But let’s make this a little more interesting…since we’re back there, we might as well see what the top players in today’s game were up to in 1998. This may call for a few high school visits, maybe even a middle school drop in (talking to you, Durant), but we have our permissions slips and we’re ready to go!
Then: Duncan and his Spurs won the title in ’98-’99 with a 4-1 trouncing of the New York Knicks. He was named Finals MVP after averaging 27-14 and an impressive 45 minutes per game. At 22 years of age, Duncan was only in his second year in the league, but his performance in the Finals was just the beginning of his perpetual dominance.
Now: Duncan just concluded his 14th year in NBA. Though he’s not the governing force he once was, he’s still productive. Timmy averaged 13-9 this year and was named an All-Star for his 13th time.
Then: Malone was named MVP in ’98-’99 for the second time in three seasons. He averaged 27-9-4 in the regular season, 22-11-5 in the playoffs and took his Jazz to the Western Conference Semis before losing to Portland in six games.
Now: Malone took his talent’s (or feet) to Sketchers and filmed a “Shape-Ups” commercial. He’s also rumored to be considering a coaching job with his former alma mater, Louisiana Tech.
Then: Mourning put up arguably his best numbers in ’98-’99, averaging 20 points, a career-high 11 rebounds and a career high 3.9 blocks as he went on to be named the Defensive Player of the Year. The Heat received the No. 1 seed in the East heading into the playoffs but were knocked off by the eight-seeded Knicks in the first round.
Now: ‘Zo has been quite active since his retirement in 2008, establishing the “Zo Fund for Life.” The organization seeks to raise money and awareness for the fight against focal glomerulosclerosis, a disease he was diagnosed with in 2003. Focal glomerulosclerosis is a life-threatening kidney disease. ‘Zo received a kidney transplant a month after the diagnosis from a close family friend.
Then: Iverson won his first of four scoring titles in the ’98-’99 season, averaging 26.8 points per game. He took his sixth-seeded Sixers past Orlando in the first round of the NBA playoffs, then lost to Indiana in four games. Iverson was also named to his first of three first team All-NBA’s.
Now: As of right now, Iverson is playing basketball in Istanbul for the professional Turkish club Besiktas Cola Turka. He signed a two-year, $4 million contract in October of 2010. Iverson scored 15 points in his first game with the club.
Then: Playing with the Phoenix Suns, Kidd averaged a career-high in assists (10.8) and was named to his first of five first team All-NBA selections. Though his Suns got swept in the first round of the playoff’s, he averaged 15-10.
Now: Well…let’s just say Jason Kidd had a pretty good year. Kidd and his third-seeded Mavericks won the NBA championship, beating the Miami Heat in six games. This was Kidd’s first NBA championship. He also dished out his 11,000th career assist during the regular season. Kidd currently holds the NBA record for most games played among active players; he’s also second all-time in assists and third all-time in three pointers made.
Mike Dunleavy Sr.
Then: Dunleavy was named NBA Coach of the Year in ’98-’99 with the Portland Trail Blazers. They won the division title, finished 35-15 (only a 50 game season because of the lockout) and were awarded the No. 3 in the playoffs. They went on to beat Phoenix and Utah before losing to the NBA Champion Spurs in the conference finals.
Now: Dunleavy stepped down as coach of the Clippers in February. He retained his position as General Manager before being fired a month later.