The recent retirements of Kobe Bryant and Tim Duncan has changed the landscape of the NBA. Both men have been fixtures in the league since the late 90s. They could be argued as the first two Superstars to emerge following the end of the Michael Jordan era. The most fascinating realization about their retirements are knowing Bryant and Duncan each played for just one franchise throughout their storied careers. Most star players choose to leave for a new team or get traded away from the organization that drafted them. It is extremely rare for big names to remain in just one uniform for an entire NBA career.
Dwyane Wade choosing to leave the Miami Heat and Derrick Rose being traded away from the Chicago Bulls shows just how easily things can change. Rose was the hometown hero leading the Bulls back into contention but suffered horrible injuries causing him to decline rapidly. Chicago sold him out and dealt him away. Wade chose to leave the Heat after getting disrespected in contract negotiations over the past few years. The current climate of the league dictates keeping a star will be tough but there are some cases where it can happen. We’ll look at those situations now with fifteen Superstars that will most likely remain with one NBA team for their entire career.
15 15. Dirk Nowitzki
The most obvious choice should always be the first one off the board and Dirk Nowitzki is clearly going to end his career with the Dallas Mavericks. Nowitzki was drafted by the Milwaukee Bucks in the 1998 NBA Draft on behalf of the Mavericks before the teams made the trade official. Dallas saw Dirk become the face of the franchise and put the team back on the basketball map. The relationship between the player, team and community led to tremendous results on all fronts.
14 14. Klay Thompson
The Golden State Warriors created a special environment long before the signing of Kevin Durant. Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson getting drafted by the Warriors gave the fan base a pair of exciting stars to lead the team into a surge of dominance. Thompson signed a massive contract the offseason before the Warriors won their first NBA Championship in the 2014-2015 season. The dynamic duo will have more importance to the fan base than Kevin Durant.
13 13. Marc Gasol
NBA pundits criticized the Memphis Grizzlies for their terrible trade sending Pau Gasol to the Los Angeles Lakers. It helped the Lakers win another two rings with Pau being the missing piece to assist Kobe Bryant back to the top of the NBA. Memphis received very little back, but a lesser known Gasol acquired in that deal saved their franchise, as Marc became the new star center of the team.
12 12. John Wall
The Washington Wizards struck gold when winning the 2010 NBA Draft Lottery. John Wall was clearly the top prospect in the draft and has proved it with a tremendous career so far in the NBA. The league is currently thriving with most teams having a star point guard and Wall deserves to be mentioned in the upper echelon at his position. Wall is the leader of the Wizards team and the responsibility all falls on his shoulders to carry them to success.
11 11. Karl-Anthony Towns
This may be going out on a limb considering he has only been in the NBA one season, but Karl-Anthony Towns appears to love his new home. The Minnesota Timberwolves are on the upswing following the drafting of Towns and the trade acquisition of Andrew Wiggins. They have two of the best prospects of the past few years along with other intriguing assets to make up an exciting roster. Minnesota is bound to become a contender in the West within the next five years if they keep going along with the current plan.
10 10. Tony Parker
The retirement of Tim Duncan has left Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili as the final members of the San Antonio Spurs legendary big three. Unlike Ginobili, Parker can still perform at a high level and is one of the better point guards in the league. The Spurs proved to be among the most intelligent organizations in sports by drafting Parker late in the 2001 NBA Draft out of France.
9 9. Paul George
Paul George has become the biggest Indiana Pacers Superstar since Reggie Miller. Indiana drafted George in the 2010 NBA Draft and no one expected him to blossom into what he currently is. George has to be considered in the top ten-to-fifteen players in the entire league. George's talents would have been better suited in a bigger market in the recent history of the NBA, but he’s getting by just fine right now.
8 8. Mike Conley
The record-breaking deal set by the Memphis Grizzlies and Mike Conley ensured he would remain with the franchise for the next five seasons. Conley has been known as the most underrated point guard in the NBA over the past few years. Those days are over with $153 million and the biggest contract in NBA history making Conley less under the radar. Memphis drafted him in 2007 and he has played a huge role in their success.
7 7. Anthony Davis
Anthony Davis has all of the skills to evolve into the best player in the NBA. The wear and tear has to catch up to LeBron James in the next few years and the next big star to pass him as the top star in the sport is undetermined. Davis shows potential to be one of the best offensive and defensive talents in the league. The New Orleans Pelicans gave him a massive $127 million contract over five seasons last summer to keep his rights for the foreseeable future.
6 6. Kristaps Porzingis
The New York Knicks have only seen one season from Kristaps Porzingis but he is already one of the most beloved stars in recent franchise history. Porzingis dominated the first half of his rookie year for the Knicks making fans view him as the next big star in New York. Carmelo Anthony is still the top dog for the Knicks but Porzingis has the fan support as a homegrown drafted prospect.
5 5. DeMar DeRozan
DeMar DeRozan was selected ninth overall in the 2009 NBA Draft by the Toronto Raptors and turned out to be one of the best picks in franchise history. The acquisition of Kyle Lowry pairing him with DeRozan has led to the team reaching their peak success. Toronto reached the Eastern Conference Finals and fell just two games short of reaching the NBA Finals. DeRozan re-signed with the Raptors for five more seasons as a free agent this summer to continue playing a big leading role in their future.
4 4. Kawhi Leonard
The San Antonio Spurs know how to find stars and treat them well. They lucked out once again by acquiring Kawhi Leonard during the 2011 NBA Draft in a trade with the Indiana Pacers for George Hill. Leonard instantly matured into the top defender in the NBA and won the 2014 NBA Finals MVP by shutting down LeBron James and the Miami Heat. The progression saw him evolve into an elite two-way player and one of the best talents going today.
3 3. Kyrie Irving
The luck of the Cleveland Cavaliers has completely turned around leading to their first NBA Championship this season. LeBron James was the obvious MVP of the team but Kyrie Irving’s play was equally important in the three consecutive wins to pull off the miracle. Irving was selected first overall in 2011 for Cleveland one year after James initially left the team. LeBron would have never returned if the team didn’t have Kyrie.
2 2. Damian Lillard
Damian Lillard fell to the sixth overall pick in the 2012 NBA Draft and the Portland Trail Blazers lucked into securing him. The relationship has been perfect for both sides. Lillard has become one of the top point guards in the NBA and Portland has their new star of the future. The Trail Blazers allowed their core of LaMarcus Aldridge, Nicolas Batum, Wesley Matthews and Robin Lopez to walk away last summer, but signed Lillard to a long term deal.
1 1. Stephen Curry
The NBA landscape changed when Stephen Curry started to ascend in Golden State. No one provides the excitement during any given game that Curry does with his unparalleled three-point shooting. The two-time MVP has put the Warriors in the forefront of the NBA as the hottest sports franchise right now. Kevin Durant would have never signed with Golden State unless Curry was there as the true leader of the team.
Curry’s value to the Warriors is only second to LeBron James in the NBA. The combination of exciting play, outstanding results and youth makes Curry the most valuable asset in the NBA today. Golden State fans have loved him since the injury-riddled days and will continue to show loyalty to their Superstar. Curry will always have a fat contract with the Warriors to continue what he has started and will be thanked very well for it. Don’t expect anyone to ever have a shot at signing Curry as long as Golden State is around.
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