Latest News, NBA / Jul 16, 2010 / 2:49 pm

Top 10 NBA Players Fans Pay To See

Kobe Bryant (photo. Nike)

One of the highest compliments one athlete can give to another is, “I’d pay to watch him play.” Last night during the Dallas/Washington NBA summer league game, Chris Webber and his broadcast partner were debating whether John Wall and the Wizards would be a bigger draw this season than the superstar-loaded Miami Heat. All due respect to C-Webb, but that’s not even an argument: Scoring tickets to LeBron, D-Wade and Bosh‘s traveling show this season will be like getting front-row seats at a Lady GaGa show. Who else will be causing sell-outs in arenas when they hit the road? Here are the Top 10 draws for this upcoming season:

10. Amar’e Stoudemire — Finally, Knicks fans across the country will be able to enter a season with their focus solely (or at least partly) on the court. The capital of ineptitude among NBA front offices for the last decade, the Knicks could’ve really upped the ante on the league if they had landed LeBron. Stoudemire isn’t a bad backup plan considering he seems genuinely excited to be in NYC and is ready for the pressure. How will he look in D’Antoni’s system minus Steve Nash? I think there are a few people out there willing to pay to see that.

9. Derrick Rose — Another long-suffering city (face it, after what happened during the 1990s, Bulls fans can’t get excited about middling 45-win teams) that has heightened expectations this year, Chicago always comes out to support the Bulls. Now, they are placing their faith in Derrick Rose to get them into the second round and beyond. As good as Rose is, people are waiting for more. They want to see him put up nightly 25 and 12 and “Dragictize” people every night. It’s only going to get better from here for Rose fans.

8. Carmelo Anthony — Last summer, the focus in Denver for ‘Melo was entirely different: get this Nuggets team past the Lakers and into the Finals. This October will feature an entirely different mood. George Karl is back, but Kenyon Martin and Chris Andersen might both be out. Did this team already hit its peak? ‘Melo has the gaudy contract extension waiting on the table for him to sign, but there’s a possibility he might not want to be here for too much longer. He’s already talked about as maybe the best scorer in the game. But fans could be talking about him a lot more during the trade deadline. The bottom line though is that no matter where Anthony plays, people are going to come out to see.

7. Yao Ming — Everyone wants to see Chuck Hayes. Well besides that, the game’s largest man is returning to the Houston lineup after a long fight back from reconstructive foot surgery. The pride of China says he will be 100 percent by training camp, great news for a Houston team that is sure to surprise. Last year without him they went 42-40, eight games behind Oklahoma City for the eighth seed in the West. Yao’s draw will be real and immediate; almost a forgotten man this summer, he will actually be the one courting offers next summer as a free agent. Knowing that will probably be his final chance at a big contract, the soon-to-be 30-year old should have a huge season.

6. Kevin Durant — In all three of KD’s seasons, his scoring average has jumped five points: from 20.3 to 25.3 to a league-leading 30.1 last year. Can you imagine him averaging 35 points a game this year? That’s probably too lofty of a standard, but the career arc of Durant is mysterious. Who really knows how good he can become? At 6-10, shooting jumpers with sling shot ease, this 21-year-old owns a thirst for basketball that is rivaled only by a guy out in L.A. He is on the cusp of great things. No one is going to miss out.

5. John Wall — So far in summer league, Wall has been unpredictable: at once blindingly elusive and making spectacular plays, but also stirring up some really ugly turnovers. The thing is that in a few years no one is going to remember the three or four turnovers a game that Wall will average this year. They are going to remember the highlights and how the number one selection finally gave DC something to get excited about. That unpredictable play and the excitement behind any No. 1 pick will be his draw.

4. Dwight Howard — The Magic finished 5th in road attendance last season, drawing an average of 27,838 fans a game. Attribute that, as well as Orlando’s recent title pushes, to Howard. There’s no guarantee this team ever makes it back to the Finals. Most fans won’t care. They just want to see the premiere big man athlete continue to splatter blocked shots all over the backboards and front rows across the league.

3. Boston’s Big Three — Celtics fans got what they wanted: another shot at the title. And as long as Jesus, the Truth and The (former) Kid are rocking the green, the Celtics will sell out no matter where they go. Not to mention Rajon Rondo is becoming a marketable superstar in his own right. Last year, Boston was third in the League in road attendance, beaten out only by Kobe and LeBron. But piloting the tricky business of mid-30s former superstars is always tough. Sometimes they just lose it without warning and it never comes back. The unknown for the Big Three will continue to draw an audience.

2. Kobe Bryant — The Lakers were the best-selling road team in the League last year. For all of their star power and tradition, Kobe is the one who carries the attention. Without him, the rest of their squad is eerily forgettable, at least in a mainstream context (except for maybe Lamar Odom). Kobe is the draw and was the league’s ultimate chameleon — loved and adored for the same reasons others hate — until “The Decision.” The reigning Finals MVP should have his best season of the past few years after a full summer of rest and the extra motivation he will surely conjure up from this summer’s happenings.

1. Miami Thrice — An obvious proclamation, the hype we are navigating right now is going to be smothering once the season starts. I am envisioning a strong hatred for ESPN and TNT developing alongside the incredible on-floor excitement LeBron, Wade and Bosh are bound to create. It’s going to be a bandwagoner’s dream.

-Follow Sean on Twitter at @SEANesweeney.
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  • ShowKase

    Just my opinion, but the “Miami Thrice” nickname sucks. I’m prefer Dan Lebatard’s nickname he gave them, “The Heatles”.

    Oh, and I’d still pay to watch CP3, even though his team sucks.

  • http://facebook.com/Mr.Brogden Mr. Brogden

    It’s going to be a MY dream!!!!!

  • common sense

    Truth be told, if you want someone who is flying under the radar even though he had a miniature breakout performance in the playoffs. Go no further than mentioning the name of Goran Dragic. This guy is going to be the real deal, forget Rubio, Dragic is going to be the best European point gaurd in the league for this Decade.

  • Stunnaboy09

    No love for Curry? He’s the slim reason Warrior fans still have hope.

    Dime should do a nickname contest for Miami, I’ve heard like 10 different shitty ones over the past 2 weeks.

  • CTP


    Why on earth would anyone pay to watch that dude? He is overpaid, and underskilled (for his size). That’s just me though.

    I guess, since he is in NYC, and people there have been hoping for someone worth watching..

  • Turtle

    D Rose should be higher on this list. He’ll surpass Nash,CP3 and Deron for best PG in the league. Otherwise the list is great. Yao??? if he plays more than 30 games a year I agree.
    Great new site for basketball talk http://www.4realhoops.blogspot.com

  • control

    Amare is one of the laziest guys in the NBA, why would anyone watch him? Or is it something to do with the typical american being so lazy, that they can relate to someone who doesn’t come close to maximizing their potential?

  • tony

    where is CP3 ???

  • http://dimemag.com Sean Sweeney

    @control Anyone who pays as much attention as Amar’e does to their diet and fitness level is definitely not that lazy. His work ethic speaks for itself from all of the serious injuries he has come back from.

  • one and done

    Jesus, Truth, and The Kid would be a good title for a TV show

  • Rizwan

    I find it interesting that LeBron apparently didnt like his supporting cast but he seems determined to surround himself with those same players.

    First Big Z, and now talk of Jawad Williams.

  • s.bucketz

    “Scoring tickets to LeBron, D-Wade and Bosh’s traveling show this season will be like getting front-row seats at a Lady GaGa show.”

    And the award for the least heterosexual statement ever made on this website goes to….Sean Sweeney…come on down take a bow!!!

  • adbanga


  • CTP

    I love D Rose, but I really don’t see him surpassing Deron Williams. They are pretty different players, but Deron has way more “court vision” and passing ability than Rose.. Not to even mention Rose’s poor shooting.

  • classic

    OMG!!! Derrick Rose should be top 5. And why the heck is john wall even on this list.

  • http://cannamation.com MR. Puffz

    Congratulations to King Lebron…I mean Prince James since Dwade is the King of the Miami Heat. Now he can put his focus on winning a NBA Title.
    Lebron James is at it again with his newest music video “Got No Rings”. Follow him on his journey to winning that elusive NBA title that eludes the true Kings of the NBA…sarcasm

    Lebron is hard at work on his next music video and will be premiered very soon. About his gay relationship with D Wade and Bosh is the real reason they have joined force in Miami. Lebron James doesnt suck but he GOT NO RINGS!

  • jay

    drose should be up there…durant should be a little higher as well. kb at 2 is fine..the miami thrice or whatever you want to call em is the travelling rock band..lets see what they do but lady gaga…come on..she is garbage, ugly and is a man! rihanna ill give ya…hova concert sure…lady gaga…she is garbage …period!

  • Dagger

    Rizwan: yeah his supporting cast will be the same, with the notable exceptions of WADE AND BOSH. Wtf?

    Also: usually when I go to an NBA game, as a Torontonian, I go to watch high-level basketball. The only players I specifically make a point in seeing (or trying to see):

    1. Lebron
    2. Kobe
    3. Wade
    4. Nash

  • OneZero

    Lady GAGA! are u serious!! she’s…yuck

  • http:www.hornetshype.com mW

    What about CP3? Plus the Hornets are better than the Knicks, Bulls, and Wizards featured above. People forget how great he was, and how talented the Hornets were, before they were both beset by injuries last year. But two years ago, the Hornets, and CP, were the second-best drawing road team (behind the Lebrons).

  • Random

    cp3 needs 2 be on this list

  • Conoro

    It takes the three to get past Kobe…

    Their circus may not even end with an appearance in the Finals.

  • http://dimemag.com Sean Sweeney

    @mW The Hornets are not good, man. They are irrelevant at this point. CP is going to get traded at some point this year. He’s still the best PG in the league, but right now his team is not creating as much excitement as in years past. More a product of his environment though…

  • KnicksFan

    It really only took one to pass Kobe. If Lebron was on a team alone he would pull more than Kobe. Kobe number 2 then Wade.

  • KnicksFan

    Deron WIlliams…no. CP3 yes…why is John Wall up here? He is an unproven D. ROse. Rose top 5

  • RealTalk

    1. Lebron
    2. Durant
    3. Melo
    4. Derrick Rose
    5. Stephen Curry

    <I have a few questions for all these so-called Kobe fans.
    <How long did it take Kobe to win his first ring and MVP without Shaq?
    Remember the first 3 was Shaq's team.
    <Do you think the Lakers will even make it out the west next year? Oklahoma will be better next year. Lakers are old!!!
    <Pau Gasol carried that team. Who was the real MVP of that team?

  • rg03

    Where are Nate Robinson, Steve Nash, and CP3?

  • Qwame

    @26, go shoot yourself formaking such a dumbazz statement.

  • Qwame

    Questions is the top 10 draws and #26 does not have Kobe even listed i nthe top #5 and he was the #1 all the last 2 years, cmon, your hatred for Kobe is just stifling.

  • UncleBone

    It took three to top Kobe. Enough said. King Kobe!

  • http://yahoo Gary

    Amar’e Wont Even Be As Good With Out Nash.

  • jasmin

    1.Kobe and Pau

    anyone else??? none.

  • James

    @26 WOW I see your a Kobe Laker Hater! If you’d like to get technical Kobe only had 2 bad yrs after Shaq left and it was not due to his play or his Willingness to win, but had alot to do with the team that was around him. This past championship was a TEAM effort more so than any cause all the Lakers battled injuries all season long. And now Kobe has 2 without Shaq, Shaq has 1 without Kobe they have 3 together that neither would have won without the other! Be real those are Players who compliment Kobe’s game Kobe leaves the Lakers only make the playoffs! For those of you thinking that The Miami Hype is going to the Finals this coming season don’t bet your money on it, cause you will be broke! EVERY SINGLE GAME THEY PLAY IS GOING TO BE HARD EVEN AGAINST THE WEAK TEAMS! SOme teams are already saying “if we don’t win but 12 games we have to beat them to show that it won’t work! case in point the Nets won 12 games they Beat Boston and The Cavs, I give this trio 2 yrs cause Boston will make a determined run, and The Magic are mad that they are being disreguarded like they are no longer good. The 3 will win alot of games they will go to the Playoffs but will lose in the 2nd rnd,people forget, Wade gets hurt every yr, Mike Miller hasn’t played a whole season since when? You have to account for injuries, Lebron’s elbow held up til when? The Playoffs think about it!

  • http://interbasket.net wardY24

    wow. .kobe at no.2?r u kidding me. .