The 75 greatest NBA players of the 2000s, ranked

The 2000s were an important decade for the NBA, with new stars emerging to carry the league into a new era. But which players were the best of the decade?
Tim Duncan, Shaquille O'Neal
Tim Duncan, Shaquille O'Neal / Jed Jacobsohn/GettyImages
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74) Robert Horry

Although he didn't put up big numbers during the decade, no one was more successful than Robert Horry. By the time the decade started, Horry had already won two championships as a member of the Houston Rockets, playing alongside Hakeem Olajuwon. That is more than most players, but he was also fortunate enough to be a member of the Los Angeles Lakers during their three-peat, playing a key role for the Shaq and Kobe Lakers.

In fact, had it not been for his late-game heroics and Game 6 of the Western Conference Finals against the Sacramento Kings in 2002, the Lakers may not have 3-peated as champions. His iconic shot forced a Game 7 and the Lakers would go on to beat the Philadelphia 76ers for championship number five for Horry.

He later signed with the San Antonio Spurs and was paired up with Hall of Famers Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, and Manu Ginobili. That proved to be a terrific decision for Horry, who left just before the Lakers imploded in 2004 during the NBA Finals against the Detroit Pistons. As a member of the Spurs, he played key roles on their 2005 and 2007 championship teams. In Game 5 of the NBA Finals against the Detroit Pistons, Horry put on one of the most unlikely big-game performances in playoff history.

He had gone scoreless through most of the first three quarters until he hit a buzzer-beating three to end the third. Then, in the fourth quarter and overtime, he helped carry the Spurs, scoring 21 points off the bench, including an iconic dunk over Rip Hamilton and the game-winning three to give the Spurs a series lead.

In 2007, the Spurs had a tough first-round series against the Denver Nuggets before Horry hit a crucial three with 35 seconds remaining in Game 4. That gave the Spurs a decisive 3-1 series lead and they would go on to win not only the series but another championship, with Horry winning his seventh title and fifth of the decade. Ultimately, while he doesn't have nearly the stats that many of the other players on this list do, he still played a key role on five championship teams during the 2000s.