Watching Miami slough their way on Sunday through three quarters of what you can loosely call “basketball,” it became obvious how much teams must dislike playing the Chicago Bulls.
They play physical, sticky defense and maintain that pace for the better part of 48 minutes. They grab and pull and yet looked shocked when called for a foul. As a unit, they have never thrown a ball out of bounds that wasn’t tipped by an invisible opponent.
And they’re competitive as hell and Bulls fans must absolutely love their constant effort.
But that leaves 29 other fanbases wondering why this team simply won’t quit, or take a game off or, even better, simply retire en masse.
So, in the ultimate of back-handed tributes, I have put together my first annual All-Douche Team of players that opposing fans just love to hate but home teams simply adore.
Being a decidedly Heat-centric forum, Miami players will be excluded from the list. Which isn’t to say that some wouldn’t be on the ADT roster if this was written in Cleveland, Chicago or Indiana.
But it’s not, so suck it, midwestern basketball fans.
Here it is, by position, starting units first and the bench:
Center – Joakim Noah
Tenacious, loud, emotional and seemingly everywhere, Noah gets the starting nod for the ADT. He yells on every play, gets “pushed” in the back on every missed rebound and is simply too rah-rah for opposing fans to swallow. The guy doesn’t stop, either hustling or talking. He hates the Heat, mostly because they’ve kept him and his team from being relevant. His Bulls are often referred to as Regular Season Champions for their bloated win totals that have yet to manifest in playoff success.
And there’s this:
You’ll never win a ring, Noah, but you’ll always be a World Class Douche.
Power Forward – Kevin Garnett
Longtime Celtics fan Bill Simmons said of Garnett that he’s the kind of player you want on your team but everyone else hates – the very definition of the ADT. Garnett has played for three teams but truly peaked as a Douche upon joining Boston. Perhaps limited success and being trapped in the NBA’s wintry wasteland kept him under wraps but, once he could actually get out of the first round of the playoffs because other players were there to carry the load, he started to talk.
A lot. And he wouldn’t shut up.
The 2008-2013 Celtics teams have the honor of having three players on this list. All of them are gloriously overrated, do little things to annoy the hell out of opponents and are notoriously cowardly – KG is simply the longest-tenured Douche among the trio.
Small Forward – Paul Pierce
Ugh. What to say about “The Truth,” other than that he is truly a Douche. Former Heat player Quentin Richardson said of Pierce and Garnett after a playoff scrum, “They’re all a bunch of actresses.”
Thanks, Q. You nailed it.
Pierce is a master of the flop, the whine, the look of constant frustration because, clearly, he is always right and everyone else is always wrong. He’s been carted away with a devastating injury only to return minutes later, as if nothing happened – BECAUSE NOTHING DID. And he can routinely go 2-of-15 from the field, hit a shot at the last minute of a game that was close no thanks to him, and take full credit for a come-from-behind win.
Shooting Guard – Kobe Bryant
Bryant gets the nod over, I hate to say it, Dwyane Wade. Wade is despised across the league for what other fans see as constant petulance, flopping, complaining and, of course, his patented pump-fake for the foul, which is still going strong after 11 seasons.
Kobe seems to have gotten a pass over the last few years, as age and injuries have limited his productivity. While some pundits say the NBA isn’t the same without Kobe, I agree, but for different reasons.
He’s an historically-great player, five-time champion, U.S. Olympian, etc. But he’ll always be a prime Douche.
For forcing Shaq out of town. For talking smack to veterans far more accomplished that he was. For speaking Italian. And, despite the case being thrown out, for Eagle, Colorado.
There’s no way to escape that incident, regardless of the circumstances, and for that, Kobe Bean Bryant, welcome to the ADT.
Point Guard – Rajon Rondo
Oh, where to begin.
He gets the “pesky” label because of his position but truthfully, Rondo is just a Douche. He uses his length to wreak havoc and is a creative passer – skills that have conveniently propelled him to All-Star status while masking the fact he can’t shoot from 15 feet out.
Would that Rondo had been traded to the Western Conference, just so Miami only dealt with him twice a year. Seeing Rondo recover from his injury just to watch Boston’s record flush further down the standings has been a great pleasure for Heat fans. I’m sure it would be an ultimate joy to have him stay on a perpetually-rebuilding franchise but that remains to be seen.
Regardless of how his career pans out, he’ll always earn a place on the ADT, for this play and this one alone:
Have fun in the Atlantic Division cellar, Rondo. I hope you stay there forever.
This will be a quick roundup of the remaining ADT members although, depending on your favorite teams, some of these players could easily make the first team.
Dwight Howard – Cartoonish muscles hide a softness that is often dismissed as “childish.” Howard walks around with a goofy, indifferent smile on his face that hasn’t been smacked off because there isn’t anyone bigger to put him in his place. He’ll never win anything other than a place on the ADT.
David West – Grabbing, bullying, pushing – watch him force opponents to the ground and then act shocked if a foul is called. It’s not his skills that frighten Heat fans so much as the fact that he makes a referee’s job a nightmare and therefore gets the benefit of “no calls” throughout the game.
Manu Ginobili – Flop-master extraordinaire, he can whine and complain in two languages. He’s achieved success, both individual and team-based, and the honor of making the ADT is one more for the trophy case.
Jason Terry – Too easy.
Kirk Hinrich – No coincidence that, like Noah, Garnett, Pierce, and Rondo, they’ve all been tutored defensively by Tom Thibodeau, now as the Bulls head coach or as Celtics assistant. But Hinrich has been a thorn in Wade’s side throughout his career and Heat president Pat Riley even called him out publicly for being “dirty.”
(Dis)Honorable Mention – J.R. Smith (for hitting stupid shots and for untying people’s shoes), Vince Carter (for out-acting Pierce, with fake injuries and snarls alike), Tyler Hansbrough (“Psycho T,” for flailing limbs and limited skills that result in being paid millions to be a Hall-of-Fame Douche).