DAR Sports : The 20 Greatest NBA Duos Of All Time

By @TrueGodImmortal

In the NBA right now, we're seeing a lot of trios. From Wade, Butler, and Rondo to Kyrie, LeBron, and Love to Teague, George, and Turner to Kawhi, Pau, and LaMarcus, and of course the new super trio of Klay, Steph, and Durant, the NBA is running in threes... in more ways than one. However, at the core of most franchises and their success are two strong players that lead them. A duo that can bring a championship, a Finals appearance, a Conference Championship, or at least keep a team as a contender for years in the game. There have been so many great duos over the years, but there can only be a very few elite ones. Let's get into this list.

*Alonzo Mourning and Tim Hardaway

-I loved this duo. They were effective, even when it didn't lead to a NBA Championship. 61 win season seemed to showcase their ability as one of the best duos as Mourning would run the boards and be a dominant scorer, while Hardaway delighted crowds with three pointers and his epic crossover moves. We would see this team get so close to the promised land of the NBA Finals, but come up just a little short. Still, they make my list as one of the greatest due to their solid play and keeping the Heat franchise relevant.

*Charles Barkley and Kevin Johnson

-The most slept on duo ever in my opinion. Barkley has never got a championship, but his most success came with Kevin Johnson by his side in Phoenix. The duo managed to delight audiences and their team of destiny nearly won the championship from the Bulls in 1993. With multiple playoff appearances, a Barkley MVP award, and amazing moves and scoring from KJ, this duo should have accomplished even more than they did. I think they could have if not for injuries. It is similar to the Shaq and Penny story almost. Injury and ego.

*Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson

-Wait... I know... you're probably like "isn't it too soon"? No, not at all. These two have led their team to two Finals trips, are both in the record books for top 5 seasons of three point shooting and have been effectively known as the Splash Brothers for the better part of the last 4 or 5 seasons now. With the influx of Kevin Durant, that duo has turned into a trio, or perhaps Klay has been replaced in a way, but regardless, this duo has accomplished quite a lot, including multiple playoff trips since Klay has joined the team, the aforementioned 2 straight Finals appearances, one that ended in a championship, the other that should have ended in one and two of the greatest regular seasons ever with 67-15 followed by the greatest regular season ever in 73-9 last year. If you don't have this duo on a top 20 list, either you're thumbing your nose at the evolution of the game and the evolution of the three point centered attack, or you just hate the Warriors. Or both.

*Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook

-The duo that recently broke up only got better with time. They were magic together and led their team to a NBA Finals and multiple Conference Finals appearances, along with a MVP for Durant, 4 scoring titles for KD, and a scoring title for Westbrook (shockingly enough Durant would win his MVP the season that Westbrook got injured and Westbrook would win his scoring title when Durant was injured). Regardless, they got to a NBA Finals and came this close to heading there again before blowing a 3-1 lead. This is a great duo that never reached full potential. A shame we will never see it again.

*Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce

-The productivity of the Celtics in the 2000s can very well be attributed to their big 3, and while Ray Allen was a huge part of the success, I have to give the nod to Garnett and Pierce together. Though neither man were MVP or really close to being such, these two worked well together to make the Celtics a formidable team in the playoffs and went to the Finals twice in 3 years. They won a title and came within one game of winning another, both against the Lakers. These two were almost unstoppable in the East.. so much so that LeBron decided to move to Miami and team up Wade to defeat them... Yes, they did that.

*Kareem Abdul Jabbar and Oscar Robertson

-This duo was quite powerful in their era. When Kareem was Lew Alcindor, this duo combined for some of the greatest moments in Bucks history, garnering a title as well during this period and another Finals appearance after. They are responsible for the best season in the Bucks history, as they went 66-16 to garner the NBA Title in the 1971 season. For this, they are certainly one of the best duos in history.

*Shawn Kemp and Gary Payton

-If there is a favorite duo of mine besides the obvious Kobe and Shaq or Jordan and Pippen, it would be this one. The Sonics didn't win a championship under these two, but they were putting up great regular season records and made a trip to the NBA Finals in 1996 and gave a tough challenge to the Chicago Bulls. The dynamic duo of Kemp and Payton were always entertaining to watch and I wish they would have seen a title come their way together.

*LeBron James and Dwyane Wade

-It's hard putting two members of the big 3 on a list, but how could I not? While Bosh was vital, Wade was a champion already and a former scoring champion, while LeBron was a multiple MVP and scoring champion when they combined. Did they get to their promise of "not one, not two, etc" for championships? No. They managed to go 2-2 in the Finals, a solid run together, before breaking up the duo when LeBron went back to Cleveland. Still, their work together cannot be slept on or discredited. They were a true super team.

*Shaquille O'Neal and Penny Hardaway

-This might come as a shock to some. Maybe not. This duo had the most potential I felt out of all of them. Unfortunately, they also existed in the era where Jordan and Pippen reigned supreme. However, these two were highlights and dominance, earning a trip to the 1995 Finals with a dominant performance throughout the year and despite being swept in the Finals, they could have come back and eventually figured the formula to beat the Bulls or take the East in general as they grew. These were two young guys who came into the game as rookies and went through the whole ego filled issues and divisive momentum that tore them apart. If they stayed together, I predict a title or two at least in their arsenal and a better career for Penny, who would have likely been more healthy with Shaq still there as a go to option.

*Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol

-The last Lakers resurgence had to come at some point and we know that the two biggest reasons for that would be Gasol and Kobe. Kobe was the team leader, but Gasol was second in command and together they really brought the Lakers back to prominence and made them a top contender in the West basically up until the Kobe injury, which changed everything. They went to three straight Finals together, won 2 titles in a row, and reaffirmed the Lakers yet again.

*Julius Erving and Moses Malone

-The 76ers franchise had a nice run with these two. There was the time that the 76ers were a top team in the East and their championship season where they went 65-17 can be attributed to the greatness of this duo. Throughout the years, these two were a formidable pair who kept the 76ers as a top contender in the East.

*Isiah Thomas and Joe Dumars

-The most successful part of the Bad Boys has to be this duo. They were a solid and effective duo for multiple seasons until it began to fall down a bit in the final season together before Isiah retired. Regardless, these two on the court together saw them exceed above expectations and garner two titles in a three year span.

*Patrick Ewing and John Starks

-The toughest competition for the Bulls in the East would be the Knicks through the Jordan heyday. In addition to this, the Knicks played as physical as can be on the court and that largely could be attributed to the play of both Ewing and Starks. They managed to make the playoffs regularly and even got THIS close to winning the NBA Championship in 1994. A great duo indeed.

*Jerry West and Wilt Chamberlain

-The Lakers era of Wilt saw dominance with himself and Jerry West. While they came up short in the pursuit of championships except once, they definitely made the Lakers such a serious contender over the years that they would have to get love on this list.

*John Stockton and Karl Malone

-When it comes to the regular season, you'd be hard pressed to find a duo that's better. The Jazz would see many successful seasons and multiple playoff appearances over the years, but one thing that has always stuck out about them would have to be the legacy they carried individually. Stockton would lead the league in assists for years, Malone would be a scoring machine, earning himself a very very position on the all time scoring list. Though they lost twice in the Finals together, they made back to back trips and appeared many times in the Western Conference Finals.

*Larry Bird and Kevin McHale

-The Celtics vs Lakers era in the 80s was amazing. While Robert Parish was one of the vital pieces of the Celtics, the best duo on that team had to be McHale and Bird, as they stepped up to become leaders of the 2nd most successful franchise in the 80s. The Celtics won 3 titles in 5 Finals trips during the decade and that's simply what dominance of your conference looks like.

*Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul Jabbar

-The Lakers dynasty. Really the two biggest pieces to said dynasty are these men. Magic and Kareem together led them to multiple championships and all around dominance in the West. Kareem was entering the end of his career but his work with Magic truly made the Lakers seen as one of the greatest franchises if not the greatest ever. In the tough 80s era of the NBA, Kareem and Magic were the dynamic duo and dare I say, a top 3 duo in my opinion of all time.

*Bill Russell and Bob Cousy

-6 championships in 7 seasons. Now, such a feat doesn't seem possible again today in the league, but this was certainly the case for Russell and Cousy, as they made the Finals every year they played together. Their whole run saw them finish with a 71.5 win percentage. If that's not enough to earn them this spot, I don't know what to tell you. This is not only one of the 15 Greatest duos ever, but also one of the top 5 period. Some might say Sam Jones and Russell would be a stronger choice, but from the older games I've got to witness and reflect on, it seems like Cousy and Russell had the best chemistry on the court.

*Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O'Neal

-I mean.... are we really going to leave them off this list? There are many duos that are universally loved, but this is my 3rd favorite under Jordan and Pippen and Kareem and Magic (with Kemp and Payton right under Shaq and Kobe). Shaq and Kobe worked through the issues of the first few seasons together to make 4 Finals trips in 5 years, earning three straight titles for a rare three peat and etched their names in NBA history. If not for the friction between the two of them, I feel like they could have won 5 titles if not more.

*Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen

-9 seasons together. 6 NBA Finals trips. 6 championships. Is there really any other choice? The greatest duo ever. The most successful with a perfect Finals record. Pippen is one of the 3 greatest Small Forwards ever and Jordan is the greatest player ever. These two combined for trips to the Conference Finals, and two three peats in 8 seasons. That's virtually unheard of. Keep in mind, one of those 8 years, they didn't play together and the other year, Jordan had just came back from retirement. That alone shows their greatness together. There is no duo better. They will never be one likely for years and years.



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