Winning an NBA championship is one of the toughest things a basketball team could ever achieve. That's why the NBA Big Three concept was born, as not one or two stars were enough to go the distance in the league.
Throughout the course of history, we've seen some legendary trios dominate their rivals. Larry Bird, Kevin McHale & Robert Parish, Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar & James Worthy, Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen & Dennis Rodman, and the list goes on and on.
Even so, there are people who claim that the NBA has been at its peak since the 2000s. Moreover, others claim that Big Three basketball is dead, as the league only features strong duos like LeBron James & Anthony Davis, Kawhi Leonard & Paul George, Russell Westbrook & James Harden, etcetera.
That's why today, we've put together a list to honor the trios who dominated the hardwood over the past 20 years. So, lay back and enjoy every NBA team's best Big Three since 2000.
Big 3: Paul Millsap, Al Horford, Jeff Teague
The Atlanta Hawks have had their fair share of struggles throughout their history. Even so, Mike Budenholzer put together a very strong team during the mid-to-late '2010s. Jeff Teague pulled the strings of the offense while Al Horford and Paul Millsap went to work down low.
Then again, they had the tough luck to coexist with prime LeBron James, the Miami Heat, and the Cleveland Cavaliers. They excelled throughout the regular season but could never get past the King in the playoffs.
Big 3: Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen
The Boston Celtics currently have another promising Big 3 in Jayson Tatum, Kemba Walker, and Jaylen Brown but they're still far from the powerhouse they were when Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen joined Paul Pierce in the TD Garden.
Doc Rivers' suffocating defense and this team's depth paved the way for the Celtics to win their 17th NBA title. They also had Rajon Rondo leading the offense and anchoring their backcourt defense. Sadly, they left on bad terms when Ray Allen decided to join the Heat, which was their biggest rival at the time.
Big 3: Jason Kidd, Kenyon Martin, Richard Jefferson
The Brooklyn Nets recently built a deadly Big 3 in Kyrie Irving, Kevin Durant, and DeAndre Jordan but they're yet to play together. That's why the Jason Kidd era Nets get the nod, as they came pretty close to winning a ring but fell short in back-to-back seasons.
Jason Kidd, Kenyon Martin, and Richard Jefferson were tough as nails. They were pesky, physical defenders that wouldn't back down from a challenge. Sadly, they had to deal with the Shaq-Kobe Lakers and then the surging San Antonio Spurs.
Big 3: Baron Davis, Jamal Mashburn, David Wesley
You could argue that Kemba Walker is the best player in recent Hornets' history and you may be right but, sadly for him, he never had a truly solid supporting cast that could help him thrive in the playoffs.
Baron Davis, on the other hand, was a human highlight film, while Jamal Mashburn and David Wesley helped the Hornets put together a strongly balanced offense. They even made it to the Eastern Conference Semifinals back-to-back years.
Big 3: Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah, Luol Deng
You could go either way with Carlos Boozer or Luol Deng but the ladder gets the nod because he got the job done on both ends of the court. He was also more durable than Boozer, who struggled with injuries during his stint at the Windy City.
The Bulls were LeBron James' biggest threat out of the East. Derrick Rose was the league's biggest entertainer and Joakim Noah's grit and hustle on the glass anchored a dominating defensive unit. Sadly, injuries got the best of Rose's career and the Bulls' hopes went down the drain.
Big 3: LeBron James, Kyrie Irving, Kevin Love
LeBron James single-handedly led the Cleveland Cavaliers to the NBA Finals in 2007. He continued to carry the load for this team until he left to join the Miami Heat and win his very first NBA Championship.
So, he had to make things right when he came back home to join Kyrie Irving. The Cavaliers paired them with Kevin Love and they made it to 3 straight trips to the NBA Finals, even dethroning the almighty 73-9 Golden State Warriors to win the only title in franchise history.
Big 3: Dirk Nowitzki, Steve Nash, Michael Finley
The Dallas Mavericks have had some tough and exciting teams throughout the years. They even won the 2011 NBA championship thanks to their strong core but, other than Dirk Nowitzki, the team didn't have a huge contributor, it was more of a team effort.
That wasn't the case when Steve Nash and Michael Finley were in town. They had an electrifying offense and could outscore every single team on earth. Sadly, they never got to make it to the Finals together.
Big 3: Carmelo Anthony, Chauncey Billups, Nene
The Denver Nuggets have been a perennial contender but somehow it feels like they just can't get the job done when it matters the most. That was the story during Carmelo Anthony's tenure in Colorado, mostly because the West was stacked with powerhouses like the Lakers or Spurs.
Billups and Carmelo were only together for one season but they developed instant chemistry. Chauncey's playoff experience came pretty handily as he was the ultimate floor general, while Nene dominated both sides of the glass and Melo did his thing as the team's scoring star. They even made it to the Western Conference Finals.
Big 3: Chauncey Billups, Rip Hamilton, Ben Wallace
The 2003-04 Detroit Pistons may be one of the biggest underdogs in sports history. This team perfectly impersonated the heart and soul of the Pistons, kind of bringing back the 'Bad Boys' basketball. They were bullies, and they were going to get the job done.
This tough defensive unit put the cherry on top of the sundae by upsetting the Lakers' infamous 'Fab Four' in the Finals. They got past Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O'Neal, Gary Payton, and Karl Malone and put an end to the Lakers' dynasty.
Golden State Warriors
Big 3: Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green
You may say Kevin Durant is a better player than Draymond Green and you would be right. Even so, the core of Curry, Thompson, and Green was the one who won 1 NBA Championship, made 2 NBA Finals, and broke the record for most regular-season wins (73) before Durant made it to the Golden State Warriors.
These guys have won 3 rings together in 5 trips to the Finals. Green's versatility, defense, and playmaking allowed The Splash Brothers to wreak havoc, constantly moving off the ball and knocking down shots from beyond the arc. They were the strongest dynasty of the past decade.
Big 3: James Harden, Chris Paul, Clint Capela
Tracy McGrady, Yao Ming, and Shane Battier were a great Big 3 but they weren't better than what the Houston Rockets put together in 2018. They were one injury - and some questionable calls - away from making it to the NBA Finals for the first time since 1995.
Paul and Harden were an offensive juggernaut together, while Capela's rim running and rim protection anchored their defense. They took the Warriors to seven games in the Western Conference Finals and it feels like the Rockets just gave up on them too early.
Big 3: Reggie Miller, Jermaine O'Neal, Metta World Peace
When you put together one of the greatest shooters in the history of the game with a dominant two-way big man and a suffocating wing stopper, then you have something special on your hands. And that's what happened with the Indiana Pacers.
The infamous 'Malice at the Palace' incident took a toll on their chances and their reputation but this team was as tough as they come. Their defense was just the best the league had seen in a while and they could match up perfectly vs. the best offenses in the league as well.
Los Angeles Clippers
Big 3: Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan
Chris Paul was almost traded to the Lakers but David Stern vetoed that move and he ended up in the Los Angeles Clippers instead. Next to Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan and under Doc Rivers' tutelage, the 'Lob City' era started. They crushed both ends of the glass and were a great defensive unit.
The Clippers had some great runs in the playoffs, including a couple of trips to the Western Conference Semifinals. However, locker room issues, injuries, and tough luck forced the Clippers to break up their core.
Los Angeles Lakers
Big 3: Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O'Neal, Robert Horry
Phil Jackson did it again. After turning the Chicago Bulls into a legendary team, he made the Los Angeles Lakers the strongest dynasty in the league. And even though Derek Fisher had more offensive contributions to this team than Robert Horry, we just can't leave him out of this Big 3.
Shaq and Kobe were the most dominating duo in the league and it wasn't even close. But 'Big Shot Bob' had some incredibly clutch plays on both ends of the floor that helped capped their three-peat. They were special.
Big 3: Zach Randolph, Marc Gasol, Mike Conley
Nobody ever thought of the Memphis Grizzlies as championship contenders but they were the team no one wanted to face in the playoffs. They were so aggressive in defense, constantly switching, going between screens, bruising, taking charges, trapping, double or triple-teaming.
Helped by Tony Allen's pesky and annoying defense, the 'Grit and Grind' Grizzlies were the ultimate underdogs. They made it to the Western Conference Finals but couldn't get past Gregg Popovich and the San Antonio Spurs.
Big 3: LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh
LeBron James faced a lot of criticism for his decision to leave the Cleveland Cavaliers and 'take his talents to South Beach'. He had a chip on his shoulder and had to silence his critics, and that's exactly what he did right away.
The Miami Heat dominated the Eastern Conference at will, even putting together a 27 game winning streak. They lost made it to 4 straight Finals, winning a couple of rings before the King decided to come back home.
Big 3: Giannis Antetokounmpo, Khris Middleton, Eric Bledsoe
This one was pretty close. Ray Allen, Sam Cassell, and Glenn Robinson were also a great team and they were pretty close to make the Finals but in the end, we have to give the Greek Freak the edge here.
Giannis Antetokounmpo, Khris Middleton, and Eric Bledsoe had led the Milwaukee Bucks to their best two seasons in decades. Giannis is en route to win back-to-back MVPs and even win the Defensive Player of the Year award, and it feels like they're the team to beat in the Eastern Conference right now.
Big 3: Kevin Garnett, Latrell Sprewell, Sam Cassell
The Minnesota Timberwolves constantly failed to surround Kevin Garnett by elite talent. The one time they did it, The Big Ticket ended up winning the MVP award and leading the team to a 57-win season.
It looked like the Timberwolves' moment had finally come after making it to the Western Conference Finals. Sadly, they ended up losing to Shaq, Kobe, and the Lakers and that was it. Sprewell stood with the Timberwolves for another season but then rejected a 3-year, $21 million dollar contract. He ended up retiring and went broke.
New Orleans Pelicans
Big 3: Chris Paul, David West, Tyson Chandler
The fact that Chris Paul makes our list for the third time should tell you enough about how great and how much of a competitor he's been since entering the league. Sadly, as you may know by now, he's never even made it to the NBA Finals, so this story doesn't have a happy ending.
Prime Chris Paul was a huge menace. And with David West and Tyson Chandler bruising and dominating down low, the Pelicans were special. Peja Stojakovic also provided a much-needed scoring punch from beyond the arc but their New Orleans Hornets (Pelicans) still fell in the 2nd round of the playoffs vs. the Spurs.
New York Knicks
Big 3: Latrell Sprewell, Marcus Camby, Allan Houston
The New York Knicks had a strong one-two punch in Latrell Sprewell and Allan Houston while Marcus Camby was a top-tier rim protector and rebounder. Then again, in full Knicks fashion, they underperformed in the playoffs and were knocked out in the first round.
The Knicks had a more successful team with Carmelo Anthony, J.R. Smith, and Amar'e Stoudemire, making it to the Eastern Conference Semifinals in 2013. However, Stoudemire barely played that season with constant injuries, so we couldn't include them here.
Oklahoma City Thunder
Big 3: Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, James Harden
The Oklahoma City Thunder had the most promising young core we had ever seen. They had Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook leading the way and Sixth Man of the Year James Harden coming off the bench. We're talking about three MVPs and Scoring Champions.
Even so, they felt like they couldn't afford to keep both Harden and Serge Ibaka, who was a better complement to Durant and Westbrook. They held on to Ibaka's physical defense and traded Harden away to the Rockets. The rest is history.
Big 3: Dwight Howard, Jameer Nelson, Rashard Lewis
It seems like people forget how good Dwight Howard was in his prime. He was a three-time Defensive Player of the Year, constantly led the league in rebounds, and even took his Orlando Magic squad to the Finals, although Kobe and the Lakers handled them with little trouble.
Rashard Lewis was a deadly scorer at both forwards spots and could also keep the players in the league in check with his defense. Jameer Nelson was a never-ending source of energy and had a feel for knocking down huge shots.
Big 3: Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons, Jimmy Butler
I know what you're thinking right now but listen to me for a second. That Sixers team that made the Finals in 2001 was carried by Allen Iverson, even if (an old) Dikembe Mutombo and Allan McKie chipped in occasionally. That's why these Big 3 gets the nod.
The Sixers were one unlucky bounce away from taking the champions to overtime in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference semifinals. They were a great defensive unit and it felt like they could end up being a dynasty if Butler hadn't left to join the Heat.
Big 3: Steve Nash, Amar'e Stoudemire, Shawn Marion
Mike D'Antoni's Phoenix Suns had perhaps the most entertaining offense of the past two decades. Led by two-time MVP Steve Nash, the Suns were the team to beat out of the Western Conference, until some questionable calls in the playoffs got the best of them a couple of times.
Amar'e Stoudemire was unstoppable below the rim, while Shawn Marion's defense and three-point shooting granted this team a lot of versatility. Sadly, they couldn't get past the San Antonio Spurs, although with a lot of controversies.
Portland Trail Blazers
Big 3: Damian Lillard, C.J. McCollum, Jusuf Nurkic
We can all agree that Jusuf Nurkic is no LaMarcus Aldridge. We can also agree that he's a better fit for what the Portland Trail Blazers need right now and that, like it or not, this team went further in the playoffs than the one that had Aldridge.
The Blazers are a perennial dark horse in the Western Conference. Their explosive backcourt can combine for 60 points any given night, and Nurkic anchoring the paint gives them a huge edge over those small-ball teams. Losing him to injury in 2019 may have cost them a trip to the Finals.
Big 3: Chris Webber, Peja Stojakovic, Mike Bibby
Some argue this Sacramento Kings squad is one of the greatest teams never to win an NBA championship and I won't be the one who disagrees. Chris Webber's versatility as a scorer, rebounder, and playmaker was perfectly complemented by Peja Stojakovic's lights-out three-point shooting.
Mike Bibby always came huge in the clutch and was an underrated playmaker and scorer. They were on the verge of going 3-1 vs. the Lakers in the 2002 Western Conference Finals until Robert Horry hit a buzzer-beating three-pointer.
San Antonio Spurs
Big 3: Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili, Tony Parker
This one was a no-brainer. They're a top-5 Big 3 in the history of basketball and it's not even close. They made the San Antonio Spurs a perennial contender and one of the best franchises in the league and led them to 4 of their 5 rings.
Duncan anchored the paint on both ends of the court, Parker's unique playmaking style always came huge in the playoffs, and Ginobili is the greatest Sixth Man ever. Believe it or not, they're the winningest trio in NBA history. Moreover, they put an end to the Miami Heat Big 3 in 2014, when they got back at LeBron James in the Finals.
Big 3: Kawhi Leonard, Kyle Lowry, Pascal Siakam
The Toronto Raptors had a long history of choking and underperforming in the playoffs before Nick Nurse and Kawhi Leonard came along. They traded DeMar DeRozan - arguably the best player in franchise history - for a one-year rental on Kawhi and Danny Green. It definitely paid off.
Kyle Lowry was the leader of the team and Pascal Siakam's surge was the icing on the cake for a team poised for greatness. They were also dealt a huge break with Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson getting hurt in the Finals to win their very first championship in franchise history.
Big 3: Deron Williams, Carlos Boozer, Andrei Kirilenko
There was a time when people debated whether Deron Williams or Chris Paul was the best point guard in the league. Williams was a playmaking machine that could score in bunches before injuries took a toll on his game, and the same can be said about Carlos Boozer's scoring and rebounding. This Utah Jazz team was on to something.
Andrei Kirilenko rounded up the team with his unprecedented versatility. He could pile up multiple steals per game, block shots at a high rate, and knock down triple after triple. Mehmet Ohkur also played a huge role in this team's playoffs run until the Spurs beat them in the Western Conference Finals.
Big 3: Gilbert Arenas, Antawn Jamison, Larry Hughes
The Washington Wizards have struggled with inconsistencies for decades. They've been through never-ending rebuilds and have had plenty of ups and downs. Still, their 2004-05 season was fun as hell to watch.
Gilbert Arenas was an unstoppable scorer, while both Antawn Jamison and Larry Hughes excelled as two-way players. They got past the Bulls in the first round but then were swept by the Heat. Sadly, Arenas wouldn't be in the league much longer because of some off-court issues.