All Basketball fans have a different interpretation of the word “dirty”. Is it throwing elbows after skying for a rebound? Is it trash talking and constantly starting fights that lead to technical fouls, ejections, suspensions and fines? Or is it something more subtle, like holding onto your opponents jersey as he makes a cut to the receive a pass.

The answer to all of these questions is simple. Yes, all of these things just mentioned can be considered a dirty play and it is a regular thing in the NBA, but sometimes it is on accident – but not usually. Some may defend infamous dirty players by commending them for their “win at all costs” attitude. Others are more critical, saying that basketball has no room for this type of nonsense – I tend to agree with the latter.

Regardless of the opposing views on this issue, there are certain players who have always been notoriously labeled as dirty. Here’s a list of the Top 10 Dirtiest NBA Players of All Times.

Some other notable dirty players:

20. Reggie Miller

19. Christian Laettner

18. Joakim Noah

17. Rick Mahorn

16. Mark Jackson

15. Rajon Rondo

14. Kurt Thomas

13. Kenyon Martin

12. Dikembe Mutombo

11. Chris Paul


10. Karl Malone

Before we get started, let me mention that you will notice a couple pairs of teammates that made this list. Both of the teams had a lot of success while playing dirty. Could this be a coincidence?

Karl Malone has perhaps the sharpest elbows of any NBA player to ever pick up a basketball. Just ask the countless number of players who fell victim to one of his infamous thrown elbows.One of his most remembered thrown elbows came in 1988 when he left a young Bull by the name of Michael Jordan lying on the ground in pain. Simply put, Malone helped the Utah Jazz become one of the dirtiest teams in NBA history.

In a time when refs let teams play, the Jazz could nearly get away with murder. It’s interesting to think about how many suspensions and fines guys like Malone would accumulate if he played today. If the Detroit Pistons were the Bad Boys, Utah were the Bad Boys Volume II.