“I kick a skill like Shaquille holds a pill“ -Nas
Yea this post is damn near two months overdue but we really had to get through the Finals to correctly rank the Top 5. Plus ya boy ran into a life changing injury so it was quiet for everything not alcohol, and Hershey related, but my mind is right now and here we go.
10. Dwight Howard: In any other era Dwight woulda been dwarfed by the other centers, but due to a lack of real activity at the 5 spot since Shaq, Dwight has been the man, almost by default. But don’t get it twisted, he deserves a spot on this list, regardless of what Laker and Magic fans think of him. 3 D.POY awards is a valid honor. Maybe you give this spot to AI over Dwight, it’s totally subjective, just hard to knock him down any further than this.
10. Steve Nash: Yes you do see the #10 twice, I forgot one of the players on this list at first edit and well I can’t change anything so here we are. Steve Nash couldn’t stay with his girl (that’s a defense reference and has absolutely nada to do with the alleged relation his ex had with JRich). But forreal, he’s probably the worst defensive player in the NBA, which is why rings and immortalness have eluded son. For as bad as he is/was defensively (Nash basically dead on the court now) he was that nice on the other side. If he wasn’t unselfish he coulda easily been 22-27 points per game and still got his 2 MVP’s, granted one of those belongs to his current teammate in LA.
9. Jason Kidd: Crazy to think JKidd has been in the league since I was getting the half moon carved in my dome and he lasted till they brought that joint back. 19 years is very long in the scope of sports, but his accolades pile up quickly. Definitely the best all around pg since 1990, he even became a shooting guard by the twilight of his career, with notable lock ups of LeBron and Kobe on the way to his first and only ring in 2011. What’s more ill is about 5 minutes after retiring from the league this summer his name was thrown around as a possible head coach for the BK Nets, and just like that we’ll have JKidd coaching a team with two players higher than him on this list.
8. Paul Pierce: There’s really nothing left for Piru to prove in what has been a long 15 seasons in the A. From the stabbing outside of a local Boston club (heart), the down years in Boston after Toine (perseverance), 2008 Finals MVP over Kobe Bean (resurrection) and continuous dismantling of #6 until he joined forces with Three, Paul has proven to be the most underrated player of the generation. His highlight tape is trash to the naked, untrained eye, but real hoop enthusiasts marvel at the craftiness and relative ease that Paul plays with. This youtube clip has been watched by me about a hundred times. Shouts to Van Ex on this!!
7. Dirk Nowitzki: First and foremost, props to Dirk for marrying a beautiful black queen. 20 plus years of high level basketball pretty much gets you a seat at any black house in America, regardless of race. Timmy, (even though he went to college at Wake Forest) is the best foreign born player of the generation, possibly of all time. But with the development of the international game (Shout out D Stern) Dirk is without a doubt the greatest player to descend on us from Europe. The focus and determination that he displayed in 2011 in route to his first chip was legendary, definitely one of my favorite NBA Finals runs ever. I do wonder if he didn’t win that ring where we would rank him historically?
6. Kevin Garnett: At the out set of this two part set I said that this era was kinda weak in comparison to say the 90’s. But when Kevin Garnett is only the 6th best player since 2000 well then that says a lot about the talent that we have witnessed in the game over the past 13 seasons. MVP, D POY, NBA Champion, not to “ESPN stat” the god but he’s definitely the only player in the league with all three of those pristine accomplishments, which again raises questions about my credibility when compiling this list. Until Lebron came along KG was my favorite player, because if you remember him in his prime he was like Lamar Odom on steroids, where they say LO can do everything good but nothing great, KG did everything great on the basketball court. Looking at him now he’s a shell of what he was and he’s still getting voted into All Star games. Salute
5. Shaq O’Neal: If we would have made a top 20 list from the 90’s, The Diesel would’ve made that one too, probably top 10 again. Here was the first superstar of this era. Dunking Dikembe through the rim in the Finals, making free throws when they counted and even coming back in 09 when we thought he was finished to have a great season in Phoenix all garner Shaq this spot on the list. Three rings in Tinseltown, and one more in South Beach, Shaq played the 5 spot the way it is supposed to be played, by dominating. No laughing and joking during the game, no fadeaway jump hooks, and even though he stunk from the foul line everything else he brought to his teams worked to minimize that deficiency in his game. The 5 spot is starting to look funny in the light, as if you don’t even need one to win anymore, last of the real mohicans type dude right here.
4. Dwyane Wade: Yea nah, what’s a good post without controversy? I don’t even know if he belongs here but for the sake of this site and everything that we stand for (hoops, women, going out all the time, and evolution of the game) we have to pay homage to Dwyane and throw him on at 4. 10 seasons in and he has 3 rings, that puts him in the same class as Mike and Kobe at this age so this may be more fitting than we thought. From a sheer talent aspect there have only been two players better than him since Mike left us in 98 or 02 (whichever helps you sleep better at night). His lone individual accomplishment remains the 06 Finals MVP but when you come in the league with LeBron and you play the same position as Kobe there’s really not you can do about that. Why I really appreciate his game is because like Paul Pierce and me, he doesn’t have a pretty game, half of the time he looks like a bum, the other half he looks like everything a basketball player should be. I think we are beginning to see Dwyane morph into a different player, the way Kobe and MJ did once they lost their athleticism. His heart also ranks right up there next to Kobe’s after his performance in the 2013 Finals.
3. Lebron James: When it’s all said and done he’ll obviously be the head of this era but as of today here’s where we’ll rank him. Technically, by looking at individual numbers and honors he is number one on this list already. We know the LBJ story so I won’t bore you with it. But what the 4th qtr of Game 6 and his put away performance in Game 7 have done for his legacy is enormous, because let’s just imagine if he didn’t get those things done?
2. Tim Duncan: Damn, I don’t know if I’m tired of typing or if finding things to write about Tim is just this boring. The difference one quarter makes, because if Lebron doesn’t go off in the 4th of Game 6, there’s no way on earth that I don’t rank Tim at number 1 especially when it seemed like he jumped in the hot tub time machine on us in the 1st half. 4 rings in 5 tries, 2 MVPs, 3 Finals MVPs make him without a question the greatest power forward to ever walk this planet, regardless of what position Karl Malone and his zero rings believes Tim plays. Honestly Tim Duncan and Gregg Popovich are the reason the NBA was type wack for like 3 years (03-05). They were winning chips, and walking off humbly, hardly popping bubbly. The Big Fundamental has to be the corniest basketball nickname ever too but salute Tim and everything that he has meant to the league, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him in the Finals again.
1. Kobe Bryant: Or as I like to refer to him “Iron Will”. You have never seen and probably will never see an athlete who is so determined, self centered, yet revered worldwide as Kobe Bryant. My personal vendetta against Kob stems from when he crossed Scottie at the top of the key in Game 7 in the 2000 WCF, but I’ve always marveled at his game and the way that he has in fact been the closest thing to Mike that we have ever and probably ever will see. For our generation he is the greatest winner (and Uncle Fish too and I think Luke Walton) and player who I think most of us tried to emulate at one point or another regardless of the hate burning in our souls. The way this past season ended left a sour taste for most Lakers fans and doesn’t seem to bode well for the future, but I don’t call him Iron Will for nothing. If there’s any player who can and probably will overcome the achilles tendon setback it’s Kobe, I’m already doing the money dance on my bad achilles. The most admirable thing about Kobe though has to be his ability to play through injury and controversy the way no one else in any sport has, that run in 03 or 04 with the rape trial and then Kob putting 40 on ppl is understated in the realm of sports talk but was nothing short of amazing.