The NBA is one of the world's most popular leagues and has a penchant for producing eye-catching, controversial moments. The 2020-21 campaign is no different and has seen quite a few major controversies which have garnered a lot of attention.
On that note, we take a look at the five controversies that have dominated this NBA season 2020-21 below.
Top 5 controversies in the NBA season 2020-21 so far
#1 Kevin Durant's over-the-top outburst at actor/comedian Michael Rapaport
If there is one player who hasn't been far away from the spotlight this season, it is Kevin Durant. Despite not featuring in as many as 29 games this campaign out of a possible 48, the former NBA champion has still managed to grab the headlines.
Durant recently made news for his heated spat with actor Michael Rapaport on Instagram DMs, which may land him in deep trouble as his language had a clear threatening tone. His messages were also labeled as misogynistic and homophobic, which hasn't gone down well at all.
It started with Rapaport criticizing KD for not being responsive in an interview with Charles Barkley in December 2020, which did not sit well with the Nets forward. Rapaport then took to Twitter to release screenshots of the conversation they had regarding this.
#2 Shaq O'Neal's awkward interaction with Donovan Mitchell on Inside the NBA
Donovan Mitchell has been one of the best players in the league and has helped the Utah Jazz claim the number one spot in the West with the league's best record overall this season. Many critics, analysts, and fans view him as a great player who is still far from the top level.
Legendary NBA player Shaquille O'Neal happened to be the latest to criticize Donovan Mitchell for the same when he was interviewing the guard during a post-game segment on January 21st. Shaq was trying to motivate him, but ended up sounding like someone trying to insult him. Here's what the former NBA champion asked Mitchell:
“I said tonight that you are one of my favorite players but you don’t have what it takes to get to the next level. I said it on purpose. I wanted you to hear it, what do you have to say about that?”
Donovan Mitchell did look a little shaken after hearing this but responded by saying:
“I’ve been hearing that since my rookie year. You know, I’m just going to get better and do what I do.”
This awkward conversation between the two led to a lot of criticism towards former players picking on young stars relentlessly.
#3 Miami Heat suspends Meyers Leonard for using an anti-Semitic slur on a live stream
Meyers Leonard was amidst one of the biggest controversies three weeks back when he was found guilty of using an anti-Semitic slur on a video game live stream. His comments were found offensive by the Jewish community, and Leonard was punished heavily by both, his former employers the Heat, and the NBA.
The Miami Heat had decided to keep Leonard away from their team activities and training facilities for a week, while the NBA decided to fine the player $50,000. Many of the video game companies that had a partnership with the player also ended their association with him post this incident. The Heat recently traded him away to the OKC Thunder, who decided to waive him immediately after a few days.
#4 LeBron James calls NBA's decision to hold the All-Star game "A slap in the face"
There was a lot of speculation regarding whether the NBA All-Star game will take place this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic. There were also talks regarding the rest that the players were deemed deserving of. With last season being pushed until October 2020, most players barely had any time to recover as the new season commenced two months later, in December.
With such a small off-season and packed schedule fixture, when the NBA decided to go ahead with the All-Star Game - the league's best player - LeBron James did not sound pleased at all. He expressed that the players are tired and in need of a break, and they were told entering the season that there would be no All-Star Game this year.
With LeBron getting frustrated due to this decision by the league, he even went ahead and claimed that's it is a "Slap in the face" to the players, suggesting it is highly unfair to them to be playing so regularly.
#5 The break up between James Harden and Houston Rockets
The Brooklyn Nets went all in this season to acquire James Harden from the Houston Rockets in a bid to bolster their chances of winning the NBA championship this year. However, the relationship between Harden and Houston went sour in the process.
James Harden's frustrations with his former team had boiled to a point where he ended up requesting a trade move due to their inability to build a solid title-contending team, which eventually led to his departure. However, Harden angered the players in the Houston camp, the fans, and everyone associated with the franchise as he forced his way out of the team.
He used multiple ways to do that, including partying excessively and boasting about it on his social media, turning up late to training, and turning up overweight at the start of the season, just to anger the Rockets management. Just before he left, he had even made a post-match remark on his team saying that the Rockets are "just not good enough."