In my last two articles, I discussed which players had the most heart in baseball and football. Now it’s time to move towards the court and look at which players have the most heart in basketball. Here are my five nominees in no particular order:
1) Kevin Garnett, PF (Boston Celtics):
The Celtic’s star power forward wasn’t always considered a winner. For years, he toiled in Minnesota on a team that had no shot for contention, and yet for all those years Kevin never expressed any discontent. Now that he is in Boston, Kevin Garnett has shown just how great of a winner he is. Not only is he a great defender, but he pushed his teammates to be great defenders as well.
Furthermore, Kevin Garnett truly cares about winning as much as any NBA player that I have ever seen. After winning the NBA Finals, Kevin emphatically screamed out “Anything’s Possible!” in such an emphatic and emotional tone that everyone watching was able to understand how he felt. This showed me just how much heart Kevin has.
2) Kobe Bryant, SG (Los Angeles Lakers)
There are two types of NBA fans; Kobe lovers and Kobe haters. Kobe haters are people who tend to believe that Kobe is a selfish, heartless, unmotivated player who doesn’t deserve to be spoken of in the same breadth as other NBA greats. However, these notions couldn’t be any farther from the truth. The fact it, Kobe Bryant loves the game of basketball, and he would do anything to succeed in his game, be it in the NBA or even in the Olympics representing his country.
While his maturity may have been questioned in his younger years, Kobe has developed into a true leader and a player of character. When Kobe Bryant injured his pinkie last year, Kobe opted out of surgery, knowing that his absence would have hindered his team’s chances of success. This same injury sidelined Tony Romo in the NFL for weeks.
Even after leading his team to the NBA Finals, Kobe decided to play for the U.S Olympic team rather than have the surgery on his pinky. As I’m sure everyone knows, that resulted in a gold medal for the United States. The fact is, Kobe Bryant is a winner, and he plays with more heart than just about anyone.
3) Nate Robinson, PG (New York Knicks)
You know what they say, sometimes good things come in small packages. That is exactly the case with the Knicks’ Nate Robinson. At 5’9", he may be small, but he plays with the heart of a lion. Nate is open about the fact that very few people believed that he would ever be able to play in the NBA, and he uses that as motivation to work hard to be the best player he can be.
On the court, Nate hustles as much if not more than anyone I have ever seen. Nate says that his goal is to be the greatest basketball player of all time. That goal may be a little far fetched, but with that much heart, who knows.
4) Allen Iverson, PG (Detroit Pistons)
The Pistons’ newest acquisition is yet another diminutive player, and yet he is one of the most prolific scorers in the history of the NBA. In fact, his scoring average of over 27 points is behind only Wilt Chamberlain and Michael Jordan for the best of all time.
At only six feet tall, Allen Iverson plays with the reckless abandon that you would be more prone to expect from an NFL player. Allen has more than endured his share of injuries throughout his career as a result of his size in comparison to other NBA players. However, that has never stopped him. As of this date, Allen Iverson is in his 30’s and still going strong, playing with the same passion for the game as from day one.
5) Anderson Varejao, PF (Cleveland Cavaliers)
My final nominee for the player with the most heart in the NBA isn’t even a starter. All he does is play the game the right way. Anderson may not be the best scorer in the league, nor is he the best shot blocker. However, he draws the charge as well as any player I have ever seen. His willingness and ability to draw a charge from the opposing team is a key reason why the Cavaliers have been one of the better defensive teams in the league in the past few years.
It takes a lot to take such a hard hit to your body time and time again, especially when doing so isn’t even being counted as an official statistics. However, Anderson Varejao does it anyway, and for this reason I believe he has some serious heart.