NBA
July 7, 2020
BY Calvin McAlee

10 Most Hated Players in the NBA, Ranked

In every sport, there are players who people just love to hate.

There's no set reason for someone to despise an NBA star. Maybe it was an act on or off the court. Perhaps, a player is so great that he becomes a lightning rod for criticism. Or he could just be one of the dirtiest players in the league

Whatever the reason, there are always players who stand out more than others when it comes to being disliked. While our ranking of the 10 most hateable current NBA players doesn't include any truly evil people, sure, there are plenty of reasons for the general public to dislike these ballers. 

Who's the most hated player in the NBA right now? Let's find out. 

10. James Harden

The famous saying is “fear the beard,” but a lot of people also hate “the beard." James Harden is notoriously one of the biggest ball hogs in the NBA and that alone draws plenty of criticism. Even teammates have voiced their displeasure of playing with Harden.

Ball hogging aside, perhaps the biggest reason for Harden making this list is his flopping and constant foul drawing. Harden draws more fouls than any player in the league.

While, yes, Harden is playing within the rules, his style of play is perceived by many as boring. He's essentially a vacuum, sucking the joy out of watching the NBA. 

On top of Harden's relentless flopping and drawing fouls, he's a noted whiner when he rarely doesn't get a call. 

9. Russell Westbrook

Russell Westbrook is perhaps the most notorious stat padder in NBA history. The former Thunder star seems more interested in notching triple-doubles than winning games. 

A player who puts himself ahead of the team is never going to be a very well-liked player. While he can put up numbers on the stat sheet, Oklahoma City fans can tell you that doesn’t quite translate to winning in big games.

Westbrook is considered a star and one of the best players in the league, sure, but a selfish player is enough to make him hated by many. Add in the fact that he fails to come up clutch in big games, it's easy to see how opposing fans can hate the Rockets guard. 

While Westbrook might be one of the more hated players in the league, he's still beloved in Oklahoma City. 

8. DeMarcus Cousins

Before his career was marred by injuries, DeMarcus Cousins was one of the top big men in the league. But he earned a lot of hate for his antics on and off the court in Sacramento. 

Cousins hasn’t just caused issues with his teammates, he's even had major issues with staff as well. As talented as Boogie is, his cry-baby attitude and inability to be coached or get along with staff and teammates has hurt his career.

Now that Boogie has suffered multiple injuries, he's become a sympathetic figure for some, which makes him a lot harder to hate. 

7. Dwight Howard

Dwight Howard is known as one of the most disliked players in the NBA. Both fans and peers have voiced their disdain for Howard. While he was a fan favorite in his early years in Orlando, his image started to head in the opposite direction as his career progressed.

Once Howard landed in Los Angeles, he quickly started to play the villain role. It's no surprise that Kobe Bryant didn't quite get along with Howard. Following their many spats, Howard departed Los Angeles, but the hate continued. 

No matter where he's played, Howard has had plenty of haters... except for his return to the Lakers. By all accounts, he's been a good teammate, but that doesn't make up for the years he was so darn hateable. 

6. Kyrie Irving

One of the biggest reasons why Irving is such a criticized figure in the NBA is because he's perceived as a selfish player, who appears more invested in himself more than the teams he plays on. Irving ditched the Cleveland Cavaliers because he couldn’t handle playing second fiddle to LeBron James. Aside from upsetting all Cavaliers fans, a move like that draws plenty of hate from fans.

After getting his wish and leaving Cleveland, Irving quickly realized the grass isn't always greener. As the lead man in Boston, Irving proved that his role as the second fiddle was the correct one. He lied to Celtics fans about re-signing and was largely disliked by teammates.   

Off the court, Irving is a peculiar fellow with some interesting beliefs. Mainly, he's a flat Earth truther. How long until his support in Brooklyn falls off the edge? 

5. Chris Paul

If this was a list of the most annoying teammates in NBA history, Chris Paul might be ranked No. 1. Ask anyone who has played with Paul in their career and almost all of them will tell you that he was not fun to play with.

He's also not a joy to play against. 

Rondo, whose name might pop up shortly, has a heated rivalry with CP3. As disliked as Rondo is, most people backed him in that fight over the Point God, showing just how disliked Paul really is.

Paul is so unlikeable because he makes fun teams hard to watch. Back when Paul was leading the Clippers, CP3 helped turn the extremely fun Lob City squad into a team of complainers. 

Despite growing long in the tooth, Paul played like one of the best point guards in the league before the coronavirus pandemic forced the NBA to go on hiatus. And we can't hate on that. 

4. Rajon Rondo

Rajon Rondo is one of the least liked players in the NBA among his fellow players. Over his career, Rondo has had numerous conflicts with both opponents and teammates. Rondo has even used social media as a means to voice his displeasure with teammates. In 2017, Rondo bashed fellow teammates Jimmy Butler and Dwyane Wade. 

Rondo doesn't limit his attacks to just teammates and rivals, he also goes after referees. 

The ugliest moment in Rondo's career came when he used a homophobic slur against referee Bill Kennedy, who later confirmed he was gay.  

Rondo also allegedly spit on Chris Paul during a game earlier in his career. In fact, there are even stories of Rondo being disliked as far back as his college days.

3. Draymond Green

Draymond Green is the type of player everyone loves to hate. And to be fair, he seems to feed off of it. Green's attitude — or competitiveness, if you're an optimist —  has gotten him in hot water on multiple occasions. Green gets technical fouls on the regular and has been thrown out of numerous games — including the playoffs — for his antics.

Back in 2016, Green repeatedly kicked Thunder big man Steven Adams in the groin. Even though Green claimed it was accidental, that's pretty hard to believe. And that's not Green's only transgression. 

He cost the Warriors an NBA Championship by getting suspended for Game 5 of the 2016 NBA Finals. He's gotten in very public arguments with Kevin Durant, Steve Kerr and others. 

Green is a dirty player, bad teammate and an instigator. Those are three great ingredients for making a great NBA villain.

2. Kevin Durant

Kevin Durant spent nine seasons with the Seattle/Oklahoma City franchise. While he couldn’t help the SuperSonics or Thunder win a title, he did win the MVP in 2014. Durant was viewed as an incredibly loyal player who appeared dedicated to winning a title in OKC.

However, that wasn't really the case. Once the Thunder lost to the Golden State Warriors in the Western Conference Finals in 2016 — after blowing a 3-1 series lead — everything changed.

Durant decided to leave the Thunder. And not only did he destroy OKC's championship dreams, but he also did it by joining the Golden State Warriors. The very same squad that just eliminated them from the playoffs. That act — viewed by many as cowardly — made him public enemy No. 1 with Westbrook and NBA fans in general.

Many believe that he took the easy route by joining a team that was already an established contender, just to get a couple of rings. 

KD is also perceived to be extremely thin-skinned. He's routinely responding to his haters on social media, and he's been known to have a burner account or two. 

1. LeBron James

LeBron James is both the most hated and the most loved player in the NBA. How? That is because there is no middle ground with King James — you either love him or hate him.

Arguably the greatest NBA player ever, James invokes love and hate because of his talents on the court. Much like Tom Brady in the NFL, he has terrorized teams so much that a lot of fan bases see him as a villain. That's what happens when the GOAT destroys your team's hopes and dreams.  

James has been criticized since joining the league, but he was never more hated than when he publicly broke the will of Cavaliers fans by going on ESPN for The Decision and publicly telling the world that he was taking his talents to South Beach to create a superteam with Chris Bosh and Wade.

It ignited what's known as the "Player Empowerment Era" and it's paved the way for Durant — and many other superstars — to change teams seemingly at will. 

That monumental decision has followed James for years, and he's been trying to make up for it ever since. He later returned to Cleveland to help win the Cavaliers a title, but that didn't stop his haters. 

James is also notorious for using social media to subtweet teammates who he is not necessarily happy with. While it's not punching a teammate in the face during practice, it's an easy way for the target to grow. 

There are very few other athletes in the world that people can have such a concrete opinion on that no argument can change. The love or hate for LeBron James is as strong as any other athlete in the world.

Photo: Getty Images / Lines.com Illustration