1990s NBA All-Decade Team
Having grown up in the 1990s, I am proud to say I was lucky enough to watch some incredible basketball players showcase their talents. For many years, I watched players like Michael Jordan (pictured) and Hakeem Olajuwon work their magic on the court and lead their teams to multiple championships. In a sense, this was a golden age of basketball.
Yet, what if we were to put together the ultimate team from the 1990s? I'm talking starting lineup, sixth man, coach and front office/owner. It may seem an easy task, but to go through so many talented players and pick just six to receive spots on this team is actually pretty tough. No matter how you look at it, someone is getting the shaft.
Thus, by establishing criteria for overall skill as well as attitude, I have put together the 1990s All-Decade team.
Point Guard: Gary Payton
When it comes to point guards in the 1990s, you don't need to look any further than Gary "The Glove" Payton. The second overall pick in the 1990 draft, the man simply could do it all. He could shoot, pass and played phenomenal defense. In 1996, the 6'4" guard was named the NBA Defensive Player of the Year when he averaged a league-leading 2.9 steals per game.
On top of that, let's not forget that Payton made five consecutive All-Star teams from 1994-1998. He finished his career with career averages of 16.3 points and 1.8 steals. Given how that type of player is rare even today, Payton is a lock to man the point on this team.
Shooting Guard: Michael Jordan
Come on, people. You really think I'd put together a 1990s team and not include the man who won six championships in that decade?
Besides winning the six rings, Jordan also was the Finals MVP in each of those years. When he wasn't working his magic in the playoffs, he was busy making seven All-Star teams in the decade.
To put it bluntly, Jordan was simply the best not just in the 1990s, but in the entire history of the game.
Small Forward: Charles Barkley
Though he may have gotten his start playing in the '80s, Charles Barkley, aka "The Round Mound of Rebound," was just as much of a beast in the '90s. Eight of his 11 consecutive All-Star Games occurred during this decade and he also appeared in the NBA Finals with the Phoenix Suns during his first season with the team in 1993. In the championship series, he averaged 27.3 points and 13 rebounds.
Another highlight of Barkley's first year with Phoenix was his winning the MVP award that season, when he averaged 25.6 points, 12.2 rebounds and 5.1 assists per game. Those stats are beyond impressive considering how Barkley was 6'6" and 252 pounds as a player. For his career, he averaged 22.1 points and 11.7 rebounds.
No matter how you look at it, Barkley is the easy choice for this position on the All-Decade team.
Power Forward: Karl Malone
The obvious choice here would seem to be Dennis Rodman, but his attitude kept him from being picked as a starter. Thus, I chose to go with Hall of Famer and second all-time leading scorer, Karl "The Mailman" Malone. The 6'9", 265-pound forward from Louisiana was a staple in the league, having been the controversially charismatic leader of a team that twice went toe to toe with the Michael Jordan-led Chicago Bulls in the NBA Finals.
In terms of accolades, Malone appeared in 12 All-Star Games over the course of his career. In 1997 and 1999, he won the league MVP award.
Malone may have never won a championship ring in his 19 seasons, but his leadership qualities are unquestionable as are his skills. For his career, he averaged an astounding 25 points and 10.1 rebounds per game.
Center: David Robinson
The obvious choice here may be Shaquille O'Neal or Hakeem Olajuwon, but I'm going with David Robinson for a couple of reasons. First, the 7'2" Hall of Famer is just a phenomenal athlete, having been an unconventional center in that he had a decent perimeter shot and wasn't just layups and dunks. On top of that, I don't think there has ever been a better leader in the NBA than the former Navy Midshipman.
On top of that, Robinson was just a phenomenal athlete in general. While at the Naval Academy, he scored higher than anyone in his class in gymnastics—just phenomenal considering how most gymnasts are on the shorter side.
Simply put, Robinson was just plain awesome in the 1990s. He played in eight All-Star Games that decade and in 1992, was named Defensive Player of the Year when he averaged 23.2 points, 12.2 rebounds and a league-leading 4.5 blocks per game. Just a few years later, in 1995, he averaged 27.6 points and 10.8 rebounds on his way to becoming MVP.
Throw in his two championships, specifically the one he won in 1999, and Robinson is the top center of the 1990s.
Sixth Man: Scottie Pippen
As Michael Jordan's go-to guy, Scottie Pippen was simply amazing. He was drafted fifth overall in 1987 and became a key part of the Chicago Bulls' championship runs shortly afterward.
From 1990 and on, Pippen's scoring and incredible defense resulted in seven All-Star appearances and being named to the NBA All-Defensive First Team eight years in a row, from 1992-1999. Also, let's not forget the six championship rings that he and Michael Jordan won together.
For his career, Pippen averaged 16.1 points, 6.4 rebounds and two steals per game. He may have been a starter for most of his career but seeing as how this is an All-Decade team, he will do a fine job as the sixth man.
Backup Point Guard: John Stockton
Besides Gary Payton, John Stockton is easily the best point guard of the '90s. Never before have I seen a man pass the ball so effortlessly, and the same can be said for him playing defense and accumulating steals. As it turns out, Stockton is the all-time leader in both assists and steals.
Yet, I'm including Stockton on the bench for primarily one reason: his defense and his three-point shooting. In 19 seasons, Stockton made more than 40 percent of his three-pointers seven times. More importantly, on the defensive side, he finished his career with an average of 2.2 steals per game. The fact that he led the league in assists nine years in a row doesn't hurt either.
Thus, while Payton's size and physicality may make him the starter, the 6'1" Stockton's tenacity and speed make him the perfect backup.
Backup Shooting Guard: Reggie Miller
Every team needs a pure shooter to come off the bench and in this case, there is no better man than Reggie Miller. Despite being a starter for all but one of his 18 seasons, this man's ability to make three-pointer after three-pointer easily makes him the best shooter in the history of the game.
Miller made five All-Star teams in his career and shot over 40 percent from downtown an incredible 10 times. Up until last season, when Ray Allen passed him, he was the all-time leader in three-pointers made.
That all being said, if I'm looking for a '90s NBA player not named Michael Jordan to make that clutch three-pointer at the buzzer, I'm definitely wanting it to be Reggie Miller.
Backup Small Forward: Grant Hill
For this team's backup small forward, I'm choosing Grant Hill. I'm not talking about the oft-injured absolute shell of a player that Hill has been known as for the past 10 years, but the Grant Hill the fans fell in love with from 1994-2000. Hill was drafted by the Detroit Pistons with the 11th pick in 1993 and immediately cracked the starting lineup, and the rest is history.
In the early stages of his career, Hill could simply do it all. He could score well, pass the ball effectively and just to sweeten the deal, he played good defense. Over the first six years of his career, Hill averaged 21.6 points, 7.7 rebounds and 6.2 assists.
Thus, Hill is the perfect choice to come off the bench as this team's swingman. His talents are so diverse that he doesn't need to have just one label attached to him. Be it his shooting, passing or defense, Hill is a valuable asset to any team, even this all-decade one.
Backup Power Forward: Dennis Rodman
You really think I'd do a '90s All-Decade team and not include Dennis Rodman? To do so would be a crime. Here is a man who despite being just 6'7", averaged an astounding 16.7 rebounds per game over a seven-year stretch. Sure enough, he led the NBA in rebounding each of those years.
Also, let's not forget that Rodman was twice named Defensive Player of the Year and has five championship rings, two with the Detroit Pistons and three with the Chicago Bulls.
Throw in his volatile personality, and Rodman is the perfect defender to have coming off the bench as both a rebounder and an enforcer.
Backup Center: Shaquille O'Neal
I remember years ago watching an NBA promotional show about the upcoming 1993-1994 season. It opened with Shaquille O'Neal, then a second year player, saying, "1993 was the year that the NBA welcomed The Shaq." Sure enough, his bursting onto the scene in his rookie year set the tone for the center position for years to come.
Simply put, the 7'1", 300-plus pound center from LSU was the most dominant center of his generation. The only reason he is the backup center on this team is because his game on both ends of the court was pretty much nonexistent outside of the key.
Still, with a great personality and some eye-popping dunks on his resume, Shaq is a lock for this team be it as a starter or coming off the bench.
The 12th Man: Dell Curry
Considering how good a shooter Dell Curry was off the bench, you'd be surprised that he only started 99 out of 1,083 games played. The man averaged double figures in scoring 10 seasons in a row coming off the bench for the Charlotte Hornets. In 1994, he took home Sixth Man of the Year as he averaged 16.3 points on 40 percent three-point shooting.
Also, it should be noted that while Curry was never an All-Star, he is the all-time leading scorer in the history of the Hornets franchise. For a '90s All-Decade Team needing an instant shooter off the end of the bench, Curry is a great choice.
Coach: Phil Jackson
If you ask me, there wasn't any better coach in the 1990s than Phil Jackson. Not only did he lead the Chicago Bulls to a three-peat, but he did so twice. More importantly, throughout his entire coaching career, Jackson's teams never once missed the playoffs.
Jackson is also the Bulls' all-time leader in wins, with a career record of 545-193. That's a winning percentage of .738.
Simply put, the man knew how to win and his Bulls teams essentially defined basketball throughout the 1990s. To have anyone else coach this All-Decade team would just be wrong.
Owner: Jerry Reinsdorf
When it comes to the owner/front office representative of this All-Decade team, could we really do any better than Jerry Reinsdorf? Here is the man who has owned the Bulls since 1985 and was instrumental in bringing in the key players that made the team the one to beat throughout the decade.
Simply put, Reinsdorf is an owner who wants his team to be nothing but the best. Losing is not an answer for this man.
On top of that, he's just a great business man. Keep in mind, from 1987 up until Michael Jordan's 1999 retirement, the Bulls sold out every game.