The Trail Blazers penchant for early exits from the playoffs provides Portland fans with ample time to observe other NBA action. Familiarity can breed affection as well as distaste, and today I want to focus on those players that you hate to admit that you like. Much like Peter Sampson’s question about who is your “other” NBA team, I want to take a closer look at how I arrived at such a weird collection of guilty pleasure players.
- Expert irritator
Forget Rodman’s cozy relationship with dictators, I’m here to talk about one of the grittiest rebounders ever to grace the court. Due to my age (32), I barely remember Rodman’s days with the Pistons. Instead, my memories of the “Worm” only involve on-court agitation and flamboyant hair colors.
Admittedly, I was never a fan of the Michael Jordan after he took my childhood hero behind the wood shed in the NBA Finals. But I did manage to channel my greater distaste Karl Malone and the Utah Jazz through the pestering play of Rodman.
- Legendary teammate
Long before Oakley was scuffling with Knicks staff, the big fella was the embodiment of an era of basketball that is no more. Oakley was never afraid to mix it up, and he was always ready to add a little juice to a foul in the paint. Along with his intimidating play on the court, it seems like every one of his teammates from his 19-year career has a story that involves him.
- Excellent nickname
“Trick or Treat” Tony Allen was featured on two of my favorite teams of the last 15 years. He started as the hard-nosed perimeter defender for the highly-successful Celtics teams of the last decade, and then transitioned into the poster child for the “Grit-n-Grind” Grizzlies. Allen’s uncanny ability to sink unbelievably low-percentage shots paired masterfully with his misses of unbelievably easy shots. Each trip down the court had the potentially to become a roller coaster ride if the ball got too close to Allen’s grasp.
- Works in the margins
I know this is blasphemy, but I can’t help but love Green. When the former Michigan State standout isn’t covering all five positions, he is busy crawling under the skin of his opponents. Yes, I could do without the occasional crotch strikes, but I was also a fan of Nicolas Batum.
When Green is facing the Blazers my blood will occasionally boil, but I find myself admiring his ability to illicit that emotion from me after the game concludes.
Who are the guys who hate to admit that you like? Share your favorites in the comments below.
*Writer’s Note: My admiration of these players is limited to their actions on the court and in the locker room.