The 20 best NBA duos of all time

Just like Batman would be nothing without Robin, every NBA star needs a sidekick to thrive. Now, we aren’t saying that every classic duo that ever existed in NBA history works in a hierarchical form. It doesn’t always come in the star-sidekick formula. No, sometimes a powerful tandem that exists on a team are pretty well balanced in how talented they were, and their effect on their opponents thrived as a result. Consider the duo of Karl Malone and John Stockton of the Jazz. They were both legends in their own right, and they both managed to cement themselves into statistical history books. But they each had their own roles, and they worked so well together because the pair of them were acutely aware of the other’s role. Because a good partnership isn’t always about talent – it’s about chemistry.

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Sometimes it takes time to develop, and sometimes it happens in a flash, like a bolt of lightning. Some of the best basketball pairs of all time didn’t work out overnight. It took a considerable amount of time for them to get to know each other’s weak spots and advantages. Come to think of it, even the stars that naturally got along well right off the bat, also took some time to really get into the nitty gritty when it came to their teammates tendencies. But something is consistent with all of them: when they finally hit that sweet spot, that level of harmony we’re always searching for… the results were always magical beyond belief.


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In many ways, the pairing of two basketball players on a team is kind of like a marriage. There are all kinds of ups and downs, and not everything will be perfect, even for the greatest of tandems. Consider the first game in Magic Johnson’s entire career. Kareem Abdul Jabbar hit a game-winning shot, and Magic reacted by hugging Kareem in happiness. Magic accounted later that Kareem just looked at him like it was no big deal, and that perhaps he needed to just tone it down a little bit. Magic’s excitement versus Kareem’s business-like mindset. These were two completely different approaches, but the combination of the two managed to produce one of the greatest teams of all time.

Such was the case with so much amazing players that the NBA has had the opportunity of employing, and that we’ve all had the joy of watching on screen. And there really is nothing quite like watching a duo tear it up. Because when we see the harmony that exists between two players, an amazing feeling arises within ourselves. We’re reminded about all the things in our own lives that have harmony – and that right there is a wonderful feeling.

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