Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Three's a Crowd

Dale, Hemet, CA
Subj: Three of a kind
Much has been made of the dominance of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in Miami, but who do you think are the best threesomes in NBA history?

Superb question Dale! After several hours of careful consideration I’ve come up with five deserving trios and one honorable mention. My selections are based upon offensive proficiency, winning percentage and overall dominance.

5. Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen – LeBron James and co. may be the league's best contemporary trio, but until the win their first championship "Gang Green" will continue to hold onto this prestigious spot.
Best offensive season: 2007-2008. Pierce, Garnett and Allen are currently lit up opponents to the tune of 55.8 points per game en route to winning the NBA championship.

4. Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen and Dennis Rodman – Admittedly more of a “Big Two” than a “Big Three” Jordan and Pippen were so dominant during their prime that it seems like a shame to exclude them from this list. That’s why I paired them with Rodman, a defensive demon who helped the Bulls win three consecutive championships from 1996-to-1998. Although Jordan and Pippen’s 50 + points per game were key, it’s unlikely Chicago would have been nearly as dominant without the Worm’s willingness to do the dirty work and defend the other team’s top scorer.
Best offensive season: 1995-1996. The Bulls finished the 1996 season with a 72-10 record as their three main men combined for an average of 55.0 points per game.

3. Jerry West, Elgin Baylor, Wilt Chamberlain – It isn’t often that a team can put three Hall of Famers on the court at the same time, but that’s precisely the luxury the Lakers had during the late 60’s and early 70’s when they suited up Jerry West, Elgin Baylor and Wilt Chamberlain. The high scoring trio went to the NBA Finals in three consecutive years before bowing out to the Boston Celtics and the New York Knicks. Despite their inability to win a title, Wilt, Big E and The Logo are all charter members of the league’s 50 Greatest Players in NBA History.
Best offensive season: 1969-1970. Opponents didn’t stand a chance against the Lake Show in 1970 when their three primary offensive weapons combined for an eye-popping 82.5 points per game. Granted, Wilt was injured for the bulk of the season, but when he was in the line-up Los Angeles was a formidable force.

2. Larry Bird, Kevin McHale and Robert Parrish – The original “Big Three” Bird, McHale and Parrish led the Celtics to five NBA finals in the 1980’s, winning the championship three times. Although Bird was the team’s unquestioned leader, Parrish was also a rock in the paint and McHale was a surprisingly adept rebounder and shot blocker who was named to the NBA All-Defensive First or Second Team six times during his illustrious career.
Best offensive season: 1986-1987. The C’s were firing on all cylinders in 1987 when their “Big Three” combined for an absurd 71.7 points per game. Unfortunately their supporting cast let them down in the postseason and Boston fell to the Lakers 4 games to 2 in the NBA Finals.

1. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson and James Worthy – Although often overshadowed by their East Coast rivals, Kareem, Magic and Worthy formed the backbone of a Lakers squad that won four championships during the 1980s. Their selflessness and clutch play kept them on top of the standings year after year and their fan-friendly, fast breaking attack revitalized a league that was teetering on the brink of irrelevance.
Best offensive season: 1985-1986. Love ‘em or hate ‘em, there’s no denying that the Showtime Lakers knew how to put the ball in the basket. L.A.’s terrific trio were at their best statistically in 1986 when they combined for 62.2 points per game.

Honorable Mention: Tim Hardaway, Chris Mullin and Mitch Richmond – Although this trio never won a championship they did manage to keep things interesting by scorching their opponents on a nightly basis. Hardaway initiated the attack with his killer UTEP Two Step, while Mullin and Richmond kept defenses guessing with their nearly unstoppable inside-outside game.
Best offensive season: 1990-1991. Run TMC set the league on fire in 1991 when they combined for 72.5 points per game. Sadly for fans around the league, the trio was broken up the following year when Richmond was unwisely traded to the Sacramento Kings in exchange for Billy Owens.