NBA.com takes a look back at the top moments that define the history of the NBA.
> LeBron, Warriors Take Spotlight (2010s)
The center of the basketball universe relocated to Miami in the summer of 2010 when LeBron James announced his plan to join Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh with the Heat.
At age 22, Rose became the youngest MVP winner in NBA history at 22 years and 191 days old on the final day of the regular season. In doing so, he joined five-time MVP winner Michael Jordan as the only Bulls players to claim the league’s top award.
After two previous defeats, the 2012 Finals were a different story for LeBron James. His numbers were glimmering (28.6 points, 10.2 rebounds, 7.4 assists) as the Heat blasted Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and James Harden’s Thunder in five games to secure the championship that eluded him for so long.
The American team average margin of victory at the 2012 London Games was 32.1 points a game. After a hard-fought win over Spain in the gold medal game, Team USA was back on top on the world basketball stage.
The 2013 Finals culminated in a classic Game 7, with LeBron James (37 points) and the Heat finally vanquishing the Spurs in the final minute to clinch their second straight championship. But it wouldn’t have happened without Ray Allen’s miraculous 3-pointer in the dying seconds of Game 6.
With the mighty Lakers in decline, the door was open for another team (or teams) to own the 2010s. First through were the Miami Heat, courtesy of “The Decision” made by LeBron James to take his talents to South Beach. And later in the decade, Stephen Curry and the Warriors also staked a claim to dynasty status.
The Spurs entered the 2013-14 season licking their wounds after perhaps the biggest collapse in NBA history, in which they squandered a last-minute lead to the Heat in Game 6 of The Finals before dropping Game 7 in another heartbreaker. Rather than fold, they recovered to exact sweet revenge on the Heat.
On July 11, 2014, four years after taking his talents to South Beach, LeBron James decided he had unfinished business in Cleveland and returned to his original team via free agency.
From Kobe Bryant to Allen Iverson to Tim Duncan, multiple household names saw their careers draw to a close before the end of the 2010s.
On June 4, 2015, Cleveland and Golden State met to tip off a Finals showdown, the first of four straight battles in the championship round.
The Golden State Warriors entered the 2015-16 season as a rare breed — defending champions with a chip on their shoulders. By the time that season ended, another place in NBA lore was firmly in their grasp.
The city of Cleveland ended its 52-year championship drought when LeBron James and the Cavaliers stunned the Golden State Warriors to win the 2016 NBA Finals. Rallying from 3-1 down, the Cavaliers became the first team in NBA history to recover from such a deficit in the championship round.
By the end of the summer of 2016, the only numbers that mattered were 16 and 0. That was the mark the United States amassed over two Olympic Games in the decade as it secured two more gold medals.
By the summer of 2016, Kevin Durant was a true NBA superstar as well as an unrestricted free agent. He shocked the NBA world at large when he opted to leave Oklahoma City for Golden State, which had enough cash to sign the four-time scoring champion thanks to a huge spike in the NBA’s salary cap.
For 55 seasons, Oscar Robertson stood alone as the only player to average a triple-double for a season. Enter Russell Westbrook, who averaged 31.6 points, 10.7 rebounds and 10.4 assists in 2016-17 to match an achievement thought to be unreachable.
Golden State went 16-1 in the 2017 playoffs en route to the championship. The following season, the Warriors brushed the Cavaliers aside in four straight games, claiming back-to-back titles and their third in four years. Kevin Durant was the MVP in both series, securing his place in NBA history as one of the all-time greats.