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We can’t just write bad things about the NBA each day, right? We can’t keep writing about David Stern, Billy Hunter, union, owners and BRI, right? The NBA, just a few months ago, used to be the best thing in our lives, or at least to NBA fans. It can be again. Just need the fun back in it. Like these guys used to bring it.

Not necessarily the greatest players of all time (although some are, like Magic Johnson and Michael Jordan), but these guys, including some more modern versions, are the best bargain for the buck (or many of them) you’ll pay or paid to watch an NBA game.

Shawn Kemp, Pre-Fat Period

Best Dunker in the history of the NBA? Maybe, maybe. Surley one of the most exciting. His Alley-oop tandem with Gary Payton during their Sonics years was probably the best in NBA history. A Prep-to-Pro player when it wasn’t a trend and for about a decade, one of the best power forwards in the NBA, and certainly the most fun to watch.

Vince Carter, Before he Bolted on the Raptors

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His dunk compilation in the 2000 NBA Slam Dunk Contest made him a star, and Carter was actually very likeable during those early yeas in Canada. Later on came the Nets and the injury jokes and worse. Carter may not look like it now, nearing 1000 career NBA games (including playoffs), but he was the best show in town for a year or two about a decade ago.

Tim Hardaway, Pre-Gay Hating Phase

Well, maybe he hated gay people all his life and just never talked about it. Still, the cross-over king was part of the Don Nelson Golden State Warriors in the early 90’s, something Chris Mullin Sorely misses as he spoke about it in a recent interview.

Steve Nash, Always

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Two time MVP and still a clinic how to run the floor at blazing speeds, even at 37. Was never a great defender, not even a decent one, but made the Dallas Mavericks and then the Phoenix Suns worth watching every single night. Still does.

Blake Griffin, Only Just Begun

The Clippers waited a year for Griffin to actually start his rookie season, but the dunking machine from Oklahoma didn’t disappoint, doing the same, with more flair, in the Pros, destroying big man after little man or anybody that dares challenge him in the air. He shouldn’t have won the Dunk Contest though. The Car dunk was a cheap trick. Voters got fooled.

J.R. Smith, When the Mood is Right

Can be an awful, awful player, who doesn’t see teammates and just throws brick shot after brick shot. But he can be MVP’ish (maybe I’m getting carried away) in small moments. And those Dunks? Come on, are you kiddin’?

Pete Maravich – Coolest Nickname as Well

Pistol Pete. I wish my parents would have called me that. And I also wish I could have watched him play live. His College Career, his Short NBA career, his untimely death. Unfulfilled Lives and Unfulfilled potential sometimes make the best legends.

Julius Erving

The man walked on air. The man was the reason the NBA swalled the ABA. Yes, he was that good, that great to watch. And unlike many superstars, he was a great human being, or seems to be at least.

George Gervin

Some Spurs fans still argue this is the greatest player of all time, like a few mails we got last year after doing our greatest shooting guards ever post.

Allen Iverson, Before He Came to Detroit

He wasn’t amazing at Denver either, but he still had IT. You always want the little guy to win, and Iverson nearly took a no-talent team with good defense thanks to Mutumbo all the way.

Magic Johnson

The name, Magic. A nickname that became his name. Earvin? Who’s that? Add in five NBA titles, 3 MVP awards and being the best passer that ever lived, talking about showtime suddenly seems redundant.

Michael Jordan

I could write about so many things. The titles, the winner he was, the records, the scoring, the MVP, all the other awards. The Dunks. His ownership period, which is heavily criticized, especially now. His comeback. His second comeback. Watching clips and Classics just don’t tell the story, not half of it. I never watched Ali fight, but I got to watch Jordan Play. And nothing was ever, or will ever be, better.