This is part three of my week long look at the "Greatest NBA Trios of All-time." Six trios have already been revealed, and today three more will join the list. If you’ve missed any of my countdown, you can go back and read them here:
Part 1: #10-8
Part 2: #7-5
Before we look at trios #4-3, here’s a recap of #10-5:
10. Paul Pierce, Garnett, Ray Allen (Boston Celtics)
9. Jerry West, Elgin Baylor, Wilt Chamberlain (LA Lakers)
8. LeBron James, Chris Bosh, Dwayne Wade (Miami Heat)
7. Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Horace Grant (Chicago Bulls)
6. Bill Russell, John Havlicek, Sam Jones (Boston Celtics)
5. Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili (San Antonio Spurs)
4. Bill Russell, Bob Cousy, Tom Heinsohn (Boston Celtics)
April 30, 1956 not only changed the Boston Celtics franchise, but it also changed the NBA. The Celtics, owned the 13th pick that year were also able to acquire Tommy Heninsohn using their territorial pick. But coach Red Auerbach wanted a player who was big and physical on defense and could be an effective rebounder. San Francisco’s Bill Russell was just the player he was looking for. With the St. Louis Hawks drafting Russell with the second overall in pick, Auerbach made a trade that would down go as one of the biggest deals in sports history. The three future Hall of Famers guided the Celtics to their first NBA Finals championship in franchise history in their very first season as a trio in 1956-57. After losing in the Finals the following season, the big three helped the Celtics win five consecutive NBA titles, as Cousy retired following the 1962-63 season.* Aside from winning six titles in their seven seasons together, the most impressive static about this group was they all played crucial roles in different facets of the game. Russell averaged a double-double in both points and rebounds, including 23.1 rpg in that span. Cousy added 7.9 apg while Heinsohn averaged 19.6 ppg during their big three era.
*Cousy returned to the NBA in 1969, appearing in seven games for Cincinnati Royals.
3. Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Dennis Rodman (Chicago Bulls)
When Michael Jordan returned to the Bulls at the end of the 1995 season, their was no question the Bulls were back on the map. But to win three consecutive titles, again, it would require a new and improved big three. With Scottie Pippen still in Chicago, the Bulls brought in Dennis Rodman, a defensive menace and at the time, the four-time defending NBA rebounding champion. The trio not only left Jordan and Pippen with six championships apiece, but it left a lasting legacy in regards to one of the best big threes in NBA history. In their three seasons as a trio, the Bulls went 203-43, which included two 60 plus win seasons and an NBA record 72 win season in 1995-96. Jordan won two MVP awards and was also named First Team All-Defense each season. Pippen received three straight First Team All-Defense honors while Rodman was crowned NBA rebounding champion three straight seasons.
Following the 1997-98 season, Jordan retired for his second time, Pippen was traded to the Houston Rockets and Rodman was released. Since the big three in Chicago split 16-years ago, the Bulls have only reached one Conference Finals (2008) and have not returned to the NBA Finals.
Monday I'll unveil the top two greatest NBA trios of all-time. Don't agree with the rankings so far? Leave a comment below with your list.
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