"You always have to be on edge," Kobe Bryant once said. "You always have to take every practice, every game, like it is your last." Bryant is someone who practices what he preaches. While he has seemingly injured every part of his body during his 16-year career, the Lakers superstar never seems to let up. He has the championship rings to prove it, but still wants more.
2 of 10Brian Babineau/NBAE via Getty Images
It's no fluke that Kevin Garnett is 10th all time in minutes played in the NBA. Garnett is fiercely competitive and although his scoring and rebounding numbers have declined with age, he still averaged 15.8 points and 8.2 rebounds per game last season.
3 of 10Todd Kirkland/AP
It takes a lot of work to lead a team that everybody loves to hate. But that is exactly what James did last year, turning the Heat from a 2011 disappointment to a 2012 champion.
4 of 10Nikki Boertman/AP
Few players have the non-stop energy of Grizzlies shooting guard Tony Allen. Allen averaged 1.8 steals per game each of the past two seasons and was named to the NBA's All-Defensive First Team in May.
5 of 10Layne Murdoch/NBAE via Getty Images
Choosing between the big guy and the skinny guy in the 2007 draft, the Trail Blazers chose the big guy. While Greg Oden has been a bust, the No. 2 pick, Kevin Durant -- who entered the draft at 6-foot-10, 215 pounds -- has turned into one of the biggest stars in the league. He may still be lean (he's now 235 lbs.), but that has not stopped him from averaging 26.3 points over his career.
6 of 10Ron Hoskins/NBAE via Getty Images
After spending his first two years in the NBA as a sixth man, Love's hard work paid off during the 2010-11 season, when he led the league in rebounding and scored 20.2 points per game. Last season he was even more dangerous, scoring 26 points per game.
7 of 10Glenn James/NBAE via Getty Images
It wasn't just his size that made Anthony Davis the obvious No. 1 pick in the 2012 draft -- it was also his work ethic. Although just a freshman at Kentucky last year, Anthony and his tireless play on the boards led the Wildcats to their first national title since 1998.
8 of 10Kathy Willens/AP
One of the most tenacious defenders in the NBA, Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo will not hesitate to dive for any loose ball. The strategy has helped Rondo average 1.9 steals per game over his career, along with 8.1 assists.
9 of 10Issac Baldizon/NBAE via Getty Images
Few players are as tough as Manu Ginobili, who has been a leader for the San Antonio Spurs for years. His boxscore line will not blow you away, but his consistency has been key to the Spurs' three recent title runs.
10 of 10ChinaFotoPress/ChinaFotoPress via Getty Images
For years Shane Battier has been tasked with guarding his opponent's best scorer and has consistently done a good job. That's not to say that Battier is just a defensive player -- he also finds the energy to put some points on the board, averaging 9.2 points per game in his career.
You May Like
Sign Up for our Newsletter
Don't get stuck on the sidelines! Sign up to get exclusives, daily highlights, analysis and more—delivered right to your inbox!