NBA Players I’d Pay to See
Casey lists seven superstars.
by Casey Jacobsen
When I officially retire from the sport of basketball and hopefully take a “real job” somewhere in the United States, I want to start a tradition of taking my three daughters to see some NBA games. As a former player, I appreciate the talent level of the League and readily admit that the NBA contains the best athletes in the world.
If my daughters choose to play basketball, I want to allow them to see how the sport is played by the best this world has to offer. I plan on picking a few games per year in whatever city I reside (presuming I live in an NBA-occupied town). The games we go see won’t be determined by the teams, but by the players.
My list of players is small — it includes the guys who I consider “superstars.” I think the terms “star” and “superstar” are used too loosely these days. Not every good player is a star in the NBA, and there are only a handful of superstars.
Here is how I define the two:
STAR – A top-25 player in the NBA, usually the leading scorer/rebounder/passer of their respective team. These stars are usually the face of the franchise and are perennial NBA All-Stars. Sometimes, these stars are “winners,” and other times they are just really, really, good individual players.
Examples of Stars: Pau Gasol, Deron Williams, Andre Iguodala, Tony Parker, Russell Westbrook, Kevin Love, Manu Ginobili, Chris Bosh, Andrew Bogut, Brandon Roy, Rudy Gay, Monte Ellis, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Tim Duncan
SUPERSTAR – Everything a star has with a little something more…an undeniable drive, a determination, a mentality, or just a freakish talent that must be witnessed in person. Superstars are individuals who have the ability to dominate a basketball game whenever they feel like it. They are usually the leaders of the best teams in the NBA and when watching their games from your seat, you can’t help but follow their every move, while ignoring all other players. Superstars are a rare commodity in the business and are the players with which teams are built.
Maybe an easier way to define a superstar is this: Superstars are players who even an NBA player would pay their own money to see play.
Here is my list of guys I’d pay to see (who currently play in the NBA):
1. LeBron James — Hands down, the best all-around player in the NBA today. He is the most powerful, athletic player at the wing position I have ever seen. LBJ has the body of a forward, but the quickness and basketball sense of a point guard. He is also one of the best passers in the game, but can score whenever he feels like it. The one part of his game that is considered weak (his three-point shot) seems to be getting better every year, too.
2. Kobe Bryant — When players talk amongst themselves about guys in the League, the one who garners the most fear is Kobe. Although it looks like he has been slowing down a little bit this season, the Black Mamba is still potent and can take over games like no one else can.
3. Blake Griffin — He’s been the toast of the League during the first half of this season…and for good reason. He’s an absolute beast on the court and is getting better every game. If he played for any other team in the NBA, he might be seriously considered for the MVP award. I check Clipper highlights every day just to see what he did. Most superstars play for good teams, but he (and No. 7 on the list) is the exemption. Griffin’s freakish athleticism and relentless motor easily make him worth the money. The bad news is that you have to watch the rest of his team as well.
4. Kevin Durant — This scoring machine is one of the best all-around threats the League has. He’s still very young, but what he has done (along with Westbrook) in turning OKC into a Western Conference threat is amazing. His summer performance on Team USA in Turkey solidified his superstardom.
5. Dwyane Wade — We knew that teaming up with LeBron would bring DWade’s numbers down a bit, but that doesn’t mean that he is any less dangerous every night he takes the court. He plays the game so aggressively that players often get out of his way to avoid injury. His mid-range game is tough to stop, but when he makes his three-point shot…forget about it.
6. Dwight Howard — This guy is just a freak. Over 7-feet tall, with the footwork and quickness of a small forward. He’s worked on his game over the years to be a dominating force at both ends of the court. People criticize his lack of post-up skills, but nobody can stop the few moves he has. Seeing him in person (size and stature) reminds me of David Robinson. It’s worth the price of admission!
7. Steve Nash — I know Phoenix is struggling this season, but if I’m taking my daughters to watch point guard play, Nash is still the one. CP3, Rajon and DWill are all great, but Nash is the best pick-and-roll player in the League and the best shooter I’ve ever played with. Plus, he’ll probably get me free tickets.
Honorable Mention No. 1: The only other player I would pay to see play is Ray Allen. I didn’t put him on the “official” list because he isn’t on the level as the others, but I believe he still deserves mention as the best shooter in the NBA today, and one of the best in history. Plus, he is a nice, genuine person.
Casey Jacobsen is a former SLAM High School First Team All-American and NCAA First Team All-American. He currently plays for Brose Baskets in Bamberg, Germany.