"Love" is not a word often associated with the NBA, but each team has at least one personality that its fans adore.
Typically, fan favorites are associated with an organization's best player, yet in reality, this is not always the case. Fan bases shower their superstars with applause, but they remain just as loyal to the player better known for his personality than on the court prowess.
More often than advertised low-key players generate a heralded type amount of support. Whether it's their swagger, humility or how they identify themselves to the rest of the world, certain athletes just appeal to fans for reasons outside of sheer talent.
You won't have heard Ivan Johnson's name mentioned in too many basketball circles, yet the endearing 27-year-old rookie has won over the hearts of his Atlanta teammates and the entire Hawks nation.
Johnson's incredible work ethic has helped him establish a stable role within Atlanta's system. He has become an everyday contributor, far exceeding the expectations of a garbage time benefactor that were set for him prior to the season.
The forward's journey to the NBA was anything but smooth; however, he is proof that sometimes, late bloomers make the best recipients of fan affections.
Avery Bradley is far from a superstar but, in his short time with the Celtics, has proven to be a vital asset.
Bradley is listed as a shooting guard, but he embraced the task of directing Boston's offense in the absence of Rajon Rondo, and is a huge part of why the team has secured a renewed sense of confidence.
Rondo's basketball exploits are not something that Bradley can easily match, but he is already light years ahead of the game in terms of maturity. He has the heart and will of a leader despite recently attaining an consistent role in the rotation.
Paul Pierce has the Celtics fanbase wrapped around his finger, but there remains a special place for the diligent Bradley.
Kemba Walker brings fire to an otherwise extinguished team.
At 6'1", Walker is visibly thankful for making it to the NBA, and he possesses an air of likable confidence that lets us know he belongs.
The Bobcats are playing through an extended stretch of dark days, but Walker provides a glimmer of hope that not only the Charlotte fanbase, but basketball enthusiasts in general, can appreciate.
A career 3.1 PPG scorer rarely leaves a lasting an impression on any type of fan, but Brian Scalabrine is an exception.
Scalabrine's willingness to assume any role he is asked to while sacrificing his body to draw charges in the process has put him among the most beloved players in the league.
There's a reason Celtics fans were chanting his name even though he no longer plays for Boston. His blue collar work ethic is something they can identify with, and his humility is something fans can appreciate.
Scalabrine has clawed his way into hearts of Bulls fans, all the while remaining a fixture in the hearts of the NBA's faithful.
Kyrie Irving has not only downplayed his role as Cleveland's post-LeBron-James savior, but he has ignored the sentiments which stated the Cavaliers should have selected Derrick Williams.
Irving has never once bought into the hype that came with being the first overall pick in the draft. He has let his play, not his mouth, settle the matter.
The point guard leaves it all on the floor every night and has welcomed the task currently at hand in Cleveland. And, despite the Chris Paul comparisons, he is increasingly humble with each passing display.
That's an easy-to-love personality.
Brian Cardinal isn't going to get a lot of playing time, and he isn't going to excel in any one facet of the game when he does, but he is going to play his heart out.
Cardinal is ready and willing to take on the dirty work; sacrificing his body, chasing down loose balls and boxing out bigger and stronger opponents to create rebounding opportunities for his teammates are what he has made his living off of.
The power forward is not a superstar athlete, but he's all right with that and will never attempt to be something he's not. And Dallas loves him for it.
Nene is an absolute workhorse, and a star in his own right, yet he continues to be overlooked more often than he should.
Unlike Arron Affllalo, Nene had an array of other options this past offseason. Unlike Carmelo Anthony, he didn't balk at the chance to return to the Nuggets.
Nene isn't cocky, yet he's confident. He isn't timid, yet he's soft-spoken. Most importantly, he isn't merely an opportunist, he's loyal.
And that says it all.
After going in the second round of the 2010 NBA Draft, Jonas Jerebko wasn't supposed to crack Detroit's rotation.
But he did. His resiliency in practice won over his coaches, and his aggression in every aspect of the game won over Detroit's fans.
Jerebko can be loud on the court at times, but his emotions are never displayed out of turn. He has a clear respect for what it means to be a professional athlete; while he may never be a star, he'll make the most of every opportunity presented to him.
Nate Robinson is famous for his extraordinary hops, and yet he has struggled to find a stable home in the NBA.
At 5'9", Robinson's stature wasn't going to win him any gigs, but his instant offense would. He is not afraid to shoot the ball, and while this portrays an athlete with an exuberant personality, he is also a man of religion.
Robinson has managed to exhibit the type of balanced personality that many struggle to exude their entire lives.
Say what you will about his size and his skills, but there is no denying his ability to win over the hearts of any fanbase he dedicates himself to.
Chandler Parsons isn't loud, and yet he lets the opposition know he's not to be underestimated.
Parsons is another athlete who wasn't supposed to crack the rotation, but has played his way into a prominent role in Houston's rotation.
It hasn't always been pretty for the first year forward, but he has made the most of his playing time. He excels at pulling off the hustle plays and isn't afraid to take on defensive assignments that render him overmatched.
Resiliency is a virtue, and it's one that Parsons is bursting with.
Danny Granger's lovable personality goes beyond his willingness to take employees at the Banker's Life Fieldhouse out to dinner as a result of the lockout and stretches into his ability to attain both the status of star, and unselfish.
Granger has welcomed sharing the spotlight with players like Roy Hibbert and David West. He isn't a me-first, team later type of athlete and is liable to assume any and all responsibility for a poor outing.
Few stars have been able to maintain such low key profiles, and it's Granger's aversion to showboating that renders the Pacers fanbase all aflutter at his presence.
Chauncey Billups may be done for the season and may have only just recently suited up for the Clippers, but his presence is valued in Los Angeles more than most could have predicted.
The ever-humble Mr. Big Shot continued to live up to his reputation without drawing any extra attention to himself. He only came close to dominating headlines when analysts speculated he would force his way onto a team of his choice over the offseason, and he put such hearsay to bed by manning up and playing for the Clippers.
Sure, the Clippers were a team on the rise, but Billups has been undervalued his entire career. At a time where he could have easily went rogue, he remained the quintessential example of diligent.
At this point, Billups' lovable nature extends far beyond Los Angeles and reaches not only every city he has played in, but any arena that has been witness to his team-first attitude.
The Lakers' point guard situation has yielded a surplus of criticism, and Steve Blake has taken it in stride.
Blake knows that he is no savior, and he knows that fans would rather see Rajon Rondo or any other big-name point guard besides he or Derek Fisher running point. However, he doesn't let it affect his work ethic.
Athleticism is not a gift of Blake's. He has made a living off of sheer will and determination. While Lakers fans cannot satisfy their appetite for a title by turning to him, they can find a source of level-headedness in a market that breeds publicity nightmares.
Tony Allen embraces what is rapidly becoming a lost art: Defense.
Allen won't put up points in bunches, but he will prevent the opposition from doing so. His hustle plays have become a staple in Memphis and he played an integral role in the Grizzlies' improbably playoff run last season.
Memphis is struggling thus far this season, but without Allen's dedication and his ability to win over the crowd even during a blowout loss, things would be much worse.
While it would be easy to place Dwyane Wade here, we must not forget the most lovable personality is not necessarily that of a superstar, ergo Udonis Haslem's presence.
Haslem has quietly made a name for himself as one of the NBA's premiere role players. Aside from last season's injury-riddled campaign, he has exhibited a penchant for durability and consistency.
Like Wade, Haslem is a Miami-grown talent and has embraced the his role within a star-laden Heat system, instead of opting to assume a more prominent one elsewhere.
Some will call it a lack of an ambition; in reality, however, it's a sense of humility and loyalty.
Shaun Livingston was on the brink of never playing in the NBA again, yet he fought his way back and has now found himself in a stable role with the Bucks.
Livingston's resiliency is something you just cannot teach, and his appreciation for the game is something you just don't expect. These qualities make him so easy to love.
The 26-year-old guard, more likely than not, will never reach the star potential many believed him to have when he entered the league. However, his determination, grit and love of the game have rendered him one of the most feel-good players in the entire league.
There should be no surprises here, as the kid from Spain who was believed to be a marginal role player at best, has proven to be on his way to stardom.
Ricky Rubio offers an innocent smile with every pass he dishes and every shot he swishes. When watching him, it's hard not to notice how much fun he is having out on the court—a refreshing sentiment in what has become a cut throat business.
Will the Timberwolves clinch a playoff berth this season? Perhaps, but it really doesn't matter. At the very least, Rubio will succeed in converting every fan from Minnesota into a believer.
Heading into the NBA draft, it was a universal knowledge that Marshon Brooks could score, but his tendency to exert perpetual energy was relatively unknown.
With every three-point or long two that Brooks drains, New Jersey's fanbase—whatever is left of it—cannot help but scream louder than usual.
The rookie has been one of the few things that have one right for the Nets this season, and he is as humble as they come. Fittingly, he truly looks like a kid living his dream.
Jarrett Jack will do anything New Orleans asks him to.
If the Hornets need him to backup Chris Paul, he'll do it. If they need him to emerge as a starter and a leader, he will do it. If they need him to play hurt, he will do it.
Jack isn't the best point guard in the league, but he is one of the toughest. With little to get excited about in New Orleans, the fans can take solace in knowing that this time around, they have a guard who will be along for the ride as long as the team needs him.
Up until two weeks ago, no one knew what type of personality Jeremy Lin was working with. Now, everyone is privy to what he offers, and they love it.
Despite taking New York by storm, Lin remains incredibly humble. His achievements are never his own, but his team's.
Everyone under the sun may be getting caught up in Linsanity, except for the overnight sensation himself.
The Knicks, as well of the rest of the NBA, love him for it.
Thus far, James Harden is the leading candidate for this season's Sixth Man of the Year award, but he is adored for much more than his prolific scoring abilities.
Harden is one of the more interactive athletes in the league. He takes to Twitter to communicate with his fanbase and his devout faith is public knowledge.
It's difficult to maintain a sense of humility when you're at the threshold of stardom, but Harden has found a way—making him great not only on the hardwood, but off it too.
Prior to his selfish outbursts, Dwight Howard's personality would have been the easiest to love coming out of Orlando. Now, however, the luxury of that label belongs to Ryan Anderson.
Anderson has only emerged as an offensive powerhouse this season, and he is enjoying every minute of it. He lives and dies with each shot, but do not mistake his passion for futility.
Furthermore, Anderson has helped make a small case for Howard to remain with the Magic. It is unlikely to be enough, but the fans have embraced his claim to relevance, nonetheless.
The NBA is hardly short on passion, and yet Anderson's connection to the game is stronger than most outside of Orlando realize.
There is only one argument needed to verify this selection.
Earlier this season, Lou Williams treated his would-be mugger to some food. You seriously cannot make this type of stuff up.
Despite his flamboyant play on the basketball court, Williams is clearly humble at heart. His random act of kindness, while dangerous, was extremely generous.
While it's easy to chastise his decision, it's also difficult not to appreciate it.
It's hard not to love a guy who continues to honor his commitment to a team even though the organization is in rebuilding mode and his career is winding down.
Steve Nash is the epitome of selflessness, both on and off the court. He has resisted the urge to take the easy way out of Phoenix by requesting a trade, choosing to leave that decision up to the front office.
Many of today's stars are tainted by their inherent need to be care more about themselves than anyone else, but Nash isn't one of them.
Fans league-wide adore him for it.
Raymond Felton remains one of the most underrated players in the league, but his hard work ethic has not suffered as a result.
For almost his entire career, Felton has been the guy behind the star. His unselfish tendencies coupled with his ability to create for others has enabled numerous players elevate their game to the next level.
The point guard plays with grit. He does what it takes to win and embraces the role of second fiddle.
That's an easy attitude to embrace.
At 6'6", Chuck Hayes is the most undersized center in the entire league, but he hasn't allowed it to prevent him from battling with the best of NBA's big men.
To succeed at his position, Hayes has been fearless, and it is this attribute that fans love most. Even when his health threatened the livelihood of his career, he persevered, keeping the uncertainty to a minimum.
DeMarcus Cousins often steals the low-post show for the Kings, but make no mistake—after only a short time in Sacramento, Hayes has already swayed the fanbase in his favor.
Some consider Tim Duncan to be boring, but in reality, he's just a class act.
Despite being one of the best big men to ever play the game, Duncan has never been caught up in the hype that comes with living in the spotlight. He has remained perpetually humble and continues to grind out strong performances in the low post.
Duncan's days as an All-Star and MVP candidate may be over, but his reign as one of the NBA's most upstanding players lives on.
Why is Jose Calderon the Raptors' most lovable player? Because of his focus.
Calderon has quietly emerged as the team's most reliable player, single-handedly allowing them to remain competitive on a number of occasions.
DeMar DeRozan is flashy, but his performances are volatile. Andrea Bargnani can be dominant, but is a walking health issue. Calderon, on the other hand, is consistent.
Calderon will never generate the same amount of attention as Chris Paul or Deron Williams, but he doesn't need to. He focuses on doing his job to the best of his abilities, and nothing else.
Paul Millsap wasn't supposed to be a star, but he is rapidly becoming one. The outlook with which he approaches the game is one that the entire Jazz fanbase can be on board with.
Millsap is intense on the basketball court but humane off of it. He is soft-spoken, especially for a big man, but is an athlete who is also certain of his abilities.
Utah's recent struggles suggest the Jazz are finally showing us their true colors, but we've always known what Millsap was all about: Leaving it all on the floor.
The power forward is as genuine as they come.
Despite having to watch from the sidelines for most of the season, Ronny Turiaf remains one of the easiest players in the league to root for.
Turiaf will never shock us with his athleticism, but he has made a living off of sheer will and energy. He can be found on the court prior to games dancing to music and engaging early arrivals from the stands, and he will be the first one off the bench to celebrate when a teammate does something worthy of praise.
While Turiaf is extremely lighthearted, he also knows when to get down to business—it is this balance between work and play that makes him so easy to love.