Every February, the NBA holds its annual All-Star Game. The game is an exhibition that showcases the best of the best that the NBA has to offer. Usually there are about 15 shoe-in players that make the All-Star team seemingly every year — athletes like LeBron James and Kobe Bryant. Also, there are players who put together one single incredible season, and live out the dream of making the All-Star Game. The 2000s were full of great players, but if you ask some of the old heads, the basketball junkies, they would tell you that the game, as a whole, had been in a slump since the late 1990s. With the skill level being lower than it had been during the ’80s and ’90s, there have been some interesting inclusions in All-Star rosters.
With fall arriving and the winter on its way, it is time to get back in the basketball spirit. What better way to get back into basketball spirit than to bring back memories of the old days. Ready to take a trip down memory lane?
Without further ado lets get into the 15 All-Stars from the 2000s that most likely everyone has already forgotten. In an era with Shaq, Kobe and LeBron, it’s no surprise these guys are afterthoughts.
15. Mehmet Okur
Okur, the 6’11” Turkish big man carved out a solid nine-year career in the NBA. He was known as a big strong interior post player who also possessed the ability to hit a 15 footer. He was a solid player for both the Pistons and the Utah Jazz, spending seven years in Utah. Okur experienced success early in his career. In 2004, he was a reserve for the great Detroit Pistons team. Okur played the role of quality back-up to Defensive Player of the Year, Ben Wallace. After winning the title with the Pistons, Mehmet cashed in on his chance at a big contract. During the 2004 offseason, Okur signed a $50 million contract with the Jazz.
Most people around the league thought the Jazz had slightly overpaid the young big man, but he had the potential to be a star and he was already a champion so the market was high, and Okur struck. During his seven years with the Jazz, Okur was solid, averaging in the high teens in points and just under eight rebounds per game. In 2005, he had his best season, averaging 18 points and 9.1 rebounds, but it was in 2007 when Okur was rewarded with an All-Star appearance. Okur retired in 2012 and is now an assistant coach with the Phoenix Suns.
14. Theo Ratliff
Born Theophalus Curtis Ratliff, Theo was an incredible defensive force during his 16 years in the NBA. Ratliff was a two-time All-NBA Defensive Second Team selection, as well as an NBA All-Star in 2001. At 6’10”, and 235 pounds, Ratliff was incredibly athletic and had an incredible ability to block shots. He even led the league in blocked shots on three occasions. During the 2001 season, Ratliff was part of the Philadelphia 76ers team that made a run all the way to the NBA Finals, eventually losing to the Shaq and Kobe-led Los Angeles Lakers. Theo led the NBA in blocked shots that season, and with him holding down the paint, and Allen Iverson carrying the load offensively, the Sixers were a very formidable NBA team.
Although Ratliff had incredible blocking and rebounding skills, he was the textbook journeyman during his career. Ratliff spent time with nine different franchises, including two separate stints with the Detroit Pistons, and the Philadelphia 76ers.
13. Jrue Holiday
At only 26 years old, it feels like Holiday has been in the NBA forever. Jrue’s career began in 2009 when he was drafted by the Philadelphia 76ers out of UCLA. In 2013, Holiday appeared to find his game, recording two triple-doubles before the All-Star break and setting career highs in most meaningful statistical categories. Holiday was selected to the 2013 All-Star game as a reserve, and during that season, he averaged career highs in points, rebounds, and assists. The year 2013 also saw a change in scenery for Holiday as he was traded to New Orleans. Since the trade, Holiday has had a incredibly hard time staying healthy, and staying on the court.
He is still with New Orleans, but he has yet to play a full season with the franchise. In 2013, the sky appeared to be the limit for this young star, but now we just hope he gets his health in check and that he is able to play a complete season again.
12. Chris Kaman
Kaman came into the NBA with high expectations after being the MAC Player of the Year and MAC Tournament MVP. In the exceptional 2003 draft, the Clippers selected Kaman with the sixth overall selection and things were looking up for the downtrodden Clipper organization. However, it would be another decade before the Clips would see true successes. Kaman’s career started very slowly, and many thought he was a complete bust after a few seasons. However, in 2010, Kaman was able to finally start putting things together, and he made his first and only All-Star game. During his All-Star season, Kaman averaged 18.5 points per game to go along with his nine rebounds.
With the league on notice, and Kaman playing at an All-Star level, the Clippers decided to package him in a deal that landed the Clippers Chris Paul. Kaman would go on to have some decent success with the Hornets, but has not been able to stick with any franchise. Since leaving the Clippers, Kaman has played for four different teams.
11. Devin Harris
In 2004, the Dallas Mavericks selected Devin Harris, coming off of his consensus All-American season at Wisconsin, where he was also the Big Ten Player of the Year. The expectations were high for Harris when he arrived in Dallas, and he was able to help as a young player on an already good team. After five years with the Mavericks, Harris was traded to the New Jersey Nets as part of the blockbuster Jason Kidd trade. Harris would become one of the Nets most consistent players during his three years there, including multiple games of 35+ points. In 2009, he had the best season of his career, averaging 21 points, seven assists and almost two steals per game. Harris has always been the type of player that championship teams need.
He did the little things that help a ball club win close games, as well as having the ability to go off for 30 on any given night. Harris is currently back with the Dallas Mavericks recovering from a toe injury that forced him to miss the final 15 games of last season.
10. Caron Butler
Caron Butler has been an incredibly underrated player during his 14 year career. He has led several teams to playoff runs, and been a part of some great teams. Two times Butler has averaged over 20 points per game in a season and a third time he averaged 19.1. In 2007, and 2008, Butler was an All-Star, and in 2011, Butler was part of the Dallas Mavericks squad that won the NBA Championship. Caron has gotten a bad rap during his career, often being lumped in with some not so quality individuals. As a stereotypical journeyman, Butler has played for nine NBA teams in his career, somehow never latching on in any situation, despite being incredibly talented and dedicated to his craft. Butler spent last season lost in Sacramento with the dumpster fire that is the Kings organization.
For his sake, I hope Butler retires, and finds himself a nice life after basketball, since the NBA has been so hard on him. He deserves better than what he has gotten from teams around the league.
9. Wally Szczerbiak
In 1999, the Minnesota Timberwolves used the sixth pick in the draft of a scorer from Miami (Ohio) named Wally Szczerbiak. Wally was instantly a fan favorite and his skills seemed to translate perfectly to the NBA. During his rookie season, Wally was named to the All-Rookie First Team, while averaging over 11 points per game. By his third season, he was averaging over 18 points a game, and things were looking very promising for both Szczerbiak and the Timberwolves. That same season, 2001-02, Sczcerbiak was named to the All-Star game. The Timberwolves were excited about their future. Wally and Kevin Garnett were clicking and the players around them were doing their part as well. However, unfortunately for the Wolves, Wally would never have a season quite like the one he did in ’02.
In 2006, Sczerbiak played in only 40 games with the Wolves, but during those games, he averaged just over 20 points per game, so with things not looking as good as before, the Wolves traded Wally while he still had value. Sczerbiak would bounce around the NBA for a while before retiring in 2009.
8. Dale Davis
Dale Davis was a total throwback. He played like players from the 1980s with his physical play and hard attitude. Dale spent 16 years banging in the paint fighting for rebounds and blocked shots. Players like Davis are rarely rewarded with All-Star games, or any awards for that matter. However, Davis was awarded a spot in the 2000 All-Star Game. Davis spent his first nine seasons with the Indiana Pacers, where he had great success teaming with Reggie Miller. In 2000, Davis averaged 10 points and 10 rebounds, one of only two seasons in which he averaged a double-double.
In 2000, the Pacers also had a great season as a team, being led by Reggie Miller and Dale Davis, and they made it all the way to the NBA Finals, ultimately being defeated by the Los Angeles Lakers, led by Shaq and Kobe. Davis was able to average over 11 rebounds during the 2000 playoff run.
7. Brad Miller
Brad Miller is one of the more incredible success stories of the NBA over the past 15 years. In 1998, Miller entered the NBA Draft out of Purdue, but was underrated that year. Miller went to Italy and played professionally there before he was invited to play with the Charlotte Hornets. Miller spent a couple seasons with the Hornets, but after the 2000 season, the Hornets opted not to re-sign him. Miller ended up signing with the Chicago Bulls that offseason. After earning some playing time with the Bulls, Miller proved himself to be a serviceable reserve big man with some scoring and passing skills to go with his seven-foot frame. Miller would ultimately end up with the Kings from 2003 to 2009, where he would have his most success. In 2003 and 2004, Miller was named as an NBA All-Star. In those two seasons, Miller averaged 15 points, 10 rebounds, and four assists per game. Not bad for a guy who couldn’t get drafted coming out of college.
6. Jamaal Magloire
As a youngster, Magliore was a promising prospect, with his lanky 7 foot frame and his almost freakish athleticism. Jamaal appeared to be on the path for stardom. By his third season with the Hornets organization, he was a full-time starter, starting all 82 games of the regular season. In his fourth NBA season, he was a double double machine, averaging 13.6 points and 10.3 rebounds per game on his was to his first and only All-Star Game appearance. After the 2002 season, Magloire began to experience injury problems and the Hornets were forced to trade him for Desmond Mason and a draft pick. Jamaal would never again be able to stay fully healthy and he became a journeyman for the remainder of his career, including stops in Milwaukee, Portland, Dallas, Miami and Toronto, never once appearing in all 82 games again. Magloire is one of the biggest “what ifs” in the NBA over the past 15 years. The way things looked early for him, he could have really been something special.
5. Sam Cassell
Cassell had an interesting career. He always was a solid point guard, with high basketball IQ, but his career stats can be slightly misleading. Sam began his career with the Houston Rockets in 1993. His first two NBA seasons were much different than most rookies, as he was drafted to a title-contending team. Sam won back-to-back NBA titles in his first two seasons, but he was not a huge part of the teams’ success. In fact, he didn’t become a full time starter until he left the Rockets. In 2003, he was traded to the Minnesota Timberwolves and in that 2003-04 season, he would experience his greatest individual success. Along with Latrell Sprewell and Kevin Garnett, he became a part of the best trio in the NBA that season. Cassell put up 20 points, and 7.3 assists per game that season and helped lead the Wolves to the playoffs. Sam has been coaching since he retired in 2008 and is now an assistant with that Los Angeles Clippers.
4. Michael Finley
Michael Finley is one of the greatest role players the NBA has ever seen. He is the textbook definition of a role player. Finley spent 15 years in the NBA, and more often than not, he was on championship-contending teams, and not by accident. After finishing third in Rookie of the Year voting with Phoenix, Finley was traded to the Dallas Mavericks. In his first season with the Mavericks, he led them in scoring, assists and steals. Along with Steve Nash and Dirk Nowitzki, he became an integral part of the Mavericks’ late ’90s “run and gun” offense.
In 2000 and 2001, he was selected to back-to-back All-Star Games. During those two seasons, Finley averaged 22 points, six rebounds and five assists. After leaving Dallas, Michael joined the San Antonio Spurs, and with his prime behind him, he was searching for a championship. In 2007, he found that championship, winning it all with the Spurs. Finley called it a career after the 2010 NBA season.
3. Shareef Abdur-Rahim
In 1996, the Vancouver Grizzlies had the number three pick in the draft. They selected Shareef Abdur-Rahim, and things looked great. Rahim had just come off possibly the greatest freshman season in college basketball history. In his rookie campaign, Shareef averaged over 18 points per game and seven rebounds. From 1996 to 2004, Rahim averaged over 20 points per game and eight rebounds. His best season came in 2002 with the Atlanta Hawks when he finished the season with 20 points, 8.5 rebounds, and three assists per game, while starting in all but one of the 82 games for Atlanta.
Shareef has proven that he is so much more than just a basketball player since he retired in 2008. He was the director of player personnel for the Sacramento Kings, as well as General Manager for the Reno Big-Horns, the Sacramento Kings D-league affiliate. With career averages of 18.1 and 7.5, it is a wonder how he only made one All-Star game in his career, yet Abdur-Rahim is one of those forgotten stars of the 2000s.
2. Elton Brand
Elton Brand was the number one overall pick in 1999, and despite having an incredibly solid career, Brand is often viewed as a disappointment. In his rookie season, Brand was the co-Rookie of the Year, averaging 20 and 10 with the Chicago Bulls. Inexplicably, the Bulls traded Brand to the Clippers after only two seasons in Chicago. In those two seasons, Brand averaged 20 points and 10 rebounds. With the Clippers, Brand continued his exceptional play, and in 2002, he became the first Clipper since 1994 to make an All-Star game. Up until 2006, Brand was a shoe-in 20 and 10 guy, but in 2006, the injury bug hit Elton. Over the next 10 seasons, Brand was only able to have one injury-free season.
Brand became somewhat of a journeyman for his final eight years, becoming a mentor to younger players and helping mature the rookies of his team. There is no question Elton was a superstar in the making. Sadly, he was stricken with a faulty body that prevented him from maximizing his true potential.
1. Brandon Roy
Brandon Roy was a superstar on the rise when his knees gave out on him. A four-year player at the University of Washington, Roy came into the NBA with a maturity that was unmatched by any of his rookie contemporaries. Roy was the NBA Rookie of the Year in 2007 and was a three-time All-Star after only four seasons. The future was bright for Brandon. During the 2009-10 season, he began dealing with constant injuries, which caused him to miss 17 games that season. The following season, he only started 65 games, and 23 the next year before calling it a career for the first time in 2011.
Roy would try to make a comeback in 2013 when he joined Minnesota. However, his knees would not allow him to pursue his goals as he was only able to play five games during his time with the Timberwolves. Probably the biggest “what if” in the NBA since Grant Hill, Roy will likely be forgotten completely as more time passes. Roy currently coaches a high school basketball team in his hometown of Seattle, Washington.
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