Throughout all of the success our Boston sports teams have had over the past decade, it is good to look back at the specific players that lead us to glory. Of course, we can’t name all of the stars that have made an impact, but we will give our top ten.
10. Stephon Gilmore (2017-Present)
While Gilmore has only been apart of the Patriots for three years, he has made enough of an impact to warrant a spot on the list. Gilmore has been the best corner in the league for the past two seasons in New England, and doesn’t show any signs of slowing down. He has already contributed to one championship with the Patriots, and will continue to captain the defense for the foreseeable future.
9. Julian Edelman (2010-Present)
One of four players on this list to have played the entire decade in Boston, Edelman has become a consistent contributor to the Patriots offense. He started out solely as a return man, and was one of the best punt returners in the league. His role transitioned in the offense in 2013, and he immediately became Brady’s most trusted receiver.
While Julian doesn’t always receive the league-wide recognition he deserves, it is impossible to deny how important he is. This includes the postseason, as he is one of the best playoff receivers in NFL history with the addition of three Super Bowls and a Super Bowl MVP to his name. At this point, Edelman carries the Patriots offense on his back and is truly one of the most valuable players of this decade.
8. Paul Pierce (2010-2013)
While the brightest part of Pierce’s career came in the previous decade, we still got to see some prime Paul before he moved on. Though in his early 30s, he still remained a force to be reckoned with. He was still top ten in the league at getting to the line, a top 20 scorer, and became better at defense as he aged. Pierce was named an All-Star in two of those final three seasons with the Celtics, only truly regressing once he left Boston. While it was painful to see him go, his play with the Celtics was simply impressive. Even the way he left, a trade setting the Celtics up for the future, was Paul’s final gift to the franchise.
7. Zdeno Chara (2010-Present)
The longtime Bruin’s giant has been instrumental to the team’s continuous success this decade. Chara has lead the team to the playoffs in all seasons but two, and to the Stanley Cup on three occasions. Of course, one of those resulted in a win that has gone down as one of the greatest moments this decade. But on an individual note, he has been a three-time All-Star, top-five defensemen in the league, won the league’s leadership award and is now a sure Hall of Famer. What more can you as from a guy now in his 40s?
6. Isaiah Thomas (2015-2017)
A case similar to Gilmore’s, only more bittersweet. Isaiah Thomas had an impressive peak and an unfortunate ending, but he’s on this list simply for the fact he jump-started the Celtic’s current contending form. His emergence led to the signing of Horford, then the trade that brought Kyrie, then the Hayward acquisition, and even the signing of Kemba in one way or another. He helped mold young guys like Brown and Tatum into the guys they are today. He is at least partially responsible for the creation of one of the best teams in the league today, and just for that he deserves a spot on this list
But Thomas’s talent and accolades also present a strong case. In his two full seasons in Boston, he was an All-Star in each. He even was top five in MVP voting in his final season. He was solid in virtually all aspects of the game, with the added bonus of insane scoring talent. He could work his body around traffic when driving, and this threat gave him plenty of chances from three. His type of skill and playstyle was quite unique, and something that may never be seen again in Boston.
5. Mookie Betts (2014-Present)
Mookie has been impressive so far into his very young career. He already has an MVP under his belt, along with three Silver Sluggers, four All-Star appearances, and four Gold Gloves in his six-year career. He is one of the best on both ends of the ball at his position, and last year batting just under .300 was considered a “disappointment”. Literally the only noticeable downside to his game is his struggles in the playoffs, which should improve as he ages. If he’s with the Sox at all next year, as trade rumors make that uncertain, then he has the potential to add another MVP to his trophy case.
4. Patrice Bergeron(2010-Present)
Like Chara, another future Bruin’s Hall of Famer makes an appearance on this list. Patrice Bergeron’s remains criminally underrated, with only two All-Star selections to his name. But he still owns some hardware, including four Selke Trophies and a Stanley Cup. The only reason he isn’t the captain of the team is because Chara is still playing, but Patrice rivals him in leadership ability. He is balanced on the offensive end, with a scoring ability that rivals his passing. Bergeron’s a jack of all trades, and he remains a crucial part of an always contending Bruins squad.
3. David Ortiz (2010-2016)
One of the biggest fan favorites among Red Sox fans, and Boston fans, appears on this list at number three. Big Papi saw his rise to fame in the prior decade but cemented his legacy in this one. He earned his status as one of the clutchest players ever, with the 2013 grand slam and World Series MVP.
There were three years where he was at least considered for the MVP, even though he never won one. He also claimed three Silver Slugger awards and All-Star appearances in all but two seasons in the decade prior to his retirement. While he retired at 40, he probably could’ve kept going because he finished as an All-Star while batting .315 with 38 homers. It’s extremely hard to replace such a superstar, so we are extremely fortunate that J.D. Martinez fell to us in free agency.
2. Rob Gronkowski (2010-2018)
As the greatest tight end of all time, Gronk has more than earned his spot on this list. While he retired before the age of 30, the quality of his years makes up for the quantity. Gronk was one of the most lethal targets in the NFL, and made the NFL’s Top 100 from 2012 till the year he retired. He was, of course, part of three Super Bowl-winning teams with the Pats, playing and dominating in two of them. There is not much that hasn’t been said about the graceful giant, and the only thing keeping him from the top spot is the GOAT.
1. Tom Brady (2010-Present)
Like Gronk, there isn’t much that hasn’t already been said about Tom Brady, so I will keep it brief. Upon the start of this decade, he had a sort of renaissance, going from one of the best to the best every year. He’s been named to the NFL’s Top 100 top 10 every single year since its inception in 2011. In fact, he has only been out of the top five once! Of course, who can forget the two MVP awards and the three Super Bowls? He is top three, or at least top five, in pretty much every career passing metric thanks to what he has accomplished this decade. He has changed the game in ways we can’t even understand, and his contribution to the Patriots historic success is evident.