10 NBA Players with Most Swagger

Dan Favale@@danfavaleFeatured ColumnistNovember 4, 2011

10 NBA Players with Most Swagger

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    In order to succeed in the NBA, one must be cool, confident and collect, with some arrogance and bravado thrown in there too. In other words, you have to have swagger.

    Swagger refers to a way a person or athlete carries himself. In the NBA, the way you carry yourself is directly related to your ability to carry your team. Sometimes this means coming off as arrogant, but other times it just consists of exhibiting a healthy dose of confidence.

    Not every premier athlete boasts an abundance of swagger, but those who do are the ones we will remember most.

    Whether we interpret it as being disgustingly cocky or amusing and easy to embrace is beside the point; swagger runs rampant throughout the hardwood.

    Here are the current kings of swag.

Josh Smith

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    Josh Smith is a tough defender and a difficult athlete to put up with outside of that.

    At 6'9" Smith is one of the league's premier rebounders, a classification you cannot achieve without being aggressive, but he takes it to a whole new level. He seems to almost intentionally bang into people when he is crashing the boards, as if daring someone to mess with him.

    Smith knows that he is a fine player and carries himself as such. He works hard on the floor, but he lets everyone know it; he stares players down as if to establish a sense of dominance.

    The Atlanta Hawks may not be apt to put up with Smith's attitude much longer, but it is highly doubtful that any trade speculation fazes him. He knows what he brings to the table and probably prides himself on the fact that he commands more attention, both on and off the court, than franchise player Joe Johnson.

    Humility is not a word that is in Smith's vocabulary; he is not going to overlook what he does. His cockiness can become somewhat of a headache, but his talent is worth it, or at least that seems to be how he feels.

    Swagger is all about exhibiting confidence in one's self in an extreme fashion.

    Hard to argue that Smith isn't chock-full of it then.

Chris Paul

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    Chris Paul is a rarity in the NBA—not just because of his incredibly effective skill set, but also because he knows how to balance his swagger with a touch of humility.

    When Paul is on the court, especially when the ball is in his hands, the opposition knows that he is going to do something special, but so does he. There are very few point guards who carry themselves the way Paul does; he is an absolutely fearless floor general.

    Amidst all the speculation regarding his future, Paul continues to do what he does best, and that's play at an All-Star level. You may not see him trash-talk as much as others to follow, but don't expect him to take an unfriendly bump quietly.

    Furthermore, watch Paul sacrifice his body to get to the basket. Is a seven-foot center going to stop him? No, not at all; the point guard knows there isn't a body in the league capable of keeping him away from the basket.

    This past year's playoffs serve as a perfect example of Paul exhibiting swag. He carried the Hornets to a competitive series against the Lakers, averaging 22 points, 11.5 assists and 1.8 steals per game. Do you think he cared how heavily favored the Lakers were?

    No, all he cared about was making sure you never forgot how big of a threat he was and what lengths he would go to in order to keep his team relevant.

    Mission accomplished.

Derrick Rose

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    Derrick Rose is just your average, run-of-the-mill 23-year-old. Oh wait, that's right—he's not.

    This 23-year-old is the NBA's reigning MVP and the heart and soul of the Chicago Bulls. Last season, he averaged 25 points, 7.7 assists and 4.1 rebounds per game while leading the Bulls to the Eastern Conference finals.

    Like Chris Paul, you won't see Rose be over-exuberant with his mouth, but this is because he lets his play do the talking, to a certain extent anyway. Rose isn't afraid to let loose and let out a roar after he has dunked the ball or dished out a nasty pass.

    If Rose could, he would let his defender know what he was about to do, just to prove to him that he could not be stopped. You don't get to be the MVP in only your third season without carrying yourself incredibly well.

    Rose's swagger is embraced because he doesn't tap into the realm of arrogance. He doesn't always strut. Instead, he flies through the air, humiliating the opposition with his incredible vertical leap. That being said, he isn't afraid to run his mouth if the situation warrants it.

    Additionally, when's the last time you saw Rose disappear in crunch time? 

    Exactly. He doesn't just thrive under pressure; he embraces and prefers it.

    That's what we call swagger.

Carmelo Anthony

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    You cannot discuss swagger without mentioning Carmelo Anthony.

    Anthony tries to look innocent on the court when he smiles and shakes his head as if to say he has no idea how he does it, but he knows he's one of the greatest scorers the game has seen.

    Additionally, if Derrick Rose thrives under pressure, then Anthony lives for it. With the game on the line, he wants the ball in his hands, whether he is having an on or off night. 

    Anthony's swagger can be a bit hard to embrace because his smirk is often the worst form of taunting and because he can only let his play speak for itself on one side of the ball. That being said, establishing yourself as the star Anthony has, despite such criticism, takes drive and bravado.

    Speaking of Anthony's defense, wouldn't you think the concern surrounding his capability would rattle him? Perhaps, but it doesn't.

    We haven't even reached the conclusion of the lockout, and Anthony is already talking about a stronger defensive focus. He knows where he is vulnerable, but he also knows he can improve, even after eight years of being set in his ways.

    "I can't" is not a phrase Anthony knows how to speak, and it is this very faith he has in his abilities that gives him his swag.

Kevin Garnett

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    Kevin Garnett is one of the most effective big men the NBA has ever seen, and he knows it.

    Garnett isn't afraid of anyone and takes pride in getting inside the opposition's head. While this makes him hard to love, people do because he walks the walk in addition to talking the talk.

    It is a rare occasion that Garnett is silent on the court. He is either chastising the opposition or blocking shots with the utmost of force. 

    Furthermore, Garnett's tactics—at best—are questionable, and he knows it. He is one of the dirtiest athletes ever, a reputation that he seems to pride himself on.

    It's tough to build a large following of supporters when you are a competitive jerk, but Garnett's acceptance of such a role and his willingness to play the villain has earned him the respect of both players and fans.

    Love him or hate him, you have to admit that Garnett can deliver.

    Actually, he'll admit it before anyone else.

Dwyane Wade

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    Teaming up with a player like LeBron James and remaining your team's leader is a feat that some may have thought impossible, yet we have Dwyane Wade.

    No question that there was more hype surrounding James' jump to Miami than there was Wade's return, but he didn't let that faze him, nor did he let James' off-court sound bites get to him.

    Wade has maintained his identity outside of the big three, something that Chris Bosh has failed to do and something that few could do. Last season, he averaged 25.5 points, 6.4 rebounds, 1.5 steals and 1.1 blocks per game, sacrificing nothing in terms of production.

    Wade can be arrogant, but his confidence is more heralded than anything. His willingness to do things that shooting guards aren't known to do, like steal, rebound and block, is nothing short of astounding. Even as a neophyte, Wade wasn't afraid to go up against the best and against the grain.

    Now, the best of the best plays right alongside him, and yet he never folded under second fiddle remarks. Rather, it seems he used them to fuel the fire.

    Those who thought Wade would be James' sidekick are misguided. He has too much swagger to be anyone's sidekick.

    Wade is prolific in his own right, no matter who he is playing with, and he knows that. It just took a little time for others to realize it as well.

Paul Pierce

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    Beloved in the eyes and hearts of Celtics fans—and hated almost everywhere else—Paul Pierce is easily one of the kings of swagger.

    No one, not even Carmelo Anthony, relishes in having the ball in his hands with the game on the line as much as him. Hitting the game-winning basket has become second nature to Pierce, something he can almost do in his sleep.

    And when the game is over and he is being interviewed, is he likely to say it was a close one? No, it is more probable he says something along the lines of "We had them the whole time."

    Pierce is cocky, there is no doubt about it, but we tolerate it because there is not much else we can do. He is no Sasha Vujacic, who runs his mouth without backing it up; Pierce is a warrior, who will not be silenced, both on and off the court.

    While some may hold Pierce's outspoken, arrogant nature against him, is there any other type of player whose hands you would rather put the game in?

    To succeed under pressure, it takes more than just talent; it takes confidence, and that includes an obnoxious faith in one's abilities.

    That's certainly an area where Pierce has no room to improve.

Amar'e Stoudemire

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    Amar'e Stoudemire has always been one of the faces for swagger, but this fact became even more evident once he took his talents to New York.

    From the moment Stoudemire proclaimed that the "Knicks were back," you knew he meant business.

    Forget the fact that this was an organization that had spent the better part of a decade in the pits of the NBA. Forget that no other stars wanted to undertake the task of reviving a dead organization. Forget that he was surrounded by a wealth of inexperienced players. None of that mattered.

    As previously mentioned, before one is ready to carry a team, he must first be able to carry himself. As he began his tenure with the Knicks, Stoudemire faced questions regarding the health of his knees and his ability to be effective without Steve Nash.

    Any doubts were soon put to bed, as Stoudemire exceeded the expectations of nearly everyone.

    When the Knicks lose, it's on Stoudemire. When they win, they win as a team. And when Stoudemire or one of his teammates does something noteworthy, he lets the opposition know it.

    To thrive in the face of adversity takes swagger, and that's an attribute Stoudemire is no stranger to.

LeBron James

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    How much swagger does LeBron James radiate? Probably too much for his own good.

    The fact that he is a self-proclaimed king should say it all. He is one of the most athletic players to step foot on the court, something he not only knows but takes pleasure in ensuring the rest of us never forget.

    Everything James does emulates arrogance. Whether he is on the court or doing a postgame interview, he never forgets who he is and what he is capable of doing.

    James is easily one of the most hated players in NBA history, and while his swagger is excessive, there is no denying that he is just the player to have such an attitude. Ring or no ring, James is one of the best players in NBA history in terms of talent.

    Has he disappeared during the postseason on occasion? Yes, but he keeps coming back for more, year after year.

    Furthermore, while the way he left Cleveland is slightly sickening, it took a lot of confidence in himself to abandon a team that valued him the way it did. James knew the ramifications of his decision but also knew that he was LeBron James, a world-class athlete capable of playing the role of both hero and villain.

    James is not always a friend to the media or NBA fanbase, but rumor has it that he has swagger on speed dial.

Kobe Bryant

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    No one, not even LeBron James, is as fearless as Kobe Bryant.

    Throughout his career, Bryant has pushed Shaquille O'Neal out of Los Angeles, chastised teammates, requested a trade and run into legal issues. Despite all of this, he will leave quite a legacy behind him once he hangs up his jersey for good.

    Few players in the history of the game have meant as much to their team as Bryant does to the Lakers, and he knows this, ergo the aforementioned incidents above.

    Bryant will be the first to tell you age is but a number and not an indication of what's to come, and he will get in the face of any player, be it a teammate or member of the opposition, he feels the need to.

    Additionally, when it comes to self-esteem, Bryant is anything but lacking. Even when Bryant is bringing the ball up the floor, he seems to be strutting. He knocks down improbable shots nonchalantly, and when he catches fire, every person within a 50-mile radius knows it.

    More impressively, Bryant has a knack for pawning his shortcomings off on those around him; he probably wouldn't admit to ever having a bad game, rather chalking up subpar performances to his teammates failing.

    Bryant lives in his own little world, one that fans and analysts both embrace and despise on different occasions.

    One thing is for sure, though: His at times warped sense of reality is the epitome of swagger.

    You can follow Dan Favale on Twitter here @Dan_Favale.


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