The NBA is in a wonderful place right now with the style of play, youth infusion, superstar drawing power and overall game at all-time highs. Using these guidelines, today’s league is in the best state the NBA has been since 1998. We’re fresh off one of the most compelling seasons in recent memory that has fans loving the product. However, there’s one constant complaint among diehards and casuals alike. Players engaging in frequent complaints about not getting calls from officials, flopping and whining about playing for a specific coach or teammate all provide the attributes for the NBA’s biggest pet peeve among viewers – too many crybabies.
Athletes are perceived to be the top competitors we have in American entertainment, combining the elite strength, speed and overall God given talent to give us a spectacle. No one wants to see someone in that position whine and moan about things not going their way or behave like a petulant child as they earn millions of dollars. It turns off fans from connecting with or rooting for a team or player. Unfortunately, it’s become common practice for athletes, especially in the NBA, to have their moments as a crybaby.
Our list looks at the biggest crybabies in the NBA today. Who refuses to own up to their mistakes or can’t let things go by complaining every time we watch them play? Who creates drama with other players or coaches because they can’t co-exist in an environment that requires them to take responsibility for their own actions? Each player on this list has talent and is an athlete to be respected for their unique gifts and skill but you have to call it like it is – these are the biggest crybabies in the NBA right now.
19 Kobe Bryant
At many points in his career, Kobe Bryant would be significantly higher on this list as he was basically the most athletically gifted spoiled brat we'd ever seen. After a dynasty with the Los Angeles Lakers, Bryant’s constant complaining and inability to work with others caused the team to trade Shaquille O’Neal and part with Phil Jackson due to Kobe’s frequent trade demand bluffs. Bryant has overcome his reputation by becoming a leader and quite frankly, one of the most respected players in the league today. However, he still comes down on his teammates often and has contributed too much to the crybaby moniker to not earn a spot.
18 J.R. Smith
Fresh off his first NBA Finals appearance, J.R. Smith is still one of the most unique personalities in the league. Unique meaning he can turn into a big whiner off the court and exhibit temper tantrums on the court. After the New York Knicks traded Smith in the middle of a rebuilding season, he’s held it against them, throwing insults on Twitter and Instagram. Smith has also been known to make dirty plays in retaliation to plays he perceives to be wrong, most recently getting ejected and suspended for hitting Jae Crowder in the playoffs.
17 Dion Waiters
One of the biggest under the radar whiners in the NBA is Dion Waiters. Before the season even started, Waiters was boasting that he and Kyrie Irving were the best back court in the league. The problem is Waiters never impressed in his short career, didn’t impress after making the comments and was traded out of Cleveland a few months into the season. Failing to understand his play didn’t match his attitude, Waiters took the trade and lack of respect personal, at one point calling out LeBron James for not reaching out to him following the trade.
16 Reggie Jackson
The Oklahoma City Thunder traded Reggie Jackson to the Detroit Pistons mid-season when the point guard turned into a sour locker room presence. Jackson didn’t want to re-sign with the Thunder and was upset about lack of playing time forcing the team to deal him. After the trade was announced, both Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant expressed happiness in someone “not wanting to be there” getting dealt. They loved Jackson as a person and showed support to his new opportunity but his complaints and whining forced their hand in being content a talented friend was removed from their team.
15 Glen Davis
You don’t earn the nickname “Big Baby” without crying along the way. Quite fitting the nickname was originally created in youth basketball when his coach allegedly told him: “Stop crying, you big baby.” There aren’t any other role players that argue or whine about not getting calls from officials as much as Glen Davis, so things haven’t changed too much from his childhood basketball days. Most important to the topic, “Big Baby” literally cried once when then teammate and veteran leader Kevin Garnett yelled at him on the bench during his Boston Celtics days.
14 Carmelo Anthony
New York Knicks all-star forward Carmelo Anthony originally arrived to the team by sulking his way into a trade. Anthony knew he wasn’t going to sign anywhere else in the upcoming summer as a free agent, so he forced the Denver Nuggets hand. Unfortunately, the trade sent away many of the Knicks assets and almost gutted the team to get him there. Anthony could have joined a deeper Knicks team if he just waited but the star wanted his way and he wanted it as soon as possible. Today, ‘Melo is already upset about his situation in New York not winning enough just one year after signing a long term deal for the most money available.
13 Brook Lopez
Brook Lopez is a hard worker, a very fun player to watch and a genuinely great guy but he is on this list for one reason – his face. Any time Lopez is called for a foul, he makes the biggest crybaby face and holds his hands above his head, whining despite the foul obviously being the right call. It's uncharacteristically bizarre because Lopez is typically one of the more respectful and down to earth players in the league, but he refuses to accept responsibility for blatantly committing fouls that anyone from the nosebleed seats can see.
12 Lance Stephenson
Among the worst and most blatant floppers in the NBA, Lance Stephenson should know better considering he grew up playing basketball in Brooklyn parks. One of the constants in the Miami Heat vs. Indiana Pacers playoff series a few years ago was Stephenson constantly trying to agitate LeBron James and not being a good sport whenever the trash talk or one-upmanship worked against him. Just one season after signing with the Charlotte Hornets, fans grew sick of his antics and he's already been traded out of the town to the Los Angeles Clippers.
11 Kyle Lowry
Despite having the gritty, hardworking style of play that makes you fall in love with his overall game, Kyle Lowry is one of the guys who moans about every foul call. Until you watch every game of a Toronto Raptors playoff series, you’ll never get to truly appreciate Lowry’s whining as that’s where it peaks. Being a guard, Lowry always uses his size to get the advantage of the whistle but acts like you’re stealing his rattle and milk bottle if you dare catch him fouling someone.
10 Manu Ginobili
You can’t have a crybabies list without arguably the greatest flopper in the history of the NBA. Manu Ginobili has helped usher in the era of flopping as he’s been doing it before it was the craze in the league. Some players put emphasis on their stats or shooting percentages but Ginobili must keep track of how many foul calls he gets as the Argentinian will do whatever it takes to get to the free throw line. Even more painfully annoying, he’ll often go out of his way to have discussions with referees if he doesn’t get the foul call in his favor.
9 LeBron James
Many will argue this is too high and many will argue this is too low. LeBron James is the most polarizing player in the NBA but one of the rare criticisms against him is how much of a crybaby he is. James often panders to the referees looking for calls but it is an interesting dynamic with fouls against him. LeBron is so strong that it never looks as if fouls against him are that bad, so it sometimes goes ignored due to his freakish strength. James definitely used to be one of the bigger complainers in the league but as he’s matured, it’s just the occasional flopping that gets to us.
9. Paul Pierce
In his peak, there was no bigger crybaby in sports than Paul Pierce. Perhaps the most legendary moment occurred in the 2010 NBA Finals when the then-Boston Celtics forward Pierce collided with Kendrick Perkins and screamed in pain as he was literally carried to the locker room by teammates. Pierce even demanded a wheelchair on the way there. Just minutes later, he somehow found his way back to the court as if nothing happened. It's ironic that his nickname is The Truth. Pierce has also been notorious for whining to referees but he’s cooled down the last few years, since entering a leadership role as a veteran.
8 Deron Williams
The Brooklyn Nets expected Deron Williams to become the leader of their franchise, but instead he turned into the worst contract in the sport. Williams’ crybaby ways began in Utah as he pressured management into firing legendary Jazz coach Jerry Sloan. Even after such a power play, Williams still wasn’t happy and was traded to the Nets. On a new team in a new city with a massive contract, Williams has destroyed the franchise with his unimpressive play, yet rumors still go around that he’s the one unhappy with the partnership and often is found with a sour face on the Brooklyn bench.
7 Joakim Noah
One of the players you absolutely adore if he’s on your team but you loathe if he’s on the opposition, Joakim Noah gets under the skin of fans and fellow players alike. Noah is one of the biggest instigators of drama and confrontation on the court but always acts like he’s the innocent one by whining to officials. It’s a hard pill to swallow when someone with a man bun throws your star player to the floor and is the one complaining after. Most recent in the 2015 Playoffs, LeBron James took pleasure in eliminating Noah's Bulls after a confrontation between the two.
6 DeMarcus Cousins
Currently in trade rumors and controversy because George Karl doesn’t like the way he carries himself, DeMarcus Cousins has developed a history of whining. Cousins is one of the biggest perpetrators of complaining to officials to the point where he’s led the league in technical fouls multiple times. In 2012, Cousins was suspended for confronting San Antonio Spurs commentator Sean Elliott because Elliott criticized him during a game. It appears Cousins has tried to change his ways but he still throws occasional temper tantrums and complains far too much for a rising star that needs to be embracing a leadership role.
5 Dwyane Wade
No one can deny Dwyane Wade as one of the greatest guards the NBA has ever seen, as the three time champion has accomplished many great things in his career. Not one of the things on that list is being one of the worst floppers in the NBA. Wade could have camped at the free throw line during any postseason as his usually superb game devolves into “flop and hope for free throws” come NBA Playoffs. The NBA is to blame for this as his game winning and eventually series winning clutch free throws vs. the Dallas Mavericks in the 2006 Finals came off a flop that started it all.
4 Rajon Rondo
The once great point guard is a crybaby in every facet of the game. Rajon Rondo has been suspended on separate occasions for throwing a ball at a referee and physically bumping into a referee in response to calls he didn’t agree with. Last season, Rondo was traded to a great situation with the Dallas Mavericks and a chance to compete in the playoffs again, but refused to co-exist with head coach Rick Carlisle to the point where he was benched. Rondo’s Dallas teammates were so sick of him that they voted that he shouldn't get a team bonus for a playoff appearance.
3 Chris Paul
Teams love to defeat the Los Angeles Clippers and Chris Paul is one of the main reasons why. Despite being an all-time great point guard, Paul is one of the bigger complainers in the NBA. There have been scenarios where Paul has stopped mid-play to argue with referees about a call not working in his favor. At one point during his first season with the Clippers, coach Doc Rivers flat out told the media he wanted his team to stop being crybabies. Of course, we know who the leader of that team was and still is.
2 Blake Griffin
Back to back Clippers as Blake Griffin joins his point guard on this list. No one wants to see a near 7 foot tall, athletic beast cry about things not going his way. Griffin developed a reputation for giving hard fouls that some determined “dirty” all while putting on an innocent face. Due to this, Griffin would get involved in many minor scuffles or arguments with opposing players because other teams disliked his style. If you need more reason why two Clippers are in the top 3, Kevin Durant dropped a quote about them this season that sums it up best: “They cry too (bleeping) much."
1 Dwight Howard
Players don’t respect him. Fans don’t like him. Coaches don’t trust him. It could only be Dwight Howard topping the list. Howard’s first big moment as a villain occurred when he caused Orlando Magic coach Stan Van Gundy to get fired. Howard would still force a trade to the Los Angeles Lakers hoping to win his first title. Instead, the team severely underachieved and Howard decided he didn’t want to stick around someone as vocal as Bryant, so he moved to the Houston Rockets as a free agent. Most recently, players showed their disrespect to him as Bryant and Kevin Garnett had minor altercations on the court with Howard this season, all while the big man just complained to officials.