College Hoops’ Top 10 Most Hated Players Ever
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With Ole Miss guard Marshall Henderson becoming Public Enemy No. 1 this college basketball season, we look back at the most hated players in the history of the sport.
The Big Lead named Devendorf the most hated player in the 2009 NCAA Tournament. His response? “I know everybody thinks I’m an a**hole” – with a smile on his face. Fans certainly had plenty of ammunition after Devendorf was almost thrown out of school for a physical altercation with a female, a myriad of tattoos and plenty of showboating to boot.
Devendorf just ate it up while drilling threes to lead the ‘Cuse to the Sweet Sixteen. But he shockingly left school after his junior year only to go undrafted by the NBA - not that anyone outside of upstate New York missed him.
Normally people love an undersized player without a jump shot that plays defense like a mad man. But not when they’re from Duke. Instead, “Wojo” was viewed as the Rudy from hell. And fans just sneered when Duke’s PG used his patented floor slap to fire himself up on D.Wojo sealed a spot on this list during Duke’s 1998 Elite Eight game vs. Kentucky with this flop that fooled Billy Packer and had an entire state screaming at their TV screens.
Now a long-time assistant for Coach K on Duke's bench, Wojo is still hated by fans over a decade after his last game playing for the Blue Devils.
Heyman was the original hated Dookie. He already had Carolina fans fuming when the Long Island native decomitted from UNC at the last minute and went to Duke instead. And he didn’t win the public over with his attitude. Said Heyman: “Coaches would tell me to do something, and I’d say, ‘Go f*** yourself.’ I didn’t respect authority or structure.”
But Heyman really outdid himself on Feb. 4, 1961 in Chapel Hill, when he instigated a fight with his “friend” from Long Island, Larry Brown. In the ensuing brawl, Heyman allegedly also punched a male cheerleader and nailed coach Frank McGuire in the groin. Whether that’s true or not is up for debate - but how much Heyman was reviled isn't.
OK, we cheated. But we had to include the entire starting lineup from the 1991 Runnin’ Rebels team. They were the outcasts of the college basketball world after a winning streak that reached 45 games - including a 30-point blowout of Duke in the 1990 title game.
The rematch vs. the Dookies in the 1991 Final Four was portrayed as a David and Goliath matchup that sadly had a racist undertone to it. It didn’t help that Jerry Tarkanian had a history of cheating and rumors swirled about how he compiled so much talent in Vegas. Sports Illustrated summed up the public perception of the Rebs on the cover of their ’90-’91 preview, with Larry Johnson and Stacey Augmon dressed as mobsters.
As soon as Duke prevailed the media immediately ran with the theme of “teamwork over talent.” And when a photo surfaced shortly after the Final Four of three UNLV players in a hot tub with notorious sports cheat Richie “The Fixer,” Duke’s win was officially labeled a triumph of good over evil.
Although this is a light-hearted list, make no mistake – January 25, 1972 was possibly the darkest day in college basketball history. In a hotly contested match-up for the Big Ten title, Minnesota trailed Ohio State 50-44 with 36 seconds left when Corky Taylor hacked OSU’s Luke Witte out of frustration.
Taylor appeared to show good sportsmanship and remorse by extending his hand to Witte… only to knee the Buckeye in the groin. The act set off a wild melee as the game was called and Witte was carried off on a stretcher. Taylor was suspended for the rest of the season but returned in 1973 to the chagrin of Big Ten fans everywhere.
Thankfully, Taylor and Witte became friends and put this ugly incident behind them before Taylor passed away in 2012.
Iverson was a marked man as soon as he showed up on campus after spending four months of his senior year of high school in prison (he allegedly struck a woman in the head with a chair during a bowling alley brawl).
Iverson’s two seasons of college ball were filled with fans across the Big East chanting “Jailbird” and waving bowling pins in the air. It didn’t help that he was always talking trash.
A future star for the NBA's Philadelphia Sixers, AI wasn’t always so adored in the City of Brotherly Love. In 1995, Villanova fans went so far as to hold up signs that called Georgetown “Convict U” and another one that said “Iverson: The Next Jordan” – except Jordan was crossed out and replaced with “O.J.”
The chest-pounding. The screaming. That ridiculous hair. He infuriated everyone with the full repertoire of histrionics while storming onto the scene during the 2006 NCAA Tournament. He even drew the ire of UCLA’s cheerleaders; after he claimed they called him ugly, Noah responded by blowing kisses to them in the ’06 Final Four.
“No-ah’s ug-ly” chants rained down on him the full 2007 season en route to another national title. Playing off the Geico commercials, a sign at LSU with Noah’s face on it even read: “So easy a caveman can do it.”
Now with the Bulls, Noah appears to have matured, cutting down on the antics. He even once called out LeBron James for dancing during a game with the Cleveland Cavaliers. Talk about the pot calling the kettle black.
The most notorious starting five in the history of college hoops - Chris Webber, Jalen Rosen, Juward Howard, Jimmy King and Ray Jackson - is best remembered for black socks, baggy shorts, shaved heads and lots and lots of trash talk. They were portrayed as thugs and a menace to society, which is ironic since they’ve gone on to become model citizens – aside from that whole Chris Webber perjury thing.
They certainly had a cult following, as the University of Michigan raked in record royalties. Everyone else saw them as the sign of the Apocalypse for college basketball. Like the New York Yankees, people showed up in opposing gyms just to boo them. Rival coaches like John Chaney openly despised them and to this day, many in the media still blame them for turning the fundamentals in college hoops.
Don't believe how much they were hated? Check out the Fab Five's "30 for 30" on ESPN and check out the barrage of hate mail they still have.
He might not be #1 on this list, but he was certainly the worst treated player in college basketball history. Redick would be the first to tell you he was a cocky freshman when he arrived in Durham.
But no one could have anticipated the tidal wave of hate that then ensued the next three years. Even after he tried to tone it down, the hate mail was endless. Maryland fans in particular lost their minds, chanting “F*** you, J.J.” and one fan even bragging about sexual exploits with his younger sister. Stay classy, College Park.
Fans just piled on after Redick finished his career in tears and then got busted with a DUI the summer after. Redick's time in the NBA has mercifully been much less hostile as a role player for the Orlando Magic.
For better or worse, there will never be another Christian Laettner and without him, there is no J.J. Redick.
Kentucky fans are still fuming that he was not ejected for stomping on the chest of Kentucky’s Aminu Timberlake during the 1992 Elite Eight classic, and that the crime was ignored after hitting that infamous 17-footer in overtime. Think that was a one-time deal? Ask Cherokee Parks, who was on the constant end of Laettner elbows to the stomach during practice.
And check out some of his testimonials.
“Christian is not a nice guy some of the time – I’ve seen what he can do to other people.” That’s from Laettner’s own flesh and blood – his brother, Chris.
“Easy to hate.” Yeah, that was Coach K himself.
Laettner is still considered by many in the Bluegrass State to be the anti-Christ and pretty much anyone outside of Durham still has disdain for college basketball's ultimate Eddie Haskell.