The Unmanageables

Professional athletes are hard to deal with. Many have been coddled their entire careers, having worked their talent to the point where they can get anything as long as they can still get buckets – as Charles Barkley once said “As long as I led the Southeastern Conference in scoring, my grades would be fine.” Just the same, this kind of mollycoddling has led to some impossibly unmanagable personalities dominating the game.
So we at BALLnROLL thought – what if we assembled a team of these misfits? An All-Star team of the worst dressing room cancers. Guaranteed to lose 50+ games despite incredible talent.  A poor shot decision-making, ball-hogging, fan-fighting, victim-complexing, lineup that’s sure to have fans cringing, and neutrals enraptured.

With that, we introduce to you, the BALLnROLL All Time Unmanagable Team.

Point Guard: Gilbert Arenas
This was a more difficult category than most to pick. Should we have gone for famous ballhog Stephon Marbury’s self-destruction during the 07-08 season, and subsequent public breakdown? Maybe. Did Allen Iverson’s refusal to practice give us a moment of thought? Yeah. It definitely did. But then we remembered that Gilbert Arenas brought a gun into the dressing rooms at Washington, which is some kind of new record for stupid. Then we learned it was to settle gambling debts, which is like some kind of ridiculous double up situation. Also, he had no license to own a handgun.

Let’s reiterate. Agent Zero brought a gun to work. That is absolutely unacceptable in a real job, nevermind one where you’re paid $18.5 million a year to play basketball, be a role model to the children in Washington (a gun crime capital to this day), and not bring a gun to work. Some contracts have special clauses in them. For instance, Kellen Winslow II’s contract with the Cleveland Browns explicitly forbade motorcycle riding. You know what most contracts shouldn’t have to include? Will not bring a gun to work.

To top it all off, Arenas didn’t seem to show much remorse about the whole situation, laughing it off with his teammates in a pretty poorly thought out pre-game huddle. As a kicker, Orlando is still paying him $22 million each year until the end of the 2013-2014 season.

Shooting Guard: Latrell Sprewell

Golden State and Seattle fans may have wanted to strangle P.J Carlesimo, but Sprewell actually did it.

A talented swingman, with respectable 45-35-85 season splits before the incident, Sprewell was emerging as a leader on the mid-90s Golden State Warriors, picking up the load as Chris Mullin slowed down as he entered his late career. In fact, Spre would lead the Warriors in scoring in every year except his first and his last.

Then he choked his head coach at practice. Carlesimo later admitted that he and Sprewell didn’t have a “great” relationship, but didn’t consider it a bad relationship by any means. Sprewell himself was kind of pensive afterwards. “It wasn’t a choke. I grabbed him,” he told ESPN. Other Warriors players reported Spre told Carlesimo “I’ll kill you,” beforehand, so Spre’s story doesn’t exactly hold up.

The Warriors terminated his contract, and the New York Knicks – the NBA’s island of misfit toys – picked him up for a song, and rode him all the way to the 99 Finals. After that, he was traded to the Timberwolves, where he eventually refused a $21 million extension, citing that he had “kids to feed.” Hungry kids. Spre hasn’t been in the league since.

Small Forward: Ron Artest

We’ve set the bar for unmanagability pretty high with our guard selection. Don’t worry, we’re continuing to aim high, with our pick at small forward – Ron Artest. That’s right – not Metta World Peace. Ron Artest. We’re not picking the Metta of today – we’re picking the elbow throwing, Cognac sipping, dressing room cancer of yesteryear. The same one that got banned for almost an entire season for deciding he needed to fight a fan.

Before we get into Malice at the Palace, which is a pretty big deal in and of itself, we’ll go back to Ron Artest’s rookie year at Chicago, where he admitted he used to drink Hennessy at halftime, which is frankly, ridiculous, when you consider he was putting up 12-and-4 most of that year. Let’s also remind you that Ron applied for a job at Circuit City that same year, because he wanted an employee discount, which is fair until you consider he was pulling down NBA money, which ought to be enough for as many TVs as you want.

And of course, there’s the entirety of Malice at the Palace, which pretty much caused a finals-bound Indiana Pacers team to completely implode. Compounded by this was Ron’s seemingly gleeful lack of remorse. According to Jalen Rose, Artest has still yet to formally thank Stephen Jackson for charging into the stands with him.

At least we got a decent rap album out of it.

Power Forward: Dennis Rodman
First thing’s first. We’ve got to be clear, we’re not picking the wedding-dress wearing, gay-clubbing, neon-haired, everything-pierced power forward of the 72-win Chicago Bulls. Despite what we wanted to think, that was Rodman being under control. That was Rodman being a steady and responsible contributor to the team. We’re getting the elbow-throwing bad boy of the early 1990s Detroit Pistons.

You see, this was when Rodman was at his locker room cancer-est. Chuck Daly, widely regarded as one of the only men who could manage that locker room full of mean mofos, resigned in 1992. This was a dressing room full of people like Isiah Thomas, Joe Dumars, and Bill Laimbeer. Mean dudes. But Rodman – the awkward rebounder from Oak Cliff, Texas – he would be one of the most unmanagable. After Daly’s resignation, Rodman skipped the entirety of training camp for the 92-93 year. Despite the Pistons winning only 40 games that year, Rodman still pulled down 18 boards per game over the season. Impressive, until you remember Rodman loved to steal rebounds right out of the hands of his own teammates. Nobody else on the Pistons that year averaged more than 6 rebounds per game. Olden Polynice would jump from 6 RPG to 12 once Rodman left.

The darkest days happened when Rodman was found asleep in his car at the Palace with a loaded gun – an apparently aborted suicide attempt. Rodman would get shipped to San Antonio, where he’d discover the real him.

Center: Rasheed Wallace
We’re going for a small ball lineup with the 6’11 Rasheed Wallace. The walking technical foul, Rasheed Wallace brings inside scoring, shot blocking, and a good two way presence to our all-unmanagable team. He also brings a prejudice from refs. Rasheed Wallace remains one of the only players to ever receive a technical foul for staring down a ref.

Disgraced ref Tim Donaghy admitted officiating teams would look out for Sheed, as they knew he was aware of the biased calls they make, and would call them out on it. Nice. But that doesn’t quite explain the time that Sheed confronted a ref in a parking lot after a game in 2003. The idea of confronting an angry Rasheed Wallace in an arena, with all those witnesses is intimidating enough. Now imagine doing it outside the Rose Garden on a cold, dark night in January.

Don’t think Sheed has calmed down with age though either – as recently as 2012, someone was shopping around a video of Rasheed fighting a fan in a parking lot in White Plains, New York – which is the most New York Knicks thing that has possibly ever happened to the New York Knicks. Sign aging, decrepit superstar who fails to contribute, and goes on to fight a fan in a bedroom community.

Sixth Man: Stephon Marbury
We’re going to need someone to lead the second shift on our team of Unmanagables. Someone whose ego is able to handle coming off the bench. Someone who is alright with playing 35 minutes one night, and 16 the next. A responsible, mature veteran, who can set an example for the younger players, and get them involved in the play. That’s why we’ve picked Stephon Marbury.

In basketball, there are good ballhogs, and there are bad ballhogs. When Kobe demands the ball, that’s him being a good ballhog, because there’s no way Jodie Meeks was sinking that jumper from 15 feet. Stephon Marbury demanding the ball despite shooting 20% from the field, is him being an appalling ballhog.

Despite being one of the stars of a nascent superpower in the late 90’s Timberwolves with KG, Starbury demanded a trade again and again, until he wound up in New York. After finally being benched by Mike D’Antoni, Marbury refused to come off the bench, and was subsequently banned from attending games or even practices, because of his toxic attitude. He then immediately bought courtside tickets for the next game, just to be a total dick about it. When the Knicks finally cut him loose, New York fans could see him in his natural habitat – webcamming his life live over, where he danced for the camera, sang kareoke alone and ate Vaseline. Seriously. It’s on YouTube.

Marbury has finally sort of found his niche though, playing in the Chinese Basketball Association, where nobody faults him for taking like 80 shots a game. Because seriously, it’s the CBA.

Coach: Isiah Thomas

There was no other choice here. This is a man who once drafted Reynaldo Balkman when Rajon Rondo was still available, instigated the Nuggets-Knicks punchout, and offered Jared Jeffries a $30 million contract. Zeke, as Manager of Basketball Operations at MSG, hired Larry Brown, then fired him after just two years, replacing him with himself. Then he managed to be both sexist and racist to member of MSG’s executive board, which set the Knicks back $12 million, all on the way to putting together a 56-108 record. For being a complete disaster, there couldn’t be a better choice than Isiah Thomas.

Thanks for sticking with BALLnROLL as we ran down the list of the worst, most undisciplined players in the NBA. Honourable mentions go to Allen Iverson for his well-publicized attitudes towards practice, Kermit Washington for cold cocking Rudy Tomjanovich, Michael Ray Richardson trying to solve New York’s drug problem by doing all of them himself, and Delonte West for his extended teammate bonding exercises with LeBron’s mom. 


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