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NBA: Kobe, Shaq together again on NBA All-Decade Team

Published: Sunday, Dec. 20 2009 12:00 a.m. MST

It doesn't seem that long ago that many were stocking up on survival items, scared the world was going to be forever changed at midnight on Jan. 1, 2000.

The Y2K bug came and went without much consequence — 10 years ago.

Now there are less than two weeks left in the decade that gave us 9/11, the Salt Lake City Olympics, a couple of lengthy wars, our first black President, economic booms followed by financial woes not seen in decades, and Lady Gaga.

There has been some good NBA basketball played in the aughts, the zeros, the ohs — or whatever we end up calling this decade — too.

Perhaps the overriding theme in basketball the past 10 years has been the rise of the sport internationally. Professional leagues dot the globe, but the very best players still want to make it in the United States. As such, foreign born players are making more of an impact in the NBA than ever before.

In fact, three No. 1 overall picks this decade hail from outside the U.S. — China's Yao Ming (2002), Australia's Andrew Bogut (2005) and Italy's Andrea Bargnani (2006).

What's more, four of the 10 players on my All-Decade Team weren't born or raised in the continental United States — although Tim Duncan is an American citizen being from the U.S. Virgin Islands.

For what it's worth, here are my All-Decade selections and why:

FIRST TEAM

F — Tim Duncan

Duncan was a star before the decade even began, having led the San Antonio Spurs to the 1999 NBA title. But the 6-11 forward, who may be the most fundamentally sound player in the league, helped San Antonio repeat the feat three more times — in 2003, 2005 and 2007. He's been the NBA Finals MVP three times and was twice the league's MVP, in both 2002 and 2003. Duncan is a scorer, to be sure, but he can also defend and has been voted to the NBA's first or second All-Defensive Team every single year this decade.

F — Kevin Garnett

Garnett toiled for more than a decade with the Minnesota Timberwolves, actually leading them to the 2004 Western Conference Finals — which was the year he won his lone league MVP award. It wasn't until he was traded to the Boston Celtics prior to the 2007-08 season that he had enough talent around him to win an NBA title. But even if Garnett had never gotten that team title, the 6-11 forward would have been considered one of the decade's best. Eight times this decade, he's been named All-Defensive First Team and seven times he's been All-NBA first or second team. He was also the MVP of the All-Star Game in 2003.

C — Shaquille O'Neal

Shaq, quite simply, was the most physically-dominating player of the era. While his skills have diminished somewhat in recent years, it wasn't that long ago that the 7-1, 325-pounder was averaging 27 points and 11 rebounds per game. O'Neal won his only league MVP in the decade's first year, but he was the NBA Finals MVP three times. His Lakers teams won three NBA titles and then he picked up another one with the Miami Heat in 2006.

G — Kobe Bryant

Shaq's former teammate with the Lakers finally proved he could win the NBA title without him last season. Bryant — at once one of the NBA's most and least popular players — finally earned the MVP Award in 2008 after winning the league's scoring title in both 2006 and 2007. He also was the MVP in three All-Star games this decade and the MVP of last June's NBA Finals. Not just a scorer, Bryant has been first or second team All-Defensive all but one year this decade.

G — Steve Nash

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