Four Corners: Who's the NBA's current No. 1 bad boy?

April 06, 2010

Were 'bad' days so bad?
Ethan Skolnick

Sun Sentinel

David Stern would love the answer to this question: There is none.

For all the talk of an NBA image problem, it's a challenge to come up with anyone whose presence in the league embarrasses it.

Sure, some players have shown poor Twitter judgment. And, yes, Gilbert Arenas deserved punishment for his senseless, if not malicious, gun stunt. But the two primary participants in the Auburn Hills brawl, Ron Artest and Stephen Jackson, have been model citizens on playoff teams - Artest made news for revealing he used to drink Hennessy at halftime. Allen Iverson has left the stage (again) as a sad figure, not a combative one. Rasheed Wallace leads the league in technical fouls, as usual. But second? That's Dwight Howard, who has a smile as broad as his shoulders.

Makes you long for the bad old days, doesn't it?

'Mad Matt' brings edge
Brian Schmitz

Orlando Sentinel

If we're excluding Gilbert Arenas and considering guys who are not in a halfway house, I'd have to go with Magic forward Matt Barnes.

The Magic signed the journeyman last summer to give them a tattooed toughness, an edge that has been missing from Team Disney.

"Mad Matt" has compiled quite a resume this season: Fined for throwing a ball in the stands. Reprimanded by team after using expletives in Twitter posts. Agitated Kobe Bryant and traded elbows in a national TV game. Blew top at coach Stan Van Gundy during and after games. Confronted fans in San Antonio who heckled Dwight Howard and threw beer.

Barnes gave up on a football career to play basketball at UCLA. But he doesn't carry firearms, so everybody can relax.

Artest in his own league
Mark Heisler

Los Angeles Times

With today's rules against rolling your eyes at an opponent, enacted after Ron Artest went into the stands in Auburn Hills, there's no such thing as a Bad Boy as in the days when Rick Mahorn and Bill Laimbeer tackled, low-bridged and/or throttled opponents.

However, if you have to pick the modern player most likely to trigger an old-time fight, it's Artest. He's still a barely contained force unto himself.

In last spring's Rockets-Lakers series, he provoked a run-in with Kobe Bryant, got called for a foul, went to argue with the referee - then suddenly turned and sprinted the length of the floor to jump into Bryant's face. Bryant, who's nothing if not cool, didn't move a muscle, or it would have been on for real.

The next time, it might be. Of course, now Ronnie's a Laker, so it's their problem now.

Only one intimidator
K.C. Johnson

Chicago Tribune

Rules being what they now are and the retirements of Charles Oakley and Bill Laimbeer being official, there are no true Bad Boys anymore.

But even though Rasheed Wallace leads the league in technical fouls, Matt Barnes gets the most bang for per-minutes buck and Kendrick Perkins and Rajon Rondo continue to validate the Celtics' dirty reputation, the only player who still consistently inspires opponents' fear is Ron Artest.

Heck, Artest is down to a mere six technicals with no flagrants or ejections in his quest for the ring. But nobody locks down opponents as physically or as fearlessly as Artest.

And, you know, he still has that switch that could be flipped - even if it hasn't this season.

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