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OTG's Defining NBA Moments of the Decade: Year 2010

OTG takes a look back at the top 5 NBA defining moments from each year throughout the past decade.

For the audio version of this article head to the link below:

LeBron James, Kobe Bryant Highlight the Turn of the Decade (2010)

Via. NBA.com

5. George Karl wins his 1000th game during Cancer Treatment

Via. NBA.com

Shortly after the 2010 All-Star Game, George Karl (who at that point in time was head coach of the Carmelo Anthony led Denver Nuggets) held a press conference to announce that he had been diagnosed with a treatable form of throat cancer. For Karl this meant his season was over as he would temporarily leave the team to seek medical treatment. Karl, however, would return to coach every single game during the 2010-11 season, including a December 10th victory over the Toronto Raptors which would mark his 1000th career win as a head coach. Not only did this prove his perseverance in beating cancer, but it was also a testament to how truly great Karl was as a head coach.

4. LeBron James Returns to Cleveland for the First Time

Via. Wall Street Journal

On December 2nd 2010, LeBron James returned to the city he called home for the first seven years of his NBA career – only this time he was entering perhaps the most hostile environment that an NBA game has ever taken place. It was must-see TV, and everyone around the NBA wanted to tune-in to see how the fans in Cleveland would react to James’ return. The Cavaliers began the game red hot, feeding off the electric atmosphere that was fuelled by hatred. LeBron, however, would catch fire himself in the second and third quarters and ultimately run-up such a big lead that he was able to sit for the entirety of the fourth. James finished with a game-high 38 points, all the while being booed and jeered mercilessly by a fanbase that adored him only just 6 months prior.

3. The Boston Celtics Eliminate LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers

Via. NBA.com

When the Boston Celtics’ big three of Paul Pierce, Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett joined forces in 2008, the power dynamic in the Eastern Conference shifted immediately. One year, James’ and the Cavs seemingly ended the Detroit Pistons stranglehold on the conference, a new even more imposing power took their place. For the next three seasons, James would be frustrated in the post-season, but none would be more disheartening than the 2010 second round elimination at the hands of the Celtics. James’ Cavs were coming into the playoffs as the number one having bolstered their roster by acquiring the likes of Shaquille O’Neal and Antwan Jamison. The Celtics on the other hand, limped into the postseason as the fourth seed – it didn’t matter. The Celtics disposed of the Cavaliers in six games, which would ultimately lead to one of the most ground-breaking occurrences of the decade.

2. Kobe Bryant Wins His Fifth NBA Championship

Via. NBA.com

It’s fair to assume that no one closed out the 2009-10 season NBA season on a higher note than the Black Mamba. Not only did Kobe lead the Los Angeles Lakers to their second straight NBA Championship, but they also were able to defeat their arch rivals, the Boston Celtics, in the process. However, this championship had even more significance to Bryant on a personal level as this was the second championship that he was able to capture without former teammate Shaquille O’Neal. Not only did Bryant prove that he could win a championship without the big guy, but with this being his fifth ring meant that he would end his illustrious career with one more championship ring than his rival.

1. The Decision

Via. NBA.com

“In this fall, I’m going to take my talents to South Beach and join the Miami Heat”. With that phrase, LeBron James not only rearranged the power dynamic in the NBA, but also changed how NBA player movement forever. Not only did The Decision instantly create a championship contender, it marked the first time players truly took their fate into their own hands. James had left his fate in the hands of executives for seven years to no avail – now he would be in control of his own destiny. The Miami Heat would go on to four straight NBA Finals appearance and two straight NBA championships, but the lasting influence was the impact that this decision would have on player movement and the future of the NBA.

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