#1 Kobe Bryant
Josh Cohen’s Analysis: If there were a poll for professional athlete of the decade in the 2000s, Kobe would only be challenged by golf’s Tiger Woods, football’s Tom Brady and tennis’ Roger Federer.
You had the Shaq & Kobe years when they together – though not always in harmony -- led the Lakers to three straight NBA titles. You had Bryant’s resurgence as a champ and MVP to close out the decade and sandwiched between all those rings were some extraordinary statistics, including a season where he averaged better than 35 points a game.
With five titles (four in decade), seven NBA Finals appearances (six in decade) and perennial All-Star honors, Kobe solidified his status as one of the top five players in NBA history during this decade.