The trade deadline has finally come to an end with Deron Williams headed to the Nets, and Melo going to the Garden to play with Amar'e.
The continued trend in the NBA is superstars wanting to play with other superstars. It got me contemplating the best tandems and trios of the last 20 years. Lately, analysts and pundits have discussed how this is a new tendency in the NBA, and how this is good and bad for different reasons.
However, this is not a new thing in the NBA. This has been happening since the league's inception. Stars don't always develop the chemistry and comradery together, so it doesn't always result in rings, which people tend to forget.
The criteria for my list consists of longevity, statistics and most importantly- Championships. So with that, here is my list of the top-15 duos and trios in the NBA over the last 20 years.
I know this group hasn't accomplished anything yet, but the sheer star-power of these perennial All-Stars is enough to get them on this list.
They are in first place in the Southeast Division, and will coast into the playoffs as a first or second seed, alongside Boston. Only time will tell how effective this trio will be in South Beach, because they haven't even played a full season yet.
April, May, and June ought to be very interesting in Miami, as long as the Heat are still playing.
Jason Kidd and Kenyon Martin were phenomenal in back-to-back seasons which included NBA Finals appearances in 2002 and 2003.
They were a fantastic duo, despite being ousted in the Finals by the Lakers and Spurs, respectively. These two were great in the pick and roll offense.
Plus, both Kidd and Kenyon were in the prime of their careers, before Martin's knees were completely worn down. The Nets made a splash yesterday by trading Devin Harris for Deron Williams.
They also traded 3 first-round picks, and $3 million in cash to Utah. Can Prokhorov bring a title to Brooklyn, if Kidd and K-Mart couldn't bring one to New Jersey?
This young tandem from Orlando was fierce in the mid 90's.
They were swept in the 1995 Finals by the Houston Rockets. The following year, Penny and Shaq lost in the Eastern Conference Finals to the 72-10 Bulls, who went on to win it all.
Penny was first team all NBA in 1995 and 1996, while Shaq was Rookie of Year out of LSU in 1993. These two put Orlando on the map in the Eastern Conference and made them a contender in the 90's. It also led to movies such as Kazaam and Blue Chips (which weren't as great).
Kevin Johnson is now the mayor of his hometown of Sacramento. But before that (about 18 years ago), he and Charles Barkley were dominating the Western Conference.
Johnson was a three-time All-Star, and a All-NBA selection 5 times. Barkley and Johnson made a run to the finals in 1993, but lost in 6 to the Bulls. Barkley, an 11-time All-Star; was named MVP of the league that year, which may be considered the highlight of his career, due to his elusive championship.
Nonetheless, "Sir Charles" Barkley is still considered to be one of the greatest players of all time.
Gary Payton and Shawn Kemp formed a vicious duo in Seattle, which began when Kemp was drafted 17th overall in 1989; and Payton a year later, out of Oregon State.
In 1996 the Supersonics were another team included in the list of NBA finalists beaten by Michael Jordan and the raging Bulls. It was an entertaining series but the Bulls won in 6. Payton and Kemp were All-NBA selections twice together in '95 and '96. The Glove is still the Sonics all time leader in steals, assists and points.
The Knicks were led by Starks and Ewing in the '93-'94 run to the NBA Finals against the Houston Rockets. The Knicks lost in Game 7 in Houston, but the team was still great.
Oakley, Mason and Doc Rivers also played key roles; but it was Starks' fiery leadership, and Ewing's presence in the interior which served as the catalyst to their success. Pat Riley coaching these egos also helped.
But generally speaking, the Knicks of the 90's were yet another victim of the dynasty that was the Chicago Bulls.
The Pistons went to back-to-back finals in '04 and '05 beating the Lakers impressively in 5 games in 2004. They lost to the Spurs in 7 the following year, but that doesn't mean Detroit didn't have a star-studded roster.
Chancey Billups was MVP and dubbed "Mr. Big-Shot", as he made clutch shots to win games and close out series throughout the postseason in 2004.
Rasheed Wallace was also a pivotal piece to the Piston's inside-out attack, on the perimeter knocking down shots.
Richard Hamilton joined the squad from the Washington Wizards in 2002, and proved to be a dynamic mid-range jump shooter.
Ben Wallace and Tayshaun Prince were also critical to their continued success in the 2000's.
The Pistons only won one title but were annual contenders, reaching the Eastern Conference Finals for 6 consecutive years.
Before Lebron decided he was "taking his talents to South Beach", Shaq Diesel decided to team up with Dwyane Wade and Pat Riley in 2004, and went on to win a ring with the Heat in 2006. The Heat defeated the Dallas Mavericks in 6 games to solidify his legacy as one the game's all-time great big men.
Dwyane Wade also made a name for himself, as he was the first to win a ring out of the legendary 2003 draft class, which also included Lebron and Melo. Gary Payton and Antoine Walker also played vital regular and postseason minutes to contribute to the championship run.
In 2008, Pau Gasol joined the Los Angeles Lakers after 7 seasons with the Memphis Grizzlies. Since that time, the Lakers have gone to 3 straight NBA Finals and have won the last 2. Last season they beat the Celtics in 7, and the Magic in 5 games the year before.
The remarkable tandem works so well because of the Black Mamba's scoring ability, and Pau inside. Gasol has been an unstoppable force for opponents across the league. He matches up well against other big men because he is so fundamentally and technically sound, in addition to his great size, and coaching from Phil Jackson in the triangle offense.
Some people believe he's soft because he's from Spain, or that he doesn't really bang in the paint for boards and blocks. However, after the Lakers beat Dwight Howard with the Magic, and the ruthless interior defense of Celtics, I don't think he's worried about people still criticizing that aspect of his game.
This season, Phil is looking to Kobe and Pau so he can have 4 three-peats in his Hall of Fame career.
Doc Rivers is a very fortunate coach to have such savvy veterans in Beantown. The Boston Big 3 started this whole free agent movement idea when Ray Allen joined forces with Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce in 2007.
The Celtics have been to the Finals twice since then, but only won it once, beating the Lakers in 6 games in 2008. The Celtics are currently in a battle for the number-one seed in the East for the playoffs with Miami.
The group isn't getting any younger, but they are definitely a force in the Atlantic Division for at least 2 or 3 more seasons.
"Clutch City", or the Houston Rockets, won back-to-back NBA titles while Michael Jordan retired in '94 and '95.
This group was very impressive in beating the Knicks, and going on to sweep the Orlando Magic's young guns of Penny and Shaq in 1995.
Hakeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler reunited from their college days of Phi-Slamma-Jamma at the University of Houston, as Clyde "The Glide" joined the Rockets in 1995. Kenny "The Jet" Smith and Sam Cassell also made a name for themselves playing for Rudy Tomjanovich and winning multiple rings in Houston.
Hakeem and Clyde were both named to the NBA's 50 Greatest Players.
Since Tony Parker was drafted by the Spurs in 1999, San Antonio has won 4 Championships. Robinson retired in 2003, after winning his second title over the New Jersey Nets in six games. Greg Popovich didn't stop there, winning 2 more titles '05 and '07. He is now the longest tenured coach in the league.
The Spurs generally don't generate a lot of publicity due to their style of play and soft-spoken leadership, but they are poised to be the number one seed in the playoffs this season, with the best record in the league at 47-10, and the only thing missing is The Admiral, David Robinson.
John Stockton is the all-time assists leader by more than 4,000. The Mailman is a two-time MVP, and the second leading scorer in NBA history behind Kareem.
They are without a doubt, the best duo never to win a ring together, and it's not even a debate. This combo was the face of the Utah Jazz for almost 20 years. Malone joined Stockton in 1985, but the dominance was prevalent in the 90's with their pick-and-roll offense, under the tutelage of Jerry Sloan.
The Jazz legends made the NBA Finals twice together in their illustrious careers in Salt Lake City consecutively in 97'-'98, but the story ending was predictable; as the Bulls beat them twice in 6 games in each series.
Kobe and Shaq had a tumultuous relationship during their 8 years together in Southern California. They won 3 titles in a row from '00-'02, and went to the Finals for a fourth time losing to the Detroit Pistons in 2004.
Eventually the Zen Master, Phil Jackson, couldn't control these egos and Shaq split to win a ring in South Beach with Wade. Everything turned out okay for the Black Mamba, as Kobe has won 2 rings since, and now has Pau instead of Shaq.
Michael Jordan led the Bulls to 6 NBA titles in the 90's. Including 2 three-peats, separated by his brief retirement in '94-'95 to pursue a career in baseball.
He's is arguably the greatest player ever. Scottie Pippen joined Jordan in the Windy City in 1987, but the two didn't win their first ring until they beat the Lakers in 1991.
Together they stopped countless Hall of Famers from winning titles, throughout the 90's.Their contribution to the league, and the game is immeasurable.
Bibby & C-Webb
Reggie Miller, Mark Jackson & Rik Smits
KG & Starbury
LJ, Muggsy & Zo
Nowitzki & Nash
Sprewell, Houston & LJ