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Thursday, February 8, 2001
Who's the best player in the NBA?


We have more coverage on the best players in the NBA. Ric Bucher from ESPN The Magazine hung out with Chris Webber, while Jeffrey Denberg discusses Allen Iverson. And there's also Marc Stein's piece on Tim Duncan. Check out the Best Player Index page to tell us your favorite and see all our features.

OK, you have five seconds to tell us who the best player in the NBA is. Ready, go. OK, done? Not so easy, is it? Do you choose the brute strength of Shaq, the scoring and rebounding of Dunc, KG or CWebb, the flash of Kobe, The Answer, Vinsanity and Tracy, or the passing of Kidd and GP?

Not so easy, is it? Well, we asked you to choose who the best player is of this group of 10 as we head into the All-Star break. We have had features this week on some of the people on this list and themes to go with the top player.

Thanks for choosing who you thought was best. We received more than 6,500 e-mails on the subject. Here are 30 e-mails from users -- divided equally per player -- for you to check out.

Who is the best player in the NBA?

Kobe Bryant

Key Stats: 29.4 ppg, 5.7 rpg, 4.6 apg
Age: 22
Team: Lakers SG

He may just lead the league in scoring, despite having the league's most dominant center taking shots as well. Kobe may or may not be selfish -- you choose -- but the guy can score whenever he wants, he gets to the line, he can pass, and he can defend three positions.

Vince Carter

Key Stats: 28.4 ppg, 5.5 rpg, 4.0 apg
Age: 24
Team: Raptors SG

The league's best dunker has a lot more game than just that. Carter has also taken his game outside this year, and he's among the league leaders in threes made. He doesn't have as much scoring help as other stars, but Carter has become an all-around player in Year 3.

Tim Duncan

Key Stats: 20.2 ppg, 11.5 rpg, 2.2 blk
Age: 24
Team: Spurs PF

Won the NBA title two seasons ago, but has battled injuries a bit since. Still a dominating player and will be a dominating center once the Admiral steps aside. Duncan is a team guy who isn't worried about stats, thus his stats don't always look as good as others.

Kevin Garnett

Key Stats: 22.4 ppg, 10.9 rpg, 4.8 apg
Age: 24
Team: Wolves SF

Fifth pick of 1995 draft can do just about everything, and always has a smile on his face. His numbers are down just a bit off last year, but he also has less help around him. Garnett still hasn't won a playoff series, but he's only 24. Let's give him time.

Allen Iverson

Key Stats: 28.9 ppg, 4.7 apg, 2.5 spg
Age: 25
Team: Sixers SG

Already a scoring champ and doing his best to earn an MVP award for this year's top team, Iverson has become more team player this year, though his stats haven't suffered. Leads league in steals and times getting pushed to floor, but still shows no fear driving the lane.

Jason Kidd

Key Stats: 16.5 ppg, 9.7 apg, 6.3 rpg
Age: 27
Team: Suns PG

League's best passer is annually among leaders in assists, steals and triple doubles. Improved shooter also racks up assists and gets to the line more than he did earlier in career. Still has yet to have playoff success, but lack of big men to pass to is more to blame.

Tracy McGrady

Key Stats: 26.6 ppg, 7.8 rpg, 1.7 blk
Age: 21
Team: Magic SG

Surprise! McGrady gets here on merit, however, with eye-popping stats in his breakout year. Absence of Grant Hill (from the Magic, and thus from this list) gave McGrady chance to shine, and 6-8 shooting guard is incredible rebounder and shotblocker for a guard.

Shaquille O'Neal

Key Stats: 26.9 ppg, 12.8 rpg, 2.9 blk
Age: 28
Team: Lakers C

Let's not forget about the big fella. Shaq won MVP honors last year and led his team to the title. An unstoppable presence inside, Shaq scores and boards with the best, and doesn't ignore defense either. There's this small FT problem, but we can overlook.

Gary Payton

Key Stats: 23.2 ppg, 8.5 apg, 5.1 rpg
Age: 32
Team: Sonics PG

Oldest guy among this group but still has a young man's game. Top defensive point guard can score, dish and rebound, and trash talk with the best.

Chris Webber

Key Stats: 26.8 ppg, 11.6 apg, 2.3 blk
Age: 27
Team: Kings PF

Having best season of eight-year career, and most importantly has team atop the conference. Webber, like Garnett is a big man who can do just about anything. Has become mature leader after bad stints with Warriors and Bullets.

Users on the best NBA player

ESPN The Magazine: C-Rex, Part 2

May: Why does someone have to be best?

Stein: Duncan finds best in himself

Denberg: Iverson is league's answer for MVP

Lawrence: In five years, prime Kobe will rule

Howard-Cooper: Kobe needs to ditch Shaq

ESPN The Magazine: Making a List

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