Last week, the issue of Nikola Pekovic came up because, well, a day when you can discuss Nikola Pekovic is a good day, and we all need more good days. Our friend Ryan Jones, a former SLAM Magazine editor-in-chief and fan of a terrible soccer team, brought up Pek's ink, which ... well, see for yourself.
Yes, it's a knight or crusader of some sort putting a sword through a dead man's skull. Given that Pekovic hails from a war-torn corner of the world, it's particularly ominous. Remember when Sheed called Darko Milicic a Serbian gangster and insisted he had bodies buried back in Europe? We're weeks from a Timberwolf claiming the same about Pek, only no one will laugh this time, because we will know it to be true.
The discussion of Pekovic came in the context of the NBA's most terrifying men. That tattoo plus Pekovic's particular profile ranks him highly, in my opinion. But not at the top. No, not at the top.
At the top can be only one man.
1. JERRY STACKHOUSE
Stack doesn't just fight a lot. He wins. Find me a report of a fight that Stack got the worst of and it'll be the first I see. Here are some greatest hits.
* He O.J. Mayo'd Christian Laettner when the two had a card game dispute on the Pistons' plane in 1999. Here's the twist: Laettner was already laid up with a broken rib ... and Stack still went after him. The man does not care if you're on the injured list. Pay the man. Pay him.
* In 1997 he socked his good friend Allen Iverson in the dome during practice. His good friend. When questioned by reporters, he then insulted A.I., his good friend:
"It was a fight between one guy who doesn't know how to fight and another guy who didn't want to," Stackhouse said.
The man does not care if you're his friend. Do not disrespect Stack.
* So if Stack is doing this to teammates, what's he going to do to others who aggravate him? Well, he almost fought then-Hornets coach Byron Scott in 2008 because, well, Scott was talking like a sucker.
"I was about ready to kick his ass -- you know what I'm sayin? He was sitting on the sideline and we just got into a little conversation or something and he was going to tell me, you know, 'Talk to me when you get a ring.' I was like, I told that fool, 'If I played with Magic and Worthy and Kareem I'd have a ring, too. So, you know, he's a sucker in my book, but that's a whole other story."
* Every fight report notes that Stack gets in the first punch, like this 2005 tale of Stack's spat with Kirk Synder.
Nearly 20 minutes after the Mavericks' 88-81 victory over the Jazz was completed, witnesses said Stackhouse was standing in the tunnel that leads to the Utah team bus talking to his wife. Accounts varied on what happened next. But this much is certain: Stackhouse and Utah rookie Kirk Snyder, who exchanged words during the game, quickly came to blows.
Mavericks officials and security guards were still piecing together information late Saturday night. But there were reports that the fight lasted up to 40 seconds. Security officials from all over American Airlines Center rushed to break up the confrontation, and there were reports that Stackhouse knocked Snyder to the ground at one point.
Stack had to be dragged back to the Mavericks locker room by teammates. He wasn't done with Snyder, guys.
* Finally, the coup de grace in Stack's oeuvre: the infamous Hornacek beatdown. Enjoy.
Never ever ever ever ever cross Jerry Stackhouse, or you will get crossed.
2. IVAN JOHNSON
I was forced to wait on this column until Ivan Johnson officially re-signed with the Atlanta Hawks, which he did on Tuesday. Johnson has a lifetime ban from the Korean league for making an obscene gesture at an official. As far as I can tell, he's been disciplined for anger issues at every level, including the D-League (where he led the field in technical fouls in 2010-11) and with the Hawks last season. He got dinged by the NBA last year for flipping off Boston fans. He wears a diamond grill during games.
Best of all, he doesn't watch basketball and, as such, has no idea who most of the players are. I would say there is something seriously wrong with him were I not afraid of the repercussions.
Bonus note: Stack and Ivan were teammates in Atlanta last season. We should have sent the Hawks to the Olympics to represent Team USA in boxing. Couldn't have been worse.
3. NIKOLA PEKOVIC
In addition to the tattoo mentioned up top, Pek is just dodgy enough to demand your attention. As Zach Lowe put it in July, he is a "generally scary person." Zach Harper recently told the story of how when Kevin Love and Danny Granger tussled this season, Dahntay Jones immediately approached Pek to joke with him, as if to ensure he stayed disengaged from the fray. Love likens him to a Die Hard villain. He might be both the strongest player in the league and the one who least cares about any opponent's health. That's a terrifying combination.
4. TONY ALLEN
Bruce Bowen was an insanely tough defender who also wore bow ties and co-owned a hair salon. Tony Allen doesn't have those tough guy impediments. Also, do not owe him money. Ask O.J.
5. CHRIS KAMAN
Got some more? Let's hear them.
The Hook is a daily NBA column by Tom Ziller. See the archives.