The NBA’s Scariest Players

  • @officialkevingarnett

    Hannibal Lecter

    KEVIN GARNETT

    Named the No. 1 movie villain by the American Film Institute, a big part of why Hannibal Lecter was so effective was the nuance to his character. A forensic psychologist who moonlights as a serial killer, Lecter is eloquent, cultured, and extremely intelligent. That makes him all the more terrifying.

    Speaking of which, Kevin Garnett is a sure-fire Hall of Famer and arguably one of the top 5 power forwards of all time. And yet he’s just as known for his ability to get under people’s skin, so to speak. Garnett is a fearsome trash talker. Ask Jose Calderon, or better yet, ask Carmelo Anthony.

    “KG and [Kendrick Perkins], those two are ridiculous,” Thunder center Steven Adams once told the Oklahoman. “They make you question, like, why you are playing basketball and stuff. You’re like ‘Why am I doing this?’ It’s really weird, you get depressed.”

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  • Kendrick Perkins Instagram

    @perk_409

    Jason Voorhees

    KENDRICK PERKINS

    There’s very little guile to Perkins’ game. He won’t chase you around the court, he’ll just knock you down with zero remorse, Charles Oakley style, if you drive the lane. This doesn’t make him an incredible player, but it has helped him play an enforcer-type role over the course of a successful 12-year career.

    He shows zero fear when it comes to his dealings with the NBA’s elite. Tutored by Kevin Garnett, Perkins has gone after LeBron James, Russell Westbrook (and they were on the same team!), Tyson Chandler, Zach Randolph, and Marreese Speights. The last three of those are also regarded among the toughest post players in the league.

    Perk is now with the Pelicans, which means it won’t be that much of a relief for other teams when all-world big man Anthony Davis leaves the game.

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  • Stephen Curry

    @stephencurry30

    Chucky

    STEPHEN CURRY

    You can rightfully assign two superlatives to Curry: He might be the most unassuming player in NBA history, and he also might be its greatest shooter. Hence, our comparison to a “My Buddy” type doll that kills people.

    The dichotomy is striking. Off the court, Steph makes self-deprecating and genuinely funny videos of himself cooking with his wife, while possessing arguably the cutest sports-related kid in history. On it, he is a cold-blooded killer who will stick a dagger in you if you give him much more than a half-inch of space. He can do other things — his defense and passing are also stellar — but it’s that quick release that keeps opposing coaches up at night.

    After all, just ask LeBron James how to stop Curry: “The same way you slow me down. You can’t.”

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  • @kobebryant

    Machete

    KOBE BRYANT

    Few probably remember the “Black Mamba” mini-movie directed by Robert Rodriguez to promote Nike’s Zoom Kobe 6 — it was probably a touch too weird for mainstream success. But as an aficionado of cult classic pseudo-horror films, I thought it was fantastic.

    Rodriguez, the architect of From Dusk Till Dawn and Grindhouse: Planet Terror, made Bryant into an indomitable protagonist, a staple of his films. Kobe had to overcome five thugs enlisted by “The Boss,” played by none other than Kanye West, with an appearance from Machete himself (the great Danny Trejo).

    The ad is campy fun, but the fictional Mamba shares some traits with the genuine item. Historically, when Kobe gets up a head of steam, he’ll destroy everything in his path to the tune of 81 points. And in fact, he can render you helpless simply with his withering stare, even if you’re his own coach. (Just ask Mike Brown.) Even at age 37, provided he actually makes it on the court, you’d be a fool to bet against him.

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  • @stephensonlance

    The Joker

    LANCE STEPHENSON

    Gifted with wonderful natural talents and a diverse game, Stephenson often seems to be more concerned with watching the world burn. A legend at Lincoln High in Brooklyn, “Born Ready” is best known for attempting to distract LeBron James during a 2014 East Finals game by blowing in his ear, launching a million memes.

    In the same game, Stephenson tried to eavesdrop on a Miami huddle and flopped in an attempt to get James disqualified. LeBron, of course, took it in stride: “I’m just here to play basketball, man. All the extracurricular activities, I don’t really get into.”

    Stephenson subsequently signed with Charlotte, where a rocky season ended up pushing him West to play with a group of wacky personalities–the L.A. Clippers–that suits him quite well. Chaos reigns.

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  • @boogiecousins

    The Hulk

    DeMARCUS COUSINS

    Basketball fans have long had a soft spot for Rasheed Wallace types, wildly talented players with a bit of a temper. Cousins is more complex than that, though. From all accounts, he’s a sensitive guy who doesn’t always deal well with stress and adversity. When he was drafted at 19 by a dysfunctional Kings franchise, he didn’t necessarily know how to coexist with the lack of stability. Ostensibly, you wouldn’t like him when he’s angry.

    Years later, Cousins’ outburst frequency has gone down, while his level of play has gone up on both ends of the court. He did have his struggles with coach George Karl this summer, but perhaps the fault didn’t lie with Cousins. Skills-wise, at this point, he can give Anthony Davis a run for his money as the best big man in the league.

    What exactly is his ceiling? Can he win MVP? Cousins has suggested, “It’s mine to grab.” That would require his team to get a lot better; they haven’t won more than 29 games in eight years. But if Cousins truly puts it all together, the Kings’ young star would be scariest not to referees or his coaches, but to NBA contemporaries.

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  • @mettaworldwide

    Patrick Bateman

    METTA WORLD PEACE

    Back when he was a fiery Bulls rookie, I interviewed Ron Artest following a game against the Nets. Having watched his intense style of play for a few years, I approached with trepidation, and it turned out he was a total sweetheart: Soft-spoken, polite, respectful. We had a nice conversation.

    But put him on the court, and he’s something of a maniac. When focused, Artest — now known as Metta World Peace — has been an amazing asset for aspiring champions.

    Famously a space cadet/renaissance man, World Peace wore No. 37 with the Lakers to honor Michael Jackson, put out a rap album with a feature by Diddy, and claims to have never lost a checkers game. And yet, nobody would ever cross an enforcer who thinks nothing of going after Kobe Bryant and once broke a couple of Michael Jordan’s ribs. He is the player everyone loves to play with and hates playing against.

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  • David West Instagram

    @_dezthegenius

    Anton Chigurh

    DAVID WEST

    When West took an $11 million pay cut to sign with the Spurs in July, many questioned the rationale. But the grizzled vet wanted to compete for a championship, and no one was going to tell him otherwise.

    If you ask peers who the toughest players in the league are, West’s name inevitably comes up. West’s reputation comes from his old school post game — you’ll rarely play against him and come away unbruised — plus the fact that he doesn’t cave for anyone. (His fascination with boxing in the offseason doesn’t hurt)

    West is a free thinker and genuine intellectual with his perspective hardened by his experiences. His father brought him to a police protest at six years old, and he played in New Orleans during Katrina. He began sponsoring local families and became much more involved with the community. He loves helping younger players learn the ropes, commanding attention with his stoic dignity. People don’t cross him, but that’s because everyone respects him.

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  • Anthony Davis

    @antdavis_23

    Pennywise the Clown

    ANTHONY DAVIS

    We’ve mentioned him a couple times already, but the New Orleans phenom is perhaps the most fearsome player in the NBA. He has limitless potential; he’s a dominant shot blocker and a burgeoning offensive force.

    But he makes this list for one reason: According to USA Today, Davis likes to dress in a clown suit and jump out of nowhere to scare his family. Considering he’s 6-10 with a unibrow, what could be scarier than that?

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  • Kendrick Perkins Instagram
  • Stephen Curry
  • David West Instagram
  • Anthony Davis

Back in the autumn of 1997, my worlds collided a bit. With Patrick Ewing still a Knick and Michael Jordan at his peak, I was an absolute basketball fanatic, but I’d also loved Halloween since I was a kid. That year, NBA opening night fell on Oct. 31. As a college freshman with a near-constant fear of missing out, I had a tough decision on my hands.

Ultimately, I decided to stay in, which I didn’t regret. My roommates and I loaded up on food and had a great time watching games all night — in particular, I recall the Knicks beating the Hornets, while Jordan and the Bulls (sans Scottie Pippen) lost to the Celtics in their first game with Rick Pitino as coach.

My priorities have changed over time, in that I realized there’s always another basketball game to watch. If I stay in on Halloween now, it’s generally to watch scary movies with my wife and answer the door for trick or treaters.

But I never forgot how cool it is that the basketball season annually starts on or around Halloween. To their credit, the NBA has embraced it, encouraging fans to show up in costume while running team-themed pumpkin-carving contests. And of course, nobody has topped the 2010 Celtics for getting the absolute most out of the holiday, specifically Rajon Rondo as Tiger Woods.

In the spirit of Halloween, Champs Sports presents a list of the Scariest NBA Players — playing style or otherwise — along with a comparison to a fictional character.

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image via Stephen Dunn/Getty Images