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).