Deadspin NBA Shit List: Dahntay Jones, Your Asshole Teammate

A celebration of the NBA's most infuriating players, both past and present. Read other NBA Shit List entries here.

Akshay stood 5-foot-9, 200 pounds, with broad shoulders and a wooly beard. He couldn't shoot. He couldn't jump. He got tired quickly. He couldn't dribble with his head up for more than a few bounces.

But he was my high school team's starting center (listed at an intimidating 5-foot-11) because he was incredibly good at pissing people off. How he did this was by caring way, way more than was reasonable given his talent. After a few trips up and down the court, he would be sweating profusely, drenching opponents while hoarsely yelling, "Deny! Deny! Deny!" in their faces. Crushing screens—especially those a defender couldn't see coming—were his specialty on offense.

When he came out of the game, he was the kind of kid who would yell, "Shot!" from the bench in a shooting opponent's ear.

Antics like these are annoying enough coming from a player you respect. But no one respected Akshay. Our opponents never thought, "Wow, this kid has a lot of hustle and I respect his passion!" What they thought was, "I want to choke him to death with his own chest hair." And also: "How does he have so much chest hair?"

Nearly 10 years later, I'll occasionally run into some of the players from the team that dominated our league. These guys kicked our asses eight separate times in four years. One of them even got paid to play in Europe for a bit. You'd think he would have moved on from small time high school hoops. But whenever I see him, one of the first questions is always, "You still keep up with … what was his name ... ASH-kay?"—his tone mocking and his eyes growing big to emphasize what a silly-named dick Akshay was. "God I hated that guy."

In practice, our coaches always placed me and Akshay on opposite teams for scrimmages. I was the best player on our crappy team, and my coach told me straight up that the reason he arranged teams this way was because Akshay didn't give me special treatment where other players might back down. Quite the opposite. One time we went for the loose ball and got tied up. We fell to the floor, each with a real claim to possession, attempting crocodilian death-rolls to rip the ball free. After about 10 seconds our coaches came over to yell at us to knock it off. Nearly nose to nose, we stared each other down. Neither of us flinched. I finally let go and got up. Akshay spiked the ball and clapped in my face. I managed a patronizing smile in an attempt to appear unmoved, but all the while I imagined the effect of my fist crashing into his jaw.

Go to the fourth quarter of my final high school game. With a few minutes left and our team down double-digits I take my fifth foul, mistakenly thinking I have one to give. The scorers' table announces flatly that my career is over, and the unalterable, humiliating finality of the moment moves me to heaving sobs before I can even reach the bench. We needed every one of my career-high 33 points to beat this team earlier in the year—this game, our season, is now officially a lost cause. Looking down through tears and sweat, I hear Akshay checking in. Someone has to play out the string. I pull my face out of the towel in time to see my furry, overweight replacement at half court, body-checking an opponent out of bounds and flopping, a desperate, doomed attempt to take a charge. He bounces up off the floor and claps once in frustration, a salt pond forming on the hardwood where he had fallen.

And at that moment, the misery that had welled in my sternum is gone, replaced with an overwhelming pride. There I stand, clapping like a lunatic for a teammate, my best teammate, who won't give up even when it's the only thing to do.

In July, the Pacers shipped Dahntay Jones to the Mavericks, the throw-in in a minor deal. I am sure that Mavs fans, like Pacers fans before them, will watch everything Dahntay Jones does—the way he alternates between overly physical defense and flopping, the way he acts a fool on the bench, the way he gets wildly hyped about everything his teammates do, the way he doesn't quite know his station within the game and thus produces turnovers of unimaginable ingenuity and folly—and immediately adore him.

The rest of the NBA will go on thinking him utterly insufferable. I'll hate him, too, but I'll also think of Akshay and his elbows and the salt pond. The best teammates, ultimately, are the guys loved by only 11 other players.

Beckley Mason is the editor of the NBA blog HoopSpeak. You can follow him on twitter at @BeckleyMason.