What’s beef? Five memorable NBA feuds

Feature photo courtesy of Aaron Frutman.

By Cameron Neimand

Beef has been the talk of the (social media) town as of late, and not the type that my grandfather buys on discount at the local market only to put it in his freezer for the next several decades. These “beefs” are fights, verbal altercations and tensions, most notably the current Drake and Meek Mill feud. With the aforementioned rappers battling it out via accusatory tweets and diss tracks like “Back to Back” and “Wanna Know,” basketball fans can’t help but to feel nostalgic about some of the funniest and most random B-ball rivalries of all time. Here is a look into five of the most entertaining beefs in the history of the NBA.

Latrell Sprewell and P.J. Carlesimo

In 1997, Latrell Sprewell redefined what it meant to be a choke artist in the NBA. While playing for the Golden State Warriors, Sprewell developed a tense, tumultuous relationship with head coach P.J. Carlesimo. During a December 1st practice, Sprewell finally had enough of Carlesimo’s criticism, choking Carlesimo for around ten seconds before members of the team were able to get him off of the coach. After leaving the practice, Sprewell returned 20 minutes later and started to throw punches at Carlesimo. Sprewell would go on to be suspended for the rest of the season, and would never play a game for Golden State again. After three lackluster seasons as head coach in which the team never made the playoffs, Carlesimo was fired by the franchise in 2000.

Since the incident, the two have gone in opposite directions in the fork in the road. Carlesimo was an NBA coach in Brooklyn as recently as 2013, and now works as an NBA analyst for ESPN, frequently appearing on the SportsCenter program. His neck appears to have fully recovered; however, ESPN may just have an Emmy-worthy makeup team. Sprewell, a four-time NBA All-Star, vanished from the public eye after turning down a three-year, 21 million dollar extension from the Minnesota Timberwolves by saying that it would not be enough money to feed his family. Sadly, it turns out, Sprewell would never receive a more family-friendly offer, and never played another NBA game. However, he did create his own line of spinning rims for vehicles, and also had a shoe-line to go along with the radical idea.

Kobe and Karl Malone

The Bryant/Malone beef stems all the way back to 2004, when the two were teammates on the Lakers squad featuring Bryant, Malone, O’Neal, and Payton that was supposed to inevitably bring Payton and Malone their long-awaited championship ring. Unfortunately, the Detroit Pistons had other plans, defeating the Lakers in the NBA Finals and leaving Malone and Payton without the coveted ring.

Some time around 2004, Malone apparently made flirtatious and inappropriate comments to Bryant’s wife Vanessa during a Lakers home game. Malone, an avid hunter who even owns a home near a river in Alaska, was supposedly dressed in cowboy type apparel when Vanessa asked him, “Hey cowboy, what are you hunting?” In response, Malone allegedly responded, “I’m hunting for little Mexican girls.” Bryant’s wife, Vanessa Bryant, is of Hispanic descent.

Bryant is in no way in the wrong for being heated and upset if Malone really did make the aforementioned comments. However, Malone insists that he holds no grudges, and has even offered to fight Bryant if he still has an issue with Malone. Watch this video where Malone lets it be known that the offer for Bryant to fight him is still standing.

Tim Duncan and Joey Crawford

During a 2007 game between the Mavericks and Spurs, the most unlikely beef in the history of professional sports (sans possibly the Pedro Martinez/Don Zimmer feud) began when NBA referee Joey Crawford did the unthinkable: eject Tim Duncan from a game. Crawford gave Duncan, who was on the bench after receiving a technical foul earlier in the game, his second technical foul for laughing. Duncan responded with a look of sheer disbelief, and rightfully so when considering what Duncan claims Crawford said to him during the incident.

“He looked at me and said, ‘Do you want to fight? Do you want to fight?”‘ said Duncan regarding the issue.

Crawford was suspended indefinitely after the incident, and Duncan was fined $25,000. However, while Timmy D has remained his well-mannered, calm demeanor self in later years, Joey Crawford has continued to have a history of on-court antics. I’ll leave these vines here for you to enjoy:

Robin Lopez and Mascots New York City better put out a warning to all of their mascots: Robin Lopez is in town, and he’s seeking vengeance. Lopez, the newly signed center for the Knicks, has a history of physical feuds with team mascots. According to Lopez, mascots tended to ignore him as a kid, as he was so tall that they most likely were intimidated by his stature. Since then, Lopez has always harbored ill-will to the mischievous mascots of the world, taking revenge on the group of people that ignored him when he was a kid who just wanted to have fun like anybody else. As I am typing this portion of the article, I find myself in awe that my career choice of journalism has me telling the story of a massive, 7’0 NBA center who holds a hateful vendetta against everyone’s favorite guy, the team mascot. Even more awe-inspiring? It’s a real story. Since his initial fight against Hooper, the mascot for the Detroit Pistons, Lopez has engaged in on-court altercations with the team mascots for Orlando, Atlanta, Cleveland, and Toronto. Here’s some footage of Lopez facing off against mascots.

Nick Young and Robert Flores

SportsCenter anchor Robert Flores had some choice words for L.A. Lakers swingman Nick Young regarding his girlfriend, Iggy Azalea, in response to a story Young told of dolphins trying to kill him (so Nick Young, I know). On a SportsCenter broadcast, Flores used his platform to take a painfully loaded jab at Azalea’s current work as a rapper.

“So Nick, while dolphins are trying to kill you, your girlfriend is trying to kill hip-hop,” said Flores. “Let’s call it even, okay?”

Young responded back with the following series of tweets aimed at Flores following his on-air diss.

On the “Sedano and Stink” radio show, Flores was asked about the incident between him and Young. Flores hilariously responded as to why he would not be scared if Young, who has struggled with his field goal percentage numbers, chose to fight him.

“If you look at the  numbers, there is a 70 percent chance that if he takes a shot at me, he’s gonna miss,” said Flores. “I’m just looking at the numbers, so I’m good.”

Well, they say numbers never lie.

Cameron Neimand

Cameron Neimand

Columnist at The Left Bench
Cameron started writing for The Left Bench during his freshman year at the University of Maryland, College Park, where he majors in broadcast journalism. He enjoys covering the NBA, college basketball, and college basketball recruiting. He is from Los Angeles, California and knows whole-heartedly that Jeremy Lin and Robert Sacre can and will lead the Lakers to their next championship. His interests include rapping, playing basketball, comedy, and putting off writing this bio.“Go Lakers!”-Cameron Neimand (In the type of way where he holds no bias because he is a journalist).
Cameron Neimand

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About Cameron Neimand 30 Articles
Cameron started writing for The Left Bench during his freshman year at the University of Maryland, College Park, where he majors in broadcast journalism. He enjoys covering the NBA, college basketball, and college basketball recruiting. He is from Los Angeles, California and knows whole-heartedly that Jeremy Lin and Robert Sacre can and will lead the Lakers to their next championship. His interests include rapping, playing basketball, comedy, and putting off writing this bio. “Go Lakers!”-Cameron Neimand (In the type of way where he holds no bias because he is a journalist).