NBA's Greatest Trash-Talkers
Trash talk happens in just about every sport, but basketball takes trash-talking to a whole new level of intensity.
Something about the physical nature of the game, the proximity to the opponent and the crowd, and the constant one-on-one battles causes players to do whatever they can to get in an opponent’s head.
For the most part, trash talk remains on the court, so fans only get a few glimpses of it, along with anecdotal evidence and stories passed down over the years.
But throughout the history of the NBA, there have been some incredible smack-talkers. These are the best.
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60. Kristaps Porzingis
The "Unicorn" grew up a massive NBA fan in Latvia and learned that the art of trash-talking was a key to survival in the NBA. So he worked on his smack talk game as a young player.
Instead of just pure insults, he figured it would be better to find very specific things to say about his opponents.
"You can be more intelligent and try to get some painful spots in that guy’s personal life," said Porzingis.
And he's not afraid to mix it up with anyone. Like when he went jaw to jaw with Draymond Green.
59. Ja Morant
Ja Morant is a future star in the NBA, and his confidence has never been in question.
He’ll dunk over anyone in his way.
And he’ll also drain an open three.
Then, he'll get mad that you left him so wide open.
"Tell that motherf---er about me!" he once yelled at James Harden.
58. Luka Doncic
Luka Doncic has taken the league by storm in his first few years.
Despite being 19 in his rookie season, he was a veteran professional player in the Spanish league. Nothing intimidates him, so when opponents try and get in his head he usually has a quick response.
And it’s often about how much he’s been dominating them that game.
"Thirty-four in three quarters," he let Shaq Harrison know.
The truth hurts.
57. Dirk Nowitzki
One of the most beloved and jovial players in NBA history, Dirk Nowitzki didn’t often try to incite fights with his trash-talking.
Instead, he would use it to make people more comfortable around him.
He used to let new teammates know that they were part of the group by throwing a few one-liners their way.
"You should learn Chinese because you’ll be in China soon," he would say to them after a bad game.
Whatever it takes to motivate.
56. Isiah Thomas
Don't his diminutive stature fool you.
Isiah Thomas might have been known as the quiet one on the famous Detroit Pistons "Bad Boys" teams of the 1980s, but the 6-foot-1 point guard wasn’t afraid of anyone.
He would throw punches at much bigger opponents and refused to back down despite being much smaller than the rest of the NBA.
Thomas once explained his combative nature after punching Bill Cartwright.
"I’ve had to fight for everything I’ve gotten in life. Sometimes you have to [fight]."
55. Raja Bell
Raja Bell was an old-school NBA tough guy.
In fact, he was often more noted for his ability to tussle with opponents than for anything he brought offensively.
He famously clotheslined Kobe Bryant during the 2006 playoffs, and the two had plenty of beef during their playing days.
The feud died down after both retired, but Bell said a few years ago that he really did harbor animosity toward Kobe at the time.
"I genuinely hated the cat."
Gotta respect honesty.
54. J.R. Smith
J.R. Smith started his career as an insanely talented player who may have enjoyed the nightclub scene a little too much.
But once he was traded to the Cavaliers, he became a key piece of the championship puzzle around LeBron James (provided he knew what the score was).
A quirky guy, he had a weird habit of untying opponents’ shoes at the free-throw line.
He also didn’t make any friends on the Warriors during those championship series, with special vigor reserved for Draymond Green.
"Dirtying up the game? I don't know about that," Smith said. "They got one guy who keeps kicking people in the nuts."
Now, that's what you call a word-Smith.
53. Richard Jefferson
Richard Jefferson was one of the most media-savvy players during his career.
And his podcast featured all kinds of fellow stars during his playing days.
So he’s got many stories involving trash-talking,
But he’s also willing to dish out some trash-talking advice to current players, like he did for opponents of the 2019 Boston Celtics.
"I can’t believe they’re talking about trading you," Jefferson said of Jayson Tatum, Terry Rozier and Marcus Smart.
Jefferson reminds us that basketball is not just a physical game.
52. Jeremy Lin
"Linsanity" was a short-lived phenomenon with the New York Knicks, but Jeremy Lin himself carved out a solid and long-lasting NBA career.
He overcame a lot of doubters throughout his career, and his fearlessness allowed him to achieve much more than expected.
He even took on his teammate, the great Kobe Bryant, in a heated trash-talk battle one time.
“Kobe, you know, I’m not scared of you, man. Only person I’m scared of is God.”
51. Steph Curry
Steph Curry changed the game of basketball with his 3-point shooting ability and led the Warriors to three NBA titles.
He’s also known as a generally "good dude" in the game.
But he's an undercover savage.
And he will let you know when he’s on fire.
"This is my f---ing house!"
50. LeBron James
Many argue that LeBron James is the best NBA player ever, but that debate is for another list.
He likes to pull out some trash talk on opponents.
Though he might pale in comparison to the other greatest players ever like Kobe and MJ, The King is no slouch with his verbals.
"You tried. I blocked it," he once told Evan Turner.
A tough but fair grader.
49. Kyrie Irving
Kyrie Irving has left a trail of hurt feelings in his wake across the NBA, mostly from players on his own team.
But he’s also vicious toward opponents, too.
He’s indiscriminate about who he chooses, taking on one of the trash-talking GOATs, Kobe Bryant, when Irving was a 20-year-old.
"You’re not gonna lock me up!"
Can you say fearless?
48. Blake Griffin
Blake Griffin dabbles in stand-up comedy, improv, and sketch comedy in his free time.
So it’s sometimes easy to forget what a fierce competitor he is on the court.
But Griffin doesn’t back down from any challenges.
Just look at that time he got ejected for yelling at the Hawks bench after hitting a 3-pointer.
The referee's explanation said everything you need to know. "After his 3-point basket, Blake yells in a taunting manner at the Atlanta bench, using vulgarity."
47. Kenyon Martin
"K-Mart" was a brash, smack-talking, alley-ooping machine for the New Jersey Nets, Denver Nuggets and New York Knicks.
The former No. 1 overall pick didn’t stop trash-talking when he retired from the NBA.
He brought his combative ways to the Big 3 league as well.
"Put your money where your mouth is, Oak!" he called out to former NBA player Charles Oakley, now a Big 3 coach, challenging him to a game of one-on-one.
46. Jermaine O'Neal
A key figure in the "Malice in the Palace," Jermaine O’Neal displayed a toughness and fighting spirit throughout his NBA career.
He didn’t really mellow out late in his career either.
Who could forget his altercation with Blake Griffin in 2014?
“Man, I’m a monster off the court," O'Neal said.
45. Isaiah Thomas
Being significantly smaller than the rest of the NBA, Isaiah Thomas has had to use his skills, speed and toughness to carve out a successful career.
That same attitude that made him a star also drives him to let his opponents know exactly how he feels about them.
Thomas says he learned how to trash talk from one of the greatest talkers of all time.
“I looked up to Gary Payton. I feel like I got my trash-talking from him.”
44. John Wall
Similar to Damian Lillard, John Wall plies his craft in relative anonymity during the regular season playing for the Wizards.
But in the playoffs, the rest of the nation gets to see his electrifying play.
And they get to experience his competitive fire and trash-talking skills, too.
“The f**k is wrong with you, boy?!”
43. Stephen Jackson
If you played a major role in the "Malice in the Palace," then you probably belong on this list.
Stephen Jackson is as well remembered for his aggressive and tough nature as he is for his scoring ability.
Like many guys on this list, he didn’t leave the trash-talking behind when he retired from the NBA.
Jackson had a few choice words for Kevin Durant after he created fake social media accounts to defend himself against trolls.
"Kevin Durant, I look at you now like I look at everybody else on Twitter and Instagram that has a little egg avatar ... He’s a egg avatar now. I have no respect for him. Don’t do that."
42. Dennis Rodman
"The Worm" was noted for many, many things both on and off the court. He is perhaps the most unique athlete in American history, and sometimes it’s easy to forget just how good he was as a player.
When Dennis Rodman joined Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls, Rodman knew the importance of keeping opponents' negativity away from the stars of the team.
His post-basketball career has involved international diplomacy and trash-talking current players.
“He’d be eating out of my hands," Rodman dissed Draymond Green.
41. Jimmy Butler
Jimmy Butler is one of the most competitive players in the NBA, but the people who have caught the brunt of his vicious nature have been in his own organization.
When Butler wanted to force his way out of Minnesota, he famously scrimmaged against the other Timberwolves regulars with a team of end-of-the-bench players.
And after dominating the scrimmage, Butler yelled up at the team’s front office and coaches.
"You f***ing need me Scott [Layden, the general manager]! You can’t win without me!"
Ruthless. And accurate.
40. Kenny Smith
"The Jet" has been a professional talker for so long that many NBA fans may have forgotten he was actually a player at one point.
Even when he was a star point guard, he was known for running his mouth at opponents, and, really, anyone who would listen.
Now, you can watch him talk trash to Charles Barkley on TNT about Barkley’s lack of a championship ring.
“Don’t you ever lay off on me!” will always be a classic.
39. Giannis Antetokounmpo
"The Greek Freak" is a superstar and one of the most popular players in the NBA.
His personality is as big as his wingspan, and he loves to entertain on and off the court.
But he’s also skilled in the dark arts of trash talk, picking up the skill as he’s established himself in the league.
Sometimes, you don’t need many words to execute a perfect taunt, especially when you’re as intimidating as Giannis.
38. Zach Randolph
"Z-Bo" was one of the more unique players in the NBA, somehow becoming a star despite playing very much below the rim.
His physicality and toughness made him a load to handle on the low post.
There was no one in the league that Randolph was afraid to face off against, but his trash talk took a totally different tone.
As LaMarcus Aldridge once shared, Randolph would often speak very politely before driving past his opponents to the hole.
"I was in Portland this summer, and it was nice."
Good, old-fashioned Jedi mind tricks.
37. Kendrick Perkins
Kendrick Perkins was pretty much exclusively an enforcer in his career.
He used his size, strength and aggressiveness to protect the more skilled players on his teams.
And he often talked a much bigger game than he actually brought to the court. It worked.
After his playing days, he didn't stop, and he's made a post-NBA career of antagonizing Kevin Durant and others on Twitter.
"I don’t think I’m the problem they want, though, might want to pick another battle."
Once a dog, always a dog.
36. Kevin Durant
Kevin Durant’s most famous trash talk happens anonymously on Twitter through his numerous burner accounts.
So his inclusion on this list may be somewhat suspect.
He’s not afraid to dish it out on the court, however.
He will go after pretty much any opponent, any time.
"You’re down 20 now, homie," he once reminded Chris Paul.
But he still reserves criticism of his teammates for those burner accounts.
35. Damian Lillard
Damian Lillard has spent much of his career quietly plying his trade in the small market of Portland. But he’s finally recognized as the superstar that he is league-wide.
Never afraid to back down from anyone, Lillard has a killer instinct that comes out in the most clutch moments.
Perhaps his best trash-talk moment was in the 2019 NBA playoffs against the Thunder when he eliminated them with a buzzer-beating 38-footer.
And waved goodbye. Cold as ice.
Sometimes, actions speak colder than words.
34. Chris Paul
CPIII’s long career has been marked by many falling-outs with teammates, but it’s his opponents who catch the worst of his competitive fire.
Even his off-the-court friends like LeBron James are not safe from Chris Paul’s jabs on the court.
CPIII takes no prisoners.
"Shut up and play ball!"
33. Drazen Petrovic
Drazen Petrovic was one of the first truly successful foreign players in the NBA.
And the Yugoslavian star was a quick study when it came to the art of trash-talking.
Even the legendary trash-talker Reggie Miller praised Petrovic’s smack-talking skills.
Though most people couldn’t understand anything Petrovic was actually saying.
"A guy start talking to you, you have to talk back."
32. Sam Cassell
Sam Cassell played for 15 years in the NBA and was a solid player for most of that time, but he’s most remembered now for his mouth.
He loved to celebrate a big shot by doing his signature "big balls" dance.
And when he wasn’t taunting opponents with the dance, he was running his mouth nonstop.
"I’m telling you, Steve. I’m gonna bust your sleepy ass. Rest up," he told Steve Francis, before dropping 35 on the rookie, a veteran schooling.
31. Moses Malone
Moses Malone once called himself the "original trash-talker in the NBA."
His most memorable moment came when he guaranteed that his Philadelphia 76ers would sweep the entire playoffs on their way to the 1983 NBA title.
He was off by one game, the 76ers swept two out of their three series, and Malone was named the Finals MVP.
"Fo’, Fo’, Fo'." His response to a question about how the 1983 playoffs would go remains an all-time classic.
30. Joe Ingles
Not exactly the image you think of when it comes to trash-talking, but the balding Australian sharpshooter has really made a name for himself when it comes to showing up the opponent.
He’ll blow kisses to opposing fans, or wave goodnight to his defender after a dagger three, and he’ll look hilarious doing it the whole time.
If anyone talks too much, Ingles will let the world know it's "too much talk!"
"I do hear a lot, and I’m always going to have my teammate’s backs," he told ESPN reporter Adrian Wojnarowski’s on his podcast "The Woj Pod."
29. Lance Stephenson
It seems that 90 percent of Lance Stephenson’s game is getting in the head of the opponent’s best player.
He’s known to take on the toughest defensive assignment and will do whatever he can to throw someone off of their game.
However, one time that approach backfired when he goaded LeBron James a little too hard during a playoff series in 2014, and James proceeded to dominate him.
"What is wrong with you?" LeBron said to Stephenson after the trash-talker took things a little too far.
His teammates appreciate playing with the agitator, especially when they've been on the receiving end of his disruption.
"Yeah, he will bother the [expletive] out of you," Indiana Pacers forward Thaddeus Young, Stephenson's former teammate and opponent, told The Indianapolis Star in 2018.
28. Patrick Beverley
Patrick Beverley, like Lance Stephenson, is known as a defensive pest throughout the NBA.
Beverley is the guy you love to have on your team but hate if he’s your opponent.
He and Russell Westbrook have a long-running feud, resulting in many entertaining battles over the years.
In 2017, Beverly said:
"[Westbrook] looked up and said, 'No one can guard me. I got 40 points.'
“I’m like, 'That’s nice. It took 34 shots to get it.' "
27. Russell Westbrook
Russell Westbrook is one of the most confident players in the NBA, and it shows in his game and his interactions with opponents.
He’ll gesture to the crowd after an explosive dunk or let his defender know exactly how many points he’s got on that night.
Westbrook goes as hard as possible all the time.
After lighting up the Suns with 40 points — including 15 in the fourth quarter — Westbrook let Kelly Oubre know why he was playing so hard to secure a win for the Thunder.
"It’s your fault!" Westbrook said.
26. Xavier McDaniel
Xavier McDaniel was a tough defender in the rough days of the 1980s, and he wasn’t afraid of anyone.
But that didn’t always work out well, as evidenced by his torching at the hands of Michael Jordan after he poked Jordan in the face.
McDaniel didn’t back down from Jordan and would have many more battles with him through the years.
"F--- you, X!" Jordan said to McDaniel during one of their epic battles.
25. Rajon Rondo
Rajon Rondo has rubbed teammates, opponents, referees and coaches the wrong way many times throughout his career.
It’s resulted in him getting exiled by Dallas Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle, suspended for using a homophobic slur, and kicked out of several games for instigating fights.
He famously got in an argument with Isaiah Thomas over the idea that the Celtics might give Thomas a video tribute in his return to Boston.
"Oh that’s what we celebrate around here?" said Rondo, in reference to Thomas leading the Celtics to the Eastern Conference finals. "This is the Boston Celtics. This isn’t the Phoenix Suns. No disrespect to any other organization but [the Celtics] don’t hang conference titles."
24. Joakim Noah
A big-time personality and tough defender, Joakim Noah knows how to get into the head of his opponents.
Whether it is with physical play or just the right thing to say, Noah’s job throughout his career often has been to throw off the other team’s best player.
In the 2015 playoffs, LeBron James felt Noah crossed the line with “disrespectful” talk.
“The disrespectful words he said to me were uncalled for," James said about Noah.
Taj Gibson, Noah's teammate, defended Noah and reminded everyone that NBA basketball is not a game for the meek.
"Man, we grew up playing basketball,’’ Gibson told the Chicago Sun-Times. “Trash-talking is in every neighborhood, every project, every city and state. It doesn’t matter. That’s part of basketball. That’s two guys that are great competitors going after it. It’s part of the game. This is the NBA. This isn’t a bunch of little boys. It’s a bunch of grown men. It’s real physical and things are going to be said. But at the end of the day it’s basketball."
23. Darryl Dawkins
"Chocolate Thunder" was one of the most dominating, colorful and exciting players to ever play the game.
He’d break backboards with crushing dunks, name those dunks, then remind you about them for years to come.
"The Chocolate-Thunder-Flying, Robinzine-Crying, Teeth-Shaking, Glass-Breaking, Rump-Roasting, Bun-Toasting, Wham-Bam, Glass-Breaker-I-Am-Jam."
That's the name Dawkins gave his first backboard-breaking dunk over Kansas City Kings forward Bill Robinzine.
22. Nate Robinson
To make it to the NBA as a 5-foot-9 dunking machine, you have to have quite the chip on your shoulder.
Nate Robinson never lacked in confidence and refused to back down from the giants who make up the rest of the NBA.
Robinson’s NBA career ended earlier than he would have liked, but he carried on by playing in Ice Cube’s Big 3 league, where his penchant for trash talking continues.
Here's a sample.
"Our team is going to do what they got to do to win. You got to punch a bully in the mouth. You got to back it up."
21. Larry Johnson
Larry Johnson was one of the better players of the 1990s, and he also wasn't afraid to speak his mind.
Ol' Grandmama — the star of the famous Converse shoe campaign — was a bad man.
If Johnson didn't like something, you would hear about it. Ask Scottie Pippen.
Johnson had a long-running rivalry with Pippen, and the two often jawed on the court and in the media.
"He’s a bum," Johnson said about Pippen. "He needs to shut his damn mouth. Scottie shut himself down. Mike [Jordan] gives them all cojones over there. All he can do is give that damn ball to 23. That's his best play right there, 'Here, 23, bail us out.' He needs to shut up and play because his game is not all that. Look at the tape. Look at the last four, five minutes of that game. 'Here you go, 23. Here you go, 23.' "
20. Scottie Pippen
Forever the deputy to the greatest of all time, Scottie Pippen also was not from the best trash-talker on the Bulls.
However, he knew when to make it count, like the times he viciously tore down Larry Johnson.
Most famous, though, was his devastating, and clever, line to Karl "The Mailman" Malone in the 1997 NBA Finals.
"The Mailman doesn’t deliver on Sundays," Pippen said to Malone right before Malone missed key free throws.
19. Vernon Maxwell
Vernon Maxwell was an aggressive player — with opponents, fans and teammates.
"Mad Max" once went into the stands to punch a heckler and later got into a locker-room fight with fellow trash-talking legend Gary Payton.
Maxwell also went toe-to-toe with Michael Jordan and lived to play another day.
Maxwell’s list of on- and off-court incidents was lengthy, earning him a reputation that he accepted.
"I don't feel like I owe an explanation to anybody as far as anything that happened in my career," Maxwell said in 1995. "Everybody pretty much already has a perception of Vernon."
18. John Starks
John Starks embodied the tough, no-nonsense New York Knicks of the 1990s.
The guard would stand up to anyone, no matter how much bigger they were than him.
While Reggie Miller is the one most remembered for trash-talking in the playoff battles between the Pacers and Knicks, Starks more than held his own in those duels.
"Cheryl!" Starks said to Reggie Miller, referencing Miller’s highly accomplished older sister.
17. Bill Laimbeer
The heart and soul of the "Bad Boy" Detroit Pistons of the 1980s, Bill Laimbeer was a physical presence in the middle. And he always let you know he was there, too.
Laimbeer also was known for his dirty play, always hovering around the line between fair and foul.
Laimbeer's style of play earned him plenty of enmity around the league.
Just look at the reaction, according to the Chicago Tribune, from opposing players when Laimbeer's teammate Isiah Thomas broke his hand punching Laimbeer.
Scott Skiles: "In my opinion, Isiah couldn't have picked a better guy to punch."
Robert Parish: "If you're going to break your hand, then you might as well break it on him."
Harvey Grant: "He has cheap-shotted everyone in the league, and everyone takes offense."
Clyde Drexler: "He's always been a cheap-shot artist and won't change."
Karl Malone: "If I ever had to play like Laimbeer, I'd quit first."
16. Chuck Person
"The Rifleman" was a clutch 3-point shooter and a consistently great trash-talker.
Chuck Person often would go after the best player on the other team, which led to epic battles against Larry Bird and Michael Jordan.
Person learned, though, when you go against the best, sometimes it backfires.
"I’ve known Chuck for a long time, and we’ve always had run-ins, but it always seems like I get the last word," Bird said after a playoff duel with Person.
15. Joel Embiid
Like many trash-talkers, Joel Embiid seems unable to stop talking. Whether that’s on Twitter, on the court, or in the media, Embiid always has something to say.
Oftentimes, his trash talk, like fellow big man Shaquille O’Neal before him, is shrouded in humor, making him a popular player throughout the NBA.
Here's an example.
"I'm a big dude, so I don't think you wanna try me," says Embiid.
14. Charles Oakley
A legendary tough guy, Charles Oakley’s main job while playing on the Bulls with Michael Jordan was to protect Jordan from other players.
Oakley also could talk with the best of them, and he backed up his words, getting in scraps throughout his 19-year NBA career with the Knicks, Raptors, Wizards and Rockets.
His combustible spirit didn’t stop when his playing days were over. He was thrown out of Madison Square Garden in 2017 for yelling at Knicks owner James Dolan during a game.
In May 2016, Oakley even got into it with a former NBA star on social media.
"Charles Barkley, you better stop talking s--- about Cleveland you was never tough you hide behind TNT," Oakley said on Twitter.
13. Paul Pierce
Paul Pierce was a cold-blooded killer on the court in his career, famously drilling a three in Al Harrington’s face once after jawing in his face for 10 seconds.
A year after retirement, Pierce even was seen talking noise to LeBron James during Game 7 of the 2018 Eastern Conference finals.
One of Pierce's famous quips occurred during a postgame interview.
A reporter asked Pierce, "Did you call bank on that shot?"
Pierce's reply? "I called game!"
12. Ron Artest
Otherwise known as Metta World Peace, Ron Artest was one of the great agitators in the NBA. His entire game was based upon getting in the heads of opponents.
This antagonism resulted in one of the worst moments in league history, when a fight between him and Ben Wallace escalated into the "Malice at the Palace," an all-out brawl involving Detroit Pistons and Indiana Pacers players and fans in 2004 that changed the NBA forever.
Metta World Peace/Ron Artest mastered the art of adding insult to injury over the course of his career.
In 2012, after elbowing James Harden in the head during a playoff series, World Peace refused to shake Harden's hand after a game.
"I don't shake substitute's hands," said World Peace.
11. Rasheed Wallace
Rasheed Wallace was famous for his mouth and his attitude. And, while he smack-talked plenty of fellow NBA players, he ranks this high on the list due to his vitriol directed toward officials.
He holds the NBA record for most technical fouls in one season with 41, most career technical fouls and most ejections in one season.
In fact, he was once ejected after playing only 1:25 in a game.
One of Wallace's famous remarks remains a classic.
After a player would miss a free throw for what Wallace felt was an unjust foul call, he always would yell, "Ball don't lie!"
10. Shaquille O'Neal
Now seen as one of the most lovable personalities in sports media, Shaquille O'Neal had a killer side of him on the court. But even when insulting other players or coaches, Shaq tried to keep it funny.
His most consistent form of insult was turning an opposing player’s name into a woman’s name, such as Ericka (instead of Erick) Dampier or Laura (instead of Lawrence) Frank or the Sacramento Queens (instead of Kings).
Case in point: "I'm not worried about the Sacramento Queens. Write it down, take a picture, send it to them, I don't care."
Over a decade later, O'Neal, a shrewd businessman, made amends for the diss after buying a minority ownership stake in the Kings franchise.
"I apologize," O’Neal said in 2013. "If you see me around town, come give me a hug, give me a kiss. I’ll do whatever you want."
9. Draymond Green
Without a doubt, the modern-day king of trash-talking, Draymond Green, has a reputation for savagery.
The enforcer for the high-scoring Golden State Warriors team, Green will insult legends like when he told Paul Pierce in his final season, "You chasing that farewell tour. They don’t love you like that. You thought you was Kobe?”
He also will diss teammates like when he and Kevin Durant got into a heated argument in November, and Green reportedly called Durant a b--ch repeatedly and told him they could win without him.
Durant always has been fearless.
"Bro, you're not scaring anyone," he once said to legendary trash-talker Kevin Garnett.
8. Kobe Bryant
The Black Mamba’s intensity was so well known that Kobe Bryant turned it into a book called "Mamba Mentality."
Bryant turned Lakers practices into all-out battles with his smack-talking, and he didn’t let up on opponents either.
Dwight Howard, both a disliked teammate and an opponent, may be the man who experienced the worst of Kobe’s vicious ways.
Not even the best NBA agitators were spared Kobe's wrath on the battleground of psychological warfare.
"You're a standup comedian now?" he once said to Ron Artest, after Artest said Kobe wasn't ready for him.
7. Allen Iverson
One of the toughest, roughest, baddest dudes to ever play, AI never let his small stature stop him from intimidating people.
His most legendary taunting moment came in the 2000 NBA Finals when he was locked in a fierce battle with Tyronn Lue of the Lakers. Iverson finally got the best of Lue with a nasty crossover, step-back jumper that caused Lue to fall to the ground.
Iverson then stomped over Lue in what has become an iconic moment in NBA history.
Iverson never would let Lue forget.
"Only reason you got that little $5 million a year is from running around after me," AI told Lue after he signed a contract with the Wizards based on his defense of Iverson in the NBA Finals.
6. Charles Barkley
Charles Barkley is now most famous as an NBA talking head on TNT, dishing out hilarious and often offensive opinions about everything.
He was never one to back down from a fight in his playing days and earned a reputation as one of the best trash-talkers in the game, going toe-to-toe with the best of the best like Reggie Miller and Michael Jordan.
Retirement did not dull Barkley's rhetorical sword.
After Charles Oakley tweeted an insult about him, Barkley said, "He's not important enough for me to think about."
5. Reggie Miller
Reggie Miller was a known smack-talker throughout his career, but his iconic taunting of Knicks superfan Spike Lee in the 1994 playoffs has gone down as one of the greatest moments in trash-talking history.
While torching the Knicks, Miller was bantering with Lee and eventually made the now-famous choke sign in his direction.
This move is often mimicked by athlete’s to this day.
Besides the Spike smack wars ("Spike who?"), Miller reportedly also is the only person to rile Michael Jordan enough to instigate an actual fight.
What did Miller say? Use your imagination, but the language wasn't rated PG.
4. Gary Payton
Another trash-talk legend who put the emphasis on "talk," Gary Payton never would shut up. Constantly jabbing at an opponent, both on and off the court.
"The Glove" could shut down anyone defensively, earning the right to talk all that noise.
One time, Payton said, "Hey Scottie [Pippen]. You ain't top 50 all-time. You want me to show you my list? I had you at 51."
But Payton wouldn't stop jawing even off the court.
"If he saw you in the mall, [he’d say], ‘Remember that time I crossed you up big fella, and I gave you that thang?’ And you almost put your arm out of socket. You can't guard me, boy. I'm a first-ballot Hall of Famer," Shaquille O'Neal recalled about GP, whom he called the best trash-talker ever.
3. Kevin Garnett
There was absolutely no line Kevin Garnett wouldn’t cross.
His list of deeply insulting and offensive lines to opposing players is numerous, from referencing a player’s wife to their mother to a medical condition they were born with.
KG was ruthless to the point where it wasn’t even funny.
How ruthless? During a 1999 Minnesota Timberwolves-San Antonio Spurs playoff game on Mother's Day, Garnett allegedly insulted Tim Duncan, whose mother passed away from breast cancer in 1990 when Duncan was a young teenager.
"Happy Mother’s Day, motherf-----," Garnett is rumored to have said as Duncan attempted a free throw.
The incident remains unconfirmed, but Duncan has no love for KG.
2. Michael Jordan
The GOAT was not the greatest ever in terms of smack talk, but he was pretty close.
Jordan used anything and everything to motivate him to be great, and he wanted to make sure every opponent knew of his greatness.
Perhaps the most insane moment of confidence was when he took a free throw with his eyes closed after telling Dikembe Mutombo, "This one’s for you." He, of course, swished it.
No one was immune from Jordan. In a 1987 game against the Utah Jazz at the Salt Palace in Utah, after dunking on 6-foot-1 point guard John Stockton, a Jazz fan sitting courtside told the 6-foot-6 Jordan to try that on someone his own size.
On the Chicago Bulls' next possession, Jordan posterized the 6-foot-11 Mel Turpin with a thunderous dunk, then ran back down the court and asked the heckler, "Is that big enough?"
1. Larry Bird
"The Hick From French Lick" was as savage as they come, and it might have been all the more insulting coming from the gangly 6-foot-9 guy with the curly hair in short shorts.
Larry Bird's trash-talking exploits are legendary, including guaranteeing wins in the NBA three-point contest, telling opponents exactly what he was about to do and then executing, and relentlessly ripping on Dennis Rodman as he dropped bucket after bucket on him.
Nobody could equal Bird's verbal warfare.
What makes Bird's trash-talking exploits so legendary is that he backed up everything he said. Dominique Wilkins shared an anecdote about Bird from the 1982-83 season, Wilkins' rookie campaign.
From the Boston Herald in 2015:
"One of the first times I ever played against him, I went out for the opening tip and I went to shake his hand. He just stood there and looked at me stone-faced with his hands behind his back," Wilkins said recently.
"I was like, 'Whoa.' Then we were getting ready for the tip and he says to me, 'You don't belong in this league, Homes.' I couldn't believe it, but it happened so fast, I didn't know what to think.
"Then they had the ball and I was on him and he said, 'I don't know why they got you guarding me, Homes. You can't guard me.' Then, whap, he hit a 3. Then he came down again and said, 'They made a mistake putting you on me, Homes,' and he took another 3."
Getting into the story, Wilkins began to act things out with his facial expressions.
"So now I'm hot," he said. "I'm hot. I mean, I'm steaming.
"Then a little while later, I came down on a break and he was backpedaling. I just went right after him. I jumped up and he tried to challenge, but I took that right through the rim. He fell and hit the basket support.
"He got up and said, 'I like you, rookie. You've got (guts).' I was happy for a second, and then he said, 'But I'm still going for 40 on you tonight.' "
He then paused the story, stepped back and smiled.
"But I got him," Wilkins said. "He only scored 39."
There's many more incredible Bird trash-talk stories where that came from.
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