The 1990’s were a great time in professional basketball. The 90’s gave us Michael Jordan, Shaquille O’Neal (and his rapping career), the Bulls and their championship prowess, Stockton and Malone, Hakeem the Dream and many, many more great players and great teams. This is a short list that I’ve complied based on a couple of simple variables.
A) Game. All of these players were the cream of the crop during the 1990’s. B) All players included to this list played more that five seasons in the NBA during the 1990’s. C) The highlight of their career was played in the 1990’s. I call this the “Dominique Wilkins effect”. While Dominique had a great 90’s career, he’ll always be embedded in my mind for his work during the 1980’s.
#10: Reggie Miller:
When i try to think of a word that describes Reggie Miller, only one comes to mind. Assassin! Reggie Miller was an assassin on the court. Not only in the sense that he could shoot your lights out, but in the sense that he just got it done when it needed to be done. He knew how to attack a team/player when it hurt the most, and he did it with a cunning and stealthy approach. If you don’t believe me, ask Knicks Fans. Miller was a three-time NBA all third teamer and a four-time NBA all-star during the 90’s. Miller also won a gold medal with the 1996 “Dream Team”. He became the first Pacer to ever start in an All Star game and easily the best Pacer ever.
#9: Scottie Pippen:
Pippen’s career highlighted every single season during the 1990’s. Among Pippen’s many accomplishments, he boasts two gold medals with the “Dream Team” in ’92 and ’96. He was an eight-time NBA defensive first-teamer and the 1994 NBA All Star MVP. Not to mention that Pippen was the second best player on a Chicago Bull team who collected six (count them, six) NBA championships during the 1990’s. Pippen could run the point/forward, he could score like a shooting guard and he could defend with the best of them. It’s kind of hard for me to have Pippen as low as nine but, this was a great decade and you’ll see that as i continue.
#8: David Robinson:
“The Admiral”, standing 7 feet, 1 inches tall and chiseled from stone, was truly a specimen. Robinson boasts a long list of NBA accomplishments. He was an eight-time NBA all-star. ’89/’90 Rookie of the Year. ’91/’92 Defensive Player of the Year. ’94/’95 MVP and a 1999 NBA champion. Robinson, to me, was the first prototypical video game center, meaning that his muscles and physical appearance looked to be a bit exaggerated in order to fit a certain fantasy aspect of a video game. He was super cut and physically strong. Able to muscle most players at his position around to gain position on the glass and to score points. Robinson was also a great professional and a true Patriot.
#7: Patrick Ewing:
Patrick Ewing had a sensational career as a New York Knick and is one of my personal favorites of all time. I believe him to be one of the best to ever suit up and was a very fun player to watch. He was a very dominate force at the center position and a very versatile scorer for a player of his size (7 feet tall). Ewing was an eight-time all-star and averaged 20+ ppg over the entire span of the 1990’s. He led the Knicks to the playoffs each year, including two finals appearances.
#6: John Stockton:
The best PG since Magic if you ask me. Maybe the best pure assist guy ever. Stockton possessed uncanny court vision and ball control. benefited but not to be overshadowed by playing with a great player such as Karl Malone, Stockton truly held his own throughout the 1990’s. He (Stockton) averaged 10+ assists for eight straight seasons during the 90’s, two of which he averaged 13+ and two of which he averaged 14+. Truly a master of his craft. He was no slouch on the offensive end either, Stockton piled up 14+ ppg in each of those seasons as well. Stockton led the league in assists seven times and was also an eight-time all-star, even sharing the All Star MVP honors with Karl Malone at the 1993 game in Salt Lake City.
#5: Charles Barkley:
Charles Barkley, or “The Round Mound of Rebound” is arguably one of the best PF’s of all time. Nobody ever accused “Sir Charles” of having blazing speed or being a model of peak physical fitness. An undersized PF, at just 6’6, Barkley made up for his lack of height with great strength and some of the best boxing out the NBA has ever seen. Barkley, for only being the height of an average SG, was an excellent rebounder. Some guys just have a knack for eating glass. Chuck was one of those guys.
Chuck was a career double-double guy, and an all around great player. I’d rank him in my top 25 of all time. A list of Barkley’s accomplishments include being the MVP of the 1991 All Star game. He (Charles) was also the leagues MVP for the ’92/’93 season, halting Michael Jordan’s quest of three straight. Chuck was also and eight-time all-star during the 90’s and an easy pick for my top five.
#4: Karl Malone:
Karl Malone was a terrific all-around PF. He could score in the post, shoot jumpers or do work with the rock in his hands. The guy could flat-out score buckets. To me, Karl Malone was well ahead of his time and that is probably the reason he’s second all time in points scored. Malone had the help of a talented PG in John Stockton but, that shouldn’t hurt Malone’s stock as a bona-fide all time great.
Malone averaged 25+ ppg and 9.5+ rebounds per game in every season in the 1990’s except for one a piece. He (Malone) was a nine-time all-star and shared the all-star MVP honors with Stockton in 1993. He was also the league MVP in the ’96/’97 and ’98/’99 seasons. “The Mailman” never saw the promise land of and NBA championship, but did have a great career.
#3: Shaquille O’Neal:
Shaq entered the league in 1992 and quickly became the larger-than-life player that would embody the NBA for the next twenty years. Shaq was young, big and extremely talented. He would soon take the league by storm and emerge as one of the biggest sports icons ever. Shaq was a six-time NBA all-star. He also won a championship during the ’99/’00 season, also winning the league and NBA finals MVP awards that season. Shaq has been dubbed the most dominant player in the NBA and there is a case to be made for the big fella. He’s truly a great player and in my top-ten for the all time best players.
#2: Hakeem Olajuwon:
Hakeem the dream was a special player. The footwork, the quickness, mixed with the ability to play defense. Oh, so pretty to watch. Watching Olajuwon play was like watching a lost NBA art-form. He (Olajuwon) was a super fundamental player with game that has remained unmatched at his position. “The Dream” possessed the most advanced game of any center I can think of. He may not have dominated the way that Shaq did but, he was the more skilled player. The ability to face up, score with his back to the basket, pop short jumpers and go to the rack were simply amazing.
“The Dream Shake” was a move that I’ve still never seen anyone correctly imitate. His hooks were unstoppable because of his length, and his quick feet really put him, leaps and bounds, ahead of the rest. Olajuwon was a seven-time NBA all star, a two-time NBA defensive player of the year, an NBA MVP and a two-time NBA finasl MVP. He (Olajuwon) led the league in blocks three times (4.6, 4.2 and 3.9) and really proved to be the best center ever, in my opinion.
#1: Michael Jordan:
Don’t act shocked. I’m sure nobody was expecting anyone but Jordan. He was the greatest to play in the decade. The greatest to ever play the game. Simply unmatched. Shooting from anywhere, crossing over, going to the rack, breaking down any defender. Nobody has ever done it quiet like “His Airness”. Michael Jordan claimed six NBA championships for the Chicago Bulls in the 90’s, receiving the Finals MVP each time.
He had five seasons of 30+ ppg, seven all-star appearances, a two-time All Star MVP, four-time league MVP. “Air Jordan” was simply the best. I’ve still never seen anyone do the things Jordan could do with a basketball. The most brilliant and dynamic athlete that I have ever had the pleasure of seeing master his craft. Michael Jordan truly deserves the #1 ranking.