NBA History: 50 best NBA players of the 21st century

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Chris Bosh
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110. . PF. Miami Heat. Chris Bosh. 30. player

50 greatest NBA players from 21st century: 30. Chris Bosh

Far too often, Chris Bosh’s accomplishments are glossed over or altogether discounted. He made 11 — eleven — All-Star appearances across 13 NBA seasons. If it weren’t for a career-ending heart problem, he could very well have made one or two more. If not, he would at least have continued to serve a major role in Miami.

Bosh was among the NBA’s elite in Toronto, where he began his career and dominated every facet of the game. In seven seasons with the Raptors, he averaged 20.2 points, 9.4 rebounds, and 2.2 assists. It was Bosh who first led Toronto to the postseason after Vince Carter’s departure.

Of course, it is Bosh’s Miami years that are more memorable — at least, to those who reside outside Canada. For reasons beyond anyone’s control, there’s a certain allure to LeBron-led teams. Even though Bosh was forced to sacrifice for the greater good, his presence as the No. 3 in Miami’s Big Three was nonetheless compelling. His role in the Heat’s two championships (and four consecutive Finals appearances) should not go uncredited.

A versatile scorer and adept rim protector, Bosh played very different parts in Toronto and Miami. All the same, however, was his immense talent. He grew and changed over time, and made sacrifices when the circumstances demanded it. In the end, he’s a Hall of Fame talent and an all-time great for two different franchises.

Chauncey Billups. 29. player. 64. . PG. Detroit Pistons

50 greatest NBA players from 21st century: 29. Chauncey Billups

Chauncey Billups bounced between Boston, Toronto, Denver, and Minnesota before landing with Detroit in 2002, his sixth NBA season. It was then that Billups’ career took off, as he became an integral part of the Pistons’ offense.

With Billups leading the way, Detroit won the championship in 2004 and made it back to the Finals in 2005. While the repeat bid was unsuccessful, Billups’ status as the primary offensive weapon on a championship team — and a Finals MVP, no less — locks him into prime real estate on this list.

The Pistons were never “Chauncey’s team.” It was a group effort — a true collaboration of elite defenders (Ben Wallace) and skilled offensive wings (Rip Hamilton, Tayshaun Prince). The Pistons were a deep, scrappy group, considered the heavy underdogs when they toppled the Lakers in ’04. Billups was unselfish and complemented his well-rounded offensive game with a tenacious reputation on defense.

In the end, Billups had five All-Star appearances, three All-NBA teams, and two All-Defensive teams on his résumé. His stats may not pop like others on this list, but his basketball I.Q., winning mentality, and irrefutable accomplishments place him firmly in the top 30.