Top 10 Dirtiest Players in NBA History
These 10 guys don’t just play rough. They play dirty.
HoopsVibe’s Very Quick Call: These are the guys known for cheap shots, elbows to the face, and intentionally tripping you when no one’s looking.
#10 Dennis Rodman
Rodman is a physical elbow throwing type of player. He does most of his damage down under the hoop where it doesn’t always get called. He doesn’t have as many of the truly landmark fights and punch throwing incidents as some of the other players on this list, but kicking a cameraman is one of his highlights. He’s simply a play-after-play elbow in the gut type of guy.
#9 Kurt Thomas
Thomas is a less talented version of Rodman. He’s been called an enforcer on the court, a thug, a heavy, and a dirty player. Usually, Thomas is regarded as simply a physical player that doesn’t mind mixing it up. If you drive the lane expect Thomas to put his body on you, especially if it’s playoff time. No easy buckets when he’s in the paint.
#8 Larry Bird
Bird wasn’t the fastest guy on the court, but he always seemed to get open for his shot and grab the rebound. This was partially because he was also one of the dirtiest players of his time and known for all the little tricks of the trade like illegal screens. Never afraid to mix it up, Bird’s most memorable fight was the one he lost when Dr. J punched him repeatedly in the face, although in Bird’s defense he was in a headlock from behind by another 76ers player. There is no honor in an NBA fight my friends. Here’s the video clip to prove it below.
#7 Kevin Garnett
Garnett is regarded as not only a dirty player, but also one of the meanest trash talkers ever. He’s been overheard trash talking about players’ parents that have cancer and their children. Although everyone wants to gain every advantage during a game, Garnett is known as a player that crosses the line. His elbows have cracked just about every big man in the game and he has a running feud with Tim Duncan who is regarded as possibly the kindest and gentlest power forward ever. He’s had fights with Amare Stoudemire, Tim Duncan, Bill Walker, Quentin Richardson and many more. Below is a collection of Garnett’s fights and cheap shots.
#6 Latrell Sprewell
He choked his own coach, P.J. Carlesimo and received a 68 game suspension. Need we say more?
#5 Christian Laettner
His NBA career wasn’t as glamorous as his storied run in college at Duke, but he was still known as one of the dirtiest players in the league. Here’s a video of him stepping on an opponent and an interview of him admitting he did it intentionally.
#5 John Stockton
Stockton was the ninja of dirty play. Stockton got away with filthy dirty plays for years. He was the king of the illegal pick and the off-the-ball elbow. Stockton looked like such a choir boy that he got away with it for years. Yet, ask anyone that played in the NBA while Stockton was there and they’ll tell you just how dirty this guy was.
#4 Bruce Bowen
Bowen is the sneaky dirty player that’s confused why you’re mad after he breaks your ankle. He’ll step on you, undercut you, and put his foot where you’re about to land so you twist your ankle. He knows all the playground moves that are sure to start a fight playing streetball. Renown throughout the league as a dirty player, Bowen continues to maintain his innocence. He’s also king of the quick apology after doing his dirt.
#3 Bill Laimbeer
Laimbeer is a no brainer for this list. He might have gotten into more fights in the NBA than any other player in its’ history. He punched a number of players and would probably be suspended indefinitely by today’s standards. Laimbeer was that rare combination of dirty player throughout the game and willing to escalate the dirty antics into full on fight. His list of fights includes punching Charles Barkley, Brad Daugherty, and many many others.
#2 Kermit Washington
Washington ranks #2 on this list for the absolute devastation of his violent act. In 1977 Washington punched Rudy Tomjanovich who was rushing in to break up a skirmish during the Lakers vs. Rockets game and was clobbered in the face by Washington. Kareem Abdul-Jabber said Tomjanovich’s head sounded like a “melon hitting the floor.” The punch nearly killed Tomjanovich according to doctors and ended his basketball career. The punch fractured Tomjanovich’s face and left him unconscious on the ground in a pool of blood with a broken jaw, nose and leaking spinal fluid.
#1 Metta World Peace
World Peace takes the top spot on our list both for his ferocity of violence and his multiple incidents. It all began with the “Malice in the Palace” that resulted in World Peace (Ron Artest) attacking a fan in the stands. Then of course was the infamous elbow to James Harden last year. This is a player with a proven track record not just for playing physical and dirty. This is a player with a track record of going volcanic on opponents and fans. He is the most highly penalized player in NBA history.
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