Sports have always been a place for camaraderie, friendship, strong relationships and great spirit. Nevertheless, when you have 20+ superhumans fighting for a win on a nightly basis, it’s pretty normal to expect that sometimes hormones get in the way and things get messy right away.
Through its entire history, the NBA has been related to big, rude, and gigantic men, with low-life players and guys born and raised on the street, although the league has fought harshly over the last decade to erase that image and change it for the “new NBA guy” as LeBron James and Steph Curry, role models that rather spend time with their family than in the club.
Nevertheless, the trash talk and the dirty style is something inherent to this sport, and it’s never going to go away no matter how soft the league gets. So, let’s take a look at the top 10 dirtiest players in NBA History.
10. Matt Barnes
“6 fouls Barnes” has made a name for himself over his 15-year journey through the D-League and the NBA for being the classic thug, constantly getting in other guy’s faces and trying to fight pretty much everybody. The former Clipper, King, Sixer, Laker, Grizzlie, Sun and now Warrior even got physical with Derek Fisher a couple of years ago because the point guard was dating Barnes ex-wife.
Barnes has always relied on his strong fierce defense and his inconsistent three point shot to remain as a part of an NBA rotation, but his harsh character and thug mentality stopped some teams from taking him seriously, and he even has a criminal record for alleged domestic violence against his former girlfriend.
9. Xavier McDaniel
The Wichita State product definitely has to be featured on this list, as the former small forward for the Supersonics, Suns, Knicks, Celtics and Nets made a career out of intimidating both teammates and rivals, never backing up from anybody, not even his royal Airness himself.
Many people remember the X man for his constant scuffles with his rivals, especially for that time when he got into Dennis Rodman’s face and had to be kept inside the locker room to try and stop him from doing anything crazy, or that time he got into it with Charles Oakley, even taking it right next to the crowd.
8. Rasheed Wallace
Rasheed was the ultimate badass, as the former Bad Boy was one of the most intimidating human beings to ever set foot in an NBA Court, racking up 317 technical fouls through his successful career with the Wizards, Trail Blazers, Hawks, Pistons, Celtics and Knicks, becoming the third player with most technicals in NBA history.
His fierce defense and aggressive style of playing earned him a lot of enemies through the years, establishing a lockdown defense alongside Ben Wallace and Tayshaun Prince. Surprisingly, he wasn’t a part of the infamous “Malice in the Palace”, and he even tried to calm Metta World Peace (then known as Ron Artest) and Stephen Jackson, something that nobody expected from the power forward.
7. Rajon Rondo
Rondo’s been always in the spotlight through his entire career, either for his outstanding passing ability and basketball IQ, his strong rebounding skills, his clutch gene or his bad temper and unnecessary comments about his competition or even his own teammates, even making a pretty calm guy like Ray Allen leave the Celtics to play for the Miami Heat.
During his prime, Rondo was also an outstanding defender, and his competitive spirit constantly made him go the extra mile to prevent his rivals from scoring, and that definitely earned him a lot of detractors through the eleven years the current Chicago Bull has been in the Association, and you know he’ll do absolutely everything to win, and if you don’t believe us, ask the Miami Heat from that time he got into their huddle.
6. Joakim Noah
The former defensive player of the year award-winner was known for his outstanding post defense and rim protection, as well as being a great passer and an excellent teammate, something that constantly made him get into trouble with opposing teams and even with the refs due to his loud and vocal style.
Now, with his prime far behind him, the Center and great leader will be remembered for all those times he took it an extra notch and turned his physical play into dirty play, as well as all those times he constantly trash talked his rivals and even the entire city of Cleveland.
5. Charles Oakley
Oakley will always be remembered as one of the ultimate badasses in NBA history, and he even got into a serious scuffle recently with the Knicks’ owner James Dolan, earning a lifetime veto from going back to Madison Square Garden after several threats against Dolan.
Charles was completely proud of his dirty style of play and constant pushing and hitting of his rivals, even getting mad if the fouls weren’t flagrant enough (WTF). The Oak Tree constantly got into brawls with pretty much everybody, and you know he hasn’t changed a bit after retiring. Maybe he should consider therapy or something.
4. Dikembe Mutombo
Mutombo’s been always known for his fierce and physical defense, his emphatic swats and of course, the “not in my house” finger wag, becoming one of the most intimidating forces in the paint through NBA history. Nevertheless, even if he was a very neat and gifted defender, the former Denver Nugget was also very rude against his rivals, causing at least 25 injuries due to his constant elbowing, according to ESPN. If you wanted to get past Dikembe, he was going to make sure that you paid the price for it.
Sadly, that defensive anchor never managed to become an NBA champion, although we definitely won’t forget the former Georgetown center, a four-time Defensive Player of the Year, second leading shot blocker in NBA history and of course, one of the biggest African icons through the last few decades.
3. Ron Artest
Metta World Peace, Panda Friend or Ron Artest, no matter what you call him, you know the Lakers forward and one of the best defenders the NBA has ever seen is also one of the dirtiest, toughest thugs to ever play this sport, being the main “star” in the historic brawl between the Pistons and the Pacers, Malice at the Palace.
During that scuffle, Artest even got into it with some fans, and he was constantly looking to hurt opposing players without showing an ounce of remorse, elbowing, pushing and shoving at will, and making his name Metta World Peace arguably one of the most ironic things this sport has ever seen.
2. Dennis Rodman
Rodman will never be forgotten, being one of the league’s best rebounders and defenders and a key piece in the Bulls second three-peat. Besides, he’ll also stay in everybody’s minds thanks to his “interesting” public appearances dressed as a woman, the colorful hair, the makeup and of course, the dirty and physical play.
The former Piston never hesitated to put his body in the line to get a rebound and help his team get the W, and his absurd rebounding ability against taller guys was - besides his athleticism - mostly thanks to his dirty and mean positioning, constantly shoving, pushing and even elbowing his rivals. On top of that, he was always keen to give everybody a piece of his mind, racking up 212 techs through his career.
1. Bill Laimbeer
Of course, the top spot on this list had to be occupied by one of the original bad boys, and boy was he bad. He was just mean man, elbowing and punching at will, becoming a complete master of the aggressive and dirty style of playing and actually being quite proud of it.
In fact, his outstandingly harsh game inspired a video game without fouls, without rules and referees and that allowed weapons to prevent their rivals from scoring, just to give you a clue of how incredibly aggressive and dirty Bill was. He was just insane and he wouldn’t even apologize for it.