A not-so-happy birthday to a renowned NBA villain

Wednesday is the birthday of a widely known NBA villain who played through the prime of his career here in Arizona — former Phoenix Suns guard Raja Bell.

Since Bell first gained popularity back in the mid-2000s, it hadn’t been because of his exceptional play. More so, it had been because of his sneaky and occasionally blatant dirty play on the court.

Suns fans should be very familiar with this description of Bell.

It wasn’t a coincidence he was assigned to defend the other teams’ superstar guards.

While he played decent defense, he was also a brilliant flopper and was even better at getting the most out of his hard fouls.

Let’s remind ourselves of Game 5 of the 2006 NBA Playoffs that pitted the Suns against the Los Angeles Lakers. Kobe Bryant drove past Bell, and he proceeded to stop Bryant — with his left arm. Bell caught Bryant in a headlock-type clothesline to the neck and threw him to the floor.

He earned a one-game suspension for that, as well as in 2007 when Bell had shoved Raptors center Andrea Bargnani, resulting in both of them hitting the ground. Then in the process of getting up, Bell blatantly kicked Bargnani in the crotch region.

Happy birthday to one of the dirtiest players to ever play the game.

Get the best of State Press delivered straight to your inbox.