The past decade has given us a multitude of amazing players who have dazzled fans with highlight reels like we’ve never seen before. Thanks to And-1 mix tapes and ESPN, today’s players are going out of their way to do more spectacular things on the court than any other period in the sport’s history. Here are my 10 favorite players of the 00’s based simply on their highlights.
Just for the record, these aren’t necessarily the most complete videos for each player, but they do represent enough of their ooohs and aaahs that you’ll understand why I’m giving them these props. Click each player name to check out their highlights.
10 – Black Jesus (aka Amar’e Stoudemire): It’s a shame how the injury bug has bitten him because he once put an exclamation point on every dunk and a backwards Spalding on opponents’ foreheads.
9 – Jesus Shuttlesworth (aka Ray Allen): Want a lights out shooter who can knock down the long ones with a hand in his eye? Ray’s the man for that.
8 – CP3 (aka Chris Paul): How exactly do you stop a guy who shoots, passes, and defends this well? I guess you hope he gets injured.
7 – Stevie Franchise (aka Steve Francis): Kind of an asshole. Was all about getting his. But boy could he embarrass people with his excessive dribbling.*
6 – The Chosen One (aka LeBron James): These clips are only from his 2008-09 MVP season, but they all just flat out make opponents give up.
The top five NBA highlight artists of the 00’s after the break…
5 – Vinsanity (aka Vince Carter): This clip is nothing but dunks in NBA games, and it’s enough to make the top 5. No disrespect to The Air Up There’s 720, but Vincanity had the greatest in-game dunk of all-time during the 2000 Olympics.
4 – The Answer (aka Allen Iverson): He’s the quickest player to ever lace ’em up. Like the Challenger Disaster, I remember where I was and what I was doing when he double-crossed MJ. My god it was sick. (I know it was in the 90’s, but it’s too good to not include.)
3 – Black Mamba (aka Kobe Bryant): Fadeaway jumpers from 25 feet, crazy mid-air theatrics, and he makes everything look harder than it needs to be. Sounds like the next MJ to me (we’re talking about highlights here; don’t think I’ve gone soft).
2 – Flash (aka Dwyane Wade): Wade is the most explosive player in the game today, and it’s not even close. Take almost any player’s career highlight reel, and he reproduces it every 20 games or so with a mix of speed, redirection, dunks in traffic, and big blocks. Earlier this year, he added this 1 vs. 5 gem.
1 – White Chocolate (aka Jason Williams): He’s done things with the ball in his decade-long career that only Pistol Pete has matched. Before toning down his game a few years ago in order to become more consistent, he did all the amazing And-1 tricks… in NBA games, against NBA players, playing NBA-level defense. (Watch how helpless he makes history’s greatest defensive PG look at the 1:32 mark.)
After retiring 2 seasons ago, the flashy PG is back and actually starting for the 12-4 Magic in Jameer Nelson’s absence. Even after the layover, he’s shooting it well from deep (41% behind the arc) and sporting a tremendous 4.3-0.9 A-TO rate.
Zachariah Blott is a dish best served cold.
* Since publication, an erroneous reference to Francis’ gang affiliation (he is not) was removed. Thanks to commenter SL for the catch.