The 30 Best Teammates in Sports
When LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh decided to team up in South Beach, most people questioned how the super team would affect the NBA and if the three would have the right chemistry. There was one thing, however, that was never in question:
The Heat's trifecta had an incredibly successful honeymoon period, and that's thanks to being so close outside of the arena. The best teammates are able to find ways to keep each other happy, often on and off the floor.
For now, let's wait and see on Miami. A couple more disappointments ("championship or bust" is their slogan), and they might not be such chummy teammates any more. But in a couple years, they might join this list. All of these teammates knew what it took to make each other happy and become winners, but who were the closest of them all?
30. Mike Kekich and Fritz Peterson
Some might consider this a joke, but only the closest of friends can be willing to swap entire families.
Yes, and dogs.
29. Eddie George and Steve McNair
The late Steve McNair earned respect from everyone in the NFL, but he was as close to his backfield mate as anyone. George and McNair led Tennessee to a number of great seasons, and their compatibility was one of the main reasons why.
When McNair passed on, George said, "I will remember Steve's smile, his laugh, his ability to cook—the man could cook—and just the human being that he was." Sounds like a best friend to me.
28. Brett Hull and Adam Oates
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While he only played two-plus years in St. Louis, Oates' arrival immediately paired him with the great Brett Hull, creating the deadly "Hull 'n' Oates" combination and a budding friendship.
The two had a monstrous season in 1990-91, where Hull set a record for right wingers in goals and hoisted the Hart Trophy, while Oates had 115 points in 61 games.
27. Eric Dickerson and Craig James
Southern Methodist University had its own delivery system in James and Dickerson, bringing the Pony Express across the country from 1979 to 1982. Setting various records while Mustangs, the backfield was as dangerous as anyone.
Not to be confused with the SMU players who violated NCAA rules, James and Dickerson led the Mustangs to two Southwest Conference titles.
26. Marvin Harrison and Peyton Manning
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Trust is the key to being a great teammate, and not many receiver-quarterback combinations were as trusting as these two Colts. Hard to set the record for most connections between two teammates without it.
Unfortunately, they weren't as close off the field, as Harrison kept to himself most of the time. Luckily, he was able to separate work and play and make a legendary duo.
25. Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce
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The start of the Superteam Movement in the NBA, the Boston Three Party gave up their solo lead roles to become a complete team in Celtics green.
While issues of chemistry were brought up in the media, Allen, Garnett and Pierce never gave in to the press. They formed a bond that carried them straight to a championship and have been tight ever since the rings landed on their fingers.
24. Wayne Gretzky and Jari Kurri
In Kurri's rookie season in Edmonton, he had the honor of being paired with the Great One and made sure not to disappoint. The two teamed up for more than 500 goals with the Oilers and Kings and wound up in the Hall of Fame.
While almost everyone Gretzky played with could've been an excellent teammate, Kurri happened to be close to the GOAT and made a significant impact on his career.
23. Jerry Rice and Steve Young
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While Joe Montana was Rice's original quarterback, Young took over in 1991 and soon made history. The two combined to become the NFL's all-time scoring duo with 85 strikes and were always on the same page.
Rice always admired Young's competitiveness and composure in the huddle, and the feeling must have been mutual from the legendary quarterback to the game's best receiver ever.
22. Bill Barber, Bobby Clarke and Reggie Leach
While the picture may look like the poster for Will Ferrell's next movie, there's nothing comedic about the LCB line. With Leach, Clarke and Barber on the attack, the Flyers produced some of their most prolific seasons ever.
In the 1975-76 season, LCB set the record for the most goals by a single line during one of Philly's best seasons ever. While it helped to be friends on the ice, it's even better to see that they stuck together in retirement.
21. Marshall Faulk and Kurt Warner
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Between 1999 and 2001, the St. Louis Rams offense ranked in the top 15 all-time (including first in 2000) in yards from scrimmage, and Warner and Faulk were the motor in that system.
What's more surprising is that there was never a strand of tension. Both players remained humble despite going toe to toe with each other in the MVP and OPOY races.
20. Rick Martin, Gilbert Perreault and Rene Robert
From 1972 to 1979, Buffalo became the capital of Quebec thanks to the French Connection. They led the Sabres to the playoffs each of those seasons and to the franchise's first Stanley Cup Final appearance.
The trio remained friends after their time in Buffalo (and before Martin passed on) and hopefully kept the same barber. That hair is amazing.
19. Andres Iniesta and Xavi
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While any players on FC Barcelona could be considered top teammates, Iniesta and Xavi are the yin to the other's yang. While both are technically midfielders, the two Spaniards both play so many different roles that they could almost run a team by themselves.
But don't ask them that, as they are both incredibly humble about their talents. All they will do is compliment each other.
18. Steve Williams and Tiger Woods
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Too soon? Despite their recent split, Woods and Williams were one of the most inseparable caddy-golfer pairs on the links. From 1999-2011, Williams held Tiger's bag for 13 of his 14 major victories.
Considering their off-the-field friendship, the split was even more confusing. Woods had attended Williams' wedding, and Williams always defended Woods in the media.
17. Lou Gehrig and Babe Ruth
Gehrig grew up admiring the Great Bambino, and for the early parts of his career, the two were very close friends. Gehrig looked up to him as a youngster and was in awe even while they were teammates.
Even though the relationship off the field grew strained due to a bunch of factors (Joe McCarthy's appointment, family differences, etc.), neither legend let it affect his play, as they led the Yankees to four championships.
16. Bob Cousy and Bill Russell
Despite the racial tension across the country at the time, Russell and Cousy became more than just colleagues in Boston. Their friendship off the court created one of the NBA's earliest stellar one-two punches.
Let's be honest, though—when you win like Russell, who doesn't want to be friends?
15. Don Drysdale and Sandy Koufax
Los Angeles has never seen a pitching tandem like Koufax and Drysdale. In just five years, they managed 209 wins, 53 shutouts and four Cy Youngs.
The two managed to be the perfect pair to help the Dodgers acclimate to the new confines of Dodger Stadium, and fans embraced the Hall of Famers immediately.
14. Shawn Kemp and Gary Payton
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The title of the best point guard-power forward duo in the NBA was up for grabs in the '90s, and Payton and Kemp could be sure to jump higher than most. John Stockton and Karl Malone may have had them in fundamentals, but Payton and Kemp dominated the highlights.
Don't forget their toughness either. The Sonics tandem reveled in their defense and ability to frustrate opponents, leading Seattle to years of playoff pride.
13. David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez
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No matter the jersey, these two baseball funny men are always pals. Ortiz and Ramirez formed a close bond during their many years in Boston together, and even after the latter was shipped to Los Angeles, the pair kept close.
In fact, they were so close that they probably managed to get their names together on the 2003 survey that showed them both taking steroids.
12. Terrell Davis and John Elway
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Two of the grittiest men to play the game joined forces in the Mile High City, and Denver never looked so dominating. Elway and Davis are the only two Broncos to be league MVPs and did so in tremendous fashion.
Not only were they respected by the league and teammates, they also did so as friends without griping for the lead role. One took over when the other faltered, and that's how underdogs win championships. Just ask the Packers in Super Bowl XXXII.
11. Jaromir Jagr and Mario Lemieux
The Penguins rose to glory on the blades of Jagr and Lemieux, who were so in tune on the ice that it looked like a bromance. When two legends are that close, it's a recipe for success.
The duo became one-two in almost all offensive categories in Pittsburgh's record books, making Mario and "Mario Jr." two of the most beloved Pens ever.
10. Tim Duncan and David Robinson
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From 1997-2003, the best interior combination resided in Texas. Both mild-mannered off the court, Robinson and Duncan developed an intense rapport and became instant friends.
The "Twin Towers" didn't waste any time, winning a championship in Duncan's second season—and those smiles never went away.
9. Tom Glavine, Greg Maddux and John Smoltz
While Maddux may not look so happy here, he, Smoltz and Glavine made the entire city of Atlanta elated every time one of them toed the rubber.
What person wouldn't be happy when, in the eight seasons between 1991-1998, his team had the Cy Young seven times? Braves fans saw their team go from cellar-dweller in the late '80s to constant contender as soon as these three joined forces.
8. Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris
The M&M Boys shared the spotlight on the basepaths in New York and an apartment in New York City off them.
While they were portrayed as rivals due to their competitiveness, they always remained close. Because they came from such different backgrounds, Mantle was often the favorite of New Yorkers, which helped push Maris to break the home run record at the time.
7. Troy Aikman, Michael Irvin and Emmitt Smith
When "The Triplets" recently entered the Ring of Honor in Cowboys Stadium, Irvin said, "I can't write my life story without Emmitt and Troy. They can't write their life stories without me. We're tied together forever."
He couldn't have been more right. The three are arguably the best players in Cowboys history at their respective positions and won Dallas three Super Bowls in a four-year span in the '90s.
6. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Magic Johnson
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Five championships and nine MVPs. That's the combined résumé of the two titans of L.A., something duos from any sport would drool over.
Johnson and Abdul-Jabbar always had each other's back, filling in when the other struggled. Unlike other Lakers guard-center combos, they managed to have a great respect and friendship that led to their success.
5. Karl Malone and John Stockton
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Maybe the most talented duo to never win a title, Stockton and Malone played an unprecedented 1,412 games together (which is more games than all but six players in NBA history on their own).
Utah revered these two legends as the heart of basketball in the area and the toughness that the Jazz lacked before their arrival. While short shorts aren't always the best intimidator, Malone and Stockton used grit to become a perennial contender.
4. Doc Blanchard and Glenn Davis
Mr. Inside and Mr. Outside couldn't have shared the ball much better than they did in their Army days, and the academy was better for it. Not many teams take home two national titles and a 27-0-1 record in a three-year span, but the Touchdown Twins did it for Army.
Both players won a Heisman, and neither showed anything but pleasure in the other's success. Something about winning and crushing records can do that for teammates.
3. Sid Abel, Gordie Howe and Ted Lindsay
All it took was a simple managerial switch, and the Production Line was formed. The young guns, Howe and Lindsay, more than made up for Abel's decreasing speed and created one of the most feared scoring attacks ever.
While their feat in 1950 of ending the season 1-2-3 in scoring would make them great on its own, the fact that they built a great friendship off the ice allowed them to learn how to best play and exploit each other's skills.
2. Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen
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Who wouldn't be a great teammate with basketball's best? Jordan had a litany of sidekicks, but none was more stellar than Pippen.
Six championships says it all, right?
1. Pee Wee Reese and Jackie Robinson
Pee Wee Reese is often given credit for helping break the color barrier in baseball, but he maintains he was just being friendly. If that helped him to his career year and Robinson to the ROY award, we'll never know.
Ignoring the racial prejudices of the time, Reese and Robinson became one of the most prolific defensive tandems in baseball and set an example for the country.