7 Locker Room CANCERS That SAVED Their Careers
This video is sponsored by Blinkist. The first 100 people to go to www.blinkist.com/heatcheck are going to get unlimited access for 1 week to try it out. You'll also get 25% off if you want the full membership.
Over the last month, James Harden’s reputation as a teammate reached its all-time low point, and the controversies surrounding his weight, failure to show up to practice, poor attitude in games, publicly criticising his teammates finally got him traded to the Brooklyn Nets.
This got me thinking about players who were labeled locker room cancers and never managed to shake it off - guys like Shawn Kemp, Latrell Sprewell, Ricky Davis, Bonzi Wells, Stephon Marbury - obviously a lot of talent there but they caused such a headache for coaches, teammates, and fan bases to the point where many teams decided were better off without them, and to the average NBA fan and analyst, they’re the guys who “never figured it out”. But what if they were simply unlucky and never landed in the right situation?
On the contrary we’ve also seen players who were able to transform from locker room cancers into valued assets - even leaders, and how winning by itself can change your reputation even if it’s probably not entirely merited.
What up everybody, my name is Stefan and this is Heat Check, let’s get into it.
Starting off with the man you knew had to be on this list - Dennis Roman, the man who shows that winning can erase pretty much any mistakes you make along the way. After Coach Chuck Daly resigned as Pistons head coach, Dennis Rodman lost what in his own words was a kind of a father figure, and started engaging in some truly bizarre behavior from that point on. From missing preseason camp, falling asleep in his car with a loaded rifle, arguing with the Spurs front office, getting into brawls, being suspended...the list goes on and on...Rodman would find ways to manipulate the media and his teammates to maximum effect, so if you relied on his discipline and maturity, your team was in trouble...but, if you already have a well-oiled machine, strong culture and hierarchy, you had a chance to do something special with his talents, and that’s what happened when the Bulls added him to a roster that had Jordan, Pippen, Kukoc, Harper, and of course Phil Jackson...on his first season with the Bulls, they went 72-10 and won the Championship, but here is again that question - did Rodman actually mature, or were the optics better because he was in a stable, winning environment, where his wild behavior was just a minor distraction instead of a deal-breaker?
Next...DeShawn Stevenson was one of those players who was never a special talent, but had an ego of a superstar and often caused problems with both teammates and opponents. Most of you will remember his beef with LeBron when he was on the Wizards, but less known are his off-court problems with the law, people getting shot at his home, sexual assault allegations, you can look it all up...and these things tend to make their way into the lockerroom and team culture, it’s hard to focus on basketball with all of that happening around you...but in 2011, under the leadership of Rick Carlisle Dirk and Jason Kidd- DeShawn became a reliable rotation player for the Mavs, making 56% of his 3s in the Finals and playing a solid role in winning the championship - fittingly, against his old rival LeBron.
Not all guys have to win championships to turn their reputation around. Zach Randolph was drafted by the Blazers during the JailBlazers era, so he picked up some bad tendencies...he got into fights with teammates, got arrested for underage drinking and drugs, gun shots were heard from his property, sexual assault accusations, and he also got saddled with a bad reputation on the court, like not trying on defense and outright refusing to play when he was on the Clippers. Then he was traded to the Grizzlies and turned a new page, under Coach Lionel Hollins, with teammates like Marc Gasol and Mike Conley, he became one of the most beloved teammates and a fan favorite. The long-time announcer for Z-Bo’s High School team said that “Zach is like a chameleon, if you and I are sitting in a room and Zach comes in for a half hour, he would fit in perfectly. But then he can walk right out of that door and get in a vehicle with two guys he has no business being around, he can fall right into that trap and fit in. Whoever he’s with, he can assume that identity.”