In the past few years, some NBA greats-that's GREATS, not just all stars- have crossed off "getting a ring" off their bucket lists. It started with the Lakers in 04 when Gary Payton and Karl Malone joined Kobe and Shaq in LA for a "one last chance" but ended up falling to Detroit in the Finals. Then things worked out in Miami in 2006 when Gary Payton and Alonzo Mourning were able to contribute to a championship team. In picked up again in 2008 when Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen joined forces in the most humble of ways to try and get a ring. It worked and these NBA greats succeeded. And it has started up again with Dirk and Jason Kidd, two more of the greatest players ever, able to contribute to a championship team. If we're keeping track, here are the next in line of guys up there in age who still have it and can contribute to a championship team -
1. Steve Nash - 2x MVP will be in the last year of his contract next season, could be traded away, or sign for a contender next summer.
2. Tracy McGrady - 2x scoring champion may not have enough left in the tank, but is a free agent this summer, could possibly start or be a 6th man for a championship contender.
3. Grant Hill - Returned from constant injuries and still a solid defender. Could be a missing defensive piece to a championship caliber team. Is a free agent this summer.
4. Vince Carter - Used to be one of the greatest dunkers and scorers in the league, just didn't really try hard to stay at the top of his game. Could contribute offensively off the bench for a championship team, but doesn't have much on defense. Will be a free agent this summer after the Suns do not exercise his team option in his contract.
5. Antonio McDyess - Solid big man role player now, but used to be a 20 ppg scorer. Came 1 year too late for the Pistons' championship and a couple years too late for the current Spurs core championship, although he had a good shot this year. Has one more year under under his contract, with the right pieces and a little luck, could have a finals run next year with the Spurs.
6. Marcus Camby - A personal top 5 favorite of mine. Least decorated star player from the 1996 draft with only a defensive player of the year award and All NBA defensive teams to show (no all star games). Seems happy in Portland, who has the talent to make a championship run, but not quite the health (Brandon Roy, Greg Oden, Camby himself). Will be in the last year of his contract this season, could be traded.
The championship favorites for the next five or so years will be the Lakers, Heat, Bulls, and maybe Thunder. But every so often, you get a Mavericks type team, who makes a run and has the veteran swagger and knows what it takes to win a championship, hopefully some of these guys fall into one of those teams and can contribute their play to get a ring.