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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1) Shaquille O'Neal

It is hard to argue that Shaquille O'Neal wasn't the best player of the 2000s, even though he was in his late 20s at the start of the decade. O'Neal started the 2000s off with a bang, winning three straight championships from 2000–2002 with three Finals MVPs as well as a regular season MVP award during that span.

That was far from the end of his terrific decade. He helped lead the Los Angeles Lakers to the Western Conference semi-finals in 2003 before losing to Tim Duncan and the San Antonio Spurs and then back to the NBA Finals in 2004.

Although they were upset by the Detroit Pistons, four Finals appearances in five seasons is an incredible feat. After he was traded to the Miami Heat, Shaq teamed up with Dwayne Wade and led the Heat to the Eastern Conference Finals in 2005 and then to the NBA Finals and a championship in 2006.

That marked his fourth championship in six seasons, all but guaranteeing him a place at the top of this list. On the whole, Shaq averaged 23.1 points, 10.6 rebounds, and 2.7 assists in 662 games from 1999–00 to 2008–09. He also made eight all-star teams and nine all-NBA teams, in addition to four championships, three Finals MVPs, and a league MVP. Therefore, Shaq was the best player of the 2000s.