Kings of the Court

2009 NBA Hotties
ESSENCE.COM May, 13, 2009

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Team: Los Angeles Lakers
Age: 21
Position: Center
Fast Fact: Being drafted at 17 in 2005, the New Jersey native became the youngest player to ever play an NBA game the same year. Take that, Kobe! Bynum hasn’t let injuries to his knees stop him, as he works hard to help the favored team earn another ring.

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Team: Los Angeles Lakers
Age: 23
Position: Small Forward/Shooting Guard
Fast Fact: We don’t think Ariza is a snake, but he does have the nickname “Cobra.” He got the moniker from Lakers coach Phil Jackson for his quick moves as he strikes while defending the goal.

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Age: 25
Team: Denver Nuggets
Position: Forward
Fast Fact: Sorry, ladies; Melo is still smitten with fiancée LaLa Vazquez. You might’ve heard LaLa had to be escorted from a Playoff game in Dallas recently because she was about to “go off” on some unruly Mavericks fans who were yelling insults and even through trash at her. Can you believe that mess?!

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Team: Orlando Magic
Age: 23
Position: Center
Fast Fact: His amazing skills on the court as an Atlanta high school student landed Dwight the spot as No. 1 draft pick in 2004. He definitely has his athletic genes to thank as his father is athletic director of one of the top high school sports programs in the country and his mother is a former Morris Brown basketball player.

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Team: Orlando Magic
Age: 23
Position: Shooting guard
Fast Fact: Lee suffered a fractured sinus during the first round of the Playoffs in April and missed Game 6. He couldn’t get upset at the culprit who accidentally struck him in the face during the game—since it was the team’s star player, Dwight Howard.

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Team: Orlando Magic
Age: 33
Position: Guard-Forward
Fast Fact: Under Battie’s jersey, their may be an ‘S’ on his chest. In 2000 he and his brother saved the life of fellow baller Paul Pierce following a stabbing that almost killed Pierce.

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Age: 31
Team: Boston Celtics
Position: Guard
Fast Fact: Like a man who keeps his cool? House definitely fits the bill. We always thought he seemed calm and collected, but we recently got cold-hard proof. When Orlando Magic player Rafer Alston open-hand slapped the back of House’s head the other night, we just knew all hell was about to break loose. But, nope, Eddie calmly walked away and let the referees do their job. Pretty classy.

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Team: Cleveland Cavaliers
Age: 24
Position: Small Forward
Fast Fact: Having seemingly conquered the world of basketball, James is now trying his hand in entertainment. He stars in the upcoming film “More Than a Game,” and has pitched a show based on his life to ABC with Ice Cube.

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Team: Cleveland Cavaliers
Age: 26
Position: Point Guard
Fast Fact: Williams’s spot in Cleveland has allowed for him and LeBron James to form a dynamic duo that helped the team win 21 more games this seasons. His mean jump shot is the perfect compliment to James’s drives to the hole. And even when he misses, King LeBron has his back.

“Even when I’m 1-for-11, I’m always hearing this guy, ‘Don’t worry about it. You’re going to make the big one,’” Williams says.

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Team: Cleveland Cavaliers
Age: 25
Position: Shooting Guard
Fast Fact: Kinsey will always be a hero to the University of South Carolina, after his three-point shot won his team the 2005 National Invitational Tournament championship at Madison Square Garden.

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Age: 32
Team: Denver Nuggets
Position: Guard
Fast Fact: This season marks Billups’s first one with Nuggets, and get this: He was born and raised in Denver, making him the first player in the team’s history to truly call Denver “home.” The former Detroit Pistons champ and MVP hopes to bring the NBA crown to his hometown, and after beating Dallas in the Western Semifinals to make it to the Conference Finals, he just might.

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Team: Houston Rockets
Age: 24
Position: Point Guard
Fast Fact: We’re glad the number zero doesn’t mean loser when it comes to Brooks, who proudly displays the “0” on his chest. The Seattle native is making waves during his second season in the NBA.

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Team: Houston Rockets
Age: 24
Position: Guard
Fast Fact: “If at first you don’t succeed, try again” should be the mantra for Wafer. After it was predicted he wouldn’t get drafted in 2005, he was picked up by the Lakers, only to be let go a few months later. After being signed and dropped by a few teams, he found a home with the Rockets and is now making a big impact with a starting position.

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Age: 32
Team: Denver Nuggets
Position: Forward
Fast Fact: We hear this guy is taken by hip-hop’s “Diamond Princess” Trina. Apparently their love is sealed with a kiss—literally—as those red lips tattooed on his neck are said to be an impression of hers. The hoopster was recently the center of NBA controversy when Dallas Mavericks coach Mark Cuban, angry over a referee’s call, pointed at Martin’s mother and yelled, “Your son’s a thug!” The coach later apologized, but we think Cuban definitely crossed the line.

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Team: Houston Rockets
Age: 29
Position: Shooting Guard/Small Forward
Fast Fact: T-Mac isn’t sitting on the sidelines watching the devastation in Darfur. After traveling to refugee camps in the embattled country, he is gathering other players to help connect camps in Darfur to schools in America.

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Age: 25
Team: Boston Celtics
Position: Center
Fast Fact: Drafted right out of high school in Texas, Perkins has no time to stress over games. "I just go out there and play my game, play defense the way I know how and just trust in team and I think we’ll be alright,” Perkins recently told the Orlando Sentinel.

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Age: 23
Team: Boston Celtics
Position: Forward
Fast Fact: At 6-feet, 9-inches-tall and nearly 300 pounds, Davis is one of the biggest brothers on the court. But don’t let his stature fool you; he moves with the quickness. And his recent game-winning buzzer shot in Game 4 of the Playoffs against Orlando has Celtics fans kissing the ground he walks on.

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