With the 2010’s coming to an end, I think it’s fair to say that we can pick the best players from the decade. There are so many great players in the NBA but but only a select few can be considered the best of an entire decade.
Honestly I don’t know enough about players from the 1950’s to judge who were the best, so we’ll start with the 1960’s.
1. Wilt Chamberlain. Wilt is the holder of multiple records that will never be touched, including 100 points in one game. Just a ridiculous feat. We go crazy when players score 50+ points in a game. He holds a ridiculous 72 records in the NBA. Averaging 50 ppg in a season, or 22 rebounds a game is something we will never see again in the NBA. A man umongst boys (except for the next player on the list).
2. Bill Russell. The most NBA championships ever, never will another player win 11 championships, never mind in 13 seasons. A defensive stud on the court, the only man who could stop Wilt Chamberlain was Bill Russell. A 10 time all star and 4 time MVP, one of if not the best defenders in league history.
3. Oscar Robertson. A 6″5′ guard in the 60’s did what you would expect, he dominated. Averaging 25 points a game, along with 9 assists and 7 boards, was enough to earn him 3 MVP awards. The Big O was a player whose game would dominate in any era of basketball.
Hm: Jerry West, Elgin Baylor, Sam Jones
1. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. This one is easy. No one came close to Kareem when he was in his prime. A physical giant who could do everything on the court well. An NBA champion once, a 5 time MVP, 5 times in the 70’s. The all time leader in points scored, a record that stands even will some of the best players ever coming after him. His name is all over the all time records.
2. Walt Frazier. A great all around point guard. Averaging about 19, 6, and 6 for his career, He averaged almost 2 steals a game with them not being kept track of until his 7th season. He was able to lead the New York Knicks to two championships in the decade. He boasted 7 first team all defense nominations.
3. Bob McAdoo. McAdoo came into the NBA and led the league in scoring 3 of his first 4 years. He scored 30+ points in those years. He was a five time all star, but his career in the league was not as long as it could’ve been.
Hm: John Havlicek, Wes Unseld, Elvin Hayes
1. Magic Johnson. Magic rightfully earned that nickname, he did everything on the court, playing any position. One of the flashiest players ever to showcase his talent in the NBA. Magic led the showtime Lakers, a star studded team, and helped them to 5 championships in the decade. Probably the most versatile player we’ve ever seen.
2. Larry Bird. Bird never wowed anyone with his athleticism, but his shooting, and basketball IQ allowed him to dominate the game without the crazy athleticism. The 3 time MVP could score the ball from all over the court. He was not only a scorer, he was a phenomenal passer and is one of the tougher players from a generation of tough players.
3. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Yes. He was that good for that long in the league. He wasn’t as personally dominant in this decade as he played for the Lakers with a more talented squad than he had in Milwaukee. He won 5 championships with the Lakers, he passed up the MVP’s for rings, a smart decision.
Hm: Isiah Thomas, Moses Malone, Julius Erving, Michael Jordan
1. Michael Jordan. Any other player here is just wrong. Jordan dominated the decade, playing 8 seasons and winning 6 championships. Two separate 3 peats. Anybody who knows anything about basketball considers Jordan a top 2 player ever. Most consider him the goat.
2. Hakeem Olajuwon. Hakeem was one of the most dominant big men to ever play. He had a full arsenal of post moves that allowed him to score easily in the paint. He is also considered one of the best defenders ever. In the 90’s Hakeem put up 3.5 blocks a game. Numbers like that don’t happen in today’s NBA. Defensive players of the year now average maybe 2 a game. A 2 time NBA champion and the 1995 MVP, and 4 time first team all defense.
3. Shaquille O’Neal. Maybe the most recognizable athlete in all of sports. He made other NBA players look like high schoolers. He used his massive frame to get to wherever he wanted on the court. He mostly stayed in the paint, but no one could stop the man. He won rookie of the year, and not too long after that he won the NBA scoring title. Shaq dominated on both ends of the court.
Hm: Karl Malone, David Robinson, Charles Barkley, Scottie Pippen
1. Tim Duncan. The big fundamental. Duncan was the least flashy superstar, he did everything the right way with no extra flare. A champion, a 2x MVP, he was a pros pro. He definitely benefited from his coach, Greg Poppovich, but Duncan would’ve been great anywhere. Duncan led a star studded Spurs team, and earned himself the title of best in the decade.
2. Kobe Bryant. Kobe was great, one of the best scorers the league has seen, could shoot from anywhere. Bryant played his entire career with the Lakers, playing with some all time greats. His biggest flaw was always wanting to shoot the ball, sometimes it worked out, other times it didn’t. But in my opinion that is what separates him from Tim Duncan. Being a team player.
3. Kevin Garnett. KG may have only won one title, but the rest of his resume checks out. He was an MVP, multiple time rebounding champ, and won numerous other awards. Garnett was a dominant player at both ends of the court, and is a sure fire hall of famer.
Hm: Shaquille O’Neal, Allen Iverson, Steve Nash, Jason Kidd, Dwayne Wade
- LeBron James. I want able to watch Jordan play, so Lebron is the greatest player I have watched. He is a physically gifted freak athlete. But he has added more and more to his game as he has gotten older. His streak of 8 straight Finals appearances is a record that may not get beaten. He keeps being a dominate player no matter how old or injured he is. An all time great.
- Kevin Durant. A 7 footer with the skill set of a guard. Durant can score from anywhere and when guarded by anyone. A lot of people will discredit his championships because he joined the Warriors, but they still count, he still won finals MVP twice one loaded roster. One of the most fun players to watch, he has an MVP under his belt, a career 27 points per game scorer, arguably the best offensive player to step on the court.
- Steph Curry. Curry has revolutionized the game of basketball. Lebron is the better player, but Lebron didn’t impact the game of basketball the way Steph has. The ability to shoot from anywhere past half court makes Steph nearly unguardable. He never stops moving to get himself open. Curry is a certified winner, and the most fun player to watch when he gets hot. The next generation of NBA players are going to be molding their game after Curry, because they don’t have to be athletic freaks to succeed in the NBA.
Hm: James Harden, Chris Paul, Kawhi Leonard, Carmelo Anthony
The game of basketball has changed so much over time. From a big man dominant league, to guard dominant, to the point now where we are playing positionless basketball. We have 7 foot tall point guards, and 6″6′ big men. No matter your size, if you have the talent you will get the playing time. We have seen some phenomenal NBA players in the past and right now, and I look forward to seeing the newer generations of players enter their names in the talk of best players.