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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3) Kobe Bryant

Once you get into the top 3 when rating the 75 greatest players of the 2000s, it can be difficult to determine who was the best of that era. For Lakers fans and fans of Kobe Bryant, his coming in at number three is likely to be unpopular. Despite that, given the resumes of the two players ahead of him, it's hard to argue with his placement and it is not like being third out of the seventy-five greatest players of the 2000s is bad.

Kobe was selected 13th overall in the 1996 draft by the Charlotte Hornets but was traded to the Lakers. There, he was immediately paired with superstar Shaquille O'Neal, and the two formed a dynamic duo.

From 1999–00 to 2001–02, Shaq and Kobe dominated the league and won three straight championships. They were then "upset" by a team that featured Tim Duncan, an aging David Robinson, a young Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili. However, the Lakers reloaded, adding Hall of Famers Gary Payton and Karl Malone in 2003.

Despite that talent, they struggled at times, though Kobe was fantastic, averaging 30 points per game and officially becoming the team's best player. Kobe even led them to the NBA Finals but was upset by the Detroit Pistons in 2004, forcing a major roster overall. After Shaq was traded, Kobe carried the Lakers, averaging 31.7 points, 5.8 rebounds, and 5.1 assists from 2005–06 to 2007–08.

Not only that but he won two scoring titles and a league MVP as well as scoring 81 points in a game. Moreover, in 2008–09, he won his fourth title and his first Finals MVP. Ultimately, Kobe averaged 28.2 points, 5.9 rebounds, and 5.2 assists in 748 games between 1999-00 and 2008-09, along with 10 all-star appearances and 10 All-NBA appearances, making him one of the three greatest players of the 2000s.