The greatest duos in NBA history come to mind quickly as an avid basketball fan. Names that naturally match each other are on the tip of everyone’s tongue. This is a story of the best duos that made the game what it is today. The duos are not always traditional in their design, and a basketball historian will recognize the significance of pairs that made the game great.

#1: Stockton/Malone

Stockton and Malone are the best pick and roll duo of all time. John Stockton leads the NBA in career assists due in large part to the fact that he passed to Karl Malone for all those years. The pair went to the NBA Finals twice, and they are roundly considered to be one of the best duos to watch. The technical aspect of their game was so strong that they are studied by teams today.

#2: Jordan/Pippen

Chicago basketball fans may argue all day whether Jordan needed Pippen or not. The simple fact is that Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen won six NBA titles together. Scottie Pippen went to the eastern conference finals twice when Michael Jordan was semi-retired, and the team was so potent that they were favored to win five out of their six titles. Michael Jordan stands as perhaps the best player of all time, and Scottie Pippen himself was named to the NBA 50th anniversary team.

#3: Russell/Chamberlain

Bill Russell and Wilt Chamberlain played for the two greatest teams in history. The Celtics and the Lakers met in the finals often, and the two big men are often left on their own list of the greatest players of all time. The basketball fan of the the day may claim that Chamberlain is better because of his 100-point game. Celtics fans may argue Bill Russell could guard Wilt Chamberlain. The two made basketball relevant, and they created one of the finest rivalries in all of sports.

#4: Larry/Magic

Larry Bird and Magic Johnson squared off in the NCAA title game in 1979. They were selected in the first round of the NBA draft, and they began a string of finals appearances that blankets the 1980s. The Lakers and Celtics won nearly every championship in the 80s, and these two men made basketball popular in America again. They got the NBA finals off tape delay, and they rekindled the best rivalry in the sport. That rivalry persists to this day due to their battles in the 80s.

#5: Magic/Kareem

Magic Johnson has his own partner in Los Angeles named Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Kareem and Magic won five championships in Los Angeles, and they were such a potent scoring force that they were routinely over 100 points. They breezed to several finals appearances, and the pair won the MVP on and off during the 80s. Their Showtime Lakers are considered to be the most-exciting teams in history, and they deserve a place on this list for the legacy they continued in LA.

#6: Bird/McHale/Parrish

This is not a duo, but it is the trip that made Boston sing in the 80s. Larry Bird, Kevin McHale and Robert Parrish led the Celtics to three NBA titles in the 80s, several more finals appearances and multiple MVPs for Larry Bird. The trip became known as the big three, and that feat was repeated in Boston in the 2000s with Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen.

The legacy of these men has brought basketball to where it is today. Watching these pairs is a sight even on tape, and they exhibited skills that every fan will appreciate.