Without a doubt, we have seen some of the greatest players wear numbers 23 and 34. Michael Jordan popularized 23, while Shaq or Hakeem is probably the best player to wear 34. As a result, it will be extremely interesting to watch them play each other. But luckily, there are also other fantastic players who have work numbers 23 and 34 and we can build an actual All-Star lineup of 5 Hall of Famers each. By setting them up to face each other head to head, we can truly find out which number was work by the greatest players.
For Team 23, Michael Jordan and LeBron James will headline a monster duo with the likes of Anthony Davis and Blake Griffin in the post. Jimmy Butler provides tough defense and scoring as the perfect wingman to bolster the team’s defensive resistance.
For team 34, Shaq and Hakeem will be almost impossible to slow down and they will be backed by shooters and scorers including Ray Allen and Paul Pierce. To make matters worst for the post defense, Giannis Antetokounmpo is there to add a third unguardable presence inside.
The game will ultimately come down to timely buckets by superstar players, and a small run at the end of the game led by the best player of all time. Here is how it plays out.
Point Guard: LeBron James vs. Ray Allen
Jordan and LeBron will take turns bringing the ball up on makes, but James will be the primary playmaker make no mistake about it.
James will do a masterful job of pushing the pace and finding guys for easy shots. He will finish in the lane with force and do what he does best: read the game and find his scorers all night long.
Having Michael Jordan as his teammate will be the biggest factor in their game because you are getting possibly the best pair of skillsets in the game. Ray Allen is a nice ball-handler and will hit big shots from deep, but LeBron’s impact in this will be extraordinary.
Shooting Guard: Michael Jordan vs. Paul Pierce
MJ will be the main man on the floor and be very efficient with his scoring. He will attract a lot of attention, so he will control the pace of the game as much as possible. With LeBron handling the playmaking duties, much like Scottie Pippen did with the Bulls, MJ will have a free roam to dominate the scoring charts and scoring anytime he wants. Any player that plays against Michael ends up getting demoralized, so this is no surprise here.
But Paul Pierce is made of different stuff, he won’t back down from MJ and will use his own array of shot-making skills to his advantage. He has a bit of a size mismatch, and will actually score on Jordan a few times. Pierce is a clutch player as well so he will hold his own against the best player ever.
Small Forward: Jimmy Butler vs. Giannis Antetokounmpo
Giannis is truly a deal of nature and an unstoppable player, but Butler is the perfect player to have the task of defending him. Butler loves a challenge, and he will relish the opportunity to try to take Giannis out of this game and force him into long-distance jumpers. Butler’s entire focus will be on slowing down Giannis, setting an example for his teammates, and fighting for the win.
Nobody can guard Giannis, as he will still get his usual double-double. But Butler will do an admirable job on him all game long, forcing him into traps and not allowing easy buckets. Giannis will outplay Butler on the stat sheet, but Butler will be the winner of this extremely competitive matchup.
Power Forward: Blake Griffin vs. Hakeem Olajuwon
Possibly the most lopsided matchup will be between Griffin and Hakeem. Griffin is tough and is smart enough to know that Hakeem is very crafty in the post, but doesn’t have the size or skill that Hakeem has. Olajuwon will be a force of nature on the block, and will constantly get Pierce and Allen good looks all game long. Hakeem will be the biggest problem for Team 23.
Griffin will struggle on defense and will try to make it up with long-distance jumpers and aggressive moves on the break. During missed shots, Griffin will actually bring the ball up the floor and initiate the offense which will give Team 23 just enough extra juice to play out this matchup.
Center: Anthony Davis vs. Shaquille O’Neal
Finally, the center position. Shaq will be a beast, as expected, and will attract the most attention inside. Davis will try as much as possible to bother Shaq by attacking him off the dribble and also trying to get hot from the perimeter on offense. On defense, Shaq will be too strong and too aggressive for AD to handle.
Shaq will lead Team 34 in scoring, posted a monster 32 points and 14 rebounds in the game. Davis will drop a cool 20, and be a nice recipient of many LeBron James dishes inside. Davis will hit a steak of 3 straight buckets to end the third, giving Team 23 a 6-point lead entering the fourth quarter.
But Shaq is the superstar for Team 34 and will prove it all night long.
This will be a close game all night long since there are multiple Hall of Famers and a few players ranked in the top-ten of all time. Team 34 will be all Shaq and Hakeem, who will dominate the boards and the inside scoring, putting a ton of pressure on Team 23 in the first quarter. Team 23 will actually be down by 10 Midway through the first before adjustments are made to double Hakeem and Shaq as soon as they touch the ball. It will require a great defensive effort from Team 23 to fight back, which they will do in quarter 2.
Quarter 2 will be even, and both teams will be tied at 78 by half time. After a free-scoring first half, the third will slow down greatly as LeBron James decides to be methodical in his approach of finding MJ for good looks. The slow approach will suit Shaq and Hakeem, but they will be fronted and denied the ball forcing Giannis and Pierce to handle the scoring. They will have big quarters, but Jimmy Butler’s admirable defense will be well appreciated by Team 23 in the third quarter.
The fourth quarter is where Team 23 will play the best basketball of the game. With only a 6 point line, they manage to stretch it out to 10 and hold onto it for the remainder of the game. LeBron is completely focused and makes every right play, commits only one turnover, and has key defensive stops. MJ scores 8 points in the fourth, including a long-distance 3 and And-1 bucket to put Team 23 up by 10.
Shaq and Hakeem fight back, but they can’t match the scoring of MJ and LeBron’s playmaking as they fall 128-115.