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Editor’s Note: This story was originally published on Sept. 7, 2017. Tracy McGrady turns 41 years old on Sunday.

From the moment Tracy McGrady first appeared on The Jump, ESPN’s Rachel Nichols has always introduced the seven-time All-Star as “Hall of Famer Tracy McGrady.” That title became reality in 2017, when McGrady was enshrined in Springfield, Massachusetts, alongside the the legends of basketball.

McGrady played 938 regular-season games in his NBA career — plus another 50 in the postseason — so it’s hard to narrow down all his great moments, but here are 10 of the most memorable, exciting, show-stopping games on his path from high school to the NBA to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

10. 27 pts vs. Cavaliers (April 10, 2000)

Raptors fans only got to see flashes of what would make Tracy McGrady a Hall of Famer.

If we’re being entirely objective, this probably isn’t one of McGrady’s 10 best single games, but it stands out for what it represented. It was one of the last games a young McGrady played for the Toronto Raptors, before leaving in free agency over the summer, and it gave Toronto fans a glimpse of what they’d be missing for the next decade. McGrady dropped 27 points — one shy of his career high in a Raptors uniform — and added 6 rebounds, 9 assists, 3 steals and 6 blocks. His cousin and teammate Vince Carter chipped in with a 31-point triple-double as the playoff-bound Raptors cruised past the Cavs.

9. Triple-double vs. 76ers (Feb. 23, 2002)

McGrady developed a reputation as a versatile player who could fill every column of the stat sheet early on. While he came close to posting triple-doubles in his first four seasons in the league, he finally broke through in a duel with Allen Iverson, finishing with 22 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists to lead the Orlando Magic to an 18-point win. It was the first of four triple-doubles in McGrady’s career.

8. 2006 All-Star Game (Feb. 19, 2006)

As tempting as it’d be to include the 2002 All-Star Game, when McGrady threw a pass to himself off the backboard for a dunk, none of McGrady’s seven All-Star appearances was better than 2006, when he scored 36 points in front of his home Houston fans, though his West squad fell two points shy of victory.

7. Game-winner vs. 76ers (March 28, 2001)

Hall of Famers Allen Iverson and Tracy McGrady had some epic showdows during their careers.

When McGrady and Iverson got together, fans knew they were in for a show, and this game was no exception. Iverson put up 37 points, the last of which gave the 76ers a 1-point lead with 7.6 seconds left. But McGrady had an answer, scoring the last two of his game-high 44 points with 2.7 seconds left to give the Magic a 1-point win. McGrady’s 44 points were more than the rest of the Magic starters scored combined (37).

6. 50 pts vs. Wizards (March 8, 2002)

An injured Michael Jordan wasn’t in the Wizards lineup for this game, so he could only sit and watch as McGrady put on a one-man show for the Magic, scoring what was then a career-high 50 points. McGrady shot 18-for-29 from the field, finishing with more points than the rest of his teammates combined in leading Orlando to a 3-point win. He scored 15 of his 50 points in the fourth quarter to secure the victory.

5. Triple-double vs. Nets (Feb. 23, 2003)

Tracy McGrady did just about everything in this 2003 game against the Nets.

In 2003, the Nets were on their way to a second consecutive NBA Finals appearance, but on this night they had no answer for McGrady. The Magic star finished with 46 points, 10 rebounds and 13 assists, outdueling future Hall of Famer Jason Kidd, who had a triple-double of his own (26 points, 11 rebounds, 15 assists). McGrady gave the Magic a 1-point lead with a layup at the end of the third quarter, then scored or assisted on every point in a 17-0 run to open the fourth quarter, as the Magic cruised to victory.

4. Game-winner vs. Mavericks (April 25, 2005)

In addition to making the game-winning shot, Tracy McGrady put Shawn Bradley on a poster in Game 2 of their 2005 playoff series.

McGrady didn’t get out of the first round of the playoffs until 2013, in a forgettable (and often forgotten) stint with the Spurs, so his playoff highlights are few and far between. This game stands out as probably his most memorable playoff performance. McGrady flirted with a triple-double, finishing with 28 points, 8 rebounds and 10 assists, and lifted the Houston Rockets to victory with a game-winning jumper with 2.2 seconds left. That gave the Rockets a 2-0 lead in the series, but the Mavericks would come back to win in seven.

3. Christmas showdown with LeBron (Dec. 25, 2003)

The NBA put McGrady up against LeBron James in a marquee Christmas Day matchup in James’s rookie season, and neither player disappointed. James finished with 34 points to lead the Cavs, but McGrady topped that, posting 41 points, 8 rebounds and 11 assists. He also scored or assisted on 12 of Orlando’s 16 points in the overtime session, leading the Magic to a 113-101 win over the Cavs and James, who was held scoreless in OT.

2. Joining the 60-point club (March 10, 2004)

Tracy McGrady was all smiles the night he scored 62 points against the Wizards.

Prior to 2004, only 16 players in NBA history had scored 60 points in a game. McGrady became the 17th when he dropped a career-high and franchise-record 62 points on the Wizards. He got off to a slow start, putting up just 7 points in the first quarter, but he poured in 21 in the second and followed that up with 24 in the third. He tacked on 10 more in the fourth — eight from the free-throw line — to give him his 62, 22 more than the 40 Gilbert Arenas scored to lead the Wizards that night. McGrady’s 62 points represented 57.4 percent of the Magic’s total that night (108); the only other players in double digits for Orlando were Juwan Howard (14) and current Cavs coach Tyronn Lue (10).

1. 13 points in 33 seconds (Dec. 9, 2004)

If there’s one iconic McGrady performance, it’s this one. After a pair of Devin Brown free throws, the Rockets got the ball back trailing the Spurs 76-68 with 44.2 seconds left in the fourth quarter. To that point in the game, McGrady had scored 20 points and had made just one of his eight 3-point attempts. Then he caught fire like no one in NBA history ever has. His first 3-pointer of the quarter, and second of the game, cut San Antonio’s lead to 76-71 with 35 seconds left. Brown was intentionally fouled and again made both free throws to push the lead back to 7 with 31.9 seconds left. Less than 8 seconds later, McGrady poured in another 3-pointer while drawing a foul on Tim Duncan. The 4-point play cut the lead to 3 with 24.3 seconds left.

The Rockets tried to force a steal on the next play, but were eventually forced to send Duncan to the line, where he made a pair of free throws to push the lead back to five with 16.2 seconds left. In most NBA games, that would’ve been the end of things, but McGrady took just 5 seconds to make another 3-pointer, then — after a Spurs timeout — forced Brown into a turnover and followed it up by draining his fourth and final 3-pointer of the sequence with 1.7 seconds left. When all was said and done, McGrady had scored 13 points in 33.3 seconds, giving the Rockets an improbable win and leaving Spurs coach Gregg Popovich dumbfounded.

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As the NBA continues to try to find ways to salvage the end of its season as the world deals with the coronavirus pandemic, Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr acknowledged that his team is operating as if its season is over.

“It feels like the offseason,” Kerr said during a video conference call in conjunction with the University of San Francisco on Tuesday. “And, in fact, we had a Zoom call, Bob Myers and I got on a Zoom with our players, our whole roster last week. And it was just a chance to check in, but it was also a chance for Bob to update the players on his contact with the league and the latest news, but it also kind of felt like our annual team exit meeting. Our coaching staff and I have been undergoing staff evaluations, offseason plans, so we are absolutely in offseason mode right now.”

As other teams in playoff contention try to keep their teams focused on a possible resumption of play, Kerr said that though the Warriors remain in communication with all their players and staffers, the team isn’t concerned about a possible resumption, given that Golden State had a league-worst 15-50 record when the season was suspended on March 11.

“The suspension came at an interesting time, and it really made a difference, depending on where your team stood in the standings,” Kerr said. “So I’ve talked to some of my fellow coaches who are coaching teams that are right in the thick of the playoff hunt. They’re trying desperately to stay in touch with their team, some of them are even doing group workouts on Zoom with their training staff, and they’re trying to find hoops for their players to shoot at where they’re able to do so.

“It’s different for us because we were down to 17 games, but we were out of the playoffs. It feels like the end of the season for our team. It just does. We don’t know anything officially. There’s still a chance the league could ask us to come back and play some games, but given what we went through this season, with all the injuries and the tough record, it’s been more of the case of we’re staying in touch with guys, but everybody is just sort of assuming that this is kind of it. We’re not going to be involved much anymore.”

Tuesday’s call, led by basketball Hall of Famer Jennifer Azzi, included Warriors president and COO Rick Welts, who outlined how he has been trying to stay in contact with his employees since the season stopped. That has included virtual town hall meetings to keep everyone updated.

“My commitment was to communicate with every employee every day. And we do that through kind of an end-of-the-day email,” Welts said. “I’m trying to talk to somebody every day who has a unique viewpoint because of the job they have on what they’re going through with the pandemic that might relate to our industry, and then I try to share some of their insights with our people. The town halls are very much like this.”

The meetings for employees have included Kerr and NBA commissioner Adam Silver as featured guests.

“We have an opportunity to put together all 500 of our employees, and actually the virtual format allows you to get some incredible guests. Steve has been a guest, Adam Silver has been a guest, the two primary owners of the Warriors, Peter Guber and Joe Lacob, can talk directly to our employees,” Welts said. “We have a medical component to each one. Our team doctor speaks to questions our employees might have about staying safe or about what they can or should be doing. We had a mental health aspect to it the last time around, where our team clinical psychologist actually spoke to our employees, which to me, we got great feedback on. We have a lot of 20-somethings who are living alone right now, who aren’t like Steve or me, when we’re home with our families every day and have some space, but are really isolated socially.

“It’s kind of the untold story, I think, we focus on the truly medical side of the virus. The mental health side, I think, is increasingly important to address because we as human beings, we were not wired to operate this way. And you can start to see the frustration that people are having in following guidelines as best we can, but we need more than that as human beings.”

For Kerr, who has been social distancing with his family at their offseason home in San Diego since the season stopped, the suspension has allowed his coaching staff to reevaluate how they want to approach next season and beyond.

“I think what we’ve tried to do as a staff is take more time than we’ve ever had before to really self-reflect, to really examine what we’ve done, what we’d like to do going forward,” Kerr said. “And we’re in a pretty unique position because we’ve come off an incredible five-year run and then this season, where we had the worst record in the NBA and we went through all kinds of injuries and everything else. And so this whole experience, this last six years for us, as a coaching staff, as an organization, we’ve pretty much seen everything, and yet what I realize now is very rarely have we had the chance to actually sit down and examine everything.”

Kerr said the break has been very “productive” for the staff on a lot of levels. The Warriors will have a top pick in the 2020 NBA draft and are scheduled to have their core of Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green, all of whom have dealt with injuries in the past year, healthy and ready to go when the 2020-21 season begins.

“It’s been really productive for me and for our staff,” Kerr said. “I think we’ve had much deeper conversations amongst the staff to try to come up with better ways to coach our players and better ways to approach next season and really take advantage of the time that we do have.”

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All Utah Jazz players and staff have been cleared by the Utah Department of Health after completing their respective periods of isolation and quarantine after exposure to the coronavirus, according to a team official.

More than two weeks ago, Jazz center Rudy Gobert was one of three NBA players to test positive for COVID-19, prompting the NBA to suspend play.

One day later, Gobert’s teammate Donovan Mitchell also tested positive, although he told ABC’s “Good Morning America” on March 16 that he showed no symptoms before testing positive and continued to have no signs of illness after going into isolation.

The Jazz will continue to practice social distancing and limit time outside of their homes to essential activities, in accordance with recommendations from the NBA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The players and staff no longer pose a risk of infection to others, regardless of prior testing status, according to the Utah Department of Health.

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Having discussed at length with NBA owners whether to take a hiatus due to safety concerns because of the coronavirus, commissioner Adam Silver said Thursday he opted to suspend the season shortly after canceling the Utah Jazz-Oklahoma City Thunder game Wednesday night following Rudy Gobert’s positive test for COVID-19.

NBA owners have been encouraging Silver to reevaluate the league’s suspension of play in 30 days, sources told ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. Silver, in an interview on TNT, confirmed that the NBA will take that 30-day hiatus and use the time to further discuss whether the league can resume play and how it can do so.

“Of course the issue becomes now, what we determined today, is that this hiatus will be most likely at least 30 days,” Silver said. “And we don’t know enough to be more specific than that. But we wanted to give direction to our players and teams and fans that this is going to be roughly at least a month.

“But then the question becomes is there a protocol frankly with or without fans in which we can resume play,” Silver continued. “I think the goal [is] … what makes sense here without compromising anyone’s safety. It’s frankly too early to tell.”

Later Thursday, in a letter addressed to NBA fans, Silver made it clear that the league has every intention of resuming the season “if and when it becomes safe for all concerned.”

“In the meantime, we will continue to coordinate with infectious disease and public health experts along with government officials to determine safe protocols for resuming our games,” Silver wrote.

Silver also said tickets already purchased for a postponed game “will be honored when the game is rescheduled.” If games are not played or played in an empty arena, teams will work with fans “on a credit for a future game or a refund.”

“This remains a complicated and rapidly evolving situation that reminds us that we are all part of a broader society with a responsibility to look out for one another,” Silver wrote. “That is what the NBA will continue to do.”

The NBA had two full board of governors meetings Wednesday and Thursday. Silver also has been in discussions with Michele Roberts, executive director of the National Basketball Players Association, and Thunder guard Chris Paul, president of the players’ union, about the NBA season moving forward and how.

With the understanding that things are fluid and changing, teams were advised that players can work out individually but with no group workouts conducted for now. Los Angeles Lakers players were told on a team conference call that they can coordinate one-on-one workouts at the team facility, with the team slotting times so players do not come into contact with one another, sources told ESPN’s Dave McMenamin.

The situation and concern for health and safety over the coronavirus pandemic have changed rapidly. The league announced Wednesday that games had been suspended after Utah’s Gobert was diagnosed with the coronavirus. On Thursday, sources said Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell also had been diagnosed with the virus. Both Jazz players confirmed the positive tests on their Instagram accounts.

“The truth is up until a few days ago or even up until yesterday, the experts were unclear as to whether as a public health matter, NBA arenas should be emptied,” Silver said of how rapidly things changed. “I think there was a clear consensus that for people over 70 [years old] or people who have any underlying ailment or compromised immunity system that they should not be coming but again it was an open issue.

“We made that decision [to suspend the season], since I knew I had had the benefit of several hours of meetings that day with representatives of every team on the issue of hiatus,” Silver added. “In that moment we made the decision that we should be taking a hiatus knowing again we would have a chance to meet and have further discussions today.”

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The Memphis Grizzlies said forward Brandon Clarke will miss at least two weeks because of a right quad injury.

Clarke played only three minutes in Memphis’ loss to the LA Clippers on Monday, due to what the team initially called right hip soreness.

According to the Grizzlies, additional testing revealed that Clarke suffered a quad injury, with the team saying he will be reevaluated in two weeks.

Memphis already is without Jaren Jackson Jr., who is expected to miss at least two weeks because of a left knee sprain. Clarke started in Jackson’s place on Monday.

Clarke, the rookie first-round pick out of Gonzaga, is averaging 12.0 points and 5.8 rebounds this season while shooting 62.3% from the field.

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Shooting guard RJ Barrett of the New York Knicks left Thursday night’s game against the Phoenix Suns with what the team said was a sprained right ankle. He will not return.

Barrett limped off the court and went directly to the locker room for evaluation in the middle of the third quarter after he appeared to turn his ankle.

The rookie had seven points and two assists before exiting. Barrett is averaging 14.3 points, 5.3 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game.

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Denver Nuggets coach Michael Malone has signed a contract extension through the 2022-23 season, league sources told ESPN.

The Nuggets made official an agreement on Tuesday.

Malone, 48, was awarded his second extension in consecutive years, reflecting the team’s steady climb into Western Conference contention under his watch. Denver reached the playoffs for the first time under Malone a year ago, advancing to the West semifinals before losing a seven-game series to Portland.

Denver’s management — governor Josh Kroenke, president of basketball operations Tim Connelly and GM Arturas Karnisovas — hired Malone at the start of a difficult franchise rebuild in 2015, and allowed him to develop an increasingly talented core of young players.

“His tireless work ethic and passion are clearly reflected in the continued improvement of our roster,” Connelly said in a statement. “We are all extremely excited for him to continue to lead our team as we try to build a championship-level organization.”

The Nuggets’ victory total has increased in each of his seasons (33, 40, 46 and 54). The Nuggets are 21-8 this season, trailing only the Los Angeles Lakers in the West standings.

“None of this would be possible without the hard work, dedication and trust from our players as well as the entire coaching staff,” Malone said in a news release. “I’d also like to thank the amazing fans in Denver who have helped make Pepsi Center one of the toughest places to play in the NBA once again. I look forward to continuing our ultimate goal of winning NBA championships.”

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Carmelo Anthony has been activated by the Portland Trail Blazers and will start at power forward in Tuesday night’s game against the New Orleans Pelicans and could be in the starting lineup for the foreseeable future, according to coach Terry Stotts.

When asked if Anthony was going to start as the team’s starting power forward after Tuesday’s game, Stotts said, “I don’t see why not.”

Anthony is expected to play 20 minutes, a source told ESPN’s Marc Spears.

“This, from our standpoint, is a good fit for us,” Stotts said pregame. “He fills a need, but for him… obviously he’s been out of the league for a while and I’m sure he’s glad to be back in.”

Anthony, who has not played since Nov. 8, 2018, will start alongside Hassan Whiteside, Rodney Hood, CJ McCollum and Anfernee Simons with Damian Lillard out with a back injury. It’s Anthony’s first start since Oct. 30, 2018 when he was with the Rockets. That night, Houston played Anthony’s new team, the Portland Trail Blazers.

Stotts said Anthony “looked good at the gym this morning” during Portland’s shootaround on Tuesday morning. However, Stotts added that getting back in NBA shape will be the biggest transition for Anthony, who hasn’t played in an NBA game in 376 days.

Anthony, 35, will wear jersey No. 00. The 10-time All-Star has not played since Nov. 8, 2018, with the Houston Rockets.

“Carmelo is an established star in this league that will provide a respected presence in our locker room and a skill set at a position of need on the floor,” Blazers president Neil Olshey said.

Anthony will have a base salary of $2.159 million.

The contract will become fully guaranteed if Anthony is not waived by 5 p.m. on Jan. 7.

Carmelo Anthony has not played since Nov. 8, 2018, with the Houston Rockets.

Speaking on his YouTube channel Monday night, Anthony said, “The last year and a half has been an emotional roller coaster.

“I’ve always kept my eye on Portland. It just didn’t work out other times, but now it seems like it’s a perfect opportunity.”

Anthony said he got the call from the Blazers on Wednesday and committed on Thursday.

“Me and Dame [Lillard], we’ve been talking for the past couple years … off and on,” he said. “Me and CJ [McCollum] have been playing in my Black Ops runs for the past four years.

“I just look at the opportunity and say, ‘This is what I can bring to the team. This is where I can help.’ It will only work if all parties see it the same way.”

Anthony has career averages of 24.0 points, 6.5 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 1.02 steals in 1,064 games over 16 seasons with the Denver Nuggets, New York Knicks, Oklahoma City Thunder and Houston.

Among active players with at least 200 games played, Anthony ranks fourth in career points per game, and he has the second-most career points among active players, trailing only LeBron James.

Power forward was the position where the Blazers were most vulnerable, and a shoulder injury to Zach Collins amplified the void there.

Anthony could fit in well with the Blazers, who have struggled to get production from their forwards this season.

Anthony hasn’t played since a 10-game run with the Rockets that ended early in the 2018-19 season.

“What happened before is the past,” Anthony said. “I can’t dwell on that. I learned from that. This happened at a point and time in my life where I do have a lot of clarity and understanding of different situations and just life, and my approach is totally different.”

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Which players defined the past 10 NBA seasons?

We posed this question to a panel of ESPN’s NBA experts: Who was the player of the decade? Voters ranked their top three picks in order — considering the 2009-10 season through 2018-19 — and here are the results.

LeBron James was an overwhelming pick at No. 1, with a tight race between former teammates Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant for Nos. 2 and 3.

Three members of our panel — Kirk Goldsberry, Kevin Pelton and Tim Bontemps — highlight what made each of these three players a defining superstar of the 2010s.

1. LeBron James


  • Cleveland Cavaliers: 2009-10
  • Miami Heat: 2010-14
  • Cleveland Cavaliers: 2014-18
  • Los Angeles Lakers: 2018-19

Kirk Goldsberry: LeBron James is the defining player of the 2010s, and it’s not close. The only people who have had better NBA decades than 2010s LeBron are Michael Jordan in the 1990s and Bill Russell in the 1960s. Neither of those guys played in a league as deep or as competitive as the one James dominated over these past 10 seasons.

James was clearly the best on-court performer we watched this decade. In case you might disagree, consider these facts:

  • He led all scorers this decade … by a lot
  • He ranked fourth in total assists and 10th in total rebounds
  • He was the only player in the top 10 in points, rebounds and assists

James is the greatest basketball player since Jordan, and most of his prime fell squarely in the 2010s. He began this decade as a 25-year-old NBA superstar with one Finals appearance and zero championships. He will end it as a 35-year-old global icon with nine Finals appearances, three titles and three Finals MVP awards. When we look back at his incredible career, we will look back mostly at the 2010s.

Not only did James appear in the NBA Finals every season between 2011 and 2018 but he also was arguably the best player in every one of those series. In addition, the dude racked up more than 1,500 more buckets than Stephen Curry and James Harden and 500 more than Kevin Durant.

LeBron received nearly every first-place vote available from our panel, and that’s how it should be. Don’t get me wrong — Durant and Curry are marvelous, game-changing megastars, but neither of them controlled this decade nearly as much as James. He is deeply intertwined with every major trend this decade on and off the court.

Although the rise of 3-point shooting is the definitive on-court trend of the 2010s — and Curry is the definitive shooter of our time — that’s only part of the story. Curry made an astronomical 2,483 3-pointers during the 2010s. Harden ranked second with 2,025. But, in that same time period, James assisted on 2,107 triples, by far the most in the NBA. So while Curry might deserve all the credit in the world for changing how we look at long-range shooting this decade, James deserves some for changing the way we look at long-range shot creation. His play is integral to the tactics driving the trend.

Durant is a better pure scorer than James, and Curry is a better pure shooter, but James is a more complete superstar. When you consider his playoff success and the stat totals, it’s virtually impossible to argue any other player was as dominant on the court.

Oh, and James has made First-Team All-Defense three times this decade, too. Neither Curry nor Durant has ever done that.

James wasn’t simply the league’s most impactful player on the court. Off the floor, he reshaped how we look at superstardom and player movement in pro sports. If you’re searching for the origin of contemporary player empowerment in the NBA and beyond, look no further than July 8, 2010, in Greenwich, Connecticut. His televised free-agency decision might have been kind of clumsy, but it was unquestionably the seminal moment for a decade in which dozens of the game’s biggest talents all seemed to switch teams, demand trades and join forces in ways we’d never seen before.

Before King James shocked the world in 2010 and took his talents to South Beach, July was a sleepy month on the NBA calendar. Nowadays the league sets its phones on fire for two straight weeks with breaking news bombs in ways that would be incomprehensible to basketball fans in the pre-LeBron era.

In the end, it’s the overwhelming breadth and relentlessness of James’ greatness that make him the most definitive player of the 2010s.

2. Stephen Curry


  • Golden State Warriors: 2009-19

Kevin Pelton: When the 2010s began, LeBron James was an easy choice as the decade’s best player. He had already led the Cleveland Cavaliers to the NBA Finals and won his first MVP before celebrating his 26th birthday. Stephen Curry’s future was far less clear. Back when the calendar turned from 2009 to 2010, Curry was a rookie who was averaging 11.8 points per game through the first two months of his NBA career while taking a back seat to backcourt-mate Monta Ellis.

Sure, Curry had already made a name for himself in college by leading Davidson to the 2008 Elite Eight. But skepticism persisted over whether a skinny, 6-foot-3 guard who relied on 3-pointers could become a star in the NBA even before recurring ankle injuries put Curry’s career in jeopardy early in the decade. After all, he was the seventh pick in the 2009 NBA draft, going behind two players — Jonny Flynn and Hasheem Thabeet — who have long since washed out of the league.

Fast-forward a decade, and the NBA has been remade in Curry’s image. Back in 2009, 3-point attempts seemed to have stalled out at about 22% of all NBA shots. Over the past five years, 3-pointers have increased at a faster rate than at any point aside from when the league briefly moved the line in to 22 feet, reaching more than 36% of shot attempts last season. And pace of play has skyrocketed from 94.1 possessions per 48 minutes in 2008-09 to 102.4 last season.

It’s not just that 3s are up. Specifically, Curry has helped popularize 3-pointers off the dribble (up almost 50% as a percentage of all shots between the first season for which camera-tracking data is available and 2018-19, per Second Spectrum data) and shots from beyond 30 feet (attempts from 30-40 feet are up nearly 250% between 2008-09 and 2018-19, according to

Most of that change has occurred over the five seasons since Curry went from budding star to two-time MVP, leading the Warriors to three championships in the process. Other teams have sought to imitate the style that made Golden State so great, which starts with Curry being a threat teams have to account for anywhere beyond midcourt.

Having joined the Bill Russell-era Boston Celtics as the second team to reach five consecutive NBA Finals, the Warriors are the team of the decade. And nobody has been more important to their success than Curry, who has played two different roles for Golden State.

At first, Curry was the focal point of a team that came out of nowhere to win the 2015 championship and an NBA-record 73 games the next season. He won back-to-back MVP awards, the latter as the first unanimous selection in league history and as one of just four players all decade — a group that doesn’t include LeBron, believe it or not — to average at least 30 points per game for a season.

After the Warriors lost to James’ Cavaliers in the 2016 NBA Finals, with the MCL sprain Curry suffered earlier in the playoffs helping limit his output, he changed his game to accommodate Kevin Durant’s arrival via free agency. It was Curry, not Durant, who was forced to adjust by playing less frequently with the ball in his hands and taking fewer shots. He sacrificed a chance at additional MVPs in the name of team success and was rewarded with two more championship rings.

Although we’ll look back on LeBron as the decade’s best player, Curry’s rise best symbolizes where the NBA appears headed as skill and speed gain favor over size and strength. While those trends had begun with rules changes in the previous decade, it took a player as singularly capable of exploiting them as Curry to open the league’s eyes to what now seems possible.

3. Kevin Durant


  • Oklahoma City Thunder: 2009-16
  • Golden State Warriors: 2016-19

Tim Bontemps: Kevin Durant would deserve this spot based on his incredible on-court production alone — one MVP, two Finals MVPs, four scoring championships. But by factoring in all the ramifications from his decision to leave the Oklahoma City Thunder and join the Golden State Warriors as a free agent in 2016, he becomes a lock as a defining player of the decade.

LeBron made a somewhat similar decision to join Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh with the Miami Heat in 2010. It was a pioneering move that changed NBA free agency and leaguewide player movement. Yet consider all the ways Durant’s choice to team up with Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green completely reshaped the NBA.

There isn’t a comparison in league history for a player of Durant’s caliber choosing to join a team that was already better than the rest of the competition. Durant, Curry, Thompson and Green combined to give the Warriors four of the top 20 players in the NBA — a quartet of stars that simply overwhelmed the opposition en route to a pair of titles even while rarely looking fully engaged. They confidently trailed at halftime of Games 6 and 7 of the 2018 Western Conference finals before dispatching the Houston Rockets. They felt inevitable until wear, tear and injuries caught up to them this past season.

Beyond the accomplishments in Golden State — and his many accolades in OKC at the beginning of the decade — consider the ripple effects from KD’s stunning move:

• The Thunder appeared set to battle the Warriors for West supremacy for the next several seasons after their epic 2016 playoff matchup. Instead, OKC has yet to win another postseason series. Now Russell Westbrook is in Houston and the team could be headed toward a full rebuild.

• In 2015, James and the Cavaliers gave the Warriors all they could handle after Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving suffered season-ending injuries. In 2016, Cleveland came back from down 3-1 in the Finals to win the city’s first championship in any sport in 50 years. Under normal circumstances, the Cavs might have earned another title (don’t forget how good that 2017 team looked rolling through the East). Instead, Durant’s arrival eliminated Cleveland’s chances. Within two years, Irving had demanded a trade and James had left for Los Angeles.

• In 2017, the league and the players’ association agreed to a new collective bargaining agreement that included the designated veteran extension, otherwise known as the supermax. It was supposed to help teams like OKC keep players like Durant. Instead, there has been a steady stream of players who — of their own volition (Paul George, Kawhi Leonard, Anthony Davis) or their team’s (Jimmy Butler, DeMarcus Cousins and Kemba Walker) — have gone elsewhere anyway.

• The LA Clippers shifted into asset-collection mode and away from their star-studded roster — beginning with the Chris Paul trade in the summer of 2017 — after seeing they had no chance of beating Golden State. If the Warriors don’t add Durant, maybe a version of that Clippers squad is still together.

• And now, after the Toronto Raptors’ championship and Durant’s departure for the Brooklyn Nets, the power dynamic in the league looks more balanced. Seeing their opportunity to strike after hoarding assets during Golden State’s reign, teams made huge, win-now moves during a seismic summer. The list of real contenders runs deeper than it has at any time since Durant left OKC.

No other single decision has had so many ripple effects on the rest of the NBA.

Kevin Durant Jersey

Chase Center

On Jan. 17, 2017, the Golden State Warriors held a rather elaborate ceremony at what was then just a big pile of dirt in San Francisco. The ownership group, which had invested approximately $1.5 billion to turn this pile of dirt into a game-changing stadium when Chase Center opens later this year, sat in the front row.

Head coach Steve Kerr and newly acquired superstar Kevin Durant were the headliners. They’d only known each other for a few months, but their timing was already on point.

“Night after night, the feel we get from the crowd — can you talk about what it feels like to be a Warrior?” Kerr asked Durant.

Everyone was all smiles for the groundbreaking ceremony for Chase Center in 2017, and while back-to-back titles justified that optimism, circumstances have cast a more serious light on the future.

“It’s different when you’re on the team and when you’re an opposing player. I can tell you that,” Durant said. “When you step out there and put on that jersey, just that support — no matter if we’re playing Cleveland or we’re playing the worst team in the league — they’re still going to support and be there to cheer for us. To go out there and play in front of them is amazing. It makes us want to play harder as well. We love the support and every time we go out there we try to play as hard as we can.”

Kerr paused, then asked, “How’s the coaching been so far this year?”

Without missing a beat, Durant said, “It’s been all right.”

“We’ll try to step it up a little bit,” Kerr deadpanned. “Maybe get you the ball more.”

Durant smiled as the crowd of San Francisco politicians, Warriors season-ticket holders and curious onlookers yucked it up.

“Yeah, please do,” Durant said.

Then the guests of honor put on hard hats, grabbed shovels and posed for photos.

It was a beautiful, uncomplicated January day. The Warriors’ future seemed so bright back then. And it was. Durant would go on to lead Golden State to back-to-back titles, and players would speak openly about taking less money to keep this group together once everyone hit free agency. The runway seemed clear for this group to win and keep winning once they moved from Oracle Arena in Oakland into this new state-of-the art building across San Francisco Bay.

But all of that breezy optimism has faded now that the team has arrived at its final game in Oakland on Thursday in Game 6 of the NBA Finals against the Toronto Raptors.

Durant has been lost for the remainder of the series — and probably most of next season — with a ruptured Achilles tendon. His impending free agency had been hanging over the franchise like soupy San Francisco fog all season. And this injury has essentially shut down the airport completely, as it’s impossible to pilot through this cloud cover of uncertainty.

Will Durant still decide to opt out of the final year of his contract and become a free agent? Several league sources told ESPN that they expect Durant to follow through and hit free agency, despite the long recovery time ahead of him. And if he does, will the Warriors follow through and offer him the five-year maximum contract extension worth $221 million? Will other teams offer their maximum four-year, $164 million contract? Several league sources told ESPN that they expect the Warriors and Durant’s other suitors to offer the maximum allowable contract, despite the serious injury.

Which means Durant’s free agency will have the same leaguewide impact it did when he chose the Warriors in 2016 and elevated a great team to a dynastic team.

The Warriors’ dynasty will either roll over into the new building, or its window could start closing, just as Oracle Arena’s doors are shutting for good on NBA games.

All season, there has been a nostalgia about the team packing up and moving from its East Bay home of the past 47 years. The franchise has honored great players from its past and each of its eras, including when the franchise didn’t win much of significance, but always had passionate, gritty fans who connected deeply with the team.

After the Warriors dropped Games 3 and 4 of the Finals at home to fall behind 3-1 last week, stunned fans lingered and took selfies with ushers and security guards as everyone tried to come to grips with the realization that this all might be over a lot sooner than anyone expected.

This golden era for the franchise, which began when Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson grew into the Splash Brothers eight years ago, might be dimming a lot sooner than anyone anticipated. The joyful team culture had been fading for some time now — a casualty of the inexorable media cycle, clashing of egos and generalized organizational fatigue.

The Warriors' connection with their fans has been forged in Oracle Arena and the surrounding communities.

But while things haven’t felt fresh or new in a while, Oakland had a way of keeping everyone grounded. The team still practices and has its offices at a Marriott hotel in the Oakland Convention Center. The elevator buttons leading to the facility have been out for years. Just last week, when Durant was coming in to get extra work against some of the team’s G Leaguers, you’d see some of those players lingering outside the hotel’s business center and restaurant on the second floor, mixing in with guests and convention-goers. Players and coaches often walk across the street to restaurants in the area like Café Gabriela or Ratto’s, eating lunch or taking coffee alongside fans and regular folks.

Next season, there will be no such mixing. Everything will be state of the art. Even the art out front of the arena will be world-class, something tourists will visit in the same breath as the Golden Gate Bridge.

The Warriors have taken great care to translate the elements of their old home to their new one, from the design of the stadium, which will have the same low roof and steep concrete stands that help Oracle Arena roar so loudly, to maintaining their presence in Oakland by keeping offices of the team’s foundation there.

But it won’t be the same. Because the whole point of moving was to evolve and grow. To do what Silicon Valley companies have always done: Start small in a funky garage, build a killer product and scale up to bigger offices.

The challenge is to hold on to the right things as you grow. To know what is essential, and what is simply nostalgia.