DAR Sports: 15 Of The Greatest NBA Players of The 2000s

By @TrueGodImmortal 

The post Michael Jordan era of the NBA was interesting. Certainly, the 80s were ruled by Magic and Bird, and the 90s dominated by Jordan, but as the 2000s rolled around, we needed a successor to take the reigns. Throughout the decade, we witnessed a number of great players and slept on players from Chauncey Billups to Rasheed Wallace to Ray Allen to Gilbert Arenas all shape their legacy on the courts. The cream of the crop either had Finals appearances, won MVP awards, or scoring titles during this crazy yet slightly overlooked decade of basketball. The game went through rule changes, the ratings weren't that high and we saw the West become quite dominant during this decade, with the Lakers winning 4 titles this decade and the Spurs winning 3 championships. Today, we look back at the best of the best during this decade and pay homage to NBA legends. Let's get into it.

*Kobe Bryant 

-This is the no. 1. Hands down. There aren't many people in general in the history of the NBA that are better than Kobe and in this particular decade, there wasn't anyone better. He was a part of a three peat, had 6 trips to the NBA Finals in this decade, and won 4 championships. As it stands, Kobe is the 2nd greatest shooting guard and a top 10 player of all time (top 5 for me personally), and in the 2000s, he was unstoppable. His 81 point game, the MVP award, the amazing scoring averages, and his all around domination of the sport during this time period.

*Shaquille O'Neal 

-The most dominant center of the modern NBA era is probably no. 2 on the overall list (though these are not ranked). With 4 titles under his belt, all of which came this decade, his only MVP award coming in 2000, the three peat with the Lakers, the redemption in Miami with D. Wade, Shaq was one of the most vital forces in the history of the NBA and one of the biggest players in both the 90s and the 2000s, a feat that's not easy to accomplish.

*LeBron James

-I mean there's no way to have a NBA list without a select few names on it: LeBron is one of those names. The greatest player in the 2010s staked his claim and earned one MVP, a scoring title, a NBA Finals appearance, a few appearances on the All NBA First Team, and Rookie Of The Year, among other accolades. LeBron wasn't the dominant leader that he is now, but he was certainly one of the best players in the game this decade.

*Dwyane Wade 

-When Wade started out, I had no idea he would become the legend he has. His legacy got solidified during this decade, as he showcased the best of his talents by leading the Heat to a title in 2006 with a masterful NBA Finals performance, earning a scoring title, and trying to keep the Heat competitive throughout the seasons. There's no denying Wade was one of the biggest forces in the game this decade.

*Allen Iverson

-The Answer started out as a dominant force during this decade. He was quite possibly the most liked player throughout this decade, as everyone I knew, myself included loved AI. He would lead a mostly depleted Sixers team to the NBA Finals in 2001, the same year he won his MVP. He would also go on to win scoring titles and be a multiple time All Star, among other accomplishments. Though he didn't sustain his level of play as the decade rolled on, he was without a doubt one of the best players in the league.

*Kevin Garnett 

-The Big Ticket was one of the most dominant power forwards in the history of the game, and he was easily one of the best players of the decade. In his time in Minnesota, he earned a MVP, multiple NBA First Team honors, remained a NBA All Star, and a dominant force in general. He would then end up with the Celtics, winning a Defensive Player Of The Year award and a NBA Championship as a part of the big 3 Celtics team. There's no denying KG.

*Tim Duncan

-How in the world would we have this list without the Big Fundamental? Honestly, it's not possible. He's probably one of the top 10-15 greatest players of all time and he's easily the greatest power forward in the history of the game. His dominance was asserted during his prime years as the Spurs won 3 titles in this decade, and he would win two Finals MVPs during this period and two MVP regular season awards. He also received multiple All Star trips, a number of All NBA First and Second Team appearances, and multiple All NBA Defensive First and Second Team appearances as well. Tim was unstoppable during the decade and the only team in the West that really seemed able to stop him and the Spurs were Kobe, Shaq (until he left) and the Lakers.

*Dirk Nowitzki

-Probably the greatest foreign player in the history of the game and one of the greatest power forwards ever, Dirk was infamous during this decade and this is where he earned some of his greatest accolades, including the MVP Award in 2007. A part of the 50-40-90 club, multiple time All Star, and All NBA First and Second Team regular during the decade. Dirk also got to the NBA Finals in 2006, but came up just a little bit short against the Heat. Regardless, during this decade, Dirk would reign supreme.

*Steve Nash 

-One of the best, if not the best PG during the decade, Nash was amazing and earned two MVP awards in the process. Though he never won a title, he would be a multiple time member of the 50-40-90 club, a regular on the All NBA First and Second Team, and just all around amazing player and shooter. Nash was a force during the 2000s and it's a shame he never led the Suns to the Finals or reached the Finals with the Mavericks during his tenure there.

*Tracy McGrady 

-Some people criticize T-Mac, but during this decade, he was one of the best pure scorers in the league. A 2 time scoring champion and multiple time All NBA First, Second, and Third Team member throughout this decade, there was no doubt in my mind that T-Mac was on his way to being one of the very best until injuries slowed him down. Plus who could forget his amazing comeback against the Spurs with the Rockets, when he scored 13 points in 35 seconds. Amazing.

*Chris Webber

-He is probably better suited on the list for the 90s (which is coming), but the best years of his career came during his early 2000s run with the Sacramento Kings. Though the Kings had many weapons, it was clear Webber was their leader and he acted accordingly. Statistically he had his best years in Sacramento, going on a frenzy during the 2000-2003 seasons, earning multiple NBA All Star trips, an appearance on the All NBA First Team, and multiple appearances on the All NBA Second Team. While Webber doesn't have as many accolades as some of the others on this list, he certainly belongs and was a force during the early 2000s.

*Jason Kidd

-One of the greatest point guards to play the game, Jason Kidd was really shining all throughout the 2000s and he has the accolades to back up that claim. He was vital to the game, earning multiple appearances on the All NBA First Team and Second Team, was consistently a NBA All Star, helped lead the New Jersey Nets to the NBA Finals two times back to back, and many feel he deserved to win the NBA MVP Award in 2002 over Tim Duncan for turning the Nets into a serious contender. Jason Kidd would begin to decline after injuries got the best of him, but he was certainly one of the best players this decade. There is no denying that.

*Carmelo Anthony 

-I debated not putting Melo on this list. However, with Wade and LeBron here, it's only right that Melo is here. He was a driving force for the Denver Nuggets from the jump, taking them from a team that couldn't buy a win to a playoff contender every year he was there. His accolades aren't those of a Wade or even LeBron during this period, but he was once in the running for the MVP race, earned multiple All Star trips, multiple All NBA Third Team trips, and put up great numbers that led the Nuggets during his tenure there. Melo was yet another force in the NBA during this period.

*Vince Carter 

-One of the greatest players to never win a championship, Vince is still going strong in the NBA with the Memphis Grizzlies. However, during the 2000s, he was in his prime and would end up captivating NBA audiences and staking his claim as the best dunker during this era and possibly in history. Though he doesn't have the accolades to speak of in the same vein as Webber, Vince was an unstoppable player during his prime years. He was voted to the All Star almost every year during this decade, made the All NBA Second and Third team, and during his tenure with the Nets, it felt like we got the best of Vince. He was amazing to watch and that's why he's on this list.

*Tony Parker 

-There's no denying that after David Robinson retired, the Spurs were really led by the dynamic duo of Parker and Duncan. Parker was an elite PG during the latter part of the decade, though not as good as Nash or Kidd, he was right below them. He was still learning his game, so he could be forgiven in the early part of the decade for some of his struggles, but as the years went on, Parker got better, helping Duncan and the Spurs win three titles, earning himself multiple NBA All Star trips, and a huge NBA Finals MVP Award in 2007 to put the stamp on the decade.

There were some names that might be missing here, but I feel like we've covered the absolute 15 greatest. These players helped make the post Jordan era easier to watch and for that, as a fan of basketball, I'm forever grateful for these legends.



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