The Most Disrespectful Moments in Recent NBA History

CHICAGO, UNITED STATES: Michael Jordan (R) of the Chicago Bulls gets a techincal foul for waving his finger at Dikembe Mutombo (L) and Tyrone Corbin (C) of the Atlanta Hawks 13 May during the first half of game five of their Eastern Conferecne Semifinals game at the United Center in Chicago Illinois. (ELECTRONIC IMAGE) AFP PHOTO Jeff HAYNES (Photo credit should read JEFF HAYNES/AFP/Getty Images)

JEFF HAYNES/Getty Images

If only James Harden knew how to properly disrespect Ricky Rubio’s ankles and ego.

Oh, make no mistake, plenty of damage was done. Harden crossed Rubio off the screen during the Houston Rockets’ Game 2 romping over the Utah Jazz, and he took his sweet time getting a shot off for maximum effect. He stared at the basket, shimmied his shoulders and might’ve even made a Trolli Sour Brite Weird Beards run.

Rules are rules, though. Optimal humiliation of one’s opponent can only be achieved by completing the play. Harden missed:

This still registers in the NBA‘s pantheon on rudeness. At the very least, it left us nostalgic for more successful displays of irreverence. Luckily for us, YouTube exists. Compiling the Association’s most epic acts of disrespect is a mere matter of time commitment. Even more luckily, I have no social life. 

Important context: Simply filthy plays are not up for consideration. The spectrum of nasty crossovers and ferocious jams is too vast, and frankly, we need to shout out players other than Giannis Antetokounmpo, Stephen Curry and Kyrie Irving.

Extracurricular sauciness is everything. Dunks cannot just be jackhammers. Crossovers cannot only break bones. Obnoxious celebrations, egregious taunts, fractured self-esteems and genuine acts of savage demoralization are our the benchmark for inclusion. 

Tar Heel Murders Hoya (1991)

Michael Jordan is no stranger to no-holds-barred finishes. Shaking Charles Oakley and demolishing Patrick Ewing was just another day the office.

What His Airness said more than 20 years later is entirely something else.

“I told him, Georgetown guys don’t block shots, they take charges,” he recounted in 2013. “I dunked it on him so hard it was unbelievable. Every time I see him, that’s the first thing I remind him of.”

The statute of limitations on disrespect is nonexistent. Jordan’s above-the-rim stuff was harsh enough by itself, but what happened in the decades to come makes this play the best kind of unforgivable.

Reign Man Erases Alton Lister (1992)

Props to Chris Mullin for getting out of Shawn Kemp’s way. He wanted no part of this monster mash. 

Nor did Alton Lister, for that matter. Before Kemp turned him into a corpse, he definitely triple-guessed his decision to not evacuate the lane post-haste. Maybe he felt an obligation to hang in there, knowing the Golden State Warriors considered him a Reign Man antidote.

Kemp really milked this moment. He didn’t just cradle the ball and catch a body. He spirit-finger pointed at the fallen Lister while completing a full parallel squat. (Remember: Don’t skip leg day.)

Respect the disrespect.

LaPhonso Ellis’ Unreal Catch-Block (1994)

Catch-blocks are not unprecedented, but this may be the most disrespectful shot contest in league history. The ease with which LaPhonso Ellis swallows a full-throttle highlight is insulting. His no-big-deal reaction is just as mean. 

Rumor has it this play earned bonus points because Ellis was nicknamed “The Fonz.” I neither confirm nor deny this claim.

Scottie Doesn’t Know Who Patrick Ewing Is (1994)

Scottie Pippen’s one-handed yam over, and through, Patrick Ewing is cutthroat on its own. Pushing the 7’1″ skyscraper while still airborne is shameless.

Hovering over him after the fact like he’s some anonymous 11th man verges on criminal to this day. That said, we’re here for it.

MJ Climbs Mt. Mutombo (1997) 

Dikembe Mutombo swore MJ had never dunked on him.

“Do you want me to call Scottie?” he said.

Whether Mutombo was exaggerating doesn’t matter. Jordan caught him with the boomstick a few months later…and then stole his finger wag. Pilfering another player’s trademark taunt is next-level diabolical.

Chris Dudley’s C.O.D. (1999)

Never forget that Shaquille O’Neal once murdered a used Sea-Doo salesman.

Stevie Franchise Lights Up Troy Hudson (2000)

There’s smoking someone off the dribble. There’s using a real, live, feeling human as your own personal plaything. And then there’s whatever the heck Steve Francis did to Troy Hudson.

Count how many times Francis could have put Hudson out of his misery. You’ll get three or four—and maybe five if you include the beat Stevie Franchise takes to stop mid-evisceration and speak with the ref.

Iverson Steps Over Lue (2001)

Allen Iverson‘s notorious stepover is more belligerent in memory than actuality. Tyronn Lue was legitimately in his way.

And yet, Iverson could have walked around him. Instead, he emphatically stepped over him, as if he too wasn’t 6’0″ and slight of frame. 

Perhaps this play isn’t as iconic if it takes place in December rather than the NBA Finals. Whatever. Iverson gifted us one of the most timeless meme templates in history. 

Old MJ Destroys A Youth (2002)

Imagine being a 25-year-old NBA player. You’re on the Chicago Bulls. You’re making seven figures. Half of your career should be in front of you.

Life is good. You are charmed.

And then, soon-to-be 39-year-old Michael Jordan back-in-my-day’s your transition layup on the backboard. 

Tough break for 2001-02 Ron Mercer.

J-Rich’s Off-The-Boozer Three (2003)

Sophomore-on-rookie crime!

Jason Richardson is lucky he splashed in this triple. Because if you’re going to jack up a showboaty, off-the-heezy, off-the-Boozer three inside 10 seconds to play while up 17 in a game that doesn’t matter, you better make it.

CP3 Yams On D12 (2006)

Chris Paul has a habit of slow-roasting bigs off the dribble, but this is a different genre of sassy. 

He didn’t pull up for a long two. He didn’t even try finessing a layup. He went for the kill and got it against an eventual three-time Defensive Player of the Year who had almost a foot on him. 

Young CP3 showed no mercy, kind of like prime CP3, and also like present-day CP3, and definitely like tomorrow’s CP3.

Big Ben Makes Shaq Look Little (2006)

What happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object? 

Ben Wallace wins.

Shaq was 34 when Big Ben gobbled up this dunk attempt, but that makes it even worse. Wallace never took his hand off the ball. He brought Shaq to the ground with the force of his open palm.

This wasn’t a block. It was a full-on consumption.

Nate Does Yao Dirty (2007)

Didn’t anyone ever tell Nate Robinson that people over 7’5″ are inherently self-conscious about being reverse baptized by swole garden gnomes?

D-Wade Ends Varejao (2009)

Before Dwyane Wade officially joined forces with LeBron James, he casually ended one of his favorite teammates. His decision to nonchalantly step over Anderson Varejao is an underrated middle-finger moment and definitely* one of the reasons LeBron heel-turned his way out of Miami in 2014.


Blake Christens Timo (2010)

Blake Griffin had every right to fly above Timofey Mozgov for a demonstrative slam.

Using Timo’s face as an armrest and thunder-smacking him into the Carmelo Anthony trade? That was a little excessive.

LeBron Leapfrogs Lucas (2012)

Hopping over humans is the most blatant, unfeeling brand of disrespect.

John Lucas III should still be livid with LeBron for clearing his 5’11” frame like a hurdle and then staring at him as if to say, “Doesn’t this thing go any higher?”

Blake Ends Pau…Twice (2012)

Blake did little more than stare at Pau Gasol after posterizing him. But, like, he immortally freeze-framed him twice.

On his second throwdown, Griffin finished with such force that the 7’0″, 250-pound Gasol went flying across the floor, nearly detaching DeAndre Jordan’s left leg from the rest of his body in the process. 

Watch Andrew Bynum’s face at the end of jam No. 2. It tells the whole story. 

Frustrated and Unapologetic? That’s Amar’e (2012)

Bowling over Shane Battier is not a heinous farce. Nor is feigning an offer to help him up only to pull away. It is the act of doing both that gets Amar’e Stoudemire the nod.

Nine-pinning Battier to the ground should have been enough. It is not as if Stoudemire was protesting a whistle he deemed unjust. He didn’t argue the call. He turned around airily, in resigned agreement.

And then faked out Battier. 

To this day, I cannot decide whether I’m more impressed or confused by STAT’s elementary school bluff.

Crawford’s Nutmeg Amid Blowout (2012)

Jamal Crawford’s hocus-pocus handles would have him scattered throughout this exercise if he were not so darn well-mannered. 

Even here, the pageantry is in the tactic, not Crawford’s reaction. He nutmegged Nando de Colo offhandedly, without hint of passion or pomp. 

At the same time, Jeff Van Gundy’s commentary of the possession is relatable. The Los Angeles Clippers were up on the San Antonio Spurs by 20 inside 30 seconds to play. Cruel intentions are implied when garbage time becomes theatre. 

This is Crawford, however unknowingly, at his evilest. (In a fun way.) 

Kyrie Brings Brandon Knight To His Butt (2013)

Trying this hard in the Rising Stars Challenge breaks all sorts of unspoken rules. To Brandon Knight’s credit, though, he exacted some iota of revenge on the next play, sticking an off-the-glass three over Kyrie Irving.

DJ Dunks Knight Into The Next Life (2013)

Kudos to Knight for contesting this savagery, but he’d have been better served fleeing the scene. DeAndre Jordan damn near erased him from existence. 

It also came close to ending Clippers head coach Vinny Del Negro, who needed to prevent Griffin from rushing the court and informing Knight that his Wikipedia page was about to undergo a bunch of inaccurate updates.

Between Kyrie’s Rising Star shenanigans and DeAndre’s smackdown, 2013 was a rough year for Knight. 

Steph Abuses The Clippers (2015)

Evading four defenders with controlled recklessness is whatever—particularly by Curry’s standards. Cherry-topping the spectacle with an impromptu, somehow effortless turnaround three is some dark magic.

Spencer Hawes’ man bun never quite looked the same after being windswept by Curry’s water-wiggly escape tactics. Not even Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr could believe it. Granted, this was earlier in the “Steph becomes Hogwarts Headmaster” transformation. Mark Jackson, his former coach, hadn’t yet accused him of ruining the game.

Still, more than four years later, Kerr’s reaction still holds. No one who respects the defense in front of him attempts this shot. Curry’s self-governing green light is profane.

Curry Predicts The Future (2016)

Curry has done some variation of this more than a few times. His mockery of the Sacramento Kings stands out because he first tossed a ridiculous no-look pass before running into the corner for his usual troll job.

Steph Gonna Over-Steph (2016)

Stephen Curry range is a thing for which we must account. This is something else.

This is him pulling up just inside half-court with about three seconds left in overtime of a tie game. 

This, and his hips-don’t-lie dance afterward, is him spitting in the face of convention.

This is…the moment Kevin Durant had to know* he needed to leave Oklahoma City for Golden State lest he end up retiring with bare-naked fingers.

*Probably not, but let’s roll with it.

Giannis Gobsmacks Gobert (2017)

They really voted this man Defensive Player of the Year,“ Giannis Antetokounmpo will tell his grandchildren, 30 to 40 years from now, while showing them highlights from his heyday.

Dirk Adopts IT (2018)

DALLAS, TX - FEBRUARY 10: Dirk Nowitzki #41 of the Dallas Mavericks sets a screen on Isaiah Thomas #7 of the Los Angeles Lakers in the second half at American Airlines Center on February 10, 2018 in Dallas, Texas. The Mavericks won 130-123. (Photo by Ron

Ron Jenkins/Getty Images

Dirk Nowitzki looks like he’s telling Isaiah Thomas that he’s no longer allowed to watch TV after dinner on school nights. A more patronizing screen has never been set. 

Giannis Uses THJ As A Prop (2018)

The laws of soaring over actual people demand this be included, but Antetokounmpo’s clearance of Tim Hardaway Jr. is not the most impolite thing happening here. Antetokounmpo’s indifference following liftoff earns that honor.

In some ways, the absence of celebration or any acknowledgement whatsoever is the peaceful play. In others, it’s worse than what LeBron did to Lucas. 

At least if Antetokounmpo roared, flexed or stared at Hardaway it would imply this isn’t an every-night occurrence. But he just turned around and jogged back down the court, as if pogo-sticking over 6’6″ NBA players is nothing special and THJ shouldn’t be granted time to mourn over the shambles of his shattered soul.

Harden Memes Wesley Johnson (2018)

Just how long did Harden put Wesley Johnson on the ground for?

Long enough to wet his lips:

And for seasons to change: 

Wes and Ricky really need to start a support group for those fatally embarrassed by Harden’s, ahem, traveling step-back circus. (I might actually be sorry.)

CP3 Gives Steph His Own Medicine (2018)

They say imitation is the highest form of flattery, but Chris Paul hitting a very Stephen Curry three-pointer over Stephen Curry and then celebrating in Curry style right in front of Steph’s face is so petty and extra and flat-out wonderful.

Super Mario AI’s Giannis (2018)

Mario Hezonja AI’d Antetokounmpo back in December, and it was equal parts uncalled for, random and amazing. This is akin to Mark Madsen stepping over Iverson during the 2001 Finals. 

“Oh yeah, I’m going to punch him in the [groin] next time,” Antetokounmpo said when asked about Hezonja’s surge of bravado following his only basket of the game, per USA Today‘s Matt Eppers.

Antetokounmpo later apologized, sort of, because he’s a stand-up guy. Or because he remembered that Hezonja is maybe a top-250 player whom he eventually smoked at the rim that same quarter.

Unless otherwise noted, stats courtesy of, Cleaning the Glass or Basketball Reference.

Dan Favale covers the NBA for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter (@danfavale) and listen to his Hardwood Knocks podcast, co-hosted by Bleacher Report’s Andrew Bailey. 

NBA News

via Bleacher Report – NBA

April 21, 2019 at 04:06AM


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