Who has been the face of this generation?
Stop for a minute. Take a collective breath from the Finals. Put down whatever you are doing and think to the very first time you watched NBA basketball. The first time I watched basketball was on a night when I was living in Port Arthur, Texas located right near Beaumont. It was a night somewhere in the fall of 1988. My dad randomly turned to TBS when they used to exclusively air the Atlanta Hawks.
Before the game, they highlighted Dominique Wilkins, Doc Rivers, Spud Webb, and Kevin Willis. This is when the Hawks were truly the high flying Hawks. The only person they spotlighted for the Chicago Bulls was Michael Jordan. I immediately thought that Chicago and this bald headed player had no chance against those guys. I watched the game out of curiosity as my dad fell asleep. This bald headed player with his baggy shorts, sick kicks, and tongue wagging in air took over the game. He made incredible shots and dunks that left me wanting more.
Before I knew it, Chicago won the game. I could not believe what I witnessed. Chi-Town beat them at their house. From that game on, before the titles, Michael Jordan became the ultimate player. He became the player of the forever in my eyes. It just sucks that old stars eventually fade away like feelings for a significant other. As time goes on, new stars have to emerge to replace the old ones.
This left me pondering. After MJ, who was the face of this generation from 1999-2009?
Only a select few are worthy of this distinction. Lets run down this list.
Tim Duncan: Quiet, stoic, fundamentals, 4 time champion, probably the greatest power forward ever, hates referee Joey Crawford
Shaquille O’Neal: The Shaq Attaq, The Diesel, 4 time champion, dominant force, hates Kazaam
Jason Kidd: Triple double machine before Lebron and Rondo, great defender, perennial all star, led New Jersey Nets to back to back Finals appearances, hates his ex-wife
Kobe Bryant: Black Mamba, 3 time champion as Shaq’s sidekick, played in 6 Finals series thus far, 81 points, 2007-2008 MVP, hates Colorado
Allen Iverson: The Answer, 2000-2001 MVP, top flight scorer, tattoos, arm sleeve, braids, head band, tough as nails, hates practice
Kevin Garnett: Probably the most versatile player within the past 10 years, 2003-2004 MVP, one championship, great defender, hates college and cry babies
There are some players left out such as Dirk Nowitzki and Paul Pierce, but they were not highly visible throughout the years compared to the others. Lebron James, Dwayne Wade, Chris Paul, Dwight Howard, Rondo, and Derrick Rose are all part of this new generation that is about to take over and, despite winning back to back MVP awards, Steve Nash cannot be considered either since he has not been to the Finals just like the six who made the list. I cannot forget Gary "The Glove" Payton either. Special shout out to GP, but he did not make my list since he rode Wade’s and Shaq’s coat tails to win a title. Hey, GP if you’re reading this, I still gave you props.
With all of that in mind, who has been the face of the generation from 1999-2009? Shaq Diesel, Duncan, Black Mamba, The Answer, The Kidd, or The Big Ticket?