent history that it has become a form of art. The ‘80’s and 90’s, in particular, saw some of the best trash talking due to the legitimate hatred and animosity that brewed from the rivalries. Basketball, like any other sport, is a sport that requires a high level of confidence. And there is no better way of reducing someone’s confidence than playing mental games with your opponent. The following players are some of the best trash talkers that the NBA has ever seen in its history.

15 Bill Laimbeer

Jim O'Connor-USA TODAY Sports

14 Stephen Jackson

Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

13 Paul Pierce

Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

12 Vernon Maxwell


11 Kobe Bryant

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

10 Allen Iverson

Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

9 Rasheed Wallace

Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports


8 Shaquille O’Neal

Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

7 Charles Barkley

Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

6 Phil Jackson

Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

5 Larry Bird

Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Don’t be fooled by the country boy look. Bird had one of the dirtiest mouths in the NBA. I’ll put it this way, kids should have never been allowed to sit courtside when Bird was playing. When other NBA players say that you have a filthy mouth, than there must be something to it. There’s a reason why Bird got into so many scuffles.

Clyde Drexler once commented on Bird's talking in a piece with ESPN:

4 Kevin Garnett

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

3 Reggie Miller

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

2 Michael Jordan

Sam Sharpe-USA TODAY Sports

1 Gary Payton

Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Was there anyone as ferocious as GP on the court? The feisty point guard was pesky on defense, but he could give you a whiplashing with his words. Payton was never afraid to mix it up with anyone and that included the likes of Michael Jordan. But it is not only that Payton spoke trash – every player speaks trash – with Payton, however, it was the way that he spoke trash. Payton spoke trash like he was a mother hen protecting his chicks. No other player could breathe fire out of his mouth like the Glove.

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Top 15 Trash Talkers in NBA History