Before superteams, the NBA has been known to feature tandems that make up the core of their offense and defense. These duos are the main reasons why their franchises made considerably great runs in the season, and deep into the playoffs. Some of these duos even made championships Together.

NBA players are known for their athleticism and talent, which is why they keep their bodies healthy. By wearing proper equipment such as compression sleeves, knee wraps, finger wraps, ankle supports, etc., an NBA player can keep up with the physical nature of the game. Eating healthy, incorporating supplements, going to the gym, and maintaining their skills is also a good reason why most NBA players are healthy and strong. When you have two elite NBA players and pair them up, they can build your franchise up.

From the old school to the new generation, these tandems have unique connections inside the court. Knowing each other’s strengths and weaknesses were crucial for these duos to become successful. Here are 5 Legendary tandems and other current NBA tandems to look at:

The Legends

The National Basketball Association’s history wouldn’t be complete without these ring legends. 

Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen – Chicago Bulls

Let’s start the list with a bang. Arguably one of the best, if not the best pair to ever play NBA basketball, is the duo of MJ and Scottie Pippen. Scottie Pippen is known as one of the best perimeter defenders, and Michael is one of the, if not, the greatest scorer in NBA history. 

The Tandem of MJ and Scottie helped the Chicago Bulls’ rampage in the 1990s, resulting in six NBA championships.

Larry Bird and Kevin Mchale – Boston Celtics

These guys were the reason why MJ had trouble before. Larry Bird was an elite shooter and a physical playmaker while Kevin Mchale was a lanky, but agile beast in the post. The two helped Boston become a dynasty, becoming a thorn for Isiah Thomas’ Detroit Pistons, and MJ’s Chicago Bulls.

John Stockton and Karl Malone – Utah Jazz

Another blast from the past, John Stockton and Karl Malone are probably one of the best tandems to not win a championship in their career. Karl Malone was a scoring machine, and John Stockton had a liking for getting an assist. 

Paired up with a reliable and near impossible scorer such as Karl Malone, Stockton ended up becoming the only NBA player in history to have 15,806 assists. That feat remains unbeaten and is far from being threatened today.

Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal – Los Angeles Lakers

When you talk about total domination on both ends of the court, Kobe and Shaq were up there. On offense, Kobe was himself, and an MJ incarnate at the same time. Shaq pounded and dunked on any player who dare come near him during post plays. 

This tandem didn’t become the best of friends during their run, but Kobe and Shaq knew what it took to win three straight NBA championships.

Tracy Mcgrady and Yao Ming – Houston Rockets

Tracy and Yao’s chemistry is legendary even up to today’s standards because of one thing: Language Barrier. Despite the difficulty in communication, these two had no problem speaking basketball and winning games in fashion. Tracy Mcgrady is known for leading the Rockets to a win over the Spurs by scoring 13 points in 35 seconds. 

The Houston Rockets also had the 4th longest winning streak in NBA history by winning 22 games straight. Injuries proved too much for them and led to early retirements.

The Future

Court heroes from the past might be difficult to dethrone for their impressive ball credentials, but today’s new generation of basketball superstars are ready to break those records.

Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson – Golden State Warriors

When you think of precision, and near god-like range from the three-point arc, Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson come to mind. Having established a dynasty with the warriors, these two have elite shooting and crazy range that you have to see it to believe it. 

Known as the Splash Brothers, teams know that they’re in for a night when playing against the three-time champs.

Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum – Portland Trail Blazers

Elite mid-range, superb slashing, high-level playmaking, and deadly 3-point shooting is what defines an efficient offense. Enter Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum. These two have established the Portland Trailblazers as an elite contender in the west. The tandem of Dame and CJ are one of the most efficient backcourts in the NBA today.

Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving –  Brooklyn Nets

A 6’9 scoring machine in Kevin Durant and an elite 6’3 ball handler in Kyrie Irving makes up for a deadly duo. Both are established NBA champions and are destined to be great when they play together. It’s only a matter of time when NBA teams in the east, have another hurdle to get over to move on to the NBA finals.

Lebron James and Anthony Davis – Los Angeles Lakers

One of the GOAT candidates, Lebron James made headlines when he moved to Los Angeles last season. Evidently, he needed help as a young core couldn’t keep up with an established champion and arguably the best NBA player today. As the offseason went into play, the Lakers made moves that acquired Anthony Davis from the pelicans. 

Anthony Davis or AD is an experienced all-star capable of dominating the paint and finding teammates for cuts or open looks. He hasn’t even reached his prime yet. Pairing him up with King James will surely push an already established Anthony Davis into greatness.

Paul George and Kawhi Leonard – Los Angeles Clippers

Think of two Scottie Pippens who have elite range, suffocating post defense, and high IQ. Pair them up together, and you get Paul George and Kawhi Leonard. Alongside King James and KD, these two are part of the complete players in the NBA today.

Paul George or PG13 is in his prime while Kawhii Leonard is coming off from a finals MVP performance and winning his second championship with the raptors. This tandem is heading to the Clippers where they’ll also meet a cast of incredible talent in Ivica Zubac, Patrick Beverly, and three-time sixth man of the year, Lou Williams. 

Bonus Tandem:

There’s another promising pair  to look up in the next NBA playoff.

Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis – Dallas Mavericks

The youngest tandem in the list, these two international superstars are exploding with potential. Luka Doncic may be young at the age of 20, but is already exhibiting the skills of an all-star veteran. 

Kristaps Porzingis is currently healing from an injury but is excellent in both offense and defense when healthy. Pairing these elite talents together can make veterans and other teams scratch their head in the upcoming NBA season.


Before the superteams, tandems ruled the NBA. These tandems helped establish dynasties such as those of the Boston Celtics, Chicago Bulls, Los Angeles Lakers, and the Golden State Warriors. Tandems like Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen became the blueprints of today’s young stars. Today, a lot of stars are teaming up with each other, and the formula of the superteam is slowly fading away. 

This upcoming NBA season, we’ll be treated to seeing established duos such as Dame and CJ, and the former champs, the Splash Brothers. We’ll also get to see familiar faces in PG13 and Kawhi, Lebron and AD, and we’ll see what the future holds in Luka and Kristaps. 

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