NBA fans know that trash-talking is part of the culture and a way of life within the sport. What would the game be like if there was no trash-talking?
But who are the players who would just get under their opponent’s skin? Names like Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant come to mind, but a few other players like Kevin Garnett took trash talk to another level.
We have to start this list with the king of NBA trash talk, and that’s Garnett. He not only trash-talked opponents, but he could also be downright mean to a guy who was guarding him.
Garnett allegedly called Charlie Villanueva a cancer patient. He later tried to clarify that quote by saying he didn’t say Villanueva was a cancer patient but rather a cancer to his team. Either way, yikes!
But one of Garnett’s most famous taunts was about Carmelo Anthony’s wife, La La. He allegedly said that she tasted like Honey Nut Cheerios.
Apparently, Garnett would say anything to get an edge over another player, even if it was crude or cruel.
It seemed as if Bird’s mission was to tick off his opponents. He would let an opponent know he was going to make a shot over them, and he also liked taunting opponents by reminding them how many points he had compared to them.
As the story goes, he once did that to Julius “Dr. J” Erving, and the Doc didn’t take too kindly to it. In fact, they got into a fight.
Interesting enough, the two are now friends off the court.
Kobe’s trash talk wasn’t as nasty as Garnett’s, but it was more about proving a point and shutting a guy up, which he did a lot in his career.
Kobe would trash-talk not only opponents but also fans, celebrities, and even politicians.
But his best work probably came against his opponents. According to Complex Sports, he once told Kyrie Irving he couldn’t guard him.
“You really think you can beat me 1-on-1? Are you crazy?” Bryant told Irving.
“You’re not going to lock me down!” Irving said.
“Easy money!” Kobe said later before telling him that he was “about the same size” as rapper Bow Wow. “Easy money! Easy money! Easy money!”
Most of the time Kobe talked trash, he’d back it up.
If you were an opponent, you did not want to trash-talk Jordan. As seen in the docuseries The Last Dance, MJ would take almost anything personally.
So, if you were going to trash-talk Jordan, you better back it up, or he would probably torch you. Jordan is extremely competitive and was always looking for an edge. If he found one, look out!
Per Vulture, there are stories of Jordan trash-talking Muggsy Bogues one time and effectively ending his career.
Jordan allegedly called Bogues (who is 5’3”) a “midget” in a 1995 playoff game, which messed with his head.
MJ, along with the rest of these players, was a skilled trash-talker. if you weren’t able to compete on his level, he’d let you know it.