The NBA has seen its fair share of great players team up and do spectacular things on a basketball court together. Tim Duncan and David Robinson; Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen; LeBron James and Dwyane Wade… NBA history’s star NBA duos — and even trios — goes on. But lest we forget the teams that tried and failed to put together a great duo. Sometimes, for whatever reason, it’s just not a great fit.
The Bulls recently added Wade to a roster that already features Jimmy Butler, a player at essentially the same position who plays a similar style. We won’t know exactly how it will turn out until the season is underway — and it’s possible that some new teammates will actually benefit from this major change in Chicago — but here are five star NBA duos of the past that weren’t so successful.
1. Scottie Pippen and Hakeem Olajuwon
Back in the 1997–98 season, the Houston Rockets had a Hall of Fame trio in Charles Barkley, Clyde Drexler, and Hakeem Olajuwon. But all three were on the downside of their careers, and the team finished just 41-41, which led to a first-round defeat at the hands of the Utah Jazz. Drexler retired that offseason, causing the Rockets to look to replace him with another future Hall of Fame player: Scottie Pippen.
Houston worked a sign-and-trade for Pippen, pairing him with a still quite productive Olajuwon in what should have been a dream duo. While Olajuwon stayed healthy and performed well, with 18.9 points, 9.6 rebounds, and 2.5 blocks per game, Pippen didn’t exactly hold up his end of the bargain. Most people thought he’d excel now that he was yet again out from under Jordan’s shadow. But the 33-year-old’s shooting percentages dropped and his scoring output went down from 19.1 points to 15.4.
The Rockets went 31-19 in a lockout shortened season, but Pippen absolutely killed his team in a short series in the first round, averaging 18.3 points on 17.5 shots per game, but shooting a dismal 32.9% from the field. The Rockets were eliminated in four games, and immediately made a deal with the Portland Trail Blazers to get Pippen off the roster.