Throughout the NBA history, verbal intimidation has been a distinctive part of what can happen between the lines. We have seen numerous colorful characters who have a taste for trash-talking, and some of them have taken it to a whole new level. It’s not only the fact that they actually backed their claims, but it’s how they went on about it.
They would not only destroy you on the court but look you in the eye while doing so. The culture of trash-talking has deeper roots than what it seems, and it is a mix of great improvisational skills and swagger. Here is a list of the best to have talked their ways through the NBA courts:
10. Ron Artest
Famous for: “That’s it? That’s your best move? Elbow to the face?”
That was a heated exchange with Kobe Bryant when the Lakers visited the Rockets in a regular season game in 2009. Ron Artest is quite the character, whether you know him as Metta World Peace or as Panda’s Friend.
Widely known for his involvement in the Malice in the Palace incident between the Pacers and the Pistons in 2004. Beers were flying, punches too, as chaos erupted both on and off the court. Artest was caught in the midst of it all of course, reminding us what he is made of.
9. Shaquille O’Neal
Famous for: “He could be dominant – if he played in the WNBA.”
They didn’t call him The Big Aristotle for nothing. That quote was about Dallas Mavericks Center Eric Dampier, whom Shaq had burnt on many different occasions.
He might have steamrolled his way through the opposing paints throughout his entire career, but his personality was a blast. He would go at Kobe, Jerry Stackhouse, opposing coaches and the entire Spurs team. His quotes are hilarious, and he is just such a lovely guy.
8. Charles Barkley
Famous for: “I thought he was going to pull a spear on me.”
So the Olympic Team were playing against Angola, and Barkley went at it with an opponent who hit him. “Somebody hits me, I’m going to hit them back. Even if he does look like he hasn’t eaten in a couple of weeks”.
Before adding that spear line, Sir Charles talked his way throughout his entire Hall of Fame career, but he had the means to back it up. He is famous for so many hilarious quotes over the years, burning teammates and opponents alike. The Round Mound of Rebound is surely one of the most likable players to have passed from the NBA.
7. Rasheed Wallace
Famous for: “You better get that little b**** off me.”
That game between the Knicks and the Grizzlies was hilarious, with Rasheed shouting all kinds of one-liners. Wallace shouted that towards the Grizzlies’ bench when he scored on Rudy Gay for the second straight time. He was one of the most versatile and skilled big men in the NBA in the past decades, but he was always there to say something. He thrived on big games, and his tremendous skills were both on the offensive, and on the defensive end. But Rasheed had a short fuse, and his temper was legendary, resulting in 317 career technical fouls.
6. Reggie Miller
Famous for: “The choke sign.”
The Reggie Miller-Spike Lee-John Starks triangle was one of the great trash talking moments in NBA history, that ignited the rivalry between the Knicks and the Pacers in the mid-90s. Spike Lee was heckling Miller pretty hard, but Miller scored 8 points in 11 seconds. He then turns to Lee and directs a “choke sign” while grabbing his shorts. He was such a theatrical figure, and he was probably one of the few people to have started a fist-fight with Michael Jordan.
5. Kobe Bryant
Famous for: “Better learn not to talk to me. You shake the tree, a leopard’s gonna fall out.”
The Lakers were up against the Nuggets, and JR Smith with Kenyon Martin were exchanging words with Kobe all night. He scored 20 points in the first quarter, and 19 points in a four-minute span in the fourth quarter to seal the 122-109 win. He is the player that you REALLY don’t want to piss off because you will fire him up. He thrives on it, and he will take go into that state where he will take any shot, on a number of defenders. Oh, he also snapped back at President Obama once.
4. Kevin Garnett
Famous for: “Your wife tastes like Honey Nut Cheerios.”
Sorry about that, but he actually said that to Carmelo Anthony. He made Andray Blatche cry, and even his teammate, Glen Davis. He told Craig Sager to burn his outfit, and called Charlie Villanueva a “cancer patient”. He allegedly wished “Happy Mother’s Day” to Tim Duncan, who had lost his mother at the age of 14. The man literally had no chill, and there was no stopping to what he would say to get under your skin.
3. Gary Payton
Famous for: “Sit down you Smurf.”
Payton actually said that to the opposing coach when the Sonics were playing the Timberwolves. He is the player that will just not stop talking during the game. Noone is safe from his sights, whether you are a player, a coach or a fan, you will hear it from him. He has a wide arsenal of famous quotes, that they deserve a list by themselves. It’s not like he is any different in real life either, he would even smack-talk you inside a mall. As Damon Stoudamire once said: “He’ll send you to therapy.”
2. Michael Jordan
Famous for: “Hey Mutombo, this one’s for you baby.”
Back in November 23, 1991, the Bulls were up against the Denver Nuggets and rookie Dikembe Mutombo. The two men were going at it, with Mutombo telling Jordan that he would never dunk on him. While MJ didn’t at that night, he went to the line with 5 seconds to go, and he shot the second free throw with his eyes closed. That’s the kind of player he was, you just didn’t start a verbal contest with him. As if destroying everyone in his path wasn’t enough of a challenge, he also had to say a few things about it.
1. Larry Bird
Famous for: “I’m just looking around to see who’s gonna finish second.”
This was before the NBA 3-point contest back in 1988, where he exclaimed the famous one-liner while sitting with his opponents looking comically confused. Bird was the king of smack-talkers, and he was infamous for breaking his opponents’ nerves not only with his immaculate three-point shooting but also with his predictions on how the ball would go in.