Top 10 Personalities in NBA History
Top 20 NBA Personalities of All Time
In recent years, the NBA has really promoted the drama that unfolds in the playoffs and even in the latter part of the regular season, but it's not a new concept. The most popular professional basketball league in the world revolves around larger-than-life personalities and always has. There are a few who would still watch the game religiously without these flamboyant, unique and -- in some cases -- bizarre individuals, but c'mon, you can't tell me you don't crack up listening to Charles Barkley attempt to talk (we'll get to that, don't worry).
But Chuck isn't the only one. From Kobe to Shaq and back again, the NBA has always featured some guys who just make you shake your head almost constantly at the things they say and do. What's really cool is the NBA is great at keeping these funny and/or awkward characters around after they're done playing and we'll elaborate on that shortly. If you pay for cable or satellite TV, then you get to see and hear these entertaining ballers interact with one another on a nightly basis during the regular season and then things get turned up a notch during the postseason. Put simply, we wouldn't have it any other way.
But wow's the best of the best? There are plenty of personalities from which to choose, but we've narrowed it down the top 10. It wasn't easy, and you'll be glad we took the time. Enjoy!
10. Dwight Howard
Dwight Howard's most recent drama queen saga regarding his free agency was a drastic turning point in a career that once saw the Big Headache as the most likable player in the NBA. He was a superstar who was also a goofball, a more mild version of Shaq, although not nearly as popular. However, Howard's goofiness quickly turned to an ego the size of Houston, where he finally signed after stringing along the entire basketball world for a week when he knew all along where he was going to sign.
Of course, we must also reflect the good memories from Howard's career in Orlando, including his Superman cape in the dunk contest and his hilarious impersonations of then-Magic coach Stan Van Gundy.
Sigh…if only the funny, nice Dwight was still around. Wishful thinking.
9. Rasheed Wallace
The bald spot. That bald spot on the back of Sheed's head has provided more laughs than anything he's ever said or done. Of course, it's not like you can understand him when he talks, but his high-pitched voice forces you to laugh, especially when he would throw a tantrum over nothing and get called for a ridiculous technical foul.
At one point in his career, Wallace was a superb player, but he always thought he was a lot better than he really was but fortunately (or unfortunately, depending on your point of view) he always stayed in the spotlight because of his simply bizarre behavior.
8. Allen Iverson
Everybody remembers the "we talkin' 'bout practice" press conference from Iverson, who once had his own shoe line at the height of his popularity. In fact, Iverson was so popular after his reign as a perennial All-Star that he was voted as a starter in the glorified exhibition during a season in which he played only 28 games for two different teams!
However, Iverson's ego was (is) larger than most players' in the NBA despite his small stature. His free-agent offers in the summer of 2009 were minimal because he refused to come off the bench, thinking he was too good for that. Now he'll always be remembers as the player with a ton of talent and potential who was too big for his britches. But at least he left some memorable moments for us to remember his head-shaking behavior.
7. Michael Jordan
His Airness could trash talk with the best of them and the greatest moments of MJ's career could be made into a feature film. From shooting a free three with his eyes closed and mocking Dikembe Mutombo to the shrug and his minor-league baseball stint, Jordan's personality almost match his talent, and that's saying something.
Of course, many of MJ's memorable moments came after his plethora of retirements and most notably his Hall of Fame induction speech, during which he made every viewer/listener's skin crawl. If you haven't seen it, you need to know this side of the greatest player ever to touch a basketball:
6. Kobe Bryant
Kobe's personality is unique because he was caught in between the eras of cool and goofy, so you never know how he's going to act. Sometimes he's Mr. Cool who never does anything that would be considered light-hearted. Example: making an incredible shot and then winking at the camera with a straight face.
Then he does things like introducing the starting lineups for the Western Conference All-Stars on television and concluding the performance by calling himself the Black Mamba in his best Dark Knight Batman voice. Weird, huh?
Of course, his insane manner of overbearing team (teammates and coaches included) has probably prevented him from winning seven or eight titles instead of five, but he's too hard-headed to realize that.
5. Metta World Peace (Ron Artest)
If a dude changes his name to Metta World Peace, you know he's on this list! Ron-Ron once began The Brawl at the Palace of Auburn Hills by climbing into the stands and beating up a fan and then somehow found his way to Phil Jackson's Lakers and won a title, after which he provided the greatest post game press conference of all time:
“[Kobe] passed me the ball. He never passes me the ball. And I shot a three. And Phil [Jackson] didn’t want me to shoot a three. I heard him because he’s the Zen master. He can speak to you and you can hear him in your head: ‘Ron, don’t shoot, don’t shoot,’ but I said ‘whatever.’ ”
4. Charles Barkley
If you haven't seen comedian Aeries Spears' impersonation of Charles Barkley, look it up right and you'll see exactly why Chuck has one of the best personalities on NBA history. He's on television as an analyst, but he can't talk correctly to save his life, and we're not talking about the way he says "turrible." In the words of Spears, it's like Sir Charles' mind and mouth are playing marco polo in two different pools.
Chucks' greatest moments came from his playing days, though. He got into fights and was proud of it. He threw a man threw a window in "self defense" during a bar fight and then told kids not to look up to him because he's "not a role model."
Of course, as good as he's getting in commercials and his analyst role, Chuck is providing us with great entertainment now as well and he's only 50, so if he lays off the doughnuts, he should be around to keep it up for a long time to come.
3. Dirk Nowitzki
Most fans outside of the Dallas area are unaware of Dirk's incredibly entertaining personality. He's the ultimate prankster and his dry, sarcastic sense of humor keeps sports talk show hosts and their listeners rolling on a daily basis in the DFW.
A perfect example of Nowitzki's quiet wit came when he faked a flop (I know, that's an oxymoron) in a celebrity soccer match in Germany. Yes, we have the video below so you can laugh along with us:
2. Dennis Rodman
Dennis Rodman's nightly choice of hair color would be enough to land him on this list, but throw in all the whacky stuff he says and his dress -- for which there's no word or series of words to describe -- and you've got one of the greatest personalities in the history of all sports, but especially the NBA. The man dressed in drag, kicked a cameraman and head-butted a referee during his odd NBA career, but he was also one heck of a rebounder and has five rings to show for it.
1. Shaquille O'Neal
If Shaq could be higher than No. 1 on this list, he would. His personality is even bigger than his gigantic frame, which plagued opposing NBA teams for his entire career. The Diesel played a genie in Kazaam and has made several appearances in movies, comedy shows and other entertaining pieces and now that he's done playing basketball, we should see a lot more of those.
Shaq's feud with Kobe was priceless, mainly because of the things he said to and about Kobe, but that wasn't as good as his press conferences, which should have required the captioned words and a bouncing ball, according to comedian Aeries Spears.
Shaq has rapped and talked to the media as "mortals" when he was high on his Superman nickname. Oh, and that's arguably the best part about Shaq -- the guy has more nicknames than most people have relatives that they can name…and they're all funny!
There will never be another Shaq. Period.