Written By: Andy Flint
The Los Angeles Lakers are one of the most storied franchise teams in the sporting world. The sixteen-time champion Lakers have displayed themselves as a dominate force in the NBA for decades. Many lengendary players have forged NBA history while sporting the purple and yellow duds. So many great players, so many championship runs. Yet, only five players can make the cut. Without further ado, The Top Five Greatest Lakers of All Time.
#5: Shaquille O’Neal:
The 7’1, more beast than man, Shaq-Diesel, dominated the league while sporting a Los Angeles Laker jersey. “Superman” played eight seasons with the Lake-Show during the prime of his tremendous career. He (Shaq) helped the Lakers reach the playoffs in all of his eight seasons spent in the Los Angeles area, claiming three championships (2000/2001/2002) and forever placed himself among the Laker elite. Shaq won the hearts of LA fans with his sheer dominance and brute-force. At roughly 300lbs, Shaq inflicted severe damage to rims all over the league, while beating rival teams into the hardwood like a hammer does a nail. One of the greatest NBA centers of all time, and surely one of the most dominant forces to ever grace the game.
Best Statistical Season: 2000: 29.7 ppg, 13.6 reb, 3.8 apg, 3 blk
7x NBA All Star, 2x All Star Game MVP, 3x NBA Finals MVP, NBA MVP (1999/2000), 8x NBA All First Team, 3x NBA All Defensive Team, 3x NBA Champion (2000/2001/2002).
#4: Kobe Bryant:
Kobe Bryant has been the new face for the Los Angeles Lakers over the past decade and some change. Entering the league in the 1997/1998 season as the thirteenth overall pick, straight out of high school, Bryant would quickly become a household name. By the time the 2000′s rolled around, Kobe was already drawing comparison to Michael Jordan and rapidly becoming the leagues best player. Kobe’s ability to do whatever he wants on the court is a thing of beauty, and something that drives opposing teams insane. Bryant’s ability to beat you from anywhere on the court and still get back on defense are some of the reasons why he’s such a special player. Kobe has spent his entire career with the Lakers, seeing them to the playoffs in every single season and truly making his mark in the storied Laker history.
Best Statistical Season: 2005/2006: 35.4 ppg, 5.3 reb, 4.5 apg, 1.8 stl
13x NBA All Star, 4x NBA All Star Game MVP 2x NBA Finals MVP, NBA MVP (2007/2008), 12x All NBA Team, NBA All Rookie, Team, 10x All Defensive Team, 5x NBA Champion (2000, 2001, 2002, 2009, 2010).
#3: Kareem Abdul Jabbar:
Kareem is one of my personal favorites. He (Kareem) possessed a barrage of post moves and hook shots, coupled with unmatched length, made him a deadly force at both ends of the court. Kareem was one of those tall, lanky NBA centers that you don’t really see anymore. He’s (Jabbar) of a lost proto-type. The NBA centers of this era are generally power players, or defensive guys, not many of them match good foot-work with their length to provide big time scoring options. Kareem possessed great patience on the block and excelled as a viable scoring option. He stood 7’2 and weighed just 225lbs, but his ability to stun opponents with his quick feet and advanced post moves will forever be what made him a great player, in my eyes.
Best Statistical Season: 1975/1976: 27.7 ppg, 16.9 reb, 5.0 apg, 1.5 stl, 4.1 blk
14x NBA All Star, 3x NBA MVP, NBA All Star MVP (1975/1976, 1976/1977, 1979/1980), NBA Finals MVP (1984/1985), 10x All NBA Team, 8x All NBA Defensive Team, 5x NBA Champion (1980, 1982, 1985, 1987, 1988).
#2: Jerry West:
West (The League Logo) played in an era lost in the minds of most current NBA enthusiasts. From 1960 to 1974, Jerry West dominated the court with a deadly jump shot, stunning confidence and the extreme will to win at the highest level. West led the Lakers to the NBA Finals a total of nine times. He played all of his career as a Laker. He (West) was just the third player in NBA history to reach 25,000 career points (after Wilt Chamberlain and Oscar Robertson) and is responsible for perhaps the most famous shot in basketball history, a sixty foot swish that tied game three of the 1970 NBA Finals vs. the New York Knickerbockers. West was inducted into the basketball Hall of Fame in 1980 and is truly a legend, to not only the Laker loyalists, but the league as a whole.
Best Statistical Season: 1965/1966: 31.3 ppg, 7.1 reb, 6.1 apg,
14x NBA All Star, NBA All Star MVP, NBA Finals MVP (1968/1969), 12x NBA All team, 5x NBA All Defensive Team, NBA Champion (1972).
Possibly the best point guard in the NBA’s history. Magic was simply beautiful with the ball. He could break down any defense, make the big shots, dish, dazzle and simply play. The 6’8, Johnson, wasn‘t your average point guard, with unmatched size and strength, he was almost unguardable. But, he could also make all of the finesse plays, he could thread the needle, dish up high for the slam and throw opposing players off with his impressive ball handling abilities. If I could describe any player with the term “Poetry in Motion”, it would be Magic. Johnson was well ahead of his time and is considered one of the greatest to ever grace the hardwood.
Best Statistical Season(s): 1986/1987: 23.9 ppg, 6.3 reb, 12.2 apg, 1.7 stl. 1981/1982: 18.6 ppg, 9.6 reb, 9.5 apg, 2.7 stl.
12x NBA All Star, NBA All Rookie Team, 10x All NBA Team, 2x NBA All Star MVP, 3x NBA MVP (1986/1987, 1988/1989, 1989/1990), 3x NBA Finals MVP (1979/1980, 1981/1982, 1986/1987), 5x NBA Champion (1980, 1982, 1985, 1987, 1988)
After the Boston Celtics swept the Knicks on Easter Sunday, many fans are left grasping as to what had just happened. The New York Knicks riding high coming into the playoffs seemingly healthy with the swagger to not only accept the challenge of facing the Celtics, but to win the series against the favored Celtics never came to fruition. In fact it wasn’t even close for the most part the last two games with the Celtics holding 20 point leads in both. A nice comeback in game four was halted by the much more experienced Celtics as they showed the Knicks they are a lot further away from being a real contender than they think.
First and foremost it must be said that the Knicks were most definitely not at full strength which clearly threw a wrench into this series. Jeff Van Gundy brought up an interesting point, he said “if the Celtics had lost Rajon Rondo for the last three games and played with an injured Kevin Garnett since the second half of game two, how well would they be doing in this series.” Fact is, you can bring up all the excuses in the world the Knicks have a long way to go if their dream of being crowned champions is ever going to happen.
Next order of business, do the Knicks sign Chauncey Billups? All indications seem to point that the Knicks will indeed pick up the last year of his contract, as sources have said the Knicks have a verbal agreement with Billups. Mixed feelings on this. First, Billups for many years has been durable and clutch. This however doesn’t excuse the fact that he will be a 35 year-old point guard who can’t guard the fast athletic guards in this league. He fits D’Antoni’s system as a shooter, but he has always been a better half court offensive player then run and gun type point guard D’Antoni craves. The Knicks however are in a bit of a predicament. Unless the Knicks want to go after a player like T.J. Ford, Delonte West, Jose Juan Barea to run the team on a one-year trial basis as the team gears up for either Chris Paul or Deron Williams in 2012, the Knicks are pretty much limited in what they can do at point-guard. Toney Douglas has shown he’s not ready to play point guard in this league and was absolutely exposed by Rajon Rondo, in fact Rondo not known for posting up took Douglas to the block and abused him. Douglas fits the mold to come off the bench and might be the Knicks next version of a poor mans John Starks. He is inconsistent, but when Douglas is playing well he is an asset to this team. With that said, the Knicks should pick up Billups’ last year on his deal.
The Knicks also need a true center. Ronny Turiaf had a few good moments in the postseason, but we all know he is not the answer. The Knicks do hold the rights to Jerome Jordan, who played overseas last year in Europe. He was considered very raw last year coming out of college, so for him to play one year in Europe and transition to NBA basketball successfully is a long shot. If the Knicks pick up Billups’ option it will leave them with no cap room to go out and sign free agents. The Knicks have very little to offer (Douglas, Fields,Walker) so acquiring one via trade isn’t likely. The most realistic option is drafting a center. If the Knicks can’t draft a center I would expect them to either go point guard or another big PF to play alongside Stoudemire.
It doesn’t get any easier moving forward in Knicks nation as they must make a decision on whether or not to retain General Manager Donnie Walsh. Seems logical right? Well the nasty, gut wrenching rumor going around is that owner James Dolan would want Isiah Thomas back as GM. Dolan feels that Thomas was instrumental in bringing Carmelo Anthony to the Knicks. Also he would be intricate part in luring future free agents that may want to join the team. This is a horror story for any die-hard Knicks fan. If Donnie Walsh doesn’t come back the Knicks should promote Allan Houston who has been the understudy of Walsh take over the reigns. New GMs usually means new coach, so stay tuned to this situation.
Speaking of the aforementioned GM/Coach scenario, the Knicks have to be thinking long-term if coach Mike D’Antoni is the future of this franchise. The funny thing is, although Donnie Walsh gets credit for getting the Knicks under the cap and bringing in two all-star players the Knicks were better equipt to run D’Antoni’s offense with the team he inherited at the start of his tenure. Players like Jamal Crawford, David Lee, Wilson Chandler, Danilo Gallanari, Zack Randolph, Stephon Marbury all were built to just run and gun. In fact I’d argue although they had a few knuckleheads on that team, they could have been a playoff team the last three years building chemistry together rather than winning 28 games a year. I know it sounds convoluted, but it may just be true. To take it one step further, if the Knicks didn’t botch the Jordan Hill pick and drafted Jrue Holiday, they could have a lineup of Holiday, Crawford, Chandler, Gallo, Zack Randolph, with David Lee coming off the bench. People forget the Warriors had a Monta Ellis for David Lee trade in the works that Donnie Walsh turned down as well. This team could have been dramatically transformed. The Knicks have two superstars and a bunch of question marks.
I will contradict myself though and agree the Knicks are in a better situation with the route they went. They weren’t going to win anything with that cast, but the last two years of trying to get under the cap while losing was misery for any Knicks fan. Anytime you can get two superstars you have to do it.
Point is this Knicks fans, Donnie Walsh hasn’t been the savior everyone thinks. The Knicks were actually playing well when he had that fire sale and traded Randolph and Crawford. I feel by hiring D’Antoni you should have kept players and acquired players that fit his system, not put all your eggs into one basket by getting under the cap in hopes of signing Lebron James.
The Knicks should seriously consider going hard after three coaches if they’re serious about winning a championship. Three come to mind, Jeff Van Gundy, Phil Jackson, and Doc Rivers. Jackson and Rivers currently under contract are both rumored to be retiring at season’s end at least short-term. All three fit the profiles to be coach of the Knicks. One word: Defense. The New York crowd doesn’t chant Defense for no reason. New York loves its Defense and unless D’Antoni choreographs the crowd into some offense chants, I doubt this will be changing anytime soon.
In Knicks nation they’re several things to be optimistic about, but until the Knicks solve their GM, Coaching, point-guard and Center issues this team is a few years away. If James Dolan will let his brain trust do the thinking and transitions, this team could very well be a legitimate contender the next several seasons. I’ll believe it when I see it.
With all the success the Georgetown Hoyas have had over their history and most recently the John Thompson III era, some would say it would seem illogical to suggest firing coach John Thompson III. I’m not going to spit out stats and games the Hoyas should have won seeing that they do play in the Big East and anything is plausible on any given night. What I am going to prove is the recent slide the Hoyas have taken in losing in the first round of the NCAA tournament and NIT is no coincidence that it’s because of their coaching.
Rewind to 2004-2005, Georgetown announces the hiring of John Thompson the third. Most Hoya fans at this point had enough of the Craig Esherick era and were ready to move on. This was a good step in getting this once proud program back to respectability. Thompson had just came off a 20 win season of his own at Princeton while taking them to the NCAA tournament. Let me say a pretty good accomplishment taking an IVY league school the tournament. Never the less, he would still bow out in the first round. Pardon the foreshadowing but this would become more of a trend than aberration.
Inserting the Princeton offense would keep the Big East teams on its heels the first few seasons becoming the favorite words out any color commentator’s mouth. With players like Jeff Green, Roy Hibbert, the Hoyas excelled in the art of the backdoor pass for the usual uncontested lay-up. In fact, in Thompsons first season, the Hoyas would jump out to a 16-6 start surprising many observers who had Georgetown picked to finish 11th in the big east. Another foreshadowing alert: the Hoyas would proceed to finish 1-6 down the stretch and end up in the NIT.
Thompson’s cast of players have included Jeff Green, DaJuan Summers, Greg Monroe, and Roy Hibbert all of whom have reached the NBA. After early success with the Princeton offense, Big East teams have caught on over the last few years and the backdoor passes that usually resulted in lay-ups are now being defended well. Moving forward with the cast of athletes Georgetown brings in every year you have to ask yourself, “With recruits like this, why on earth would I ever want to slow the game down to a methodical pace in which the opposing teams many times inferior gets to stay in the game with less possessions from both teams?” I, like many other Hoya fans, haven’t understood this offense at Georgetown because of this argument. This isn’t Princeton! Georgetown gets athletes here. Yet with all of this talent to work with, only once has JT III managed to get past the second round of the NCAA tournament.
Back to John Thompson’s resume. The hiring seemed at the time like a step in the right direction, however one would see now that if you looked at his post-season record and compared it to where he is currently, there is an ugly trend of first round exits and season killing losing streaks. In his 11 seasons combined as coach of the Princeton Tigers and Georgetown Hoyas he has a total of six, SIX post season first-round exits! Any Hoya fan will also tell you about the back-breaking losing streaks his teams have endured during his tenure.
John Thompson’s overall record of 228-113 is very impressive, but outside of two seasons from 2006-2008 in which the Hoyas would go 58-11 Thompson hasn’t done much with the talented recruits he has brought in. In fact, he has won only three more games in the next three seasons combined than he did during the aforementioned 58-11 stretch, going 60-37. Accumulating 26 more losses mixed in with some embarrassing losses too much inferior teams. For all of the John Thompson supporters that bring up his final four appearance, I would like to say that was slightly tainted as well. Don’t forget the botched traveling call the officials missed on Jeff Green during their sweet 16 game against Vanderbilt. I was rooting like no other during the crazy UNC elite 8 game that followed, but UNC would go on to miss 22 of their final 23 fg attempts factored in with an amazing deep three-point bucket by Jon Wallace that forced O.T. In other words the Hoyas could have and probably should have lost that game.
Now comes in Patrick Ewing. The roots are obviously there as he was a legend at Georgetown, and he has been an assistant coach in the NBA since 2007. Dwight Howard’s career has blossomed since the arrival of Ewing and the Magic have made some deep runs so he certainly has experienced some success as well as tasted what it’s like to be in heated situations along the way.
Ewing may not have any prior head coaching experience, but I would argue that with the experience he has gained over a career of big game after big game, Ewing certainly knows what it takes to prepare his team for big games. Throw in that he would be able to get big name recruits, Georgetown wouldn’t miss a beat. I’m sure he would have to surround himself with some good assistants, but Ewing has proved his worth.
A Patrick Ewing hiring would take some sting out of a John Thompson the third firing as well. I’m not suggesting this should happen as of right now, but one would think JT III doesn’t have very many first round exits left in him before a firing would come to fruition.
At worst Georgetown immediately dumps the Princeton offense and instantly becomes a team of interest with Ewing leading the way. There are other coaching prospects Georgetown could go with, but why not stick with your roots and hire an old legend?
Buffalo, NY - An estimated 5,000 fans braved the cold weather last night in Buffalo outside HSBC Arena to watch as Sabres goalie Ryan Miller shut out the Philadelphia Flyers for the second time this series. Only four times in 44 years have the Flyers suffered 1-0 playoff losses, two being in this series. Inside the arena, the Sabres put together a gritty performance, led by Miller, who stopped all 32 of Philadelphia’s shots on goal.
Miller, who took some criticism after games three and four, not only let his play do the talking, but said “I want to contribute to help the guys. I have to do certain things. I have to talk on the ice. I don’t need to listen to all of the stuff that’s out there from people who don’t know how to play goalie.”
Jason Pominville netted the game’s only score for Buffalo with 9:38 remaining in the first period, after which Flyers goalie Brian Boucher did his best Ryan Miller impression, shutting out Buffalo the rest of the way. The game was full of intensity and hard hits, as it has been all series long. This almost escalated into a brawl even after the final horn had sounded. With the series now tied a two apiece, look for it to get even more interesting, intense, and physical as it heads back to Philadelphia with a ticket to round two on the line.
The New York Knicks have pushed the favored Boston Celtics to their limit in two close losses in their first-round Eastern Conference matchup. In game one, a questionable offensive foul call on Carmelo Anthony gave the Celtics the ball with ten seconds remaining, and Ray Allen drained the game winner on the ensuing possession. In game two, Anthony poured in 42 points and snatched 17 rebounds, and that was still not enough as the Knicks fell 96-93, with Jared Jeffries turning the ball over on their final possession by foregoing a layup and looking to make the extra pass.
So I ask, what is it about the Knicks that makes them self-destruct when the fourth quarter clock reads 2:00? There was inconsistent officiating in game one, this is true. But that doesn’t excuse how the Knicks blew a twelve point halftime lead, why Carmelo Anthony shot 5-18, why Amare Stoudemire didn’t touch the ball on their final seven possessions when he was carving the Celtics up, or why they allowed an inbound alley-oop dunk with a three-point lead with 37 seconds left, stretching the game longer and ultimately allowing the Celtics to steal the win.
In game two on the Knicks final possession, Carmelo Anthony was double-teamed, at which point he found a cutting Jared Jeffries. What should have been an easy, go-ahead, layup (if Jeffries went strong to the rack( turned into disaster, as he bobbled the ball then looked to pass, practically giving the ball to Kevin Garnett, who had rotated over.
Both teams have immense amounts of offensive firepower. However, I must attribute the Knicks inconsistency late in the game to coach Mike D’Antoni. First, Celtics 6-1 guard Rajon Rondo, not exactly known for his scoring prowess as he isn’t an impressive perimiter shooter, had 30 points. The majority of these buckets came on layups. At what point does D’Antoni realize Rondo isn’t being contested by Toney Douglas, who was in foul trouble? Why did he not take Jeffries, a strong defender, and put him on Rondo near the free throw line, not allowing him to get into the paint and make one of his acrobatic layups? Jeffries, being the taller and stronger defender, would have been able to contest Rondo much more, not allowing the easy baskets. When Rajon Rondo scores 30, regardless of the Knicks injuries or whatever else happens, it is highly doubtful they will win. They need to find an answer in that aspect, as it shows how one coaching move not made can dramatically effect the outcome of a game.
On the final possession for the Knicks in game two, everyone in the building including D’Antoni knew Melo was going to be double-teamed. How they did not come out of the huddle with a play designed to get Melo open via double screen, or draw up a play to get Douglas or sharpshooter Roger Mason, Jr. open for a three-point attempt, is beyond me. Jared Jeffries is not the guy you want with the ball in his hands with the game on the line, and it showed why when he turned a layup into a turnover. Not saying the pass by Melo was wrong, Jeffries was open. But that is certainly not the ideal final attempt the Knicks wanted, and they suffered another heartbreaking loss.
Carmelo Anthony showed up in a big way, and game two proved he cannot do it all by himself. He carried the Knicks in every sense of the word, however a mental lapse with 4 seconds remaining allowed the Celtics to run the clock to 0.6 seconds, as he did not foul Delonte West on the inbound. The rest is history. Look for the Knicks to address these inconsistencies going into a must-win game three. If they continue these mental breakdowns and coaching woes late in games, the first three and a half quarters of great basketball do not matter, and the first two games of this series show this is evident. This series has been an exciting one so far, and the Knicks do not want to lose 4-0 with four close, hard-fought losses. Should they properly correct their late game mistakes, look for them to make a push towards evening this series up as it heads to Madison Square Garden.
Written By: Andy Flint
2000-2009 was a decade in the NBA that will always hold great sentimental value to me. This ten-year span would see me graduate from high school and become an adult. I watched plenty of sports over this decade, and it really seemed to shape my sports personality. When I think of some of my favorite sports moments, they come from this decade. NBA was the sport I was particularly favorable towards for most of my life.
I recall the 90′s, I recall Jordan and the Bulls, I recall the Admiral, Stockton and Malone. I even recall Bird and Magic but, the early portion of the 2000′s will always be what I consider mine. It’s the era where I was so very passionate about this sport, the era that truly inspired me to love sports and live in their great moments. All of you probably share a similar time in sports history, and you understand the feeling that you get when you think about the players from that era and the hours spent watching them play. This is my tribute to the players of that time.
#10: Jason Kidd:
J-Kidd will always be a New Jersey Net to me. The great runs with Kenyon Martin, Richard Jefferson and Vince Carter will always resonate in my brain whenever I hear his name. Kidd was never able to clutch that shiny, gold trophy but, he was able to wow us with his ability to command the floor and demand that the other team play his tempo of ball. Kidd is truly one of the great point guards of all time, in my mind. The 6’4 Kidd could dish, dazzle, shoot, drive and even hit the glass. He was a marvel to watch. He wasn’t particularly quick or athletic but, his fundamentals and court vision were unmatched during the decade.
Best statistical Season: 2002/2003: 18.7 ppg, 8.9 apg, 6.3 reb, 2.2 stl
7x All Star, 5x All NBA Team, 8x All NBA Defensive Team, made the playoffs each season, two-time Eastern Conference champion (2002, 2003).
#9: Steve Nash:
When someone uses the word “point guard“, Steve Nash is the guy that comes to mind. To me, Nash symbolizes what the word point guard means. A point guard is the floor general, he’s the guy who is going to touch the ball the most, he’s your quarterback. These players often posses speed, quickness, ball control, great passing ability, superior vision and unmatched instincts. These are the guys that have the opportunity to control more aspects of an NBA game than anyone else on the court, on the bench or in the locker room. Probably the most pivotal piece to a basketball team. So, to be a great point guard, well, it says a lot. Steve Nash is a great NBA point guard, a great NBA player, and one of the best to ever do it with the rock.
Best Statistical Season: 2006/2007: 18.6 ppg, 11.6 apg, 3.5 reb
6x NBA All Star, 7x All NBA Team, 2x (Back-2-Back) NBA MVP (2004/2005, 2005/2006)
#8: Allen Iverson:
I can sum Allen Iverson up in one word, heart. But, A.I. was so much more than that. He was amazing, clutch, tough, durable, courageous, and the list goes on and on. Absolutely an incredible player. The 6’0 Iverson, played at a much larger stature, unafraid of any player on the court, as he weaved through traffic for the score. He could simply stun his opponents in almost any way. Iverson could dribble, play defense and score like few others. He (Iverson) played above the rim and behind the perimeter.
If you laid off him, he would shoot your lights out. If you played up on him, he’d take you to the rack, time and time again. Iverson would never win the coveted NBA Championship but, I can’t think of many players who left more of an imprint on this decade. Sure, Iverson had a laundry-list of troubles on and off the court but, no matter the question, Iverson always had “The Answer”.
Best Statistical Season: 2005/2006: 33.0 ppg, 7.4 apg, 3.2 reb, 1.9 stl
NBA MVP (2000/2001), 4x NBA Scoring Champ, 10x NBA All Star, 2x All Star MVP. 6x All NBA Team, Eastern Conference Champion (2001).
Easily the most productive player from over seas. Dirk is not your average seven-footer. With the ability to effectively shoot the ball from the parking lot (maybe further), Dirk has laid pavement for jump-shooting seven-footers across the league. But, Dirk’s arsenal Isn’t limited to shooting from deep. He has exceptional foot-work, which enables him to take less-agile, NBA big men off the dribble. Dirk is also a tremendous shooter with his back-to-the-basket and that allows his offensive game to flourish.
He’s (Dirk) also no slouch on the glass. Nowitzki has been an effective rebounder (8.4) and decent shot blocker (1.0) for his entire career. With flowing locks and the passion of a champion (although it never happened), Dirk has redefined what seven-footers are capable of in the NBA. He (Dirk) is a true exception to the rule, and one of the best shooters I’ve ever had the pleasure to witness.
Best Statistical Season: 2004/2005: 26.1 ppg, 9.7 reb, 3.1 apg, 1.2 stl, 1.5 blk
8x NBA All Star, NBA MVP (2006/2007), 9x All NBA Team, Western Conference Champion (2006).
#6: Dwyane Wade:
They say that dynamite comes in the small packages, and that couldn’t be truer when talking about Dwyane Wade. D-Wade has been nothing but excellent since joining the league in 2003. Wade goes out on the court every single night and wows the crowd with, not only his magical moves and scoring prowess but, his ability to win games at the highest of levels. Despite many injuries, Wade has been a breath of fresh air throughout his seven-year stint during the last decade. Reclaiming a spot at the top for the Miami Heat and thrilling the NBA with acrobatic plays, night in and night out. He’s (Wade) also performed and excelled at the highest level of NBA competition, by winning and NBA title in 2006, after falling back 0-2 against the Dallas Mavericks. Wade rallied to win four straight and bring home the hardware.
Best Statistical Season: 2008/2009: 30.2 ppg, 7.5 apg, 5.0 reb, 2.2 stl, 1.3 blk
5x NBA All Star, 2009/2010 NBA All Star MVP, 5x NBA All Team, 3x NBA All Defensive Team, NBA All Rookie Team, NBA Champion (2006), NBA Finals MVP (2006).
#5: Lebron James:
When “King James” entered the league, via the 2003 draft, I personally believed him to be a unique, hybrid type of player. A 6’7 frame, supporting masses of muscle and bulk strength, mixed with an unrealistic quickness and speed for a player of his structure. Not to mention James had very, very good court vision and point guard-like ball handling skills, add in the fact that he was a scoring machine, and we truly had a special player on our hands.
Lebron quickly caught on and developed into a premier NBA superstar. The guy is a beast, and very hard to guard. His combination of speed, quickness, strength, body control, athletic ability and basketball I.Q. make James the perfect face for the game, and a nightmare for defenses everywhere. Sure fire future HOFer.
Best Statistical Season: 2007/2008: 30.0 ppg, 7.2 apg, 7.9 reb, 1.8 stl, 1.1 blk
5x NBA All Star, 2x NBA All Star MVP (2005/2006, 2007/2008), 2x NBA MVP (back-2-back) 2008/2009, 2009-2010, NBA All Rookie Team, 6x All NBA Team, 2x NBA All Defensive Team.]
#4: Kevin Garnett:
“The Big Ticket” is another one of those very special NBA players to grace the span from 2000-2009. A power forward with the skill to knock down jumpers all over the court, play with his back to the basket, create off the dribble, slash, over-power and even score with finesse. KG was also a superb defender, shot-blocker and rebounder, known for his tough mentality and physical play, KG was a force on both ends of the court.
Finally settling in Boston and beginning the winning part of his career. Garnett is a passionate player with all the love in the world for the game, a true champion and NBA superstar. He (Garnett) was always a very tough cover, too agile and skilled with the ball for traditional big guys, too strong and long for small forwards to handle, KG breaks a mold of sorts and definitely made a huge impact on this era.
Best Statistical Season: 24.2 ppg, 13.9 reb, 5.0 apg, 1.5 stl, 2.2 blk
10x NBA All Star, NBA Defensive Player of the Year (2007/2008), NBA All Star MVP (2002/2003), NBA MVP (2003/2004), 8x All NBA Team, 10x NBA All Defensive Team, 2009 NBA Champion.
#3: Shaquille O’Neal:
Shaq-Diesel was as dominate a force during the early part of this era as the NBA has ever seen. He simply outmatched players with unparalleled strength and force underneath the rim. Shaq’s partnership with Kobe, although rocky, will go down as one of the great duos ever. Shaq and Kobe collected three titles together with the Lakers and dominated the NBA for many seasons. They complimented each other perfectly, Shaq’s brute force mixed with Kobe’s deadly game was a match made in heaven.
Too bad neither of them could see it. Constant head-butting over who was the main attraction finally led to Shaq heading to Miami to team up with D-Wade and win another title. Four rings for “Superman” in the era makes him a sure-shot for the HOF and an undeniable top-ten player of the decade.
Best Statistical season: 1999/2000: 29.7 ppg, 13.6 reb, 3.8 apg, 3.0 blk
9x NBA All Star, 2x NBA All Star MVP, NBA MVP (1999/2000), 3x NBA Finals MVP, 3x NBA All Defensive Team, 8x All NBA Team, 4x NBA Champion (2000, 2001, 2002, 2006).
#2: Tim Duncan:
Maybe the most fundamental player I’ve ever seen in action. Duncan wasn’t flashy, he didn’t pump up the crowd with windmill jams and behind the back passes, he didn’t talk trash, he simply got the job done. With a fully mastered repertoire of post moves and a consistent fifteen-foot jumper, Duncan killed his opponents. He was also a phenomenal shot-blocker and rebounder. Duncan was one of the better rebounders of the decade. Duncan could sort of put defenders to sleep with his casual movement up court and then completely dismantle the defense with a series of pump-fakes and up-and-unders. Truly a master of his craft. “The Big Fundamental” is an easy choice for the HOF and debatably the best power-forward to ever play the game.
Best Statistical Season: 2001/2002: 25.5 ppg, 12.7 reb, 3.7 apg, 2.5 blk
10x NBA All Star, 2x NBA MVP (2001/2002, 2002/2003), 2x NBA Finals MVP, 1x NBA All Star MVP, 10x NBA All Defensive Team, 10x All NBA Team, 3x NBA Champion (2003, 2005, 2007).
#1: Kobe Bryant:
Simply an amazing player. Kobe has almost done for this decade what Michael Jordan did for the previous decade. I’m not comparing the two, I’m only comparing the mark they made on their respective eras. Kobe came straight out of high school and took the NBA by storm. With lights out shooting from any spot on the floor, athleticism, ball handling skill, dunks galore and a tremendous will to defend the best players on the opposing team, Kobe has certainly left the biggest imprint on this decade. There were so many talented players to choose from, even those who missed the cut but, Kobe was special.
He could do it all, and he could do it on the biggest of stages. Kobe has a great clutch gene and the determination to be better when the game is more important. This may be one of the things that sets him apart. He also possesses one of the highest levels of raw talent I’ve ever seen. It’s been a real honor to watch him grow up in front of our eyes and truly be the face of the NBA for the last ten years.
Best Statistical Season: 2005/2006: 35.4 ppg, 5.3 reb, 4.5 apg, 1.8 stl
10x NBA All Star, 3x NBA All Star MVP, 2x NBA Finals MVP, NBA MVP (2007/2008), 10x All NBA Team, 9x NBA All Defensive Team, 4x NBA Champion (2000, 2001, 2002, 2009), Sole owner of the most points scored in the decade (81).