Senior Writer: ANDY FLINT
With so much speculation about LeBron James and Dwyane Wade’s ability to be one of the top tandems to ever play in the NBA. I was inspired to put together a list of some of the tandems who have laid ground-work as some of the best teammates ever! The top 5 NBA duos of all-time (Modern Era).
Honorable Mentions: Gary Payton/Shawn Kemp, Shaquille O’Neal/Penny Hardaway, Magic Johnson/James Worthy, Larry Bird/Kevin McHale, Tim Duncan/David Robinson, Tim Duncan/ Manu Ginobili, Jason Kidd/Vince Carter, Carmelo Anthony/Allen Iverson, Joe Dumars/Isiah Thomas.
#5: Steve Nash and Amar’e Stoudemire
One of the best point guard to power forward duos that I’ve ever watched play the game. Easily the best since John Stockton and Karl Malone. Nash and Amar’e could never find the right answer for the Los Angeles Lakers or the San Antonio Spurs, thus cutting the Phoenix Suns‘ title dreams short. And Stoudemire eventually sought greener pastures in the form of a one-way ticket to the “Big Apple”. But the 6 seasons these two spent together in the desert were some of the best dime-to-dunk seasons that the NBA has ever saw! In that time, they made 4 playoff appearances, and Nash accrued an eye-popping 5,078 assists.
Dynamic and skilled beyond most duos you’ll ever see. Karl Malone is one of the best scoring power-forwards to ever hit the hardwood, while John Stockton may be the best pass-first point guard to ever dazzle opposing defenses. These two played 18 illustrious seasons for the Utah Jazz and formed a bond that is probably the deepest the NBA has ever witnessed. The only thing holding this tandem back from the top spot was their inability to win any hardware. Sadly, Stockton and Malone would never taste and NBA title. 18 incredible seasons marred by the fact that they could never get it done in the post-season. Especially considering they made the playoffs every single season they played together. Karl Malone ranks #2 on the all-time points list, while John Stockton ranks #1 in assists with 4,000+ more than the #2 guy (Jason Kidd).
Possibly the most exciting and surely the best scoring duo we have on this list. Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal dominated roughly a decade of round-ball in the NBA. Making the playoffs in each of 8 seasons together and helping each other garner 3 championships (2000, 2001, 2002) in a row. Name a more dominating team since the early 2000’s Lakers…. I’ll wait…. These are the sorts of things that happen when you combine two of the best players to ever grace the court. These guys are both sure-fire, first ballot, hall of famers. Too bad their egos got in the way. It seems like more dirt on the Shaq and Kobe feud surfaces every single day. And it’s been almost 10 years since they parted ways. During their run at the top, Shaquille O’Neal cemented himself as one of the most dominant players ever, while Kobe consistently drew comparisons to the great Michael Jordan.
Easily the most celebrated duo of all-time. Michael Jordan is the greatest player to ever set foot in the NBA. Scottie Pippen is probably the greatest wing-man to ever lace em up. These guys took the league by storm and gave the Chicago Bulls their proverbial horns. You can’t talk greatest teams until you’ve mentioned the 1995/1996 Chicago Bulls. The team that went an astounding 72-10. Anchored by the phenomenal Michael Jordan, and his co-pilot, Scottie Pippen, these Bulls teams would win 6 championships. 2 Three–Peat’s (1991, 1992, 1993 and 1996, 1997, 1998). Those are some serious credentials.
The “Showtime” Lakers were one of the best squads in the modern era. These guys were truly special. But two guys really stand out in my mind. The two NBA greats who led this team to 5 NBA championships (1980, 1982, 1985, 1987, 1988) were Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Magic Johnson. Magic is arguably the best point guard of all-time, while Kareem stands atop the NBA scoring list at a whopping 38,387 points total. Add in guys like Byron Scott and James Worthy and this team could stand toe-to-toe with even the 1996 Chicago Bulls.