End of Decade Sports Review, best sports rivalries, college football players, fantasy players, comebacks
Decade in Review: Sports

Sports Channel / Bullz-Eye Home

Have something to add to our decade list? Visit The Scores Report!
Visit our Decade in Review landing page for a look at the past 10 years in television, music and movies.

There has been no shortage of great sports memories this past decade: From the birth of “Red Sox Nation,” to Michael Vick’s dog-fighting scandal, to Brett Favre’s on-again/off-again retirement plans, the ‘00s had it all. To help commemorate the decade that was in sports, we’ve compiled a series of lists and rankings so that we can relive some of the greatest rivalries, upsets, comebacks, storylines and much more from the past 10 years. We encourage our readers to discuss these lists at The Scores Report because, after all, what would sports be without a spirited debate?

Scroll through the entire list below, or click to a specific post from this list:

10 Biggest Betrayals | Saddest Franchises | 10 Biggest Upsets | 8 Greatest Comebacks | 6 Greatest Rivalries | 5 Biggest Quarterback Busts | 10 Worst NFL Head Coaching Hires | 10 Worst NFL Free Agent Signings | Greatest Fantasy Football Players | 15 Best College Football Players | 10 Best Second Round NBA Picks | 10 Best Late-First Round NBA Picks | 10 Biggest NBA Draft Blunders | 10 Pivotal MLB Trades 

Decade Debate: Saddest Franchises

Lion fans have been suffering a slow death since 2001. That was the year that William Clay Ford, Sr. made the worst hire in the history of mankind, appointing Matt Millen as the team’s GM and president. With Millen steering the ship, the franchise sank to the bottom of NFL purgatory and hasn’t been seen since. The misery started early in the decade when they became the only team in NFL history not to win on the road for three consecutive seasons (2001-2003). The streak of 24 games finally ended with a 20-16 win over the Bears in September of 2004, but by that time the Lions already had ownership of the horrendous record. Of course, the road steak would have been fine if it were the worst thing that the Lions owned this decade. But in 2008, the team did the unthinkable by becoming the first 0-16 team in NFL history. The only good thing that came out of their 0-16 losing streak was that Millen was finally fired, but the damage was already done. Over Millen’s seven seasons as the team’s GM and president, the Lions owned the NFL’s worst winning percentage at 31-81 (.277). They had just one winning season this decade (2001, one year before Millen’s tenure), have had seven different head coaches and one 0-16 season. Perhaps what’s worse than the 0-16 season, the road streak and all the head coaching changes, is that Millen left the team so devoid of talent that they once again had to rebuild from nothing this past offseason. A monkey could have crapped in his hand and threw it against a wall and picked out better prospects this past decade than Millen did. (Let’s hold a moment of silence for fans that actually bought Joey Harrington, Charles Rogers, Roy Williams, Kevin Jones and Mike Williams jerseys over the years.) Good luck pointing out a group of fans that have suffered more this decade than Lions fans. It’s shocking they’re not extinct by now.

When it comes to the NFL, nobody touches the Lions as the saddest franchise this past decade, but the Browns come damn close. In 2000, Cleveland finished with a 3-13 record, but that’s not what infuriated fans the most. It was the fact that the Baltimore Ravens (the former Cleveland Browns) won the Super Bowl that year. Imagine rooting for a team for several years and seeing it get to the Super Bowl, yet as a completely different franchise. Talk about a kick to the marbles. Two years later in 2002, the Browns finished with a 9-7 record and made the postseason under head coach Butch Davis. But in the first round, they blew a 33-21 lead in under six minutes to lose to the Steelers, 36-33. It would be the last time the Browns would make the playoffs this decade, even though they finished with a 10-6 record in 2007 (they missed the postseason because of tie breakers). What’s worse, being a Lion fan and having zero expectations year after year, or being a Browns fan and seeing whatever little expectations you have crushed like a bug under a boot?

The Clippers had one winning season during the decade. . It was in 2005-06 back when Elton Brand was an All-Star and Sam Cassell could still lead a team. Otherwise, the franchise has been completely pathetic. Elgin Baylor proved to be a far better player than general manager. He struggled in the draft, picking Darius Miles, Chris Wilcox, Melvin Ely, Shaun Livingston, and Yaroslav Korolev in the first round. Mike Dunleavy utilized that ’06 run to the Western Conference Semis to (somehow) convince owner Donald Sterling that he deserved an extension and a promotion, eventually replacing Baylor as a GM. Last summer, when it looked like the Clippers were on the verge of putting together an Elton Brand/Baron Davis duo, Brand pulled a 180 and signed with the Sixers. Then they win the #1 pick and the right to draft Blake Griffin, and the rookie goes down with a knee injury. For a multitude of reasons – ineptitude and bad luck, first and foremost – the Clippers just couldn’t win in the ‘00s.

The Knicks actually had a pretty good team early in the decade; Jeff Van Gundy led the 2000-01 Knicks to their 14th-straight playoff appearance, but over the next eight seasons, the franchise would only make the postseason once (in 2003-04), in part because it made the disastrous mistake of hiring Isiah Thomas as its general manager. Zeke could draft, but he had zero trade sense and was routinely abused by other GMs. Given the fact that the Knicks had by far the biggest payroll during the ‘00s, their propensity for losing is inexcusable. .

No team in baseball has given its fans so much hope, only to let them down. The organization is the consummate tease, leaving its fans with a Major League case of blue balls season after unsatisfied season. Even with one of the largest payrolls in the game and numerous All Stars on their roster, lesser teams consistently spoil their efforts. To think, their decade started out on a relatively high note. After capturing the NL wild card in 2000, they beat the San Francisco Giants and St. Louis Cardinals en route to the World Series against the New York Yankees. Although the Mets lost in five games, fans anticipated good things down the line. Nope. The Mets failed to make the playoffs the next five seasons, dealing with the uninspired play of acquired players (Mo Vaughn, Roberto Alomar), the toll on their farm system, a battle over team ownership, and the decline of franchise player Mike Piazza. Undeterred, the Mets had a marvelous 2006 under new GM Omar Minaya and new manager Willie Randolph. Nevertheless, despite boasting six All Stars (Carlos Beltran, Paul Lo Duca, Tom Glavine, Pedro Martinez, and newcomers David Wright and Jose Reyes), they once again cracked under pressure in the playoffs, surrendering Game 7 of the NLCS to the Cardinals. In both 2008 and 2009, they would be eliminated from playoff contention by the Florida Marlins in the season’s final game. This last season, 20 of their players were injured, combining for 1,480 days on the disabled list. The home opener at their new, beautiful ballpark must have been a sign of things to come. In front of a packed house filled with diehard fans, the Mets lost to the San Diego Padres. Now that is truly sad.

The Pittsburgh Pirates are in the midst of a 17-year losing streak, a record in professional sports. That’s the only record they broke this past decade. If Robert Nutting isn’t one of the most selfish owners in baseball, then he is undoubtedly one of the most incompetent. Of course, he’s simply following the protocol established by previous owner Kevin McClatchy: ship out your young players coming up on big contracts. Aramis Ramirez, Jason Bay, Xavier Nady, Freddy Sanchez, Nate McLouth, and Nyjer Morgan all spent time and excelled in Pittsburgh. Yet, none completed more than five seasons before being traded. Under McClatchy and Nutting, the Pirates have become a glorified farm team instead of the decorated champions they once were. Pirates enthusiasts can’t attend a home game and expect to watch their favorite players – they might be gone. Instead, they arrive at PNC Park to either take in some sun, admire the opposition, or grab a Primanti Brothers sandwich. These are the fans that came up with the idea of having no expectations. That commands respect. If you see a person on the street wearing Pittsburgh Pirates paraphernalia, give them a hug. They are humility personified.

Decade Debate: 10 Biggest Betrayals

Decade Debate: 10 Pivotal MLB Trades

While many Boston fans were sad to see Nomar Garciaparra traded to the Cubs as part of a four-team deal that sent Orlando Cabrera and Doug Mientkiewicz to the BoSox, they can’t deny that the deal worked out in the end. Thanks to the contributions of Cabrera and Mientkiewicz during the year, the Red Sox went on to win the 2004 World Series – their first in 86 years. A groin injury derailed Nomar’s days in Chicago, although he did wind up getting a World Series ring for his half season in Boston. It was well-deserved recognition for a player that had meant a lot to the Red Sox organization.

Did the Brewers win a World Series after unloading prospects Matt LaPorta, Zach Johnson, Rob Bryson and Michael Brantley for CC Sabathia in 2008? No, but that hardly takes away from Sabathia’s value that season. He virtually lifted Milwaukee into the postseason almost single-handily that year by posting an 11-2 record with a 2.70 EA. Granted, he was rocked for five runs in only 3.2 innings by the Phillies in Game 2 of the 2008 NLDS, but the fact that he finished sixth in the NL MVP award voting that year proves how much he meant to Milwaukee.

Fed up with his sandbagging attitude, the Red Sox eventually decided to part ways with slugger Manny Ramirez in 2008 by sending him to the Dodgers in a three-team deal that also sent Jason Bay from the Pirates to the Red Sox. Ramirez immediately became a fan favorite in L.A. by helping lead the Dodgers to the NLCS and back into the postseason in 2009. Despite a long, dragged out negotiation process and a drug suspension, Manny remains a favorite in L.A. Meanwhile, Bay put up solid numbers for the Red Sox, although he doesn’t look long for Boston at the moment. As for the Pirates (who acquired prospects Andy LaRoche, Bryan Morris, Brandon Moss and Craig Hansen), they appear to have gotten the short end of the deal, but it’s still too early to tell what kind of an impact these players will have in the future.

Nobody thought the Rays had any shot at making a World Series run in 2008, but they proved everyone wrong by making their first championship appearance in club history. One of the trades that many forget that aided Tampa in '08 was the one that sent Delmon Young, Brendan Harris and Jason Pridie to the Twins in exchange for Matt Garza, Jason Bartlett and Eduardo Morlan. Bartlett went on to become the Rays’ MVP that season, which was chosen by local Tampa sportswriters, and was also named to the 2009 All-Star Game. Garza posted an 11-9 record with a 3.70 ERA in 2008 and earned series MVP honors for helping the Rays beat the Red Sox in the ALCS that year. He posted a sparklingly 1.39 ERA in two starts and also earned a victory in the decisive Game 7.

Back when they were still the Expos in 2002, Montreal GM Omar Minaya thought that the franchise was going to be contracted. With that in mind, he traded away his top three prospects (Cliff Lee, Grady Sizemore and Brandon Phillips) to the Indians in exchange for starter Bartolo Colon. But the Expos never made the playoffs that season and two years later they moved to Washington, D.C. to become the Nationals. Colon went on to sign with the White Sox in 2003, while Lee and Sizemore soon became stars for Cleveland. Phillips took longer to develop and was eventually traded to Cincinnati, where he is one of the Reds' top performers. One traded affected three clubs in varying ways.

Despite winning the World Series in 2008, the Phillies felt they needed one more piece in 2009 to ensure themselves of another run in 2009. So they sent prospects Carlos Carrasco, Jason Donald, Lou Marson and Jason Knapp to the Indians in exchange for ace Cliff Lee and outfielder Ben Francisco. Lee paid immediate dividends for the Phillies by compiling a 5-0 record with 39 strikeouts and a 0.68 ERA in his first five starts for Philadelphia. He also pitched a complete game in Game 1 of the 2009 World Series, earning a victory against the Yankees. He was also the winning pitcher in Game 5 of the Series, although the Phillies eventually lost to the Yankees in six games.

In 2000, Curt Schilling was traded to the Diamondbacks for first baseman Travis Lee and pitchers Vicente Padilla, Omar Daal and Nelson Figueroa. He posted a 22-6 record with Arizona, as well as a 2.98 ERA in 2001 and also went 4-0 with a 1.12 ERA in the postseason that year. Along with teammate Randy Johnson, Schilling was named the 2001 World Series MVP for helping the Diamondbacks upset the Yankees in the championship. It would be the first of two times this decade that Schilling would help a club win a World Series after being acquired in a trade.

In what can only be described now as outright theft, the Red Sox acquired starter Curt Schilling from the Diamondbacks for Brandon Lyon and Casey Fossum. Schilling helped Boston win two World Series titles (2004 and 2007), while Fossum lasted just one year in Arizona before the D-Backs traded him to the Rays for outfielder Jose Cruz, Jr. While he wasn’t spectacular, Lyon turned out to be a bargain for Arizona. Of course, the impact he made for the D-Backs was nothing compared to what Schilling brought to the Red Sox.

In the fall of 2005, the Red Sox were looking to acquire an ace for atop their rotation, while the Marlins were looking to trim payroll. The clubs made solid trading partners as Boston acquired pitchers Josh Beckett and Guillermo Mota, as well as third baseman Mike Lowell from Florida in exchange for minor league prospects Hanley Ramirez, Anibal Sanchez, Jesus Delgado and Harvey Garcia. Beckett has been everything the BoSox had hoped for by helping the club win the 2007 World Series (with Lowell’s help), while Ramirez has become the face of the Marlins’ organization.

In 2004, Alex Rodriguez appeared to be heading to Boston and had the players union signed off on a trade that would have diminished the value of his record $252 million contract, he may still be there today. Instead, the BoSox’s most hated rival swooped in with a blockbuster deal that sent Alfonso Soriano and prospect Joaquin Arias to the Rangers in exchange for A-Rod. While it took years for the trade to pay off for the Yankees in terms of championships, A-Rod played a key role in helping the Bombers win the 2009 World Series.

- Mets acquire Johan Santana - Mariners trade Ken Griffey to Reds - A’s trade Mark Mulder to the Cardinals for Dan Haren and prospects - A’s trade Tim Hudson to Braves - Tigers acquire Miguel Cabrera - Dodgers trade Paul LoDuca to Marlins for Brad Penny and Hee Seop Choi - Giants trade Joe Nathan, Francisco Liriano and Boof Bonser for one year of A.J. Pierzynski - Roy Halladay to the Phillies? Cliff Lee to the Mariners?

Decade Debate: 10 Biggest Upsets

Decade Debate: 8 Greatest Comebacks

Jennifer Capriati and Martina Hingis led very similar careers. Both set several “youngest-ever” records before a combination of drug charges and nagging injuries challenged their potential. While Hingis chose to bow out at the height of her turmoil, Capriati soldiered onward. In 1994, Capriati was busted for marijuana possession. After a feeble return to the game, she retreated for 15 months. But never say die. By February of 1996, she finally meant business. Over the next two years, Capriati would earn three Grand Slam championships, blossoming into a dominant player during a particularly competitive era in women’s tennis. Of those wins, her match against Martina Hingis in the 2002 Australian Open final is a shoe-in for any list of ultimate comebacks. Down 6-4, 4-0, Capriati miraculously saved four match points, a Grand Slam record. The merciless sun blaring, Capriati kept fighting and fighting. As her opponent wavered, Capriati capitalized, eventually winning the match 4–6, 7–6, 6–2.

This was a great series comeback as well (Detroit led, 2-0), but the Kings’ rally in Game 4 was one for the ages. Trailing in the series, 2-1, and down 3-0 with just six minutes to play in the third period, the 7th-seeded Kings didn’t look long for the playoffs. But goals by Scott Thomas and Jozef Stumpel trimmed the Red Wings’ lead to one, and Bryan Smolinski’s game-tying goal with 0:53 remaining sent the Staples Center into a frenzy and the game into overtime. There, the rookie Eric Belanger capped off the “Stunner at Staples” with the game-winning goal. The Kings went on to win the series, 4-2.

The Champions League is the top football competition in Europe, so the Final is akin to the NFL’s Super Bowl. Milan built a 3-0 lead in the first half and looked to be well on its way to its seventh European Cup. But Liverpool erased the lead with three goals in a six-minute span in the second half, and after a scoreless overtime, Liverpool won its fifth European Cup on penalty shots (3-2). The match was dubbed the “Miracle of Istanbul,” for good reason.

There have been some thrilling NFL comebacks this past decade, from the Jets’ Monday night miracle over the Dolphins in 2000, to the Bears’ “they-are-who-we-thought-they-were” rally over the Cardinals in 2006, to the Colts’ 21-point OT thriller over the Bucs in 2003. But none of those had the magnitude of the 49ers’ comeback over the Giants in the 2002 playoffs. Facing a 38-14 deficit late in the third quarter, Jeff Garcia hit Terrell Owens on a 26-yard touchdown pass, and again on the 2-point attempt. After forcing a three-and-out, San Fran cut the deficit to 38-30 five seconds into the fourth quarter when Garcia rushed for a 14-yard touchdown and Owens again caught a 2-point conversion. The 49ers added a field goal midway through the quarter to cut the Giants’ lead to 38-33, but New York responded with a drive to the San Fran 24-yard line. With 3:01 remaining, the Giants lined up for a field goal attempt that would have given them an eight-point advantage, but Mark Bryant missed a 42-yard attempt to give the Niners hope. Garcia took advantage by finding Tai Streets for a 13-yard touchdown pass and even though their 2-point conversion attempt failed, the 49ers had the lead at 39-38 with just two minutes remaining. What happened next is pure misery for Giants fans. Kerry Collins led New York to the San Fran 23-yard line with just six seconds remaining and put the G-Men in position to win with a field goal. But newly signed long snapper Trey Junkin botched the snap and after a desperation pass by punter Matt Allen fell incomplete, the Niners began celebrating. The Giants’ sideline immediately started screaming for a flag because on the play, guard Rich Seubert (who became Allen’s intended receiver) was yanked down by 49ers’ defensive end Chike Okeafor. But the officials called Seubert for illegally being down field and San Fran held onto the victory. One day later, NFL Vice President of officiating Mike Pereira admitted that pass interference should have been called on Okeafor because Seubert was a legal receiver, which would have given the Giants another field goal attempt. Instead of winning a playoff game and advancing to the next round, the Giants were sent home as victims of one of the greatest playoff comebacks in NFL history.

Heading into Game 3 in Miami, the Dallas Mavericks led the series, 2-0. They played well through three quarters, and held a 13-point lead with just over six minutes to play in the final period. No team had ever come back from an 0-3 deficit to win the Finals, so had the Mavs held on in Game 3, they were almost certainly going to clinch the title. Unfortunately for Dallas, it was at this point that Dwyane Wade decided he was going to become a superstar. He attacked the rim relentlessly, scoring 12 points in Miami’s ensuing 22-7 run, which gave the Heat the unlikely 98-96 victory and new life in the series. The Mavs never recovered. They were blown out in Game 4, lost at home in overtime in Game 5 and lost another tight one in Game 6. During that four-game run, Wade averaged 39.3 points, capping off one of the best Finals performances of all time. Sure, he got a lot of help from some whistle-happy refs, but it’s still one of the greatest “from the brink” comebacks in the history of sport.

The 2006 Rose Bowl will arguably go down as the greatest national championship matchup ever, as USC and Texas had been ranked 1-2 for the entire season. With just under four minutes remaining, the Trojans held a 38-26 lead, but the Longhorns cut the deficit to five when Vince Young scrambled for a 6-yard score. On their ensuing possession, the Trojans threatened to run the clock out by marching methodically up the field. Facing a 4th-and-2 at the Texas 45-yard line, USC was set to use battering ram LenDale White to pick up the first down and effectively end the Longhorns’ chances at a comeback. White had already scored three touchdowns in the game, so it would make sense to give him the ball in order to pick up the critical first down. But the Longhorn defense adjusted at the line of scrimmage and stopped White one yard shy of the marker. With 2:09 left to play, Young would embark on a drive that would make him a college football legend. On that critical drive, Texas faced a 3rd-and-12, but converted thanks to a seven-yard pass pickup and a 15-yard USC facemask penalty. With the ball at the Trojans’ 46-yard line, Young rushed once for seven yards and threw two passes totaling 26 yards to receiver Brian Carter to move the ball to the USC 13-yard line. After moving the ball to the 8-yard line on the next three plays, Texas faced a 4th-and-5 and it would appear that their comeback would fall short. But after taking a snap from shotgun, Young scrambled toward the right sideline and thanks to a crucial block by offensive lineman Justin Blalock, the fleet-footed quarterback scored to give Texas a one-point lead. Young then converted on a two-point conversion to push the score to 41-38. Matt Leinart and the Trojans got the ball back, but could only drive the ball to the Texas 43-yard line before time expired. USC's 12-point lead had vanished in a matter of four minutes.

Memphis had a nine-point lead with 2:12 to play, but had been battling poor free throw shooting all season. In fact, the Tigers’ accuracy from the charity stripe came up earlier in the tournament, when they almost blew a win over Mississippi State. After that game, John Calipari even to say that he wasn’t all that worried about it. (He did have a point – this late in the season, what are you going to do about poor free throw shooting? If you talk to your team about it, it’s just going to make them tighter when they go to the line.) Anyway, as the Jayhawks started their comeback, Memphis missed four straight free throws that could have iced the game. The Tigers still led by three with just 0:10 to play when . Memphis was shellshocked. In overtime, Kansas jumped out with a 6-0 run and eventually outscored Memphis 12-5 in the extra period to seal the 75-68 win.

The phrase, “never say never” fits perfectly with the 2004 ALCS. The Yankees had built a 3-0 lead rather easily, so with the Red Sox trailing 4-3 in the ninth inning of Game 4, a sweep seemed imminent. But after a Dave Roberts steal, a Bill Mueller single and a game-winning, extra innings home run by David Ortiz, Boston had finally earned a victory. So what? They were still down 3-1 and no team in MLB history had ever come back to win a series after being down 3-0. The Yankees had complete control and certainly wouldn’t allow the BoSox to mount a comeback, right? Wrong. That’s exactly what happened. Ortiz also won Game 5 with a single in the fourteenth inning and then Curt Schilling and his now-infamous bloody sock pitched seven strong innings to help lead the Red Sox to a series-tying Game 6 victory. Suddenly, Boston had all the momentum and was now just one win away from pulling off the greatest comeback in ALCS history. In the deciding game, Boston shocked the Yankees by crushing them 10-3 in front of a stunned Bronx crowd. David Ortiz was named series MVP, Boston went on to win their first World Series in 86 years, and Red Sox fans actually became the Red Sox Nation.

Decade Debate: 15 Best College Football Players

Decade Debate: 10 Best Second Round NBA Picks

Not only was CDR (the player, not the recordable compact disc) one of the most efficient scorers in the nation during his junior year at Memphis, he was also a consensus first team All-America selection and the C-USA Male Athlete of the Year. He hit 54% from the field and 41% from long range. Yet this wasn't enough to convince an NBA team to pick him in the first round. The biggest knock on him was his lack of strength, but he has gained 10 lbs since college and after a quiet rookie campaign, he's averaging 17-5-2 and has started 15 of 17 games for the Nets. Yes, the Nets suck, but still. At the very least it looks like he's capable of being a sixth man for a contender, and that's a great find in the second round.

Marc was the "bag of peanuts" in the now infamous trade that sent his brother from Memphis to the Lakers for Javaris Crittenton, Kwame Brown's expiring contract, and a bag of peanuts. (This trade eventually led to Kobe's first title without Shaq, so he no longer has to tell Shaq how his a** tastes.) In his second season for the Grizzlies, Gasol is averaging 15-10, 61% shooting and 1.6 blocks per game. When he was drafted, scouts complained about his lack of athleticism and the fact that he was a little overweight. No one is going to confuse him with his brother, but Marc is a good player in his own right.

Say what you will about Isiah Thomas the GM, but he did have an eye for talent in the draft. Ariza turned pro after a single so-so season at UCLA (12-7-2); the biggest knock was his sketchy jumper. In the middle of his second season with the Knicks, Thomas traded him to Orlando (along with Penny Hardaway) for a washed up Steve Francis. Ariza showed some promise with the Magic, but was shipped to the Lakers for Maurice Evans and Brian Cook. There, he blossomed into a strong defender and solid spot up shooter, posting 11-4-2 and hitting 48% of his three-point attempts during the Lakers' 23-game playoff run this past spring. Oddly enough, when he hit free agency this summer, his agent overplayed his hand and the Lakers elected to sign Ron Artest instead of re-signing Ariza. Now with the Rockets, Ariza is averaging 18-5-4 but is shooting just 38% from the field.

Is the 24 year-old Millsap destined to be a star? Given the fat contract they signed him to this summer, the Utah Jazz sure think so. And considering his stats as a starter last season (16-10-2 and 54% from the field in 38 games), he looks every bit the part. At Louisiana Tech, he became the only player in history to lead the NCAA in rebounding for three straight seasons (12.8 rpg), and since rebounding is one stat that translates really well to the NBA, why would he last until the second round? Well, scouts were down on his size (6'7" - 6'8") and didn't think he'd be able to score inside on bigger players. Needless to say, they were wrong. Millsap is bound for a breakout season once Carlos Boozer signs elsewhere next summer.

If not for the boneheaded moped accident that ate up most of his 2008-09 season, Ellis might be higher on this list. He won the Most Improved Player in his second season and is currently averaging 25-5-4 on 46% shooting plus 2.4 steals per game. He entered the draft straight out of high school, and although scouts said he was a very gifted offensive player, they thought he was a shooting guard in a point guard's body and there were those that wondered about his basketball IQ. In fact, . Well, as it turns out, Ellis is a shooting guard in a point guard's body, and he's a lot better than Dajuan Wagner. At just 24, he has a great chance to move up this list, assuming he stays off the mopeds, that is.

The Jazz drafted Williams and subsequently traded him to the Bucks. At Alabama, he was a shoot-first point guard who couldn't shoot all that well (41% FG, 32% 3PT), but during his time with the Bucks, he developed into one of the best scoring guards in the league. In the 2006-07 season, he averaged 17-4-6 and shot 48% from the field and 39% from long range. The Bucks traded him to Cleveland (for Luke Ridnour, of all people) in a salary dump. There, he posted an 18-4-4 season and made the All-Star Game as an alternate. Now he's the perfect sidekick for LeBron -- he's a great long-range shooter (43%+ 3PT since joining the Cavs) and he can carry the offense when LeBron needs a break.

Scouts wondered if Okur could defend in the post and were worried about his lack of athleticism. When he started getting big minutes as part of Detroit's talented front line from 2002 to 2004, he proved he could hang. Okur's best statistical season came in his second season after signing with Utah, when he averaged 18-9-2. But he was actually named to the All-Star Game in the season ('07). He's a seven-footer with legit 3PT range; over the past year and a quarter, he has nailed better than 44% of his three-point attempts. This accuracy means that he's able to draw opposing centers away from the basket, which opens things up for Deron Williams and Carlos Boozer. Sure, he looks like one of your old college buddies who never went to class and ate too many Twinkies, but the guy can ball.

Redd was a productive scorer at Ohio State, but he has never been a great athlete, and he didn't develop his dead-eye jumper until joining the Bucks. He had a nice three-year run from 2003 to 2006 where he averaged 23-4-3 and only missed nine games. The key is that last stat: . Because over the next three seasons, he missed 88 games, and he has been sidelined much of this season. He was an All-Star and All-NBA 3rd Team in the same season (2004). Needless to say, with all the injuries, his stock has taken quite the hit, and he has now turned into one of those overpaid, underperforming franchise players who can't carry their franchise. But in his heyday, he could . In 2006, I saw him drop 45 points on Kobe to help the Bucks upset the Lakers in L.A. He averaged 30.4 points that month, which also included a 57-point game against Utah. Redd's release is about as quick as they come.

Of the ten players on this list, the Jazz drafted two and signed two as free agents. Boozer falls into the latter category. How did a future two-time All-Star and All-NBA 3rd Team player slip into the second round? Scouts were down on his size, athleticism and lack of a jumper while at Duke. But as the league continued to get smaller in the mid-'00s, Boozer was right at home at power forward. It didn't hurt that he developed a killer 15-footer or that his release was high enough that he could get it off over bigger defenders. He peaked in 2007-08 with a 21-10-3 season that gave him his second All-Star nod and his only All-NBA (3rd Team) honors. Cleveland fans remember Boozer as the one who got away. It's rumored that the Cavs made an (illegal) with Boozer's camp that would release him from the final year of his rookie contract so they could sign him to a longer deal. After becoming an unrestricted free agent, the Jazz essentially doubled the Cavs' (alleged) offer and Boozer took it. To this day, Boozer denies that there was an (illegal) deal in place. It's a shame, because a LeBron-Boozer combo might have already brought a championship to the city of Cleveland.

Simply stated, Arenas is one of the best offensive combo guards to ever play the game. But it was that "combo" status that drove him out of the first round. Scouts didn't think he was big enough to be a shooting guard and lacked the playmaking skills to be a true point guard. In a sense, they were right. But Arenas is so good that his talent trumps his lack of a true position. He handles the ball for the Wizards and turns it over a lot, but he also scores a . His best year was in 2005-06, when he averaged 29-4-6 and shot 45% from the field and 37% from 3PT. He has received All-Star and All-NBA honors three times each, and before a knee injury derailed his career in 2007, he was one of the most electrifying (and quirky) players in the league. After missing almost two full seasons rehabbing that knee, he's back with the Wizards averaging 20-4-7 but shooting under 40%. Hopefully, we'll be soon able to see the Gilbert of old once again.

Decade Debate: 10 Worst NFL Head Coaching Hires

Decade Debate: 10 Best Late-First Round NBA Picks

Martin is one of the best scorers in the league. Before a broken hand derailed his 2009-10 campaign, he was averaging 31-5-3 and was nailing 45% of his 3PT attempts. The Kings got him late in the first because he played at Western Carolina and has busted form on his jumper. Hey, it goes in, and that's all that matters.

Say what you will about Isiah Thomas the GM. Zeke the scout had an eye for talent. Lee averaged a double-double in his second season, and as Mike D'Antoni implemented his up-tempo attack, Lee's numbers grew to 16-12 (on 55% shooting) last season. He's bound to get a fat contract next summer, but how much are his numbers inflated playing for D'Antoni?

Let's see -- "J-Smoove" has posted four straight years of 15+ points and 7+ rebounds, plus at least 2.8 blocks in three of his last four seasons, and he's just 23 since he entered the league straight out of high school. If he is able to fulfill his potential, he'll surely move up this list. Versatile enough to play either forward position, Smith is coming into his own this season, averaging 16-9-4 with 2.8 blocks through 18 games. It helps that he's not jacking the outside shot like he used to.

The Celtics deserve credit for this one as they traded for Rondo on draft day. Rondo isn't a very good shooter, but he does everything else well, not unlike Jason Kidd. Last season, he averaged 12-5-8 with two steals, and was named to the All-Defensive 2nd Team. In the playoffs, he averaged 17-10-10 and helped the Celtics advance to the Eastern Conference Semis without Kevin Garnett. So far this season, Rondo is averaging 11-4-9, and is shooting 54% from the field. Simply stated, he's one of the very best two-way guards in the NBA.

Howard was the classic case of a four-year senior that didn't have any jaw-dropping skills, so he slipped all the way to the last pick in the first round. Over he last three seasons, he averaged at least 18-5, but he seems to have hit his ceiling and his reputation has taken a hit with some...um... off court decisions.

The Magic acquired Nelson after the draft and haven't looked back. Deemed too short for the NBA -- he's listed at a very generous 6'0" -- scouts thought that Nelson's ceiling was as a backup, but the league's rule changes (handchecking) and his dead-eye shooting made him an All-Star last season. He averaged 17-5-4 and shot 50% from the field, 45% from 3PT and 89% from the free throw line.

West's career really took off in 2005, when he joined forces with rookie Chris Paul to form a dangerous one-two punch. He's a terrific mid-range jumpshooter, which is a perfect complement for Paul's drive-and-dish game. Over the past two years, West has averaged 21-9 and shot at least 47% from the field, making the All-Star Game in both seasons.

I'm projecting a bit by putting Granger ahead of West here, but he made his first All-Star Game when he was 25, while West made his first at the age of 27. Granger also isn't dependent on a point guard like West is. Over the last season and a quarter, Granger is averaging 25-6-3 and looks like he'll be All-Star caliber for the foreseeable future. The guy is just a terrific scorer.

How many All-Star nods are four All-Defensive 2nd Team honors (from '05-'08) worth? I don't know, but when the same player is posting 14-6-3 and is shooting 46% from the field, he gets to be #2 on this list. Maybe those aren't eye-popping stats, but how much damage did he do on the defensive end? Four straight All-Defensive nods is as beautiful as Prince's jumper is ugly.

Parker has three All-Star nods ('06, '07 and '09), an All-NBA 3rd Team ('09) and a Finals MVP ('07) under his belt and he's only 27 years-old. It has been fun to watch Parker develop from a clueless rookie to one of the most difficult covers in the league (married to one of the ). He's lightning quick, is a solid playmaker and has an improving jumper. But the big question is -- can he carry a team once Tim Duncan retires?

Decade Debate: 10 Worst NFL Free Agent Signings

Decade Debate: 5 Biggest Quarterback Busts

Decade Debate: 10 Biggest NBA Draft Blunders

Decade Debate: Greatest Fantasy Players

Let's see, from 2000 to 2008, Manning has averaged 4,195 passing yards, 31.2 touchdowns, and only 13.6 interceptions. He is the model of consistency, never missing a start and finishing in the top 6 each and every season. In 2009, he's on pace for another 4,967 yards and 35 TD. At just 33 years of age, the durable Manning has a shot at being the top fantasy QB of the '10s as well.

From 2001 to 2008, LT2 averaged 1,470 rushing yards and 15.8 rushing touchdowns per season and missed only one start during that span. He also racked up an average of 64 catches (for 475 yards and 1.9 receiving TDs) in those eight seasons. The guy was a juggernaut; owners that had him during his incredible run from '02 to '07 -- where he averaged 2,070 total yards and 19.8 total TD -- were almost impossible to beat. Amazingly enough, when Tomlinson came into the league as a rookie, someone in my keeper league actually passed on him and drafted Michael Bennett instead. The lucky owner who landed LT2 went on to win three titles over the next few years.

Some might say that Terrrell Owens or Randy Moss should get this honor, but those guys are flakes. They might post a huge fantasy day, or they might spend the afternoon screaming at their quarterback or sulking on the sideline. Fantasy owners could count on Harrison -- the guy was a flat-out pro. In the seven year span from 2000 to 2006, he was ranked in the top 5 six times and never fell out of the top 10. He averaged 102 catches for 1365 yards and 12.7 TD, and only missed two starts in those seven seasons. In 2007, Harrison suffered a knee injury and missed 11 games. It was the only season where he was a disappointment to those owners that drafted him in the early rounds.

While Antonio Gates certainly deserves mention, Gonzo has sustained excellence for the entire decade. From 2000 to 2008, he averaged 83.1 catches for 1,011 yards and 6.8 TD, which are outstanding numbers for a tight end. During that nine-year span, he missed just one start and finished in the top 3 an astounding eight times. Even though he changed teams in the offseason, he is having another top 5 season. Gonzo is on pace for 89 catches for 969 yards and seven TD. Just another day at the job for this Hall of Famer.

Decade Debate: 6 Greatest Sports Rivalries

You can follow us on Twitter and Facebook for content updates. Also, sign up for our email list for weekly updates and check us out on Google+ as well.

Around the Web