20 Athletes Who Refused To Play Together Source:

Many professional athletes are famous for being high maintenance, and in such a competitive arena it is inevitable that tempers will flare and that there will be players who cannot get along with one another. Sometimes these players are teammates who are unable to get on the same page, which will create friction throughout the organization as both individuals adopt a “this team ain’t big enough for the both of us” attitude. Although slightly childlike, when two players refuse to play together it can be a great source of entertainment and ensure that when they face off there will always be fireworks.

10. Stephon Marbury & Kevin Garnett

Back in the mid ’90s in Minnesota, a fresh faced Kevin Garnett and pre-head tattoo Stephon Marbury looked like they were going to be a great duo, as they seemed to share a fantastic on-court understanding. At the end of the 1996/97 season, Garnett was posting excellent figures and made the all-star team, whilst Marbury (a rookie) established himself as a top young guard, and the duo helped the Timberwolves to their first ever playoff appearance. Sadly, like so often in sport, money would be the factor to spoil the party. The following season, Garnett was emerging as an elite player and was given a staggering six-year $126 million contract. For a small market team, this was unparalleled and reduced their chances of signing new players. Marbury was not pleased with the situation and demanded a trade in the lockout-shortened 1999 season. Source:

9. Tonya Harding & Nancy Kerrigan

Most of the time, if an athlete does not want to play with a teammate then they kick up a bit of a fuss, but not Tonya Harding. In the 1992 Winter Olympics, Nancy Kerrigan and Tonya Harding represented the USA in figure skating and came in 2nd and 3rd, respectively. Then, on January 6th, 1994, Kerrigan was clubbed in the knee after a practice session, which was later revealed to have been planned by Harding and her ex-husband. Kerrigan’s withdrawal from the national championships enabled Harding to win, but her plan backfired as Kerrigan recovered in time for the 1994 Winter Olympics and the duo were paired once again (the truth behind the attack had not been discovered yet). Kerrigan won the silver whilst Harding finished in eighth. The truth was revealed shortly after, and while Harding avoided jail time, she was stripped of her title and banned from competing in the U.S.,,20778965_20789297,00.html Source:

8. Steve Nash & Jason Richardson

You know that there must be something seriously wrong when a married couple of five years file for divorce immediately after the birth of their third son. Although unconfirmed, it is heavily speculated that Steve Nash’s Phoenix Suns teammate, Jason Richardson, had slept with Nash’s wife and the child was his. Just a few weeks after the birth, Richardson was traded to the Orlando Magic. Fast forward to 2012 when Nash was playing for the Lakers, this rumor was strengthened when the Lakers were trying to trade for Dwight Howard, a deal which would also include Richardson. The Lakers were reluctant to take Richardson, and it is rumored that Nash did not want him on the same team. This has not been confirmed, but the timing and way things played out is very suspicious, particularly seeing as Nash is the type to be at odds with another player. Source:

7. Scottie Pippen & Charles Barkley

Throughout NBA history, you will struggle to find two tougher players than Scottie Pippen and Charles Barkley. Teaming them up in Houston (along with Hakeem Olajuwon) in 1998 looked like a masterstroke by the Rockets, but Barkley would have to sacrifice a large amount of his salary to bring in the Bulls legend. There were chemistry problems from the get-go, and after being eliminated in the first round, Pippen headed for the exit and cited Barkley’s selfishness and lack of desire as the reason. Barkley stated how disappointed he was and wanted an apology from Pippen, to which Pippen famously replied “If anything, he owes me an apology for coming to play with his fat butt.” Pippen also claimed that Michael Jordan warned him that he would never win a ring with Barkley due to his lack of dedication, but Barkley states that he spoke to Jordan who denied this. Source:

6. Lewis Hamilton & Fernando Alonso

In 2007, defending double World Champion Fernando Alonso moved to McLaren and was partnered with rookie Lewis Hamilton. Although both clearly talented, they did not get along and this led to the famous 2007 Hungarian Grand Prix incident. In qualifying, both McLarens were in the pit lane where Alonso remained stationary for a few seconds to hold up his teammate and stop him from recording a final lap time. This saw their relationship collapse, after which they did not speak to each other for a period of time and instead chose to bad mouth each other in the press. Alonso left McLaren after just one season and rejoined Renault. This would not be the last time that Hamilton would have a tense relationship with a partner, as he and Nico Rosberg have feuded heavily since being partnered in 2013. This time, however, they seem to be able to make it work. Source:

5. Percy Harvin & Golden Tate

The NFL world was stunned when the Seattle Seahawks traded highly-rated wide receiver Percy Harvin early in the 2014 season. It was soon revealed that this was due to issues in the locker room, with Harvin having altercations with Golden Tate and also Doug Baldwin. Harvin stated that they were jealous of him, and because they all played the same position, Harvin coming in took reps from them. This apparently saw Tate and Baldwin gang up on Harvin, and it is reported that there was a heated fight just one week before Super Bowl XLVIII, which they would win (for the first time in franchise history). This success clearly did not heal any wounds, as Harvin decided to head for the exit and joined the Giants. Tate has since downplayed the incident, whilst Harvin has struggled to get his career back on track since being traded. Source:

4. Wayne Bridge & John Terry

From time to time you will hear truly shocking cases of players sleeping with their teammates’ partners (see number 8), and if these are true it will naturally cause an immense amount of friction within the franchise. In 2009, John Terry and Wayne Bridge were both Chelsea and England teammates, but Bridge was then transferred to Manchester City. Almost a year later, allegations were made that Terry had previously had an affair with Bridge’s girlfriend, model Vanessa Perroncel. In a highly publicized incident, Bridge refused to shake Terry’s hand when City played Chelsea, and just two days before that. he announced his permanent withdrawal from the England team due to Terry being in the squad. This is completely understandable from Bridge’s point of view as Terry completely crossed the line, and it is not the first time that the Chelsea legend has been at the center of a scandal. Source:

3. Michael Jordan & Isiah Thomas

One of the greatest rivals in NBA history was between the Chicago Bulls and the Detroit “Bad Boy” Pistons in the late ’80s and early ’90s, particularly between Michael Jordan and Isiah Thomas. Many were confused when Thomas was left off the 1992 USA Olympic team (the “Dream Team”), with many guessing that it was because of the bad blood between Jordan and Thomas. This was confirmed 20 years on by Jordan himself, who stated “that was one of the stipulations put to me…that Isiah wasn’t part of the team.” This was echoed by Scottie Pippen, who stated “he was the guy who would yap at his teammates and say ‘kick them on their a—. Do whatever you have to do.’ No, I didn’t want him on the Dream Team.” As good as Thomas was, “His Airness” had the power to veto his selection. Source:

2. Richie Incognito & Jonathan Martin

Teasing and hazing is an inevitable part of sports, particularly for young players, but sometimes this can go too far. This is what occurred in the Miami Dolphins’ locker room in 2013, as it was discovered that offensive lineman Richie Incognito was harassing and intimidating second year offensive lineman Jonathan Martin. This was both in person and through text messages, and is said to have included sexually derogatory comments about his sister and mother, as well as racial insults. Martin had to check into the hospital for emotional distress, and he refused to play for the Dolphins again by sitting out the season until he was traded to the 49ers in 2014. Upon hearing a voicemail from Incognito to Martin, the Dolphins suspended Incognito and he was then cut shortly after. It was reported that Incognito was told to toughen up Martin, but clearly he went way over the line. Source:

1. Kobe Bryant & Shaquille O’Neal

Despite the fact that these two powered the Lakers to an incredible three-peat, and they are arguably the most dominant duo of all time, it is no secret that they rubbed each other the wrong way. An already shaky relationship took a turn following Kobe Bryant’s very public sexual assault case in 2003, and soon both were criticizing the other in the press. Although they made it to the 2004 Finals, they were crushed by the Detroit Pistons and things came to a head. After Phil Jackson departed, Shaq demanded to be traded as he felt that the direction the Lakers were going in was focused around Kobe. He was traded to the Heat, but their feud only escalated. It is only in recent years where it has subsided. Most see this as a travesty, as they could have achieved so much more had they put their differences aside. Source:
Jonny Hughes

Jonny Hughes

Jonny Hughes has been writing about movies and TV for Goliath since 2015.