There’s no shortage of hate-able players floating around the Association these days. Guys like Kevin Garnett, Joakim Noah, and of course The King of Vitriol himself, LeBron James, are extremely and easily hate-able, just to name a few.
Sure, just as many people love those guys as hate them, but the point is that they generate a whole hell of a lot of hate. America loves to hate itself a good villain. There’s nothing wrong with that.
But what about the guys who prove to be almost un-hate-able? Those players who you might want to dislike because they’re torching your favorite team, but they’re just too classy or too amiable or too blase to cast your hatred on to? You know they’re out there.
You might want to claim you’re some immaculate superfan, capable of hating any and all players that dare oppose your home squad, but deep down, you know there are some guys that are just tougher to root against than others. And today we’re here to weed them out.
Dirk Nowitzki — PF, Mavericks
Unless you’re like a Holocaust survivor and still have some (perfectly justified) hatred of the Germans lingering in you, then I’d imagine it’s got to be pretty tough to hate Dirk.
He’s uber-skilled, to the point where you never feel as though he got lucky on a bucket. Luck is a prime source of hate. He’s a class act who never talks trash unless it’s on one of his buddies — he’s jokingly called out old friend Steve Nash a few times before they faced off — and when players razz on their friends like that, it only makes them all the more likeable in the eyes of most fans.
Plus, he gets bonus points for knocking off The Most Hated Team in NBA History, the 2010-11 Heat, on the national stage in the Finals a few seasons back. How can you hate the enemy of that which you hate more? It makes no sense. Ipso facto, Dirk is un-hate-able.
DJ Augustin — PG, Thunder
Does anybody even know anything about DJ Augustin, other than the fact that he’s a really solid, professional backup PG who’s played for like ten teams? Seriously — I don’t think I’ve ever even heard him talk. Dude just goes about his business and does his job.
How can you hate a guy you know nothing about? Unless you’re an absolute bigot, you really can’t. On top of that, the fact that he’s changed uniforms so many times makes it nearly impossible to hate him just for rivalry reasons, adding to his overall un-hate-ability.
Al Jefferson — C, Hornets
Jefferson is hard to hate primarily because of the style he plays. For one, playing defense must be against his religion or something, because he almost never does it. Tough, pesky defense will almost always lead to hate, you see. Hence the reason Tony Allen is nowhere near this list. Big Al’s lack of spirited D makes it much harder for opponents and fans to truly dislike him.
Not only that, but Jefferson is remarkably unathletic for an NBA player, so watching him dink and dunk and spin and hustle his way to baskets on the block invokes something of a “Little-Engine-That-Could” feeling when it comes to him. I always find myself rooting for him to succeed simply because he’s so much less athletic than all his peers.
And to top it all off, he’s generally a class act and a team-player in his interviews. Very un-hate-able.
Mike Conley Jr. — PG, Grizzlies
It’s strange that one of the leagues most un-hate-able players plays for one of the league’s most hate-able teams, but that’s exactly the phenomenon which surrounds Mike Conley Jr.
The Grizzlies punch-you-in-the-mouth, “Grit ‘N’ Grind” style of ball rubs a lot of fans the wrong way. But Mike Conley just keeps it cool, man. He manages to be competitive and tough without being dirty or brash, a fine line that most of his teammates never learned to walk.
He’s got no holes in his game, and he never relies on any one aspect of his play too heavily, which can generate hatred from fans simply due to boredom. He’s always mixing it up, not only from game to game but from quarter to quarter, and even play to play.
And perhaps his biggest claim on un-hate-ability: he’s massively underrated. Conley has played his entire career in the shadows of guys like Tony Parker, Chris Paul, Derrick Rose, Russ Westbrook and John Wall, so he’s never gotten his due respect as one of the best point guards on the planet. It’s tough to hate guys who are underrated. Especially when they’re as underrated as Mike Conley.
LaMarcus Aldridge — C, Blazers
In all seriousness, practically the entire Blazers team could be on this list. Maybe it’s the fact that they play up in Portland so everybody just sort of forgets they exist, but they really don’t seem to generate much hatred.
Aldridge, Wes Mathews, Nic Batum, Aaron Afflalo, Damian Lillard — who hates these guys? Not me. I guess some Rockets fans may hate Dame purely because of his buzzer-beater to send them home last year, but other than that, it seems pretty tough to hate on the Blazers blase brigade of ballers.
And that brigade, for all intents and purposes, is led by one Mr. LaMarcus Aldridge. It’s hard to believe Aldridge has been in the league almost ten years now, because he just quietly and effectively goes about his business of racking up double-doubles.
He never talks any trash, or whines about his touches, or makes any waves of any kind. He never really says much of anything at all, and he’s always got a smile on his face.
He also never plays too well, which is a key to remaining out of the cross-hairs of hatred in the NBA.
Though he’s an All-Star and obviously a great players, he’s not the type of guy going out there and putting up otherworldly stat lines, which bring along with them otherworldly amounts of jealousy. In other words, LA is basically just great enough to appreciate without being great enough to hate. He’s found the David Robinson sweet spot.
So there you have it — a list of the least hate-able players in the NBA, in no particular order. Agree? Disagree? Well then leave a comment below!