I recently polled GSoM to get a consensus on which sordid tale of NBA drama was the season’s most riveting. The Jimmy Butler-Minnesota fiasco narrowly edged out Kevin Durant vs Draymond Green, and Rajon Rondo’s “Spit-Gate” vs Chris Paul for most dramatic so far. Basketball is definitely a sport that is emotionally driven; the best and worst of people’s personalities emerge through pressurized theater that we as fans gleefully tune in for.
As I was chewing over the beef-related reactions, my mind reflected back on the hoops I watched growing up as a child. There was big Charles Oakley terrorizing the paint, the late 80’s Pistons bodyslamming their way to titles, and greatest player ever Michael Jordan punching and verbally assaulting his own damn teammates. Of course, that includes our head coach, Steve Kerr.
"By the way, I kicked MJ's ass." pic.twitter.com/3wYF9AhxV6— Warriors on NBCS (@NBCSWarriors) November 14, 2018
Steve Kerr might be the toughest dude on the Warriors right now.
Anyways, today’s game gets the rep of being soft/passive-aggressive, but there’s still a few characters left that you can’t just run up on without repercussions. I started thinking about the dudes that I personally just wouldn’t go out of my way to aggravate if I were in the NBA.
“Z-Bo” Zach Randolph
Hell. No. I’m not bothering this OG.
Gotdamn, Z-Bo! Let Blake breathe!
My personal favorite “Z-Bo Not Giving A Damn” moment is definitely when he called out bodyguard to the stars, Kendrick Perkins.
Z-Bo might as well have told a stegosaurus he was gonna beat his ass. Randolph is a REAL ONE.
“Stone Cold” Draymond Green
Despite being undersized (Green is around 6’5, 230 pounds), he’s the team’s rim protector and big man stopper. He has been the team’s resident enforcer throughout the birth of this dynasty, leading the Warriors into the heat of battle against any foe. He’s also a coach on the floor, constantly barking orders, encouragement, and critiques to his teammates.
Anybody can get Dray’s wrath, and I have proof!
- Here, KD is on the business end of an MVP-level move from James Harden early in the Western Conference Finals. Dray literally cannot contain himself from busting the MVP in the throat with a forearm shiver for how he embarrassed KD in front of the Houstonian contingent.
- Here’s that hilarious moment when KD hijacked the Warriors offense during their first year together, and Dray is the only Warrior on the floor to educate him...vociferously.
- And now here he is going toe-to-toe in the middle of the damned NBA Finals against the most influential man in the sport, Lebron “King” James, during the infamous standoff that may have cost the Dubs that championship due to the suspension fallout.
This fiery dynamo is going to make his presence felt, whether you like it or not.
That said, there’s an even smaller rage-filled champion who has no problem jumping into Dray’s personal space.
“The Problem Child” Rajon Rondo
In the heart of Oracle, during a playoff game, after the Oakland crowd is losing it’s mind for a buzzer-beating Splash, Green’s swagger is fully activated.
And Rajon Rondo didn’t give a damn! LOL.
Baxter Holmes wrote a piece for ESPN, interviewing NBA stars on the genesis of Rondo’s raging competitive fire. They traced it back to Rondo’s young days as a point guard under the maniacal MVP Kevin Garnett with the Boston Celtics, and marveled at Rondo’s smoldering intensity.
“It’s a shame because if he played in our era,” said ex-Celtics coach Doc Rivers, who played in the 1980s, “he could’ve been as nasty as he wanted to be. He could’ve been Isiah [Thomas].”
“I say that tongue-in-cheek,” Bryant said, “but we’re comfortable pushing buttons. I think teams and players nowadays don’t want to criticize each other and just want to compliment each other all the time and tell them how peachy things are. And me and him aren’t opposed to challenging players.”
When you’re drawing comparisons to “Bad Boys” Piston’s hall-of-famer Isaiah Thomas, and Kobe is glowingly referring to you as an excrement hole, clearly you’re a piece of work.
Yeah, I’m not going to go out of my way to get into Rondo’s face unless I’ve got a pretty damn good reason.
James “Bloodsport” Johnson
I’m going to be frank here (I gotta do some research as to why “frank” means “hella serious”. Shout out to all the dudes named Frank!). When I was compiling this list of dudes I personally probably wouldn’t want to have extra smoke with, James Johnson’s name came up several times.
But I was like, meh, he’s a role-player for the Heat, who cares?
Until one of my good buddies sent me a clip of “Jalen & Jacoby” discussing the giant Serge Ibaka looking like a deer in the headlights against Johnson’s wrath.
This man’s ENTIRE family have black belts in martial arts? Good to know. I wouldn’t antagonize this guy unless I was pretty sure of what I was getting into.
Those are my top four at the moment, but I’d love to hear if there’s anyone else y’all have in mind on the “Don’t Antagonize” list. My buddies asked me to include a helpful series of bulletpoints to assist in your decision making.
- If you were a kid and would be hesitant to ask them for an autograph? (They’re on the list)
- Do they ONLY listen to gospel music now? Tread lightly (they may be fighting a dark past)
- Did they go to Cincinnati? Watch out. (Google Kenyon Martin)
- Is he hamstrung from the rage of never making the Finals? (Chris Paul can shed light on this)
These bulletpoints were created by my brothers Adam Berke, Brandon Nicholson, Jordan Keyes, Rulon Marbley, Jon Beauford, and David Dupart. Those are all guys I wouldn’t antagonize on the basketball court, either!