5. Dwyane Wade
Say what you want about him, but the fact is that Dwyane Wade is one of the most loyal members of the Miami Heat franchise. Out of the whole Big Three, Wade is the only one that can be guaranteed to not take his talents elsewhere and test free agency, as his legacy in Miami has grown too much on him and the fans. The Miami Heat captured the NBA Championship in 2006 through the leadership of Wade, but the team could not continue that same success with nothing better than first round exits in the playoffs. And in the 2007-2008 season, the team tied the franchise’s worst record of 15 wins and 67 losses. With Wade suffering multiple knee injuries and Shaquille O Neil’s departure, Dwyane was in a position where he could’ve just left the team and played somewhere else where he didn’t have to do as much and play for a better team, but Wade’s loyalty that made him the star that he was allowed him to remain a Heat and the payoff was great for him. Through patience, the Heat were able to acquire Lebron James and Chris Bosh to play alongside with Wade, and they captured two NBA Championships, as well as making four consecutive Finals appearances.
4. Jameer Nelson
Jameer Nelson has been a member of the Orlando Magic roster for about a decade, and has witnessed the team go through some of the worst seasons and some of the best. The 32 year old point guard has seen stars come and go, and never let that discourage him from his goal of helping Orlando become a success. In 2009, his ability to build great offensive cohesiveness as the starting point guard of the Magic helped bring the team to the NBA Finals, even though they fell to the Los Angeles Lakers in five games. Orlando at that time was still one of the most dominating teams in the NBA, but that didn’t last long. After the departure of Dwight Howard and trade of Rashard Lewis, the Orlando Magic went back to being a lackluster team, but Jameer Nelson still resigned with the team regardless of his team being split up, simply because of his appreciation of the city and its fans.
3. Dirk Nowitzki
For Dirk Nowitzki, persistence really paid off. Dirk has played for the Dallas Mavericks since 1998, and the team was doing well, but when the All-Star point guard Steve Nash left the team in 2004, many questioned if the Dallas Mavericks would fall to the bottom of the barrel. Not only did he prevent Steve Nash’s departure from making the team collapse, but he made the team even better as he became the new franchise player of the Mavericks. Dirk was able to lead the team to the 2006 NBA Finals, where they lost to the Miami Heat in six games. Dirk wasn’t happy about the loss, as it was his lifetime dream to be an NBA Champion. As he reached got into his thirties, many thought that Dirk would never capture the big one, but he doubted all the critics wrong and defeated the Miami Heat in the 2011 Finals. It was a series in which everyone had their money on the Big Three in Miami to win, but Dirk allowed his passion to get the Dallas Mavericks its first ever title. It took fourteen years for Dirk to do it, but he wouldn’t take back the ride to greatness for anything. Dirk has laughed at all offers that other teams have made to him to get him to leave Dallas, according to ESPN, and anyone who knows Dirk knows that he will definitely retire a Maverick when the time comes.
2. Tim Duncan
Tim Duncan’s commitment and loyalty to the Spurs has not only made the biggest impact in the franchise’s history, but it also made a huge impact on the NBA as a whole. Ever since Tim Duncan joined the Spurs roster in 1997, the team has never missed a playoffs. Tim Duncan’s leadership has made San Antonio one of the greatest franchises in NBA and sports in general. He’s led the team to five championships. Other teams have offered him much more money than San Antonio has, but it’s not about the money for him, sources say, it’s about basketball. It’s about loyalty for the team that helped him grow into the legend that he is today. Tim Duncan’s performance in the playoffs proves that he still has a lot left in his tank, and if that’s the case, than San Antonio will be extremely difficult to dethrone. Tim Duncan has made other players great with his leadership, and because of that, the Spurs will remain threats on an annual basis like they’ve been for the last 17 years, even when he retires.
1. Kobe Bryant
Kobe bleeds yellow and purple. His contributions to the Los Angeles Lakers have made the team one of the most popular and well known franchises, even though the team is doing horrible right now. No one could’ve predicted that Kobe Bryant was going to be one of the great players in NBA history coming out as only the #13 pick in the 1996 NBA Draft, but Kobe proved the whole world wrong. The Lakers had faith that he’d be a reliable player, and he’s been much more than that. Kobe draws the attention of so many players in the NBA and so many of them want to join the roster to play alongside with him. Chris Paul was one, but the NBA didn’t allow it, unfortunately. Even when Shaquille O Neil left, Kobe was able to bring the Lakers back to contender status and bring the team two more championships. Even while injured, Kobe has still been making contributions to the Lakers by trying to get his opinion of what the team needs to do to become contenders again heard. You can tell how much the franchise depends on Kobe as his absence off the court has brought the team to its worst season in over fifty years.