No one is immune to the lockout, not even us. One way we pass the time at Crossover Chronicles HQ is a healthy debate (OK, knock-down, drag-out arguments that leave us all bitter for weeks) over the best this-or-that in basketball. So with that, we decided to put together our “All Millennium” team. The requirements are simple. Take players from the year 2000 and on and make a team of 12. These guys had to have had a significant amount of great years in the 2000’s, not just retiring in 2002 after an awesome run. This is a team of guys who have had played in their primes post-Y2K scare.
Our participants in this exercise are Matt Yoder, Brendan Bowers, Phillip Rossman-Reich, Jeff Garcia and myself. So without further ado, here’s how we picked ’em:
|PG||Steve Nash||Jason Kidd||Jason Kidd||Steve Nash||Steve Nash|
|SG||Kobe Bryant||Kobe Bryant||Kobe Bryant||Kobe Bryant||Kobe Bryant|
|SF||Kevin Durant||Paul Pierce||LeBron James||LeBron James||Paul Pierce|
|PF||Dirk Nowitzki||Tim Duncan||Tim Duncan||Tim Duncan||Tim Duncan|
|C||Dwight Howard||Shaquille O’Neal||Shaquille O’Neal||Shaquille O’Neal||Shaquille O’Neal|
|PG||Chris Paul||Allen Iverson||Steve Nash||Jason Kidd||Jason Kidd|
|SG||Dwyane Wade||Dwyane Wade||Allen Iverson||Manu Ginobili||Dwyane Wade|
|SF||Paul Pierce||LeBron James||Tracy McGrady||Carmelo Anthony||LeBron James|
|PF||Tim Duncan||Dirk Nowitzki||Kevin Garnett||Kevin Garnett||Kevin Garnett|
|C||Kevin Garnett||Kevin Garnett||Dwight Howard||Dwight Howard||Dwight Howard|
|WC||Ray Allen||Steve Nash||Dwyane Wade||Kevin Durant||Allen Iverson|
|WC||LeBron James||Kevin Durant||Dirk Nowitzki||Paul Pierce||Dirk Nowitzki|
|Coach||Don Nelson||Phil Jackson||Gregg Popovich||
(WC = Wild Card)
And now, we defend our picks:
The point guards:
Brendan: The fact that Jason Kidd was a starter and legit contributer on this year’s title team blends with his early century brilliance to get him into the starting spot for me.
Phil: Kidd was always a do-everything point guard and people often will forget how brilliant he was in leading the Nets to back-to-back Finals appearances. He just showed you don’t need to score a bunch of points to be incredibly effective.
Matt: No other PG defined the 2000s like Steve Nash. In his prime, the former back to back MVP was transcendent. Not only is he a great distributor, but also a great spot up shooter that can work off the rest of the team.
The shooting guards:
John: If a Celtics guy is picking Kobe, then it’s obvious he’s undeniably the choice at this spot. Helping his case even more is the fact that his three worst seasons, the first three of his career, came before the new millenium. Kobe’s domination of this era is right up there with any player’s domination of any era.
Matt: The ’08 Olympics is all you need to know about Kobe being the best player in this millennium. With an All-Star roster of NBA greats, it was Kobe who took the clutch shots then and will take the clutch shots now.
The small forwards:
Jeff: Scoring, power, quickness and more, LeBron James is what every small forward should aspire to be on the court. Though his decisions can be questioned – see “The Decision,” and forcing ones way out of an NBA club. Despite that, on the court he is a nightmare for an opposing team.
Phil: Injuries cut short McGrady’s impact in his career later in the decade. But his four years with the Magic and his first two years in Houston, he put on a scoring onslaught not really seen since Dominique Wilkins or Bernard King were playing. McGrady was smooth and had the speed and strength to get to the basket as well as the jumper to keep defenses honest.
Matt: Durantula will be the scoring machine of this team. Just imagine what kind of numbers he could put up with a PG willing to pass him the ball?
Brendan: LeBron’s more talented, won two MVP’s, but Pierce reps the Celtics and on the first team for me based on winning a title and playing in one more.
John: Homer pick? Sure. Is LeBron a better all-around player? Yes. But Paul Pierce isn’t quitting on you in the fourth quarter. And Pierce has twice out-dueled LeBron, once on his way to an NBA championship. You can call me crazy if you want, but I’ll take the winner every time. And its not like his numbers don’t warrant it. He’s perhaps the most underrated star of this era.
The Power Forwards
Phil: Consistency is Duncan’s name. He was just good and sometimes you would not even know it because he showed so little emotion on the floor.
Matt: The potential of Dirk and Durant running the wings together has any other team wanting to waive the white flag before tip. Dirk singlehandedly beat the Heat, finally cementing his Hall of Fame stature. This is the greatest shooting forward tandem in the history of basketball! Give me this trophy now!
John: Tim Duncan is an unstoppable force of nature. He’s like an ocean. It seems so calm and serene, but before you know it, it’s wiping away everything in sight, swallowing boats, and, when it wants to, unleashing a force unlike any you’ve ever seen. Duncan is not flashy, he’s not emotional, but he is the best PF ever to play the game.
Jeff: Both Shaq and Dwight have been referred to as Superman and rightfully so. They dominate, defend, score, and intimidate any would-be player brave enough to hit the lane. But Shaq’s resume is legendary. Howard is carrying the mantle Shaq left behind at the position admirably, but Shaq is the starter.
Matt: Alas, we need someone who can rebound and block shots… while also not being an offensive albatross. That man is Dwight Howard, who can get around guys like Shaq and Duncan with his superior athleticism and run the floor with Nash much better. DId you watch Shaq and Nash try to play together in Phoenix?
Brendan: Shaq’s the biggest star of this century so far, and he’s only going to get louder on TNT moving forward. Can’t wait [Bart Scott voice]
Matt: With my philosophy I’m looking at creating the most powerful, uptempo scoring lineup in the history of civilization. So why not pick Don Nelson and add a little bit of instability and unpredictability just for fun?
John: With all due respect to Phil Jackson, Greg Popovich has had a much more impressive coaching run to me. Smaller market, fewer stars, and such complete and utter control of his franchise. No one butts heads with Pop, unless they want Pop to literally headbutt them. Plus, his hack-a-Shaq five seconds into a game remains the most awesome coaching move in the history of basketball.
Select Bench notes:
Kevin Garnett – He yells a lot, but he’s had a pretty good century so far, especially at the start of it.
Dwayne Wade – It will take a lot of titles to pass Kobe, by a lot I mean 5 more. Not one, not two…sorry that joke is so 2010
Allen Iverson – He scored roughly 20,000 of his career 24,000+ points in this century and took a horrible team to the finals once. Enough to get him in over Nash as far as I’m concerned.
Allen Iverson— no player may be more divisive than Iverson. Was he a great scorer with unmatched heart and determination or a ball-hog who represented everything wrong with the post-lockout NBA. It is a fair debate. What is not up for debate was the impact he had on the floor. He was gritty, determined and a flat out scorer who played with all his energy at all times.
Tracy McGrady— Injuries cut short McGrady’s impact in his career later in the decade. But his four years with the Magic and his first two years in Houston, he put on a scoring onslaught not really seen since Dominique Wilkins or Bernard King were playing. McGrady was smooth and had the speed and strength to get to the basket as well as the jumper to keep defenses honest.
Chris Paul — The most natural distributor in the league and a dynamite ability to get to the basket at his peak.
Dwyane Wade — Behind Kobe, he’s been the most consistently great player in the NBA since he entered the league.
Paul Pierce — Former Finals MVP has one of the best all-around games in the league and is criminally underrated.
Manu Ginobili— Both he and Kobe have brought nightmares for opposing teams and both have been huge winners on the court. With seven titles between them, countless All-Star appearances, and both have killer instincts. Bryant, well, everyone knows what he has done on the court for the Lakers while Ginobili has gone under appreciated at the position.
Kevin Garnett — People may tend to forget what he used to be. At seven feet tall, the man used to be considered by some to be more of a small forward than anything else. And the fact that he is still perhaps the most important player on his team speaks to his abilities. Time has taken away a lot of his game, but his intensity and desire are unmatched.
Now, you tell us… who do you think has the best “Team of the Millennium”?