Drama, excitement, heartbreak, and the thrill of victory. These are just a few things that make sports so powerful. Fortunately for us, through the masterful storytelling of ESPN’s 30 for 30 documentaries, we’ve had the opportunity to gain insight into past events that embody these characteristics (and so much more). Yet, in spite of the importance of said traits, there just so happens to be one major theme we haven’t touched upon; one theme that tends to have a significant place throughout the history of sports. The simple, yet painstakingly gut-wrenching question that has plagued many teams and individuals: What if?
With the release of the 30 for 30 documentary, “This Magic Moment,” we were given the chance to look at this theme by focusing on the Orlando Magic of the mid-’90s; a team with infinite potential. That is, until Shaquille O’Neal left for Los Angeles, breaking up the dynamic duo of Shaq and Anfernee “Penny” Hardaway.
So, we got to thinking about NBA duos in general. While Shaq and Penny never fully realized their potential, others throughout history took full advantage of the power that comes with a lethal one-two punch. With that in mind, here’s a look at who we believe represent the five most accomplished best NBA duos of all time.
5. Bob Cousy and Bill Russell
Bob Cousy and Bill Russell (pictured) were the building blocks of a Celtics tradition. Together, Cousy and Russell won six championships in seven years, between 1956 and 1963, through solid fundamentals and team play.
While Cousy retired after the ’63 season (he would later play seven games for the Cincinnati Royals in the ’69-’70 season), Russell went on to claim five more rings before passing the torch over to John Havlicek.
At center, Russell anchored the Celtics defense, as he mastered the art of both anticipating shot caroms for rebounds and rotating into the paint for weak-side blocks. After controlling the possession, Russell would outlet the ball to the Cooz, who would lead the break.
At the opposite end, Cousy would often reward the hustling big man with a sweet pass at the front of the rim. It’s no coincidence that Russell and Cousy led the NBA in rebounds and assists per game, respectively, through three consecutive seasons.