16-Team NBA Legends vs. NBA Current Stars, Big Three vs. Big Three Tournament
In honor of the upcoming 2012 NBA Finals matchup between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Miami Heat, I've created a tournament that features the same thing this year's finals does—"Big Threes."
What we have here is an NCAA March Madness-style tournament that features all-time great Big Threes against current NBA Big Threes. It features eight legendary trios and eight current trios facing off against each other in a single-elimination tournament to prove which Big Three is truly the greatest of all time.
This tournament provides fans with epic matchups between trios like: Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen and Dennis Rodman; Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili and Tim Duncan; and Larry Bird, Kevin McHale and Robert Parish, to name a few.
Ahead you'll find the tournament rules, the Big Threes' seedings and all of the matchups of this memorable tournament.
How the Tournament Works
Courtesy of www.foxsports.com
Here are the official game rules for this NBA all-time great vs. NBA current Big Three, single-elimination tournament:
1. Each game is to 30 points. A team must win by two points.
2. All shots are worth one point (like any true three-on-three game).
3. Fouls are called by the defender and result in a change of possession.
4. Shot clock is set at 24 seconds.
5. All defensive rebounds that aren't air balls must be taken back past the three-point line.
6. Game is "make-it-take-it" rules.
Now that the official rules have been set, let's move on to the player seedings.
Meet the Contestants: The Eight All-Time Great Big Threes and Current Big Threes
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All-Time Great Big Threes
1. Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen and Dennis Rodman (Chicago Bulls)
2. Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and James Worthy (Los Angeles Lakers)
3. Bill Russell, Sam Jones and John Havlicek (Boston Celtics)
4. Larry Bird, Kevin McHale and Robert Parish (Boston Celtics)
6. Isiah Thomas, Joe Dumars and Bill Laimbeer (Detroits Pistons)
7. Moses Malone, Julius Erving and Mo Cheeks (Philadelphia 76ers)
8. Walt Frazier, Willis Reed and Dave DeBusschere (New York Knicks)
Current Star Big Threes
2. Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and James Harden (Oklahoma City Thunder)
3. Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili (San Antonio Spurs)
4. Kevin Garnett, Rajon Rondo and Paul Pierce (Boston Celtics)
5. Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum (Los Angeles Lakers)
6. Derrick Rose, Luol Deng and Carlos Boozer (Chicago Bulls)
7. Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan (Los Angeles Clippers)
8. Jeremy Lin, Amar'e Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony (New York Knicks)
Divisional Seeding and First-Round Matchups
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No. 1 Jordan, Pippen, Rodman (Bulls) vs. No. 8 Lin, Stoudemire, Anthony (Knicks)
No. 2 Durant, Westbrook, Harden (Thunder) vs. No. 7 Moses, Erving, Cheeks (76ers)
No. 3 Russell, Jones, Havlicek (Celtics) vs. No. 6 Rose, Deng, Boozer (Bulls)
No. 4 Garnett, Rondo, Pierce (Celtics) vs. No. 5 Bryant, O'Neal, Fisher (Lakers)
No. 1 James, Wade, Bosh (Heat) vs. No. 8 Frazier, Reed, DeBusschere (Knicks)
No. 2 Johnson, Abdul-Jabbar, Worthy (Lakers) vs. No. 7 Paul, Griffin, Jordan (Clippers)
No. 3 Duncan, Parker, Ginobili (Spurs) vs. No. 6 Thomas, Dumars, Laimbeer (Pistons)
No. 4 Bird, McHale, Parish (Celtics) vs. No. 5 Bryant, Gasol, Bynum (Lakers)
ND Round 1: No. 1 Jordan, Pippen, Rodman vs. No. 8 Lin, Stoudemire, 'Melo
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Matchup Advantage: Jordan vs. Anthony, Pippen vs. Lin, Rodman vs. Stoudemire
This one's not even close.
The Bulls' mighty Big Three will give the Knicks' Big Three a major lesson in what it looks like to actually have chemistry.
Jordan will absolutely shut down 'Melo everywhere he goes. While Stoudemire has the offensive advantage over Rodman, there's no doubt that Rodman's defense will get Stoudemire out of his groove early on.
Linsanity won't have a chance to get started either, because Pippen's tenacious defense on him will be the most intense defense he's ever seen.
This matchup will easily be a blowout in favor of the mighty Jordan, Pippen and Rodman trio.
Jordan, Pippen, Rodman (30) vs. Lin, Stoudemire, Anthony (10)
ND Round 1: No. 2 Durant, Westbrook, Harden vs. No. 7 Malone, Erving, Cheeks
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Matchup Advantage: Durant vs. Malone, Westbrook vs. Cheeks, Harden vs. Erving
This matchup between the 76ers' all-time great Big Three and the Thunder's Big Three will be a lot closer than you might imagine.
The 76ers defense will be what keeps them in this one. Cheeks' offensive game is nowhere near Westbrook's, but that doesn't mean that he'll be a non-factor in this tournament. Cheeks will make it difficult for Westbrook to create space and get high-percentage looks.
Harden will counter Erving's athletic play with the defensive pressure he's known for, but he won't be able to completely lock Erving down.
This matchup hinges on who can win the matchup between Malone and Durant, and Durant's pure scoring ability gives him the nod. Durant's defense will be a liability for OKC's Big Three, but his offensive production will counteract that.
In a close matchup, one of the newest Big Threes in the NBA will knock off one of the all-time greats.
Durant, Westbrook, Harden (30) vs. Malone, Cheeks, Erving (25)
ND Round 1: No. 3 Russell, Jones, Havlicek vs. No. 6 Rose, Deng, Boozer
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Matchup Advantage: Rose vs. Havlicek, Deng vs. Jones, Boozer vs. Russell
Hear me out on this one.
There's no doubt that Russell, Havlicek and Jones were one of the greatest Big Threes to ever play the game, but they never had to go up against players like Rose, Deng and Boozer.
While Havlicek was a five-time NBA All-Defensive First Team member, he will struggle to contain Rose. The amount of energy that Havlicek has to put into stopping Rose will seriously impact his abilities on the offensive side of the ball.
There's no doubt, though, that Russell has the advantage over Boozer, but don't forget that Russell was just a 44 percent shooter for his career. Boozer's size will allow him to be able to defense Russell in the post well enough to keep Russell from getting a lot of high-percentage shots.
The difference-maker in this matchup will be Deng's slight advantage over Jones. Deng's defense will be the main reason why the Bulls' Big Three scores this massive upset against one of the greatest trios to ever grace the hardwood.
Rose, Deng, Boozer (30) vs. Havlicek, Jones, Russell (26)
ND Round 1: No. 4 Garnett, Rondo, Pierce vs. No. 5 Bryant, O'Neal, Fisher
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Matchup Advantage: Rondo vs. Fisher, Pierce vs. Bryant, Garnett vs. O'Neal
Here's a Big Three throwdown that I'd absolutely love to watch.
Ray Allen certainly could be here in place of Rondo. But Rondo is a more complete player, and in a lot of respects, that makes him a more dangerous member of this Celtics' Big Three.
There's no doubt that Fisher is a good, physical defender, but Rondo's street ability will make him a very difficult player to hang with.
Kobe and his ultra-competitive mentality will keep the Lakers' trio in this one well past the 30-point limit. The battle between Kobe and Pierce is something that we've seen before, and while Kobe's the more versatile player, Pierce will certainly be able to hold his own against him.
The real difference-maker here is going to be Garnett's ability to spread the floor on the offensive end. O'Neal will not be able to defend Garnett out on the perimeter, and that's going to be the main reason why the Celtics take this matchup.
Rondo, Pierce, Garnett (35) vs. Bryant, Fisher, O'Neal (33)
SD Round 1: No. 1 LeBron, Wade, Bosh vs. No. 8 Frazier, Reed, DeBusschere
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Matchup Advantage: James vs. DeBusschere, Wade vs. Frazier, Bosh vs. Reed
Enter South Beach's mighty Big Three of LeBron, Wade and Bosh.
While the Heat's Big Three is certainly one of the most productive and dangerous in the history of the NBA, there's no doubt that the Knicks' Big Three will give them a run for their money.
LeBron has the clear advantage over DeBusschere on both sides of the ball. LeBron's athleticism will be too much for DeBusschere to keep up with, and LeBron's defense will keep DeBusschere from being a real factor in this matchup.
The key matchup here will be Wade vs. Frazier, which sounds like a boxing title bout more than it does a hardwood battle. Wade might be the more physical player, but Frazier will minimize that advantage with his intelligence defensive intensity.
Bosh and Reed will go back and forth in this matchup, with Bosh's long-range ability giving the Heat's Big Three a serious advantage. Reed's post game, however, will equalize that advantage. His ability to rebound the ball will give the Knicks an advantage on the glass.
Ultimately, LeBron's advantage over DeBusschere will be too much for the Knicks' Big Three to handle.
James, Wade, Bosh (30) vs. Frazier, Reed, DeBusschere (23)
SD Round 1: No. 2 Johnson, Abdul-Jabbar, Worthy vs. No. 7 Paul, Griffin, Jordan
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Matchup Advantage: Johnson vs. Paul, Worthy vs. Griffin, Abdul-Jabbar vs. Jordan
This Los Angeles Big Three showdown will be a blowout; there's just no way around it.
Magic has a massive size advantage over Paul, and he also has a legitimate post game that he will use to seriously overpower Paul.
Griffin has the size and athletic over Worthy. While he'll use that to expose Worthy's lack of elite defensive skills, Worthy will be able to minimize Griffin's athleticism with his legitimate scoring abilities.
There's no way around the fact that Abdul-Jabbar will absolutely destroy Jordan in this matchup. Jordan is a shot-blocker, but there's no way to stop Abdul-Jabbar and Jordan will quickly realize that.
Once Magic and Abdul-Jabbar find their groove on the offensive side of the ball, they'll absolutely destroy the Clippers' Big Three—showing just how dominant of a trio they were.
Johnson, Worthy, Abdul-Jabbar (30) vs. Paul, Griffin, Jordan (13)
SD Round 1: No. 3 Duncan, Parker, Ginobili vs. No. 6 Thomas, Dumars, Laimbeer
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Matchup Advantage: Parker vs. Thomas, Ginobili vs. Dumars, Duncan vs. Laimbeer
This matchup will certainly be one of the most competitive showdowns of this tournament.
While Duncan has the clear advantage over Laimbeer, the other matchups are almost too close to call.
Thomas and Parker are both physical point guards who also know how to score the ball by slashing into the paint, which will be easier to do with only three players on the court. With that being said, Thomas' defensive prowess gives him the slight advantage over Parker.
When it comes to Ginobili and Dumars, their matchup could go either way 10 times out of 10. Ginobili is the "craftier" scorer, and that will certainly help him stay competitive with Dumars. Dumars' defensive pressure will give him the slight advantage over Ginobili.
The real difference-maker, and the reason why the Spurs' Big Three will come out of this matchup victorious, is the advantage that Duncan has over Laimbeer. Duncan's pure post game and fundamental offensive skills will be too much for Laimbeer to handle.
The Spurs' Big Three will feed Duncan in the paint time and time again, maximizing Duncan's big advantage over Laimbeer.
Parker, Ginobili, Duncan (30) vs. Thomas, Dumars, Laimbeer (27)
SD Round 1: No. 4 Bird, McHale, Parish vs. No. 5 Bryant, Gasol, Bynum
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Matchup Advantage: Bryant vs. Bird, Gasol vs. McHale, Bynum vs. Parish
Here's a matchup that could go either way every single time it's played.
The real difference-maker in this matchup will be Kobe's defensive pressure and his serious athletic advantage he has over Bird.
Kobe and Bird will go at each other's throats all game long. While Bird will be able to shoot over Kobe with his pure stroke, Kobe's physicality and agility will be too much for Bird to handle—especially in isolation situations.
McHale and Gasol are too very similar players, but McHale has the advantage because of his elite motor and his impressive range. McHale will out-hustle Gasol on the perimeter, but Gasol will be able to use his post game to minimize that advantage.
Bynum and Parish is a matchup made in heaven. The real difference-maker is going to be the fact that Bynum has 50 pounds on Parish. When Bynum is playing up to his potential, he's one of the most dominant players in the paint. Parish will stay competitive with Bynum with his defensive pressure and his impressive jump-shooting abilities.
Ultimately, this matchup will come down to Kobe vs. Bird, and I'm giving Kobe the slight advantage in this one.
Bryant, Gasol, Bynum (33) vs. Bird, McHale, Parish (31)
ND Round 2: No. 1 Jordan, Pippen, Rodman vs. No. 4 Garnett, Rondo, Pierce
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Matchup Advantage: Jordan vs. Pierce, Pippen vs. Rondo, Rodman vs. Garnett
Here's an all-time great matchup that would be an absolute blast to watch.
First and foremost, Jordan has the clear advantage over Pierce. Not only is he a more athletic player, he's also a more complete player; that will mean a lot for the Bulls' Big Three. Jordan's ability to get into the paint off the dribble against Pierce will be a huge advantage.
Pippen vs. Rondo is a matchup that will be dominated with staunch defense. Pippen, who's known for his ridiculously effective defense, will make it difficult for Rondo to have an offensive impact in this matchup. Rondo's inability to defend Pippen will also be a major difference-maker.
While Rodman will give Garnett fits all game long, Garnett's long-range ability will be the main reason why the Celtics' Big Three is able to stay in this one.
In what will be an extremely physical game, the Bulls' Big Three will once again prove just how dominant of a trio they truly were.
Jordan, Pippen, Rodman (30) vs. Pierce, Rondo, Garnett (22)
ND Round 2: No. 2 Durant, Westbrook, Harden vs. No. 6 Rose, Deng, Boozer
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Matchup Advantage: Durant vs. Boozer, Westbrook vs. Rose, Harden vs. Deng
This is a matchup that we've seen before between the Thunder and the Bulls. Unfortunately, though, there've been five players on each team instead of just three.
In what will be a mismatch on both sides of the ball, Durant has a more significant offensive advantage over Boozer and that's going to certainly be a big difference-maker in this matchup. Durant's range is going to be the biggest advantage for the Thunder here.
Westbrook vs. Rose is a toss-up. Both players are extremely physical for point guards, and while Westbrook can be inconsistent at times on the defensive side of the ball, his mid-range game gives him the advantage.
Deng vs. Harden is also a toss-up. The major reason why Deng has the advantage here is because of his size advantage over Harden. Deng's agility will also be difficult for Harden to consistently keep up with throughout this matchup.
While this will be a competitive matchup, the advantage Durant has on Boozer on the offensive side of the ball will be what the Thunder's Big Three relies on to earn them the victory.
Durant, Westbrook, Harden (30) vs. Rose, Deng, Boozer (24)
SD Round 2: No. 1 James, Wade, Bosh vs. No. 5 Bryant, Gasol, Bynum
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Matchup Advantage: James vs. Gasol, Wade vs. Bryant, Bosh vs. Bynum
Here's a matchup that NBA fans have luckily been able to see a few times over the past few years, with both Big Threes getting the better of the other at least once.
The major storyline of this matchup will be Kobe vs. LeBron, but with the Lakers' big men in this game, LeBron will be forced to guard Gasol instead of Kobe.
LeBron vs. Gasol will be an absolute mismatch in favor of LeBron. We saw this year how LeBron can guard nearly anyone on the court, and he'll do just that against Gasol. On the offensive side of the ball, LeBron will blow past Gasol time and time again.
Kobe vs. Wade is a matchup that could go either way every time this game is played. While Wade is more of a slasher than he is a pure shooter, Kobe is somewhat of a more explosive scorer. That's why he has the slight advantage here.
Bosh vs. Bynum will be an interesting matchup, as Bynum's size will be equalized by Bosh's range. Ultimately, Bosh's perimeter abilities will help the Heat's Big Three spread the floor more than the Lakers' Big Three, and that will lead to a Heat win.
James, Wade, Bosh (30) vs. Bryant, Gasol, Bynum (25)
SD Rd 2: No. 2 Johnson, Abdul-Jabbar, Worthy vs. No. 3 Duncan, Parker, Ginobili
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Matchup Advantage: Johnson vs. Parker, Worthy vs. Ginobili, Abdul-Jabbar vs. Duncan
Here's a matchup that will once again be dominated by Magic's size and Abdul-Jabbar's ridiculous ability to score the ball from outside of the paint.
Magic not only has an decisive size advantage over Parker, he's also a more versatile scorer; that will be to his advantage throughout the matchup. Parker will certainly put up a fight, but Magic's versatility will be too much to handle.
Worthy and Ginobili will go back and forth throughout the matchup, with Worthy's size advantage ultimately giving him the slight edge here. Ginobili will use his quickness off the dribble to remain competitive with Worthy throughout.
The real matchup to watch here is Abdul-Jabbar vs. Duncan. Abdul-Jabbar has his patented skyhook, and Duncan has his patented bank-shot. This matchup is certainly a toss-up, with Abdul-Jabbar getting the slight advantage because of the lethality that exists in his hook shot.
Magic's dominance over Parker will be the major reason why the Lakers' Big Three will be able to come out victorious against the Spurs' Big Three.
Johnson, Worthy, Abdul-Jabbar (30) vs. Parker, Ginobili, Duncan (24)
North Finals: No. 1 Jordan, Pippen, Rodman vs. No. 2 Durant, Westbrook, Harden
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Matchup Advantage: Jordan vs. Westbrook, Pippen vs. Durant, Rodman vs. Harden
This matchup is extremely difficult to pick, mainly because every individual matchup is somewhat of a mismatch. Either way, this North Division finals will be one of the most competitive of the entire tournament.
Jordan will face off against Westbrook by default, because Westbrook doesn't match up as well against anyone else on the court. There's no doubt that Jordan will dominate Westbrook in nearly every aspect of this individual matchup, and honestly, it will be the Bulls' saving grace.
Pippen vs. Durant will be an extremely interesting matchup to see. While Pippen's defense is some of the best in the history of the NBA, Durant has proved that he can score against whomever is trying to guard him. Durant's offense will be a major part of why the Thunder will be able to hang with the Bulls' Big Three here.
Rodman vs. Harden is a matchup of an infamous hairdo against an infamous beard. The beard gets the nod here, as Harden is a much more competent offensive player than Rodman. With that being said, Rodman and his intensity will minimize Harden's impact on the game, and that will be at the forefront of the Bulls' Big Three getting the victory.
Jordan's ability to dominate Westbrook will also be a major reason why the Bulls' Big Three will reach this tournament's finals.
Jordan, Pippen, Rodman (30) vs. Durant, Westbrook, Harden (24)
South Finals: No. 1 James, Wade, Bosh vs. No. 2 Johnson, Abdul-Jabbar, Worthy
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Matchup Advantage: James vs. Johnson, Wade vs. Worthy, Bosh vs. Abdul-Jabbar
Here's one of the matchups that every NBA fan dreams of seeing when the phrase "Big Three" is even mentioned.
The outcome of this matchup majorly depends on whether LeBron will be able to outplay Magic, and that's exactly what he will do. For the first time in this tournament, Magic is matched up with an equally sized player who has the same skill set.
The reason why LeBron has the advantage over Magic is because of his pure athletic ability. Magic is a freakish athlete just like LeBron is, but in a three-on-three setting, the fact that LeBron's athleticism is combined with his legitimate physicality will be to his advantage. LeBron's newfound post game will help him out as well.
While Worthy has a decisive size advantage over Wade, there's no doubt that Wade is the better pure scorer of the two. Wade's ability to slash into the paint against Worthy will give the Heat's Big Three the advantage.
Bosh and Abdul-Jabbar is an extremely interesting matchup. Both players have the range in their game to help spread the court, which is important in a three-on-three setting, and they both are relatively athletic for their size. The efficiency in Abdul-Jabbar's skyhook will be the difference-maker in this individual matchup.
Ultimately, the Heat's Big Three will be able to outlast the Lakers' Big Three. They'll do so by banking on Wade's ability to consistently outplay Worthy and LeBron's ability to slightly overpower Magic.
James, Wade, Bosh (35) vs. Johnson, Worthy, Abdul-Jabbar (33)
Tournament Finals: No. 1 Jordan, Pippen, Rodman vs. No. 1 James, Wade, Bosh
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Matchup Advantage: James vs. Jordan, Wade vs. Pippen, Bosh vs. Rodman
Well, folks, we've made it to the tournament finals that we've all dreamed of seeing: It's LeBron and Wade vs. Jordan and Pippen, with Bosh and Rodman being relegated to the role of supporting cast.
While the talk of this matchup will be LeBron, Wade, Jordan and Pippen, the real difference-maker will be Bosh, but we'll get to that in a minute.
LeBron vs. Jordan is going to be the focal point of this matchup, and it will certainly be an incredible one to watch. The advantage goes to Jordan because of his incredible athleticism, and his ability to truly explode off the dribble like no other player to have ever played the game. LeBron will hold his own, though, using his size and agility to get into the paint against Jordan an impressive number of times.
Wade vs. Pippen will also be an interesting matchup to watch, as they're both explosive scorers with an impressive focus on the defensive side of the ball. The difference-maker in this individual matchup will be Wade's ability to cut to the basket. While Pippen will be able to defend it adequately, Wade's athleticism will take over more often than not.
Like I said above, Bosh vs. Rodman will be the true key in this matchup. Bosh's offensive abilities and his size advantage over Rodman will be major reasons why the Heat's Big Three scores this upset.
Bosh will be able to help the Heat's Big Three spread the court more than Rodman on the offensive side of the ball, which will be huge for Miami's squad.
This matchup could go either way every time, but this time, it goes in favor of the Heat and their mighty Big Three of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.
James, Wade, Bosh (36) vs. Jordan, Pippen, Rodman (34)
Tournament Champions: LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh
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There you have it. The Miami Heat's Big Three of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh are the tournament champions. They won by spreading the court with Bosh's range and dominating the paint with LeBron and Wade's ability to slash into the lane.
Do you think the Heat's Big Three could win a tournament like this, or would another team rise to the occasion as the most dominant Big Three in NBA history?
If you've missed out on the other tournament articles I've done, check out these links to see if you agree or not.