10 most annoying NBA players and personalities

Jun 10, 2016; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James (23) exchanges words with Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green (23) during the fourth quarter in game four of the NBA Finals at Quicken Loans Arena. The Warriors won 108-97. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports
Michael Dixon
Written by Michael Dixon

More than any other American sporting league, the NBA embraces individuality from its players and personalities. Unfortunately, that’s can be double-edged sword.

Most of the time, it’s good to see the player’s personalities on display. Other times, it can be downright annoying.

Who brings that out the most?

Where does a superstar like LeBron James rank? What other superstars are with him? Which owners crack the list? What player represents the league’s cranky old guard the best?

Who are the NBA’s most annoying players and personalities?

Paul Pierce, Los Angeles Clippers

Feb 13, 2017; Salt Lake City, UT, USA; LA Clippers forward Paul Pierce (34) yells at Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert (not pictured) from the bench area during the first half at Vivint Smart Home Arena. Mandatory Credit: Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

Everyone has an uncle who’s memory is a little off. It’s the uncle who had to walk five miles in the snow to school every day, uphill both ways. The uncle who — no matter what you do — swears up and down that he did it better.

Paul Pierce is the NBA’s version of that. Heck, sitting on the Clippers bench, he even looks like someone’s uncle.

Over the last year is when Pierce has really gone from NBA legend to annoying hypocrite.

Pierce has been a critic of the concept of “super teams,” which you can read about here. Apparently he believes that his Boston Celtics teammates were more noble when they signed contracts and whined their way out of them than free agents who changed teams.

Pierce’s most-recent feud with Draymond Green (more on him shortly) has also exposed more of his hypocrisy. After Green mocked Pierce for not getting a great ovation, Pierce took to Twitter to respond.

Okay, it wasn’t unprovoked. Still, let’s think about a few things.

Is blowing a 3-1 lead really worse than blowing a 3-2 lead when your opponent fails to score 90 points in either game, you had a 13-point second half lead in Game 7, and the other team’s best player (Kobe Bryant) was only 6-for-24 in that game?

Additionally, how do Pierce’s Clippers teammates feel about the 3-1 jabs? They did blow the same lead to the Houston Rockets only two years ago, right before Pierce signed in Los Angeles. They also blew a 2-0 series lead against Portland last season.

Draymond Green, Golden State Warriors

As it relates to his most-recent feud with Green, we have to cut Pierce some slack. Draymond is plenty annoying himself.

Of course, it’s the repeated kicks at his opponents (especially in the groin area) that garner the most publicity. A skilled lawyer could probably argue that coming down for a rebound, his natural body motion is to kick out. Still, dozens of rebounds are contested every night in the NBA. Only one player seems to have this repeated problem.

Additionally, his tap of LeBron James’ groin in the 2016 NBA Finals was clearly not involuntary and the subsequent suspension might have cost the Warriors a championship (more on that here).

Really, it doesn’t even end there.

Green being called for a foul is not a rare occurrence. Him being called for a foul that’s not followed by several seconds of theatrics, however, is. The call can be blatant, too. It rarely matters. Professional athletes are creatures of habit and one of Draymond’s habits is to fiercely protest every call going against him.

Additionally, while Green may think he never commits fouls, he seems to think fouls are consistently committed against him. Draymond rarely takes a shot — especially in the paint — that isn’t accompanied by him screaming “And 1!”

On top of that, Green also spends a lot of time bickering with opponents on the floor. Still, he’s the kind of player that you love having on your team.

But if he’s an opponent, he brings justifiable scorn.

Blake Griffin, Los Angeles Clippers

Courtesy of Jayne Kamin-Oncea, USA Today Sports

For most of Griffin’s career, he was followed by something of a mystery. Several players didn’t like Griffin. The question was, why? He’d always been an entertaining player and seemed like a decent guy. Was it just jealousy, or was there something more?

The last few years have brought some clarity.

Griffin has emerged as a whiner. Now, we can say the same thing about other players. But while Green’s whining is annoying, it seems to be a rallying point for his team. When Griffin cries about calls not going his way, it’s almost always followed by a Los Angeles tailspin.

On top of that, we can’t forget that Griffin missed a good portion of the 2016 season from an injury he suffered while punching a member of the Clippers’ training staff. We can use many words to describe a near seven foot millionaire in his absolute athletic prime deciding to punch a team employee. Annoying is probably the nicest among them.

So, you’re welcome, Blake.

James Harden, Houston Rockets

Generally speaking, when the current generation of players gets the scorn of the older era, it’s either LeBron James or the Warriors. It makes sense to go after the biggest and best stars.

But fair or not, the primary criticisms of the era are that the players are too soft and they don’t play enough defense. Harden is really the embodiment of that.

To be fair, we don’t know if Harden is actually soft. But he flops around so much that he’s certainly willing to let people think it.

As far as the defense goes, there are times when it seems like he’s actively avoiding it. As if it would actually take less effort to really play defense.

Throw in his past relationship with the Kardashians and Harden is certainly a player who can be annoying from time to time.

LeBron James, Cleveland Cavaliers

Like Tom Brady and the NFL, there’s something annoying about a guy who always wins. LeBron is the best player in the NBA. He has been for quite some time. Annd his teams have played in each of the last six NBA Finals. People may not want to admit it, but jealously is a large part of what makes LeBron annoying.

But it’s not the only part.

Like Draymond Green, LeBron is a complainer. He’s usually not quite as dramatic about it, but LeBron protests many calls that go against his team. Even blatant ones.

He’s also got a lot of the same flopping qualities as Harden. But unlike Harden, LeBron is a physical monster. In the real world, a little shove isn’t going to be enough to knock many men onto the ground, let alone men as big and strong as James.

Though, it does give other teams something to joke about.

Also, if Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert was finally willing to take his famed letter off of the team’s website, we’re willing to let LeBron slide for his nationally televised decision to leave the Cavs and go to the Heat. That was seven years ago and James has more than made things right with Cleveland.

But LeBron has spent a good portion of 2016-17 publicly pleading for better teammates. This, is despite the fact that the Cavaliers have a historically high payroll.

Again, a lot of what makes James annoying is jealousy. But LeBron has made himself one of the game’s more annoying players in other ways, as well.

Mark Cuban, Dallas Mavericks

The Mavericks’ owner doesn’t think Russell Westbrook is a superstar. It’s an opinion he’s doubled down on and only barely come off of.

Taken on their own, these comments are absurd. But when we consider how But going as far as to strong how poorly he reacted to a fairly light hearted tweet about Dirk Nowitzki? That’s a little much.

Cuban and Nowitzki are joined at the hip. They came into the NBA at more or less the same time and have both been associated with the Mavs and no other franchise. Cuban and Nowitzki have experienced some immense frustration and incredible success. So, it’s only natural that Cuban would be a little defensive of Dirk.

But come on. Strong arming a company into deleting the tweet? How would Cuban react if President Donald Trump did that?

If it only started there with Cuban, we could let him off the hook. But it’s just the latest in a career that’s been two decades of PR stunts and whining.

What other owners run on to the floor to argue with officials? Who else constantly complains in the media with implications that the league treats his team unfairly? It’s annoying enough when players and coaches do it. But owners? That’s taking it to a new level.

Cuban is definitely a personality and nobody could ever accuse him of being boring.

Annoying is a different story, though. That’s a threshold that Cuban has jumped over many times.

Demarcus Cousins, New Orleans Pelicans

DeMarcus Cousins

Like Green, Cousins is a great player. Like Green, he can make you want to pull your hair out.

Fellow NBA All-Star Paul George recently said (h/t Abe Schwadron, Slam Sports) that Cousins was “misunderstood.” Assuming that’s true, we have to at least say that Cousins has done plenty to contribute to the misunderstanding.

As his technical foul count indicates, Cousins can be a bit whiny on the court. Some of that petulance has carried off of the court. Cousins has also seemed to consistently have trouble working with coaches. Granted, people like George Karl deserve (at least) as much blame as Cousins. But his problems have gone beyond just one guy.

Maybe Cousins just needed a fresh start. The Sacramento Kings aren’t exactly a functional organization. Unfortunately, his actions in Sacramento are all that we really have to judge Boogie on at this point.

The situation with the Kings was less than ideal, but Cousins was a prime contributor to that.

James Dolan, New York Knicks

As we’ve detailed, Mark Cuban is an annoying owner. But at least he’s been effective. Under Cuban’s ownership, the Mavericks have won a championship, been to another finals and been one of the NBA’s most-consistent franchises.

What have the Knicks done under Dolan? Significantly less. Actually, they’ve won next to nothing.

New York should be one of the league’s cornerstone franchises. Instead, this organization is one of the NBA’s biggest laughingstocks. A place that’s not remotely attractive to the league’s best players.

Whether it’s antagonizing fans or Charles Oakley, Dolan knows how to rub people the wrong way. He was also incredibly slow to make any changes during the disastrous tenure of Isiah Thomas and now seems to be going the same way with Phil Jackson.

But despite overseeing such a dysfunctional organization, Dolan has found a way to keep himself in the news.

Carmelo Anthony, New York Knicks

Does Carmelo want to be with the Knicks? Does he want to go to Cleveland to play with LeBron, or look for a fresh start somewhere else?

The answers to those questions seem to change on a daily basis. Since the trade deadline has come and gone, the trade talks are on something of a break, but it’s nothing more. Those talks will certainly resume when the season ends.

Now, we could almost overlook these talks. After all, Carmelo plays in New York, where things tend to get embellished. Additionally, a lot of the blame falls at the feet of Phil Jackson.

The problem is that drama has followed Anthony throughout his career. He pouted his way out of Denver. He’s been consistently unable to get along with coaches. If it happens a few times, we can chalk it up to being young, or the other people in the conflict. But these problems have followed Carmelo for a career that’s now 14 years old.

He shoulders much of that responsibility. It’s an awful lot of trouble for a guy who’s never won or even appeared in an NBA Finals and has only made one conference finals.

Dwight Howard, Atlanta Hawks

Take everything that’s been annoying about Carmelo over the years. Now multiply it by five. At that point, we might be entering Howard’s stratosphere of annoyingness.

That’s right. Howard has been so annoying over the years that we have to make up words.

Inability to get along with coaches and teammates? Check. Constantly wavering on trade demands? Yup. Howard has done that, too. The man couldn’t even get along with Steve Nash.

Howard also developed a well earned reputation as a rather cheap player.

Howard has now left three NBA teams on less than ideal terms. He has also never won a championship and while he’s made a few more deep playoff runs than Carmelo, many of Howard’s teams have had their seasons ended in disappointment.

When a player has annoying tendencies, one question has to be asked. Is he worth the drama? With LeBron James, the answer is a clear yes. With most of the other players on the list, it’s a fairly clear yes. In Howard’s case, though, the answer is not so clear.

About the author

Michael Dixon

Michael Dixon

Bay Area born and raised, I have extensive experience in both the print and online worlds. There are few things in this world I love doing more than talking sports.