One can’t help but think that the Orlando NBA bubble gives shades of the old days of amateur basketball. With guys checked in, you can count on them to fan out and cheer, or slander their peers from the comfort of the stands when they’re not doing it on the floor. The thought got me wondering who would bring the most ruckus spectating from the crowd. I decided to compile a list of some of the league’s best trash talkers and how they’ll translate to adding excitement to the viewing restriction of the NBA’s continuation.
10. Devin Booker
Booker is one of the best scorers in the league and that comes with a whole lot of confidence. Unlike some of his all-star peers, Booker did not come into the league as a franchise guy and he’s since turned the tide with the Phoenix Suns. Of course when you’re balling like that, it comes with the price of competitive jealousy. Booker adds the burn of scorching opponents with bravado that propelled him to all-star status. As the Suns jockey for playoff position, we may get a chance to see him on full display.
9. Damian Lillard
Lillard is more along the lines of a more cold and calculated guy. He doesn’t speak until you poke the bear, but boy when you do… Lillard is very unforgiving when slighted and his deadly bag of skills back up his words. He stings you both ways and sometimes, it just so happens in the biggest moments.
Hi Paul and Russell!
8. Chris Paul
He’s sometimes the smallest guy on the floor, but he controls the flow with one of the biggest basketball brains the game has seen. Paul will take your point guard to task and let him know about it every minute he’s on the floor. His underdog Oklahoma City Thunder will feed off of his nightly energy. Don’t be surprised if this same energy produces a few screw-faces on the other side.
7. Giannis Antetokounmpo
The MVP is not just the pillar of performance, but he’s known for verbal barrages. I bet you’re saying, “Giannis!? No way!” But beneath the humble exterior is a raging competitor that’s not afraid to remind people how he’s a force. We should all remember this and recall when he donned the crown of the league in a primetime matchup with the Los Angeles Lakers.
It’s always great to have superstars that can fill the air in big time games and fans can look forward to The Greek Freak standing out.
6. Rajon Rondo
Rondo is one of a long line of players with high IQs that fuels their competitiveness. Whether it’s talking teammates through their reads or calling out the opponent’s plays, you can bet on Rondo filling the Orlando courts with his voice when he returns from injury. Not many players have been through the rigors of deep playoff runs like him, so you know he’s well-versed in the world of chatter. It just might be a few weeks before we get to see it in action at the NBA bubble.
5. Russell Westbrook
The most explosive guy on this list needs nothing to motivate his efforts. Russ is like lightning from end to end and singlehandedly powered the Rockets’ Toyota Center crowd. When pushed to the brink, he’s always down from some banter and he’s not shy about rocking the baby to sleep. The playoffs bring a host of reunions where we can look forward to hearing a whole lot of Westbrook.
4. Joel Embiid
Along with becoming, arguably, the best big man in the league, Embiid had his share of NBA beef. I don’t think things will be any different inside of this new structure. The opposition is going to draw his ire from scrimmaging to possibly the NBA Finals. Too bad the crowd won’t be there to be egged on as the big man stokes the fire of slander.
3. Jimmy Butler
Never one to mince his words, Jimmy Butler matches his talking with his game. Whether it’s getting Ben Simmons to expand his repertoire or sending kisses to TJ Warren, nobody will be safe. Now that he’s the face of Heat culture, it’s going to be a treat to watch him antagonize opponents in Orlando.
2. Joakim Noah
Joakim Noah is back, ladies and gentlemen! Was there a better team to join than the Clippers for our entertainment? You know he’s excited to take his opponents out of the game while he’s on and off the court. Noah is the special kind of trash-talker where he not only yaps at you, but he’s equally knocking you around with his hustle and energy. I love Noah because he’s loud and proud. I love that people hate that notion, too. I’m looking forward to Noah possibly seeing an old friend in Orlando…
1. Patrick Beverley
I mean, is it even close? Pat Bev’s made a career of being a menace for his opponents with his energy and effort. The mere mention of his name is enough to send any player in a tirade. He’s taken on the likes of every big name from Russell Westbrook to LeBron James. Along with championship aspirations, you can bet that Pat Bev is sharpening the blades of his trash-talk on a daily basis in the NBA bubble. With guys having nowhere to go but their respective resorts, let’s hope nothing spills off the floor.