In a recent SI Players Poll, Celtics forward Kevin Garnett was voted by his peers as the game's biggest trash-talker, claiming 62 percent for a landslide victory. In light of Garnett's smack-talk honor, we dug through our notebooks and archives to relive some favorite trash-talking moments.
Darrick Martin and Michael JordanIn November 1995, during their expansion season, the Vancouver Grizzlies improbably found themselves leading the soon-to-be 72-win Chicago Bulls in the fourth quarter. After hitting a jumper to boost the Grizzlies' lead with about two minutes left, guard Martin ran by the Bulls' bench and said, "I told you we were going to beat you tonight." Jordan almost immediately stood up, checked himself into the game and, as he sauntered onto the court, said to Martin, "Little man, I told you not to trash-talk me." Jordan then proceeded to obliterate Vancouver almost single-handedly.
Kevin Garnett and Al JeffersonIn January 2008, Garnett played his first game against the Timberwolves since being traded to the Celtics. KG and Jefferson -- who, of course, was the primary compensation for Garnett from Boston -- were positioning themselves on the foul line. They bantered back and forth a bit, both eventually drawing technical fouls. But the best part of the exchange was when Garnett started talking about how many All-Star Game appearances he had, as Jefferson had none. "Eleven times, 11 times," Garnett taunted. "Yeah," Jefferson replied, "but we both have one thing in common -- no championships."
In the locker room after the game, Jefferson said, "He didn't like that very much." Which was apparent since Garnett went on to win a title some five months later.
J.R. Rider and Karl Malone ... and J.R.'s momIn March 1996, the Timberwolves' Rider got into an altercation with Malone and was tossed from the game by ref Kenny Mauer. The volatile Rider started going after Mauer when, of all people, Rider's mother emerged from the stands and trotted right onto the court to tell her son to hush up and take his medicine. And for perhaps the first time in his then-three-year history with the team, Rider did what he was told.
Charles Barkley and Antawn JamisonIn his NBA debut in 1999 at Golden State, Jamison had to battle the Round Mound Of Rebound, the infamous trash-talker from Houston. Jamison's family sat in the front row, eager to witness the highly touted forward's first professional outing. For Charles Barkley, though, Jamison's fan base was trash-talking bait. During Jamison's few minutes on the court, Barkley told him, "I'm not going to take it easy on you because your mama is sitting there in the front row I'm going to get in your butt." Years later, Jamison told Sports Illustrated that this was his welcome-to-the-NBA moment. What a surprise.
Scott Skiles and the PacersSkiles was a classic trash-talker in his playing days, and one of his better efforts came on Jan. 17, 1992, while playing for Orlando against the Pacers in Indianapolis. Skiles was an Indiana native and had played two seasons for the Pacers. They left him unprotected in the expansion draft in 1989, however, so he was always excited to play against them. Things were going so well for him in this game that Pacers coach Bob Hill had to call timeout to try to cool him off. Skiles was so jazzed that he ran by the Pacers' bench on his way to Orlando's sideline and shouted, "Call all the timeouts you want, you don't have anybody who can stop me!" He was right. He scored 41 that night, his career high, and the Magic won 127-120.
Gary Payton and Jamie FeickNo story of trash-talking in the NBA is complete without mentioning Payton. Among his fellow chatters, he was a god. Whether he was guarding Michael Jordan or a team's 12th man, Payton had something to say to everyone. In 1999, The Glove told the Nets' Feick, "Man you won't even be in the league next year." Seemed innocuous enough ... until New Jersey teammate Scott Burrell walked over and told Payton he hurt Feick's feelings.
LeBron James and Gilbert ArenasIn Game 6 of the opening round of the 2006 playoffs, the Wizards were clinging to a late one-point lead while facing elimination against Cleveland. With 15.1 seconds left in overtime, Arenas stepped to the line for a pair of free throws that potentially could help the Wizards send the series to a decisive seventh game. As Arenas waited to be handed the ball, LeBron leaned in and whispered to Arenas, "You know if you miss these shots, you know who is going to hit the game-winner," punctuating the dare with a soft tap to Arenas' chest. Arenas, an 82 percent free-throw shooter that season, proceeded to miss both attempts, opening the door for James to find an open Damon Jones in the left corner for a series-ending three-pointer.
Larry Bird vs. Xavier McDanielIn 1988, with five seconds left in a tie game against the SuperSonics, Larry Bird told coach K.C. Jones that he wanted the ball and everyone else to clear out of his way. He wanted the final shot. With Seattle forward Xavier McDaniel guarding him, Bird looked at his defender and told him exactly where he would hit the game-winning shot. Bird got the ball -- four seconds left -- took two dribbles -- three seconds -- then posted up right where he told McDaniel he would -- two seconds. Money. Afterward, Bird turned to McDaniel and said, "Damn! I didn't mean to leave any time left on the clock."
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