So, I'm not a sports anime or manga fan. Eyeshield 21, Prince of Tennis...never really interested me. That said, I love Kazuhiko Inoue's art and have long meant to check out his classic Slam Dunk, which has inspired so many mangaka over the years (I swear, I think it's the most frequent response I see to the question “what manga do you read” / “what manga has inspired you”).
The entire anime series-- all 101 episodes –are currently up on Crunchyroll, and I finally managed to find 25 free minutes of time to watch the first episode of the series. So unfortunately, I can't give you a full-series recommendation...but I'm sure a lot of you guys are like me and have never gotten around to even a little bit of the basketball classic.
The basic story of the series revolves around Hanamichi Sakuragi, who gets rejected by his high school crush, who already has a crush on a guy on the basketball team. It's his 50th rejection, too, so he gets teased by his buddies, of course. He proceeds to beat up anyone who even talks about basketball, or anything that sounds like basketball (like biscuit or Baghdad).
While wallowing in his misery, a girl overhears him talking about basketball and asks if he likes the game. Blown away by the cute girl, he declares his admiration of the game and finds himself suddenly needing to become a basketball player. Trying to impress her with his skills, she pushes him to join the basketball team with her older brother due to his jumping ability.
It's a classic show, so the animation isn't really up to par, and the style is a bit old-fashioned-seeming these days-- though not so different from, say, Rumiko Takahashi's work –but it's still pretty watchable. The characterization is strong, and while a pretty broad host of characters are introduced in the first episode, it doesn't feel like too much to handle while still featuring a lot of distinct individuals.
It's pretty good fun, and I rarely get much chance to go back and watch older shows these days, but I'm going to try and keep plugging an episode in here and there, though I dunno if I'll be able to get through it all in any kind of timely fashion. Still, I definitely recommend you guys check it out, even those of you who aren't fans of sports series!
Here's the first episode on Crunchyroll for you to start with. http://www.crunchyroll.com/media-475066/slam-dunk-1/