Friday, November 6th, 2009 at 12:52 pm  |  107 responses

Starting 5

The perfect lineup since the SLAM era began…

by Ben Osborne

This is picked up from SLAM 133, which you better have picked up by now, as it’s even fresher in print…

The mission: take all the players drafted in the SLAM era (’94-’09) and pick the best starting unit. There’s any number of “dream teams” we could build, but, gun to head, we’re rocking with these guys.


Kobe Bryant, ’96

The Air Apparent

We know, we know, there will never be another Mike. But you have to admit, Kobe has done a pretty good impression, and if he picks up rings five and six in the next few years, there are some folks in L.A. who will be ready to argue with anyone who wants it. From the acrobatics to the fundamentals, the strong will to the work ethic, Kobe simply has what it takes.


Kevin Garnett, ’95

Da (Former) Kid

A SLAM favorite since his senior at Farragut in the Chi, the Big Ticket entered the League with a skinny frame and a wide smile. A trail blazer for the run of preps-to-pros stars who entered the NBA from ’96-05, KG got worn down a bit by some frustrating years in Minnesota, but when he won it all with Boston in ’08, the smile was back in a big way.


LeBron James, ’03

The Chosen One

With SLAM’s considerable help LeBron entered the NBA as the most-hyped amateur player in basketball history. And somehow, he outplayed the hype, becoming just the third player ever (after Michael Jordan and Oscar Robertson) to average 20-5-5 in his first season. The individual accomplishments have continued to astound. All the King needs now is a ring.


Tim Duncan, ’97

The Big Fundamental

Forget what you heard: SLAM cares plenty about winning. Given that, how could we not love Tim Duncan, one of the greatest winners ever, an efficient, reliable and—when called upon—dominant big man for the Spurs who has won four rings and amassed dizzying statistics along the way? As he once showed one our cover, TD is cold as ice.


Allen Iverson, ’96

Answering Machine

Can a guy who looks small for an MLB shortstop lead an NBA team in scoring? Lead the League in scoring? Lead a team to the Finals? Yes, yes and yes. AI’s Philly career alone should confer legendary status, but we’re guessing that with some up-and-down years in Denver and Detroit raising a whole new question (is he done?), AI’s gonna give everyone one more answer.

Photo credits: Kobe: Andy Hayt; KG: Dale Tait; LeBron: Rocky Widner; Duncan: Tim DeFrisco; AI: Nathaniel S. Butler; ALL NBAE/GETTY IMAGES

  • Add a Comment
  • Share
  • RSS

Tags: , , , , , ,

  • Pingback: Tweets that mention SLAM ONLINE | » Starting 5 -- Topsy.com

  • http://www.ineedabluefont.com Hisham

    loving the KG photo. tough DNP for Shaq

  • http://www.ineedabluefont.com Hisham

    okay sorry i missed the “drafted between 94 and 99″ part

  • http://slamonline.com Tzvi Twersky

    KG loved that photo. He started cracking up when he saw it.

  • celtsfan88

    ya KG looks mad young. awesome pictures

  • http://slamonline.com Ben Osborne

    Keep trying hisham: 94-09.

  • Big Marv

    wonder who’s on the bench, MJ? Shaq? Rasheed?

  • Pingback: uberVU - social comments

  • http://slamonline.com Allenp

    Can’t argue with this one, although a little surprised that Iverson got the nod over Nash given his recent foibles.

  • Bruno

    this is the best team there is between those years
    great slam

  • EC

    AllenP surprised? a few good years after playing second fiddle and riding the bench isnt gonna trump 12 great years in any universe, sorry. Nash=overrated

  • NDP

    That AI pic makes me want to break out my Questions today….GREAT images there.

    No arguments on that team…solid list.

  • http://www.thehoopsforum.com Zoo

    I do not think I would have A.I. on ANY team that could be considered “PERFECT”… I would have went with Wade, Howard or CP3 instead… with the edge 2 Finals MVP Wade.

  • reidar

    In my opinion I would much rather have Chris Paul or Steve Nash running the team than the AI. I am not in Charley Rosen following though and hating on him though. He is responsible for getting the second worst Finals squad of this era to the Finals. T

  • BeeBopLIVE

    Yall gotta remember these are the players who had the biggest influence in the slam era, which is from issue 1 to the current issue..

  • http://slamonline.com Russ Bengtson

    Shaq’s open.

  • http://www.theonion.com/content/news/staten_island_historians_piece Lee

    AI’s probably complaining that you waited to list him last in this article.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Wayno

    Here’s my question to everyone though…would this team win with all those egos? Without question the talent is there, and at least two of those players (TD & KG) can fit in pretty much anywhere, but as for the rest of the team, would the egos kill the chemistry too much? Discuss…

  • http://www.theonion.com/content/news/staten_island_historians_piece Lee

    And can we get an all Slam-era NBA Jam team? Shawn Kemp and Chris Mullin, straight up.

  • tom

    who´s the PG in this starting 5? iverson?? better be nash or cp3

  • d.j.

    just replace that bryant scrub with d wade and u got u a pretty good squad !

  • http://www.slamonline.com Wayno

    Can’t argue with that lineup as far as individual talent goes. Solid list.

  • cramzy

    When I saw this, first thing I thought was “are they gone put ai on here?”. A lot of revisionist history nowadays but AI was that dude.

  • d.j.

    and the raptors jersey with the little dinosaur in that last pic is one of the sickest jerseys NBA ever made

  • http://www.slamonline.com Wayno

    I actually like those Sixers jerseys alot too. Simple but nice.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Wayno

    Those Utah Jerseys on the other hand…yikes…

  • onlyclipfanonslam

    I can’t believe that no one has said this… but Doug Christie is spotted twice (Lebron, AI)

  • http://fjklf.com Jukai

    I want a 12-man team SLAM! Top five is a cop-out!

  • d.j.

    this years sixers jerseys are pretty clean too tho wouldn’t you agree ? also the magic t-mac jersey with the blue stars all over is classic… SLAM needs to do an article on some nice jerseys that NBA had

  • http://fjklf.com Jukai

    Starting 5:
    Jason Kidd, Kobe Bryant, Lebron James, Kevin Garnett, Tim Duncan
    Sixth Man:
    Allen Iverson
    Steve Nash
    Chris Paul
    Dwayne Wade
    Paul Pierce
    Dirk Nowitzki
    Dwight Howard

  • http://fjklf.com Jukai

    Maybe replace Pierce with Melo, I don’t know. Not enough small forwards.

  • http://www.shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com/ TADOne

    Yo! Yao?

  • Double J

    Wow jukai you slammed shaq in a 12 man roster…

  • tavoris

    Double J, Shaq was drafted before Slam…

  • http://slamonline.com Ben Osborne

    Thank you, Tavoris. As for AI…I/we were aiming for our favorite/best individual talents to fill out a starting lineup, NOT looking for a real PG to distribute. And if the issue had been a little bigger we were going to do a 15-man team. Alas, we only had room for the top five, all of whom got the big picture treatment. The 15-man team was never agreed upon, though, so it’s not like I can fill it out for you guys.

  • http://larbo929@yahoo.com Rashard Lewis

    @Double J

    Shaq came in in 1992, ineligble player!

  • Orlando Green

    Wade over Iverson

  • useralreadyon

    Kobe and Iverson on one team!?

    They would probably take 150 shoots every evening…

  • http://slamonline.com Allenp

    Thanks for explaining how y’all made the picks.

  • danksy

    nah for me its gotta be

    with Odom 6th man, that team was unbeatable.


  • davidR

    i’m sure iverson can run the point fine. i know it’s not really a good example, but most of the all-star games he was voted to start for, he was running his team just fine.

  • http://slamonline.com snasty10

    I love the Questions, one of my favorite basketball shoes ever

  • Yesse

    You guys really dont have a center.

  • http://www.myspace.com/weezyleezy337 Gametime Weezy

    of course ivy gotta be there, plus he had the best covers

  • http://juan.garcia@computershare.com That’sWhatSheSaid

    My 2 cents:
    5- Tim-bot
    4- The Big Ticket
    3- King James
    2- Black Mamba
    1- CP3

  • larrylarry

    Anyone who truly knows basketball knows that from about 1995-2005 there was not a better point guard in the world that Jason Kidd. Nowadays, probably Chris Paul. Either way, the Iverson selection was a homer pick, surprised SLAM didn’t put Stephon on there

  • http://kingakai.com Alpha-bet

    Pretty undebateable list actually. If you were doing a all decade team, this would be the starting 5 for the 2000′s..
    A more compelling argument is who would be on the 2nd team?..

    I got
    pg-Jason Kidd
    sg- D Wade
    sf- Paul Pierce
    pf- Chris Webber
    C- Yao Ming

  • http://idunkonthem.blogspot.com/ albie1kenobi

    i flipped through the mag and saw this feature, then i wonder, why did you guys picked that pic for Duncan? what’s the significance of him sitting on Dean Garrett(?)? Ground-bound? incredulous look?

  • http://shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com/ Tariq

    Some of y’all are, for lack of a better word, tripping. You’ve got short memories, belly-aching about Iverson. Or else a lot of seventh-graders are posting.

  • http://shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com/ Tariq

    Some of you who are so quick to dismiss AI need to remember that Larry Holmes knocked Muhammad Ali the f*ck OUT. Ponder that for a second before you declare that Derrick Rose or, I don’t know, Stephen Curry is better than Iverson. Chee-zus.

  • Damn!

    Allenp, yous serious?! I ain’t got nothing against nash, but you can’t even compare him to iverson. come on. Now that the answer had a bad year in motown and hes riding the bench with the grizz, you just trash his entire career.

  • http://www.slamonline.com oliver

    love kg though!!!
    i miss all of them young
    im a filipino dont hate my english peace

  • jrb


  • http://www.twitter.com/Th3_R3al_Chris Th3_R3al_Chris

    I’m just happy that Rashard Lewis posts on SlamOnline…

  • http://shop.ebay.com/sherlock_foams/m.html?_nkw=&_armrs=1&_from=&_ipg=25 SHERLOCK_FOAMS

    C: Tim Duncan
    PF: Blake Griffin
    SF: Lebron James
    SG: Kobe Bryant
    PG: Chauncey Billups

  • Teddy-the-Bear

    Yao Ming is the best real center (Duncan being a power forward) drafted since SLAM’s commencement.

  • Eoin

    “Slam cares about winning”.

    Slam picks Allen Iverson.

    DOES NOT COMPUTE. I don’t know if you forgot, or if you’re high, but J-Kidd was drafted in 94. J-Kidd was drafted in 94. J-Kidd was drafted in 94…

  • rob

    SHAQ???! LOL

    I like AI, Kobe, Lebron, KG and… SHAQ


  • Steve

    Kidd has to be in over AI. AI perfect 6th man, even though he would hate it :)

  • Steve

    not sure how long it will take before the morons saying Shaq should be in dries up!

  • Penny the Great

    This is crazy! This is SLAM’s startin lineup and you have hundreds of readers that feel totally different about Iverson. I love Iverson because of SLAM, where did the hate come from? Are we all readin the same magazine? It sad that we’re lettin the media tell us when players are finish now. There is no other player that has been “pushed” to retirement the way Iverson is. We even welcome another Jordan return before we can all agree on Iverson startin…sad!

  • http://www.triplejunearthed.com/dacre Dacre

    so many young kids on here tripping out about Allen Iverson….this is the thing too, where talking about 15-19 year olds who dont ‘remember Michael’ it’s all youtube highlights and NBA.com memorabilia. He is a ‘myth’ to all the modern day teen-kobe-lebron lovers out there…. as will be the glory days of AI when he WAS “the answer” and not just “optional”.

  • http://www.triplejunearthed.com/dacre Dacre

    As much as AI was loved by the SLAM faithful, he was never interpreted as ‘mainstream fluff’. He was real, he said what he thought, he made enemies and he played harder than anyone else every night. Who are the new breed of punks that take dare to take ANY PG over AI as the slam top 5? Sure, Kidd stands out as the probable favourite with commonsense in mind. But thats it. (THis is coming from the GREATEST NASH lover on this site). NO OTHER dominant PG has gotten their team to the FINALS and struggled against everything to get there during this period that slam has bracketed. It’s AI….then Kidd well behind him…..after that………well and truly I pick my boy NASHTY…..

    ALl you punk teen AI haters out there need to recognise.

  • nastierthanu

    That kg pic is off the rack. Can’t argue with the list. Ai was amazing. Speed kills and ai is a savage he definately deserves to be on this list. .

  • Hoodsnake

    All these dudes developed their skills with practice,practice,practice. PRACTICE??? Anyway JKidd for me at the point thanx. And word to Lisa Lesley. Respect

  • NJ4Life

    WHERE IS JKIDD? how quickly we forget…

  • monkeyball

    I’ll take Kidd over Iverson. And Steve Nash. Iverson put up great numbers, be he was selfish. Yes, I know, he has high assist numbers but he could never co-exist with another scorer. He drove Stackhouse and Larry Hughes out of Philadelphia. He couldn’t make it work with Melo. Iverson was great, but poison for his team, and he threw up too many bad shots (check his career FG%, way lower than Kobe’s, which in turn is significantly lower than MJ’s).

  • http://fjklf.com Jukai

    monkeyball: and Kobe’s FG% is wayyyy lower than Calderon’s. So Calderon must be a better player than Kobe AND Iverson.

  • dma

    kidd over iverson. and it has nothing to do with iverson being ‘washed up’ since kidd has had that label since he arrived back in dallas.

  • dma

    lebron’s legs look photoshopped in that picture.

  • d.j.

    calderon and anyone else is better than that faker scrub

  • d.j.

    calderon actually passes the ball so ya he is better now that u mentioned it….

  • andy

    hey is this mag being shipped to subscribers or do i need to buy it. im in college and havent switched the shipping address yet

  • http://www.alllooksame.com Tarzan Cooper

    shaq is open for the dunk, but whats mr bean doing?

  • http://fjklf.com Jukai

    DJ: You’re right Iverson never passes the ball, those 4-7 assists every year are actually SLAM hacking the system to make their superstar look better. (ie you’re a tool).

  • vic21

    I hate seeing Iverson. He’s not a true point guard so I don’t agree. Also I’d put prime Grant Hill over Lechoke Jams any day, he was way more skilled. Take away Lebron’s athleticism and you got nothing.


    no jordan come on

  • max

    no being able to read properly, come on

  • http://www.hibachi20.blogspot.com Hursty

    Hypothetically speaking, if this team was to have a PG to distribute the ball, it would be LeBron. He played PG his first 1 1/2 seasons in Cleveland alongside Jeff McIness.

  • tavoris

    meanwhile, while everyone in the comments is bellaching about AI (again…really, is there no original thought), they fail to realize that Iverson has been on the cover more than any other player. Slam didn’t just do this because of bro-love. They did it because Slam’s mission to be the anti-SI & Sporting News needed a DIRECT tie-in with Hip-Hop culture, which could only be achieved with Iverson. He was “the little dude that crossed-up MJ” that made every undersized ball player DREAM. Of course Kidd is the best PG of the era, but that did NOTHING for Slam.

  • http://www.imcool.com Stephen Bayer

    i hate Kobe but ill admit he’s one of the best. i agree with all five, except CP3 over Iverson.

  • http://slamonline.com maclovenotwar

    C – Adonal Foyle
    PF – Darko Milicic
    SF – Nikoloz Tskitisvili
    SG – Luke Jackson
    PG – Speedy Claxton

    Timmy, KG, LeBron, Kobe and AI averaged $6,889 per point between them during their careers…
    Whereas my team will cost you double ($17,674 per point) and will take anyone in a game of 5-on-5.

  • http://slamonline.com maclovenotwar

    P.S. Luke Jackson got paid $24,384 per point during his “career”. So far, LeBron costs the Cavs $3,509.

  • http://slamonline.com maclovenotwar

    P.S. Nothing personal, Luke.

  • http://www.pablasso.com pablasso

    Kidd is the best point of that generation. By far.

  • K.B

    slam is a honest,in your face magazine and iverson represents that perfectly. he is slam so stop hatin.

  • Sigurður Einar (Iceland).

    PG Nash two time MVP and a great pg with hi IQ
    SG KOBE MVP simple the best
    SF Lebron is the king
    PF Duncan, Garnett he was great in Minnesota but Duncan was great with the Spurs and got some rings.
    C Shaq four rings and is one of the best of all time

  • davidR

    monkeyball, how’re you gonna knock iverson’s fg%? do you know what kidd’s fg% is?

  • http://fjklf.com Jukai

    Sigurður: SHAQ WAS DRAFTED BEFORE 1994! WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU!!!!!!!!111111

  • Bkballin

    LMAO kg looked EXACTLY like soulja boy back in the day

  • monkeyball

    Jukai: I’m pretty sure you’re not stupid, and that you understand that Calderon is not on the same league as all-timer greats like AI, Kobe, and MJ. So, as is often the case with your comments, you just put that up to make yourself look smart by putting someone else down. Pathetic.

  • http://fjklf.com Jukai

    Monkeyball: No, that’s a very dumb point. Iverson isn’t in the league as Kobe and MJ. So did YOU just do that to make yourself look smart?

  • monkeyball

    We could play this all day. You think Calderon and AI will both be in the Hall of Fame?

  • monkeyball

    I was, in fact, trying to make precisely the point that AI is not in Kobe’s or MJ’s league. The allusion to FG% was one piece of evidence to make that point, as is evident to anyone who reads the post.
    But you take my point and twist it to make me sound stupid. You’re not looking for conversation about basketball. You’re looking to put other people down. And that’s pathetic.

  • http://fjklf.com Jukai

    monkeyball: You expressed that point poorly, and it was not a needed point. Who was saying that Kobe and MJ were on the same level as AI?

  • Vegas

    im sorry to say that most the people that read this article are complet idiots and cant understand BETWEEN 94 09

  • Larsylad

    The shot clock in the LBJ shot looks photoshopped. If it’s not, dude is faster than i ever realized.

  • Incubo

    Larsylad it was a steal they normally start the clock over….lol I agree with Slam but what about the bench:
    Ray Ray
    Brandon Roy

  • Ryan dC

    @Russ: yeah i noticed that too. Then again so is Stack and that other dude.

    @Jukai: 6th man?! “I’m not a reserve basketball player. I’ve never been a reserve all my life and I’m not going to start looking at myself as a reserve. … To answer the question, ‘No, I’m not a bench player. I’m not a sixth man. Go look at my resume and that will show you I’m not a sixth man.”

  • Ryan dC

    Admittedly, Iverson was/is a scorer and a consistently one of the league leaders in steals. Kidd was always the team’s leader and triple double threat, always thinkin pass first and exceptional defender. Id take Kidd over AI but like they said, its based on individual stats…

    Im surprised to that SLAM’s beloved Starbury isnt on the list…SLAM does dig their knucklehead players..

  • http://fjklf.com Jukai

    Ryan Dc: touche

  • http://www.mynameinblue.blogspot.com Hisham

    Ben you owe me an apology :) the website still has trouble with second comments. They don’t appear until ten minutes later!

  • http://www.mynameinblue.blogspot.com Hisham

    ah man i keep looking like an idiot. that 99 was a typo. nobody cares

  • http://n/a Hussman25

    I still got those AI kicks in my closet! The same ones that are in the pic above (bought those in 99′… got the ones in red first in 96) These are the 5 who did get the most Love from y’all at SLAM! Nice selections guys!

  • truthteller

    Where is MJ on the all time list? AmI the only one who finds this omission absurd?

  • truthteller

    Never mind! I missed the “drafted from ’94-’99″ part. In that case,I’ll go with this list.

  • CGC

    PG: Jason Kidd
    SG: Kobe Bryant
    SF: LeBron James
    PF: Kevin Garnett
    C: Tim Duncan