If you’re anything like me, you grew up on the NBA in the 2000s and idolized the stars of that generation. The 2000’s saw the tail-end of the Michael Jordan era and the beginning of Kobe Bryant and LeBron James’ dominance. Shaquille O’Neal was shattering backboards and winning championships with multiple teams and Steve Nash was leading the run n’ gun Phoenix Suns, while also remarkably winning back-to-back NBA MVP awards. The Lakers became a dynasty, winning the championship in 2000, 2001, and 2002. The Pistons shocked the NBA with their well-balanced team play, and the Celtics created the first true “Big 3” when Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett joined forces with Paul Pierce. The decade was one of the most fun and exciting eras for the NBA and the stars of the decade were a true joy to watch.
There were many stars that graced the NBA courts in the 2000s but not all were as memorable as others. This list takes a look at 15 NBA stars that you may have forgotten about from the 2000s and provides a brief reminder of what made them so special during their time on the court. It then provides an update on what these former players are up to these days. Some are business moguls, while others are now bankrupt. It’s very interesting to see the directions that each player went after their limelight faded, although some clearly have faced adversity and harsh financial realities. Now, take a short trip down memory lane with these 15 forgotten NBA stars and find out where they are nowadays. Happy 2017 everyone!
15. Gilbert Arenas
Gilbert Arenas was one of the marquee players in the NBA from 2002 to 2007. Also known as “Agent Zero,” Arenas was a sharp-shooting guard known for his bravado and willingness to hit the big shots at the end of games, going as far as actually celebrating his game winning shot while it was still in the air. He knew he was good. With his offensive prowess, Arenas could take over a game at any time and often did. As his off the court antics began to rise (including the time he brought a gun into the Wizards locker room), his play began to diminish. He eventually ended his career in 2012 after several uninspiring seasons.
Nowadays, Arenas remains in the headlines but not for the best reasons. Social media has been a conduit for many of Arenas’ latest antics. He snapchatted himself breaking into to the home of Los Angeles Lakers guard Nick Young and making crude comments about Young’s tumultuous relationship with rapper Iggy Azalea. Arenas then posted an Instagram video of two women playing basketball and commented that nobody wants to watch the WNBA because the girls are unattractive and are just “acting like men.” What really shows just how many poor decisions Arenas has made over the years is the fact that in October of 2016, he stated that he would soon be poor and have to live in an apartment once his guaranteed $111 million contract finally ran out. (Update: Arenas sold his nearly $4 million home on December 27, 2016.)
14. Alonzo Mourning
By the turn of the millennium, Alonzo Mourning was already an established superstar in the NBA. Mourning was the #2 overall pick in the 1992 draft by the Charlotte Hornets, but gained his fame and notoriety with his stellar play with the Miami Heat, who he played for in 11 of his 16 seasons. Although his best statistical seasons occurred during the 1990s, Mourning won his first, and only, NBA Championship with the Heat in 2006. This was quite the milestone for Mourning, as he had suffered a kidney disease that required a transplant in 2003. Mourning was an all-around great guy in the NBA and one of the best rim-protectors of his era.
After retiring in 2009, Mourning re-joined the Miami Heat as a member of their front-office staff, assuming the role of Vice-President of Player Programs and Development. Mourning still retains this position and is tasked with the responsibility of ensuring the personal and professional development of the Heat players. In this role, Mourning often pulls from experiences he gained during his long NBA tenure to help mentor younger players. Mourning is also a respected member of the South Florida community and takes part in numerous charitable organizations including his own, “The Mourning Family Foundation.”
13. Yao Ming
Standing at 7’5″ tall, Yao Ming possessed an incredible skill set for a man his size. His footwork, passing ability, and soft shooting touch made him the most unique big man the NBA has ever seen. Ming also established himself as the bridge between the NBA and China, as Ming drew the interest of the entire country to Houston. This was evident when Ming was the leading vote receiver for the 2005 and 2006 All-Star games, despite battling injuries in both seasons. When healthy, Ming was truly dominant and beautiful to watch. Unfortunately, he was unable to overcome several foot injuries and eventually retired in 2011.
During his playing days, Ming was one of the most influential players in the league given his international fame and inviting personality. Nowadays, Ming continues to use his fame for good, as he leads his preservation campaigns for several endangered species, including sharks (shark fin soup is a popular delicacy in Asia). Ming also remains the owner/president of the Shanghai Sharks of the Chinese Basketball Association, who currently has Jimmer Fredette as their star player. Lastly, Ming also has his own winery called, “Yao Family Wines” located in Napa Valley. Ming is clearly doing alright for himself in his post playing career.
12. Mike Bibby
Mike Bibby stormed onto the NBA radar while still in college when he led the Arizona Wildcats to their first NCAA National Championship in 1997 as a freshman. Shortly thereafter, Bibby was selected #2 overall in the 1998 NBA draft by the Vancouver Grizzlies. Bibby was solid his first couple of NBA seasons but really made a name for himself when he joined forces with Chris Webber in Sacramento and led the Kings to numerous playoff appearances. He retired after 14 NBA seasons.
Since retiring, Bibby has continued to hang around gymnasiums on a daily basis, but now as a coach instead of player. In 2013, Bibby returned to Arizona to be an assistant coach at Shadow Mountain High School, his alma mater. His son, Mike Bibby Jr. was the star player for Shadow Mountain when Bibby took the position. Bibby clearly has coaching skills because in his first three years as a coach, he helped the school win two state championships. Bibby is now the head coach at Shadow Mountain and his son recently accepted a scholarship to play basketball at University of South Florida.
11. Ben Wallace
One of the most formidable players to ever play in the league, Ben Wallace quickly grew a reputation for his hard-nosed defense after joining the Detroit Pistons as a piece of the memorable Grant Hill to Orlando trade. Despite being undersized at the center position, Wallace was able to use his trademark muscles and athleticism to box out opponents, as well as protect the rim. Wallace averaged an incredible 15.4 rebounds per game in 2002-03 and was an integral part of the Pistons championship team in 2003-04. The Pistons later retired the number three in honor of Wallace.
Wallace has a relatively quiet retirement aside from the legal trouble he found himself in after he fled the scene of an accident in Richmond, Virginia in 2014. Wallace pled guilty to the charges and was sentenced to a year in jail, but ultimately only served two days after the judge lessened the sentence. On a happier note, Big Ben now finds himself on the short list of NBA hall-of-fame nominees. If voted in, it will be solely based on his defensive prowess but will still be well deserved.
10. Steve Francis
Steve Francis (aka “Stevie Franchise”) was one of the most dominant back court players in the 2000s. While with the Houston Rockets, Francis averaged over 20 ppg, 6 apg, and 6.5 rpg. Those are startling numbers from a point guard not named Russell Westbrook. Francis somehow only made it to the postseason once in his entire career and that was partly facilitated by another member of this list, his teammate Yao Ming. Unfortunately for Stevie Franchise, injuries have cut his career short and he retired from the NBA in 2008.
After his playing days ended, Francis has continued to dabble in many different sectors including: owning a construction company; starting his own clothing line; creating the “Mazerati Music” record label; investing in a catering service; and opening his own barbershop. Only time will tell if Francis’ investments will pay off, but it’s clear that father time has not been kind to Francis as he has been subject to internet ridicule for being nearly unrecognizable in his post-playing physique. Maybe Stevie Franchise should invest in a gym franchise next! But seriously, this is one of the best players that future generations will never know.
9. Jason Williams
Who has the most exciting and fun to watch NBA highlight mixtape ever? Michael Jordan?Kobe Bryant? LeBron James? Nope, the answer to that is Jason Williams. If you don’t believe it, do yourself a favor and Youtube Jason Williams highlights. One of the biggest scenes in basketball in the 2000s was the emergence of the And One Mixtape Tour. Jason Williams (aka “White Chocolate”) brought the street ball style of play to the NBA with his flashy dribbling/passing and mildly arrogant attitude. He had his best seasons while with the Sacramento Kings and was truly one of the most fun players in NBA history.
Nowadays, White Chocolate apparently still makes time in his daily routine to embarrass players on the basketball court except for now he does it in men’s recreational leagues instead of in sold out arenas. Williams’ love for the game was always apparent and it’s clear that his flashy skills are still intact. In fact, a recent video emerged of Williams performing many of his trademark moves during a pro-am game in Orlando. Williams also has a son who is already being dubbed “White Chocolate Jr.” because of his canny resemblance and style on the court.
8. Stephon Marbury
Another player who brought street ball swagger to the NBA in the 2000s was Stephon Marbury (aka “Starbury”). Marbury was a highly touted prospect in the draft after coming out of Georgia Tech and was selected #4 overall by the Minnesota Timberwolves. His brash style of play and physicality at the point guard position earned him multiple All-Star selections while playing for the Phoenix Suns. Although a prolific scorer and passer in the NBA, Marbury seemed to always clash with coaches and front-office and found himself out of the NBA and suffering from severe depression in 2009.
When the NBA seemingly turned its back on Marbury and refused to give him another chance, the aging veteran decided to take his talents to China and join the CBA. The move overseas was viewed as desperate at the time, but Marbury has since become the most recognized American player to ever compete internationally. In his six seasons in the CBA, Marbury has won three championships as well as winning over the heart of many young Chinese basketball fans. Marbury is so adored in China now, that the country officially awarded him full-time resident status in 2016. Now at age 39, Marbury continues to play the game he loves and has re-found his happiness. Keep doing your thing Starbury!
7. Antoine Walker
Antoine Walker is not a name that comes to mind for many people when thinking of NBA stars from the 2000s, but he should be. Walker was once a major force for the Boston Celtics and was one of the most pure scorers in the game. His game was often so smooth that it appeared to fans that he was an extremely lazy player on the court. Walker wasn’t lazy, he was simply that talented. Walker’s career tailed off towards the middle of the decade, but he did win a championship as a role player for Miami in 2006.
Although Walker experienced a ton of success on the court during his career, he has faced significant adversity since his retirement. Despite earning over $108 million throughout his career, Walker filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in 2010. After selling off many of his assets, including his championship ring, Walker announced he was debt-free in 2013. Now debt-free, Walker earns a living as a commentator for the SEC Network. In an effort to keep others from suffering his same fate, Walker also now partners with Morgan Stanley to help teach financial literacy lessons to NBA rookies. Way to turn a negative into a positive Mr. Walker!
6. Peja Stojakovic
This sharp shooting European took the NBA by storm during his breakout 2000-2001 season in which he averaged 20.4 ppg and shot an astounding 40% from three-point range. It’s not surprising that Peja went on to make three All-Star teams from 2002 to 2004 and win the three point shootout two straight seasons. Peja was a valuable piece to a stacked Sacramento lineup in the early 2000s and although they never experienced playoff success, they were sure fun to watch (and their fans always needed more cowbell!).
Nowadays, Peja is back with the Kings as a member of their front office. In 2015, he was selected to be the Director of Player Personnel and Development for the Kings. He was also given the responsibility to be the general manager for the Reno Bighorns, who are the Kings D-league affiliate. Peja fits the role well as it allows him to use his international connections to better evaluate European prospects. It also signals a clear desire of the Kings to find roles for their storied players, as Vlade Divac is currently the Kings’ general manager.
5. Wally Szczerbiak
Another European sharpshooter, Wally Szczerbiak, is an often forgotten star from the 2000s because his career ended prematurely by injuries. But in the early part of the decade, Szczerbiak was a real talent for the Minnesota Timberwolves and was named an all-star in 2002. In that season, Szczerbiak shot a phenomenal 46% from three-point range. Wally shot over 40% from three-point land for his entire career and was one of the better on-ball defenders in the league at that time. As mentioned, he suffered several injuries during his career that hampered his enormous skill level.
After retiring, Szczerbiak has put his Hollywood good looks to use by becoming a broadcaster. He is currently a broadcaster for the Knicks on their hometown Madison Square Garden (MSG) Network, as well a college basketball analyst for CBS Sports. His work on the weekly roundtable style college basketball show titled “Inside College Basketball” is actually very strong and he provides significant input that only a former player can. Look for Wally to get more and more opportunities in front of the camera going forward.
4. Marcus Camby
Marcus Camby was a stud. Not only could Camby score with relative ease, he was a beast at protecting the rim. This was evident given that he led the league in blocks per game four different seasons. Camby was practically a walking double-double, as he averaged 9.5 ppg and 9.8 rpg for his career. He managed to use his size and skill set to stay in the NBA for a whopping 19 seasons, officially retiring in 2013. Despite his statistics, Camby is an oft-overlooked star from the 2000s.
Nowadays, Camby appears to be venturing into several different businesses including a Houston based barbershop aptly named “Marcus Camby 23 Barbershop.” He is also a father and gets to spend more time with his family now in his retirement, but the basketball itch is still there. In a recent interview, Camby stated that he would like to get into coaching eventually and start grooming young players for the NBA.
3. Michael Finley
A quiet superstar, Michael Finley was as consistent as they come in the NBA. Almost as a predecessor to the Joe Johnson style of game, Michael Finley used his scoring ability to average over 15 ppg for his career, topping out at a high of 23 ppg in 2000. Finley played the majority of his career for the Dallas Mavericks but ended up going to the in-state rival San Antonio Spurs, where he ultimately won his first and only NBA championship in 2006. Finley ended his strong career with one season with the Boston Celtics before retiring in 2010.
Finley’s post-retirement career has been a very successful one thus far. In 2015, Finely was hired as the Mavericks Assistant Vice President of Basketball Operations, with the hopes that the franchise can groom him into the future director of basketball operations for the team. Interestingly, Finley also has a passion for film and started his own film production company called “Follow Through Productions.” Already, Finley has produced several successful movies including “The Butler” and more recently “The Birth of a Nation.” It’s clear that Finley has two passions: (1) basketball and (2) film. He’s the definition of a focused, driven individual.
2. Jermaine O’Neal
Jermaine O’Neal was a six time NBA All-Star and was absolutely dominant during his time with the Indiana Pacers. From 2002 to 2007, O’Neal averaged over 20 ppg and 10 rpg, and emerged as Indiana’s face of the franchise once Reggie Miller retired. He began to suffer from injuries which clearly affected his play and limited any opportunities he had to assert his previous dominance, although he had a nice late career revival with the Phoenix Suns and Golden State Warriors. O’Neal is often remembered for his role in the “Malice at the Palace” in which he and several other Indiana players fought several Detroit Pistons fans.
Although O’Neal stated in February of 2016 that he was not officially retired from the NBA, it is safe to assume that his playing career is now finished. Since he’s backed away from the game, O’Neal has started a company titled, “Drive Nation” that specializes in affordable athletic apparel and equipment. Through Drive Nation, O’Neal organized the opening of a massive sports complex in Keller, Texas, designed to help young athletes make the jump to the collegiate sports. Recently it was reported that Jermaine O’Neal would be one of several former stars (including aforementioned Jason Williams) that will compete in a new 3-on-3 league started by rapper Ice Cube.
1. Damon Stoudamire
After being named the NBA Rookie of the Year in 1996, Damon Stoudamire went on to have a successful 13 year career. Stoudamire was never one to wow you with his statistics, but he was consistent night in and night out and played with a sense of toughness that is hardly seen in today’s NBA. Stoudamire certainly had his fair share of the court issues, mainly involving marijuana usage, that derailed his career several times. After all, he may best be remembered for being a member of the infamous “Portland JailBlazers,” than for his sweet shooting stroke. But if not for the drug issues, Stoudamire could have been one of the best point guards of his era.
Stoudamire is still invested in the game of basketball and has been a coach ever since hanging up his sneakers in 2008. His first job was a director of player development for Rice University before jumping back to the NBA as a member of the Memphis Grizzlies coaching staff. Stoudamire then bounced back and forth between coaching and recruiting positions with the University of Memphis and University of Arizona. Now in 2017, Stoudamire will get his first opportunity to show of his coaching skills as the head coach for the University of Pacific men’s basketball team. Hopefully he stresses the ideals of integrity off the court to his players so they avoid making the same mistakes he did. Good luck Coach!
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