This is a decade that I think will be enjoyed the most by readers, since it is the first decade I’ve written about that most people were actually there for.
So, from the 90’s, a decade full of undeniable stars, who locked up my five starting spots?
Point Guard: John Stockton, Utah Jazz
Stats (90’s only): 14.4 PPG, 11.3 APG, 2.2 SPG, 8x NBA All-Star
John Stockton was the face of the Utah Jazz during his 19-year career. He still holds the NBA record assists with 15,806.
Stockton was without question one of the best players to never win a ring.
During his career with the Jazz, he and teammate Karl Malone would perennially put on a clinic for how to perform the perfect pick-and-roll.
Stockton was also one of the most loyal team players in the game’s history, often taking a considerably smaller salary to play for the Jazz despite being offered much more by other teams.
Don’t believe me? In 1996, Stockton agreed to a deal that would pay him less in order to create more cap space, on the condition that the Delta Center guaranteed ice time for his son’s hockey team.
How can you not love this guy?
Shooting Guard: Michael Jordan, Chicago Bulls
Stats (90’s only): 30.3 PPG, 6.2 RPG, 4.9 APG, 2.2 SPG, 6x NBA All-Star. 4x NBA MVP, 6x NBA Champion
Do I even need to touch this one?
The best of all time amassed as many championship rings as he did All-Star games during the ‘90s to go along with four MVP awards, despite only playing only seven seasons during the decade.
If anyone wants to nit-pick and find some sort of flaw in Jordan, I will give you this: Kwame Brown.
That’s it. I can’t even begin to go into depth about Jordan’s career. He’s too good.
Small Forward: Scottie Pippen, Chicago Bulls/Houston Rockets/Portland Trail Blazers
Stats (90’s only): 18.8 PPG, 7.1 RPG, 5.8 APG, 2.1 SPG, 6x NBA All-Star, 6x NBA Champion
Scottie Pippen was most known as Jordan’s running mate through most of his career, but that does not do him justice.
Pippen was a terrific player in his own right. What did he do during the 1993-’94 season, right after Jordan retired? Had the best statistical year of his career, averaging career-highs in PPG (22.0) and RPG (8.7).
Pippen was responsible for making the “point-forward” position relevant again, with his outstanding court vision and dazzling ball-handling skills.
Of course, his attempted comeback in 2007 failed when no team offered him a contract after his 'tryout' as Ben Gordon’s shooting mate in the All-Star game’s Haier Shooting Stars competition, but during his Chicago years, Pippen was one of the best players in the league, period.
Power Forward: Karl Malone, Utah Jazz
Stats (90’s only): 26.7 PPG, 10.6 RPG, 3.8 APG, 9x NBA All-Star, 2x NBA MVP
Karl “The Mailman” Malone was someone who almost did not make my list. How is this possible? Well, I had to decide between Malone and sliding David Robinson to power forward to fit him in. In the end, I think I made the right choice.
Malone was always considered a very physical and borderline dirty player during his career. His flying elbows often wreaked havoc on the court, as is evidenced by three specific incidents:
1. Pistons 1991: While going up for a rebound, Malone hit Isiah Thomas in the face with his elbow, causing Thomas to require 40 stitches above his left eye.
2. Spurs 1998: One of Malone’s loose elbows landed right on David Robinson’s head, sending him straight to the ground. Robinson was unconscious for two minutes.
3. Suns 2003: Attempting to prevent a steal, Malone whacked Steve Nash in the face with his elbow, causing massive bleeding.
Regardless of what you think of his style, no one can deny just how good Malone was. That’s why he was given his nickname, because 'the mailman always delivers.'
Center: Hakeem Olajuwon, Houston Rockets
Stats (90’s only): 23.0 PPG, 10.9 RPG, 3.2 BPG, 6x NBA All-Star, 1993-’94 NBA MVP, 2x NBA Champion
Hakeem “the Dream” Olajuwon burst onto the scene in 1984, but really made his mark in the ‘90s.
During the decade, he won an MVP award, and led his Houston Rockets to back-to-back championship titles in 1993-‘94 and 1994-’95.
In that 1993-’94 season, Olajuwon also became the only NBA player ever to win MVP, Defensive Player of the Year, and Finals MVP in the same season.
He was also a precedent-setter for foreign players that year, as he became the first foreign-born player to ever receive the NBA’s MVP award.
Wow, that’s a good team. When you can’t make room for Clyde Drexler, David Robinson, Patrick Ewing, Charles Barkley, or Joe Dumars… there must have been some remarkable players.
Tomorrow, we go to the current era. I’ll round out my series with the All-2000’s team.