Is the 2000s decade considered “old school” yet? As millennials enter their 30s, we remember growing up with some of the best superstars during this decade. We saw Steve Nash lead one of the best offenses on route to winning two MVPs. Allen Iverson was the shortest MVP in league history and showed the world you can be short, but score on anyone.
Kobe Bryant won five championships during this decade, Shaq won four, while Tim Duncan won three. The 2000s team features a solid starting lineup that would be difficult to stop, even with some of the best talents from the last decade.
We count LeBron James for the 2010s decade since he played the full decade as he came into the league in 2003. He is joined by Kevin Durant and Steph Curry, two of the best scorers at their respective positions. A healthy James Harden and a two-way specialist in Giannis Antetokounmpo would give the 2000s a run for their money. In a seven-game series, who would prevail?
Steve Nash vs. Steph Curry
Looking back, you have to respect what Nash did with the Suns. Despite never playing in the NBA Finals, Nash led the league’s best offense with Shawn Marion, Amar’e Stoudemire, and Quentin Richardson. While Marion and Stoudemire were solid players, one of his MVP seasons saw Stoudemire hurt. This isn’t like playing alongside Kevin Durant or LeBron James, Nash was truly making players better than what they were.
Curry makes the team better because he is not a true point guard. Sure, Curry can secure five to six assists each night, but his objective is to score. Curry once scored 62 points as a point guard. Nash was a double-double machine on the points-assists line, but Curry can hit nine three-pointers in a game. Pick your poison at this point.
Allen Iverson vs. James Harden
This would have been one of the best back and forth matchups from the guard position. Iverson was scared of nobody. He had a fierce attitude and was going to score on you. Given that Harden is not a superb defender, Iverson might have gone for 70 points in this matchup. Iverson didn’t have a great jump shot, so he had to get in the lane, and he was scoring big bunches against primetime centers.
Harden developed a three-point stroke over time, but he was also one of the best at getting to the free-throw line. When the NBA rules allowed that extra contact rule on the shot, Harden abused that rule to 36.1 points per game. It didn’t matter if it was fair. Harden just knew how to score.
Kobe Bryant vs. LeBron James
When the Magic defeated the Cavaliers in 2009 to make the NBA Finals, many people were applauding Dwight Howard. The rest of us were angry that it took away the one chance of Kobe vs. LeBron in the NBA Finals. Bryant, the winner of five rings, and LeBron, the winner of four, would have finally settled the debate of who is better.
The longtime debate of who is the better player remains a touchy subject. Bryant is compared to being the last player to be anything like Michael Jordan. LeBron is one of the greatest forwards of all time for his ability to score, rebound, and pass. This would have been a dogfight.
Tim Duncan vs. Kevin Durant
Duncan might have had the edge on defense, but Durant has the edge on defense. Duncan is regarded as the greatest defending power forward in league history but also argues to be the best overall defender ever too. Duncan made 15 All-Defensive teams in a time where the defense was taken seriously. Guarding Durant would have been a treat to watch.
Durant is a four-time scoring champion that is regarded as the greatest scoring power forward. This would have been great against great. Durant has the tools to score inside and out. Watching him find a way to get shots past Durant would have been pure basketball film.
Shaquille O’Neal vs. Giannis Antetokounmpo
Shaq was a seven-foot, 300-pound giant that was unstoppable to guard in the paint. Giannis is a former Defensive Player of the Year that equally holds his own against anyone. Shaq once scored 61 points in a game, which is something unheard of in today’s NBA unless you count the work Nikola Jokic does on a nightly basis. Shaq is a completely different player and would make Giannis work to guard him.
Giannis, normally a power forward, would move to the center and likely see a dip in his offense. However, Giannis can run the floor, so could he pull Shaq out to force him to guard him one on one. With Shaq always requiring help on drives, Giannis’ ball handling and defense might make up for the fact that he doesn’t score a typical 20 points with 10 rebounds.
Team 2000s Advantages
The size of Shaq and Duncan is going to cause problems in rebounding for Team 2010s. It would force LeBron and Giannis to rebound, which could take away from their offense to overcompensate their defense. Shaq has the size advantage on Giannis, so we are talking about a potential 20 rebound night for Shaq if they can’t box him out.
Forcing LeBron to rebound might wear him out, which would force him to play a new role against the 2000s. Defensively, the 2000s are going to force Team 2010s to shoot the ball more often. Duncan and Shaq are true Twin Towers, the paint is going to be off-limits. With Nash, Iverson, and Bryant, the team has legitimate scoring options in a game that could see the 2000s hold the other team to under 100 points.
Team 2010s Advantages
Since the team is going to be forced to shoot more often, it’s good that the team has some of the best modern-day shooters we have ever seen. Curry and Harden can switch positions, but what would likely happen is that LeBron is used as the point forward. He would run the offense like he did when he led the league in assists with the Lakers. Curry and Harden could move off the ball to get open for three-point shots.
The three-point shots could save the team. After all, two shots are worth three inside the arc, which is where the 2000s would live. You have three legit shooters, while LeBron can take care of the midrange. With LeBron’s ability to draw defenders, someone is going to be open. The same goes for Giannis, who could look to penetrate inside as well.
Who Wins Best Of 7?
In the first game, Team 2010s looks distraught and doesn’t know what to do. They are held to 73 points. The defensive tandem of Duncan and Shaq keeps the team out of the paint. Team 2000s outscores Team 2010s in the paint by 40 points. Shaq and Duncan both have double-doubles with at least 23 points apiece. Nash has a field day with the pick and roll and records 17 assists.
In the second game, Team 2010s can battle back and relax. Curry does his thing, which is to make seven three-pointers. He is joined by Harden and Durant, while LeBron makes three treys himself. The combined 19 three-pointers are enough to propel the team to a 101-89 victory in the second game. Team 2010s takes Game 3 with another strong shooting performance. The team goes a combined 20-of-45 from the three-point line. While making their free throws, it’s enough to escape with a 98-94 victory.
Shooting sometimes can fizzle out and that is what happens in the next three games. Bryant guards Curry the duration of the series and limits him to shooting nights behind the arc of 28% or less. Without Curry, the 2010s are hurting to find points as Giannis is held to single digits with Duncan and Shaq all over him. Game 4 is a blowout 117-97 win in favor of the 2000s.
The fifth game has all the hype surrounding the team, but it goes back to the foundation of the 2000s. Nash pounds the ball inside to the point that Iverson shoots the ball only four times. Shaq scores 45 points and grabs 24 rebounds. Giannis is flustered and needs help with double teams, which forces LeBron to exasperate himself on defense. Team 2000s wins the game 123-100.
Game 6 features a comeback as the 2010s have another great shooting night. Harden picks up the slack from Curry as he makes eight three-pointers. Curry can score 20 points, while Durant has his best outing with 35 points and 11 rebounds. LeBron finishes the game with 15 points but has 23 assists. The pounding in the lane takes a toll on him eventually as Harden and Durant have to close out the 114-108 victory.
In the clincher, Shaq shells out a 20-20 double-double, while Duncan limits Durant to just 11 points. Bryant’s defense shines again as Curry is held to 2-for-12 shooting from behind the arc. Iverson has his best game of the series with 13 points because of how paint-oriented the series is. The defense from both sides is electric as both teams are held under 100 points, but it’s the old school squad that prevails 99-91 in the end.
Final Result: Team 2000s vs. Team 2010s 4-3
Finals MVP: Shaquille O’Neal