By Brian Kalchik @BrianKalchik on June 16, 2014
Every contending team in this day and age seems to have a "Big 3" as the backbone to the organization. With the Spurs' Big 3 winning their fourth NBA title yesterday, where does this trio rank among the best in NBA history?
Before 1983, the duo of Julius Erving and Maurice Cheeks made the NBA Finals in 1980 and 1982. Both were losses to the Los Angeles Lakers. In 1983, the 76ers acquired Moses Malone from the Houston Rockets. Led by this trio, the 76ers would then go on to win the NBA Championship that season. The trio would only last until 1986, but a championship run is good enough to make this list.
Each player from this trio will go down in history as one of the best of all time at their respective positions. This trio was incredibly good together. In just three seasons together, Jerry West, Elgin Baylor and Wilt Chamberlain made the Finals twice, losing to Boston and New York. But in 1972, the Lakers won the title without Baylor, who retired during the season due to injuries.
The "Bad Boy" Detroit Pistons would not have been one of the toughest teams in the NBA without the trio of Isiah Thomas, Joe Dumars and Bill Laimbeer. Thomas and Laimbeer were the tough guys who intimidated opponents while Dumars was the quiet assassin. This group reached the NBA Finals in three straight seasons from 1988-90 and won back-to-back titles in 1989 and 1990.
Built from shrewd trades and a hometown legend, the Boston Celtics' trio of Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen set the standard for future big 3s. Both Garnett and Allen came via trade and joined Celtics legend Paul Pierce. In their first season together in 2008, the Celtics won the NBA Championship, defeating the Los Angeles Lakers in six games. The Celtics would get back to the Finals in 2010, but lost to the Lakers in seven.
Hallowed honors are reserved to those NBA teams that are capable of making the NBA Finals in consecutive seasons. Even with the mixed reviews, the Miami Heat trio of LeBron James, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade stands among the greatest trios of all time. In four seasons together, the Heat reached four straight NBA Finals appearances, winning two in 2012 and 2013.
Together, the trio that led the Chicago Bulls to their second three-peat from 1996-98, Among the accomplishments that Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen and Dennis Rodman earned was the greatest regular season ever with a 72-10 finish in 1996. Although this team lacked longevity (three seasons), the championship victories warrants their selection among the top five.
When the Boston Celtics traded for Robert Parish and Kevin McHale, they assembled what may be the greatest frontcourt trio ever. Along with Larry Bird, this trio went on to appear in five NBA Finals together, winning it all three times. Each member of this Big Three was selected into the NBA Hall of Fame and considered among the 50 greatest players in NBA history.
Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar were getting it done before Worthy even made it to the NBA. Johnson and Abdul-Jabbar won two titles together, and Abdul-Jabbar previously won one with Oscar Robertson in Milwaukee. When Worthy arrived, the Lakers became pretty much unstoppable. From 1985-88, the Lakers won three NBA titles. Each player won one NBA Finals MVP award with Abdul-Jabbar winning in 1985, Johnson in 1987 and Worthy in 1988.
Together, the San Antonio Spurs' Big 3 of Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili have already accomplished great things. Together, they have won four titles, with Duncan winning a fifth alone in 1999. This trio also holds the distinction of winning an NBA title in two different decades. The only thing that will possibly get them to the best of all time is back-to-back championships, which this group hasn't accomplished yet.
Together, the trio of Bill Russell, Bob Cousy and Tom Heinsohn led the Celtics to the most successful run in team history. They won six championships together and have a combined 27 rings to show for it. Their six titles together are the most for any trio in NBA history. The streak included a run of five consecutive championships from 1959-63.
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