Kobe Bryant, Dwyane Wade and the 50 Most Exciting Backcourts in NBA History
The 50 best backcourts of all-time is loaded with some of the best scorers and distributors the game of basketball has ever known.
While some of these dynamic duos played together for years, others never had the chance to finish what they started.
There have been great athletes, fantastic competitors and unorthodox craftsmen.
There have been players who maximized their talent and players who really could have done more.
So what exactly makes them exciting?
At the most basic level, it starts with producing impressive stats and some highlight-reel plays.
For the older players who played in the dark days of the NBA, it's about the lasting impact their legacy has had on the game of basketball.
A handful of players are on this list because they were a part of something special, filling important roles while being flanked by Hall of Fame talent.
What is more exciting than winning?
Here's a look at the 50 of the most exciting backcourts in NBA history.
No. 50: Ricky Pierce and Paul Pressey, Milwaukee Bucks
Pierce was a great shooter who could heat up at a moment's notice, while Pressey was a versatile player who served as Milwaukee's primary ball-handler.
In addition to Pressey, Pierce played alongside guards including Sidney Moncrief and Alvin Robertson during his days with the Bucks.
Talk about an embarrassment of riches.
Pierce also spent time in Seattle, where he teamed with a young Gary Payton.
No. 49: Joe Johnson and Mike Bibby, Atlanta Hawks
You don't have to author a bunch of rim-rattling jams to qualify for this list.
Statistically, Bibby and Johnson have been one of the most productive backcourts in the NBA in recent years.
Maybe that's why the Hawks shelled out $120 million to keep Johnson under contract...
No. 48: Derek Harper and Rolando Blackman, Dallas Mavericks
Harper and Blackman played together in the late 1980s in Dallas, forming one of the most underrated backcourts during the glory days of NBA basketball.
Although he became known for his defensive abilities later in his career, Harper was a very good scorer in his prime.
A four-time All-Star, Blackman was a pure scorer during his NBA career, averaging more than 20 points in three different seasons with the balanced Mavs teams.
No. 47: Kenny Smith, Sam Cassell and Clyde Drexler, Houston Rockets
Smith and Drexler were on the downsides of their careers, while Cassell was a hot-shot youngster who had already mastered the art of trash talk.
The Rockets won back-to-back NBA titles in 1994 and 1995, thanks to Hakeem Olajuwon and a deep backcourt that also included Vernon Maxwell.
After Mad Max left the team heading into the 1994-1995 season, Cassell assumed a bigger role in the offense.
Even on his last legs, Drexler was still a 20-point scorer in Houston.
You can expect to see Clyde the Glide again on this list...
No. 46: Kevin Johnson and Dan Marjele, Phoenix Suns
Johnson and Majerle were the most polarizing players in a deep Suns' backcourt during the early 1990's.
With K.J. serving as both a scorer and a facility, Majerle reaped the benefits and quickly became known as one of the best shooters in the NBA.
Thunder Dan also had the ability to elevate to the rim before back injuries began to erode his game.
No. 45: Lionel Hollins and Dave Twardzik, Portland Trail Blazers
The very definition of "team players." Hollins and Twardzik formed the backcourt on the Blazers' teams led by the oft-injured Bill Walton.
With Walton drawing double-teams, those Blazers squads became known as some of the best passing teams in NBA history.
That's probably the only way they could have defeated the mega-talented Sixers to capture the 1977 NBA title.
No. 44: Spud Webb and Mitch Richmond, Sacramento Kings
Webb and Richmond both began their careers elsewhere before joining forces in Sacramento.
The duo formed one of the better backcourts in the NBA during their time with the Kings, with Webb putting up the best overall numbers of his career.
Meanwhile, Richmond continued to be one of the best shooting guards in the league.
He just never seemed to get the credit he deserved.
No. 43: Gary Payton and Hersey Hawkins, Seattle Supersonics
Payton was a budding Hall of Famer and Hawkins could really fill it up during his lengthy NBA career.
Although his best days came early in his career in Philly, Hawkins moved on to Seattle and helped the Sonics become one of the best teams in the Western Conference.
With Payton and Shawn Kemp leading the way, Seattle rolled to the 1996 NBA Finals and lost in six games to the mighty Chicago Bulls.
No. 42: Norm Van Lier and Jerry Sloan, Chicago Bulls
Van Lier and Sloan were rugged competitors who made life miserable on opponents during their days with the Bulls.
Neither was a great scorer, but it was their ability to defend on the perimeter that helped make Dick Motta's teams among the NBA's best.
No. 41: Jason Kidd and Jim Jackson, Dallas Mavericks
What was supposed to be the next NBA dynasty ended up being a short-lived failure by immature young players.
Kidd and Jackson formed a lethal backcourt duo during their two seasons together in Dallas.
With a young Jamal Mashburn also fighting for shots, the team was broken up before reaching any real success.
No. 40: Kenny Anderson and Drazen Petrovic, New Jersey Nets
What could have been.
Although the duo seemed primed for years of success, Petrovic and Anderson ended up playing only two seasons together in New Jersey.
You can't help but wonder how NBA history might be different had Petrovic not lost his life.
No. 39: Dick Van Arsdale and Charlie Scott, Phoenix Suns
The Suns' teams in the early 1970's boasted one of the best backcourts in the game.
Scott and Van Arsdale were mirror images with the ability to score and handle the ball.
Before joining the Suns, Scott torched the nets in the ABA as a member of the Virginia Squires.
No. 38: Rod Strickland and Clyde Drexler, Portland Trail Blazers
Rod Strickland had his best seasons in Portland with Terry Porter and Clyde Drexler helping him finally find a home.
With Porter aging, Strickland took over as Drexler's primary running mate in the 1993-1994 season when he moved into the starting lineup.
Like fellow point guard Kenny Anderson, Strickland never truly lived up to his potential in the NBA.
No. 37: Mark Price and Ron Harper, Cleveland Cavaliers
Long before LeBron James came to Cleveland to put the Cavs back on the map, a young backcourt tandem had the team poised for success.
Ron Harper was a dynamic scorer who could get to the rim at will, while Mark Price was one of the best shooters to ever play the game.
With Brad Daugherty, Larry Nance and Hot Rod Williams on the roster, Cleveland should have been a dynasty in the making.
Instead, the dynasty was dissolved after the Cavaliers dealt Harper to the Clippers.
No. 36: Mike Bibby and Peja Stojakovic, Sacramento Kings
Although he is technically a forward, Stojakovic spent his time on the perimeter in Sacramento with Mike Bibby.
It seems like decades ago, but Peja was once widely regarded as one of the best shooters in the NBA.
Meanwhile, the acquisition of Bibby from the Grizzlies catapulted the Kings into the ranks of the contending teams in the league.
They just never managed to get over the hump.
Blame Robert Horry.
No. 35: Penny Hardaway and Nick Anderson, Orlando Magic
Hardaway was anointed as the next Magic Johnson, a tall point guard who could put up triple-doubles while scoring whenever necessary.
Anderson was already a blossoming scorer for the expansion Magic before Lil Penny came along.
Like most of the duos on this list, both players eventually fell on hard times.
Hardaway was never able to lead the Magic after Shaq headed West, and Anderson began to lose his confidence after developing a nasty habit of choking at the foul line.
It was great while it lasted.
No. 34: Fred Brown, Dennis Johnson and Gus Williams, Seattle Supersonics
The Sonics' franchise had some fantastic guards during the late 1970s and early 1980s.
One of the best was Downtown Freddie Brown, who would shoot it from anywhere in the days before the three-point line.
During his career with the Sonics, Brown played alongside both Gus Williams and Dennis Johnson in the Key City.
Talk about a triple threat.
No. 33: Allen Iverson and Jerry Stackhouse, Philadelphia 76ers
Two great scorers who really didn't know how to share the ball.
It wasn't a surprise when Stackhouse ended up being moved after just two full seasons in Philly.
The Sixers drafted Allen Iverson following Stackhouse's rookie season, creating a backcourt that loved shooting and hated doing anything else to help the team win.
The duo looked great on paper, but there was no chance it would have ever worked out in reality.
No. 32: Steve Smith and Mookie Blaylock, Atlanta Hawks
Blaylock handled the defensive end and Smith shouldered the scoring load.
The duo formed a natural pairing in Atlanta for several seasons, with Blaylock leading the league in steals and Smith scoring around 20 points per game.
No. 31: Sam Cassell and Michael Redd And Ray Allen, Milwaukee Bucks
Cassell and Allen were part of a triumvirate that also featured Glenn Robinson.
After the Big Dawg was traded, the Bucks went out and acquired Gary Payton.
They also had a young Michael Redd on the roster.
Not surprisingly, the mix of great guard talent didn't yield great results in the regular season or the playoffs.
It's tough to have much magic when Ervin Johnson is your best big man.
No. 30: Maurice Cheeks and Andrew Toney, Philadelphia 76ers
The Sixers' underrated backcourt tandem was one of the biggest reasons for the success of Julius Erving and Charles Barkley.
Toney was a great scorer, but Cheeks had the biggest impact in Philly.
Not only did he figure out how to keep everyone happy by sharing the ball, the future NBA coach also set the tone on the defensive end.
Mo still looks like he can ball.
No. 29: Sidney Moncrief and Paul Pressey, Milwaukee Bucks
Before a young Ricky Pierce came along, Don Nelson's Bucks already had a great backcourt in place.
Pressey took a couple of years to become a playmaker at the NBA level, but his production helped fuel the best seasons of Moncrief's career.
Perhaps because they played in Milwaukee, neither player seemed to ever get the credit they deserved.
No. 28: Charlie Ward, Allan Houston and Latrell Sprewell, New York Knicks
Few knew how well Houston and Sprewell would actually coexist when they joined forces in New York.
Fresh off his suspension for that infamous choking incident, Spree was on his best behavior in the Big Apple.
Meanwhile, Houston was still healthy and showcasing his silky smooth jumper with regularity.
Flanked by Charlie Ward and Chris Childs, the talented scoring duo helped the Knicks reach the NBA Finals in 1999 against a young Tim Duncan and the Spurs.
No. 27: Dennis Johnson and Danny Ainge, Boston Celtics
Danny Ainge was a great athlete, but he owed a great deal of his individual success to Dennis Johnson.
D.J. and Ainge formed the heart and soul of the dominant Celtics' teams in the late 1980's, working together to take the pressure off the best frontcourt ever assembled.
No. 26: Steve Nash and Leandro Barbosa, Phoenix Suns
Steve Nash has played with some great guards, including Joe Johnson and Jason Richardson.
But his best pairing was with a young, healthy Leandro Barbosa lighting up the league off the bench.
Despite playing basically no defense, the duo made the Suns a very dangerous team.
More importantly, they were absolutely a joy to watch.
No. 25: Dave Bing and Jimmy Walker, Detroit Pistons
Bing and Walker formed a really good backcourt during the late 1960s in Detroit.
They also played together on some really bad Pistons' teams.
Things didn't get better until Walker moved on to Omaha and a young big man named Bob Lanier came to town.
No. 24: Stephen Curry and Monta Ellis, Golden State Warriors
We have no idea where this young pairing will end up in history, but in terms of pure excitement, it's tough to top Stephen Curry and Monta Ellis.
With almost identical size, the two have a sharp contrast in styles that makes them a joy to watch.
Curry's smooth jumper and ability to use pick-and-rolls to create is the perfect compliment to Ellis' slashing style.
It will be interesting to see how long the happiness by the Bay lasts.
No. 23: Mark Jackson and Reggie Miller, Indiana Pacers
A little shimmy here and a little choke there.
Jackson came over from the Clippers and helped make life easier for Reggie Miller.
Although they weren't the most spectacular duo, both players finished their career with remarkable achievements.
Jackson ranks third all-time in assists, while Miller still holds the record for most made three-pointers, with Ray Allen in hot pursuit.
No. 22: Baron Davis and Jason Richardson, Golden State Warriors
When they were healthy and focused, few backcourts made more jaw-dropping plays than the Warriors duo of Davis and Richardson.
It just didn't happen that often.
Their most memorable moment came in the 2007 NBA playoffs, when they orchestrated the upset of the No. 1 seed Dallas Mavericks in impressive fashion.
Richardson was sent packing after the season, while Davis has basically lost interest since.
No. 21: Tiny Archibald and Jimmy Walker, Kansas City-Omaha Kings
After playing alongside Dave Bing in Detroit, Walker joined forces with Tiny Archibald in Omaha.
Archibald produced ridiculous numbers during the 1972-1973 season, averaging 34 points and 11 assists in 80 games.
He got some help the following year when Jimmy Walker came over from Houston.
Coached by Bob Cousy, the Kings were a bad team that had to be fun to watch.
If only we could go back in time and see for ourselves...
No. 20: Michael Jordan, B.J. Armstrong and John Paxson, Chicago Bulls
You can't argue with success, and you can't argue with clutch.
Paxson's shot to defeat the Suns was typical of the kind of clutch shooting he brought to the table.
Armstrong was a much better player than Paxson and even earned a trip to the All-Star game.
The baby-faced point guard won three championships while providing a third option for the great Bulls teams of the early 1990's.
No. 19: Magic Johnson, Michael Cooper and Byron Scott, L.A. Lakers
Magic was the straw that stirred the drink in L.A., but he couldn't have done it without some help.
Throughout his glorious career, Magic had one big flaw: he really couldn't guard anybody.
That's where Cooper came in.
With his long arms and athletic ability, Cooper was able to guard a number of different positions.
Meanwhile, Scott thrived as part of the Showtime crew, averaging at least 20 points in three different seasons with the Lakers.
No. 18: K.C. Jones and Sam Jones, Boston Celtics
The Celtics' dynasty featured so many great players that it's tough to remember them all.
What K.C. and Sam Jones did shouldn't go unnoticed.
Sam Jones was the scorer on the perimeter alongside John Havlicek, while K.C. handled the ball.
When it was all over, Sam had won 10 NBA titles while K.C. had captured eight crowns.
It's tough to overlook that kind of success.
No. 17: John Stockton and Jeff Hornacek, Utah Jazz
If you like backdoor cuts, high shooting percentages and very short shorts, then this is the duo for you.
Stockton and Hornacek weren't the most exciting tandem, but they did what they could and made the game look easy, especially considering they didn't have ideal size, athletic ability or quickness.
Love him or hate him, Stockton's vision and tenacity made him a legend.
No. 16: Lucius Allen and Oscar Robertson, Milwaukee Bucks
After being acquired from Cincinnati, the Big O teamed with Lucius Allen and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in Milwaukee.
It's too bad he didn't arrive sooner.
Robertson was more of a forward, but his all-around game helped him serve as a point guard for his entire Hall of Fame career.
Allen played a minimal role on the Bucks team that captured the 1971 NBA title, but he became an integral part of the offense during the next three seasons as Robertson wrapped up his glorious career.
No. 15: Jason Kidd and Vince Carter, New Jersey Nets
If only Vince Carter could have stayed interested.
With Carter and Richard Jefferson on the wings, the Nets should have been one of the best teams to watch in the entire NBA.
Jason Kidd was good enough to make almost anyone look good, but the big three ended up being a big disappointment in New Jersey.
Still, it's tough to forget the few memorable moments Kidd and Carter did have while running the break.
No. 14: Chauncey Billups and Richard Hamilton, Detroit Pistons
Billups and Hamilton went from rejects to NBA champions by pulling off one of the bigger upsets in NBA history.
Billups had bounced around the NBA, while Hamilton had been bounced out of Washington D.C. by Michael Jordan's inflated ego.
Billups' clutch play spearheaded Detroit's win over a Lakers team loaded with Hall of Famers in the 2004 NBA Finals.
As good as Isiah and Joe D were, Mr. Big Shot and Rip certainly have earned a place in Pistons lore.
No. 13: Rajon Rondo and Ray Allen, Boston Celtics
Rondo's strengths and weaknesses make him a perfect fit with Allen.
No longer capable of carrying the scoring load by himself, Allen has extended his career by enjoying fewer responsibilities in the Celtics' offense.
Meanwhile, Rondo has become one of the most unique stars in recent memory.
He might not be able to hit an 18-footer, but he can do just about everything else.
No. 12: Magic Johnson and Norm Nixon
Nixon helped Magic ease into the NBA by giving the Lakers a secondary ball-handler.
As if Magic needed any help.
Nixon's role with the Lakers teams of the early 1980's is often forgotten, but he provided steady scoring while dishing out plenty of assists.
With two fantastic point guards coexisting, L.A. was beautiful to watch and almost impossible to beat.
No. 11: Terry Porter and Clyde Drexler, Portland Trailblazers
Terry Porter and Clyde Drexler helped the Portland Trail Blazers climb to the top of the Western Conference once the Lakers dynasty began to crumble.
Coming out of tiny Wisconsin-Stevens Point, not many people had any idea of just how good Porter would be.
Drexler took a while to live up the hype, but eventually he became one of the best players in the NBA thanks in part to Porter's consistency.
It's hard to say how many titles those Blazers' teams would have had they played in a different era.
No. 10: Bill Sharman and Bob Cousy, Boston Celtics
Another backcourt pair that helped the Celtics find NBA glory, Cousy and Sharman have the individual accomplishments to belong on this list.
Cousy's exploits haven't been forgotten, but Sharman was arguably the best scorer on Boston during his prime.
Cousy captured six NBA titles during his career in Beantown while Sharman netted four.
No. 9: Tim Hardaway and Mitch Richmond, Golden State Warriors
Hardaway and Richmond led one of the most exciting group of perimeter players that never won anything.
With Chris Mullin at small forward, the Run TMC gang blistered the nets while playing almost no defense.
That's exactly why we loved them.
No. 8: Kobe Bryant and Derek Fisher, L.A. Lakers
Although Derek Fisher's value to the Lakers is often overblown, there is no question he has made a difference in Kobe Bryant's career.
Fisher has been there for every NBA title, hitting big shots and getting the job done defensively.
You can't argue with the results.
No. 7: Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker, San Antonio Spurs
Parker and Ginobili have been consistent scorers and proven winners during their NBA careers.
While helping the Spurs claim three NBA titles, the duo had no problem handling opposing backcourts or hitting clutch buckets.
Ginobili's awkward style has become oddly endearing over the years.
No. 6: Oscar Robertson and Jerry West, 1960 U.S. Olympic Team
We're calling an audible with this particular selection.
Long before NBA players were allowed to participate in the Olympics, Robertson and West teamed to lead the United States team in the 1960 Summer Games in Rome.
Obviously, they had no problem bringing back the gold.
With Robertson leading the team in scoring, the Americans won all eight games by an average of 42 points.
No. 5: Kobe Bryant and Dwyane Wade, The Redeem Team
No matter who the best player in the world is, there is no debating Kobe Bryant and Dwyane Wade were the catalysts for the Redeem Team in 2008.
Bryant filled the role of being a lockdown defender, preferring to let his younger teammates do most of the scoring.
Meanwhile, Wade became the go-to option on the offensive end.
And when things got close, both players didn't hesitate to rise to the challenge.
No. 4: Joe Dumars and Isiah Thomas, Detroit Pistons
Isiah Thomas was the face of the Bad Boy Pistons, while Joe Dumars was a mild-mannered scorer who let his game do the talking.
Thomas displayed an insane amount of competitive fire with the Pistons teams of the late 80s and early 90s, leading Detroit a pair of NBA titles.
Dumars served as Zeke's wingman on those teams, averaging around 20 points while taking good shots.
For all the talk of Chuck Daly's "Jordan Rules," Joe D had the ability to at least contain Jordan one-on-one better than anyone in the game.
No. 3: Walt Frazier and Earl Monroe, New York Knicks
While Gail Goodrich and Jerry West were lighting up the West Coast, Walt Frazier and Earl Monroe were shining in New York City.
Despite being surrounded by Willis Reed, Bill Bradley and Dave DeBusschere, the duo still managed to put up great offensive numbers.
Frazier had more natural talent and was a better scorer, but Monroe always had a knack for stepping up in big games.
His smooth spin moves and playground game made him the most iconic figure on the great Knicks teams.
No. 2: Jerry West and Gail Goodrich
Simply put, West and Goodrich formed one of the best backcourts basketball has ever known.
The Hall of Famers formed the highest-scoring tandem in the NBA and led the Lakers to the 1972 NBA championship.
Although West was a better and much more efficient scorer, Goodrich averaged over 25 points in two different seasons in L.A.
No. 1: Michael Jordan and Magic Johnson, The Dream Team
Michael Jordan and Magic Johnson headlined the greatest basketball team ever assembled.
With so much talent around them, neither player really needed to assert themselves on a consistent basis.
Magic's passing and Michael's finishing would be good enough to beat any team from any era.
That's not even up for debate.