Don’t forget that the decade began with Nowitzki leading the Mavericks to a championship in 2011 that rewrote his legacy. Winning that ring, with no other All-Stars on the Mavericks’ 2010-11 roster, enabled Nowitzki to retire as both a revolutionary for changing the way his position is played (a la Curry) and a consensus top-20 selection all-time thanks to his title breakthrough.
Underachievers of the Decade: James L. Dolan’s Knicks
The Knicks are 319-484 since Jan. 1, 2010. They have won one series in three measly trips to the playoffs in that span. They are on course to miss the playoffs entirely for the seventh successive season.
A brief dose of Linsanity in 2012, followed by Curry’s breakout 54 points at Madison Square Garden a year later, were the most widely celebrated moments in what is supposed to be the league’s most storied building.
Resilience of the Decade: 2014 San Antonio Spurs
San Antonio squandered the 2013 N.B.A. finals in heartbreaking fashion, narrowly losing the final two games in Miami after nearly finishing off the LeBron/Wade/Bosh Heat in Game 6. The Spurs, though, rebounded from the crushing effects of a storied Ray Allen 3-pointer to dismantle Miami in five games in the 2014 finals, establishing Kawhi Leonard as the decade’s dynasty disrupter.
Kawhi won finals M.V.P. honors that year at age 23, despite playing alongside a trio of old reliables (Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili) on what really should be known as one of the decade’s Super Teams. Then he did it again last season by leading the Toronto Raptors past injury-depleted Golden State to the first championship in franchise history — and the first won by a team based outside of United States borders.
Efficiency of the Decade: Klay Thompson
Thompson’s 11 3-pointers in Game 6 of the 2016 Western Conference finals, saving the Warriors in Oklahoma City when they were on the brink of elimination, represent the most important 11 in No. 11’s career.
Yet the mere 11 dribbles of the basketball that Thompson needed en route to ringing up 60 points in 29 minutes against Indiana on Dec. 5, 2016, were arguably more impressive.