From L to R: Kevin Garnett of the Minnesota Timberwolves, Karl Malone of the Utah Jazz, Charles Barkley of the Phoenix Suns, Dirk Nowitzki of the Dallas Mavericks hold their NBA Most Valuable Player trophies. (Photos: VCG)
Editor's note: Since winning his third ring in 2005, Tim Duncan proved himself to be the undeniable greatest power forward in NBA history, just like Michael Jordan of shooting guards and Magic Johnson of point guards. However, who should be the man standing next to Duncan? That is a contentious question, and in this four-episode series, four of the best candidates, namely Dirk Nowitzki, Kevin Garnett, Karl Malone and Charles Barkley, face off for the honor of second-best power forward. In this episode, we compare what each player has achieved in their career.
Kevin Garnett of the Boston Celtics reacts to fans with the Defensive Player of the Year (DPOY) trophy in his hand before Game 2 of the Eastern Conference playoffs against the Atlanta Hawks at the TD Banknorth Garden in Boston, Massachusetts, April 23, 2008.
Garnett: 2008 NBA champion, 2004 NBA MVP, 2008 Defensive Player of the Year, four-time All-NBA First Team, three-time All-NBA Second Team, two-time All-NBA Third Team, nine-time All-Defensive First Team, three-time All-Defensive Second Team, 15-time NBA All-Star, 2003 All-Star MVP, four-time rebounding champion, 1996 All-Rookie Second-Team
It should be pointed out that when Garnett was named the regular season MVP in 2004, he defeated Shaquille O'Neal and Tim Duncan who were still in their prime time. When he became DPOY in 2008, the Boston Celtics were a top 5 defensive team in NBA history.
Dirk Nowitzki (R) of the Dallas Mavericks receives the NBA Finals MVP trophy from Bill Russell after Game 6 of the NBA Finals against the Miami Heat at the American Airlines Arena in Miami, Florida, June 12, 2011.
Nowitzki: 2011 NBA champion, 2011 NBA Finals MVP, 2007 NBA MVP, four-time All-NBA First Team, five-time All-NBA Second Team, three-time All-NBA Third Team, 2007 50-40-90 club, 14-time NBA All-Star
The 2007 regular season MVP award might give Nowitzki mixed feelings because when he received the award, his team, the Dallas Mavericks were already knocked out by the Golden State Warriors in the first round of the Western Conference playoffs, the third time in league history for the conference No. 1 to be eliminated by the No. 8. It was after that series for Nowitzki to be tagged as "soft" and he only shook that off after winning the NBA championship in 2011.
Karl Malone (R) of the Utah Jazz hold the NBA MVP trophy for a portrait with NBA Commissioner David Stern in New York City, May, 1999.
Malone: Two-time NBA MVP (1997, 1999), 11-time All-NBA First Team, two-time All-NBA Second Team, one-time All-NBA Third Team, three-time All-Defensive First Team, one-time All-Defensive Second Team, 14-time All-Star, two-time All-Star MVP (1989, 1993), 1986 All-Rookie First Team
When Malone was named the 1997 regular season MVP, he was already 34 years old and the oldest MVP rookie in the league's history. The second MVP he got was from the 1998-99 season which only had 50 games because of lockdown. The All-Star Game was also cancelled that season.
Charles Barkley of the Philadelphia 76ers holds the NBA All-Star MVP trophy after the All-Star Game at the Charlotte Coliseum in Charlotte, North Carolina, February 10, 1991.
Barkley: 1993 NBA MVP, five-time All-NBA First Team, five-time All-NBA Second Team, one-time All-NBA Third Team, 11-time All-Star, 1991 All-Star MVP, 1987 rebounding champion, 1985 All-Rookie First Team
When Barkley was named the 1993 NBA MVP, it was the first time for Jordan to miss the honor in his champion season. Of course, the Bulls No. 23 got his vengeance in the finals that year.
Though both Malone and Barkley were named the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History in 1996 and had their jerseys retired by the Utah Jazz and Philadelphia 76ers, it's only a matter of time before Nowitzki and Garnett are granted the same honors.
In this area, Garnett＞Nowitzki≥Malone＞Barkley