After a pernicious NBA season there are new candidates for the main “bad boy” of the league, but who is the biggest villain of the future?
Moses Malone, Ron Artest (a.k.a. Metta World Peace), Rasheed Wallace, Dennis Rodman, Kermit Washington, Reggie Miller…all of these names are synonymous with being the “bad guy” or the villain of the NBA at one point or another, and now there seems to be contention for who should be the new antagonist of the league.
Every one of those players was once known as the bad boy of their time for their own certain reasons, some of which were more notable than others. For example, Artest exchanged punches with fans at the “Malice at the Palace” while Rodman and Malone threw hands with each other a few times throughout their historic careers.
Today’s NBA has fresh new faces that are all looking to create their own identity in the 75-year old league and some are becoming more polarizing than others…
Trae Young, Atlanta Hawks PG
The first name that comes to mind for next year’s biggest villain, especially for anybody who watched the Atlanta Hawks in the Eastern Conference playoffs, is Trae Young.
The 3rd-year point guard out of Oklahoma University has already been to one All-Star game (2020) and showed that he thrives under pressure, in fact, he rather enjoyed it from the looks of it.
Young shimmied his way to the Eastern Conference Finals (below) and it was gleamingly obvious that he adores his new identity.
Young will soon be expected to keep up his supervillain behavior in upcoming seasons which he certainly has the talent to do if he remains healthy.
His customary deep threes and his intense speed towards the basket make him a serious threat to any defense, and his ability to gladly take the hate of opposing fans make him a clear choice to be the new Allen Iverson-type of villain that the NBA needs.
What’s also great about Young is that he is already acknowledging and accepting his new identity before making sure that everybody knows it too (below).
Patrick Beverley, L.A. Clippers Guard
The 32-year old guard has made a name for himself over the past two postseasons with his aggressive defense and his disruptive behavior on the court.
Beverley’s vitriolic defense has been a staple of his gameplay since he came back to the NBA back in 2012 but his antics after fouls (above) and his loud mouth in between plays are what has made him such a household name lately.
In the Clippers’ final game against the Phoenix Suns in the Western Conference Finals, it was clear that Beverley had finally had enough with the small talk and chirping when he shoved Chris Paul in the back near the end of regulation (below).
The 3x All-Defensive player may have one of the best defensive presences in the league but now he has a villain stigma attached to him thanks to the publicity of the Western Conference Finals and his past two seasons in L.A.
Kevin Durant, Brooklyn Nets F
The “Slim Reaper” has been one of the most obvious NBA villains for the last half-decade thanks to his lethal shooting and his decision-making both on and off the court.
When Durant joined the 73-win Golden State Warriors back in 2016 he cemented himself as a player with little to no amount of respect to the game of basketball, in a sense, which made him the anti-hero of the league in the eyes of any NBA fans outside San Francisco.
Now, Durant has made a name for himself and won two NBA championships and it’s clear he’s taking the weight of being an iconic, prolific NBA player and putting it into social media and his off-the-court attitude.
Durant’s Twitter presence has always been a key aspect of his fame but it has escalated in recent years after he admitted he uses a burner account on Twitter to respond to haters and still uses it to this day.
Today KD is much more honest about his Twitter usage but he still finds a way to get in trouble for his offensive, and sometimes derogatory, language on social media.
Most recently Durant’s private messages to actor Michael Rapaport were exposed which showed him calling the Deep Blue Sea star a “dickhead” and a “bitch”, causing the 2014 NBA MVP to apologize after being fined $50,000.
Jimmy Butler, Miami Heat SF
Butler, the former Marquette legend and 5x NBA All-Star, has stirred up trouble almost everywhere that he has landed since being drafted 30th overall back in 2011.
Butler is on his third team in the four seasons since he departed from Chicago and every team in that span has encountered Butler’s abrasive behavior and nefarious attitude on the court and in the locker room.
For the most part, Butler has been vilified for his must-win outlook and the way that he treats teammates when their views on basketball don’t live up to his expectations.
The best example is when Butler was in Minnesota and his relationship with head coach Tom Thibedeau, C Karl-Anthony Towns, and F Andrew Wiggins became fractured beyond repair after a very frustrating practice and poor season-long performances by the two younger stars.
Butler reportedly felt similar feelings to his teammates, Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons, in Philadelphia the next season which many believe caused him to leave and head to Miami.
Now he seems to have found a home with the Heat that meshes well with his cold-blooded and brutish behavior, mainly because Tyler Herro seems to believe that he is the villain on the team.