Playing basketball, like so many pro sports, is largely team-based. If you don’t have a strong relationship with your teammates, things can go south for everyone involved very quickly. We’d think that most players in the NBA would be extremely happy and satisfied with the lives they lead. After all, they’re making millions of dollars to play the game they love.
But you also have to remember that these pro ballers are still just people, and humans make mistakes. We’ve put together a list of the 50 worst players in the history of the league. You can probably guess a few of the names that you’re about to see, but others may surprise you.
Michael Jordan may be known as one of the greatest NBA players of all time. But just because he had a beautiful fadeaway and stellar jump shot, doesn’t mean he made the best teammate. In fact, over the lengthy course of his career, there were plenty of reports from those who encountered him about how he could be a bit…rude.
His teammate from the Chicago Bulls, Will Perdue, said that he still had a ton of appreciation for him, and he could see why he had the attitude. “He crossed the line numerous times, but he was a hell of a teammate. He pushed us all to be better because he wanted us to win. And it worked.”
This former NBA star has seen his fair share of negative media attention. Though, aside from all of his turmoil off of the court, he also had a tendency to create some as he played, too. And, perhaps the fact that he became the youngest player in history, at just age 19, to start for the Jazz, made him a little cocky.
In the midst of the 2008 playoff game between the Cavaliers and the Wizards, Stevenson took the opportunity to call James out, saying that he was “overrated.” The feud between the two men seemed to go on forever, involving other celebrities and taking over social media, etc. But in 2018, Stevenson announced that he regretted the whole thing.
Micheal Ray Richardson
If you remember the 1980s, you may be aware of Richardson’s ban from the NBA, which resulted from his use of drugs. In 1986, the player failed his third drug test, which proved he’d been using illicit substances. He was actually the first person in the history of the NBA to have been banned, setting an example for the rest of the players. It’s too bad, too, considering how talented he was on the court.
A few years later, he returned to play in the NBA once again. However, a few more failed drug-tests resulted in his then permanent ban. During his time with the Knicks, he was quoted as saying, “the ship be sinkin’,” which very well could’ve been applied to his own career in professional basketball. Luckily, he’s turned his life around, and he now leads youth basketball camps all over the country with his former teammate, Otis Birdsong.
Delonte West has had some…interesting times arise since he got his start with the NBA. In 2009, he was arrested near his home in Maryland after being pulled over and caught with a guitar case full of mini artillery. Inside the case hid two handguns and a shotgun. Maybe West was moonlighting as an assassin?
West can take comfort in the fact that all of the current media about him is basically just about how he’s pretty much jobless now.
This Fox Sports 1 analyst spent 14 seasons with the NBA. His career with the league took him to the court for 12 different teams. One of those teams happened to be the Dallas Mavericks, on which he played through the ‘90s. During his time in Dallas, in 1996, the rumor mill started to turn and ended up creating a bit of (supposed) beef between Jackson and teammate, Jason Kidd.
When asked about the incident themselves, everyone involved in the rumor said it was just that – a rumor, and there was no truth behind it.
Now, you’ve got to remember that some of the things on this list happened decades and decades ago. People change over the years, the world changes, and it’s important to note that people do stupid things as teenagers – things that they (hopefully) grow out of later in life. But then, sometimes they just turn out to be jerks.
Then, in 2011, at 30,000 feet in the air, he and teammate Tony Allen got into a fight over a card game. Fists were thrown, but Mayo seemed to be on the losing side of things, according to reports. Five years later, he violated the NBA’s anti-drug policy when he failed drug tests, resulting in a two-year ban from the league.
You’re bound to be dealing with a lot of cockiness when surrounded by professional athletes. There’s got to be that air of, “I’m the best,” that floats around the room and creates a lot of tension between egos – which is probably just how it feels to play on a team with Nate Robinson.
While the player may be able to dunk a ball, does that makeup for the fact his attitude has resulted in a number of altercations between him and past teammates? Some of which have gotten physical to the point they poured out into the seats where fans sat.
DeMarcus Cousins got his start in the NBA straight out of college, like many other players, and that leads to a lot of arguing between teammates. Throughout the course of his career, he struggled to maintain respectful relationships with his teammates, coaches, and others around him.
He was fined quite a few times for his behavior, including a 2017 incident when the Pelicans player got into an altercation with a fan and was fined $25,000 by the league for his use of profanity. But that wasn’t the only time he had to shell out some big bucks to cover for his ego-fueled outbursts. During a game against Utah that same year, he was caught on video expressing outrage at some more fans and fined a whopping $50,000.
Rafer Alston, who’s also known as Skip to my Lou, definitely isn’t winning any teammate of the year awards anytime soon, that’s for sure. He was arrested twice in the span of a month in 2007. The first time was for public intoxication, and the second was when he got into a violent altercation in a club. In 2009, he found himself suspended from the Orlando Magic after slapping another player in the back of the head.
After his return to the game and when he was playing for the Miami Heat, it wasn’t long before he slipped up once again. This time, he texted officials to let them know he wouldn’t be at a 2010 game against Atlanta. When he didn’t show up, the Heat suspended him indefinitely. Later on, he revealed that he’d left the state to be with family. He also said that he was happy with his career, and he knew he’d left “for the right reason.”
This former basketball pro played 22 seasons with the NBA. And, while he may not have been Kobe Bryant, he still made a name for himself in the game. In fact, he’s one of six players to average 20 points or more.
Many long-time Raptors fans still haven’t found it in their heart to forgive Vince Carter for the way he treated their team. First, he pulled all kinds of things like faking injuries and failing to provide any effort. Then, he just completely ditched them. After all, he put them on the map and basically acted as their face and then, poof, disappeared into the night.
Guns don’t belong at sporting events. People get way too heated over sports, and that includes both the fans and players. Remember that time there was a showdown between Gilbert Arenas and Javaris Crittenton? The bizarre event all took place as the result of a $1,100 gambling debt. The men apparently both pulled out weapons in the locker room, as other players took off running.
Caron Butler, who was one of their teammates at the time, happened to be in the room. He said Arenas said, “hey come pick one, I’m going to shoot you with one of these,” Arenas were charged with possession of a firearm and wound up serving just 30 days in a halfway house.
J.R. Smith is another case of one of those egotistical pro athletes that let their attitude create negative energy and environments around them for the smallest of reasons. And sometimes, it seemed like he had no reason. During the 2017-2018 season, Smith was suspended for tossing a bowl of food at Damon Jones, the assistant coach at the time.
And most recently, he’s been in some hot water with the league over a tattoo he got that went against rules and regulations. The tat is on his leg and shows the logo of the brand Supreme. The NBA’s rules don’t allow for any corporate logos to be promoted in that way, and they both fined him and told him he needs to figure out a way to cover it up.
Does it make it better or worse for Antoine Walker to be making this list for something other than attitude issues? Most players so far have appeared due to arguments or fighting on or off the court, but not Walker. He definitely wasn’t the worst by any means, and his three-point shot was actually pretty good. So good that he’d do his famous shimmy-dance after making one.
The problem was, he shot for too many of them and only averaged making them about 34% of the time. You can imagine that this may lead to some stress between teammates. Walker wasn’t without his legal issues off the court, either. He’s been arrested several times, including multiple times throughout 2009 and 2010 for writing bad checks to cover gambling debts.
During Artest’s stint with the NBA, which saw him play on six different teams, he was involved in several issues on the court. Of course, he was also an award-winning player, taking home the 2004 NBA award for Defensive Player of the Year, along with an All-Star title and All-NBA honors. But we’re here because of the way Artest acted during some of his appearances.
Most notably, there was the Pacers-Pistons brawl, which has also been dubbed, Malice at the Palace. During the incident, Artest fouled Pistons center Ben Wallace, which spurred a massive fight on the court between players. The entire stadium was basically in chaos. Nine players were suspended, including Artest, who missed out on a record 86 games – the longest suspension in the history of the league.
Well, people make mistakes, and professional basketball players are still just people, both on and off the court. Right? Though, would you count intentionally missing a shot as a mistake, or as a royal screw-up? In 2003, Davis made his most memorable move in the league (and not in a good way) when he failed a triple-double and got knocked down by an angry DeShawn Stevenson.
After the incident, many called for the Cavaliers to suspend him for his actions. Instead, they fined him (without disclosing exactly how much,) for his unsportsmanlike conduct. Ten years later, people were still writing about it. It’s made several lists of the worst moves in NBA history.
During the course of Smush Parker’s five-year career in the NBA, he made a few friends – but he also made himself some enemies. Kobe called Bryant out, saying that, “he’s the worst,” and that he should’ve never been in the NBA. But why the beef? While they played together for the Lakers, Bryant would ignore Kobe intentionally, and not pass him the ball when he clearly should have. Which is something that he admitted to during the infamous fight?
He was also reportedly “the worst” with people off of the court, too. Back in 2007, a female valet attendant where he apparently grabbed her arm when she couldn’t immediately find his ticket. He was deactivated from a game against the Bobcats following the report.
Unlike a couple of former NBA stars on our list so far, Steve Francis had a promising career ahead of him. Straight out of college, he was drafted as the number two pick by the Grizzlies. He basically threw a tantrum until he was traded elsewhere – to Houston.
After his career in pro basketball was over, he had some legal issues hit around 2016, as the result of his stepfather’s suicide. He also had a few injuries that hindered his career. Though he will still forever be known as one of the best point guards in the NBA, despite his attitude.
In a shock and horrible loss to the basketball world and those who knew him, Kobe Bryant died as the result of a helicopter accident. The vehicle was carrying him, along with seven other people, to a youth basketball tournament when it crashed into a hillside killing everyone on board. Bryant was no doubt one of the best – if not the best – basketball players in NBA history.
However, working with him was no easy feat, according to former teammates and others who encountered him throughout his career. There was of course the entire debacle with Smush Parker, but that wasn’t nearly all. Who could forget the infamous (and lasting) feud with Shaquille O’Neal?
Ah, Kwame Brown. He’s had his fair share of negative press, which makes it seem like he’s not the greatest of people. And, if you’ve watched many of his games, you know that he’s not really the best of players, either. Brown has been arrested, investigated, and charged with (and for) multiple shady crimes, including sexual assault and bank fraud.
But apparently, he does have a ton of issues with entitlement. Remember the cake incident? In 2007, Brown stole someone else’s $190/birthday cake right off of the table of his birthday celebration and walked off with it. The moral of the story? You can’t have someone else’s cake and eat it too. Get your own damn cake with your $30 million.
The former NBA star, who has also made a name for himself in the world of entertainment via movies and music, recently released a “diss track,” targeting Damian Lillard.
But that wasn’t as heated for him, and he told Rolling Stone in 2019 that the beef between he and Lillard was “just for fun.” Aside from fighting with fellow players, he also got into it with staff and executives, throwing fits when things didn’t go his way. Or, he just decided to sit out for a number of games until being traded.
Rick Barry’s name pops up on more than one list of “worst of” or “biggest instigators” in NBA history. And, that probably has a lot to do with the fact that he’s made a number of ignorant, racist comments in his past.
Some may say the same about his personal life, which has seen him walk out on two separate families. But he’s also come back around once his sons achieved their own success in basketball. His sons are now analysts, having retired from the sports themselves. The same kids who he didn’t want to live in Virginia because he “didn’t want them having a Southern accent.”
Allen Iverson is one of those names that, even if you never watched one of his games, you just know. He’s hands-down one of the best players in the league’s history and the winner of an MVP award. But he’s also had his moments, quite a few of them, actually.
In 1996, he got into a brawl with Dennis Rodman on the court at a game his team played against the Chicago Bulls. The moment got caught on video and is now immortalized, thanks to the internet. He also failed to show up for practices and often dropped the ball, so to speak, when he claimed to have slept through a sponsorship night due to some meds he was on.
2008 was a confusing year for the former Knicks player. On one hand, he had dreams of purchasing a $40 million private jet to fly around on his own. On the other hand, he was extremely upset when he was ultimately benched, claiming that he felt unsupported by his team. Instead of taking his $22 million salaries and sitting down quietly, he made some remarks that angered military members.
As of 2019, Marbury was coaching in China after spending eight years there playing for the Chinese Basketball Association. He is acting head coach for the Beijing Royal Fighters, a job that he seems to love and do well.
Where to start with Latrell Sprewell? Well, how about the fact that, like so many others on this list, he complained about his salary. In December of 1997, he grabbed a coach by the neck for telling him to “put a little mustard on” a pass. After he was asked to leave the practice where it occurred, he returned less than 30 minutes later to instigate another fight, punching the man in the face before leaving again.
The coach, P.J. Carlesimo, had never really gotten along with Sprewell and had benched him before for being late to too many practices. Initially, they were going to terminate his contract altogether, but they decided to issue a one-year suspension instead.
Jon Brockman may not have been the worst teammate in the world, but he wasn’t the best, either. At least, not according to his stats. He had a slow start when he began his pro career with the Portland Trail Blazers in 2009, and he seemed to slow down, even more, when he was traded to the Sacramento Kings.
And, while he played some good games during his time with the NBA, he still found himself averaging just 2.3 points each. These days, the former Milwaukee Buck is the head coach of a 7th grade basketball team near his home.
Zack Randolph may be a good basketball player, but he can’t seem to keep himself out of trouble – at least, not while he was with the NBA, anyway. Between 2002 and 2017, he was arrested on numerous occasions, for everything from punching Ruben Patterson in the face to sexual assault and more.
During a 2014 game, he punched Steven Adams, resulting in his suspension. He found himself suspended for another two games after he was caught drinking and driving. Needless to say, he’s not the most reliable teammate.
“Mr. New York Basketball,” as he was nicknamed out of high school, was drafted onto the Indianapolis Pacers in 2010. But before he could even make it to the court, he was arrested, following a report that he pushed his girlfriend down a flight of stairs. That wasn’t the first time he’d been reported for abusive behavior towards women, either. In high school, one of his fellow students said he’d sexually assaulted her.
Aside from all of that, he was just an all-around “difficult” person, according to his former coach. These days, Stephenson plays for the Chinese Basketball Association, though he is currently in the U.S due to the Coronavirus.
Lazar Hayward didn’t exactly have a super-strong start to his professional career. In 2010, he found himself picked last in the first round of the draft. Within the first two years of being in the NBA, he was traded twice. By 2012, he was moved to D-League’s Tulsa 66’ers.
During his time with the Minnesota Timberwolves, he averaged just 1.7 rebounds and 3.8 points per game. And after that, it seemed as though his stats just continued to drop.
Javaris Crittenton is currently serving a 23-year prison sentence for the murder of a 22-year old (and mother of four children.) The former basketball star is a declared member of the Crips street gang in Los Angeles. Apparently, he’d signed on with the gang not long after joining the Lakers. The murder happened in 2011, and it wasn’t the only time he’d shot someone – not even that year.
It’s pretty safe to say that Javaris Crittenton isn’t the most reliable teammate. Well, not unless you’re a Crip, anyway, in which case he’s probably the best. But on the court? The only place he’ll be playing ball anytime soon is behind bars.
You may remember Jason as half of a pair of basketball-playing twin brothers; Jason and Jarron. Or, maybe you don’t. Because neither one of them had a very impressive career. At the point he was playing with the Atlanta Hawks in 2009, he was only averaging 3.9 points and 0.9 rebounds.
In comparison, his brother would average the same amount of points, but four rebounds. Collins officially retired from playing for the league in 2014.
While DeSagana Diop may actually show up for his games and keep himself out of prison, it still doesn’t mean he’s the greatest teammate the NBA’s ever seen. The 7’0, 280-lb former Maverick basically took up more space than anything. Throughout the entire first decade of his pro career, he never averaged more than three points per game.
And, if you’ll remember – he doesn’t have the best free-throw in the league. In fact, at one point, he shot one of the worst in its history. Still, he did have some skills, which is why the Utah Jazz hired him on as a coaching associate in 2016.
Former Sacramento Kings player Travis Outlaw wasn’t the worst, but he certainly wasn’t the best, either. He had his moments throughout a few of his seasons, but there were a lot of other times when it just seemed like he wasn’t doing much of anything.
In fact, during his time with Sacramento, there was a point he was scoring 3.1 points per contest over a 12-minute span. In 2017, he pleaded guilty to a charge he’d received the year before of felony possession of marijuana. He received a couple of years of probation.
Jason Richardson has some mad skills when it comes to high-flying. Which is why he’s won the NBA’s slam dunk contest two times. Unfortunately for him, he’s run into trouble with the law on multiple occasions. In 2009, he was arrested for reckless driving and endangerment after he was caught doing 90 mph in a 35-mph zone. He had his three-year-old son with him – in the passenger seat of his car.
He has a long history of not taking other people’s feelings into account, as he’s also been reported for domestic violence. The ex-claimed that he shoved her into a wall, which resulted a three-game suspension from the league. Doesn’t sound like Richardson is going to win any teammate of the year trophies anytime soon. He retired in 2015 after developing bone spurs in his knee.
Although Battie was first drafted in 1997 and played in the NBA throughout 2011, some say he was just barely hanging on. He had his moments, but good and bad. He had a fairly strong beginning when he started 82 games for Orlando, but things seemed to go downhill after that. He spent a lot of his time in Philadelphia on the bench, and when he did play, averaged just 1.7 points per game.
Battie’s retirement from playing came in 2012 after he played out his final seasons with the 76’ers. Afterward, he was hired as an analyst for the Orlando Magic.
This former Knicks player currently works as an analyst for Milwaukee Bucks, who he played for in the 2016-2017 season, on Fox Sports. He wasn’t all bad as a teammate in the league. In fact, he actually had some of the best three-point shots on his team. Novak had the leading three-point percentage in 2011-2012 and won several awards. But he didn’t maintain that strength throughout the entirety of his NBA career.
The retired NBA star averaged four points per game, but just around 1.1 rebounds. And, he seemed to fowl at least 5-6 times every night.
In 2008, an article was posted on the Bleacher Report that was titled, “Josh Howard’s Latest Antics: Is He Worth the Trouble?” And most would probably answer that question with a big old “no.” During his time on the Dallas Mavericks, he embarrassed his team more than once by pulling all kinds of nonsense. Take for instance when they were down 3-1 in the best-of-7 series.
Not long after that, he was arrested for drag racing and doing over 90 mph in a 55-mph zone. The saddest part is, he actually had some good moves on the court. But in the end, fans couldn’t quite get past the shenanigans.
DeMarre Carroll was never really the best player or the best teammate. And, if you ask Gregg Popovich, he’ll probably tell you the same thing. Of course, it’s nothing so much against Carroll’s attitude, like so many others on this post, just more of a lack of, well, luster.
Carroll has been widely regarded as a “non-factor” during the time on the Spurs. He spent the majority of his time on the bench, and when he did sub in, for 135 minutes on the court, nothing spectacular came of it.
Michael Beasley’s bad boy days started when he was a teenager, but he took those tendencies with him straight into the NBA. During one infamous incident, he was in a hotel room partying with a few of his ex-teammates and a couple of women. The fire alarm went off and police wound up entering the room after the people inside refused to vacate.
While Beasley wasn’t initially found in the room, he did later admit to being in it and taking off before authorities arrived. Although he wasn’t arrested for his involvement, he was fined $50,000 by the NBA. Luckily, he’s kept himself out of trouble ever since.
The folks at the Bleacher Report just have zero issues in telling it like it is when it comes to NBA players. Take their 2010 article, in which they call Cook, “truly a horrific basketball player.” Ouch. But hey, if the shoe fits. After his contract was up with the Rockets, he signed on with the Clippers.
Do you know how some of the guys on our list have argued with $21 million and above contracts? Well, not Cook, he seemed perfectly happy with his two-year, $2.3 million stints. As of 2015, Cook was playing for the Japanese National Basketball League.
Dealing with Steve Kerr is like dealing with a bag of Skittles. There’s some good and some bad mixed in, but you never quite know what you’re going to get. Yet you’re sort of willing to chance it because you know there’s a lot of good in there. In 2016, he was fined $25,000 for his on-air criticism of officiating during his interview with KNBR.
After Kerr’s days as a player, he went on to coach for the Warriors. And, throughout his time as a coach, they held the NBA’s worst records, but they were still happy to have Kerr as their coach. He’s also been the first coach in the league’s history to bring his team 67 wins, three seasons in a row.
This former Bulls and Lakers player was never forecasted to be the next Kobe, but he still just never really did anything too incredible for his teammates. When he started out with the Knicks, he did pretty well for himself, especially considering that the team that year wasn’t all that great, to begin with.
Moving on to the Magic, he spent his time as a backup and averaged just 3.2 points and 2.5 assists in each game he played.
Rashard Lewis’s attitude definitely isn’t the reason he’s on our list. He’s dealt with some of his own, inner demons throughout his career, as well as some injuries that have prevented him from playing out some games. He was waived by the Mavericks in less than a week after signing after the injury was discovered during a physical.
Those were the end of his days in the NBA. In 2017, he returned to the court to play with the 3 Headed Monsters in the BIG3.
Semih Erden’s name has popped up on a list of the “50 Most Worthless NBA Players of All Time.” And, while “worthless” may be a strong word, it’s true that he wasn’t necessarily the best in the game. Of course, with a center who averages 3.4 points and 2.1 rebounds, that’s sort of obvious, isn’t it? Those aren’t the kind of stats that will get you to put on any “best of” lists.
His NBA career ended in 2011 when he returned to his home in Turkey to play for a Turkish basketball club. As of 2019, he was still playing in Turkey, this time for the Turkish Basketball Super League.
Stephen Jackson was a part of the 2004 Pistons/Pacers brawl, a major part, actually, and found himself swinging fists at random people near the end of it all. Then, two years later, he was arrested for allegedly firing a gun and kicking a disabled man in a strip club. The arrest resulted in felony criminal charges of criminal recklessness and a misdemeanor battery.
Lucky for him, he struck a plea deal that nixed the felonies and got him off clean with a $5,000 fine – which doesn’t seem like too much for someone making millions per year. He’s gotten his life together since those days and is working hard to lead a campaign in support of his late friend, George Floyd.
Chris Andersen, AKA “the Birdman,” played for a whopping 16 years in the NBA. Unfortunately, during the 2005-2006 season, he received a two-year ban from the league for failing his drug test. Most recently, you may remember Andersen being involved in an elaborate internet catfishing scheme.
In 2018, he signed a contract with the BIG3 and helped his team win the championship that year. So, perhaps he wasn’t the best teammate last decade, but he’s definitely improved since the ban.
Coach Isiah Thomas
In 2007, when Isiah Thomas was coaching the NY Knicks, one of the team executives reported that Thomas had made several unwanted sexual advances towards her. When they weren’t reciprocated, he then made demeaning comments instead. Unfortunately, Madison Square Garden decided to fire her instead of dealing with him, which later resulted in her them and walking away with more than $11 million.
After the court case, and a less-than-stellar run in coaching in 2008, the Knicks fired him. Somehow, he managed to convince a few other teams, including FIU, that he’s worth a shot – only he always proves them wrong.
This retired basketball pro played 12 seasons with the NBA and was traded to several teams within his career, including New Orleans, Milwaukee, and Portland. After his time in the league, he moved back home to Canada to play for the Toronto Raptors. Though, he was only averaging about 0.9 points per game. Needless to say, he was never the best addition to the team.
In 2012, he re-signed with the Raptors, only to be waived and rehired as a consultant not long afterward.
Johan “Escargot” Petro was the 25th pick in the 2005 NBA draft, which placed him on the SuperSonics. For the next several years, he had an on-again, off-again type of career. The New Jersey Nets weren’t a very good team, to begin with, though Petro didn’t add much after he made the roster in 2010. He did, however, help them score the final points against the Raptors in 2012.
Back issues forced him to seek medical treatment in 2014, which paused his basketball career. In 2017, he was both signed and waived by the Sioux Falls Skyforce.
In 2007, he was drafted by the Bucks, and, to say things went downhill from there would be an understatement. After all, the Bucks drafted him to help them solve their issues that year. But that wasn’t exactly the way things played out. He found himself traded to the team after team until he ultimately had the lowest stats of his professional career.
There was also that strange incident about his age, in which he reported to be 24 years old when he was actually several years older at the time. He is not the first person in the league to come under scrutiny about age differences, though it was certainly confusing for officials and fans alike. Why lie about your age at all?