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Ranking the NBA's most toxic players

Profile Picture: Danny Howard

December 16th, 2020

Toxicity makes headlines, but breaks teams. In this new era of social media and constant coverage, locker room rumblings and rumors bleed into the mainstream and expedite the demise of teams destined for greatness.

Let’s take a look at five of the NBA’s most toxic players today.

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Miami Heat forward Jimmy Butler looks on before an NBA game between the Miami Heat and the Los Angeles Clippers. (Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire)

5. Jimmy Butler (Miami Heat)

Jimmy Butler finally appears to be in a perfect place after leading the Miami Heat to the 2020 NBA Finals, but it hasn't always been that way. His tremendous passion and drive led to several memorable clashes in Chicago and Minnesota, where he famously ripped into the team's front office and teammates during a fiery practice that led to his eventual ouster.

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Golden State Warriors Forward Draymond Green laughs after the official makes a call during an NBA game. (Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire)

4. Draymond Green (Golden State Warriors)

One of the reasons for the end of Golden State's dynasty was the big ego of Draymond Green, whose lack of self-control potentially cost the Warriors a ring and drove away Kevin Durant, the league’s best player, at the peak of his powers.

Green is the constant loud voice in the room voicing his displeasure and ensuring he’s always heard, come hell or high water. His declining play over the last few years hasn’t humbled him, but he’s sure to be the man to blame if the Warriors can’t recapture their elite form.

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Golden State Warriors' Eric Paschall shoots against Los Angeles Lakers' Dwight Howard. (Photo by Icon Sportswire)

3. Dwight Howard (Philadelphia 76ers)

Howard hasn’t been able to gel with a team for an extended period of time since he ended his run with the Orlando Magic nearly a decade ago. Since then, his run throughout the NBA has been defined by short stays on multiple teams, clashing with players and coaches, and being an unwelcome presence in the locker room.

Even after winning his first title with the Lakers last season, Los Angeles didn’t feel the need to bring him on for another season, leading to an embarrassing tweet that Howard later deleted. The three-time Defensive Player of the Year now has a chance to stick around longer than one season in Philadelphia, where he'll back up another controversial center in Joel Embiid.

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Houston Rockets guard James Harden is defended closely by Los Angeles Clippers guard Patrick Beverley. (Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire)

2. James Harden (Houston Rockets)

Though the NBA’s scoring juggernaut and former MVP is easily one of the best players in the league, it’s becoming increasingly obvious he’s as troublesome as he is talented.

Harden’s necessity to keep his stats and touches up chased Chris Paul out of Houston, and his flaccid performances in the playoffs ultimately led to the dismissal of both head coach Mike D’Antoni and GM Daryl Morey. Now Harden is on the lookout for a new team to infect with his ball hogging and bad attitude.

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Kyrie Irving of Team USA celebrates scoring during the Final game of the FIBA World Cup. (Photo by By Marcos Mesa Sam Wordley/Shutterstock)

1. Kyrie Irving (Brooklyn Nets)

Irving’s talents and abilities are almost entirely undercut by the fact that he is a nightmare of a teammate. His disastrous campaign with the Boston Celtics saw him undermine a potential NBA Finals squad, and his multiple outbursts through the press suggest that he’s not a true leader.

Irving's recent skirmishes with the press and oddball theories about the Earth being flat highlight his delusions, and serve as a stark reminder that he can't get out of his own way. Like the Celtics, the Brooklyn Nets are poised to be a powerful team in the Eastern Conference, but Irving may be the one thing that gets in their way of winning a title.

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