Top 10 Most Techs in NBA History- NBA All Time Technical Fouls Leaders

Most techs NBA history ranked

17 minutes

Last Updated: May 25, 2024

Scott Kostov

Some of the players with the most techs in NBA history will leave you surprised. Most of them are NBA legends who played for more than 20 seasons. Some of them were heavy NBA players whose physicality drew a lot of contact that wasn’t called by the refs.

On the other hand, some of these entries worked hard to have the most techs in NBA history. Constantly antagonizing opponents and referees was like a side hustle that lost them money, while some just couldn’t stop talking trash. So who are these players? Let’s find out!

Who Has The Most Technical Fouls in NBA History?

The owner of this unprestigious title is NBA and Utah Jazz legend Karl Malone. The power forward played in the NBA for 19 seasons, for a total of 1476 games. During his playing career, Malone amassed a total of 332 technical fouls, which is the most in NBA history. 

Although he has the most techs in NBA history, the players behind him are not far off. Only two other NBA players have amassed over 300 technical fouls during their playing careers. And both of them played just 16 NBA seasons, compared to Karl Malone’s 19 years of playing professional basketball.

Most Technical Fouls in NBA History in a Season

The owner of this dubious honor is none other than Detroit Pistons legend Rasheed Wallace. During the 2001-02 NBA season, Rasheed Wallace earned a total of 41 technical fouls as a member of the Portland Trailblazers. This is the reigning NBA record for most technical fouls in a season, and it probably will never be broken.

Wallace’s antics have left a mark on the NBA. His 29 ejections are another NBA record that’s unlikely to be broken. Rasheed was such a menace to the officials that the NBA had to step in and implement some rule changes to combat his behavior. 

These days, any player that earns 15 technical fouls in a single season will be suspended for a game, and another one-game suspension for every two subsequent technical fouls. But this didn’t stop Wallace from going at it even in the twilight of his career. 

Despite receiving significantly less playing time, Wallace led the league in technicals each of his final four full seasons. Apart from being a core contributor to the infamous Malice at the Palace, Rasheed Wallace’s most memorable moment was getting ejected in a WCF game for staring at the official.

Top 10 Most Techs in NBA History

01. Karl Malone (332 Technical Fouls)

  • Stats: 36,928 Points (25.0 ppg), 14,968 Rebounds (10.1 rpg), 5,238 Assists (3.6 apg)
  • Teams: Utah Jazz (1985-2003), Los Angeles Lakers (2003-04)
  • Accolades: 2× NBA Most Valuable Player (1997, 1999), 14× NBA All-Star (1988–1998, 2000–2002), 2× NBA All-Star Game MVP (1989, 1993), 11× All-NBA First Team (1989–1999), 2× All-NBA Second Team (1988, 2000), All-NBA Third Team (2001), 3× NBA All-Defensive First Team (1997–1999), NBA All-Defensive Second Team (1988), NBA All-Rookie First Team (1986)

The Mailman was a lot of things. He was a beast of the boards and a load to deal with in the pick and roll. His sheer size and physical dominance made him an unstoppable force. So much so, that he’s probably the most fouled player in NBA history.

Karl Malone has 9.787 free throws made during his NBA career, which ranks number 1 all time. He also holds the record for most free throw attempts, with 13.188 free throws. Hitting them at a decent 74.20% clip is one of the many reasons he’s third all time in points scored with 36,928.

Opposing teams often had no chance of slowing him down without some serious physicality being imposed, so it’s understandable he was willing to fight back. Malone has the second most personal fouls ever and the most technical fouls in NBA history. Looking at the size of Malone’s shoulders and biceps would have you questioning your intentions.

But he wasn’t shy about letting his elbows do some damage as well. He once gave fellow NBA Star Isiah Thomas a hit to the face that required 40 stitches. Alongside many compilations of Malone recklessly using his elbows on rip-through moves, his constant bickering to the officials played a huge part in acquiring this honor.

02. Charles Barkley (329 Technical Fouls)

  • Stats: 23,757 Points (22.1 ppg), 12,546 Rebounds (11.7 rpg), 4,215 Assists (3.9 apg)
  • Teams: Philadelphia 76ers (1984–1992), Phoenix Suns (1992–1996), Houston Rockets (1996–2000)
  • Accolades: NBA Most Valuable Player (1993), 11× NBA All-Star (1987–1997), NBA All-Star Game MVP (1991), 5× All-NBA First Team (1988–1991, 1993), 5× All-NBA Second Team (1986, 1987, 1992, 1994, 1995), All-NBA Third Team (1996), NBA All-Rookie First Team (1985), NBA rebounding leader (1987)

These days, Charles Barkley is one of the most beloved TV personalities when it comes to basketball. Fans love his soft demeanor and open-heartedness but Chuck wasn’t always in the spotlight for the right reasons.

During his entire life, Sir Charles was doubted time and time again. But that only further fueled his determination to prove his worth. Despite being undersized for the power forward position at 6 ft 4 in (1.93 m), Barkley still managed to become one of the greatest NBA players to ever live.

His unrelenting approach to the game of basketball translated both on and off the field. Chuck is without a doubt one of the best NBA rebounders of all time. But he was also as controversial as ever.

Nobody could contain or tolerate Charles’s physical playstyle for a longer period, so he was always in the middle of some trouble. If he wasn’t outmuscling or infuriating his opponents with his trash talk, he would often tell the referees exactly how he felt. 

And he wasn’t afraid of backing up the talk either, breaking noses and throwing people out of windows at bars. Barkley has been a menace his entire life. On the hardwood, on TV, with fans, media, refs, opponents, and teammates.

So it’s no surprise he’s the player with the second most techs in NBA history, with 329 technical fouls.

03. Rasheed Wallace (317 Technical Fouls)

  • Stats: 16,006 Points (14.4 ppg), 7,404 Rebounds (6.7 rpg), 1,460 Assists(1.3 bpg)
  • Teams: Washington Bullets(1995–1996), Portland Trail Blazers(1996–2004), Atlanta Hawks(2004), Detroit Pistons (2004–2009), Boston Celtics (2009–2010), New York Knicks (2012–2013)
  • Accolades: NBA champion (2004), 4× NBA All-Star (2000, 2001, 2006, 2008), NBA All-Rookie Second Team (1996)

The ball don’t lie but neither do the numbers. Rasheed Wallace developed a reputation as a troublemaker in the NBA, despite being a very productive player for the majority of his 16-year career.

Wallace entered the league as the fourth pick in the 1995 NBA draft, after being drafted by the Washington Wizards. The following year he shipped out to Portland where he began making a name for himself, for all of the wrong reasons.

Despite an increase in production and efficiency, Rasheed Wallace drew criticism for breaking the NBA record for most techs in a season with 38. The following year, he broke his own record with 41 technical fouls.

Wallace truly found himself with the infamous Jailblazers, an iteration of the Portland Trailblazers roster that was notorious for off-the-court issues. He famously received a 7 game suspension for threatening then-referee Tim Donaghy on an arena loading dock after a home game in 2003.

Rasheed continued improving his performance but was repeatedly traded from team to team due to his personality. Once he settled in with the Larry Brown-coached Detroit Pistons, he blossomed into his best version yet.

The Pistons had rejuvenated their Bad Boy persona, playing physical and hard-nosed defense on their way to the 2004 NBA Championship. Rasheed was an integral piece in the Malice at the Palace, which immortalized his reputation as a troublesome player with the third most techs in NBA history.

04. Gary Payton (250 Technical Fouls)

  • Stats: 21,813 Points (16.3 ppg)), 5,269 Rebounds (3.9 rpg), 8,966 Assists (6.7 apg)
  • Teams: Seattle SuperSonics (1990–2003), Milwaukee Bucks (2003), Los Angeles Lakers (2003–2004), Boston Celtics (2004–2005), Miami Heat (2005–2007)
  • Accolades: NBA champion (2006), 9× NBA All-Star (1994–1998, 2000–2003), 2× All-NBA First Team (1998, 2000), 5× All-NBA Second Team (1995–1997, 1999, 2002), 2× All-NBA Third Team (1994, 2001), NBA Defensive Player of the Year (1996), 9× NBA All-Defensive First Team (1994–2002), NBA steals leader (1996), NBA All-Rookie Second Team (1991)

Gary Payton is one of the greatest NBA point guards of all time. And nobody should try to argue that point. While his offensive production might not necessarily compare to other all time greats, his defense was bar none.

What the Glove lacked in flashy offensive outbursts, he more than made up for it with his ferocious mindset. Payton became the first point guard to ever win the NBA Defensive Player of the Year award in 1996. And he was the only one to do it until Marcus Smart was voted in 2022.

That ferocious mindset and hardworking mentality reared it’s head even outside of his play. By character, Gary Payton was trying to get an advantage in every way possible. And if that meant trash talking to the highest extent, then so be it. If it meant winning another basketball game, Payton would do it.

If he wasn’t getting under the skin of his opponents, Payton would often very emotionally react to calls that didn’t go his way. He wasn’t scared of putting his body on the line to get the win, and technical fouls did little to deter him.

Payton retired as an NBA champion after 17 seasons in the NBA, but he also collected the fourth most techs in NBA history.

05. Dennis Rodman (212 Technical Fouls)

  • Career Stats: 6,683 points (7.3 PPG), 11,954 rebounds (13.1 RPG), 1,600 assists (1.8 APG)
  • NBA Teams: Detroit Pistons (1986–1993), San Antonio Spurs (1993–1995), Chicago Bulls (1995–1999), Los Angeles Lakers (1999), Dallas Mavericks (2000)
  • Accolades: 5× NBA champion (1989, 1990, 1996–1998), 2× NBA All-Star (1990, 1992), 2× All-NBA Third Team (1992, 1995), 2× NBA Defensive Player of the Year (1990, 1991), 7× NBA All-Defensive First Team (1989–1993, 1995, 1996), NBA All-Defensive Second Team (1994), 7× NBA rebounding champion (1992–1998)

Dennis Rodman was a hothead in the truest sense. You’re probably noticing a pattern here already. Most of the players on this list have been underdogs and overachievers their entire lives, or they have played a lot of games.

Most fans are well-aware of Rodman’s antics off the floor, as it grabbed most of the media attention. While he was on the court, his defensive effort and rebounding prowess did most of the talking.

But he wasn’t shy of letting his mouth, elbows, and knuckles run. You don’t become the greatest rebounder ever at 6 ft 7 in (2.01 m) without having a mental edge. What Rodman lacked in size and offensive polish, he more than made up for it with his unrelenting drive. 

Some would say Rodman enjoyed the pain of floor burns. But that’s understandable considering he was the head of those Bad Boy Pistons teams. If he wasn’t flying into the stands for a loose ball, he was kicking a cameraman on the sideline.

Trash-talking, and instigating a physical confrontation with the opponents were on the menu every night. Even referee Ted Bernhardt got the short end of the stick after getting head-butted twice following a second technical. Rodman’s 212 technical fouls are the fifth most techs in NBA history.

06. Dirk Nowitzki (199 Technical Fouls)

  • Stats: 31,560 Points (20.7 ppg), 11,489 Rebounds (7.5 rpg), 3,651 Assists (2.4 apg)
  • Teams: Dallas Mavericks (1998–2019)
  • Accolades: NBA champion (2011), NBA Finals MVP (2011), NBA Most Valuable Player (2007), 14× NBA All-Star (2002–2012, 2014, 2015, 2019), 4× All-NBA First Team (2005–2007, 2009), 5× All-NBA Second Team (2002, 2003, 2008, 2010, 2011), 3× All-NBA Third Team (2001, 2004, 2012), 50–40–90 club (2007), NBA Three-Point Contest champion (2006)

In contrast to the top 5 entries on our list, Dirk Nowitzki doesn’t come off as a troublemaker. The greatest shooting big man was soft-spoken with a game that very much revolved around finesse. 

Although he would develop a post-game later on in his career, Dirk was never the type of player to impose his opponents physically. So how come he has that many technical fouls? Well, for starters, Dirk played for a long time and was very durable.

In his 21 years in the league, Dirk played in 1,522 career regular-season games, which is good for number 4 all-time. By default, it’s understandable for him to have a large career total in any statistical category. Players like Kobe and KG who also played 20 seasons or more, are also on the bottom end of this list.

But some of Dirk’s techs were also well-earned. He didn’t lose his composure often but he was sure to let the refs know when they missed a call. Due to his 7-foot frame, high release shot, and long-range, oftentimes, the only way to get Dirk out of his rhythm was by getting physical with him.

At the rate Luka Doncic is complaining and getting techs, he’s probably overtake Dirk sooner or later. But for the moment, Dirk Nowitzki has the sixth most techs in NBA history.

07. Anthony Mason (192 Technical Fouls)

  • Stats: 9,656 Points (10.9 ppg), 7,279 Rebounds (8.3 rpg), 2,963  Assists (3.4 apg)
  • Teams: New Jersey Nets (1989–1990), Denver Nuggets (1990–1991), New York Knicks (1991–1996), Charlotte Hornets (1996–2000), Miami Heat (2000–2001), Milwaukee Bucks (2001–2003)
  • Accolades: NBA All-Star (2001), All-NBA Third Team (1997), NBA All-Defensive Second Team (1997), NBA Sixth Man of the Year (1995)

Anthony Mason is an odd addition to this list. Most fans probably have never heard of him, but Knicks fans in the early 90s loved having him on their team. Similarly to most guys on this list, Mason played with a big chip on his shoulder.

After being the 53rd pick in the 1988 NBA draft, Anthony Mason would spend his next 3 years bouncing around the league in search of a constant role. The Pat Riley-coached New York Knicks had an intimidating front line consisting of Patrick Ewing and Charles Oakley.

Ewing might have been one of the greatest NBA centers ever, but he also needed to take a breather. And that’s where the highly skilled and competitive Anthony Mason came in.

At 6 ft 8 in (2.03 m) and 255 lb (116 kg), Anthony Mason was always a huge guy who was putting his body on the line. Besides being a beast on the boards and a physical defensive presence, Mason was also very skilled with the ball.

His efforts earned him a Finals appearance, the 6th Man of the Year award, and an All-Star nod. But he also received 192 technical fouls in 882 career games. That’s nearly double Dirk’s rate and enough for him to have the seventh most techs in NBA history. But that’s the price to pay to be Charles Oakley’s favorite teammate.

08. Russell Westbrook (183 Technical Fouls)

  • Stats: 24457 Points (22.4 ppg), 7964 Rebounds (7.3 rpg), 9162 Assists (8.4 apg)
  • Teams: Oklahoma City Thunder (2008–2019), Houston Rockets (2019–2020), Washington Wizards (2020–2021), Los Angeles Lakers (2021–2023), Los Angeles Clippers (2023–present)
  • Accolades: NBA Most Valuable Player (2017), 9× NBA All-Star (2011–2013, 2015–2020, 2× NBA All-Star Game MVP (2015, 2016), 2× All-NBA First Team (2016, 2017), 5× All-NBA Second Team (2011–2013, 2015, 2018), 2× All-NBA Third Team (2019, 2020), NBA All-Rookie First Team (2009), 2× NBA scoring champion (2015, 2017), 3× NBA assists leader (2018, 2019, 2021)

There probably never will be a player that can match Russel Westbrook’s ferociousness on the basketball court. Although age and injuries have slowed him down a bit in recent years, prime Westbrook attacked the rim on every play as it did him something wrong.

At 34 years of age and entering his 15th season in the league, Russel Westbrook still has a lot of playing left to do. But he already has the eight most techs in NBA history. That’s because Westbrook doesn’t take plays off. And he often goes overboard when defending his teammates. 

He sure as hell doesn’t like when anyone tries to get in his way while trying to win. Physically imposing players like him, Shaq, LeBron, or Giannis take a lot more beating than what is sanctioned. So it’s quite understandable for them to get mad at the refs. Just like most guys on this list.

Considering the raw emotion that comes out of Russel Westbrook every time he steps on the court, it’s hard to blame him for it. That motor and work ethic has made him one of the greatest ball handlers of all time

09. Dwight Howard (178 Technical Fouls)

  • Career Stats: 19 485 Points (15.7 ppg), 14 627 Rebounds (11.8 rpg), 1676 Assists (1.3)
  • NBA Teams: Orlando Magic (2004–2012), Los Angeles Lakers (2012–2013), Houston Rockets (2013–2016), Atlanta Hawks (2016–2017), Charlotte Hornets (2017–2018), Washington Wizards (2018–2019), Los Angeles Lakers (2019–2020), Philadelphia 76ers (2020–2021), Los Angeles Lakers (2021–2022)
  • Accolades: NBA champion (2020), 8× NBA All-Star (2007–2014), 5× All-NBA First Team (2008–2012), All-NBA Second Team (2014), 2× All-NBA Third Team (2007, 2013), 3× NBA Defensive Player of the Year (2009–2011), 4× NBA All-Defensive First Team (2009–2012), NBA All-Defensive Second Team (2008), NBA All-Rookie First Team (2005), 5× NBA rebounding leader (2008–2010, 2012, 2013), 2× NBA blocks leader (2009, 2010)

Dwight Howard suffers from success the same way Russel Westbrook does. The former 3-time DPOY has been slandered everywhere he’s been after his 2012 season with the Lakers, which was subpar for his lofty standards.

But before and after the serious back injury that hindered him that season, Dwight Howard has been an exceptional physical specimen. He missed 8 games in 8 years with the Orlando Magic, despite coming into the league as a teenager. 

He was the first pick in the 2004 NBA draft straight out of high school. And for the longest time, the only time you could stop Howard was by straight-up wrestling him. Like many players on this list, Howard was also a beast on the boards, with 5 rebounding titles under his belt.

That combination of playstyle and physical attributes meant that Howard was fouled way more often than it was called. And he wasn’t shy about letting the refs know about it. Which they didn’t appreciate as much. Howard has the ninth most techs in NBA history with 178 technical fouls, but that’s a byproduct of greatness.

10. Kevin Garnett (172 Technical Fouls)

  • Stats: 26,071 Points (17.8 ppg), 14,662 Rebounds (10.0 rpg), 5,445 Assists(3.7 apg)
  • Teams: Minnesota Timberwolves (1995–2007), Boston Celtics (2007–2013), Brooklyn Nets (2013–2015)
  • Accolades: NBA champion (2008), NBA Most Valuable Player (2004), 15× NBA All-Star (1997, 1998, 2000–2011, 2013), NBA All-Star Game MVP (2003), 4× All-NBA First Team (2000, 2003, 2004, 2008), 3× All-NBA Second Team (2001, 2002, 2005), 2× All-NBA Third Team (1999, 2007), NBA Defensive Player of the Year (2008), 9× NBA All-Defensive First Team (2000–2005, 2008, 2009, 2011), 3× NBA All-Defensive Second Team (2006, 2007, 2012), 4× NBA rebounding champion (2004–2007), NBA All-Rookie Second Team (1996), NBA 75th Anniversary Team

The amount of joy I get seeing Kevin Garnett on this list is immeasurable. Much like Dwight, KG entered the NBA straight out of high school. The Big Ticket was the fifth pick in the 1995 NBA Draft and played for 21 years. 

Garnett quickly became one of the best players in the NBA and he let everyone know. Stories of KG disrespecting and antagonizing his opponents are NBA mythology these days. Engaging in physiological warfare with Garnett was like shooting yourself in the foot.

KG is one of the most relentless workers on the hardwood and he proudly showed his passion for the game in almost every play. This earned KG a huge and dedicated fan base everywhere he went, on top of a lot of respect from fellow NBA players.

He sometimes went overboard with his comments, most notably towards Carmelo Anthony’s wife, but who are we to question his methods? Refs would often get the short end of the stick due to his temper so it’s no surprise he has the tenth most techs in NBA history.

Who Has the Most Technical Fouls in NBA 2023

The player with the most technical fouls during the 2022-23 NBA season was Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green. He led the league with 21 technical fouls, ahead of Memphis Grizzlies guard Dillion Brooks with 18. 

Atlanta Hawks point guard Trae Young and Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Doncic were tied for third with each player earning 17 technical fouls. The top 5 is rounded out by Minnesota Timberwolves shooting guard Anthony Edwards, who had 15 technical fouls called against him.

NBA Technical Fouls Leaders by Season All Time

Name NBA Team NBA Season Number of techs
Draymond Green Golden State Warriors 2022/23 21
Trae Young Atlanta Hawks 2021/22 19
Dwight Howard Philadelphia 76ers 2020/21 18
Marcus Morris Sr. Los Angeles Clippers 2019/20 16
Draymond Green Golden State Warriors 2018/19 23
Dwight Howard Charlotte Hornets 2017/18 25
Isaiah Thomas Boston Celtics 2016/17 22
Draymond Green Golden State Warriors 2015/16 21
Russell Westbrook Oklahoma City Thunder 2014/15 17
Kevin Durant Oklahoma City Thunder 2013/14 20

Who Has The Most Technical Fouls in NBA Right Now?

As of October 2023, the NBA player with the most technical fouls is Russel Westbrook. He’s the only active player on the top 10 most techs in NBA history list if you consider Dwight Howard retired. 

Howard recently made an attempt to join the Golden State Warriors prior to the 2023/24 NBA season. If Howard gets picked up by an NBA team, he might have a chance to overtake Westbrook on this list.

Draymond Green is another candidate for this dubious title considering he’s led the NBA in techs 3 times. And he’s been in the top 5 multiple times. Other notable current players that might break all records on this list are Luka Doncic and Trae Young. 

Both guards entered the league with the 2018 NBA draft and have registered double-digit technical foul numbers in each of the last 3 seasons. Their complaining to the refs is a sore point to many fans hoping they show at least some sort of a defensive effort. But apart from being generational offensive talents, they might be some of the biggest whiners we have in the league right now.

NBA Player With No Technical Fouls

The only active NBA players who have never received a technical foul or an ejection are Mike Conley and Otto Porter. What’s more impressive is that Conley has played for 16 NBA seasons for a total of 1025 games for an average of 32 minutes per game.

However, it’s important to note that Conley has been for a technical call which was later reversed by the league. He was also called for a flagrant foul during the 2022 NBA playoffs matchup against the Dallas Mavericks. 

After review the foul was upgraded to a Flagrant 1, because Conley fouled the 3-point shooter by not giving him enough space to land. But this is nothing but a small blemish on an otherwise spotless career filled with sportsmanship.

Credit: NBA

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