okay, now i can throw down my pick: slam dunk.
originally, i consumed the series, mostly, in anime, but over the break i've been catching up on takehiko inoue's entire oeuvre and MAN! slam dunk is one of the best comics ever, period. amazing art, characterization, comedy, and maybe the strongest thing of all is the perfect pacing of everything.
there really isn't a dull moment, and it's the only non-one piece manga that's really addictive once you get started. whenever the drama stars to lean toward melodrama, there's a joke to break the tension, whenever there's too much humor, some really compelling story sequence kicks in. i think maybe it's not for everyone, and maybe you need to find sakuragi's antics amusing to get through the first arc–but it's likely that you will, most of the jokes are consistently unique and amusing--but i'd recommend anyone trying it, even if you don't think you can enjoy a sports manga.
the characters and their relationships are the main focus of opening stories, and that's really what hooks you in during the fast-paced, ridiculously intense basketball sequences. the author has gone up a ton of levels in his art (and so does the art in this series as it progresses), but i still think slam dunk is his best and most accessible manga.
pics (another must-see):