According to more than 70 NBA players polled by SI, these are
the league's verbal villains.
1. GARY PAYTON, G, SUPERSONICS. He talks in the preseason, talks
when he's on the bench, talks during his own charity game. "The
most consistent trash talker I've ever encountered, and I can't
think of anybody who's a close second," says Nuggets guard
Bryant Stith. When one of the Nuggets dared Payton to shoot,
Payton hit a three. Says Stith, "Every time he came down the
court after that he told the guy, 'That's why I make $12
million.' I mean, every time!"
2. MICHAEL JORDAN, G, BULLS. A smooth talker. "His stuff is more
refined," says Grizzlies guard Anthony Peeler. "He'll tell you
stuff while he's shooting, like 'You almost got that. You were
3. CHARLES BARKLEY, F, ROCKETS. Funniest talker in the NBA. Once
asked the deeply religious A.C. Green, "A.C., if God is so good,
how come he didn't give you a jump shot?"
4. REGGIE MILLER, G, PACERS. He even talks at practice. He once
hounded teammate Sam Mitchell so fiercely during a workout that
Mitchell chased him into the stands.
5. TIM HARDAWAY, G, HEAT. He rates himself third, behind Payton
and the Bulls' Scottie Pippen. "I do it all," Hardaway says. "If
you try to show me up, I can show you up more, then tell you
6. CHUCK PERSON, F, SPURS. Even a year off because of an ailing
back didn't hurt the Rifleman in the rankings by his peers.
"Don't let him make that first shot or he'll be talking to you,
the team, the bench, the coach, everybody," says Mavericks
forward Dennis Scott.
7. JOHN STARKS, G, KNICKS. Starks often talks to everyone but
his opponent. Says Spurs forward Charles Smith, "He'll yell out
to his teammates, saying, 'He can't hold me. He can't hold me.'"
8. ALONZO MOURNING, C, HEAT. He likes to add a few choice words
to his trademark scowl. "He talks a lot of stuff," says Kings
forward Michael Smith. "He tries to intimidate people."
9. ALLEN IVERSON, G, 76ERS. Cocky. He even responds to
compliments with trash. "I guess he knows he's good," says Heat
center Duane Causwell. "You say, 'Nice pass,' and he says, 'I
know it's a nice pass.'"
10. ANTHONY MASON, F, HORNETS. He uses his tongue as a weapon.
"I say whatever I feel is going to get to the other person,"
says Mason. "I might come up to someone who's red-hot and try to
get into his head." "We've had some choice words," says the
Wizards' hyperpolite guard, Calbert Cheaney.