The 5 Guys Everybody Hated Playing Against

Apr 5 2017
Photo by
Sarah Keane / The Players' Tribune
Apr 5 2017

I don’t think losing bothers guys in the NBA now.

Everyone’s hugging out there. When we were playing, we were trying to take people’s heads off. We were out there battling every night. Nowadays, I’m surprised I haven’t seen someone dap up an opponent for making a free throw.

I’m a sore loser. I was there to win.

I was just talking about this year’s All-Star Game with Chauncey. That was sickening to watch. That game was just a microcosm of the way the NBA is now. I’ve seen the problem for years because I’ve seen the route the game was going. Now the refs go over to the monitor after every hard foul.

I don’t believe in dirty players — I don’t know nobody out there who’s maliciously trying to hurt nobody. Sure, some people play harder than others. It’s kind of like football. You’ve got guys who play through the whistle, so to speak. That was a way some guys had to play to stick in the league. You did what you had to do. It was tooth and nail out there. Players had active dislike for certain players and certain teams.

It’s somewhat bizarre that I’m ranking the NBA’s most irritating players, because I was the guy who liked to do the irritating. I was the guy lined up along the free throw line, grabbing the inside of someone’s thigh so I could get the rebound. Some guys, at the free throw line, wanted to make their rebounds look all textbook, look all pretty. But then there were all the other guys actually trying to get the ball. I was one of those guys.

On that note, here are the five most extra players I came across in my career. I got respect for all the guys on this list — even Ron — because they knew what you had to do to win. I respected anyone who knew that was the way it had to be.

Reggie did a lot of things that people didn’t like. I think that was well-known. After all, he’s the guy who grabbed Chris Kaman’s balls when Kaman was trying to box him out. That’s still the most I’ve ever seen someone cross the line. It was hilarious at the time, though.

When me and Reggie were teammates on the Clippers and the Nuggets, people hated it. We were “the Bash Brothers.” It was because of us that L.A. got out of the first round of the 2012 playoffs. The young talent was good — Blake, DJ — but if you wanna win a Game 7, you gotta go with me and Reggie. That’s what Chauncey Billups told our coach, Vinnie Del Negro, “If you wanna win this game, you better leave Kenyon and Reggie in there.”

Why? People know what we gon’ do. We ain’t gonna back down and we gon’ play hard. I hope you got ’em laced up and you got tape on, ’cause you gon’ need it.

People can say whatever they want about Kobe, but Kobe don’t take no shit from nobody. Kobe would fight you in a minute. He would. That’s something I think a lot of fans didn’t know. People think of Kobe for all that skillful basketball stuff, but not for the fact that, if you stepped up to him, he’d fight back. Or if you clubbed him or hit him, he’d make you pay.

That’s ’cause Mamba would literally take your head off to win the game, man. He’d fuck you up. There’s a lot of trash talking on the court, but nobody ever said shit to Kobe.

I think everything Ron Artest does is calculated. He picks on people he knows aren’t going to fight back. Like when he hit James Harden — why did he hit James Harden when he could have hit somebody else who might have responded? Because it was calculated.

Everything he’s done has been calculated. The thing about the whole “Malice at the Palace” thing — people tend to forget how it all started. If he wanted problems with Ben Wallace, he would have fought Ben Wallace. Ben Wallace was the one that pushed Ron and instead of retaliating, Ron chose to run into the stands. He took the sucker move out.

Ron’s a flopper. Some of the guys fans consider as hard-playing guys, like CP3, they do play hard — but they’re also floppers. Draymond plays hard, but he’s a flopper. Harden’s a flopper. I don’t respect nobody that flops. Not one. You flop on me, I’m gonna give you something to flop about next time.

So yeah, I’m not buying Ron’s act.

He never said shit to me, but guys hated going against Kevin. Pull up any video, and Kevin is just barking at some dude. Or he would be talking to nobody at all — just talking to talk. It was constant, so it just got under people’s skin.

It wasn’t so much that KG would be overly physical with people, but some people couldn’t handle all the chatter.

It was pretty damn annoying.

I feel bad about it now, but you might remember that I once hit Karl Malone upside the head. He went down hard. Given his reputation as a tough guy, I thought he was going to get up and we were going to get it on. But he didn’t do nothing.

His coach did, though.

Jerry Sloan ran down the sideline, screaming, “What the hell? I’m going to kick your ass!” I was so surprised. I was like, “Whoa! Sit your old ass down before I hit you too!” We got into it and they had to separate us. That was when I realized that Jerry Sloan was a tough dude.

Years later, he was still coaching the Jazz and I was a free agent. They wanted to get me. He told my agent that story: Remember when Kenyon said he’d kick my ass? Now’s his chance.

I respect everyone on this list. I should be on this list. I was the most extra.