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The Definitive Trios: The 30 Best "Big 3s" In NBA History

If you ask Charles Barkley, he's the only person on Earth that understands teams need great players in order to win basketball games and people who like analytics are dummies (He also knows: "Jump shootin' is for sissies", "The Warriors are turrible", and "Kevin Garnett's coming for my job"). However, Sir Charles isn't some basketball seer, every single person on Earth knows that great players win games. The history of basketball is full of teams trying to gather together as many great players as they can. Sometimes, those efforts are in vain, like that time Brooklyn mortgaged their future for one season of Old Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, but other times, it produces many wins and memorable moments, if not a championship or two.

The term Big Three wasn't really in the basketball lexicon until LeBron James held a weird press conference sponsored by Vitamin Water and teamed up with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in South Beach, but now, it's a commonplace term in hoops conversation. Every team tries to assemble a Big Three, a trio of great players, ideally all All-Stars, capable of bringing the club to the mountaintop. Without further ado, this list will name the best Big Threes in NBA history, paying tribute to these iconic teams and players by ranking them according to: the number of championships the trio brought in, if any, and the level of talent assembled.

30 30. Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, and James Harden

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Championships Won: 0 (1 Finals Appearance)

Between 2007-2009, the Seattle SuperSonics/Oklahoma City Thunder drafted Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, and James Harden, three of the five best players in the NBA today, back-to-back-to-back, some of the best drafting by any franchise in sports history. With a perennial scoring champion in Durant, a hellfire missile turned basketball player in Westbrook, and one of the league's best sixth men in Harden, the future was incredibly bright for the recently uprooted franchise. They made the Conference Finals in 2011 and the NBA Finals in 2012, losing to the Dallas Mavericks and Miami Heat, respectively. Astonishingly, the Thunder traded Harden to the Houston Rockets in the summer of 2012, breaking up the potential dynasty before it could reach its full potential. While Durant and Westbrook would have some success before Durant left last summer, they were never able to reach the Finals again, leaving us all to wonder "What if?"

29 29. Gary Payton, Shawn Kemp, and Detlef Schrempf

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Championships Won: 0 (1 Finals Appearance)

Gary Payton and Shawn Kemp were Lob City before Lob City was a cool thing the Clippers stopped calling themselves. The duo had an unending highlight reel and their amazing connection allowed them to achieve much success in the 90's. With the high flying, smack talking duo at the helm, all time sixth man Detlef Schrempf leading the second unit, and head coach George Karl stalking the sidelines, the SuperSonics never won less than 57 games between 1993-1997. However, they were also one of the unluckiest teams in NBA history. In 1996, after registering a 64 win season and battling their way to the top of the Western Conference, they were met in the NBA Finals by the neigh-unstoppable, 73 win Chicago Bulls, losing in six games. The trio broke up in 1997 when Kemp was traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers.

28 28. Shaquille O'Neal, Penny Hardaway, and Nick Anderson

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Championships Won: 0 (1 Finals Appearance)

Speaking of dynasties that never got to happen, the recently minted Orlando Magic put themselves on the map when they drafted Shaquille O'Neal and Penny Hardaway back-to-back in 1992-1993. Adding those two to a team with Nick Anderson, and later adding Horace Grant after he won three rings with the Chicago Bulls, turned the Magic into an absolute powerhouse. Shaq alone added 20 more wins per season, but adding Penny to the mix made them immediate contenders, especially when Michael Jordan left the NBA to dominate (Don't fact check that) baseball in 1993. The duo made the NBA Finals in 1995, but after a travesty of a Game 1, where Anderson missed four possible game winning free throws in a row, they ended up being swept by the Houston Rockets. The next year, they were swept in the Conference Finals by the 72 win Chicago Bulls and that summer, because of a puzzling lack of restricted free agency rules, Shaq took his ball and left for the Los Angeles Lakers.

27 27. Tim Hardaway, Chris Mullin, and Mitch Richmond

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Championships Won: 0

For two short seasons, the trio of Tim Hardaway, Chris Mullin, and Mitch Richmond, collectively known as Run TMC, turned the Golden State Warriors into one of the most watchable, and influential, teams in NBA history. With the legendary Don Nelson at the helm, they played at a breakneck pace and had one simple mission: to score as many points as humanly possible. In their record breaking 1990-1991 season, they were the highest scoring trio in the NBA, averaging a ridiculous 72.5 points per game between them. Their blistering offensive display helped launch the careers of all three men, who would all go on to receive multiple All-Star nods, and Mullin and Ritchmond have been inducted into the basketball hall of fame. Most importantly, their high octane style helped create the style of play we see today. Unfortunately, the trio didn't see much success, as their defense wasn't exactly incredible, and they broke up after the 1991 season.

26 26. Hakeem Olajuwon, Ralph Sampson, and John Lucas

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Championships Won: 0 (1 Finals Appearance)

Everyone loves a good upset, as evident by the 38 billion "Warriors blew a 3-1 lead" memes floating around the internet right now, and there may be no bigger upset in NBA history than the one perpetrated by the 1986 Houston Rockets. With the gargantuan front court of Ralph Sampson, both seven footers, and a veteran, pass first point guard in John Lucas, the Rockets won 51 games, good for the second best record in the Western Conference. They made it to the Conference Finals, where they came face to face with Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and the Los Angeles Lakers, one of the most ferocious teams, and dynasties, in basketball. Against all odds, the Rockets defeated the Lakers handily, burying them in five games. However, they were met in the NBA Finals by Larry Bird and the Boston Celtics, possibly the best team in NBA history, and fell in six games. The trio broke up when Sampson was traded the next season, but that was just the beginning of Hakeem's success.

25 25. Steve Nash, Amar'e Stoudemire, and Shawn Marion

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Championships Won: 0

Between 2004 and 2008, the Phoenix Suns, under the guidance of offensive maestro Mike D'Antoni, the guy who recently turned James Harden into mega Steve Nash, played like a super powered version of Run TMC. They were known as the Seven Seconds or Less Suns. With Steve Nash quarterbacking the whole operation, the team ran like a well oiled hoops machine. Nash was a play making genius, pre-injury Amar'e Stouemire was an offensive savant, actually outplaying Tim Duncan in the Conference Finals, and Shawn Marion was one of the most splendidly versatile players to ever grace the court. They saw tons of regular season success, winning 60+ games twice, and made the Conference Finals twice straight in 2005 and 2006. Unfortunately, like their Bay area counterparts, they were never able to reach the mountaintop. They broke up when Shawn Marion was traded to Miami for an over the hill Shaq in 2008.

24 24. Jack Sikma, Dennis Johnson, and Gus Williams

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Championships Won: 1 (2 Finals Appearances)

Possibly because the Seattle SuperSonics no longer exist (Cue "My Heart Will Go On") or because the team wasn't filled with superstars, the 1979 Championship 'Sonics team is one of the most obscure title teams in NBA history. Their win took place in a bit of a down period for the NBA, after Wilt and Russell, but before Magic and Bird, and as good as Jack Sikma, Dennis Johnson, and Gus Williams were, they weren't mega stars, to say the least. They made the NBA Finals two straight times, both against the Washington Bullets. The first time, in 1978, the 'Sonics racked up a 3-2 lead on the Bullets before losing in seven games. However, the next year, they got their revenge and defeated their rivals in just five games, winning the franchise's only championship. The trio broke up not long after that, when Johnson was traded to the Phoenix Suns in 1980 and Williams sat out the entire season during a contract dispute.

23 23. Dwyane Wade, Shaquille O'Neal, and Antoine Walker

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Championships Won: 1

The 2006 Championship Miami Heat team was an odd duck. On paper, the roster wasn't amazing. It was filled with journeymen players, old guys looking for one last chance at a ring, and Udonis Haslem (Because Udonis Haslem will never not be on the Heat). Jason Williams (White Chocolate!), Alonzo Mourning, and Gary Payton all called South Beach home for the 2005-2006 season. However, their Big Three of Dwyane Wade, Shaquille O'Neal, and, an admittedly over the hill, Antoine Walker was enough to win a title. When Shaq left Los Angeles for Miami, the Heat became immediate favorites to win it all. They made the Conference Finals, but an injury to Wade stopped them from defeating the then-defending champions Detroit Pistons. However, with a healthy Wade at the helm, they made the NBA Finals the next year, defeating the Dallas Mavericks in six games (The last time the Heat would do that to the Mavs in the Finals). Unfortunately, that was their apex, as declining play and multiple injuries to Wade would sink the Heat for a few seasons following their big win.

22 22. LeBron James, Kyrie Irving, and Kevin Love

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Championships Won: 1 (2 Finals Appearances)

It's fair to say that LeBron James' second Big Three isn't as talented as his first, but the duo of Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love are talented players in their own right and provide more than enough firepower for the King to continue his yearly march to the NBA Finals. As it stands, the Cleveland Cavaliers aren't perfect. They have a few noticeable issues, particularly bench depth and defense, but they proved last year that perfection isn't necessary to sink a Goliath like the Golden State Warriors. Since LeBron's return to the Land in 2014, the Cavs have made the Finals twice. In 2015, they lost to the Warriors in six games. However, injuries to Kyrie and Love have marred that loss in some fans' eyes. Then last year, LeBron and Co. managed to topple the titanic, 73 Warriors team in seven games, bringing a trophy home to Cleveland for the first time in fifty years. Chances are, the Cavs will be back in the Finals again this year, gunning for another ring and a higher spot on this list.

21 21. Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green

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Championships Won: 1 (2 Finals Appearance)

In a few years, it's entirely possible that Kevin Durant will have replaced someone in this entry (Probably Klay Thompson), but for the time being, the Big Three that brought the Golden State Warriors to the Promised Land stands as Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green. While the Warriors were good under the leadership of Mark Jackson, it wasn't until Steve Kerr took over the sidelines that they realized their true potential. With expert marksmen Curry and Thompson raining threes, and Green doing literally anything and everything on the court, the team has set countless offensive records and made the past two NBA Finals. In 2015, after a 67 win campaign, they defeated the Cleveland Cavaliers in six games. However, in 2016, after winning a record 73 games, they blew a 3-1 lead to the Cavaliers, after previously coming back from a 3-1 deficit in the Conference Finals (Karma?) Now armed with Kevin Durant, the Warriors look to return to the mountaintop and, ideally, get revenge on LeBron James, Kyrie Irving, the entire city of Cleveland, and especially, the Internet.

20 20. Wilt Chamberlain, Hal Greer, and Chet Walker

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Championships Won: 1

As good as Wilt Chamberlain was, and his exploits on the basketball court have made him a mythological figure in the sports world, he only ever won two NBA Championships, primarily because of Bill Russell playing goal line defense to dash his title hopes time and time again. The first time he reached the mountaintop, he did so as a member of the Philadelphia 76ers, alongside Sixers greats Hal Greer and Chet Walker. Wilt only played in the City of Brotherly Love for three seasons and only made the NBA Finals once while there, but that one time proved enough. In 1976, the high scoring trio defeated the San Francisco Warriors, Wilt's former team, in six games. However, they broke up in 1968, when Wilt attained his ultimate destiny and joined the Los Angeles Lakers.

19 19. Karl Malone, John Stockton, and Jeff Hornacek

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Championships Won: 0 (2 Finals Appearances)

No two players in NBA history have been better suited to play together than Karl Malone and John Stockton. Stockton's playmaking ability, mixed with his uncanny ability to steal the ball, allowed him to feed the ball to the high scoring Malone. Their pairing was so effective that Malone ended his career second on the all time scoring list, and Stockton ended his career first on the all time assists and steals lists. The duo, alongside the sharpshooting Jeff Hornacek, made the Utah Jazz one of the most successful teams of the 80's and 90's. However, their success was limited to the regular season, as they were unable to win an NBA Championship, despite two trips to the Finals. Both times, in 1997 and 1998, they were met and defeated by Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls, the killers of all hoops dreams in the 90's. Although Malone and Stockton were able to rack up thousands of wins on the court, they never made it to the mountaintop, possibly the best ringless duo of all time.

18 18. Chauncey Billups, Richard "Rip" Hamilton, and Ben Wallace

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Championships Won: 1 (2 Finals Appearances)

Traditional NBA logic says that for a team to win a championship, they need at least two of the top 15 players in the league on said team. There are a few outliers, like the 2011 Dallas Mavericks, but none bigger than the 2004 Detroit Pistons. While they lacked a traditional superstar, they made up for it by being superbly coached and designed. On both offense and defense, they played together like a perfect basketball machine. The trio of Chauncy Billups, Rip Hamilton, and Ben Wallace, although all having All-Star appearances, were far from superstars. They made the Conference Finals six straight times, between 2003-2008, and won at least 50 games eight straight times, between 2001-2008. Most importantly, in 2004, they managed to do the impossible and brought home the NBA Championship, defeating Kobe and Shaq's Los Angeles Lakers in just five games, cementing themselves as possibly the greatest underdog champions in NBA history.

17 17. Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, and Andrew Bynum

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Championships Won: 2 (3 Finals Appearances)

Without a doubt, some people will be angry to see Kobe Bryant's second Big Three so low on the list, considering they managed to win back-to-back NBA Championships, but simply put, the combined talents of Bryant, Pau Gasol, and Andrew Bynum doesn't hold up against some of the men further up on this list. However, they were still damn good. After the departure of Shaquille O'Neal in 2004, the Lakers struggled to win, despite Kobe playing all the way out of his mind. Some of the Mamba's best seasons were spent toiling on bad teams. Finally, in 2008, the team traded for Gasol and Bynum started to emerge as a decent player, giving Kobe an All-Star supporting cast. They made the NBA Finals in 2008, but fell to the Boston Celtics in six games. They would go on to win the big one in 2009 and 2010, the latter coming against the Celtics. Afterwards, the team saw success, but Kobe soon entered his twilight years and the Lakers more or less imploded under the weight of bad decisions.

16 16. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Oscar Robertson, and Bob Dandridge

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Championships Won: 1 (2 Finals Appearances)

Not many teams can boast having hosted two all time greats at the same time, especially not small market teams, but that's the exact situation the Milwaukee Bucks landed in when they drafted Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, then Lew Alcindor, first overall in 1969. The young Kareem's transcendent skills drew legendary triple-double machine Oscar Robertson to Milly from Cincinnati. Although the Big O was in the twilight years of his career, he was still an incredibly productive floor general. Along with Bob Dandridge, whom the Bucks drafted in the fourth round the same year Kareem came up, Kareem and Oscar led the Bucks to their first, and so far only, NBA Championship. They made their way to the mountaintop in 1971, Kareem's sophomore season, sweeping the Baltimore Bullets. They made the NBA Finals again in 1974, before Oscar retired and Kareem left for the Los Angeles Lakers, where'd he go on to win five more rings.

15 15. Hakeem Olajuwon, Clyde Drexler, and Kenny Smith

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Championships Won: 2

As good as Hakeem Olajuwon was, and he was tremendous, his career will always, unfortunately, sit in the shadow of Michael Jordan. In 1984, he was drafted first overall, but Jordan won Rookie of the Year. Hakeem may have made the NBA Finals in 1986, but Jordan had three rings before The Dream would get back there. Even his two championships came during Jordan's exodus from basketball to play baseball. However, Jordan be damned, two rings is two rings and that's a momentous achievement. With Clyde Drexler, a veteran of two Finals with the Portland Trail Blazers, and Kenny Smith by his side, Hakeem led the Rockets to two straight NBA Championships in 1994 and 1995. In 1994, they defeated Patrick Ewing and the New York Knicks in seven games, and in 1995, they swept Shaq and Penny's Orlando Magic. They broke up when Kenny Smith was traded in 1996 and despite Charles Barkley joining the team that same year, they never further than the Conference Finals again.

14 14. Walt "Clyde" Frazier, Willis Reed, and Earl "The Pearl" Monroe

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Championships Won: 1 (2 Finals Appearances)

In addition to being incredible basketball players, the trio of Walt Frazier, Willis Reed, and Earl Monroe were almost impossibly cool. They were hands down the coolest Big Three in NBA history. Clyde had infinite swagger, always rocking fine clothes and nice cars, Monroe was such an iconic street baller that he was nicknamed "Black Jesus", and Reed once fought the entire Los Angeles Lakers team by himself and won. They were incredible. The duo of Clyde and Reed had won an NBA Championship in 1970 and they added Monroe to the fold in 1971 in hopes of winning another. They made the NBA Finals in 1972, but lost to Wilt Chamberlain and the Lakers in just five games. The next season, they won 57 games and returned to the Finals for a rematch against the Lakers, this time defeating them in five games. Reed retired in 1974 and Clyde was traded in 1967, and the Knicks plunged into relative obscurity until Patrick Ewing was drafted in 1985.

13 13. John Havlicek, Dave Cowens, and Jo Jo White

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Championships Won: 2

The Boston Celtics have 17 NBA Championship banner hanging in the TD Garden, so it's no surprise that they have a handful of Big Threes on this list (Four, to be exact). Of all those Big Threes, the trio of John Havlicek, Dave Cowens, and Jo Jo White may be the least discussed. After Bill Russell won a breathtaking 11 championship in 13 seasons, he retired in 1969 and left the team to Havlicek and rookie White. The club drafted Cowens in 1970 and by 1972, they were back to being perennial championship contenders. They made the Conference Finals every year between 1972-1976, and even won a mind bending 68 games in 1973, and won two championships in that time, in 1974 and 1976. In 1974, they defeated Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and the Milwaukee Bucks in seven games, and in 1976, they defeated the Phoenix Suns in six games. They fell off in 1977 and by 1980, all three men were off the Celtics for one reason or another.

12 12. Moses Malone, Julius "Dr. J" Erving, and Maurice Cheeks

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Championships Won: 1

When the Philadelphia 76ers signed the young titan Moses Malone to play alongside Dr. J and Mo Cheeks, there was no chance that trio wasn't going to bring a championship home to the City of Brotherly Love. Dr. J and Cheeks had managed to bring the team to two NBA Finals, in 1980 and 1982, both times losing to the Lakers in six games. It was clear they needed another star to help them win the prize that had eluded them twice already. The Sixers signed Moses in 1982 and they saw immediate results. The trio led the Sixers to 65 wins in 1982-1983 and ran through the playoffs. They only lost one game throughout, to the Milwaukee Bucks in the Conference Finals, and swept the Los Angeles Lakers in the NBA Finals. Unfortunately, that was the apex of their success. They never got further than the Conference Finals before Moses left in 1986.

11 11. Wilt Chamberlain, Jerry West, and Elgin Baylor

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Championships Won: 0 (2 Finals Appearances)

The placement of Wilt Chamberlain, Jerry West, and Elgin Baylor may confuse some people, considering they didn't win a championship together (Wilt and West did in 1972, but Baylor had retired), but hen you consider how much talent exists between these three men, it's easy to see why they were ranked so high. Wilt was so good that many of his stats and records seem fake today, Baylor may be the best NBA player to never win a championship, having lost in the NBA Finals eight times in his career, and West's silhouette has been immortalized as the logo of the NBA. The trio made the Finals two straight times, in 1969 and 1970, after Wilt came aboard, losing to the Boston Celtics and the New York Knicks, each in seven games. Because basketball is a cruel mistress, Baylor retired in 1971 and the next season, they won an NBA Championship without him. Regardless, the careers of all three men are legendary and deserve to be as high as they are on this list.

10 10. Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and Ray Allen

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Championships Won: 1 (2 Finals Appearances)

For some people, it may be a mistake to rank the Big Three of Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and Ray Allen so high, considering that they only won a single championship, despite having three perennial All-Stars and all time greats running the team. After years of trying and failing to recapture the glory and success of the Bill Russell and Larry Bird Boston Celtics teams, the club went all out and traded for Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen to pair alongside in-house All-Star Paul Pierce. Much like the 1982-1983 Philadelphia 76ers, the very first year the trio was together, they rocketed to the top of the league, winning 66 games and making the NBA Finals, where they defeated Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers in six games. They made the Finals again in 2010, but a rematch with the Lakers would see Kobe and Co. get their revenge in seven games. They failed to make the Finals again after that, eventually breaking up when Allen joined LeBron in South Beach.

9 9. Isiah Thomas, Joe Dumars, and Bill Laimbeer

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Championships Won: 2 (3 Finals Appearances)

The "Bad Boys" Detroit Pistons are one of the most fondly remembered teams in NBA history. Led by the trio of Isiah Thomas, Joe Dumars, and Bill Laimbeer, with Dennis Rodman coming off the bench, they epitomized the brand of hard hitting basketball that older fans love to memorialize. The team is best known for their "Jordan Rules", the formula they developed to neutralize the GOAT (Basically, they beat the hell out of him). The Bad Boys were a product of years long team building playoff failures. They finally made the NBA Finals in 1988, but they lost to the Los Angeles Lakers in seven games on a phantom foul call against Bill Laimbeer. However, that failure would fuel them to back-to-back championships, sweeping the Lakers in 1989 and defeating the Portland Trail Blazers in 1990 in just five games. Unfortunately, the jig was up in 1991, when Jordan overcame the Jordan Rules and swept them in the Conference Finals.

8 8. LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh

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Championships Won: 2 (4 Finals Appearances)

The Biggest of Big Threes, the one that kicked off our current fascination with grouping together superstars. To be fair, stars teaming up in order to win championships has always happened in basketball, and sports in general, but LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh gave us a catchy label to put on the practice. In the summer of 2010, LeBron shocked the world when he announced his departure from Cleveland to form a super team in South Beach. Although the Big Three fell short of their title aspirations (Not three, not four, not five...), they immediately set the league on fire with a level of play rarely seen before in basketball. They made the NBA Finals in 2011, but shockingly, lost to the Dallas Mavericks in six games. After that, they won back-to-back championships, defeating the young Oklahoma City Thunder in just five games in 2012 and defeating the San Antonio Spurs in seven games after Ray Allen's miracle shot saved them in game six of the 2013 Finals. After just four seasons, the partnership dissolved in 2014, when King James went home to Cleveland.

7 7. Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, and Horace Grant

via ESPN.com

Championships Won: 3

The first Michael Jordan led Big Three on this list (The other being from his time on the Wizards, OBVIOUSLY!) and it's from his first three-peat, between 1991-1993. Alongside Scottie Pippen and Horace Grant, a young Jordan bulldozed his way through the Eastern Conference three times and won three straight rings. After three straight playoffs of being physically brutalized by the Detroit Pistons, Jordan finally vanquished his demons in the 1991 Conference Finals, sweeping the Bad Boys and ending their dynasty for good. After that, nothing could stop His Airness and the Bulls from championship glory, defeating Magic and the Los Angeles Lakers in 1991, Clyde Drexler and the Portland Trail Blazers in 1992, and Charles Barkley and the Phoenix Suns in 1993. There's no telling how long the party could have gone on for Jordan and Co., but Jordan abruptly retired in 1993 to play baseball. Luckily for basketball fans everywhere, the GOAT would return in 1995 to wreck more havoc.

6 6. Shaquille O'Neal, Kobe Bryant, and Robert Horry

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Championships Won: 3

Quite possibly the most memorable Big Three to ever play together, both because of its recency and because the duo of Kobe and Shaq may be the most fearsome to ever join forces, the trio of Shaquille O'Neal, Kobe Bryant, and Robert Horry (Derek Fisher, if you'd prefer) completely owned the early 90's, after Jordan retired, both on the court and in the media. In the summer of 1996, the Lakers traded for Kobe on draft night and signed Shaq away from the Orlando Magic, setting the foundation for a successful future. By 1999, they were ready to dominate the league. They bulldozed their way to three straight championships, defeating Reggie Miller and the Indiana Pacers in 2000, Allen Iverson and the Philadelphia 76ers in 2001, losing only a single game in all four series, and Jason Kidd and the New Jersey Nets in 2002, although this title run was tainted by the NBA fixing the 2002 Western Conference Finals against the Sacramento Kings. Unfortunately, Kobe and Shaq slowly began butting heads and by 2004, the team fully imploded. Shaq left for Miami and Kobe struggled until the arrival of Pau Gasol in 2008.

5 5. Bill Russell, Bob Cousy, and Tom Heinsohn

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Championships Won: 6 (7 Finals Appearances)

If you've ever used championships won as a metric for defining a player's legacy (Be honest, we've all done it at one point or another), then you'd best bow down to Bill Russell. No matter how you feel about the era in which he played, the man won 11 championships in just 13 years, even acting as a player coach for the final two. While John Havlicek was arguably his best teammate, he achieved the most success alongside Bob Cousy and Tommy Heinsohn. Between 1957-1963, the trio made the NBA Finals seven straight times and won six championships, losing only to the St. Louis Hawks in 1958. During their astounding run, they defeated the Hawks three times and the Los Angeles Lakers three times. They broke up when Cousy retired in 1963 and Heinsohn followed suit in 1965. Of course, Russell would continue onward with new teammates and win another five championships, eventually retiring in glory in 1969.

4 4. Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, and Dennis Rodman

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Championships Won: 3

The second Jordan Big Three on this list and it's probably the one people remember most fondly. Jordan had just returned from his failed, forced exodus into baseball and he was ready to regain his dominance over the basketball world. Although he played in the 1995 Playoffs, he was still in baseball shape and the team lost to Shaq, Penny, and the Orlando Magic in the Conference Semifinals. The next season, however, they came back guns blazing. They added Dennis Rodman, a former member of the Jordan mauling Bad Boys Pistons, to the core of Jordan and Pippen, and went on to win a then-record 72 games in 1995-1996. Between 1995-1998, they won another three championships, defeating the Seattle SuperSonics in six games in 1996, and the Utah Jazz in both 1997 and 1998, by six games each time. By the time the 1998-1999 season rolled around, Jordan had retired and Scottie had signed with the Houston Rockets.

3 3. Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, and Manu Ginobili

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Championships Won: 4 (5 Finals Appearances)

Arguably the most successful Big Three to ever play together, the trio of Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, and Manu Ginobili set numerous records during their 14 seasons together, including the record for most wins by a trio in NBA history. They also never won less than 50 games in a season and won 4 championships in 11 years, a level of longevity and consistency not normally seen in professional sports. Duncan won a championship alongside David Robinson in 1999, but it wasn't until the team drafted Parker and Ginobili, in 2002 and 2003, respectively, that he'd win again. The legendary trio would win four championships between 2003-2014, constantly reinventing themselves to succeed as the game around them changed. They defeated Jason Kidd and the New Jersey Nets in 2003, the Detroit Pistons in 2005, they swept LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2007, and they beat the Miami Big Three in 2014. They broke up when Duncan retired at the end of last season.

2 2. Larry Bird, Kevin McHale, and Robert Parish

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Championships Won: 3 (5 Finals Appearances)

One half of the greatest rivalry in NBA history, the Boston Celtics of the 1980's were a ruthless machine of defense and fundamentals, running their opponents into the ground night in and night out. With Larry Bird, Kevin McHale, and Robert Parish at the helm, they never gave their foes a minute to breath, stifling them on one end of the court and toying with them on the other, courtesy of Bird's legendary play making abilities and infamous competitiveness. Between 1981-1987, they made the NBA Finals five times, winning three championships. Three times, in 1984, 1985, and 1987, they faced off against Magic, Kareem, and the Los Angeles Lakers, defeating them in 1984, but losing in 1985 and 1987. In 1988, they were defeated by the Bad Boys Pistons in the Conference Finals and that would be the end of any extensive playoff success for the club, as Larry Bird started succumbing to more and more injuries.

1 1. Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and James Worthy

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Championships Won: 3 (5 Finals Appearances)

And here it is, the greatest Big Three of all time: Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and James Worthy. The greatest point guard of all time, the greatest, and most consistent, center of all time, and one of the top 10 small forwards of all time. The Showtime Lakers, as they were known, were one of the most exciting, hardest to defend basketball teams to ever play the game. Magic and Kareem won two championships together before Worthy came aboard, in 1980 and 1982, but they saw the most success after Worthy was drafted in 1983. Between 1983-1989, they made the NBA Finals five times, winning three championships, in 1985, 1987, and 1988. Their success included four straight seasons, between 1984-1988, where they won 60 plus games every season. The trio broke up when Kareem retired in 1989, although Magic and Worthy did make the Finals again in 1991.

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The Definitive Trios: The 30 Best "Big 3s" In NBA History