While watching Game 6 between the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Toronto Raptors, I stopped watching so much of the game and let my mind wander. Between looking up to check the score and shuffling through Chance the Rapper’s new tape, an idea hit me: If I had to assemble an NBA team of players purely for fighting, who would/should I select?
Now, I can’t take total credit for this idea. My favorite ESPN personality, Bomani Jones, has coined the term *”Stay Ready” All Stars* quite a few times, and I found it hilarious every single time. The concept of “staying ready”, being that the players are constantly prepared for an altercation.
So, back to the original idea. I figured before I do this somewhat idiotic thing I should probably set some criteria for my team:
- To be on this team, you must have been on an NBA roster during the 2015-16 season. Also, you must always be ready for a fight, thus the name “Stay Ready”.
- Secondly, you must have gotten in a “fight”, “altercation”, “shoving match” or threatened to “kick someone’s a–” during an NBA game. (Or, you could just act like you always want to fight people during games…because I appreciate that, too.)
- Thirdly and most importantly, if I was in a hypothetical scenario (whether we were teammates, outside a bar a few drinks deep, or perhaps I was in a bare-knuckle, highly-illegal boxing operation in Tijuana) I have to trust you in said fight. So, what I mean is, I’ve got to want you on my side of said fight.
- Fourthly (official/unofficial rule), I may or may not have included someone (or a pair of brothers) on this list because they pulled up on someone away from the court and tried to throw hands. I find that amusing. So, if you did something like that and I thought it was funny, I probably included you on this list.
Okay, here it is.
2015-16 Stay Ready All Stars
Player/Coach: Stephen Jackson
I mean, this was a pretty easy choice. Stephen Jackson is the epitome of what the Stay Ready All Stars set out to embody. These particular list of NBA marksmen set out to be legends at the bank and legends with their hands. But seriously, I mean, Stephen Jackson squared up on the entire Detroit Pistons team, anyone within a 13-mile radius of Auburn Hills on November 19, 2004 and if you ask me, was probably prepared to fight a full factory of automobile workers on that particular night. He even went so far to carry out this legacy after this playing days. While being a correspondent on ESPN’s NBA show “The Jump”, regarding the D’Angelo Russell cell phone leak, he went so far to say “snitches get stitches”. He’s bout that action, boss.
THE ENTIRE 2015-16 MEMPHIS GRIZZLIES ROSTER
Tony Allen. Chris “Birdman” Andersen. Matt Barnes (Which, whooo…I’ll get to later). Zach Randolph. Lance Stephenson.
Need I say more? Never before has there been a better assembled collection of heavy hitters ready to go to fisticuffs at the drop of a hat. This is hands down the grimiest and most physical team in the NBA. Hell, they play in a building called THE GRINDHOUSE. That should carry some weight here. I’d be willing to bet the 2015-16 Grizzlies could beat up the Justice League in a street fight. Plus, they used to be coached by Lionel Hollins. That guy is the scariest coach in the league. Also, they play in the city of Memphis. Which — if you’ve never been to Memphis — is the embodiment of staying ready.
Team Captain: Matt Barnes
Where do you even start with this guy? How about here: Before writing this, I wanted to see how many fights involving Matt Barnes I could find on YouTube. I found eight instances during an NBA game where Matt Barnes either: a) repeatedly cursed at the guy he was guarding or who was guarding him (wait, he does that every game…) b) pushed some guy after a play c) attempted to punch or successfully punched someone d) pretended to throw the ball at someone’s head during an inbound play. Matt Barnes is as much guerrilla henchman as he is basketball player.
Important side note: While on this Matt Barnes fight YouTube quest, I found a video of Matt Barnes fighting an amateur street baller during a San Francisco Pro-Am game in 2011. Apparently, the guy elbowed and pushed Barnes, which in retrospect, seems like a very bad idea. Barnes was quoted as saying, “People just think they can talk any way or do anything to … me. You can’t. You can’t do that, ’cause you know people are men out here. So if you think you’re going to come out here and punk someone, that s— ain’t happening.”
I’m all in favor of Matt Barnes being a menace on the court. Oh yeah, let’s not forget about how he also drove 40 miles and ran up on then Knicks head coach Derrick Fisher because Fisher was playing house with Barnes’ ex-wife and kids. What I wouldn’t give to have been a fly on that wall.
Caron Butler has an autobiography out titled: TUFF JUICE: My Journey from the Streets to the NBA. Yep, that’s about all I need to know about Butler. Butler was a successful player for a number of years, but even while his game has deteriorated…he’s always ready to act TUFF.
Udonis Haslem — (damn, I just realized to have the name Udonis and not be eternally given swirlies and/or nicknamed Captain Underpants, you had better be a bad a–) — has been THE Dwyane Wade and LeBron James bodyguard for as long as I can remember. Udonis aka the Cornrow Disciple is a classic NBA enforcer who never backs down from a fight. I used to love watching him mouth “Imma whoop your a–” to opponents from the bench. I want Haslem to be my personal bodyguard. Here is the time he and one of the other OG’s, (and fellow Stay Ready All Star member) David West, almost threw hands.
Ron Artest aka Metta World Peace aka the dude who drank Henny at halftime of games
The artist formerly known as Ron Artest once climbed in the stands and beat up someone for hitting him with a beer during a basketball game.
Oh yeah, a little known detail about that particular instance of staying ready, he actually beat up the wrong guy. An even lesser known detail about the Malice at the Palace, immediately following the chaos, while in the locker room, Artest asked a teammate whether he thought they might get fined for what transpired that night.
Artest uttered the following statement out loud: ‘Hey, do you think we are going to get fined?’…his teammate, Anthony Johnson said, [Expletive] a fine, Ron. They are going to suspend us.’ Arrest responded saying, ‘Oh man, you think they’re going to suspend us? I don’t want to be suspended.’
He got suspended 86 games, which is the largest suspension in NBA history. This gives him eternal status as a member of the Stay Ready All Stars.
Ironically, the same guy who fought a fan is now named Metta World Peace. So, do with that what you will.
First and foremost, his nickname is The Grindfather. I’ll be damned if that isn’t one of the best nicknames I’ve ever heard. I think Don Corleone would pay his respects to Allen if he could. Aside from that, once during a game against the Warriors, Allen stole the ball and yelled, “First Team All Defense”. His display of authoritative and demonstrative confidence was amazing to watch. The only thing that he could’ve said there that would’ve been better than that would be, “First Team Stay Ready”.
Perhaps the best part of Tony Allen (regarding his stay ready-ness) is that he once reportedly punched his own teammate over gambling debt from a card game called “Boo-Yah”. Man, if that isn’t staying ready I don’t know what is. Allen reportedly punched O.J. Mayo on a flight back from L.A. and left Mayo with a significantly swollen face. He also broke someone’s eye socket outside a restaurant in Chicago. Yeah, Allen is nice with the hands.
David West is another one of those enforcers I became familiar with during my adolescence. When it pertains to keeping people in check on the court, West is a don. As I linked in the Haslem blurb, West doesn’t back down from anyone…not even a guy with cornrows named Udonis. West appears to be a very quiet guy, but never backs down from a fight.
Perhaps the funniest thing I read about David West: David West loves boxing. He loves watching and analyzing fights. He also stays in shape by boxing. Which, I don’t know about you, but someone that large that can box — watch out. Also, while playing in New Orleans, he told a reporter that his best off-court attribute was his left hook. Yep, he stays ready.
Marcus and Markieff Morris aka the Morris Twins
I know what you’re wondering…why did I include the Morris twins? I know, they don’t have the on-court credibility that the rest of the guys have. To that, I say you’re right. But the Morris twins did reportedly pull up on a guy they thought was sexting their mother. In fact, they beat the “mother lover” (for lack of a better term) two different times. As a matter of fact, they fled the scene in their own Rolls Royce Phantom. Come on guys, it doesn’t take a genius to know that you shouldn’t pull up a guy in your own car. Especially when it’s a Rolls Royce Phantom. If pulling up on a sexting culprit doesn’t scream say ready, I’m not sure what does.
Steven Adams aka The Toof
I’ll be honest, I have this weird obsession with Steven Adams. I’m not sure exactly what it is. Perhaps it’s his mustache that would make Tom Selleck jealous. Perhaps it’s his long, flowing hair. Perhaps it’s his tribal tattoo or the fact that he’s actually good at basketball. OR, perhaps it’s the fact that can’t feel pain. Seriously, one time Zach Randolph punched him in the head and it didn’t phase him. Plus, he gets under every single opposing big man’s head. I love it. He’s a New Zealand icon and last night, he dunked on Draymond Green’s entire bloodline.
The nickname The TOOF, which again, originated from Bomani Jones, is because he has a gold tooth. Steven Adams is a Mongolian warlord and menacing marauder all rolled into one. In fact, he’s the one NBA player I would select if I needed an ally in a fight.
Randolph is perhaps the craftiest player in the NBA. He has an irregular body shape, he can’t jump, he has small hands, yet, he’s become a force in the league. And for a while, he was a force off the court, too. He played with the notorious “Jailblazers” and was a part of a less than ideal culture while in Portland. In fact, he even punched then teammate Ruben Patterson during a 2003 practice. It is even rumored that he threatened to beat a guy with a pool stick over some gambling debt during his early days in Memphis.
All in all, I love Randolph. Randolph is a fun player to watch and he’s always ready to play. He’s also always ready for a fight.
Kevin Garnett is the old head of the group. Garnett is by far the most intimidating player in the NBA. I mean, come on. The guy head butts the basketball hoop stand before games. He’s crazy. Speaking of crazy, he was once forced to sit out of a practice in Minnesota for rest purposes, but instead of resting, he practiced in place on the sidelines for the entirety of practice. That’s dedication.
Garnett head butted Dwight Howard once and it was awesome.Seriously, Garnett would’ve destroyed Howard. For all of KG’s antics and intimidation, he has earned a spot on the Stay Ready All Stars.
This selection might cause a bit of controversy. I realize that a lot of people don’t think fighting when they think of Kobe Bryant, but hear me out. Bryant is crazy enough to go after anyone. Actually, he did go after just about anyone.
Here is a montage of Bryant beefing with guys over the years. I have two favorites from this group. The first — when he didn’t flinch from Matt Barnes pretending to throw the ball at his face. The second — man, he fought Reggie Miller at the end of the game and ended up pinning him against the score’s table. That’s epic. It’ll be weird not seeing The Mamba next year, but at least we have all of his stay ready moments.
Well, I just now realized that I wrote over 2,000 words about people in the NBA that I think are good at fighting. This is really what life has come to. Anyways, I’ll leave you with this:
Like the “Godfather of Soul”, James Brown, once said, “If you stay ready, then you aint gotta get ready.”