We have seen some unbelievable talents in recent NBA history. Over the past two decades, guys like Kobe Bryant and LeBron James have stood out thanks to their ability to win rings and be the face of the NBA after taking the torch from Michael Jordan. MJ is regarded as the best player ever and every player will be chasing Jordan’s ghost after his success in the league. Beyond these three dominant talents, Stephen Curry changed the game thanks to his shooting while Kevin Durant might have been the second-best player in the past decade. Kyrie Irving is the best ball handler in NBA history and was part of the first and only 3-1 comeback in the NBA Finals alongside LeBron James.
What if we were to place all 6 of these players in a 3-on-3 match? Shaquille O’Neal posted a meme that has led to massive debates across the NBA fanbase and media. The greatest 3-on-3 matchup features Stephen Curry, Kobe Bryant, and Kevin Durant against Kyrie Irving, Michael Jordan, and LeBron James. By analyzing each matchup and producing a game analysis, here is who comes out on top in this legendary scrimmage.
Stephen Curry vs. Kyrie Irving
This matchup is about buckets. Curry is the single greatest shooter in NBA history and the man responsible for changing the game to how it’s played today. On the other hand, Kyrie Irving is arguably the best ball handler in NBA history and a player that was born to be in the clutch. This matchup will go back and forth with both guards proving they are two of the best point guards over the past decade.
There isn’t a clear advantage in this matchup because both point guards deliver with the ball in their hands and hit big shots for their teams. The only difference will be that Curry will get exposed defensively, mainly due to Michael Jordan’s greatness on the offensive end more so than Curry’s inability to be effective.
Kobe Bryant vs. Michael Jordan
Another matchup that will be about buckets, this one is competitive as it can get. Kobe and MJ trade buckets throughout the game although Bryant has the upper hand early on. Kobe has his rhythm going to start the game which makes MJ work even harder on both ends. MJ will make it clear that no player in history troubles him at all, although Kobe Bryant might be the only one who can.
Jordan proves he is the man at the end, however, cleverly finding a way to pick his spots to get the most efficient looks for himself. One thing about Michael Jordan that is apparent is his understanding of how to win basketball games without simply going off and outscoring everybody. Even though Kobe Bryant leads both sides in scoring, MJ gets the biggest buckets of the game.
Kevin Durant vs. LeBron James
This matchup is simply too even. KD is the perfect complementary piece to Curry and Bryant because he can play both on and off the ball. KD’s ability to hit shots also comes into play, because he forces LeBron James to defend him tightly all game. KD is too deadly from the perimeter so James will force KD to drive the ball early on in the game, which ends in the latter’s favor. KD gets 5 quick points and looks to be getting a firm grip on the game early on. Not to be outdone, LeBron’s basketball I.Q. comes into play quickly and in a hurry when it looks like he is getting outplayed.
LeBron begins to attack the rim but mainly finds Kyrie Irving for big jump shots and MJ for quick buckets. James knows he can score the ball whenever he wants, but opts to control the pace of play exceptionally well. KD gets the points advantage but LeBron gets the last laugh because his pairing with MJ will prove to be too much to handle.
This game will start with Kevin Durant, Kobe Bryant, and Michael Jordan getting buckets. In many ways, it will be a 2-on-1 attack as the game gets off to a quick 10-10 start. KD and Kobe each get 5 points while MJ drops 7 by himself. Stephen Curry heats up with 2 long-range jumpers and an assist to a KD pull-up jumper putting them up by 3. LeBron starts taking matters into his own hands by backing down KD and hitting a fallaway jumper before finding Kyrie Irving for a tough corner three over Stephen Curry to even it up at 13. This is where the game takes a very important turn.
Both sides fail to score a bucket on 5 straight trips as the defense gets tighter. Kobe and MJ poke the ball away from each other, and KD misses a few jumpers. LeBron and Kyrie go cold for a bit before Curry breaks the deadlock with a deep 3-point shot to put his team up 15-13. Kyrie answers with a huge shot to even it up at 15-15 before Kobe and KD take turns to bring up the score 19-17. Kobe has a chance to put the game out of reach but LeBron helps on the weak side and gets a big-time steal to find Kyrie for another 3. With the score 19-19, MJ creates space from Kobe and attacks Stephen Curry for a bucket at the rim. He runs the same play, this time with LeBron acting as a decoy cutter to the rim, before drilling a patented fadeaway jumper to put the game away.
In the end, Michael Jordan and LeBron James are too much. It is almost impossible that a team with both of these guys lose because they bring too much to the table. LeBron is extremely unselfish and will not mind setting up Kyrie Irving and especially Michael Jordan for good looks when he attacks the basket. LeBron’s playmaking is key in this game, but Michael Jordan will cause a lot of havoc when he gets his good looks on the floor. Credit also goes to Kyrie Irving for being a killer and big shot maker, and this game ends in an extremely exciting game that goes down to the final buckets.
Michael Jordan, LeBron James, Kyrie Irving vs. Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant, Stephen Curry 21-19