Players You'd Pay Money to Watch Right Now

Nick Dimengo@@itsnickdimengoFeatured ColumnistSeptember 1, 2014

Players You'd Pay Money to Watch Right Now

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    Kin Cheung/Associated Press

    As sports fans, it's pretty obvious that we will go to great lengths to see any of our favorite teams or athletes in action.

    And while some of us drop some serious cash to sit in the front row of any game we can, the ones where big-name players are in town are the ones we all desire the most.

    But which stars should we have marked on our calendars as a must-see? Well, I compiled a list of superstars that every fan should see live at least once—even if that does mean spending all of your savings.

Novak Djokovic

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    Darron Cummings/Associated Press

    Novak Djokovic might be a bit on the weird side, but one thing that isn’t strange? His tennis game.

    The current No. 1-ranked player in the world, Djoko brings a certain flair to the sport that gets the fans energized and on his side, making him even more difficult for his opposition to defeat.

    Winner of this year’s Wimbledon and finalist at the French Open, it’s no wonder the Serbian is a draw worth checking out.

Clint Dempsey

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    Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press

    The U.S. men’s national team captain in this summer’s World Cup, Clint Dempsey has suddenly become the poster boy for the men’s soccer team.

    And I think he’s totally cool with that.

    Helping to grow the sport of soccer in the States, Dempsey is revered by fans on both the international stage and on the club level, no doubt drawing a crowd wherever he takes the pitch.

Damian Lillard

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    Pat Sullivan/Associated Press

    In just two seasons in the NBA, all Portland Trail Blazers superstar Damian Lillard has done is prove that he’s one of the best young talents in the game.

    Whether it’s showing his dynamic style by competing in every event during his first All-Star appearance this past season or hitting game-winning and series-clinching threes in the playoffs, Lillard is exciting as all hell to watch, bringing his A-game every single time he’s on the hardwood.

Andrew McCutchen

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    Morry Gash/Associated Press

    Last year’s National League MVP didn’t just put up individual numbers that earned him praise from voters; he also led his Pittsburgh Pirates to the playoffs for the first time in 21 years, showing he’s a leader, too.

    A four-time All-Star who has also added a Gold Glove to his shelf, the Pirates outfielder has the rare athleticism that isn’t seen in baseball these days—unless you’re a superstar like McCutchen is.

Stephen Curry

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    Jesse D. Garrabrant/Getty Images

    Often respected as the greatest shooter in the NBA, Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry is lethal with the ball in his hands.

    Capable of getting hot and knocking down nearly every shot he takes—OK, it might only seem like that—when Curry is on, there’s no one better to watch shoot a basketball.

    Remember that 54-point outburst in Madison Square Garden in 2013? Yeah, that’s the reason why you should pay big money to see him up close.

Marshawn Lynch

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    I know that Seattle Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch might not be the flashiest or most exciting player in the league, but for those who are regular viewers of the guy, you know how fun he is to watch.

    A complete bulldozer of a runner, there isn’t a prettier sight than when Lynch goes full Beast Mode, stiff-arming defenders, rumbling for big yards and, yes, even causing fans to cheer so loud that it registers on seismographs.

    The tread on his tires is wearing down, so go see him and the Super Bowl champion 'Hawks play if you can. It’s well worth the price of admission.

Jimmy Graham

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Arguably the best and most versatile tight end in the NFL right now, New Orleans Saints tight end Jimmy Graham might not be able to celebrate his touchdown grabs with a goal-post slam anymore, but that doesn’t mean he won’t be catching them.

    Versatile and agile, Graham is a difference-maker who you love on your fantasy team, but hate when going against your favorite team.

Serena Williams

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    Jonathan Moore/Getty Images

    She's arguably the most dominating women's tennis player to ever lace 'em up, winning 17 career singles Grand Slam titles, so why wouldn't a sports fan want to see her compete?

    Serena Williams brings intensity and prestige to a sport that often doesn't see it—especially on the women's side—and is an athlete who might not be appreciated until she finally calls it quits.

    Don't be the person who misses out on seeing her live now, though.

Pavel Datsyuk

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    For anyone who isn't the biggest hockey fan out there, do yourself a favor and Google, "Pavel Datsyuk goals," and just marvel at what pops up on your screen—because it's pure magic.

    Each time the 36-year-old Detroit Red Wings center touches the puck, something brilliant is bound to happen, with him having skills that would make Dwayne Robertson from The Mighty Ducks movies proud.

    No one knows how much longer Datsyuk will play, so scoop some tickets to a Red Wings game and see what you've been missing out on all these years.

Tim Howard

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    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    Thanks to his phenomenal performances in this year’s World Cup, U.S. men’s soccer goalie Tim Howard found himself amongst one of the most popular people in the world.

    Seemingly capable of saving anything, Howard isn’t like most goalies in soccer, providing size and agility like a middle linebacker in the NFL.

    Goals might be the draw of a soccer match, but Timmy is quick to show that preventing them can be pretty exciting, too.

Felix Hernandez

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    Ted S. Warren/Associated Press

    Is he the best pitcher in the majors right now? One could make that argument, but I’ll just go ahead and declare him the best hurler in the American League.

    As someone who lives in Seattle and has seen King Felix on the bump a number of times, I can tell you that he comes as advertised, mowing batters down with ease.

    Just 28 years old, the 2010 AL Cy Young Award winner has some prime years left, so don’t be cheap if he’s scheduled to start while visiting your city.

Calvin Johnson

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    Leon Halip/Getty Images

    When a guy’s nicknamed Megatron, that usually means he has rare gifts that people aren’t used to seeing, and that’s exactly what Detroit Lions stud wideout Calvin Johnson has.

    Standing 6’5”, the dude has hands that snag everything, speed like no one will believe and hops that would rival some NBA players.

    Calvin Johnson is a once-in-a-generation talent, so why wouldn’t you want to pay to see him?

Kevin Durant

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    Sue Ogrocki/Associated Press

    Last year’s league MVP, Kevin Durant proved that he is more than just one of the most incredible scorers the league has seen, stepping up his all-around game to enjoy a season to remember.

    Unfortunately, it didn’t end by hoisting the Larry O’Brien Trophy, but that doesn’t mean he’s still not the second-brightest star in the NBA—behind only LeBron James.

    He’s young, hungry and capable of going off on any night, so check him out live and be amazed.

Clayton Kershaw

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    Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press

    Funny thing happened to me the other day.

    While scouring the Internet in the morning as I often do, I saw a headline that read, “Kershaw dominant, picks up 13th win,” and overlooked it because it has almost become routine for the guy at this point.

    The best lefty in the game, the L.A. Dodgers ace has already scooped two NL Cy Young Awards and has gone a combined 51-23 with a 2.21 ERA in the past three seasons alone—not including his dominating 2014 thus far.

    It’s no wonder the Dodgers gave him the fattest contract in baseball this past offseason to keep him around.

Lionel Messi

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    Emilio Morenatti/Associated Press

    Standing just 5’7”, there isn’t a more talented player pound-for-pound than Argentine and Barcelona striker Lionel Messi.

    This year’s FIFA World Cup Golden Ball Award winner, Messi finally brought the skill he has shown on the club level to the international stage—even if his country did fall short in the Cup Final.

    Still, this guy is a little magician with the ball and shouldn’t be missed if given the chance.

Mike Trout

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    Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

    There’s a reason why so many baseball pundits compare Mike Trout to former New York Yankees great Mickey Mantle—because Trouty can rake.

    The most complete player in the bigs, the L.A. Angels outfielder has seemingly done it all individually since breaking in as a full-timer a couple of years ago, making the All-Star team in his first full three seasons and getting a fat contract extension from the Angels for his skills.

    Of course, he still can’t supplant Miguel Cabrera as the league MVP, though, as Trout has finished runner-up in back-to-back seasons.

LeBron James

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    Lori Shepler/Associated Press

    As someone who has seen LeBron James play since he was in high school, I can tell you from over 15 years of experience that he’s the real deal.

    In fact, if his four league MVPs, two Finals MVPs and back-to-back titles aren’t enough proof of why he’s a must-see live, you might want to check your pulse to make sure you’re still alive, because James is the best player on the planet.

    And now that he's back near his hometown with the Cleveland Cavs and playing with All-Star Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love, every hoops fan will want to catch this trio in action.

Peyton Manning

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    Joe Mahoney/Associated Press

    Even with all of these new mobile quarterbacks getting all of the attention from the media, there’s one signal-caller who rises above the rest.

    And it just so happens to be 38-year-old Peyton Manning, who showed last year with his record-breaking season that he’s not wilting away anytime soon.

    That doesn’t mean he’ll last forever, though, so if you get a chance to see him, money should be no object—do it!