Just about every sports fan has at least one team that they love, and at least one team that they absolutely can't stand.
But regardless of one’s team affiliation, there are some players that every fan should root for, regardless of where they play, because they make the game of basketball better.
Here are some of those players.
Throughout his career, Bogut has never seemed able to stay healthy. Now a member of the Golden State Warriors, it’s about time his fortunes turned.
Durant is one of the most lovable superstars of all time. It just seems impossible not to like this guy.
Irving suffered a freak injury this summer, breaking his shooting hand after slapping a wall in frustration. The injury doesn’t appear to be a major issue, so let’s hope it doesn’t hamper one of the most skilled young players to ever step on the court.
While I am by no means in support of a new Lakers dynasty, it is about time Nash got a title.
After tearing his ACL late in his rookie season, Rubio lost his shot at the Rookie of the Year award. But if all goes well with his recovery, he could be winning plenty of other awards in the future.
Despite having played just three seasons in the NBA, Stephen Curry has already become a candidate for the unofficial title of best shooter in basketball.
However, a key component in the ability to make shots is a pair of properly functioning ankles, which Curry just does not seem to have.
Curry missed a total of 40 games last season, as he repeatedly went down with various types of ankle injuries. Curry tried tape, new shoes and braces, but it seemed that nothing could stop his ankles from suddenly collapsing.
Eric Gordon did little to help the issue.
Curry is a truly exciting player to watch when healthy and looks like a potential centerpiece for the Golden State Warriors. So let’s hope that next season isn’t also cut short by Curry’s traitorous ankles.
See the love?
Pau Gasol draws an unwarranted amount of criticism from his own fanbase, who say he's a soft player or blame him for the Lakers’ collapse in the 2012 postseason.
What fans often forget is that Gasol is a really good guy. Unselfish, humble and philanthropic, Gasol is one of the premier poster boys for the NBA due to his outstanding charity work and consistent class.
With Steve Nash, Dwight Howard and Antawn Jamison all joining the Lakers next year, someone on the team is going to have to accept a reduced role in the offense, at least when it comes to shot attempts.
I think we all know that isn’t going to be Kobe.
After being acquired by Boston in a deadline move in February 2011, Jeff Green looked to be just the player the Celtics needed to infuse their team with youth and explosiveness. But Green’s career would come to a screeching halt when he was diagnosed with an aortic aneurysm that fortunately turned out to take away his season rather than his life.
After missing all of the 2011-12 campaign to rehab from the injury, Green signed a hefty contract with the Celtics, a surprise considering the severity of his condition.
But it would be a shame to see Green’s career ruined by such a health scare, and we should all support him as he attempts to get his career back on track.
LeBron James has drawn an obscene amount of negative press through the first nine years of his NBA career, most of it focused on his decision to leave Cleveland and his perceived inability to come through in high-pressure situations.
Well, after LeBron dominated the basketball scene in just about every way last season, it is officially time to bring the LeBron hatred to rest.
Like it or not, LeBron put the U.S. Olympic Team on his back and was the leader in bringing his country another gold medal. So maybe it’s time we started supporting the face of basketball as he continues his meteoric rise toward legendary status.
After capping off his college career with a stellar junior season at Kansas, Robinson found himself in the less-than-ideal situation of being drafted by the Sacramento Kings.
Obviously, there isn’t a whole lot to complain about when you’re a top-five pick in the NBA draft. But Robinson, a power forward who thrives in an unselfish system, finds himself on a team where just about everybody likes to shoot the ball; a formula that, as of late, has not been particularly successful.
What’s more, Sacramento’s front office is in turmoil, as the team’s future remains very much up in the air.
For a player who withstood so much hardship so early in his life, is a smooth transition to the NBA too much to ask? Let us all just hope that Robinson can withstand the chaos that is the Sacramento Kings as he kicks off his career.
Derrick Rose is the latest in a long line of NBA stars to be plagued by knee injuries. After blowing out his knee in the Game 1 of the first round of the playoffs, Rose was confronted with the official end to an injury-plagued season.
Rose is an exciting and dynamic player, and it would be a shame to see the career of the NBA’s youngest MVP ruined by a torn ACL.
We all know Rose is working harder than ever to return to the game he loves, and NBA fans everywhere should support this brilliant young star as he faces one of the biggest uphill climbs in professional sports.
But after a pair of poorly functioning knees forced Roy to retire at the beginning of the 2011-12 season, the list of the NBA’s elite shooting guards once again shrank to two.
After taking a year off to rehab and try out new treatments, Roy decided to attempt a comeback to the NBA, this time with the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Roy was, and hopefully still is, one of the absolute best closers in the league. His exceptional decision- making in close-game situations makes him a truly exciting player to watch, and we should all hope that, for the good of basketball, Roy is able to make a successful return to be even a fragment of the player he once was.
For reasons beyond my comprehension, Josh Smith has failed to garner a single All-Star selection over the course of his eight-year career. Despite his phenomenal defense and impressive versatility from the power forward position, Smith has been consistently snubbed come All-Star Weekend, often in favor of less deserving teammates like Al Horford or Joe Johnson.
Last season, Smith absolutely stuffed the stat sheet, as he averaged 18.8 points, 9.6 rebounds, 3.9 assists, 1.4 steals and 1.7 blocks per game. Yet voters felt that Johnson, with an equal scoring average and far inferior contributions in most other categories, was more deserving of an All-Star bid.
Smith may have had his share of attitude problems early in his career, but after several seasons of being overlooked, it's time he got his turn in the spotlight.
There’s no denying that Stoudemire had a rough year last season. Stoudemire saw his scoring numbers plummet as he struggled to cope with injuries, the unexpected death of his brother and an evolving roster that decreased both his minutes and touches.
The frustrations and shortcomings finally culminated when Stoudemire, furious at a playoff loss to the Miami Heat, decided to attack a glass fire extinguisher case, resulting in severe lacerations to his hand.
Stoudemire is ready to bounce back from such a rough year, and the combination of summer training with Hall of Famer Hakeem Olajuwon and a reunion with former Knick point guard Raymond Felton should have STAT primed for a comeback campaign.
Leading up to the 2011 NBA draft, Jared Sullinger was thought by many as a potential No. 1 one overall pick. But with the NBA lockout looming, Sullinger decided to stay in college for his sophomore season at Ohio State.
And while it remains to be seen if this decision will prove to be a good one for his career, it certainly was not a good one for his draft stock. Sullinger played well in his second year, and once again looked like a lottery pick heading into the 2012 draft. But after doctors red-flagged Sullinger for a supposedly debilitating back issue, he slid to the Celtics at the 21st pick.
Sullinger has the talent to be a great player in the NBA, so let’s just hope that the injuries that caused him to fall in the draft don’t ruin his career before it even starts.