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NBA - US Sports: Top 5 NBA players of the 2000s

13 August 2022 08:19:21 EST
Kobe Bryant won five Championships between 2000 and 2010.

The 2000s saw two of the NBA's greatest franchises force their way back to the top, with the LA Lakers and Boston Celtics winning five titles between 2000 and 2009.

There were a host of great names who dominated the NBA in the 2000s. Allen Iversen was named Most Valuable Player in 2001 and starred for the Sixers in their Finals run that season and beyond. Dwyane Wade dominated in his rookie season and was an NBA champion and Finals MVP within three years.

Despite their impressive achievements, neither of those made the cut for our top five. Instead, we have five players who made an incredible 81 All-Star appearances between them. Read on to see our list of the top players of the 2000s.

5. Kevin Garnett

Garnett spent the majority of his career in Minnesota, showing real loyalty to the Timberwolves during their most successful spell as a franchise. Of course, Garnett was a driving force behind that. He won MVP in 2004 during his career-best season, leading the Timberwolves to the Conference Finals that year too.

After 12 years in Minnesota, the Big Ticket moved on to the Celtics, where he won his first NBA title in his first season. The Big Three of Paul Pierce, Ray Allen and Garnett brought the Championship back to Boston for the first time since 1986, with Garnett winning Defensive Player of the Year that season too.

KG retired in 2016 back in Minnesota, with a huge 15 All-Star appearances and nine All-NBA selections to his name. However, his peak was truly in the mid-2000s, earning him a place on this list.

4. LeBron James

LeBron is seen as the only man to rival Michael Jordan in the greatest of all time debate and he wasted little time making his mark. King James was drafted by the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2003 and he spent the rest of the 2000s with his hometown team.

LeBron is the only player on this list to not win a ring in the 2000s, but he was Rookie of the Year in 2004 and quickly transitioned into the MVP conversation. He won the league's top award in 2009 and 2010, after taking the Cavs and turning them into contenders.

LeBron is the only player on this list still featuring today as he approaches 20 seasons in the league. While his true peak came in the 2010s, it's a mark of his incredible talent that he stood out in the 2000s too.

Even at 37 years old he's still seen as one of the best in the NBA today. LeBron is 19.00 to win this season's MVP award.

3. Tim Duncan

Duncan spent his entire playing career with the San Antonio Spurs, winning an incredible nine championships along the way. Three of those came in the 2000s, earning him third spot on the list.

As one of the greatest power forwards in the history of the game, he was a dominant force for Popovich's Spurs.

It speaks to his incredible consistency that he had 15 All-Star selections and 15 All-NBA selections across a 19-year career with the same franchise. If it wasn't for the next two on the list, he may have added a few more titles

2. Shaquille O'Neal

Shaq arrived in the league in 1992, but he really hit his stride in the new millennium. He won his first and only MVP award in 2000, kicking off a golden era for the Lakers. Shaq helped the Lakers to the first three championships of the new decade, winning Finals MVP in each season.

While his struggles from the free throw line are legendary, Shaq was unstoppable during his peak. He also didn’t stop after being forced out of LA in 2004, winning his fourth ring in Miami in 2004.

His size and strength allowed Shaq to dominate at both ends of the court, marking him out as a truly unique NBA star.

1. Kobe Bryant

Topping the list is Shaq's Lakers teammate Kobe Bryant, who won five Championships between 2000 and 2010. Despite occasionally angling for a move, Kobe stayed at the Lakers for 20 seasons until his retirement in 2016.

While he started the decade sharing the spotlight with Shaq, Kobe became the main man in LA in 2004. He didn't slow down without the big man, in fact, some of his most impressive seasons came after that.

Bryant won the scoring title in 2006 and 2007, averaging over 30 points per game across those two seasons. He followed that up with the MVP award in 2008, before winning Finals MVP twice.

Kobe’s peak lined up perfectly with the 2000s. While LeBron was able to rival him at the turn of the decade, no player could match Black Mamba in the first 10 years of the millennium.

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