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When you look at how the NBA is constructed in today’s era, you have to noticed how superstars are more prone to join forces to win championships. Players are willing to put egos and money aside to become part of NBA history whereas in yesteryear, players coming up together in the draft wanted to prove that they can put a team on their back themselves and win a championship or collect all the money they could. This might be the reason why most fans from the 1990’s-2000 era have a hard time grasping superstars teaming up.
There were superstars who came up with the same team that played together such as Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen or Karl Malone and John Stockton. The difference is Jordan and Malone was the sole leader of the team. They were the focal points of that team more so than the others. Now, there were teams who had superstars who played together but the partnership didn’t last long enough for them to prosper as champions.
So here is a top 10 list of some of the formidable duos or trios who didn’t get a chance to reach their potential together due to trades, free agency or injury,
Rules: They had to play at least one year together and the lists starts from 1990 till 2007.
10) T-Mac and Vinsanity- Toronto Raptors (1998-2000)
Tracy McGrady was drafted in 1997 by the Raptors and Vince Carter in 1998. These two started to form into a dynamic duo the last year they played together. After reaching the playoffs in 2000 the first time in the team’s existence, T-Mac decided to depart for the money leaving fans wondering how far could the cousins have gone together.
9) Melo and Stat- New York Knicks (2010-2015)
Amar’e Stoudemire signed with the Knicks in 2010 hoping to jump start the city. Well after acquiring Carmelo Anthony via trade in 2012, the Knicks future looked promising. Only playing basically a full year combined healthy, this is the one of the duos on this list which health (mainly Stoudemire) was really the main reason they didn’t reach their full potential.
8) The 3 Js- Dallas Mavericks (1994-1996)
The Mavericks’ organization looked like geniuses when making three spectacular picks with Jimmy Jackson (1992), Jamal Mashburn (1993) and Jason Kidd (1994). In the 1994-95 season, Kidd averaged 7.7 assist, Jackson- 25.7 ppg. (missed 31 games) and Mashburn- 24.1 ppg. Although this appeared to be a match made in heaven, A woman (rumored Toni Braxton) caused friction between Kidd and Jackson which caused the trio to break up.
7) T-Mac and G.Hill- Orlando Magic (2000-2004)
Orlando was the first team to go out and lure two mega superstars and sign them in free agency the same year. Grant Hill and McGrady put fear in coaches heart before that particular season started, but with Hill’s lingering injury to his foot, the tandem didn’t get a chance to manifest. This looked to be one of the greatest tandems in NBA history but the injury and a trade forced the breakup between the two.
6) T-Mac and The Great Wall- Houston Rockets (2004-2010)
Does this look like a trend? I promised this is the last time you will see T-Mac but this shows how great he was. Yao Ming was his best partner in crime. The two were dominating in their respective positions but they couldn’t get pass the first round. With injuries to McGrady and Yao, they could never get over that hump.
5) Zo and Grandmama- Charlotte Hornets (1992-1995)
One of the most decorated duos in NBA history turned an expansion team into an instant contender. Larry Johnson (1992) and Alonzo Mourning (1993) was drafted in consecutive years. In their first year together, they made the playoffs and did the unthinkable by defeating the legendary Boston Celtics in their first playoff series. These two showcased power and dominance making them the best front line during their span together. The duo was separated via trade after Mourning demanded to be paid $13 Million per year.
4) Starbury and The Kid- Minnesota Timberwolves (1996-1998)
The tandem of Kevin Garnett and Stephon Marbury felt as if it was the perfect combination and they complimented each other as well as you could imagine. Both young and flamboyant, their confidence was at the highest point anyone could ever have. They made the playoffs each of the two full season they played together. Although the future looked as bright as the sun in July, Marbury demanded a trade which multiple rumors surfaced around jealousy of Garnett and being home sick.
3) Jesus Shuttlesworth, Big Dog and Sam I Am- Milwaukee Bucks (1999-2002)
This triple connection seemed poised enough to become the beast of the east. Ray Allen, Glen Robinson and Sam Cassell looked unstoppable coming together to rewrite history. After making it to the Eastern Conference in 2001, the sky was the limit. The team went a disappointing 41-41 the next year and thats when the downfall happened. Robinson was traded to the Atlanta Hawks before the 2002-2003 season and Allen was traded in the middle of the season to the Seattle Supersonics.
2) Finley, Nowitzki and Nash- Dallas Mavericks (1998-2004)
Michael Finley, Dirk Nowitzki and Steve Nash all were traded to the Mavericks but instantly formed a bond on the court which was like no other. The three provided fire power that most teams couldn’t handle. Why couldn’t this team get over the hump? Coaching seemed to be the problem. A freelance offense and no defense. The Mavericks traded Nash to the Pheonix Suns in 2004 and Finley to the San Antonio Spurs in 2005. Why No. 2? Nash went on to win the MVP in consecutive years after leaving Dallas and Nowitzki in right after Nash’s second MVP.
1) Shaq and Penny- Orlando Magic (1993-1996)
Shaquille O’Neal and Anfernee Hardaway had the quickest and most success on this list. Not only did they make the playoffs the first year playing together but they advanced to two Eastern Conference Championships including a Finals appearance. With the game’s most dominant player and the league’s most unselfish yet unstoppable player, they worked together to create a chemistry that would compare to the greats in the game at an early age. Why the breakup? Shaq was so obsessed with winning (money had something to do with it) he believed he could win quickly. This by far is the greatest tandem that was split apart.