DimeMag

The 10 Best NBA Players Since 2000

In the new issue of Dime Magazine, we took a look at the best – and worst – the game has offered since the turn of the century. From the players to jerseys to sneakers to teams to even trends, you can relive the past 12 years by scooping up the new issue currently on newsstands nationwide. In those pages, you’ll find the following feature…

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It took LeBron James longer than expected, but this past June, he finally delivered. Now with a championship in hand, growing potential dynasties in Miami and Oklahoma City, and with a generation of stars getting older, it truly feels like we are entering a new age in the NBA. It is officially LeBron’s league. Everyone else must get in line. We waited years for this moment. Twice, LeBron’s Cleveland teams had the best record in the league, and twice they flamed out in the playoffs. In Miami, even with enough talent to overwhelm all but a few teams in the league, they lost in 2011 to a hungrier, deeper Dallas squad. James has probably been the best overall player in the league for two or three years, but it took a ring to wrestle that claim away from Kobe Bryant. Akron’s finest finally has.

Yet the new age is more than just crowning a new King. Footwear is different, moving from glamorous, high-end materials back towards performance. Tattoos are now a staple of the typical NBA player. The game itself is a stranger to those who grew up on the physicality of the 1980s and ’90s. Gone are the days of isolation basketball. Today, a basket-protecting center is a novelty rather than a necessity, and dictating positions on the court means very little. Never before were there so many small-ball lineups, complete with explosive 6-3 two guards and versatile 6-9 centers.

With LeBron earning his stripes after the 4-1 Miami victory in the 2012 NBA Finals, we felt this was the perfect time to take a pulse of the best league in the world. Basketball, perhaps more than any other sport, is about individual creativity. Who’s the best player? Who’s the best dunker? Who can handle the rock, dictate tempo, and move the crowd all at once?

Dime Magazine always celebrated the culture of the game, the lifestyle of the player, and what better way to cover that on the dawning of a new age than to take it back to where all arguments begin. In this special section, we will break down the greatest of the present, on and off the court, as well as what’s in store for the future.

RELATED:
The Next 10 Who Will Shape The Future Generation Of Basketball
The Top 10 Worst Basketball Trends Since 2000

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10. PAUL PIERCE
In this summer’s Olympics, Lithuania and their 36-year-old guard Sarunas Jasikevicius nearly slayed the mighty Americans during pool play. It was Jasikevicius’ fourth Olympic run, and the fifth time since 2000 he nearly beat Team USA. Donnie Nelson, the president of basketball operations in Dallas, is a former assistant coach for Jasikevicius’ national teams, and after seeing Saras lead Lithuania to a near upset, Nelson told ESPN, “He must be drinking from the same fountain as Jason Kidd.”

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