Whether it’s by NBA fans in general or simply by other players around the league, some players are easier to hate and criticize than others, sometimes without any reason at all. Being a Lakers player makes you a prime candidate anytime – just ask Kobe Bryant, but LeBron James, Jeremy Lin and Russell Westbrook get their fair share of hatred and critique around every corner.
Kevin Garnett, Boston Celtics
Why is Kevin Garnett unpopular among non-Celtics? Well, the more his basketball talents are diminishing (although he’s still an excellent player, averaging 19.2 points and 10.3 rebounds in the 2012 playoffs), the more Garnett feels the need to be loud and obnoxious to his rivals on the court. He’s not the classiest of guys on the court, because he wants to win. But constant trash talking and playing dirty never wins you any fans. Winners and great competitors are often only appreciated by their team’s fan-base.
Rajon Rondo, Boston Celtics
Out of the elite group of point guards, none are as unpopular as Rajon Rondo. Maybe it all started from clipping Brad Miller in the postseason back in ’09, but maybe it’s demeanor. Something arrogant, distant. He looks angry at other players, hardly pops a smile. And then there are all the talks about what happens in the locker room – getting Ray Allen to hate him so much to choose the Miami Heat and less money over the Celtics.
Jason Kidd, New York Knicks
Although Kidd isn’t the kind of player to get hate around the league and is one of those respected veterans on the court, also called up to the 2008 Olympic team way past his prime so he can add his experience and leadership, being someone with ‘wife-beating’ on your record, pleading guilty to that back in 2001, never really helps you in the lovable department, but people often forget that about him. On the other hand, maybe people do deserve a second chance.
Joakim Noah, Chicago Bulls
Something just because you have a different kind of look, especially the hair, draws unwanted attention. But Noah is one of these players who immediately shows the outside world whatever it is that he’s thinking of and feels. He has a big mouth and he loves to trash talk, which might make him very popular among Bulls fans, but hardly so among the rest of the league’s fans and players.
LeBron James, Miami Heat
It all comes down to The Decision, and choosing to leave the Cleveland Cavaliers so he can play for less money with the Miami Heat but with two friends, sort of finding the ‘easy’ way to the title. Lets not get into whether it’s wrong or right to feel that way about James and the hypocrisy involved.
Ever since he switched to South Beach, James has been the most unpopular player in the league, although now that he’s won the NBA title, things are slightly changing for the better, because part of the hate was about his failure to win the championship. There’s also the preferable treatment from the refs, a bit of flopping involved in the lack of love. And the fact that he’s that much better than everyone.
Chris Bosh, Miami Heat
Being the lesser part of the golden triangle in Miami means that you’re going to get a lot of flack, because he’s the lesser part of the Big 3. There’s also Bosh’s awkwardness and alleged softness compared to other big men which makes a lot of people criticize him a lot more than he deserves, but I think this last postseason and especially the NBA finals changed a lot of opinions regarding Bosh’s importance and role on the Miami Heat.
Vince Carter, Dallas Mavericks
Underachieving never goes well with NBA fans, especially for someone who was some sort of golden boy and the man in charge of reviving the dunk contest. He made the Toronto Raptors a popular team for a few years before leaving to the Nets, where he never made it past the conference semifinal. His injury proneness and being labeled as soft hasn’t helped his reputation over the years.
Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City Thunder
Whenever something doesn’t work for the Thunder, it usually gets blamed on Russell Westbrook. Maybe if he wasn’t playing alongside someone as likable as Kevin Durant, he wouldn’t be getting this kind of treatment. But Westbrook is a shoot first kind of guy which sometimes doesn’t perfectly complement the most efficient scoring machine in the NBA, and he’s usually the easiest person to blame when things go wrong.
Lamar Odom, Los Angeles Clippers
Playing for the Los Angeles Lakers during title years never helps anyone when it comes to overall popularity. Odom also got paid millions of dollars for not playing basketball last season and he’s also gotten himself involved with a Kardashian, participating in Reality TV which is never good for the persona of an NBA player.
Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers
Where do we begin? Ball-hog. Laker for life. Insatiable desire to win games and title rings, which usually makes you a rough and not-so-nice competitor and teammate. Whines to referees, has a bit of a dirty streak, the whole Shaq episode and of course the rape trial which he was never found guilty in, but people never really forget.
Dwight Howard, Los Angeles Lakers
Said he wants to stay and build a future together with the Orlando Magic, and then got Stan Van Gundy and Otis Smith fired. Then he demanded a trade after giving up his option in the 2012 summer, making the Orlando Magic trade him to the Los Angeles Lakers, of all teams, and not getting enough in return.
Metta World Peace, Los Angeles Lakers
The player formerly known as Ron Artest is a pretty nice guy, it seems at least, off the NBA court. But there’s something about these occasional lapses, which includes sending that vicious elbow to James Harden’s head. There’s also past incidents that everyone remembers and never forget, no matter how much time passes. Lets not forget – Ben Wallace is the man who started everything that night in Detroit.
Jeremy Lin, New York Knicks
Lin was the sensation of the NBA for a few weeks, but then he wasn’t such a perfect NBA player anymore because everyone saw he can’t guard, and the rest is history. There are plenty of Lin fans out there, but his departure from the Knicks showed the ugly side of those who don’t really wish him well. Being overrated and hyped by the media will always cause a backlash at some point.