In the rich history of the NBA, some great players have been fortunate enough to be teammates during their career as players and propel their team together to the highest peaks. Other players played together only a few seasons and made their team dream during years wondering what would have happened if they stayed in the same team for a longer time in the prime of the career. Today, we will be making a look back on 20 forgotten duos of great players who played together during their career in the NBA. Some of these players were only briefly together, but they have sometimes allowed their team to achieve things never reached before.
You will see that some of the players on our list will return on a few occasions, but that only proves how good they were and that they were desired by all the NBA teams at the time. The forgotten duos on our list got broken for various reasons such injuries, transactions, free agency departures or retirement, but their short time together playing the best game in the world will never be forgotten by the fans and their respective team. You might think that you will be able to remember every duo of teammates on the list, but some are very surprising, and you might not even know that they played together.
20 Allen Iverson and Jerry Stackhouse
Allen Iverson and Jerry Stackhouse didn’t play for long together but their short time in Philadelphia will be always remembered. Unfortunately for them and the 76ers, Stackhouse was dealt to the Detroit Pistons in 1998 and the promising duo never played together again. Iverson played in Philly until 2006 and lead the Sixers to the 2001 NBA Finals against the Los Angeles Lakers who won the Finals in 5 quick games.
At the end of his career, Stackhouse was named two-time NBA All-Star and on the first rookie team in 1996. Iverson was named the MVP of the NBA in 2001 and he went to the All-Star game 11 times and was named the best player of this game 2 times.
19 Stephon Marbury and Kevin Garnett
Minnesota was sure excited to see what these two young players could do together, but things didn’t really go as planned. Marbury only averaged 16,9 points per game during his time in Minnesota and Kevin Garnett was still a young player. The Timberwolves didn’t have much success either and that’s why Marbury asked for a trade because he wanted to play in a bigger NBA market. The team finally traded him to the New Jersey Nets where Marbury flourished into an All-Star player like expected.
For Garnett, it was only the start of a fantastic career where he was named the MVP of the league in 2004 and was an NBA champion with the Boston Celtics in 2008. Garnett returned with the Timberwolves to conclude his career in 2015-16. It’s exciting to imagine how good Minnesota could have been if Garnett and Marbury would have stayed together for longer than two years.
18 Rasheed Wallace and Carmelo Anthony
When Rasheed Wallace decided to come out from his retirement in 2012, he joined a Knicks team with big expectations of finally bringing another championship to New York. Unfortunately for the Knicks and their fans, the arrival of Rasheed Wallace on a team where Carmelo Anthony was the best player didn’t really work out. Wallace almost never had a chance to play with Anthony and he was limited to only 21 games due to a broken foot.
The idea of uniting Wallace and Anthony was good at the start because Wallace had some great moments before with the Detroit Pistons and with the Portland Trails Blazers.
For Carmelo Anthony, he was entering in the prime of his career and he was already a 5 times NBA All-Star. This duo could have made some fireworks together, but it never happened. If only the foot of Rasheed Wallace would have held up…
17 Michael Jordan and George Gervin
A lot of people forget that The Iceman and Jordan were teammates for one season with the Chicago Bulls in 1986. This was only Jordan's second season and he was about to become the dominating player that we all know. What is really unfortunate about this iconic duo is that Gervin was playing his final season in 1986. The two players didn’t play together for long because Jordan missed 64 games that year with a broken foot. For Gervin, even if he was at the end of his career, he still did great during this season with the Bulls averaging 16.2 points per game. He played the 82 games during the regular season and the Bulls were later swept in the first round by the Boston Celtics even with Jordan back healthy and recording a 62-point game in Game 2.
16 LeBron James and Shaquille O'Neal
Shaquille O’Neal and LeBron James were teammates during the 2009-10 season , LeBron's last in his first Cavs stint. James was the leader of the team and the arrival of Shaq was in hopes of finally bringing an NBA championship to Cleveland. The Cavaliers had a great season in 2009-10 and made the playoffs after a 61-win season. However, the team was eliminated by the Boston Celtics in the second round of the playoffs. James and O’Neal enjoyed great success together until Shaq hurt himself and missed a big part of the end of the regular season.
This would be the only season where LeBron and Shaq would play together because both players left the Cavaliers in the summer of 2010.
LeBron signed with the Miami Heat and O’Neal with the Boston Celtics. The Cavaliers had several bad seasons following the departure of their two stars players and got back on the track only when LeBron came back in Cleveland in 2014. Shaq played only one season in Boston before announcing his retirement following the 2010-11 season.
15 Ben Wallace and LeBron James
Because Wallace played only one season in Cleveland, a lot of people don't know that he had the chance to play with LeBron James during the 2008-09 season. Wallace who was an NBA champion in 2004 and a 4 time NBA All-Star was acquired by the Cavaliers to bring more experience in defense to the team and a chance to play with King James. This turned out really well because Wallace had a great impact on the Cavaliers defense during that year.
Before the arrival of Wallace, the Cavaliers were ranked among the worst in the league in defense and after his arrival, the defense saw an improvement and was ranked 9th best by the end of the season. This success didn’t really follow in the postseason where the Cavaliers were knocked out by the Orlando Magic in the Eastern Conference Finals. After the season, Wallace decided to return to Detroit where he played three more seasons before announcing his retirement for good.
14 Tim Duncan and Tracy McGrady
Tim Duncan is considered one of the best power-forward of all time and his resume is absolutely incredible. He won 5 championships with the San Antonio Spurs, was named the Finals MVP 3 times and was selected to the All-Star Game 15 times. When the Spurs decided to add more experience prior to the 2013 NBA playoffs, the choice of Tracy McGrady was a good one. McGrady was now bringing experience and depth to an already awesome team. He also got the chance to play with Tim Duncan and he helped the Spurs advanced to the NBA Finals against the Miami Heat lead by LeBron James.
San Antonio eventually lost this Finals in seven games but it’s important to note that this was the first-time ever that McGrady was playing in the playoffs past the first-round! Game 7 of the finals turned out to be the final game of the great career of McGrady and he announced his retirement soon after.
13 Vince Carter and Hakeem Olajuwon
During the start of the 2000s, the Toronto Raptors were still a young team in search of an identity and were in need of attracting some talented players and needed a big name in the market of Toronto if they wanted to survive. This is exactly what they did when they acquired the 1994 MVP and two time NBA champion Hakeem ‘’The Dream’’ Olajuwon from the Houston Rockets in 2001. The idea was to unite him with Vince Carter who was already one of the best players in the NBA.
Unfortunately for the Toronto Raptors, the idea didn’t really work well.
Olajuwon averaged a career low in points with 7.1 and in rebounds with only 6 per game. Not exactly what Toronto had in mind when they acquired him. At least, the Raptors were able to make the playoffs, but they lost in the first round against the Detroit Pistons. Olajuwon retired immediately at the end of the season.
12 Steve Nash and Jason Kidd
Steve Nash and Jason Kidd are two of the best players ever to have played in the NBA. What a lot of people don’t know is that Nash and Kidd were once teammates during the 1997-98 season with the Phoenix Suns. The Suns acquired Kidd, Tony Dumas, and Loren Meyer from the Dallas Mavericks during the season. Steve Nash was in his rookie season, and the two players became teammates. Because Nash was just at the start of their career, Jason Kidd got the chance to play in the starting lineup while Nash played a more supportive role behind him. The addition of Kidd help the Suns make the playoffs.
After this season, Steve Nash would have more playing time and become an NBA All-Star for the Phoenix Suns. Kidd and Nash would play again together for two more years before Nash signed with the Dallas Mavericks. Kidd played with the Suns until 2001 when he left for the New Jersey Nets where he became the All-Star player we all know today.
11 Chris Webber and Baron Davis
Chris Webber had a great career with several teams including the Golden State Warriors where he started his career in 1993 and finished there also in 2008. On January 2008, the Warriors decided to sign Webber to a deal for the remainder of the season. Once there, Webber got the chance to have Baron Davis as a teammate.
The two players were teammates for only a couple of months. Webber announced his retirement at the end of the year, while Davis opted out of his contract and signed with the Los Angeles Clippers. He continued to play in the NBA until 2016 when he finally decided to hang his shoes after a 17 year career. It would have been really great to see what the Warriors could have done with these two players in their prime.
10 Dominique Wilkins and Moses Malone
Dominique Wilkins has always been considered one of the best dunkers ever. In 1988, the Hawks gave a three-year deal to center Moses Malone and this was the start of an amazing duo between Malone and Wilkins for the Atlanta Hawks. Both players were invited to the NBA All-Star game in 1989 and they enjoyed a tremendous season that year. The Hawks won 52 games, but they were later eliminated in the first round by the Milwaukee Bucks. Wilkins and Malone played together for three more seasons before Malone left as a free agent for Milwaukee in 1991. Wilkins played for the Atlanta Hawks until 1994.
Malone and Wilkins were very privileged to play together during their best seasons and it's unfortunate that the Hawks weren't able to win a championship during these great years by them.
9 Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash
We said earlier in our list that Steve Nash didn’t play all of his career with the Phoenix Suns and he decided to leave for the Los Angeles Lakers in 2012 where he concluded his time in the NBA. In Los Angeles, he got the chance to play with one of the greatest players of all-time in Kobe Bryant. The Lakers were just on the verge of starting a rebuilding process and the presence of both Nash and Bryant was not enough to give another NBA championship to the team.
It’s sad to think Steve Nash never won the Larry O’Brien Trophy and playing with the Lakers and Kobe was probably the best chance he ever had to win it all. Steve Nash announced his retirement from basketball in 2015 and Kobe Bryant followed him the next year in 2016. It was a case of these two coming together at the wrong time.
8 Shaquille O'Neal and Kevin Garnett
In 2010, the Boston Celtics were one of the NBA most talented team and they were eager to win another championship for the city of Boston. The team was already counting on a great player and leader into Kevin Garnett who was traded to the Celtics during the 2007 offseason. When another star player in the name of Shaquille O’Neal decided to sign also with the Celtics, this team looked like championship favorites. The Celtics were just coming off from an NBA Finals loss to the Los Angeles Lakers. The following season in 2010-11 with Garnett and O’Neal, the Celtics finished with the third best record in the Eastern Conference at 56-26. However, in the playoffs, they disappointed when the team was eliminated in the 2nd round by the Miami Heat.
It was sure a big disappointment in Boston because the addition of Shaq was supposed to be the missing piece to win another championship.
During the regular season, both O’Neal and Garnett had a great season even if O’Neal was limited to only 37 games during that year.
7 Gary Payton and Karl Malone
In 2003-04, the Lakers were the first team in the league able to be assemble what we call today a ‘’super team’’. The Lakers were a very dominant team at the end of the 1990s and the beginning of the 2000s. They were just coming from winning 3 NBA titles in 4 years and they were eager for more success. When two future Hall of Famers Gary Payton and Karl Malone signed with the Lakers prior to the 2003-04 season, they went there for only one reason: to win a championship for the first time of their career.
Signing with the Lakers who were already a great team lead by Kobe Bryant was their best chance ever. Unfortunately, the Lakers were upset in the 2004 NBA Finals by the Detroit Pistons and the dream of a championship for Malone and Payton faded away.
6 Charles Barkley and Kevin Johnson
When both players were put together with the Suns, they lead them to the NBA Finals in 1993 but they lost to the Chicago Bulls who were lead by Michael Jordan. During the 1992-93 season, Charles Barkley was named the MVP of the NBA. For Johnson, it was a more complicated season and he was limited to only 47 games. However, he was really good in the playoffs where he averaged 17 points per game and he also broke an NBA record in the Finals when he played 62 minutes in Game 3 which went in overtime. Johnson played for the Phoenix Suns until 2000 when he announced his retirement and made the jump into politics. He was the 55th Mayor of the City of Sacramento from 2008 to 2016. Barkley played for the Suns until 1996 before being traded to the Houston Rockets. He also took his retirement in 2000 and became an NBA analyst on television.
5 Penny Hardaway & Stephon Marbury
Stephon Marbury's most forgettable stop was his couple of seasons in Phoenix. He spent some of that time paired up with Penny Hardaway. After a trade from the New Jersey Nets, Marbury was sent to Phoenix alongside Jason Kidd and it was expected to bring success to the Suns. Unfortunately for them, this was a time where the Lakers and Kings were dominating the Western Conference.
Marbury would make his second All-Star game while with the Suns and parlayed that into a mega deal with the New York Knicks, where his career would slowly fizzle.
As for Hardaway, his career was past its prime as well.
4 Charles Barkley & Moses Malone
Charles Barkley finds himself on this list again, as he spent some time with Moses Malone as his teammate in Philly. Malone was already well established in Philly as he had led the Sixers to the 1983 title while taking home MVP honors, while Barkley was just beginning to build his Hall of Fame career. The duo didn't spend much time together in Philly, as Malone was traded only a couple of years after Barkley entered the league, getting sent to the Washington Bullets. It would've been cool to see what Barkley and Malone could've done together and if they could've brought a championship to Philly.
3 Gary Payton & Patrick Ewing
Patrick Ewing was hoping that after coming up short with the New York Knicks in hopes of winning a championship that he could find that success with Gary Payton in Seattle. They only played one season together, in 2000-01 when Ewing was well past his prime. Payton would eventually win the NBA title he was chasing for years, but he had to go to the Miami Heat to do it. As for Ewing, he would leave Seattle following the 2000-01 season and spent his last NBA season with the Orlando Magic. Ewing and Payton in their primes would've been a far different story.
2 Pat Riley & Jerry West
Pat Riley and Jerry West are two of the most influential figures in the NBA, but fans today know them mostly as high executives with the Miami Heat and Los Angeles Clippers respectively. However, back in the early 70s, the two spent several seasons together as players with the Lakers.
The two managed to win an NBA Championship together with the Lakers in the 1971-72 season and spent a few more years together, before West retired in 1974.
Riley eventually moved on to the Phoenix Suns, where he played his final season in 1975-76.
As we know, the two would then build on their legacies, as coaches and front office figures.
1 Scottie Pippen & Charles Barkley
It's crazy how Charles Barkley never won an NBA Championship when you look at some of his former teammates. It just seemed that he was never in the right place at the right time, as his time with the Suns coincided with the Bulls' dynasty and later in his career with the Rockets, he and Scottie Pippen were past their primes. Pippen made his way to Houston after Chicago dismantled their team following their second three-peat.
The 1998-99 season didn't prove to be a success for Houston, who were bounced in the first round by the Lakers. Pippen would request a trade after the season, and was sent to Portland, much to the ire of Barkley.