A plethora of NBA players are disrespected by fans and the media over issues on and off the court. In most cases, the disrespect stems from over-zealous fans expecting players to conduct themselves in a certain way.
While some NBA players enjoy what can be termed 'good press', a few others are not so lucky. On that note, let's look at the five most disrespected active NBA players.
#5 NBA Guard: Ben Simmons (Philadelphia 76ers)
Ben Simmons is one of the most disrespected players in the NBA, mostly because of his dreadful jump shots. Since his arrival in the league, the guard has been hounded by fans and media alike.
The Philadelphia 76ers point guard had an incredible run in college, leading to his selection with the first overall pick in the 2016 NBA draft. But his overall performance in the league has been less rather underwhelming, with a lot of people calling him overrated.
Although he is not the best shooter of the ball, Simmons is an elite passer and great defender. The 24-year-old has made it to three All-Star games and has led the league in steals.
#4 NBA Guard: Russell Westbrook (Washington Wizards)
Russell Westbrook is seen as a hot-head in the NBA, which is why he has faced a lot of criticism on social media. There have been instances when the guard has been accused of selfish play and poor decision-making on the court.
Perhaps the most significant disrespect of Westbrook is the general disinterest of the basketball community towards his record-breaking exploits in the NBA. The coverage and conversation surrounding his back-to-back triple-doubles are not as compelling as one would expect them to be.
Fellow NBA star, Ja Morant, has also voiced his concern about how Westbrook is disrespected, saying that his play is taken for granted, despite his sensational performances day in and day out.
#3 NBA Forward: Kevin Durant (Brooklyn Nets)
The basis for Kevin Durant's disrespect was his decision to leave the OKC Thunder to join the Golden State Warriors in 2016. He joined the Warriors, who had beaten the Thunder in the NBA playoffs that year. The manner and timing of the move didn't endear to fans.
Durant is also known to be very vocal on social media, responding to critics and bullies on social media. He has had several heated online debates with individuals ranging from fans to former teammates.
Durant's qualities as a basketball player cannot be questioned, as he is arguably one of the most effective scorers in the NBA. Nevertheless, the forward faces constant disrespect, which is mostly aimed at Durant the person and not Durant the player.
#2 NBA Forward: LeBron James (LA Lakers)
LeBron James is arguably one of the most beloved athletes, but there is a sizeable number of people who would celebrate when the star hangs up his boots in the NBA. The hate and disrespect started in 2010 when he decided to join the Miami Heat. Cleveland Cavaliers fans were not happy and most didn't forgive him when he returned four years later.
The GOAT debate is another reason LeBron James faces so much disrespect from the basketball community. Many use the opportunity to bash him without any concrete reason to disregard his credentials as one of the greatest basketball players of all time.
Finally, LeBron James' comments on social issues have also given room for a lot of negative comments to be directed at the superstar. One notable disrespectful comment came from a reporter asking him to 'shut up and dribble'.
#1 NBA Guard: Kyrie Irving (Brooklyn Nets)
The disrespect towards Kyrie Irving has lingered for a while due to his constant disregard for the media. Irving has always had a run-in with the media, which became pronounced during his time at the Boston Celtics.
It has been an eventful 2020-21 NBA season for Irving, who explicitly stated that he would strive to control his narrative rather than follow through with NBA-mandated media obligations.
Irving and the Nets organization were fined $25,000 each early in the season for the player's refusal to participate in the team's media availability. The fine sparked a response from the guard, who said:
"I do not talk to pawns; my attention is worth more."
Since then, the Nets star has been called out for his decision and approach to the situation. On May 5, 2021, Irving and the Brooklyn Nets were fined $35,000 each for the same offense.
The skillful guard should be celebrated for his talent as a basketball player but faces criticism more often than not. His dogmatic views have earned him more disrespect rather than well-deserved love and admiration.