- These duos turned their team into a contender.
- Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen leads the list.
The 2021 NBA Finals is a modern testament that dynamic duos can still succeed in today’s era and help their team defy the NBA odds despite the rise of superteams. The tandem of Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton delivered a title in the city of Milwaukee after 50 years, while the pair of Chris Paul and Devin Booker have navigated the Phoenix Suns in their first NBA Finals appearance since 1993.
This blueprint of dynamic duos is not new in the league because several pairings dominated the competition and supplied their teams with multiple championships. From the ‘’Showtime Lakers’’ in the 80s, the Bulls’ dominance in the 90s up to the ‘’Heatles’’ of the 2010s, we will be looking at the top six NBA duos of all time who changed the dynamics of basketball odds.
Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen
The tandem of Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen in the 1990s have produced two three-peats between 1991-1993 and 1996-1998. If not for Jordan’s two-year absence, they might have won eight straight championships in that decade. The two are valuable to each other because Jordan didn’t win a title without Pippen, and Pippen wasn’t able to succeed without Jordan, so it is safe to say that this legendary duo is one of a kind.
Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant
Another dominant duo formed the Shaquille O’Neal-Kobe Bryant tandem for the Los Angeles Lakers in the early 2000s. The two first teamed up in 1996, but they needed four seasons to come together finally. When they did, the two delivered a three-peat to the purple and gold franchise from 2000-2002, before the relationship split in 2004 as Shaq was traded to the Miami Heat in three players and two draft picks.
John Stockton and Karl Malone
The Utah Jazz franchise has graced one of the most dynamic duos that we have seen in the NBA. The one-two combination of John Stockton and Karl Malone have made the Jazz relevant for almost two decades because of their patented pick-and-roll play.
Although they never won a championship, they guided Utah to reach the NBA Finals in 1997 and 1998. The two also helped each other place themselves in NBA history, with Malone being the second all-time in scoring (36,928 points) and Stockton being the all-time leader in assists (15,806 assists).
Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
Before the Shaq-Kobe duo, the Lakers have seen Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s pairing in the 80s. They are the ones who spearheaded the ‘’Showtime Lakers’’ and were able to play for ten seasons together before Abdul-Jabbar retired in 1989. Johnson and Abdul-Jabbar brought five NBA titles to the franchise on eight trips, and both were selected in four All-Star games as teammates.
Larry Bird and Kevin McHale
The rival of the Johnson-Abdul-Jabbar duo in the 1980s is the duo of Larry Bird and Kevin McHale of the Boston Celtics. Bird and McHale played 12 seasons together with the C’s and were able to win three championships in 1981, 1984 and 1986. Both were also named to the Eastern Conference All-Star team five times during 1984, 1986, 1988, 1990 and 1991 before Larry Bird retired in 1992.
LeBron James and Dwayne Wade
When LeBron James decided to take his talent to South Beach in 2011, he teamed up with his good friend, Dwayne Wade. This collaboration has produced four NBA Finals appearances from 2011 to 2014 and a back-to-back triumph in 2012 and 2013. In each of those seasons together, the team won over 45 games in the regular season and a total of 224 wins and lost 88 games in that period. During his short stint with the team, LeBron James also won back-to-back MVP honors in 2012 and 2013.
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