It has been quite a decade in the NBA. The league has grown immensely in the last 10 years, thanks largely to superstars like LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Stephen Curry. With the decade about to come to a close, we take a closer look at some of the numbers that have defined it so far. And here they are:
There is no debating LeBron’s place among the all-time greats, and his 8 Finals appearances this decade underscore that. The King welcomed 2010 by taking his talents to Miami. He then took the Heat to the 2011 Finals, starting a remarkable run of 8 straight trips to the NBA’s biggest stage. Along the way, he cemented his legacy as an all-timer and became the league’s most bankable star. Fittingly, he made it onto Ladbrokes’ list of highest-earning athletes in the world, mostly due to his monstrous — but well-deserved salary — (north of $23 million annually) and his massive endorsement deals. This season, LeBron can add to his impressive run, as the Lakers are strong contenders for the Larry O’Brien Trophy. Of course, the league no longer needs LeBron to be torchbearer; but suffice to say this decade belonged to him.
LeBron defined this decade, yes, but Stephen Curry changed the game. The sure-handed, sweet-shooting Curry weaponized the three ball as no other player did, and his 2,483 triples for the Warriors are proof of this. As ESPN’s stat expert Kirk Goldsberry points out, Curry’s combination of perimeter volume and efficiency was unprecedented. Fittingly, the Davidson alum will “forever be associated with the dominant trends of this decade.” Notably, Curry made it a sound strategy to shoot the three ball, even off the dribble and from way down the court. Nowadays, more and more players pull up from deep, and that’s all because of Curry’s magnificent shooting.
31.6, 10.7, 10.4
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The decade was marked by some amazing individual performances, from Kobe Bryant’s 60-point retirement game to Klay Thompson’s 37-point quarter. But Russell Westbrook was super impressive in the 2016-2017 season. The Brodie did something that had never been done in 55 years: he averaged a triple-double. Westbrook averaged 31.6 points, 10.7 rebounds, and 10.4 assists per game for the Oklahoma Thunder, which he single-handedly continued to the playoffs. As if to prove a point, Westbrook also averaged a triple-double in the two seasons thereafter.
CNBC report that the NBA has been on a roll this decade, and increasing attendance figures in recent years show it. In fact, attendances for the 2017-2018 season were over 22 million, which has been a record for this decade. Moreover, it was the fourth consecutive year that overall attendances rose, underscoring the rising in interest in the league. Last season attendances dipped to 21,964,447, according to the official NBA website. But that’s only because arena enhancements led to 141,000 fewer available seats. Regardless, these numbers are a testament to the NBA’s undeniable popularity, which has grown over the last decade.
That’s how much billionaire Steve Ballmer bought the Los Angeles Clippers for in 2014. That amount is significant, and so was the circumstance that led to the Clippers’ sale. That year, Clippers owner Donald Sterling found himself embroiled in controversy, and it sent seismic waves throughout the sports world. Tapes of Sterling making racist comments were leaked and put his unflattering history front and center. The controversy nearly led to the Clippers boycotting the postseason. But the crisis was averted thanks to commissioner Adam Silver’s leadership and Doc Rivers’ even-keeled handling of the situation. Ultimately Sterling was banned from the NBA; the Clippers, on the other hand, were put up for sale. Enter Ballmer, who bought the Clippers that very same year. Today, Ballmer’s Clippers are title favorites, and seem to have put that controversy to rest.