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By RanterX

20 Athletes Who Are Hard To Hate

2014 NBA Finals - Game Five
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There are certain athletes in sports you just can't seem to dislike. Regardless of whether he plays for the opposing team or a hated rival, these athletes draw respect rather than anger from sports fans. Here are 20 athletes from the four major sports who are extremely hard to hate.

20. Dirk Nowitzki

Dirk Nowitzki
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20. Dirk Nowitzki

Dirk Nowitzki
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The German will be entering his 17th season in the NBA with the same franchise that he started his career with in 1998, the Dallas Mavericks. Nowitzki has won an NBA Championship, a Finals MVP and ranks 10th all-time with over 26,000 points scored. The veteran power forward recently accepted a three-year, $ 30 million contract with Dallas which will have him retire as a Maverick.

19. Alex Ovechkin

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19. Alex Ovechkin

Alex Ovechkin teeth_copy
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In just nine seasons in the NHL, Alex Ovechkin has established himself as the premier player of the league. He has won the MVP award in three different seasons and has led the Washington Capitals to division titles five times. In spite of all of the individual and regular season team success, Ovechkin and the Capitals consistently come up short in the postseason. The right winger has never advanced to the Conference Finals in his NHL career.

18. Kevin Durant

3. Kevin Durant
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18. Kevin Durant

3. Kevin Durant
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Kevin Durant is just 25 years of age, and he has already won an MVP award and led the NBA in scoring on four different occasions. Durant is widely regarded as the NBA's best pure scorer. The seven-year NBA veteran is frequently overshadowed by the NBA's best player, LeBron James. It would be a shame if a player of Durant's caliber doesn't finish with at least one championship by the time his career is over.

17. Aaron Rodgers

Aaron Rodgers
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17. Aaron Rodgers

Aaron Rodgers
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What has Aaron Rodgers not done in the six years he's been an NFL starting quarterback? Rodgers has won an MVP, a Lombardi Trophy and a Super Bowl MVP. In a season where he missed half of the year due to a collarbone injury, Rodgers was still regarded as the best quarterback in the league with Peyton Manning.

16. Adrian Peterson

Chicago Bears v Minnesota Vikings
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16. Adrian Peterson

Chicago Bears v Minnesota Vikings
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In December of 2011, Adrian Peterson tore both his MCL and ACL. Less than a year after his tear, Peterson won the MVP award and rushed for over 2,000 yards that season. He was named MVP following the 2012 season. There may not be a tougher individual in the NFL than Peterson.

15. Russell Wilson

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15. Russell Wilson

Russell Wilson Divorce
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What is not to like about Russell Wilson? He is the shortest quarterback in the NFL at under 5-foot-11. In just his second season in the NFL, he led the Seattle Seahawks to a victory over the favored Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XLVIII. Wilson is the ultimate underdog and has succeeded at an early point in his career despite his short stature.

14. Frank Gore

Seattle Seahawks v San Francisco 49ers
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14. Frank Gore

Seattle Seahawks v San Francisco 49ers
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Frank Gore is 31 years old entering 2014. Over the past decade in the NFL, Gore has established himself as one of the best running backs in the league. Although the University of Miami product has come close over the past three seasons, he has still yet to hoist the Lombardi Trophy. The 2014 season may represent Gore's last chance to do so.

13. Champ Bailey

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13. Champ Bailey

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It's sometimes easy to forget that Champ Bailey may be the second greatest cover corner in NFL history. In an era where defensive backs were placed at a disadvantage, Bailey thrived. The 15-year NFL veteran has been named a 12-time Pro Bowler and a seven-time All-Pro. The CB will be elected to the Hall of Fame after retirement, but the question is, will he win a ring before he calls it quits?

12. Troy Tulowitzki

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12. Troy Tulowitzki

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Troy Tulowitzki has established himself as the face of the Colorado Rockies franchise since leading them to their first and only World Series appearance during the 2007 season. Unfortunately for Tulowitzki, the Rockies have made it back to the postseason just once since then. In spite of the Rockies' lack of team success, the shortstop has been named an All-Star on four different occasions.

11. Reggie Wayne

Reggie Wayne
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11. Reggie Wayne

Reggie Wayne
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It's hard to fathom that Reggie Wayne will be entering his 14th season with the Indianapolis Colts in 2014. After being overshadowed by Marvin Harrison during the first few years of his career, Wayne established himself as the Colts' best receiver and Peyton Manning's favorite target after the 2006 season. He remains one of the NFL's best receivers despite being 35 years old.

10. Andre Johnson

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10. Andre Johnson

Andre Johnson-Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
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Andre Johnson is a lot like Reggie Wayne. Johnson has been the Houston Texans' clear go-to target since being drafted by the franchise in 2003. However, 11 years into his career, Johnson has yet to even play in a Conference Championship Game. The receiver is 33 years old and looks to be in for another frustrating season in Houston as the Texans rebuild in 2014.

9. Steven Jackson

Steven Jackson
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9. Steven Jackson

Steven Jackson
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Steven Jackson is in a similar boat to Frank Gore. Two have never really gotten into any trouble off of the field and have remained the most durable and consistent running backs in the NFL over the past 10 years. Unfortunately, despite both players remaining durable, they have yet to win Lombardi Trophies. Jackson is 32 years old, and after an injury-riddled season in 2013, 2014 will likely be his last season.

8. Drew Brees

New Orleans Saints v St. Louis Rams
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8. Drew Brees

New Orleans Saints v St. Louis Rams
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Drew Brees is a former Super Bowl MVP who has consistently shattered passing records and avoided controversy over his 13-year NFL career. Not only that, but he stands at just 6-foot and returned from a rotator cuff injury to become one of the NFL's best quarterbacks. However, Brees also happens to play in the same era as Peyton Manning and Tom Brady, which means Brees is always overshadowed.

7. Andrew Luck

NFL: Tennessee Titans at Indianapolis Colts
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7. Andrew Luck

NFL: Tennessee Titans at Indianapolis Colts
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There aren't many quarterbacks who could have followed Peyton Manning's footsteps in Indianapolis. Andrew Luck is an exception. Luck has managed to exceed expectations by leading the Indianapolis Colts to the playoffs in his first two seasons in the league. At just 24 years of age, the third-year quarterback will look to lead the Colts even deeper into the postseason in 2014.

6. Tim Duncan

2014 NBA Finals - Game One
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6. Tim Duncan

2014 NBA Finals - Game One
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Tim Duncan is such a well-liked player amongst his peers and the NBA fanbase that you could put him on this list 10 years after he retires. He is a five-time NBA Champion and the greatest power forward in NBA history. Throughout his 17 years in the NBA, he hasn't done a single thing that has made fans dislike him. That is extremely difficult to do.

5. Stephen Curry

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5. Stephen Curry

Stephen Curry
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Steph Curry is widely regarded as the best pure shooter in the NBA. Curry enjoyed a breakout 2013-14 season in which he led the NBA in three-point field goals made for the second straight season. He was also named to his first All-Star Game in 2014. At just 26 years of age, No. 30 is just entering the prime of his career.

4. Chris Paul

Chris Paul
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4. Chris Paul

Chris Paul
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Chris Paul is the NBA's best point guard at the moment. Despite being undersized at just 6-foot, Paul is one of the fiercest competitors in the NBA today. He arguably should have won the MVP award in 2008 and continues to demonstrate that he is one of the top 10 players in the NBA despite being a little man in a big man's game.

3. Steve Nash

Dallas Mavericks v Los Angeles Lakers
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3. Steve Nash

Dallas Mavericks v Los Angeles Lakers
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After winning back-to-back MVP awards in the mid-2000s, Steve Nash became the most controversial multiple-time MVP award winner in NBA history. However, there is no denying that Nash may go down as the best point guard of his generation. The veteran guard led the league in assists in six different seasons and ranks third all-time in career assists. The only thing missing on his resume is a championship.

2. Andrew McCutchen

MVP07 Andrew McCutchen
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2. Andrew McCutchen

MVP07 Andrew McCutchen
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Andrew McCutchen is such a quiet player that he often gets overlooked for just how great of a player he really is. The center fielder won the NL MVP award in 2013 following a season in which he led the Pittsburgh Pirates to their first postseason appearance since 1992.

1. Peyton Manning

Baltimore Ravens v Denver Broncos
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1. Peyton Manning

Baltimore Ravens v Denver Broncos
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Peyton Manning is the NFL's version of Tim Duncan. Manning has been the league's top quarterback for well over a decade, and he has shown no signs of slowing down. The veteran QB won his fifth MVP award and shattered the league's touchdown and passing yards record in his 15th season in the league. He also makes some pretty good commercials when he's not throwing touchdowns.

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