It Takes Two: Ranking The Greatest Duos In NBA History

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As we’ve seen over the years in the NBA no matter how good any player is, they can’t get it done alone. Everyone needs a sidekick to help take over in crucial situations.

Here are the best tandems in NBA history:

10. Tim Duncan and David Robinson (San Antonio Spurs)

The “Twin Towers” are the best two big men to play on the same team in NBA history. They had the NBA’s biggest turnaround from 20 wins to 56 the season after Robinson’s injury and the beginning of Tim’s rookie season.

They went onto win two championships in 1999 and 2003.

9. Isiah Thomas and Joe Dumars (Detroit Pistons)

These two guards had it all on both sides of the basketball court. Their tenacious defense would bring along the much deserving nickname the “Bad Boys”.

Their play was top notch in the late 80′s and early 90′s earning them back-to-back championships in 1989 and 1990.


8. John Stockton and Karl Malone (Utah Jazz)

These two spent a long 18 years together, making the playoffs every season. 

They re-invented the pick n’ roll to perfection which brought them to the Western Conference Finals five times in seven years.

Stockton is the all-time NBA leader in assists and steals, while Malone sits only behind Kareem in points. Although they rank among the elite, they would never go on to win an NBA Championship.


7. Julius Erving and Moses Malone (Philadelphia 76ers)

The 1983 Sixers racked up a 65-17 regular-season record before going an NBA-best 12-1 in the playoffs.

Malone uttered the classic “Fo’, fo’, fo’,” when asked how the Sixers would fare in the playoffs.

This duo nearly delivered as the team swept New York, beat Milwaukee in five, and defeated the L.A. Lakers in four straight.


6. Lew Alcindor and Oscar Robertson (Milwaukee Bucks)

These two led the Bucks to a league-best 66 wins before going 12-2 in the playoffs and defeating Baltimore for the team’s only NBA Title. 

Lucky for the other teams in the league that these two weren’t together for a longer period of time.


5. Larry Bird and Kevin McHale (Boston Celtics)

Larry Bird and Kevin McHale led the Celtics back to the glory days—winning three NBA Championships in the 1980s (1981, 1984 and 1986). They followed with two more trips to the NBA Finals during their playing days together.

These two never left anything on the hardwood.


4. Bill Russell and Bob Cousy (Boston Celtics)

Russell and Cousy helped build the Boston Celtics dynasty of the ’50s and ’60s.

As Russell held down the defensive end, Cousy ran the offense leading the league in assists for eight consecutive seasons.

The two teamed up for six NBA Championships before Cousy retired; Russell would go on to win five more. 


3. Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant (Los Angeles Lakers)

 Behind O’Neal and Bryant, the Lakers three-peated from 2000-02 to become only the fourth team in the history of the NBA to win three or more consecutive titles. 

The dynasty would be short lived as Shaq left to Miami (where he would win another title).

This could have been the greatest duo of all time if they spent a few more seasons together.


2. Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen (Chicago Bulls)

These two dominated the 90′s by three-peating twice—a great feat.

They won six of the eight championships they played in, and beat five different Western Conference opponents.

They will forever be known as the true Batman and Robin.


1. Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul Jabbar (Los Angeles Lakers)

Magic and Kareem teamed up to win five NBA Championships in the ’80s as the Lakers reached the NBA Finals eight times in the 10 seasons between 1979-80 and 1988-89.

They also played in a competitive league with Boston. This is a sure pick over Jordan and Pippen because Magic is by far the greatest point guard in history, and Kareem is no lower than number two on the list of centers.



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