Every NBA Team’s Best “Big 3” Of All Time
The concept of an NBA “Big 3” started with LeBron’s “decision” to go to the Miami Heat and join up with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. The reality is that long before that, great trios were winning championships in places like Boston and Los Angeles. Sometimes one superstar can win an NBA championship by himself, but that’s not usually the case. Great duos have a better shot, but it typically takes three great players to bring home a title.
Some teams have much better Big 3s than others, but everyone has to start somewhere. A handful of these trios are playing together today, while some harken back to the golden era of hoops. Some players even made multiple Big 3s, and one of guys that did might surprise you. Check out every NBA team’s best Big 3 of all time.
30. ATLANTA HAWKS
Dominique Wilkins, Kevin Willis, Doc Rivers
The trio of small forward Dominique Wilkins, power forward/center Kevin Willis, and point guard Doc Rivers played together for the Atlanta Hawks from 1984 to 1991. The team failed to win an NBA Championship and reach the NBA Finals or even the Eastern Conference Finals. They were still very talented and beat out trios including Dikembe Mutumbo, Steve Smith, and Mookie Blaylock and Jeff Teague, Al Horford, and Paul Millsap. Dominique was the star of the team and was a nine time NBA All-Star with the Hawks and led the league in scoring in 1986. Willis won a title with the Spurs years later, and of course Rivers went on to become a coach and got his ring with the Boston Celtics, leading another pretty good Big 3.
29. BOSTON CELTICS
Larry Bird, Kevin McHale, Robert Parish
The Boston Celtics have had several NBA legends play for their storied franchise over the years. Their all-time Big 3 consisted of forward Larry Bird, power forward Kevin McHale, and center Robert Parish. What makes this Big 3 unique is that they were all essentially big men, with no guards among them. They played together for 12 seasons from 1980 to 1992 and took home 3 NBA Championships in 5 NBA Finals appearances. These three beat out other very good Big 3s including Bill Russell, Bob Cousy, and Tom Heinsohn and Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and Ray Allen. Bird is one of the greatest players of all time with three NBA MVPs and two NBA Finals MVPs. McHale was a seven time NBA All-Star and was known for his defensive skills. Parish was a nine time All-Star and the NBA leader in games played.
28. BROOKLYN NETS
Jason Kidd, Vince Carter, Richard Jefferson
Before they became the Brooklyn Nets, the New Jersey Nets had a pretty solid Big 3 which consisted of point guard Jason Kidd, shooting guard/small forward Vince Carter, and small forward Richard Jefferson. The team reached the NBA Finals in 2003 and looked like they would be even better by adding Vince Carter in 2004. Kidd went on to win an NBA Championship with the Mavericks in 2011 and was a 10 time NBA All-Star. He was known for his defense and also led the league in assists five times. Vince Carter is still playing but is best remembered for his slam dunking ability which won him the Slam Dunk contest in 2000, but he is also an eight time NBA All-Star. While Jefferson didn’t achieve much in the NBA, he did win a Championship with the Cavs in 2016 and is a nice complementary player.
27. CHARLOTTE HORNETS
Larry Johnson, Alonzo Mourning, Muggsy Bogues
This Big 3 played for the Charlotte Hornets from 1992 to 1995. Power forward Larry Johnson was the #1 overall pick in the 1991 NBA Draft and won the Rookie of the Year. He was very popular and helped make the Hornets relevant when he joined point guard Muggsy Bogues. Center and power forward Alonzo Mourning was added to the team as the #2 overall pick in the 1992 NBA Draft. LJ, or “Grandmama”, was very successful in high school and won the NCAA Championship at UNLV. He was a two time NBA All-Star who finished his career with the Knicks. Mourning won an NBA championship in 2006 with the Miami Heat and was a seven time All-Star. Muggsy Bogues didn’t’ accomplish much in the NBA but was a nice ball distributor for his big men.
26. CHICAGO BULLS
Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Dennis Rodman
Many NBA fans think of the late 90s Chicago Bulls as one of the best Big 3s of all time, and for good reason. This trio only played together from 1995 to 1998, but won three NBA Championships in three NBA Finals appearances. At the time, they set the record for winning 72 games in a season and Jordan won the NBA MVP award in two of their three seasons together. They also achieved something unprecedented by all being named 1st team All-NBA in the same season. This trio are now teammates in the Hall of Fame and won an amazing 45 playoff games in three seasons. Jordan and Pippen won six championships together, while Rodman had already won two others with the Detroit Pistons during the bad boys era.
25. CLEVELAND CAVALIERS
LeBron James, Kyrie Irving, Kevin Love
You won’t hear much argument about naming the current Big 3 in Cleveland their best of all time. These three have played together since 2014 and brought Cleveland its first NBA Championship in 2016. LeBron decided to break up his other Big 3 in Miami to come back to Cleveland to play with Irving, and then the team acquired Kevin Love from Minnesota for Andrew Wiggins. The Cavs lost to the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals in the 2014-15 season, but beat them in a rematch in the 2015-16 season. Most NBA fans know about James’ accomplishments, but both Irving and Love are four time All-Stars who were drafted #1 and #5 respectively. If they would have opted to keep Wiggins instead of trading for Love, they could have had a Big 3 made up of all #1 picks.