It is always an ugly sight when NBA players get suspended because they are harming their reputation and also hurting their teams in the process. Franchises need their players available at all times because they can never be sure when circumstances change due to trades or injuries. Having a deep roster is key for every NBA team that is looking to win games and be title contenders at some point.
We have recently seen a scuffle between LeBron James and Isaiah Stewart during the Lakers vs. Pistons game on Sunday evening. During their boxing out for a rebound at the free-throw line, James swung and hit Stewart in the face which left him in a bloodied mess. As expected, things got ugly and a fight almost broke out. That meant James is suspended for the next game while the big man will be unable to play for two games.
Situations like this hurt both teams, as Detroit wants to develop their big man by playing him while the Lakers desperately need James on the floor to win games. On two different sides of the contending spectrum, suspensions are not a positive thing by any means. Looking back at NBA history, there have been a ton of player suspensions that changed a team’s NBA season and we have collected the 10 largest suspensions in NBA history. While some of these players committed offenses that were unacceptable in nature, others took it to another level by making very poor judgments. Here are the 10 longest player suspensions in NBA history.
10. Hedo Turkoglu - 20 Games
The NBA handed a 20 game suspension to Hedo Turkoglu, one of the most talented European players of his era. Apparently, the Turkish after he tested positive for steroids to boost his performance on the court. This happened back in 2013 when Hedo took methenolone to recover from a nagging shoulder injury. Rather than doing his research on what could possibly violate the Health and Safety protocols in the league, Turkoglu took a chance and it backfired.
Turkoglu took full responsibility for his actions and admitted that it was not the smartest move at the expense of the Orlando Magic. The Turkish forward claimed that he failed to check it against the list of substances banned by the NBA. The 2013 season was the beginning of the end for Hedo’s career, as the forward would play 2 more seasons with the Los Angeles Clippers before retiring at the age of 35 years old.
9. Jeff Taylor - 24 Games
Jeff Taylor lasted only 3 seasons with the Charlotte Bobcats while appearing in less than 140 games. The 6’7” forward was drafted No. 31 overall in the 2012 NBA Draft and the most thing he was remembered for was his massive 24-game suspension by the league. Taylor pleaded guilty to misdemeanor domestic violence assault and malicious destruction of hotel property charges. To make matters worse, Taylor was sentenced to 18 months of probation. Despite not looking like a starting-caliber player during his career, Taylor showed signs of being an effective role player.
He played a career-high 24.2 MPG in his second season, putting up 8.0 PPG and 2.3 RPG. Taylor was undersized to play power forward although he was well-built for a small forward, meaning he could have versatility in the modern NBA. Unfortunately for him, Jeff Taylor was forced to accept that his domestic abuse cost him his career in the NBA as the forward now plays for Real Madrid in Spain.
8. Jodie Meeks - 25 Games
Jodie Meeks was drafted No. 41 overall in the 2009 NBA Draft by the Milwaukee Bucks, although he was traded into his first NBA season to the Philadelphia 76ers. A sharpshooting guard, Meeks averaged 37.3% from three over his career and had seasons when he shot over 40% from three on 4 separate occasions. A role player for teams like the 76ers, Lakers, and Pistons; Meeks had a solid NBA career.
But in 2018, guard Jodie Meeks was suspended for 25 games after violating the NBA’s anti-drug program. Meeks tested positive for banned substances pertaining to growth hormones although he denied knowingly taking anything that would cause him to be suspended. But he could not convince the NBA, as he was suspended through some games in the 2019 season before getting traded and eventually waived. Luckily, Meeks was part of the 2019 NBA championship Raptors squad so he ended his career on a positive note at least.
7. Kermit Washington - 26 Games
After throwing a mean punch at Rudy Tomjanovich’s face just in front of the referees in a brawl back in 1977, Washington received a huge fine and a 26 game suspension, really hurting the Lakers and their showtime era, but clearly Rudy had the worst part of it and was seriously injured after the incident with Washington.
6. Stephen Jackson - 30 Games
One of the key faces that was seen throughout the world during the “Malice at the Palace brawl” in 2004, Stephen Jackson was given a whopping 30-game suspension for backing up his teammate Ron Artest during an all-out insanity fest. Jackson claimed on multiple occasions that he was always loyal to his teammates, and would go to war with them if he had to. Unfortunately, the enemies happened to be members of the crowd.
Jackson ran up into the stands to help Ron Artest fight off crazed fans, and that did not sit well with David Stern or the NBA at all. Despite believing in his principles and acting in self-defense on some occasions, it was wrong for Jackson to run into the crowd, and attacking fans is an absolute disaster by the NBA’s standards. In the end, the small forward faced a 30-game suspension that hurt a very talented Indiana Pacers team as shown during the documentary “Untold: Malice at the Palace”.
5. Javaris Crittenton - 38 Games
Javaris Crittenton is one of the saddest stories in NBA history. Taken No. 19 overall in the 2007 NBA Draft by the Los Angeles Lakers, the 6’5” shooting guard played two seasons before an idiotic incident with Gilbert Arenas killed his career. Like Arenas, Crittenton’s violation was carrying and storing an unlicensed gun in his locker. After pleading guilty to misdemeanor gun possession charges, the NBA suspended him for 38 games which is nearly half a season.
To make matters worse, Crittenton was sentenced to one year of unsupervised probation and was required to do community service. Javaris was not as talented as the All-Star Gilbert Arenas, which meant he was expendable by the Wizards and was waived to never play in the league again. Unfortunately, this incident would be a sign of things to come for Crittenton because he would be charged with manslaughter in 2011 as he currently serves a 23-year sentence in prison.
4. Gilbert Arenas - 50 Games
Gilbert Arenas was one of the most talented and prolific scorers in the league and had a chance to become a Hall of Famer. Taken No. 31 overall by the Golden State Warriors, Arenas blossomed into a 3-time All-Star with the Washington Wizards while forming a dynamic trio with Antawn Jamison and Caron Butler. Gilbert, known as Agent Zero, was known for nailing game-winning shots and also his 60-point performance on Kobe Bryant and the Lakers in 2006.
But Arenas is also known for a foolish incident with former teammate Javaris Crittenton as he brought and stores guns in the locker room. By violating NBA rules and also local Washington D.C. rules, an investigation was launched into the incident where Arenas was suspended without pay. Gilbert never returned to superstar form after that incident, because it is very hard to come back when his own team gave up on him. Gilbert is another example of a “what-if” story, and his lack of thinking cost him a chance at the NBA’s Hall of Fame.
3. Latrell Sprewell - 68 Games
Latrell Sprewell had one heck of a career, mainly because of his antics. A 24th overall pick in the 1992 NBA Draft, the 6’5” small forward made the All-Rookie Team by averaging 15.4 PPG and would make 2 All-Star Teams as a member of the Golden State Warriors. Using his solid all-around game and offensive talent, Sprewell seemed destined for success. During his 3rd All-Star season, the forward did the unthinkable by attacking his own head coach.
An argument sparked between Sprewell and head coach PJ Carlesimo when the NBA star punched, choked, and threatened the other party. This was not the first time Latrell fought with teammates, as he had incidents in 1993 and 1995 as well. Sprewell’s 68-game suspension was incredibly unfortunate, and his reputation took a massive hit. Unfortunately for the talented NBA star, Sprewell would later be sentenced to house arrest for reckless driving during his suspension to make matters even worse. The forward would have been a bonafide All-Star for years if he remained focused, as his talent alone led him to make a total of 4 All-Star Teams during 13 seasons although he could have been greater.
2. Ron Artest - 86 Games
One of the most popular and notorious players in NBA history, Ron Artest was known for being a little “off” in his thinking and actions. He truly loved the game, and his defensive prowess made him one of the most impactful small forwards of his time. Taken No. 16 in the 1999 NBA Draft by the Chicago Bulls, Artest became the Defensive Player of the Year in 2004 as a member of the Indiana Pacers. That season, Artest also made All-NBA and his first All-Star Team.
Other than his dominant season, Artest (changed his name to Metta World Peace) was also Kobe Bryant’s sidekick during the Lakers’ 2010 championship run. But without a doubt, Ron Artest will always be remembered for the infamous “Malice at the Palace”. Artest took offense to a bottle hitting his head, running into the crowd, and swinging punches at his target in the audience. Artest broke every NBA protocol by doing that, and David Stern was adamant that the forward would face significant fines (around $5 million in salary lost) and a massive 86-game suspension. Artest’s suspension is the most severe for an on-court incident ever, and hardly anyone could argue with it being given.
1. O.J. Mayo - 164 Games
Even Ron Artest’s role in the infamous “Malice at the Palace” brawl did not usurp O.J. Mayo’s career-ending suspension. The No. 3 overall pick in the 2008 NBA Draft, the shooting guard had a ton of potential as a scorer and sharpshooter. He made the All-Rookie Team by finishing runner-up for Rookie of the Year to Kevin Durant and averaged 18.5 PPG in the process. While Durant was a one-of-a-kind scorer, Mayo was showing flashes of brilliance as well. Memphis had a budding star on their hands, or so they thought.
Mayo never improved his all-around game and would be traded 2 more times before his incredible suspension in 2016. Mayo admitted to smoking marijuana and abusing pain-killer medications, two substances that were banned by the NBA. This led to the shooting guard facing a 2-year ban from the league, with the option of being reinstated during the 2019 season. Needless to say, Mayo was 31 years old by then and could not rediscover the fringe All-Star form he showed early on in his career.