Ah, the most hate-able players in college hoops. Such a refreshing list this time of year. Of course, most of these guys are defined only as villains depending on where your rooting interest are, to some these figures may be heroes. Either way let’s take a stroll down memory lane…
10. Marshall Henderson
The Ole Miss guard is the most recent player on the list, but he had a retro flare to his game back in his playing days. Unless you’re a Rebels fan, it really isn’t too hard to hate on this dude. Not only was he in the face of the opposing players every chance he got, but Henderson LOVED playing road games so he could rub his success in the crowd’s face. This kid bathed in hate. And when it wasn’t his night and his team lost? Well, he’d just flip a double bird at the crowd and head to the locker room.
9. Mike Krzyzewski
You’ve got to respect Coach K. The man’s a basketball genius, a fantastic leader of young men and a true class act. With that said, the brand he’s built at Duke is widely hated. Instances like Duke bowing out of the Sweet Sixteen to Oregon, yet complaining about Dillon Brooks shot at the end of the shot clock (not the final buzzer), is a prime example. Just accept defeat and walk off the floor. Coach K can be too sensitive at times, and when you’re the face of a powerhouse like Duke, nobody wants to hear you complain.
8. 1990’s UNLV
Larry Johnson, Stacey Augmon, Greg Anthony … the early ’90’s UNLV squad was stacked. They won the 1990 National Championship with Jerry Tarkanian at the helm and then went undefeated the next season all the way into the 1991 National Championship game … which they lost to none other than Duke. Of course, this was before Duke was what they’ve become, so they were the little Cinderella everyone was cheering for at the time. Oh how times have changed! Shortly after Tarkanian’s players all left for the NBA, UNLV was slapped with some huge NCAA violations, which in turn only made the hate grow that much more.
7. Allen Iverson
This is one of the guys on this list I had to put so that I don’t come off as biased. I’m as big an AI fan as you’ll meet, but going back in time to when Iverson barely squeaked into Georgetown, he was a highly controversial figure. No school wanted him because of his arrest for a fight at a bowling ally in which he had nothing to do with. People saw Iverson as a “punk”, a “thug”, whatever word you want to use, and his competitive attitude allowed him to fall right into that villain role. Fast forward and now AI is a fan favorite for the most part, as he should be.
6. Bobby Knight
Where did Coach K learn everything he knows? Playing under Bob Knight, of course. Again, we’re talking about a brilliant basketball mind here and a nice guy. But Knight could not stay out of his own way when he felt he was being wronged. So many interviews and post-game rants come to mind, but the obvious highlight was tossing the chair onto the court. I just wish a coach would do this today… #TRENDING
5. Joakim Noah
The dancing, the who-gives-a-you-know-what attitude, the swagger, the cockiness. Noah was pretty much Marshall Henderson before Marshall Henderson. The difference is that Joakim backed it up by repeating as champs at Florida. Those were damn good Gator teams and Noah soaked in all the hate and sent it all right back. Noah brought his attitude right into the NBA with him, picking fights with cities and teams that he’s drawn playoff battles with like Boston and Cleveland.
4. Tyler Hansbrough
Psycho T! I will never get the image out of my head of Hansbrough gushing blood from his nose after an elbow in that Duke game from Gerald Henderson (no not Marshall Henderson, that would have been too convenient). The funny part? That incident is the prime example of how hated Hansbrough was. The guy gets clocked in the face and starts bleeding and people love it. Hansbrough’s effort was always through the roof, much like Noah’s. It’s when you get overemotional that people hate high energy players and both of these guys were exactly that.
3. J.J. Redick
J.J. is a classic Duke villain. He wasn’t over the top like a lot of other guys on this list, but just a guy that thrived as a cool killer type. I actually love Redick as a NBA player, he’s having a great season for the Clippers. The bottom line is that he was damn good in college and a definitely cocky. Duke has to have a villain at all times, and J.J. was that guy. Eat your heart out Grayson Allen!
2. Fab Five
Here’s another one on the list where I just have to put them on here even though I’m a huge Fab Five fan. These guys changed the entire culture of college basketball in multiple ways. The first way was simple — swag. Go to a basketball court today and you see baggy shorts, black socks and all types of trends that began with C-Webb, Jalen Rose and Juwan Howard. At the time it was hated, now it’s just the way it is. The more important way they changed college hoops was by just being so talented that they left their coach no choice but to start five freshman. Even today you don’t see a starting lineup of all freshman, but if those are your five best players what can you do? Freshman used to be buried on the bench and now you’d spit out your coffee if Ben Simmons said he was returning to LSU. 20+ years later the hate has subsided, but in the mid-90’s it was very real.
1. Christian Laettner
I hope you guessed this one because there’s not even a debate. I mean, there’s a 30-For-30 titled “I Hate Christian Laettener.” Whatever J.J. Redick was as the great Duke villain of his time, Laettener was that times a million. People despised him — nobody more than Kentucky fans for his infamous turnaround jumper from the free throw line. Everyone has their own memory, moment or reason. Why do I hate Laettener? This dude had NO business being on the Dream Team. Talk about winning the trip of a lifetime, because that’s pretty much what happened.
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