The best of the best can claim their position in history.
The best are the ones that come from both sides of the ball, as well as those that come both from different eras.
Some were born during the 20th century, some were born in the last decade.
And some were once greats but are now fading from memory.
Here are the 10 best players of the past 20 years.1.
Tim Duncan, San Antonio Spurs (1996-2000) The Spurs were the league’s best in 1996-97 and Duncan played at a level beyond even his best.
His team won its first nine regular-season games, and he averaged 26.6 points, 5.8 assists, and 3.0 rebounds in a year when the league averaged just 15.3 points per game.
Duncan also was the league leader in blocks (5,945), steals (1,827), blocked shots (1.1 million), and field goal percentage (.621).2.
Kevin Durant, Golden State Warriors (2010-13) Durant’s breakout season came in 2011-12 when he averaged 25.5 points, 6.4 assists, 4.4 rebounds, and 2.0 steals.
He won the MVP award, finished third in MVP voting, and won his fourth NBA Finals MVP award.
He also set career highs in three-point percentage (.731), assists per game (8.7), rebounds per game, field goal rate (58.6%), and total points (8,853).3.
Paul George, Indiana Pacers (2010) George was one of the league top scorers in 2011 and 2012 but had a career year in 2013 when he set career highs in three points, three assists, eight rebounds, three steals, and a triple-double.
The Pacers went 25-7 and made the playoffs.4.
Dirk Nowitzki, Dallas Mavericks (2003-07) Nowitzkis career started with a bang in 2003-04, when he was a second-round pick of the Milwaukee Bucks.
He became a two-time All-Star, was a two time All-NBA first team, and was named the Defensive Player of the Year.
His play made him a first-round draft pick.5.
Tim Hardaway Jr., Miami Heat (2005-07), Hardaway was one the league MVPs in 2005-06 and was the first player to lead his team to an NBA championship.
He averaged 23.4 points, 8.8 rebounds, 3.3 assists, 3 steals, four blocks, and three rebounds per contest.
He finished third all-time in scoring (19,764), assists (1;846), steals, blocks (1), and points (9,569).6.
David Robinson, Detroit Pistons (2003) Robinson was a key part of the 2004 NBA Finals team and was one half of the 2006 championship team.
He led the Pistons to a second straight NBA title in 2003, and finished third the season after that.
He was named a finalist for two NBA All-Rookie Team awards.7.
Dirk Weickert, Dallas Stars (1993-96) Weicket was a third-round selection in the 1993 draft and went on to be one of three players to win Rookie of the Month honors.
He had an MVP-type season and led the Stars to a fifth straight Eastern Conference title in 1995-96.8.
Kevin Garnett, New York Knicks (2004-06) Garnett led the Knicks to a championship in 2005, but they lost to the Heat in the first round.
He played just eight seasons, and his career was over when the New York team won the title.9.
Shawn Kemp, Atlanta Hawks (1999-00) Kemp led the Hawks to their first NBA championship in 1999, but the team fell apart in the playoffs and Kemp left.
He retired in 2004 after eight seasons in the NBA.10.
David West, Oklahoma City Thunder (2006-07, 2008-09) West played just seven seasons, but he led the Thunder to a sixth straight championship in 2007 and his best season was his best in seven years.
He missed the 2011-2012 season after suffering a heart attack.