Recently, the argument of the Jordan era as the best in basketball surfaced, and it is hard to argue with anyone who agrees with that. The Jordan era revitalized the NBA and made it more stable and fun to watch. If you think of the best twenty players in the history of the game, they probably played in the Jordan era (with a few exceptions, of course).
However, the NBA hasn’t been left for dead since the retirement of Michael Jordan. In fact, I am positive that I can name ten players in the post-Jordan era that can be held in just as high praise as the players from that particular time.
When putting together this list, I took into consideration a lot of factors. The first is value to the team. I also considered statistics, longevity, winning, and, of course, playoff performance. Take a look at the list:
10. Chris Webber
Most people don’t remember how good Chris Webber was before the micro-fracture surgery. Chris Webber was destined to win that elusive title in Sacramento but he was usually derailed by the Lakers. Many times, the Lakers were aided by the officials. Chris Webber outplayed Shaq on several occasions, and he made his supporting cast of Mike Bibby, Doug Christie, Vlade Divac, and Bobby Jackson look like contenders and, many times, even stars. Webber was a walking 20-10-5 machine.
9. Steve Nash
Steve Nash was the best player and point guard in the league for two seasons. He carried the Suns to more wins than they could ever imagine. He would be a little higher on the list if he would have won a title. Many people question whether or not he should have won those MVPs over Kobe Bryant. I don’t question it, because the man was doing things with players that most of us wouldn’t pick up on our fantasy team if they were available in free agency.
8. LeBron James
He might not be the most well-liked player in the league, and it's been well documented that he's yet to win an NBA title. That doesn't change the fact that Lebron James is an absolutely fantastic basketball player with plenty of time to become even better.
If you needed to make a big shot to win a game tonight, you probably wouldn't pick LeBron, but you might not have picked Kobe at the age of 27 either.
7. Paul Pierce
Pierce’s career is probably the most underrated as a professional player that I can remember. He has flourished in a market that calls and demands greatness. He is often criticized for being soft and, often times, he is hated by the fans, but the reality of the matter is that Pierce has been one of the best players in the NBA for many years. He scores, he defends, and he passes the ball.
6. Dirk Nowitzki
It took Dirk about two years to hit his stride, and then he ran off 11 consecutive seasons in which he averaged over 20 points per game. Dirk won the 2006-2007 NBA MVP award when he averaged almost 25 ppg and nine boards per game. I remember telling people when he first started in the league that he would be the best European player that ever played in the NBA. He is a seven-foot power forward with shooting guard abilities.
He's a four-time first-team all-NBA player, and last year, he hoisted the Dallas Mavericks on his shoulders and led them to their first NBA title.
5. Kevin Garnett
When you look at the complete body of work, there is no doubt that KG deserves to be on this list. The man revolutionized the power forward position. In an era of dominant power forwards, KG was only outshined by Tim Duncan. KG is a superior defender and scorer. He had the ability to handle the ball and run the offense, if necessary. He also was a rebounding machine. Not many players can do what KG has been able to do for such a long period of time. The man is a model of greatness.
4. Allen Iverson
His startling 26.7 points per game average ranks right up there with some of the greatest. However, Iverson's value, more than any other player on this list, can hardly be explained through statistics. Iverson inspired in a way others could not. You had to respect him regardless of his size. His relentless escapades into the land of the trees, and his ability to finish among these giants invoked a sense of confidence and swagger into those early Philly teams, allowing them to overachieve. His career may not have ended the way he would have liked, but there was no doubt that Iverson was one of a kind on the basketball court.
3. Shaquille O’Neal
Shaq amassed four rings in the period following Jordan's 1998 finals victory over the Utah Jazz. Seven times since 1998, he led the NBA in field-goal percentage. In the 1999-2000 season, he averaged almost 30 points per game and 13.6 rebounds per game. The modern era of basketball will probably never see another Shaquille O’Neal. Then again, I could be wrong as we thought we would never see another Wilt Chamberlain; next thing I know, Shaq showed up.
2. Tim Duncan
Never has a player done more with less.Duncan might be the best power forward ever.Duncan is a devastating mix of low-post scoring prowess, tough defense and consistency. The future Hall of Famer has won four rings, two league MVPs and three finals MVP awards. For ten straight seasons, he averaged almost 20 points per game, over ten rebounds and over two blocks per game.
Look at a list of players with three or more rings. (Duncan has four.) Most of the players have at least one other Hall of Fame lock in their prime playing alongside them. Duncan cant say that, although Parker or Ginobili may be playing their way to that status.
1. Kobe Bryant
Honestly, you could have placed Bryant at two and Duncan at one, and most people couldn’t argue against it. The only reason Kobe is number one in my eyes is because he has maintained his dominance more consistently, as Duncan has had a few down years that made you question why he was still balling. Also, the fact that Kobe started at such a young age makes him more dominant to me.
You can argue that Duncan has done more with less, and you would be correct, but you can’t hold Kobe accountable for the years when he was young and discovering himself in the league. If you were to ask most people who is the most dominant player since Jordan, most people would say Kobe Bryant.
You may not agree with the order, but it's hard to argue with the list. If there are any players that you thought should be up there that are missing, then fire away in the comments section.
Stay Breezy ~ I’m Out!
Like the list, just needs D-Wade in it.
@DNKB "I mean LeBron over Dirk? IDK... "
*Steven A. Smith voice*
I love Dirk. He's a personal friend of mine. But Dirk Nowitzki isn't worthy to hold one of LeBron's double headbands
@DKNB - I'm a big Dirk fan. But I would be shocked if any GM would want to start his team with Dirk in his prime over LeBron in his prime. Dirk's defense is average at best. Steals and Blocks are at a minimum. LeBron is one of the top defenders in the league and his many steals lead to easy baskets. LeBron can just about match Dirk offensively and his defense tips the balance.
super hard list to put together, can knock it much at all. I'd get Kidd in there off of the strength on taking the Nets to the finals twice. Once LeBron is done like you said he will be higher on the list... I would have shown Ray Allen love too but it's a dope list I def. would have had Kobe, Tim and Shaq as 1.2.3..., I saw somebody said they would have AI over Kobe and all I could do is smh. I was at work so I couldn't join in on the festivities.
Dope list hard to argue
I answered the Rev on this on Twitter but thought to put it here too: "I honestly don't know [Do I think AI is better than Kobe]. I think they are different animals. I would agree on skill Kobe over AI but overall I lean AI."
To Jag, I could agree to move Lebron up a bit BUT I feel like Lebron is between two generations. He's at the end of the greatness of Shaq and AI and even Duncan a bit but before the greatness of Rose, Durant and Rondo. Lebron doesn't really fit into either. I don't know if I would move Lebron up much. I mean Lebron over Dirk? IDK. Dirk's skills for his size and the fact that he made DAL a threat for so long...maybe if Lebron stayed in CLE in a few years I would agree more based on the whole more with less argument.
Finally because this is turning into a dissertation...I agree with Omar :)
Television does not do LeBron justice. You have to see him in person to get the full effect. It is truly astonishing to see the biggest man on the court also be the fastest and most athletic man on the court. Watching someone with Karl Malone's build run the court like Iverson just seems unfair.
His 2007 Cavs team replaced Iverson's 2001 Sixers as the weakest ever to make the Finals. His 2010 Cavs team won 66 games, best in the league. Without him, in 2011, the Cavs won 12 games.
Case closed. Ed, I'm with you on this one. LeBron needs to move up, Championships be damned!
Overall, a very good list. Like you said, we're arguing mostly about placement, which has a viceral and personal quality.
Okay I re-read the Kobe part and "The only reason Kobe is number one in my eyes is because he has maintained his dominance more consistently, as Duncan has had a few down years that made you question why he was still balling."
Really? What about that post-Shaq slump? I think Kobe gets a pass because he's more exciting on and off the court to watch. For me Duncan, embodies the technical and non-technical aspects of being a great player. Kobe has shut downs that makes those around him worse that I haven't seen in Duncan. I'll end it there.
You pose a very compelling argument. Shaq was less consistent than Duncan which is why he was number 3. However there has never been a player as dominant as Shaq in his prime. Shaq's skill set just didn't withstand the test of time.
When I did the matrix, Kobe and Duncan had the same score. I chose Kobe based on personal opinion as I stated. When you look at the last three years, Kobe has been more dominant. Duncan has done more with less.
I will not slander Allen Iverson. He's not my personal favorite but there has never been a player that I have respected more than AI. He would be my pound for pound champ in the post Nate Archibald era...
Like I said, you may not agree with the order, but it's hard to argue with the list. You could change the order any way you liked and it would be hard to argue with what you came up with.
Kobe may have been dominant longer but big men have a shorter shelf life so I would think that would contribute to Duncan's cause and maybe Shaq's too.
Also a couple of weeks ago Kobe had an interview and said that he didn't have any rivals and for the western conference he was right, but Duncan has had to go head to head with at least four other guys on the list (C-Webb, KG, Dirk, and Shaq). So Duncan arguably has had a harder road than Kobe.
1 - some day someone will have to sit down with me and explain Kobe's greatness. I get the "numbers never lie" side but there are aspects of his play that keeps me from giving him number one.
2 - I disagree with Ed and his AI comments. Yes AI never got a ring but with all that he has done for the game he's like Shaq to me. The way we play the game...we, lol, people play the game has changed recently because of AI and Shaq.
Other than that...great post and Joe you did a good job explaining your reasons...I'm going to re-read your Kobe comment like its not Kobe now... :)
Question for you: Are you saying Allen Iverson deserves to be ahead of Kobe? I don't want to put words in your mouth, so that's why I'm asking.
I mean, you would quite literally be hard-pressed to find a bigger Allen Iverson on the planet than myself. I can't stand the people that denigrate him and ignorantly cast him off as a selfish player.
But I cannot in good faith as a basketball fan try to argue he's better than Kobe in any regard. A.I. was great and like Kobe often a volumen shooter, but Kobe also was a top defender, a more versatile scorer, healthier/longer career, and always worked on his game and brought something new to the table. As much as I love Al, I can't say he dedicated himself to the game and learned to compensate for Father Time and mileage the way Kobe has.
**Kobe hatred coming, be warned**
I would go Duncan, Shaq, Kobe, LeBron, Iverson, KG, Pierce, Kidd, Dirk, Webber.
The reason I move Duncan and Shaq ahead of Kobe that even though Kobe has more rings, I think it was a big man's game. Duncan and Shaq led their teams to their titles, Kobe happened to be on board for Shaq's. Not trying to diminish Kobe, because Kobe is Kobe. Kobe might even be a taller version of AI, a scorer that just needed the right system. Kobe has put up numbers and stayed amazingly healthy his 16 years, but Duncan has done more with less.
I'm not sure that Wade makes this list, although for a minute he was one of the baddest men in the league. Pierce is just beginning to be appreciated and the same with Dirk (I never thought he'd get one).
Joe, tough list to put together, but you did a good job and created a lot of conversation.
I'm gonna go Kobe, Duncan, Shaq, LeBron, KG, Iverson, Dirk, Kidd, Nash, Pierce, with C-Webb just missing due to the cruelty of injury.
No problem with any of the people that any of you have listed. This is a tough list to construct. When putting together a list like this you have to have an angle. Mine was a combination of things: value, career greatness, on court play, and playoff performance. Each of these things helped me to eliminate and rank. Granted no list will ever be perfect and every argument will be a good argument, there are people you can omit and add. When it is all said and done Lebron will be much higher. But as of now, he doesn't have the complete body of work that any of the guys that I have in front of him (In my opinion).... That being said in two years he could very well be in the top 3 or 4 simply because he is that good. Also in two or three years someone is likely to fall out of the top 10 as the body of work from other guys starts to improve as well.
Keep the feedback coming. Thanks for reading!
Great list, however, I think that you could've added TRACY MCGRADY, JASON KIDD, CARMELLO ANTHONY and DWAYNE WADE. However, very solid list.
The top 3 are set, in my opinion. But like most of these lists, are we comparing on-court play or these players' career greatness post-Jordan?
Good list. I am wondering why there were a couple of omissions. Can't forget about Penny Hardaway and Dwyane Wade. They are both worthy of the top 10.
Couple of thoughts here...
1. LeBron is way too low on this list. 3 MVP's and no rings should still get him in the top 3.
2. Nash should be higher too, 2 MVP's and no rings.
3. Complimenting points one and two...Iverson is #4, and while I love AI, I don't think his career resume is nearly as impressive as Bron's and I'd be interested to hear how it stacks up compared to Nash's.
With that being said, here's my Top 10 using the players on this list only: 1. Duncan 2. Shaq 3. Kobe 4. LeBron 5. KG 6. Dirk 7. Pierce 8. Iverson 9. Nash 10. C-Webb. (I'd probably take C-Webb off, adding Kidd. I'd consider taking Nash off for D-Wade. This is a hard list to put together, so its all love. Well done Crazy Joe.)
Definitely agree with Hood, really good list. Though I would definitely find a way to put Jason Kidd on there. The man was truly one of the greats, arguably a better all-around player than Nash because in his young days he could D it up like a mad man. Then again, he couldn't shoot when he was a youngster, where Nash has one of the best pure shooting percentages of all time.
So hard to rank players anyomre, but I certainly can't argue with anyone on the list.
I like the list but I would have had Ray Allen on there somewhere. I would even argue that Ray has been more dominant than Paul Pierce.
The best list post Jordan Ive read.
Man Good list. I would have had a few others on there tho. Vince Carter should have made the list. I know he has dropped off in production some but he was a beast for a while. I would have also had Tracy McGrady. They were big. Others I would have considered are Penny Hardaway and Jason Kidd. The only problem is I can't think of who I would want to take off to put any of them on.
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