Whom do stars say they'd pay to watch play? LeBron tops list

LOS ANGELES -- Whenever you see an athlete or celebrity at a sporting event, there's a good chance he or she didn't pay to get in.

"I can't remember the last time I paid for a ticket," said TNT analyst and former NBA player Kenny Smith. "I get a lot of free tickets."

Along with comped meals and drinks on the house, it's simply one of the perks of being famous. There are, however, some athletes who will compel even the biggest stars to dig into their pockets. We asked some familiar faces on the ESPYS red carpet which current athlete in any sport they would gladly pay to watch.

NBA players were the most popular choices, with LeBron James the most frequent answer, but the picks spanned all corners of the sports world, including MMA and motocross.

Danny Amendola, New England Patriots: All right, right now, I'd pay to watch Steph Curry in person. I got mad respect for his skills, his ball handling, his shooting and range. I've only watched him on TV, so I need to fix that soon.

Pete Carroll, Seattle Seahawks coach: I would love to see Kobe Bryant. He was always one of my favorites. If I had a chance to watch him go full speed again, I would definitely pay to see that.

Kelly Clark, snowboarder: I would pay to go to the Tour de France and watch those guys duke it out on the hills. I'm nerding out on the Tour right now. I love that it's strategic and I like that people pour themselves out for the greater good of the team. It's not a selfish sport, which I think is really unique these days.

Mo'ne Davis, Little League pitcher: Steph Curry. His personality and the way he plays and his style of play is the best. He's my favorite player to watch.

Erica Enders, NHRA driver: J.J. Watt. I'm a huge J.J. Watt fan. I'm from Houston, so I'm biased, but I've been able to watch him before, and he's amazing. I really admire what he does on the field.

Victor Espinoza, Triple Crown-winning jockey: I love watching Mike Trout. He's my friend and he's just amazing to watch.

Jennie Finch, softball player: There's so many. I'm a fan and I love being able to see people work hard and be great. It was great to see the U.S. women's soccer team do what they did in the World Cup.

Evander Holyfield, former heavyweight champion: LeBron James would be up there. I would also have to say Floyd Mayweather and maybe Alex Rodriguez, but if I had to pick one it would be Floyd. He just finds a way to win. He plays by the rules and he uses the rules to win. He's a smart fighter.

Nyjah Huston, skateboarder: LeBron. I love the way he plays, love his style. He's literally one of the best players ever, and he's one of my favorite athletes. I think he's a sick dude. I also like the fact that he has so much controversy around him all the time. Honestly, it's the same with me. I get so much hate. It's cool to see someone like that who deals with that hate and gets the job done.

Desean Jackson, Washington Redskins: No. 1 player I'd pay to watch is Kobe Bryant, even today. No question. He's the best player ever not named Jordan. He's the closest there is and will ever be to Jordan.

Mel B, singer and former Spice Girl: It would have to be Ronda Rousey. My husband is obsessed with her and I really like her too. She is incredible.

Terrance Knighton, Washington Redskins: Kevin Durant. He's a very special player, to be his size, 7 feet, and be able to dribble the ball, put it on the floor, hit from anywhere. He just puts on the best show. Close second is LeBron. They're probably the most exciting athletes in all of sports.

Taylor Lewan, Tennessee Titans: Anyone in the Nitro Circus. I've been watching those guys since I was eight years old. I got my first dirt bike when I was five and rode until I was 15. Travis Pastrana, Adam Jones, Josh Sheehan, Cowboy Kenny Bartram, Jolene Van Vugt, I'm such a super fan. I think action sports are so much more exciting and interesting than any mainstream sports.

Stephanie McMahon, WWE: Ronda Rousey. I just think she is someone who believes in herself no matter the odds. She is inspiring and she puts in so much hard work and she never takes no for an answer. She puts forward all of these motivating factors to anybody out there who is paying attention and she's showing the world when you believe in yourself, you can accomplish your goals and you can make it happen.

Alex Morgan, U.S. women's national soccer team: I always love seeing LeBron. He's the best at his sport.

Gwendolyn Osborne-Smith, Price is Right model: LeBron James and Steph Curry. I love Curry's tenacity and the way that he has conducted himself as a father as well as being an athlete.

Christen Press, U.S. women's national soccer team: I am a big tennis fan. If I'm not watching soccer, I'm watching tennis, so I would love to watch Serena Williams and shake hands with her. Just as a female athlete, to look at her, I feel empowered. She's amazing every time she takes the court.

J.J. Redick, Los Angeles Clippers: I'm a baseball fan so the guy is right here in L.A., Clayton Kershaw. He's an artist. His ability to control the game and his ability to mix up pitches and the angles he throws the pitches; he's just a special player. Honestly, I think he'll go down as one of the all-time greats.

Roman Reigns, WWE wrestler: I think LeBron James is the easy pick. He's a proven champion and prototype athlete. If you were to create an athlete, it would be him. He's a winner and a great leader. The combination of all the talent and the intangibles makes him a big ticket and the most must-see athlete on the planet right now.

Josh Sheehan, freestyle motocross: Motocross racer Chad Reed. He's the best. He's an Aussie and a legend. I like the sport and appreciate the incredible athleticism.

Kenny Smith, former NBA player, TNT commentator: I would pay to see LeBron James and I would also pay to see Steph Curry. I would pay to see LeBron because he's the kind of athlete we haven't seen in the past 50-60 years and Steph Curry because despite his lack of size, he's still able to dominate. That's important.

Justise Winslow, Miami Heat: I'd pay to watch Duke basketball. As far as teams, that's the only team I'd pay to watch. OK, one dude? Jeez, that's tough. I'd pay to see Grayson Allen play -- just for the way he competes. Nobody competes harder. I also know him personally, so it'd be great to sit courtside for a change and watch him.

Jolene Van Vugt, motocross: Travis Pastrana. He's one of my closest friends and I have the opportunity to see him perform every day. But I would still pay money to watch him ride because he is one of the most talented, carefree, fun-loving, full-of-life people I've ever met. A talent like Travis doesn't come around very often.

ESPN.com reporter Arash Markazi and ESPN The Magazine writers Sam Alipour and Alyssa Roenigk contributed to this story.