Who would win in a battle of the All-NBA players, the 1990's or 2000's?
To do this I've taken a list of players who made the All-NBA 1st, 2nd and 3rd teams from the 1990's and 2000's and compiled two All-NBA twelve man teams, one representing the 1990's and one the 2000's, each team has the players who made the teams most frequently, hence showing they were the best players of their era.
Here is the 1990's team, there were some outliers, most notably Shaquille O'Neal (Seven All-NBA selections) but he only made the All-NBA 1st Team twice in the 90's, but six times after the year 2000. I think everyone would agree O'Neal's true dominance was after the start of the 21st century anyway. The same can be said for Duncan, Iverson, Bryant and Garnett.
1990's All-NBA Team (1990/91 - 1999/00)
F: Karl Malone, Utah (All-NBA 1st x 8, All-NBA 2nd Team)
F: Scottie Pippen, Chicago (All-NBA 1st x 3, All-NBA 2nd x 2, All-NBA 3rd x 2)
C: David Robinson, San Antonio (All-NBA 1st x 4, All-NBA 2nd x 2, All-NBA 3rd x 2)
G: Michael Jordan, Chicago (All-NBA 1st x 6)
G: John Stockton, Utah (All-NBA 1st x 3, All-NBA 2nd x 2, All-NBA 3rd x 3)
F: Charles Barkley, Phoenix (All-NBA 1st x 2, All-NBA 2nd x 3, All-NBA 3rd)
F: Mitch Richmond, Sacramento (All-NBA 2nd x 3, All-NBA 3rd x 2)
F: Grant Hill, Detroit (All-NBA 1st, All-NBA 2nd x 4)
C: Hakeem Olajuwon, Houston (All-NBA 1st x 3, All-NBA 2nd, All-NBA 3rd x 2)
C: Patrick Ewing, New York (All-NBA 2nd x 4)
G: Gary Payton, Seattle (All-NBA 1st x 2, All-NBA 2nd x 4, All-NBA 3rd)
G: Tim Hardaway, Miami (All-NBA 1st, All-NBA 2nd x 3, All-NBA 3rd)
IR1: Penny Hardaway, Orlando (All-NBA 1st x 2, All-NBA 3rd)
IR2: Clyde Drexler, Portland (All-NBA 1st, All-NBA 2nd, All-NBA 3rd)
*Notable players who didn't make it, include Alonzo Mourning (All-NBA 1st in 1999) and Shawn Kemp (All-NBA 2nd x 3), as well as Reggie Miller.
Here is the 2000's team, this team also had a few outliers, players like David Robinson, and Karl Malone who continued to make All-NBA teams in the very early 2000's years.
2000's All-NBA Team (2000/01 - 2007/08)
F: Kevin Garnett, Minnesota (All-NBA 1st x 3, All-NBA 2nd x 3, All-NBA 3rd)
F: Tim Duncan, San Antonio (All-NBA 1st x 6, All-NBA 2nd x 3)
C: Shaquille O'Neal, Los Angeles (All-NBA 1st x 6, All-NBA 3rd)
G: Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles (All-NBA 1st x 7, All-NBA 2nd, All-NBA 3rd)
G: Steve Nash, Phoenix (All-NBA 1st x 3, All-NBA 2nd, All-NBA 3rd x 2)
F: Dirk Nowitzki, Dallas (All-NBA 1st x 4, All-NBA 2nd x 2, All-NBA 3rd x 2)
F: Lebron James, Cleveland (All-NBA 1st x 3, All-NBA 2nd x 2)
C: Ben Wallace, Detroit (All-NBA 2nd x 3, All-NBA 3rd x 2)
C: Yao Ming, Houston (All-NBA 2nd x 3, All-NBA 3rd x 2)
G: Allen Iverson, Philadelphia (All-NBA 1st x 2, All-NBA 2nd x 2, All-NBA 3rd)
G: Tracy Mcgrady, Orlando (All-NBA 1st x 2, All-NBA 2nd x 3, All-NBA 3rd x 2)
G: Jason Kidd, New Jersey (All-NBA 1st x 3, All-NBA 2nd)
IR1: Chris Webber, Sacramento (All-NBA 1st, All-NBA 2nd x 2)
IR2: Dwyane Wade, Miami (All-NBA 1st, All-NBA 2nd x 2, All-NBA 3rd)
*Notable players who didn't make it include Amare Stoudemire, Paul Pierce, Jermaine O'Neal and Gilbert Arenas (who collectively never made All-NBA 1st), as well as Dwight Howard (All-NBA 1st in 2008, 2009)
After compiling these teams I have to point out that the players were selected based on how they played, not who they were. So while Dwight Howard is an icon of the current day, and Reggie Miller one of the greatest playoff performers of all-time, neither played well enough in their decade to warrant a space on the team.
When choosing the winner I was obviously biased with the 00's team. In my opinion the 90's would have a hard time stopping Lebron James, and Kobe Bryant would be as good as any offensive player on the 90's team. In addition the length, offensive versatility and playmaking skills of guys like Tracy McGrady and Kevin Garnett would dumbfound traditional positional defenders of the 90's.
That being said it is impossible to look past the 90's team. While the 00's have a great interior core with Tim Duncan, Kevin Garnett, Shaquille O'Neal, Yao and Ben Wallace they would be no match for three of the greatest centers of all-time. Pivot men who were among the greatest shot-blockers and scorers at their position of all-time, Hakeem Olajuwon, The Admiral and Pat would dominate the 00's team on both ends of the floor. Okay maybe not dominate, it would be an interesting clash of size, strength and skill versus versatility, athleticism and shooting touch.
Let's look at it position by position. The 90's win the point guard battle as Steve Nash is really a poor man's John Stockton. In addition Gary Payton would smother both Nash and Kidd on defense and neither would be able to stay in front of Tim Hardaway.
On the wings Kobe Bryant and Michael would be going at it all night. Winner? Have to give it to Jordan. In addition Scottie Pippen would have the length and defense to not stop Lebron James, but contain him and slow him down.
At the forward positions Karl Malone and Charles Barkley go up against Garnett and Tim Duncan. I think we know who wins that. Tim Duncan is great but Malone hits him with an elbow and its all over!
Finally in the middle Shaquille O'Neal and Hakeem battle it out, and I think it's safe to say that Ewing and The Admiral negate Yao and Ben Wallace.
On the bench prime-time, pre-injury healthy versions of Grant Hill and Tracy Mcgrady equal each other out, their athleticism, versatility and playmaking ability being key factors for each team. In the end it looks like the 90's team takes the game. It is close but superior experience at the point, superior skill and shot-blocking ability inside and of course Michael Jordan wreaking havoc all game long take the cake.
Double Overtime 123-117. Michael Jordan for Game MVP.