Some of the most talented fellas in the NBA don't have anything but individual accolades to hang their hat on. However, on this list, we'll outline the guys who have contributed to victories and championships, while demonstrating not only their incredible skills, but their inner heart and determination. These guys are winners through and through and have all proven that they care about winning above all else. You'll notice that stars such as James Harden and Melo are not on the list, and believe me it's not cause they're not bonafide ballers. The players honored here are still producing in today's game and are no strangers to early summer parades. Notable absences include the whole Oklahoma City Thunder and Los Angeles Clippers rosters, because of the aforementioned criteria.
There's a timeless question that goes like this, "What do winners do?" The answer has been and always will be: win. These fifteen guys sure know the answer and are aware of the components to be a star on a winning NBA team. The recipe for an NBA championship truly isn't a secret, but some of the more pedestrian players and sub-par organizations clearly are not on the same level as those who have put in the work on and off the court as well as both sides of the ball. Additionally, each of the fifteen players have provided the proverbial jaw dropping moments on the biggest of stages that make the whole bar "look back at it." They're adored by hometown fans and have cemented their mark in basketball history.
15 Manu Ginobili
" I hit that left Ginobili with my left hand up like wooh." Rap's current number one, Drake, failed to mention that this middle aged frail Argentine also brought the Euro-step to the NBA. The dude is fierce and has been a crucial part of the San Antonio Spurs dominance since the turn of the millennium. Off the bench, he still provides intensity and loves taking the big shot. While the Spurs embark on their best seasonal record entering the beginning of March, he will be returning for the late season championship push after testicle surgery. Ironic, because with the shots he's made in his career - we know they're there.
14 Trevor Ariza
Last year, the Houston Rocket's gave G-State the best run for their money in the playoffs. Stars like Howard and Harden have a reputation of not getting it done when it matters most. On the other hand, role player Trevor Ariza is not to blame. Dude plays defense against some of the premier players in the league. The lanky, one-time raw Knicks draft pick turned into a complete player that aided Kobe and Pau win back when he was with the Lakers. Ariza continues to be a menace to other teams offenses while dropping in buckets of his own.
13 Andre Iguodala
Iggy went up against LeBron last June and became the NBA finals MVP. More recently, he hit the two free throws to send the Warriors into overtime in OKC, (free throws aren't his strong point) before Stephen Curry hit the shot of the season thus far. Iguodala is another swingman that is all about the team. He accepted his role off the bench last season and his unselfish attitude and team first mentality paid off in a big way. No one is expecting him to win another finals MVP this year, but then again someone has to cover LeBron.
12 Kobe Bryant
The reason why Kobe is in the double digits of such an elitist category is because he is not currently The Mamba he once was. He certainly shows glimpses of his old self, but his shooting woes combined with his uncharacteristically light-heartedness that has come with such a miserable Lakers season, one that will be remembered as the farewell tour, isn't so spectacular. Some nights he does turn it on to give the crowd flashback memories of that dude that used to terrorize people next to Shaq. Kobe's listed here because he is a champ and has a fistful of rings to back it up.
11 Tony Parker
Coach Pop loves Tony Parker. The Frenchman continues to run the show in San Antonio although he is often overlooked when ranking Western Conference guards. He's certainly the quickest player at his age in the Association and can still get into the paint with ease. Undoubtedly, Parker may need to take a game off from time to time, but is completely qualified to take on anyone on the hardwood. He's got four rings and his dogs right by his side.
10 Tim Duncan
Yep, Timmy D still doing it. The Big Fundamental is less flashy than ever. The guy plays limited minutes, limited games, and still has incredible numbers. He's still a threat for a double double every time he plays, assuming the game is somewhat meaningful. The Spurs are so good and his silent leadership, in addition to his on court capabilities, make them the second best team in the NBA. Duncan is a five-time champion, two-time MVP, and three-time Finals MVP. For those less informed, the big fella is still awesome.
9 Dwyane Wade
Dwyane Wade is pulling all the old tricks out of the bag this year. He's playing great ball and continuing his legacy in Vice City. LBJ came and went and the Heat show continues. His health and explosiveness has allowed Miami to beat down on the struggling Eastern Conference. Flash, although a decade removed from being the Finals MVP, still has his some bounce and creativity. You can't knock D-Wade, the man is responsible for every championship the organization has ever won.
8 Dirk Nowitzki
If you're at the park one afternoon and tell your friends about the vintage Dirk J that you hit the preceding week, they know exactly what you are talkin' about. You slowly turned and faded away off one foot and chucked up something of a high school coach's nightmare. The difference is your not a 7 foot surefire Hall of Famer that interrupted what would have been a Miami Heat three-peat a few years back. He is slower than ever and doesn't play championship caliber defense anymore, but the guy still has the offensive game that isn't really comparable to any other player to lace 'em up.
7 Klay Thompson
This Splash Bro is without question the second best shooter in the world. He's the only man on the planet that can beat his backcourt companion in a three point shootout. His perimeter defense -excellent. His ability to score a dump load of points in a small window is as good as it gets. At a time where all roads lead to the Bay Area in the NBA, you gotta give credit to Klay Thompson for his integral part on what may end up being the best team of all time.
6 Chris Bosh
Alongside Wade, Chris Bosh wasn't playing too shabby this season either. The reason why he's got such a nice position among this star studded list is because of how well he played before being sidelined with some pretty serious health concerns. The Heat need Bosh in order to make a run. A generous spot for sure, but the Heat needed him for those 'ships a few years back, and they sure as hell need him come springtime. Bosh is an awesome player with a unique skill set. In an homage to Dick Vitale, Bosh is a PTP - a prime-time-player. He was responsible for the rebound and assist out to Ray Allen in game 6. That night many lousy Heat fans were locked out of the Arena, Bosh carved himself a spot in clutch history. Hopefully he gets better soon and can continue to help lead the Heat.
5 Pau Gasol
On any given night, you could probably expect Pau to have a double-double with a bunch of blocks. The current Chicago Bulls lack of identity is not because of Mr. Reliable in the front court. He was Kobe's dude when they won back to back titles and the NBA community knows that you gotta be a winner to be homies with Two-Four. Unlike other positions in sports, big men oftentimes get better with age, making Gasol that uncorked bourbon an NBA enthusiast can appreciate. Furthermore, Spain is a country with some tremendous ballers, but not even his talented brother has had the outstanding basketball career Pau has had. Keep on keepin' on Pau.
4 Draymond Green
The heartbeat of the best team in the NBA and the league leader in triple-doubles, a stat synonymous with domination. Both of which are things that can be said about only one man: Draymond Green. The undersized power-forward has the Ray Lewis type passion for the game. You can see it so clearly and it makes him a joy to watch. The guy is vocal without being too obnoxious (except for last June when he was drunk as a frat boy behind shades saying "they suck" referring to the Cavs, but he was on some winner juice). Not only does he have "it" on the court with his tremendous play, but he has it off the court. He passed up on a max deal contract to keep this historic franchise together. With the luxury of being next to the greatest shooters basketball has ever seen, he's an incredible player.
3 Kawhi Leonard
Defense wins championships. Interestingly enough, Kawhi Leonard is the reigning Defensive Player of the Year and also the youngest player to ever win Finals MVP. He's the best player on the San Antonio Spurs, a team that has three other players on this list. A young, humble champion that does right by his team and gives a good name to professional athletes. His offensive game is polished and his defense is unparalleled. Although the Spurs haven't lost at home and have a remarkable record, their core is aging. Kawhi is the future. He will be the liaison to quite possibly another two decades of winning ball in South Texas.
2 LeBron James
King James is one of the best players of all time and has certainly been the best since his introduction to the league. His team is always the one seed regardless of who is by his side. Call up the best baller in your phonebook and put him in LBJ's back court, rest assured they're going to the finals and LeBron's bringing up the rock as a point-forward in crunch time. His finals record isn't so outstanding, but he does bring his team to the finals every single year. An ESPY isn't the most glorified award, nevertheless he did receive best finals performance in a losing effort last year. Maybe this year someone else on the Cavaliers can pull their weight as the Ohio native tries to "get one for the 'Land."
1 Stephen Curry
All of the decorative, illustrious words used to describe Steph Curry over the past few weeks are absolutely on point. At the expense of beating the dead horse, Curry is a transcendent player that has now patented the 3-point layup. Outside of being the best baller in the world and best shooter to ever live, he is a down to earth likable guy. Chef Curry is so outstanding it's funny to see how people are questioning the rules regarding the three point shot. In the rare event the fitting colloquially named "dubs" are trailing in a game, there is absolutely no safe lead, because the baby-faced assassin is not only coming for you, but looking passed you. This man, unfazed by the media or MJ's Bulls comparisons, is focused on one thing; winning.
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