While many National Basketball Association (NBA) superstars past and present have become role models for their young fans, there’s also another subset of the sport that has walked a different, darker path.
For every Lebron James or a similarly revered star, there are even more basketball players that have run afoul of the law and paid for it. Some were stars, others were merely role players, but ultimately they all sullied their own names by ending up in police blotters.
The best and brightest of NBA stars are obviously at the forefront of headlines because of their on-court accomplishments. You already know about them, of course. We chronicled the NBA players who became known more for their arrest records. Here are the 25 most notorious criminals in NBA history:
Lowry just won an NBA title with the sky-high Toronto Raptors in their upset of longtime dynasty Golden State Warriors. But there was a time when Lowry wasn’t looked upon with such fondness.
In early 2012, the Raptors star was arrested on a misdemeanor battery charge. The details of the charge are not encouraging. During the NBA lockout, Lowry played a pick-up game with other pros in Las Vegas, Nevada, that got him heated. Lowry had issues with female referee Infini Robinson, allegedly threatening her verbally and even throwing a basketball at her due to her supposedly bad calls. Another referee present, Bobby McRoy, told Bleacher Report the star has rage issues:
“Lowry was abusive with him as well and believes that he has an anger problem. He said during the game Lowry was verbally combative and confrontational to the victim leading up to the incident where he battered her twice with basketballs.”
A warrant was issued for his arrest for his role in the incident and he was hit with two counts of battery. Lowry was eventually required to complete “impulse-control management” in addition to 100 hours of community service.
The ‘Big Dog’ had an impressive NCAA career at Purdue University, making him the first pick of the 1994 NBA draft, and a solid enough career in the NBA. However, towards the latter end of his NBA career, he sullied his good name by committing a drunken act of domestic violence in 2002.
On July 20, 2002, an intoxicated Robinson paid a visit to ex Jonta French, in Chicago Heights, Illinois. Demanding to see the daughter they shared, Robinson was let inside. He then became violent, attacking and battering French. Making matters worse, he then procured a gun and chased his ex-fiancé with it. She eventually made it to a neighbor’s house where she called local police Robinson eventually received a light sentence as athletes often do. But presiding Judge Christopher Donnelly also gave the ‘Big Dog’ a verbal callout (via The Chicago Tribune):
“It’s shocking what you did. You might have had some grievances, but you had no right to take it out on the mother of your daughter. You are a role model. And as such, you brought shame on yourself and your family, and you let your fans down.”
Woods will never have the notoriety of disgraced former NFL star Michael Vick, but he committed the same crime. He was arrested on charges of animal cruelty in 2004 for operating a dog-fighting ring at his residence Portland, where he played for the local Trailblazers.
He later pled guilty to misdemeanor animal abuse. However, he claimed that he had ‘tried’ to be a ‘responsible pet owner’ his entire life’ (via ABC News):
“I’ve tried to be a responsible pet owner all of my life. Because of that I am very sorry and saddened that my dog, Hollywood, was injured. I also deeply regret the concern this has caused other pet owners and citizens in our community. I fully support the goals of the Humane Society and the fine work it does. For that reason, I have decided to make a financial contribution to the Humane Society in the amount of $10,000.”
That’s all fine and dandy, but this crime and plea makes him one of the worst criminals in the NBA.
Robertson wasn’t exactly a well-known star in the NBA, but he did maintain a presence as a defensive wiz during his career. After his retirement, he went off the rails, however.
Robertson broke into a woman’s home in San Antonio, Texas, where he played professional basketball. He reportedly strangled and bit her. Lovely stuff. Robertson was arrested and sentenced to nine months for assault, a year for a second assault charge, six months for resisting arrest, and four months for criminal trespass. The trouble didn’t stop there, however. He was popped in 2010 for kidnapping a 14-year-old girl for child sex trafficking. He allegedly forced her to perform lewd acts on him. The charges were eventually dropped five years later but the damage was no doubt done.
He was a polarizing personality during his NBA career, yet most of Butler’s off-the-court trouble came before he made it as a pro.
Growing up with a troubled upbringing, Butler revealed he had been arrested an alarming 15 times before he was only 15 years old. Butler actually cleaned up his act a significant amount in that regard before becoming an effective professional.
Patterson played in the NBA for the Portland Trailblazers, Los Angeles Clippers, Denver Nuggets, Seattle SuperSonics, and Milwaukee Bucks.
But it’s his grotesque arrest incident from 2000 that lands him on this list. Patterson forced a then-23-year-old family babysitter to perform oral sex on him. This all came while his beloved wife was on the mend from surgery, mind you. Patterson was forced to become a registered sex offender. He avoided jail time because he paid the babysitter $400,000 in a settlement.
Perkins had a solid career with the Celtics, Thunder, Cavaliers, Pelicans, and Cavs again. He even won a title with Boston in 2008.
But it was his August 2011 arrest that lands him on this dubious rundown of the NBA’s worst criminals. Like Kyle Lowry, Perkins got into trouble during the 2011 NBA lockout. He incited a chaotic melee at The Ticket nightclub in Beaumont, Texas, where he was arrested for misdemeanor disorderly conduct and public intoxication after trying to fight the club’s manager. When he was shoved out the back door, he continued to shout obscenities and fight other people. Perkins was in Beaumont to host a camp for his foundation, whose goal was to help children with drug awareness and life skills. Alright.
The seven-foot ‘Candy Man’ could also land on the list of biggest busts after he flopped as the first pick of the 1998 NBA Draft. His lack of production on the court was quite calm compared to an incident he was arrested for in 2001, however.
The story went that Olowokandi came home with a female ‘friend’ to the ire of his then-partner, Suzanne Ketcham. When she confronted him about his alleged transgression, Olowokandi hit her, took her jewelry, and procured all relevant surveillance videos of the incident for his own safekeeping.
He was arrested for three serious felonies of robbery, false imprisonment, and cohabitant abuse. Able to pay a high-priced lawyer, Olowokandi eventually saw his charges reduced. He still deserves a spot on the list of the NBA’s most disgusting criminals.
West got into trouble involving guns when he was stopped by Maryland police for speeding in 2009. When officers searched him, they found a 9mm pistol, a .357 magnum, and even a shotgun sealed in a guitar case.
He was picked up on two gun charges. West’s lawyer, C. Todd M. Steuart, claimed West was taking the guns from his mother’s home in Brandywine, Maryland, to his house in Fort Washington. Thankfully, no violence resulted from his firearms. West pleaded guilty and was sentenced by a Prince George’s County judge to eight months of home detention, two months of probation and 40 hours of community service.
Stevenson has a truly disgusting arrest on his record. It came early on in his NBA career when he was charged and then convicted of statutory rape. The incident took place in Fresno, California. Stevenson admitted he got a 14-year-old intoxicated on alcohol. He then had sex with the girl.
Police testified that the girl admitted while the sex was voluntary, she would have not have consented had she not been intoxicated. Stevenson was later sentenced to two years probation, 100 hours of community service, and a fine. His rep took more damage.
This current Indiana Pacer and former All-rookie team member ran afoul of the law concerning a domestic violence incident. Three years ago in 2016, he attacked his wife. He was booked on misdemeanor domestic violence causing injury and domestic battery charges, both misdemeanors. He was ultimately convicted for domestic battery.
Collison served 20 days in jail and was only given a mere 20 hours of community service as a result of his attack. Furthermore, the current King must attend a domestic abuse program as part of his three-year informal probation period. He was later picked up on public intoxication charges later in his career, but that obviously paled in comparison to his initial troubles.
The controversial, brash Stephenson has undoubtedly earned his spot high on this list. Nine years ago, the former Indiana Pacer was accused of tossing his then-pregnant girlfriend down the stairs. He then allegedly slammed his partner’s head on one of the stairs.
He was charged with assault, harassment, and menacing, hardly the rap you would imagine for such harrowing crimes. In a shocking turn of events, however, the prosecution against Stephenson failed to convict him and he somehow got the charges dismissed. It wasn’t the first time Stephenson had run afoul of the law, however, as he was also accused of sexual assault back in 2008 while still in high school.
Telfair was arrested due to extreme speeding and driving with a suspended license in New York in 2007, but things only got worse from there. Telfair was then given gun charges when police found a handgun in his vehicle. It was his second such charge, but perhaps this time was somehow less foolish than the first.
If you remember, the mediocre Telfair not only failed to live up to his substantial hype in the NBA but was also caught smuggling another pistol onto a plane early in his career.
Oden had his almost unreal basketball talent ripped from him early on in his NBA career. He was predicted to be the future of dominant big men in the league, but serious knee ailments forced him into retirement at an early age.
Washed out of the NBA before his career had really started, Oden found himself in trouble with the law on accord of his own substance abuse. In 2014, he was involved in a concerning incident at his mom’s home. There, he hit his ex with several strikes, earning four battery charges in the process. Two were felonies. He later agreed to a plea deal on one of his two misdemeanor charges and had the other three charges dropped. It’s a sad situation that Oden, unfortunately, made much worse by engaging in violence.
Swedish-born Taylor found himself was arrested in Michigan when he fessed up that he accosted his girlfriend. Taylor was charged with domestic assault, assault, and malicious destruction of property. He pleaded guilty to a domestic violence charge and was suspended from the NBA.
He was not re-signed by the Charlotte Bobcats after the concerning incident.
The aptly named “Big O” found a following at the University of Arkansas and his early-career days with the Phoenix Suns. He was beloved for his ability to play a high-intensity sport like basketball despite his rotund physique.
However, things soon worsened for Miller. He began bouncing around from team to team, and he soon found himself in legal troubles as well. Eight years ago in 2011, Miller went off and assaulted a girlfriend’s brother with a handgun at a barbecue. The man ended up with 11 staples due to the brutal attack. Miller was picked up by local Maryland police and booked on assault and reckless endangerment in addition to various other offenses. He later pleaded guilty to first-degree assault and carrying a handgun. Unlike many of the famous players on this list, Miller actually went to jail when he was sentenced to five years in lockup.
Of course, it wouldn’t be a list of the NBA’s most notorious criminals if it didn’t include the infamous Artest. The Future Metta World Peace was, of course, convicted for his violent role in the historic Indiana Pacers vs. Detroit Pistons brawl in 2004. The fight is understandably considered the craziest brawl in NBA history. He was put on probation for the incident.
A perhaps less focused on charge is also on Artest’s record, however. He was charged with domestic violence when he played for Sacramento three years later. He was required to commit a work release program, pay a fine, undergo counseling, and serve 100 hours of community service.
But he’ll also be most remembered for the insane Pacers vs. Pistons brawl, where he was seen fighting fans on video.
Wallace had a prominent spot on our list of the greatest sports upsets of all-time, but, unfortunately, he’s also on the list of the NBA’s most notorious criminals as well. Like many other players on this list, Wallace found himself in trouble with the law during the NBA lockout of 2011. He was pulled over for drunken driving. The police also found a concealed weapon on the inebriated Wallace.
Like most who get a DUI, he was put on probation, paid a fine, and had to complete community service. The punishment was relatively calm compared to some of the disgusting crimes described on this list.
Jason Richardson was known for his high-flying tenure with the Golden State Warriors before they became the title-contending juggernaut version of the team that NBA fans see today. Perhaps his best claim to fame was his Slam Dunk Contest wins during the All-Star break.
But he was also arrested on some horrific charges. Roshonda Jacqmain, the mother of Richardson’s child, claimed that Richardson used her head to put a hole in an apartment wall. He was convicted of the crime by a jury after they laughed at his self-defense claim. It was yet another crime involving some sickening instances of domestic violence and NBA players.
Kidd had a great college and NBA career as a point guard, but his arrest history is also so extensive that it comes in two parts. First, Kidd was arrested on domestic violence charges back in 2001. The punishment was relatively minor, as he was required to attend anger management and paid a small fine. He later claimed his wife was the one attacking him when they got divorced years later.
He got into even more trouble in his 2012 car accident involving mass amounts of alcohol. Kidd was seen imbibing many adult beverages at a New York club before stumbling to his vehicle. He later wrapped it around a pole. He then refused a sobriety test. The accident was viewed as quite the horrific one. Despite its gruesome nature, Kidd somehow walked away unscathed, with the only damage being done to his reputation – and his SUV.
Just like there’s no other upset but ‘The Miracle of Ice’ that could top the list of sports’ greatest upsets, there’s just no other NBA criminal who could top this list other than Jayson Williams.
Williams became embroiled in a bizarre, violent controversy when limousine driver Gus Christofi perished at his mansion in New Jersey, where he played for the Nets. It was later found that Williams attempted to cover up evidence of the killing in order to potentially stay out of trouble. He was arrested on, aggravated assault, concealing a shooting, and aggravated manslaughter charges.
The latter charge was dropped, but Williams was indeed convicted of four counts of the prior charges. He admitted to his disgusting cover-up. Like few on this list, Williams actually served jail time for this horrendous crime. He was jailed for 18 months. For what it’s worth, Williams fessed up to his selfish, disgusting transgression. But the fact he did it in the first place makes him by far the most notorious criminal on this list of NBA criminals.