Top 10 players with the most technical fouls in NBA history

Profile Picture: Jason Ence

Jason Ence

March 30th, 2021

Some basketball players have a knack for picking up technical fouls far more frequently than others. But who are the best—or worst—at getting teed up? We've done some digging and have compiled a list of the top 10 players with the most technical fouls in NBA history.

While there is only one active player on this list, two more may join soon. Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green is quickly approaching the top 10, and free agent center DeMarcus Cousins would easily be on the list too were it not for a litany of injuries that have kept him off the court.

Article Image

Miami Heat center Jermaine O'Neal. (Photo by Christophe Elise/Icon Sportswire)

10. Jermaine O’Neal (146)

The first name on our list is not one many would think of, but Jermaine O’Neal was a very temperamental player in his day. He did not react well to what he perceived as bad calls, and often got into verbal spats with opposing players. 104 of his 146 technical fouls came with the Pacers, despite playing there for just eight seasons.

Article Image

Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers. (Photo by Matt A. Brown/Icon Sportswire)

9. Shaquille O’Neal (150)

Shaq was a physically imposing figure who often let his emotions get the best of him. The four-time champ had personal beefs with many players on the court, which led to numerous incidents where his mouth would get him into trouble. Never one to back down from a challenge, The Diesel also ranks 10th in career personal fouls.

Article Image

Los Angeles Lakers Kobe Bryant and Clippers Blake Griffin chat during a game at Staples Center. (Photo by Icon Sportswire)

8. Kobe Bryant (166)

The Black Mamba was one of the fiercest competitors the league has ever seen, and he consistently averaged double-digit technical fouls during his career. While he rarely got angry with referees in his later years, Bryant was not afraid to speak his mind when he thought a call did not go his way.

Article Image

Boston Celtics power forward Kevin Garnett defends on San Antonio Spurs power forward Tim Duncan. (Photo by Mark Halmas/Icon Sportswire)

7. Kevin Garnett (172)

Few players ran their mouth on the floor more than KG, who was an absolutely notorious trash talker. Some of his best lines are not safe for work, including an infamous taunt he gave to Carmelo Anthony about Anthony’s wife. Garnett’s fiery spirit inspired his teammates and helped lead the Celtics to the summit of the NBA, but his temper also got him into trouble repeatedly with referees.

Article Image

Houston Rockets guard Russell Westbrook (0) looks on during an NBA game between the Rockets and Los Angeles Clippers. (Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire)

6. Russell Westbrook (172)

The active leader in technical fouls, Westbrook pulled even with Garnett thanks to 11 techs so far this season. Outside of his rookie season in 2009-10, the Wizards guard has picked up double-figure totals each year, and has led the league multiple times. A fiery competitor and noted trash talker, he has even seen himself ejected without recording a point on two occasions.

Article Image

Dennis Rodman of the Chicago Bulls. (Photo by John Biever/SI/Icon SMI)

5. Dennis Rodman (212)

Some may be surprised to see "The Worm" not higher on this list, but Rodman is in the top five with a sizeable gap to those behind him. Part of the notorious "Bad Boys" teams in Detroit, he had a short temper and saw himself suspended numerous times. His most infamous incidents included kicking a cameraman on the sideline, and head-butting referee Ted Bernhardt twice following a second technical.

Article Image

Gary Payton of the Seattle Supersonics dribbles the ball. (Photo by Matt A. Brown/Icon Sportswire)

4. Gary Payton (250)

While many remember Payton for his amazing defensive ability, he was just as notorious of a trash talker in his days—even once telling a player, "You won’t be in the league next year." The Glove was constantly talking to his opponents to try to get under their skin, but he was just as vocal towards officials, and had a penchant for reacting very angrily towards them when calls didn’t go his way.

Article Image

Boston Celtics forward Rasheed Wallace yells at referees Randy Mott and Bill Spooner after being called for a technical. (Photo by Kelvin Ma/Icon Sportswire)

3. Rasheed Wallace (317)

There may not be a player who tried harder to get hit with a "T" than Wallace, who holds the career record of ejections with 29 total. Wallace would often get teed up for yelling at referees, and even once got ejected from a playoff game for continuing to stare down an official

He also set the single-season record when he received 41 technical fouls in 2000-01, a record that will likely never be matched. His antics that year forced the NBA to institute a rule change, dictating that any player who reaches 15 technical fouls in a single season will be suspended. However, the rule did little to slow him down on his way to third place.

Article Image

27 May 2010: TNT analyst Charles Barkley discusses the game before the Los Angeles Lakers 103-101 victory over the Phoenix Suns in Game 5 of the NBA Western Conference Finals at the STAPLES Center in Los Angeles, CA.

2. Charles Barkley (329)

As entertaining as Chuck is on TV, his antics and his mouth often got him into trouble on the court. Barkley was adept at trash talking, and he was very animated with both opposing players and the officials. He would even put his fingers in their face, once cutting the nose of referee Jack Nies with his fingernail, earning him a technical foul. He even had numerous situations where he cussed out referees on national television, and got away with it—actions that would never be allowed in today’s game.

Article Image

Karl Malone of the Utah Jazz. (Photo by Icon Sportswire)

1. Karl Malone (332)

The leader in all-time technical fouls is here partly due to the longevity of his career, as the second-leading scorer in NBA history enjoyed a 20-year career. A combination of complaining, trash talking, and reckless use of his elbows saw Malone pick up more technical fouls than anybody else, and the second most personal fouls of all-time as well.